Category Archives: Servants of Empire

 

The Reckless Lies of War Mongers: Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/27/why-the-rise-of-fascism-is-again-the-issue/

Weekend Edition Feb 27-Mar 01, 2015

The Reckless Lies of War Mongers: Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue

by JOHN PILGER

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened.  Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.  They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.”  His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.

Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.

The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans.  Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.  “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records.  The majority have been killed — civilians and soldiers — during Obama’s time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina.  In his lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion . . . Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.”  He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]“. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorized support for tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”.  His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of  the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah — who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help — was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collatoral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains.  Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing.  Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.

There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens — as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government.  The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include  Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s.  The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove — whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove — announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by.  The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.  There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion.  This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime.  In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack …. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”.  In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”

The outbursts — or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” — are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world.  In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.

They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

Pitfalls of Comparing the Terrorist Crimes of ISIS With Crimes of Other Religions

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/pitfalls-comparing-terrorist-crimes-isis-crimes-other-religions

Pitfalls of Comparing the Terrorist Crimes of ISIS With Crimes of Other Religions

By As’ad AbuKhalil – Thu, 2015-02-19 16:44- Angry Corner

American writer Susan Jacoby wrote a very interesting article for The New York Times about the crimes of the Crusades [1]. She cited the valuable contribution of James Carroll in his book, “Constantine’s Sword.” Jacoby intended to compare this horrific chapter in the church’s history to the crimes being committed by ISIS. But, is that method useful, or does it do more harm than good?

Some well-meaning leftists have trouble understanding and explaining ISIS’ crimes. The horror of the images produced by their scary propagandists has spread around the world. ISIS takes its terrorist mission very seriously. Terror is an end of itself, and is often unrelated to the mission. Some will counter by saying that ISIS aims at establishing and broadening the scope of the caliphate. But does anyone really think that ISIS, as delusional as its leaders are, is considering seriously the project of including the US and Europe in the borders of their precarious caliphate? Why would ISIS wish to also terrorize the citizens of Europe, the US and clearly the rest of the world? ISIS possesses certain theatrical qualities; the theatrics are not less important than the caliphate, although they don’t seem to be winning new converts to their cause. ISIS is not a global movement but a localized movement that operates inside Syria and Iraq (or even in Lebanon), but only on the basis of local issues based on the exploitation of sectarian grievances — real or imagined.

But the attempt by Susan Jacoby and others to remind Westerners about the long-forgotten history of crimes of Christianity or Judaism may not in fact help improve Western rhetoric about Islam and Muslims. The invocation of religious analogies unwittingly helps to provide religious — not political — legitimacy to ISIS. No matter what anti-Islam bigots maintain — and this is reflected in the recent ISIS article in the Atlantic Monthly — one should insist that ISIS not be analyzed or discussed within the framework of Islam, even if the intention is to absolve Islam from responsibility for ISIS. Similarly, no one dares — and no one should — discuss Israeli war crimes in the context of Judaism, as such an invocation would be viewed as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

ISIS is a non-state actor engaging in criminal terrorist activities. It uses religious slogans, but is comprised of a variety of previously non-religious criminals, gangs, and war thugs from Syria. Religion is their language and the framework for their theatrics. The fact that no one among mainstream and less mainstream Muslims takes the discourse of ISIS seriously is a sign that ISIS is feared but not believed. So if one wants to make an analogy between the crimes of ISIS and the crimes of other entities, one does not need to go back in history to dig out the scenes of the crimes of the Crusades. ISIS is more a modern phenomenon and not a historical movement in Islam. It is more related to the world of the wars that were generated by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. The crimes against civilians by ISIS should be instead compared to the crimes of the American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (or to Israel although ISIS and the jihadist terrorists don’t seem to be concerned about Israeli crimes, which raises a lot of questions in Muslim minds about the agenda and sponsors of ISIS). The orange prison uniform of ISIS’ prisoners was not ordained by the Qur’an, obviously.

Many critics of the American and Western policies in Syria from 2011 warned of deadly consequences of the glamorization and romanticization of a Syrian “revolution” that didn’t exist. Western governments provided Jihadi recruits with the licences to travel and operate in the Syrian non-revolution. It was only after it became too obvious that the Syrian rebels were largely comprised of Jihadi terrorists that Western governments (and the Gulf sponsors of those Jihadis) changed course. But Islam should not be part of the discussion about ISIS. Indeed, politically, the Saudi royal family and its policies and vision are more relevant.

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil [2]

Source URL: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/pitfalls-comparing-terrorist-crimes-isis-crimes-other-religions

Links:
[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-first-victims-of-the-first-crusade.html?_r=0
[2] https://twitter.com/asadabukhalil
 

Macedonia faked ‘militant’ raid

Macedonia faked ‘militant’ raid

BBC, April 30, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3674533.stm

Macedonian officials have admitted that seven alleged Pakistani militants killed in March 2002 were in fact illegal immigrants shot in cold blood to “impress” the international community.

They said four officers in the security services had been charged with their murder, while former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski may also face charges.

At the time, the interior ministry said they had been killed after trying to ambush police in the capital, Skopje.

But a police spokeswoman said they had in fact been shot in a “staged murder”.

The Macedonians were apparently trying to show the outside world that they were serious about participating in the US-led war on terror, officials say.

“It was a monstrous fabrication to get the attention of the international community,” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Mirjana Kontevska told a news conference.

Questions asked

When the incident was reported more than two years ago, it was claimed that a new front had opened up in the war on terror.

The Macedonian interior ministry said the seven men of Pakistani origin were killed after opening fire on a police patrol with machine guns.

Mr Boskovski said the dead men had been planning attacks on vital installations and embassies.

But questions soon began to be asked about the authorities’ version of events.

Now the public prosecutor’s office has brought charges against officers involved in the case and has asked parliament to waive Mr Boskovski’s immunity from prosecution.

The former interior minister denies any wrongdoing.

Gunned down

Police spokeswoman Mirjana Konteska told the Associated Press news agency that the victims were illegal immigrants who had been lured into Macedonia by promises that they would be taken to western Europe.

She said they were transported to the Rastanski Lozja area, about 5km north of Skopje, where they were surrounded and gunned down by police.

“They lost their lives in a staged murder,” she said.

Ms Konteska told AP the investigation was continuing and more suspects could be charged.

If convicted, they face between 10 years and life in prison.

 

Prince Bandar said Saudi Arabia “controls” Chechen rebels

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.

The Telegraph (UK), By , August 27, 2013

The revelations come amid high tension in the Middle East, with US, British, and French warship poised for missile strikes in Syria. Iran has threatened to retaliate.

The strategic jitters pushed Brent crude prices to a five-month high of $112 a barrel. “We are only one incident away from a serious oil spike. The market is a lot tighter than people think,” said Chris Skrebowski, editor of Petroleum Review.

Leaked transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides.

Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break the deadlock over Syria. “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,” he said at the four-hour meeting with Mr Putin. They met at Mr Putin’s dacha outside Moscow three weeks ago.

“We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas in the Mediterranean from Israel to Cyprus. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area,” he said, purporting to speak with the full backing of the US.

The talks appear to offer an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia, which together produce over 40m barrels a day of oil, 45pc of global output. Such a move would alter the strategic landscape.

The details of the talks were first leaked to the Russian press. A more detailed version has since appeared in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, which has Hezbollah links and is hostile to the Saudis.

As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.

Prince Bandar went on to say that Chechens operating in Syria were a pressure tool that could be switched on an off. “These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future.”

President Putin has long been pushing for a global gas cartel, issuing the `Moscow Declaration’ last to month “defend suppliers and resist unfair pressure”. This would entail beefing up the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a talking shop.

Mr Skrebowski said it is unclear what the Saudis can really offer the Russians on gas, beyond using leverage over Qatar and others to cut output of liquefied natural gas (LGN). “The Qataris are not going to obey Saudi orders,” he said.

Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget.

But it would be a dangerous strategy for the Saudis if it pushed prices to levels that endangered the world’s fragile economic recovery. Crude oil stocks in the US have already fallen sharply this year. Goldman Sachs said the “surplus cushion” in global stocks built up since 2008 has been completely eliminated.

Mr Skrebowski said trouble is brewing in a string of key supply states. “Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigerian is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-2007,” he said.

The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer, though western pressure has escalated since then. “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.

Prince Bandar in turn warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.

The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40412.htm

The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”

By James Petras

December 08, 2014 “ICH” – The principle Nazi ideological prop that secured massive financial and political support from Germany’s leading industrialists was the Communist and Soviet threat.  The main Nazi military drive, absorbing two-thirds of its best troops, was directed eastward at conquering and destroying Russia.  The ‘Russian Threat’ justified Nazi Germany’s conquest and occupation of the Ukraine, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, with the aid of a substantial proportion of local Nazi collaborators.

After Germany’s defeat , division  and  disarmament, and with the extension of Soviet power,  the US reinstated the Nazi industrial and banking giants, officials and intelligence operatives. At first they were engaged in rebuilding their domestic economy and consolidating political power, in collaboration with the US military occupation forces.

By the late 1960’s Germany regained economic primacy in Europe and was at the forefront of European ‘integration’, in association with France and England. It soon came to dominate the principle decision – making institutions of the European Union(EU). The EU served as Germany’s instrument for conquest by stealth. Year by year, through ‘aid’ and low interest loans,the EU  facilitated German capitalist’s  market penetration and financial expansion,through out south and central Europe. Germany set the agenda for Western Europe, gaining economic dominance while benefiting from US subversion and encirclement of Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic and Balkan states.

Germany’s Great Leap Forward:  The Annexation of East Germany and the Demise of the USSR

Germany’s projection of power on a world scale would never have occurred if it had not annexed East Germany. Despite the West German claims of beneficence and ‘aid’ to the East, the Bonn regime secured several million skilled engineers, workers and technicians, the takeover of factories, productive farms and, most important, the Eastern European and Russian markets for industrial goods, worth  billions of dollars. Germany was transformed from an emerging influential EU partner, into the most dynamic expansionist power in Europe, especially in the former Warsaw Pact economies.

The annexation of East Germany and the overthrow of the Communist governments in the East allowed German capitalists to dominate markets in the former  Eastern bloc. As the major trading partner, it seized control of major industrial enterprises via corrupt privatizations decreed  by the newly installed pro-capitalist client regimes.  As the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgarian, the Baltic States “privatized” and “de-nationalized” strategic economic, trade, media and social service sectors, ‘unified’ Germany was able to resume a privileged place.  As Russia fell into the hands of gangsters, emerging oligarchs and political proxies of western capitalists, its entire industrial infrastructure was decimated and Russia was converted into a giant raw-material export region.

Germany converted its trade relations with Russia from one between equals into a ‘colonial’ pattern:  Germany exported high value industrial products and imported gas, oil and raw materials from Russia.

German power expanded exponentially, with the annexation of the “other Germany”, the restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe and the ascendancy of client regimes eager and willing to submit to a German dominated European Union and a US directed NATO military command.

German political-economic expansion via ‘popular uprisings’, controlled by local political clients, was soon accompanied by a US led military offensive – sparked by separatist movements. Germany intervened in Yugoslavia, aiding and abetting separatists in Slovenia and Croatia .It backed the US-NATO bombing of Serbia and supported the far-right, self-styled Kosovo Liberation Army ( KLA),engaged in a terrorist war in  Kosovo .  Belgrade was defeated and regime change led to a neo-liberal client state.  The US built the largest military base in Europe in Kosovo. Montenegro and Macedonia became EU satellites.

While NATO expanded and enhanced the US military presence up to Russia’s borders, Germany became the continent’s pre-eminent economic power.

Germany and the New World Order

While President Bush and Clinton were heralding a “new world order”, based on  unipolar military supremacy, Germany advanced its new imperial order by exercising its  political and economic levers.  Each of the two power centers, Germany and the US, shared the common quest of rapidly incorporating the new capitalist regimes into their regional organizations –the European Union (EU) and NATO– and extending their reach globally. Given the reactionary origins and trajectory into vassalage of the Eastern, Baltic and Balkan regimes, and given their political fears of a popular reaction to the loss of employment, welfare and independence resulting from their implementation of savage neoliberal “shock policies”, the client rulers immediately “applied” for membership as subordinate members of the EU and NATO, trading sovereignty, markets and national ownership of the means of production for economic handouts and the ‘free’ movement of labor, an escape valve for the millions of newly unemployed workers.  German and English capital got millions of skilled immigrant workers at below labor market wages, and unimpeded access to markets and resources. The US secured NATO military bases, and recruited military forces for its Middle East and South Asian imperial wars.

US-German military and economic dominance in Europe was premised on retaining Russia as a weak quasi vassal state, and on the continued economic growth of their economies beyond the initial pillage of the ex-communist economies.

For the US, uncontested military supremacy throughout Europe was the springboard for near-time imperial expansion in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Latin America.  NATO was ‘internationalized’ into an offensive global military alliance: first in Somalia, Afghanistan then Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine.

The Rise of Russia, The Islamic Resistance and the New Cold War

During the ‘decade of infamy’ (1991-2000) extreme privatization measures by the client rulers in Russia on behalf of EU and US investors and gangster oligarchs, added up to vast pillage of the entire economy, public treasury and national patrimony.  The image and reality of a giant prostrate vassal state unable to pursue an independent foreign policy, and incapable of providing the minimum semblance of a modern functioning economy and maintaining the rule of law, became the defining view of Russia by the EU and the USA. Post-communist Russia, a failed state by any measure, was dubbed a “liberal democracy” by every western capitalist politician and so it was repeated by all their mass media acolytes.

The fortuitous rise of Vladimir Putin and the gradual replacement of some of the most egregious ‘sell-out’ neo-liberal officials, and most important, the reconstruction of the Russian state with a proper budget and functioning national institutions, was immediately perceived as a threat to US military supremacy and German economic expansion.  Russia’s transition from Western vassalage to regaining its status as a sovereign independent state set in motion, an aggressive counter-offensive by the US-EU. They financed a neo-liberal-oligarchy backed political opposition in an attempt to restore Russia to vassalage via street demonstrations and elections. Their efforts  to oust Putin and re-establish Western vassal state failed. What worked in 1991 with Yeltsin’s power grab against Gorbachev was ineffective against Putin. The vast majority of Russians did not want a return to the decade of infamy.

In the beginning of the new century, Putin and his team set new ground-rules, in which oligarchs could retain their illicit wealth and conglomerates, providing they didn’t use their economic levers to seize state power.  Secondly, Putin revived and restored the scientific technical, military, industrial and cultural institutions and centralized trade and investment decisions within a wide circle of public and private decision makers not beholden to Western policymakers.  Thirdly, he began to assess and rectify the breakdown of Russian security agencies particularly with regard to the threats emanating from Western sponsored ‘separatist’ movements in the Caucuses, especially, in Chechnya, and the onset of US backed ‘color revolutions’ in the Ukraine and Georgia.

At first, Putin optimistically assumed that, Russia being a capitalist state, and without any competing ideology, the normalization and stabilization of the Russian state would be welcomed by the US and the EU.  He even envisioned that they would accept Russia  as an economic, political, and even NATO partner.   Putin even made overtures to join and co-operate with NATO and the EU.  The West did not try to dissuade Putin of his illusions .In fact they encouraged him, even as they escalated their backing for Putin’s internal opposition and prepared a series of imperial wars and sanctions in the Middle East, targeting traditional Russian allies in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

As the ‘internal’ subversive strategy failed to dislodge President Putin, and the Russian state prevailed over the neo-vassals, the demonization of Putin became constant and shrill. The West moved decisively to an ‘outsider strategy’, to isolate, encircle and undermine the Russian state by undermining allies, and trading partners

US and Germany Confront Russia:  Manufacturing the “Russian Threat”

Russia was enticed to support US and NATO wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in exchange for the promise of deeper integration into Western markets.  The US and EU accepted Russian co-operation, including military supply routes and bases, for their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The NATO powers secured Russian support of sanctions against Iran. They exploited Russia’s naïve support of a “no fly zone” over Libya to launch a full scale aerial war. The US financed  so-called “color revolutions” in Georgia and the Ukraine  overt, a dress rehearsal for the putsch in 2014  Each violent seizure of power allowed NATO to impose anti-Russian rulers eager and willing to serve as vassal states to Germany and the US.

Germany spearheaded the European imperial advance in the Balkans and  Moldavia, countries with strong economic ties to Russia.  High German officials “visited” the Balkans to bolster their ties with vassal regimes in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Croatia.  Under German direction, the European Union ordered  the vassal Bulgarian regime of Boyko “the booby” Borisov to block the passage of  Russian owned South Stream pipeline to Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and beyond.  The Bulgarian state lost $400 million in annual revenue . . .  Germany and the US bankrolled pro-NATO and EU client politicians in Moldavia – securing the election of Iurie Leanca as Prime Minister.  As a result of Leanca’s slavish pursuit of EU vassalage, Moldavia lost $150 million in exports to Russia.  Leanca’s pro-EU policies go counter to the views of most Moldavians – 57% see Russia as the country’s most important economic partner.  Nearly 40% of the Moldavian working age population works in Russia and 25% of the Moldavians’ $8 billion GDP is accounted for by overseas remittances.

German and the US empire-builders steamroll over dissenting voices in Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia, as well as Moldova and Bulgaria, who’s economy and population suffer from the impositions of the blockade of  the Russian gas and oil pipeline.  But Germany’s, all out economic warfare against Russia takes precedent over the interests of its vassal states: its theirs to sacrifice for the ‘Greater Good’ of the emerging German economic empire and the US – NATO military encirclement of Russia. The extremely crude dictates of German imperial interests articulated through the EU, and the willingness of Balkan and Baltic regimes to sacrifice fundamental economic interests, are the best indicators of the emerging German empire in Europe.

Parallel to Germany’s rabid anti-Russian economic campaign, the US via NATO is engaged in a vast military build-up along the length and breadth of Russia’s frontier.  The US stooge, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg, boasts that over the current year, NATO has increased 5-fold the warplanes and bombers patrolling Russian maritime and land frontiers, carried out military exercises every two days and vastly increased the number of war ships in the Baltic and Black Sea.

Conclusion

What is absolutely clear is that the US and Germany want to return Russia to the vassalage status of the 1990’s.  They do not want ‘normal relations’. From the moment Putin moved to restore the Russian state and economy, the Western powers have engaged in a series of political and military interventions, eliminating Russian allies, trading partners and independent states.

The emergent of extremist, visceral anti-Russian regimes in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania served as the forward shield for NATO advancement and German economic encroachment.  Hitler’s ‘dream’ of realizing the conquest of the East via unilateral military conquest has now under Prime Minister Merkel taken the form of conquest by stealth in Northern and Central Europe, by economic blackmail in the Balkans, and by violent putsches in the Ukraine and  Georgia.

The German economic ruling class is divided between the dominant pro-US sector that is willing to sacrifice lucrative trade with Russia today in hopes of dominating and pillaging the entire economy in a post-Putin Russia (dominated by ‘reborn Yeltsin clones’); and a minority industrial sector, which wants to end sanctions and return to normal economic relations with Russia.

Germany is fearful that its client rulers in the East, especially in the Balkans are vulnerable to a popular upheaval due to the economic sacrifices they impose on the population. Hence, Germany is wholly in favor of the new NATO rapid deployment force, ostensibly designed to counter a non-existent “Russian threat” but in reality to prop up faltering vassal regimes.

The ‘Russian Threat’, the ideology driving the US and German offensive throughout Europe and the Caucuses, is a replay of the same doctrine which Hitler used to secure support from domestic industrial bankers, conservatives and right wing overseas collaborators among extremists in Ukraine, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria.

The US-EU seizure of power via vassal political clients backed by corrupt oligarchs and Nazi street fighters in Ukraine detonated the current crisis. Ukraine power grab posed a top security threat to the very existence of Russia as an independent state.  After the Kiev take-over, NATO moved its stooge regime in Kiev forward to militarily eliminate the independent regions in the Southeast and seize the Crimea .thus totally eliminating Russia’s strategic position in the Black Sea. Russia the victim of the NATO power grab was labelled the “aggressor”. The entire officialdom and mass media echoed the Big Lie. Two decades of US NATO military advances on Russia’s borders and German-EU economic expansion into Russian markets were obfuscated.  Ukraine is the most important strategic military platform from which the US-NATO can launch an attack on the Russian heartland and the single largest market for Germany since the annexation of East Germany

The US and Germany see the Ukraine conquest as of extreme value in itself but also as the key to launching an all-out offensive to strangle Russia’s economy via sanctions and dumping oil and to militarily threaten Russia. The strategic goal is to reduce the Russian population to poverty and to re-activate the quasi-moribund opposition  to overthrow the Putin government and return Russia to permanent vassalage. The US and German imperial elite, looking beyond Russia, believe that if they control Russia, they can encircle ,isolate and attack China from the West as well as the East.

Wild-eyed fanatics they are not.  But as rabid proponents of a permanent war to end Russia’s presence in Europe and to undermine China’s emergence as a world power, they are willing to go to the brink of a nuclear war.

The ideological centerpiece of US-German imperial expansion and conquest in Europe and the Caucuses is the “Russian Threat”.  It is the touchstone defining adversaries and allies.  Countries that do not uphold sanctions are targeted.  The mass media repeat the lie.  The “Russian Threat” has become the war cry for cringing vassals – the phony justification for imposing frightful sacrifices to serve their imperial ‘padrones’ in Berlin and Washington –  fearing the rebellion of the ‘sacrificed’ population.  No doubt, under siege, Russia will be forced to make sacrifices.  The oligarchs will flee westward; the liberals will crawl under their beds.  But just as the Soviets turned the tide of war in Stalingrad, the Russian people, past the first two years of a bootstrap operation will survive, thrive and become once again a beacon of hope to all  people looking to get from under the tyranny of US-NATO militarism and German-EU economic dictates.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

War by media and the triumph of propaganda

 
http://johnpilger.com/articles/war-by-media-and-the-triumph-of-propaganda

War by media and the triumph of propaganda
John Pilger, 5 December 2014

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?
 
Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?
 
These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.
 
The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.
 
The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.
 
This power to create a new “reality” has been building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.”
 
I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.
 
Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political, and the media was the message.
 
In the wake of the cold war, the fabrication of new “threats” completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition.
 
In 2003, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the distinguished American investigative journalist. We discussed the invasion of Iraq a few months earlier. I asked him, “What if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of channeling what turned out to be crude propaganda?”
 
He replied that if we journalists had done our job “there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.”
 
That’s a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question. Dan Rather, formerly of CBS, gave me the same answer.  David Rose of the Observer and senior journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous, gave me the same answer.
 
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist.
 
Even now, despite the millions who took to the streets in protest, most of the public in western countries have little idea of the sheer scale of the crime committed by our governments in Iraq. Even fewer are aware that, in the 12 years before the invasion, the US and British governments set in motion a holocaust by denying the civilian population of Iraq a means to live.
 
Those are the words of the senior British official responsible for sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s – a medieval siege that caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five, reported Unicef. The official’s name is Carne Ross. In the Foreign Office in London, he was known as “Mr. Iraq”. Today, he is a truth-teller of how governments deceive and how journalists willingly spread the deception. “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he told me, “or we’d freeze them out.”
 
The main whistleblower during this terrible, silent period was Denis Halliday. Then Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and the senior UN official in Iraq, Halliday resigned rather than implement policies he described as genocidal.  He estimates that sanctions killed more than a million Iraqis.
 
What then happened to Halliday was instructive. He was airbrushed. Or he was vilified. On the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the presenter Jeremy Paxman shouted at him: “Aren’t you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?” The Guardian recently described this as one of Paxman’s “memorable moments”. Last week, Paxman signed a £1 million book deal.
 
The handmaidens of suppression have done their job well. Consider the effects. In 2013, a ComRes poll found that a majority of the British public believed the casualty toll in Iraq was less than 10,000 – a tiny fraction of the truth. A trail of blood that goes from Iraq to London has been scrubbed almost clean.
 
Rupert Murdoch is said to be the godfather of the media mob, and no one should doubt the augmented power of his newspapers – all 127 of them, with a combined circulation of 40 million, and his Fox network. But the influence of Murdoch’s empire is no greater than its reflection of the wider media.
 
The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News – but beneath a liberal halo. When the New York Times published claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, its fake evidence was believed, because it wasn’t Fox News; it was the New York Times.
 
The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.
 
This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It’s not even news, but suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war.
 
Once again, the evil empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler. Name your demon and let rip.
 
The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and eastern Europe since world war two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.
 
And again, supposedly liberal media are the censors. Citing no facts, no evidence, one journalist identified a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as the man who shot down the airliner. This man, he wrote, was known as The Demon. He was a scary man who frightened the journalist. That was the evidence.
 
Many in the western media haves worked hard to present the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.
 
What the Russian president has to say is of no consequence; he is a pantomime villain who can be abused with impunity. An American general who heads Nato and is straight out of Dr. Strangelove – one General Breedlove – routinely claims Russian invasions without a shred of visual evidence. His impersonation of Stanley Kubrick’s General Jack D. Ripper is pitch perfect.
 
Forty thousand Ruskies were massing on the border, according to Breedlove. That was good enough for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Observer – the latter having previously distinguished itself with lies and fabrications that backed Blair’s invasion of Iraq, as its former reporter, David Rose, revealed.
 
There is almost the joi d’esprit of a class reunion. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post are the very same editorial writers who declared the existence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to be “hard facts”.
 
“If you wonder,” wrote Robert Parry, “how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
 
Parry, the journalist who revealed Iran-Contra, is one of the few who investigate the central role of the media in this “game of chicken”, as the Russian foreign minister called it. But is it a game? As I write this, the US Congress votes on Resolution 758 which, in a nutshell, says: “Let’s get ready for war with Russia.”
In the 19th century, the writer Alexander Herzen described secular liberalism as “the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. Today, this divine right is far more violent and dangerous than anything the Muslim world throws up, though perhaps its greatest triumph is the illusion of free and open information.
 
In the news, whole countries are made to disappear. Saudi Arabia, the source of extremism  and western-backed terror, is not a story, except when it drives down the price of oil. Yemen has endured twelve years of American drone attacks. Who knows? Who cares?
 
In 2009, the University of the West of England published the results of a ten-year study of the BBC’s coverage of Venezuela. Of 304 broadcast reports, only three mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the government of Hugo Chavez. The greatest literacy programme in human history received barely a passing reference.
 
In Europe and the United States, millions of readers and viewers know next to nothing about the remarkable, life-giving changes implemented in Latin America, many of them inspired by Chavez. Like the BBC, the reports of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the rest of the respectable western media were notoriously in bad faith. Chavez was mocked even on his deathbed. How is this explained, I wonder, in schools of journalism?
 
Why are millions of people in Britain are persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary?
 
Following the economic crash in 2008, a rotten system was exposed. For a split second the banks were lined up as crooks with obligations to the public they had betrayed.
 
But within a few months – apart from a few stones lobbed over excessive corporate “bonuses” – the message changed. The mugshots of guilty bankers vanished from the tabloids and something called “austerity” became the burden of millions of ordinary people. Was there ever a sleight of hand as brazen?
 
Today, many of the premises of civilised life in Britain are being dismantled in order to pay back a fraudulent debt – the debt of crooks. The “austerity” cuts are said to be £83 billion. That’s almost exactly the amount of tax avoided by the same banks and by corporations like Amazon and Murdoch’s News UK. Moreover, the crooked banks are given an annual subsidy of £100bn in free insurance and guarantees – a figure that would fund the entire National Health Service.
 
The economic crisis is pure propaganda. Extreme policies now rule Britain, the United States, much of Europe, Canada and Australia. Who is standing up for the majority? Who is telling their story? Who’s keeping record straight? Isn’t that what journalists are meant to do?
 
In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, revealed that more than 400 journalists and news executives worked for the CIA. They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the TV networks. In 1991, Richard Norton Taylor of the Guardian revealed something similar in this country.
 
None of this is necessary today. I doubt that anyone paid the Washington Post and many other media outlets to accuse Edward Snowden of aiding terrorism. I doubt that anyone pays those who  routinely smear Julian Assange – though other rewards can be plentiful.
 
It’s clear to me that the main reason Assange has attracted such venom, spite and jealously is that WikiLeaks tore down the facade of a corrupt political elite held aloft by journalists. In heralding an extraordinary era of disclosure, Assange made enemies by illuminating and shaming the media’s gatekeepers, not least on the newspaper that published and appropriated his great scoop. He became not only a target, but a golden goose.
 
Lucrative book and Hollywood movie deals were struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and its founder. People have made big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.
 
None of this was mentioned in Stockholm on 1 December when the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, shared with Edward Snowden the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize. What was shocking about this event was that Assange and WikiLeaks were airbrushed. They didn’t exist. They were unpeople. No one spoke up for the man who pioneered digital whistleblowing and handed the Guardian one of the greatest scoops in history. Moreover, it was Assange and his WikiLeaks team who effectively – and brilliantly – rescued Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and sped him to safety. Not a word.
 
What made this censorship by omission so ironic and poignant and disgraceful was that the ceremony was held in the Swedish parliament – whose craven silence on the Assange case has colluded with a grotesque miscarriage of justice in Stockholm.
 
“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”
 
It’s this kind of silence we journalists need to break. We need to look in the mirror. We need to call to account an unaccountable media that services power and a psychosis that threatens world war.
 
In the 18th century, Edmund Burke described the role of the press as a Fourth Estate checking the powerful. Was that ever true? It certainly doesn’t wash any more. What we need is a Fifth Estate: a journalism that monitors, deconstructs and counters propaganda and teaches the young to be agents of people, not power. We need what the Russians called perestroika – an insurrection of subjugated knowledge. I would call it real journalism.
 
It’s 100 years since the First World War. Reporters then were rewarded and knighted for their silence and collusion. At the height of the slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: “If people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
 
It’s time they knew.
 
Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger
 

The German Left’s Palestine Problem

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/the-germans-lefts-palestine-problem/

The German Left’s Palestine Problem

by Leandros Fischer

Die Linke’s position on Palestine has isolated it from the global solidarity movement and strengthened the party’s worst elements.

It was a truly bizarre scene, worthy of a Peter Sellers film: a man frantically running through the Bundestag’s lifeless corridors. Behind him, another man, David Sheen, accuses him of smears and putting his life in danger from Israeli right-wing thugs. The man is Gregor Gysi, head of the Left Party’s (Die Linke) parliamentary caucus. He walks to a bathroom and closes the door shouting to Sheen “Raus mit dir!” (“Out with you!”).

Annette Groth and Inge Höger, two Die Linke parliamentarians who were aboard the 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla, try to calm Sheen and his associate, Max Blumenthal.

What exactly happened?

It seems that Gysi went out of his way to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled to take place at Die Linke’s premises in the Bundestag. Another party MP, Petra Pau, co-signed a letter along with a politician from the Green Party and a Social Democrat heading the main Israel lobbying organization in Germany, urging the Volksbühne Theatre to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled for November 9.

The letter claimed Blumenthal and Sheen were a “one-sided duet” who compare Israel to Nazis, and who had the nerve to stage an anti-Israel event on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Pandemonium ensued after the release of the video showing Gysi heading to and from the toilet. Die Linke’s reformist right-wing not only forced the party’s parliamentarians who invited Blumenthal and Sheen to apologize to Gysi, but is now openly calling for their expulsion from the caucus, more or less accusing both of them of antisemitism.

Heike Hänsel, another allegedly sympathetic MP, went as far as to openly state that she will never work with Blumenthal and Sheen again. That a German party, even a left-wing one, should be somewhat cautious in criticizing Israel, in a country where the definitions of Judaism, Israel, and Zionism have been consciously conflated for half a century, should not come as a surprise. But that parts of its top brass should actively work with the media to smear two internationally known Jewish anti-Zionists as “antisemites” is truly alarming and casts serious doubts on the party’s ability to relate to the global Palestine solidarity movement.

The history of the German left’s attitude to Israel/Palestine is truly complex and for the uninitiated foreign leftist, perplexing and occasionally shocking.

When I first moved to Germany from Cyprus during the height of the Second Intifada, I didn’t pay much attention to the conflict other than instinctively lending my moral support to whoever happened to be the oppressed in this and any other conflict. But at university, I was shocked to find that when left-wing, mostly autonomist-minded activists on campus used to talk about Palestine, it wasn’t even to adopt the minimally acceptable position of condemning Israel’s brutal “pacifying” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but to romanticize the country as some kind of Middle Eastern Cuba under threat from Nazi-inspired Palestinian suicide bombers.

Clearly this attitude was not and is not representative of the entire left on this issue, but it nevertheless points out a more problematic trajectory than in other Western European countries.

While the fact that Germany is responsible for the industrial murder of millions of Jews partially explains the German left’s Palestine problem, the East-West dimension is equally crucial; Gysi has been the official face of East German post-communism for the last twenty-five years. The case of Die Linke merits special attention here, since the inner dynamics of an outcast left-reformist party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s modern Germany amid the contradictions of the Eurozone crisis also influence its approach to the Middle East.

The German Left and Palestine: A Brief History

Like the British Labour Party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the trade union bureaucracy were stridently pro-Zionist in the 1950s and 60s. Postwar social democracy saw Israel as a socialist-inspired state, paving a “third way” between Western liberal capitalism and Eastern “totalitarianism.”

Such a policy was seen as permissible from a left-wing point of view. After all, German conservatives — despite paying reparations to Israel for the Holocaust — refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1965, despite secretly arming the new state. This was done ostensibly to uphold the “traditional German-Arab friendship,” but was in reality aimed at preventing a wave of recognition for the “illegitimate” German Democratic Republic (GDR) by the Arab states.

For young Marxist intellectuals on the fringes of the SPD, establishing diplomatic relations with Israel became a left-wing cause in response to a political establishment that integrated former Nazis into the state apparatus, most notably Hans Globke, a top advisor to Konrad Adenauer and co-author of the infamous Nuremberg race laws.

East Germany’s Communist government, on the other hand, had to follow the twists and turns of Stalinist foreign policy. Accordingly, the Soviet line on supporting the Zionist militias was adopted in the crucial period of 1947-49. On the other hand, the East German bureaucrats engaged in party purges in the early 1950s that effectively mobilized antisemitic sentiments against undesirable elements, prompting a Jewish exodus from East Germany.

With the Soviet Union’s pro-Arab tilt around the same time, the GDR also tried to outdo itself in anti-Israeli rhetoric to gain vital diplomatic recognition by the Arab states. The GDR was anti-Zionist insofar as it opposed Israel’s policies. But like the Soviet Union, it never questioned its settler-colonial nature, seeing Israel’s alliance with imperialism as simply a matter of bad choice. It was Israel’s territorial expansionism at the expense of Soviet allies that bothered the Eastern Bloc, not so much the discriminatory nature of its ruling ideology.

Meanwhile in the West, things were changing. Israel was now the United States’ prime ally in the Middle East, while the latter was fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. Germany and Israel established official relations two years before and the war witnessed a multitude of pro-Zionist frenzy in the right-wing Springer press.

As Israel officially became a front-line state in the struggle against communism, West German students, organized in the Socialist German Student Association (SDS) were joining their peers in the United Kingdom, France, Scandinavia, and elsewhere, in proclaiming their solidarity with the Palestinian fedayeen. Palestinians were now not just a logistical refugee issue but visible subjects, with the more left-leaning organizations of the Palestinian Liberation Organization contributing greatly to the framing of this struggle as part of the wider endeavor for self-determination in the Global South.

After SDS disbanded in 1970, its different successor organizations also took up Palestine as a cause (although due to the German historical context, much less than in other Western countries). The most prominent examples were undoubtedly the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the Revolutionary Cells, two terrorist groups that were to a great extent armed and trained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

While overemphasized, these were not the only examples. Palestine solidarity in one form or another existed along the entire spectrum of the Left — from the Maoist “communist groups” and Trotskyist and workerist tendencies, to the “milder” pro-Soviet German Communist Party and even the youth section of the SPD.

Death of a Movement: The Antideutsch

The collapse of a pro-Palestinian consensus is undoubtedly linked to the global retreat of the left that commenced in the late 1970s. The German radical left after 1968 was never a mass movement with a wide appeal in the working class, unlike its counterparts in Great Britain, France, and Italy. West German capitalism was better at integrating the upheaval of 1968.

In political terms, it was Social Democracy that was the main beneficiary of 1968. The radical left found itself increasingly isolated, a part of it turning to urban terrorism. The bloody crescendo reached its climax in the “German autumn” of 1977, when kidnappings and plane hijackings by the RAF ended in the deaths of two of its imprisoned founding members.

This only helped accelerate a turn away from the support of armed struggles in the Third World and toward broader ecological and pacifist movements, a turn that was given political expression by the Green Party. Some Marxist groups continued to operate but mostly ineffectually.

Meanwhile, other militant sections coalesced around the autonomist movement. The Autonomen continued to uphold anti-imperialism, including the Palestinian cause. They were a subculture as much as a movement, characterized by squatting and militant confrontations with the police. But their profound disdain for theory also made them susceptible to the effects of the cataclysmic political events that came in 1989.

In the face of a neo-Nazi offensive following reunification, a significant part of the autonomists adopted the worldview of the Antideutsch, the “anti-Germans.” These ex-Maoist remnants expressed the view that the biggest enemy for the German left to confront was the abstract notion of “Germany” as nation. An alliance was necessary with anyone perceived to be against “Germany.”

Israel did not figure prominently in the beginning of the Antideutsch movement. This changed after the outbreak of the Second Intifada and 9/11. The Antideutsch were already thrilled by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitlers Willing Executioners. They now fervently applied his idea of “eliminatory antisemitism” to virtually any movement opposing US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, be it secular nationalist or Islamist.

Matthias Küntzel, an ex-Maoist and Antideutsch ideologue in the tradition of the French nouveaux philosophes, even devoted an entire book to “prove” (without the slightest knowledge of Arabic) that the ideology of Hamas and Hezbollah was “Nazi-inspired.” By this point, the hardcore of the Antideutsch bid the Left farewell, proclaiming it “dead.” Remnants of the movement have since made common cause with far-right Islamophobes.

However, the cultural aesthetics and ideas of Antideutsch — a bizarre mix of techno music, self-managed housing projects, and endless discussions on the “structural antisemitism” of the anti-globalization and Occupy movements — characterize a large share of the current German radical left. This is especially true in eastern Germany, where a strong far right often engages in a demagogic, antisemitic kind of anti-Zionism. This, incidentally, is also the part of the country where the disastrous legacy of Stalinism and the chronic weakness of organized labor are more visible.

Newspapers like Jungle World that celebrate autonomy in Chiapas, queer politics, and radical ecology are stridently pro-Israel in their outlook. It’s not that all autonomists in Germany support Israel in every instance or are indifferent to the existence of Islamophobia. But openly questioning Israeli oppression of Palestinians is deemed out of bounds, since this could open the gates to existing latent antisemitism.

When Israeli bombs fall on the Gaza Strip killing and maiming thousands, many from the alternative scene abstain from protesting in solidarity with the victims, arguing that since Hamas doesn’t present an “emancipatory alternative,” there isn’t really anyone the Left can embrace.

In this, there is an uncomfortable and often unwilling convergence of autonomist discourses with the rampant Islamophobia currently plaguing Germany, with regular attacks on mosques coupled with calls on Muslims to “integrate” and “disassociate” themselves from ISIS. When a mob of five thousand hooligans, many of them active neo-Nazis, gathered in front of Cologne’s main train station on October 26 to protest “Salafism,” the far smaller counter-demonstration assembled under the abstract slogan “against racism and religious fundamentalism,” apparently eager to disassociate itself from the Salafism.

This had the rather unsettling effect of equating young discriminated Muslims with the direct political heirs of Himmler and Goebbels.

At a subsequent meeting convened to discuss the aftermath of the demonstration, I witnessed how left-oriented German students could genuinely not fathom why the counter-protest’s slogan was outright wrong. This drew the desperate ire of a comrade of Iranian background, a symptom perhaps of a deepening rift between significant parts of the Left and Muslims living in Germany.

Enter Die Linke

Die Linke is vital terrain to struggle against this tendency. Born from a 2007 merger between those fleeing the SPD’s turn to the center — as well as activists energized by the anti-globalization and anti-war movements — and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the former East German ruling party, the party runs the entire gamut of the German left.

Those inside the tent include center-left trade unionists, Trotskyists, left-Keynesians, East German ex-communists, autonomists, and even an Antideutsch-inspired group with influence in the party’s youth wing. The party’s founding momentum was the result of a twin rejection of neoliberalism as well as “humanitarian intervention” abroad, which the SPD and the formerly pacifist Greens had championed in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

The question of Palestine has subsequently become a largely symbolic issue between those who see it as a matter of principle that an internationalist party should show solidarity with a liberation movement and those who envisage future Die Linke participation in a coalition government as a junior partner of the SPD and the Greens.

A layer of professional politicians from the PDS section — a mass party in the eastern states — leads the second camp. It had already participated in coalitions with the Social Democrats in a few states, including Berlin, where it has often subordinated its left-wing program to neoliberal fiscal concerns. The people currently calling for pro-Palestine MPs Annette Groth and Inge Höger to be expelled include supporters of these coalitions like Stefan Liebich, who professes to be a member of “Atlantik-Brücke,” a think tank dedicated to strengthening the German-American alliance.

They also include Klaus Lederer, Die Linke’s chairman in Berlin, who spoke at a pro-Israel rally during the 2008-09 war on Gaza. “Reflection” and “guilt” over East Germany’s record of “one-sidedness” in the conflict are stated as the main reason for this tilt to the Zionist point of view. Descending from the old GDR’s state-affiliated professional caste, it is not hard to recognize why being in government is seen as a more effective way to change things than being in a movement.

Gysi has been careful to play a more integrative role within the party. But during a speech in 2008 at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the party’s think tank, he explicitly linked the prospect of Die Linke joining a future coalition government with the acceptance of the German Staatsräson, or national interest, shared by all other parliamentary forces. In addition to acceptance of Germany’s commitment to NATO and the European Union (EU), this includes assent to its “special relationship” with Israel.

This relationship is evident in German sales of nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, as well as German vetoing of initiatives within the EU to upgrade the status of Palestine. By couching its support for Israel in moral terms, Germany is thus cynically providing a fig leaf for an otherwise morally indefensible status quo that profits its armaments industry.

On the other hand, Oskar Lafontaine, the former SPD maverick whose defection from the Social Democrats was crucial in forming Die Linke, has rarely commented on Palestine. The only exception was a 2006 radio interview during the war on Lebanon, where he spoke of an additional, indirect German responsibility towards the Palestinians.

In all of this, there has been a synergy between the Antideutsch within the party and key sections of the mainly eastern ex-Communists. The first group has engaged in smearing its political opponents as antisemites, something the latter has also taken up, since those outspoken on Palestinian rights often tend to be opposed to future participation as a junior partner government.

Mobilizing the media has been an important aspect of this slander. In 2011, a member of the Antideutsch caucus BAK Shalom – which regularly engages in occupation apologetics – published a “scientific study” on “anti-Zionist antisemitism in Die Linke” in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a mainstream daily. This caused a media storm, with the other parliamentary parties convening a special hearing in the Bundestag on Die Linke’s “antisemitism.”

Amid a subsequent heated internal debate within the party’s parliamentary caucus, a directive was issued prohibiting any discussion on the one-state solution, participation in the BDS campaign, or the second Free Gaza Flotilla. The decision was far from unanimous. Many MPs boycotted the bill, and others were forced into signing off after Gysi threatened to resign if it was rejected. While this has shielded the party from further accusations of antisemitism, it has also driven a wedge between the biggest left-wing German party and the growing global solidarity movement.

Since then, things have been quiet. The party doesn’t just unceasingly call for a two-state-solution, but has elevated it to a political identity, completely detached from realities on the ground and to be defended against Palestinian activists or Israeli leftists like the ones who called on Die Linke to disassociate itself from outfits like BAK Shalom.

However, a significant number of officials and activists actively avoid bringing up the subject, given its divisive potential. The historical weakness of the postwar German left and its constant fragmentation have led to an almost compulsive need for “unity,” even by people whose support for Palestine is not under question. This is often justified by framing the debate as a useless squabble that has no concrete effect.

Up to a certain point, this is understandable. Die Linke is engaged in a delicate effort to create a popular opposition to the powerful Merkel consensus. But this is also a dishonest approach, tantamount to denying the special responsibility of the German government in propping up the occupation, as well as the potential of the German left to actively challenge this collusion with apartheid and to engage in effective — not just symbolic — solidarity.

Israel and German Islamophobia

The internal dynamics of Die Linke and its structural position between opposition and accommodation contribute to its position on Israel. Unfortunately, those same dynamics have prevented the party from taking a principled stance against the EU. Out of fear of being seen as veering too close to the positions of the Eurosceptic right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (“Alternative for Germany”), Die Linke has emphatically rejected questioning the wisdom of the single currency, while at the same time rightly rejecting austerity in the European South, a somewhat unconvincing and contradictory approach.

But its position on Palestine is also derivative of the wider historical and social structure. For this is not just any issue; it is closely linked to Germany’s obsessive need for an assertive new post-1990 national identity, as well as the prevailing Islamophobic climate.

Ever since the Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer justified Germany’s first combat mission since 1945 in Yugoslavia by claiming the aim was to prevent “another Auschwitz,” the historical lessons from the Holocaust have been constantly perverted by Germany´s political elite to pursue dubious political goals at home and abroad.

German pro-Zionism has had the historical function of reintegrating Germany into the “international community.” With Germany now a respected member of that community, Angela Merkel has deemed “Israel’s security” as in Germany’s national interest, which only serves to exclude German Muslims for the fictitious narrative of a “Judo-Christian legacy.”

In this, there’s a convergence with the discourse of “failed” multiculturalism. The killing of the Kilani family in Gaza and the silence of Germany’s political class is a brutal example of which German citizens are considered worthy victims and which are not. A commentary in the Welt, a right-wing daily owned by the Springer Group, even accused Muslims of indulging in constant self-victimization. The publication didn’t receive the slightest bit of backlash.

The overemphasis on “Muslim antisemitism” is a further symptom of this pervasive new ideology. Just consider the protests against Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip this summer. Media outlets were filled with reports of “Muslim antisemitism,” as antisemitic slogans were heard during spontaneous anti-war marches, where “ethnic Germans” make only a tiny minority of participants.

To be sure, the danger of antisemitism in Germany is a real one and shouldn’t be underestimated. Verbal abuse against Jews has been reported, as well as an arson attack on a synagogue in the city of Wuppertal. As Richard Seymour has shown in the case of France, this antisemitism also exists within Muslim communities that happen to be the victims of constant discrimination themselves.

But this phenomenon is also partly the result of the media’s constant conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel, as Rolf Verleger, a former member of Germany’s Jewish Board of Deputies has pointed out. Even a great deal of the German left speaks of “antisemitism and racism,” the implication being that while racism is something easily analyzable, antisemitism is beyond logical explanation.

On another level, this confusion also stems from the Left’s practical inability to relate to events on the street and actively seek dialogue with Muslim communities. Instead, a troublingly elitist emphasis on largely abstract theoretical debates is the typical approach of a large part of Die Linke on this issue.

When party organizations in the Western state of North Rhine-Westphalia organized protests in Cologne and Essen against Israel’s war on Gaza last summer, reformist party officials in Berlin stated that they would not tolerate members of Die Linke marching on demonstrations where antisemitic slogans are heard. This was a top-down approach towards the contradictory nature of spontaneous movements in general, and one that was also accompanied by the media slandering of local party activists as “pandering to Islamic antisemitism,” often in concert with those same party officials.

Activists on the ground, however, have defiantly organized successful protests in Berlin together with Palestinian communities and progressive Jewish organizations, including parts of Berlin’s large Israeli expatriate community. The experience demonstrates that when protests are strategically organized and coordinated, the results open up a number of possibilities, not just to engage in practical solidarity with Palestinians, but also to break the wide gap between the organized left and immigrant workers. Indeed, one might wonder what the possibilities would be if Die Linke threw its entire weight behind such an effort, instead of letting the right-wing media determine its actions.

This is not just an issue of solidarity with a people abroad. It’s a pressing social issue. For in Germany, the powerful ideological domination of capitalism is also the effect of an extremely elitist educational system that separates children from an early age and places them into three distinct types of schooling, only one of which provides eligibility for higher education.

Not surprisingly, it is people from immigrant and working-class backgrounds that are most harmed by the structure of the education system, while the student left tends to be largely middle-class. If the German left is to break the hegemony of Merkelism, it must actively challenge Germany’s alliance with Israel, for it currently serves as the spearhead of a wider Islamophobic discourse that weakens resistance to neoliberalism at home by dividing opposition along cultural lines. This is done by intentionally conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, which in turn places the damaging stigma of the latter on those more likely to express solidarity with the besieged of Gaza.

On the other hand, the moral underpinning of German support for Israel cynically serves as a way of absolving German capitalism from its expansionist past, thus allowing German power to be projected abroad again; economically in the European South through austerity, and geopolitically against other imperialist powers like Russia. The historic circumstances are different, but Palestine is today to Germany what Algeria was to France in the 1950s — a source of chronic and self-inflicted weakness for the Left.

Which Way Forward for Die Linke?

The main challenge for activists within Die Linke is to link solidarity with Palestine to the struggle against all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Germany. Boycotting Jewish activists like Max Blumenthal and David Sheen is an obvious setback and one that reinforces the current ideological status quo, which ultimately works against the party’s stated goals. Gregor Gysi might have momentarily garnered the sympathy of the right-wing Springer press, but the social and political agenda he stands for has been weakened in the long-run.

Die Linke, after all, will only be accepted by the establishment if it dumps its key defining positions on neoliberalism and foreign interventions. No doubt, some key people on its right-wing would like nothing more than that. But this would render the party unnecessary and politically irrelevant.

The Left within the party is fragmented, a great deal of it placing its hopes in winning the internal debate against reformists on a programmatic basis. This is a mistaken approach, since the party and parliamentary structure is inherently biased in favor of those wishing to soften Die Linke’s positions for the sake of government participation.

What can tilt the balance is an active linking with the international solidarity movement, as some scholars of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung attempted last summer, pointing to the striking contradictions between the party’s internationalist identity and its stance on Palestinian national liberation. It’s part and parcel of creating a movement dynamic enough to challenge the “new German ideology.”

Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/11/20/dutch-government-refuses-to-reveal-secret-deal-into-mh17-crash-probe.html

Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 20.11.2014

The Dutch government has refused to reveal details of a secret pact between members of the Joint Investigation Team examining the downed Flight MH17. If the participants, including Ukraine, don’t want information to be released, it will be kept secret.

The respected Dutch publication Elsevier made a request to the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement, along with 16 other documents. The JIT consists of four countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine – who are carrying out an investigation into the MH17 disaster, but not Malaysia. Malaysian Airlines, who operated the flight, has been criticized for flying through a war zone.

Part of the agreement between the four countries and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, ensures that all these parties have the right to secrecy. This means that if any of the countries involved believe that some of the evidence may be damaging to them, they have the right to keep this secret.

“Of course [it is] an incredible situation: how can Ukraine, one of the two suspected parties, ever be offered such an agreement?” Dutch citizen Jan Fluitketel wrote in the newspaper Malaysia Today.

Despite the air crash taking place on July 17 in Eastern Ukraine, very little information has been released about any potential causes. However, rather than give the public a little insight into the investigation, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is more worried about saving face among the members of the investigation.

“I believe that this interest [international relations] is of greater importance than making the information public, as it is a unique investigation into an extremely serious event,” the Ministry added, according to Elsevier.

Other reasons given for the request being denied included protecting investigation techniques and tactics as well as naming the names of officials who are taking part in the investigation. The Ministry said it would be a breach of privacy if they were revealed. “If the information was to be released then sensitive information would be passed between states and organizations, which would perhaps they would be less likely to share such information in the future,” said the Ministry of Security and Justice.

Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, who is a member of the Christian Democratic Party, has made several requests for the information to be released to the public.

“We do not know what the Netherlands has committed itself to. The government neither published the agreement when we asked for it, nor did it show it to parliament,” he said in reaction to the ministry’s decision. “It is perfectly normal that the Netherlands cooperate with other countries in this complex investigation. Yet they even kept the existence of the agreement secret a first and that was unnecessary.”

Journalists walk behind parts of the Malaysia Airlines plane Flight MH17 as Dutch investigators (unseen) arrive near at the crash site near the Grabove village in eastern Ukraine on November 11, 2014 (AFP Photo)

Malaysia is the only country to have directly negotiated with the anti-Kiev militias in the East of Ukraine, while the country’s Ambassador to the Netherlands said he was unhappy that Malaysia had not been included within the JIT. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte flew to Kuala Lumpur on November 5, but Malaysia says it still did not receive an invitation to join.
“We must first be included in the JIT, otherwise it would be hard for us to cooperate in the investigation. The parties inside the investigation must include us in the team, right now we are just a participant,” said the Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, which was reported by the New Straits Times.
A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board, which was released September said the MH17 crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside.
Dutch investigators added that “there are no indications” that the tragedy was triggered “by a technical fault or by actions of the crew.”
RT

Our Friends in Riyadh

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/10/our-man-in-riyadh/
Our Friends in Riyadh

by Toby C. Jones

The United States is allies with Saudi Arabia not in spite of the country’s authoritarian political order, but because of it.

Last Wednesday, a criminal court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, one of the kingdom’s most visible political dissidents, to death. Saudi authorities have justified the verdict in terms of national security. Convicted on vague charges of sedition, Al-Nimr was tried in a court established to judge cases of terrorism.

As is often the case in Saudi Arabia, what passes for the rule of law and national security is more often the theater of the absurd. The execution verdict, which could be commuted to a lengthy prison sentence, is the product of a system based on political exclusion, a system that sacrifices human beings to maintain centralized authority and elite privilege.

Al-Nimr was arrested and subsequently sentenced not because he is a danger to Saudi society, but because he has long been a critic of oppression, has agitated against sectarian discrimination, and led protests demanding reforms to an unjust political order. Al-Nimr has been a prominent figure in supporting what has been a largely unseen, but nevertheless persistent protest movement in the predominantly Shiite communities of eastern Saudi Arabia.

Since 2011, shortly after citizens mobilized against the al-Khalifa in neighboring Bahrain, Saudi Shiites also took to the streets. In response, the authorities have cracked down brutally, criminalizing a broad range of activism, aggressively policing Shiite communities, and chasing down, arresting, or killing scores of activists.

Al-Nimr only poses a threat to the regime itself. The state’s repression, cloaked in the language of security and sedition, is a weak effort to mystify this fundamental fact. Given the stakes of expressing anger at the regime, particularly for the Shiite community, it is noteworthy that street protests have continued daily since the sentence against al-Nimr.

Of course, even casual observers of Saudi Arabian politics are likely unsurprised by the decision to execute a prominent Shia cleric. After all, the kingdom is widely believed to be a center of religious extremism and sectarian ferment. And it is certainly true that anti-Shiism has a history in Saudi Arabia.

Shiites, who make up as much as 15 percent of the Saudi population, have been targeted historically by both religious zealots and a central government tantamount to an imperial regime. The community has faced systematic discrimination and exclusion since the imperial expansion of the Al-Saud from central Arabia in the early twentieth century.

But sectarian pathologies, even in Saudi Arabia, have particular histories. And they are hardly as widespread as we might assume. It is certainly the case that discriminatory sentiment has become more entrenched in the last generation, but the worst varieties of anti-Shiism, especially those advocating violence and supportive of the regionalization of a Sunni-Shiite war, are a small, but powerful minority.

Anti-Shiism today is not so much the product of a retrograde or orthodox interpretation of Islam — widely labeled Wahhabism — as it is the convergence of several political forces, the most important of which is a vulnerable state.

Confronted by a number of internal and external threats — the Iranian pursuit of influence in the Gulf; the rise of Shiite power in post-invasion Iraq; the uprising in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s satellite state; and most importantly, the rise of a range of domestic challenges to Saudi authority since 2003, including criticism of deep state corruption and the absence of political rights — leaders in Riyadh have responded by fomenting discriminatory anti-Shiism. Rather than broadening participation or overturning inequalities, the regime’s impulse has been to pursue the politics of sectarian escalation.

Seen this way, the verdict against al-Nimr is not so much about national security or a reflection of deeply conservative, anti-Shiite sentiment as it is an indication of the regime’s vulnerability.

It is tempting to say that in threatening to execute al-Nimr the state seeks to dissuade other Shiite dissidents from challenging its authority. This is certainly true. But the regime is also throwing red meat to the worst reactionaries in its midst, engaging in the politics and practice of distraction, and, providing political legitimacy for the strident and virulent forms of sectarianism that have settled in across the region.  The obvious effect is that anti-Shiism, both at home and abroad, has and will continue to gain greater currency, as it seemingly has with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). More subtly, the Saudi gambit is also based on a clear understanding that other potential forms of dissent — against charges of corruption or frustration at what is a heavy-handed security state — can be deflected or set aside by stoking anti-Shiism and by sacrificing Shiite bodies.

The sectarianization of Saudi politics is also political-economic and bound up in the kingdom’s “special relationship” with the United States. Since the uprising in Bahrain in 2011, United States has continued to support the autocratic Arab regimes in the Gulf rather than democracy or human rights. Justifications include priorities around “security,” the need to contain Iran, and ensuring that oil flows from the Gulf to global markets.

With these priorities in mind, it is unlikely that American officials will do much to challenge Riyadh on either al-Nimr’s verdict or try to alter its sectarian behavior more generally. Critics have called on the United States to rethink its strategic ties to Riyadh. But doing so would require confronting not only the contradictions in American policy, especially given that it is close to a Saudi state that supported the rise of ISIS, even if indirectly, even while it now claims to be committed to the Islamic State’s destruction.

In any case, the United States’ unwillingness to confront Saudi Arabia’s role in ISIS’s rise, aside from comments from Secretary of State John Kerry that seemed to acknowledge this, enables the kingdom’s contradictory behavior. Whatever the limits of American power, the plain reality is that Washington has never meaningfully pressed the Saudis on their complicity in the spread of post-2003 sectarianism or anti-Shiite terrorism.

Beyond these contradictions, it is important to keep in sight the role that the United States government and that American capital have played in the rise of autocracy and discriminatory politics in Saudi Arabia in the first place.

Al-Nimr comes from a small village called Awamiyya in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, a place where American influence runs deep. It is in the east where almost all of the kingdom’s Shiite community lives, and where almost all of its oil sits. For a regime worried about internal threats, Shiite challenges to power are meaningful not only for their content, but also because of their location. The US government and American capital know this all very well.

Although American political and corporate interests surrendered direct control of Saudi Arabia’s oil resources in the early 1980s, they were present in the eastern province, in and around Shiite communities, from the late 1930s through much of the twentieth century.

Fearful of politically mobilized Saudi labor in the mid twentieth century, the Arabian American Oil Company (which was known to employ CIA officials) coordinated closely with Saudi leaders from the 1940s until the 1970s in building a centralized, discriminatory political order that was anti-democratic, anti-labor, and that sought to create disciplined and docile bodies in a place where the al-Saud lacked much in the way of political legitimacy. The very political order that Saudi authorities seek to shore up by way of show trials and capital punishment is the legacy of this twentieth century cooperation.

American policymakers no longer think in terms of the interests of an American oil company that controls Saudi oil. But its practical and political economic interests have changed very little. Since the late 1970s, in fact, these connections have proliferated, most importantly through weapons sales and the entanglement of the American military-industrial complex with Saudi oil wealth. There is no greater engine for the recycling of Saudi and Gulf Arab petrodollars than massive and expensive weapons systems. These sales are largely justified in the language of security and by invoking regional threats like Saddam Hussein and whatever regime sits in Tehran. The reality, though, is that they are hugely profitable.

While it has sometimes bristled at American policy over the last decade, Riyadh remains committed to its relationship with Washington. The opposite is also true. American policymakers continue to see Saudi Arabia as indispensable not because it has shown itself willing to change or develop a more inclusive and tolerant political order, but because it does not.

To push for democracy in Saudi Arabia, or even simply a more critical approach to the ways that Riyadh’s domestic political maneuvering courts regional catastrophe, would be to open up the possibility of a government that wouldn’t subordinate the interests of its citizens to American energy needs. That’s a risk the US government and capital aren’t willing to take.

Book Review of Bruce Hoffman’s “Inside Terrorism”

Book Review of Bruce Hoffman’s Inside Terrorism

By Elias Davidsson, March 25, 2014

Presumptuous and devoid of scholarly value

The author was for a long time a director at RAND Corporation in Washington, which he designates in his book as an “independent, objective, nonpartisan research institution” (p. xi).

As an external observer, researcher and author, I have followed with keen interest for many years the debate surrounding the phenomenon of terrorism: Its definition, rationale, execution, effects and legal aspects.

I came initially across Hoffman’s book when I examined the activities of Germany’s Federal Center for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, or BpB), which is not, as it name might suggest, a university institute or a department in the Ministry of Education, but a propaganda institution that belongs to the Ministry of the Interior). The BpB promotes Hoffman’s book (in its German translation) to German schools and universities as a textbook on terrorism. After reading that book, I spent long hours writing a detailed critical review of it in German, which is posted on the internet. I thought I had fulfilled thereby my civic duty.

Then I discovered that Bruce Hoffman was not only an author of junk science, but is periodically invited to comment on CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times and other leading media, as an “expert” on terrorism. This discovery compelled me to share my exposure of Hoffman as a fraud with a larger audience, and particularly with unsuspecting potential buyers of his book. I do not intend, however, to provide a review of all the author’s scholarly sins, as this would require a volume exceeding in size the very book in review. I will limit myself to point to a few elements that demonstrate (a) the deceptive nature of the book; and (b) its utter lack of scholarly value.

(1) The deceptive appearance of erudition

Hoffman’s book (revised and expanded edition) consists of 432 pages. The author devotes no less than 45 pages to a bibliography on terrorism, a whopping 72 pages to footnotes and 18 pages for an index. This extraordinary accumulation of sources creates the outward appearance of erudition and comprehensiveness. Indeed, at first glance, one is led to believe that the author is extremely well informed and that his text is grounded on a comprehensive study of the literature. Yet, one discovers soon that this impression is deceptive, for the bibliography omits major critical works on terrorism.

Thus, the author omits from his bibliography critical works on the events of 9/11, such as those by Prof. David Ray Griffin and Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. Prof. Griffin’s first book on 9/11 “The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11,” remains a landmark and a must for any student of these events. Dr. Ahmed, a scholar living in Ireland, deals at depth with the covert relationship between Western intelligence agencies and al-Qaeda. The same omission applies to critical studies regarding the London Underground Bombings of July 7, 2005, or to those of the Mumbai 2008 attacks. Any serious student of terrorism cannot avoid coming sooner or later across serious critical works which examine the forensics of various terrorist acts and governmental efforts to cover-up the events.

(2) Junk science

(a) Treatment of facts.

Good scientists are immediately recognized by the way they handle facts: They go to great pains to establish the empirical ground on which they base their theories. Before a theory is proposed, the underlying facts are tested for reliability on the base of credible sources and when doubt about a fact exists, an honest scholar will share that doubt with readers and steer clear from sweeping assertions.

True scholars are also known to treat with circumspection statements by third parties, particularly when these parties do not report their own observations but merely what they have been told or had read. True scholars do not rely on unidentified and unverifiable sources.

There would be no purpose in harping on such commonplace rules of good scholarship, were it not for Mr. Hoffman’s systematic violations of these basic rules. I have stopped counting the unsubstantiated allegations made by him in his book and the number of cases where he relies on obviously dubious sources, such as on statements pronounced by a figure resembling Osama bin Laden on a video recording of dubious provenance.

(b) Disregarding the two most potent types of terrorism

The author is presented by mainstream media as an expert on terrorism, a designation that he does not dispute. Yet, from the three types of terrorism, he ignores completely the two main and most potent types: Overt state terrorism and false-flag terrorism.

Overt state terrorism refers to the overt use or threatened use of force or violence by state governments against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments. Overt state terrorism includes, inter alia, carpet bombing cities, comprehensive economic sanctions, the institutionalization of arbitrary rule and mass surveillance. Actually, the very term terrorism was initially used only for state violence.

False-flag terrorism refers to what is also designated as “false-flag” or “synthetic” terrorism. False-flag operations are carried out secretly by military or police forces with the purpose to incite a population against a particular “villain.” False-flag operations are staged to appear as if they had been carried out by the “villain.” Due to the need to conceal the links between the perpetrators and state agencies, such operations require a high degree of secrecy and compartmentalization and are thus very complex. Substantial efforts are typically invested in the subsequent cover-up of such operations. A classical case of false-flag terrorism was the burning of the Reichstag in Berlin in 1933, which was immediately seized by the new Nazi authorities to arrest communist and socialist leaders and establish a police state. Other well-publicized cases of false-flag terrorism include Operation Northwoods (U.S.), the Lavon Affair (Israel) and the Gladio network (West Europe). False-flag operations are thus a distinct type of terrorism that calls for a completely different analytical approach than traditional or genuine terrorism.

The author not only ignores the very existence of false-flag terrorism but attributes all probable cases of such false-flag operations to al Qaeda and to an alleged corruption of Islam. The author, thereby, not only confuses and misleads his readers, but engages in slander and contributes in his modest way to shield the true criminals of these operations.

(c) No assessment of terror investigations

As terrorism is essentially a violent form of political expression, it follows that states possess vital interests in either elucidating or concealing facts surrounding specific cases of terrorism. Due to the political nature of terrorism, States are never neutral observers of such crimes. For that reason, a serious scholar will meticulously scrutinize the direction, manner and zeal of governments to investigate the crime.

States are actually dutybound under human rights law to investigate cases of killings that occur within their jurisdictions. Such investigations must be carried out in good faith. State investigations into killings can be objectively assessed, using criteria of adequacy developed by the European Court of Human Rights, such as promptness, thoroughness, impartiality, the independence of the investigators and transparency. States who fail to fulfil these criteria of adequacy can be presumed to act in bad faith. They call on themselves suspicion. Such presumption arises, for example, with regard to 9/11, the investigation of which has been grossly inadequate, as demonstrated magistrally by Prof. David Ray Griffin in a book entirely devoted to the 9/11 Commission (“The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions”)

The author’s discussion of terrorism relies almost entirely on either dubious terrorist sources or on allegations made by governments. He does not bother to scrutinize the investigations conducted by governments after terrorist attacks, suggesting that we may trust these investigations. The author does not even hint that some of these investigations may have been rigged, a charge made even by the chairman and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission after the Commission was disbanded.

(d) Hoffman and the story of Mohamed Atta’s suitcases

The story of Mohamed Atta’s two suitcases found at the Boston Aiport on September 11, 2001, because they were not loaded onto the doomed aircraft, is well known. The story has been reported world-wide and used unsparingly to establish the official legend on 9/11.

Hoffman builds upon this legend to press his point that the 9/11 “hijackers” were motivated by religion. He thus wrote: “It only remains briefly to clarify the role religion played in the motivation of the hijackers. This can be seen very clearly in the ‘spiritual guide’ written for his accomplices by Mohammed Atta, the leader of the operation, and one of four pilots. The guide was found seven (sic) days after the attacks at the Boston Logan Airport because one (sic) of Atta’s suitcases was mistakenly not transferred from the Portland, Maine, flight to American Airlines Flight 11.”

Let us forgive the author for his harmless inaccuracies, such as the claim that the guide was found seven days after the attacks. Less forgiveable is the author’s lack of intellectual curiosity. For one of the persistent questions regarding this episode is: What prompted Atta to drive to Portland on September 10, 2001 and fly from there back to Boston on an early-morning flight? For had his connecting flight from Portland to Boston been delayed, he wouldn’t be able to carry out the first attack on the World Trade Center, meaning that no TV channels would be on the spot to film in real-time the impact of the second plane’s impact. His “life mission” would be a fiasco and would have betrayed the trust Osama bin Laden allegedly placed on him. The puzzling detour to Portland was noted by the 9/11 Commission, which was unable to provide a compelling explanation. But there exists an explanation, one that is ignored by author Hoffman.

Let us briefly describe what was found in Atta’s suitcases: When the police opened these suitcases, it found in them all the constituent elements for building the 9/11 legend: a portable electronic flight computer, a manual for aircraft simulators, a flight computer, a handwritten text in Arabic, a folding knife, pepper spray, three English grammar books, an Arabic- English dictionary, a bottle of perfume, three photographs, letters from the University of Cairo to Mohamed Atta, a picture of a visa, Alomari’s passport and much more. This finding was hailed as incredible luck, or as The Guardian wrote on October 1, 2001, “The finds are certainly very fortunate, though some might think them a little too fortunate.”

Were all these items packed into the suitcase in order be found by investigators? Perhaps. But in that case, the packers could not have been the “terrorists” because they could not have expected their suitcases to be forgotten in Logan “by mistake.” Did the “terrorists”, then, pack these items in order that they be destroyed in the aircraft crash? Perhaps. But in that case, why did they pack a folding knife and pepper spray into the suitcases, instead of taking these tools along on their bodies for use in the hijackings? Neither explanation makes sense.

Bruce Hoffman does not consider the possibility that Atta’s suitcases and their contents might have been planted there to be found. This possibility occurred, however, to may who observed with bewilderment the sheer quantity of incriminating items found almost immediately in the suitcases and in other locations. Hoffman can, however, be forgiven for ignoring what Philip A. DePasquale, a baggage expediter at Logan Airport in Boston, told the staff of the 9/11 Commission staff on February 10, 2004, regarding these suitcases (source: FBI document 302-46163, quoted in MFR04016228 of the 9/11 Commission). DePasquale told the staffers that the suitcases carried a “covert tag from US Airways [in Portland] to warn that Atta and his luggage were a security issue.” That means that someone at US Airways was told of Atta’s alleged “security threat” before the attacks had started. In other words: Someone knew who Atta was, monitored his movements, and ensured that baggage handlers at Logan will retain Atta’s bags.

Readers may reflect upon DePasquale’s testimony and its implications regarding the events of 9/11.

(e) Terrorist “manuals”

On page 251 the author cites “manuals” for the wannabe terrorist, that were allegedly found by unidentified persons on undisclosed dates in unspecified Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan. These “manuals” are cited by the author as a result of al Qaeda absorbing “lessons” from previous experience “in order to help its operatives blend in in Western environments and avoid attracting attention.“ These manuals include advice such as:

• “Don’t wear short pants that show socks when you’re standing up. The pants should cover the socks, because intelligence authorities know that fundamentalists don’t wear long pants…
• Underwear should be the normal type that people wear, not anything that shows you’re a fundamentalist.
• Not long before traveling – especially from Khartoum – the person should always wear socks and shoes to [get] rid of cracks [in the feet that come from extended barefoot walking], which take about a week to cure…
• You should differentiate between men and women’s perfume. If you use women’s perfume, you are in trouble.”

Leaving aside these highly bizarre admonitions, it is interesting that the authors of these “manuals” used the term “fundamentalist” to describe their own movement. Is this how jihadists refer to themselves or were the authors perhaps half-baked orientalists working for RAND Corporation?

If the purpose of the “manuals” had been to help al Qaeda operatives “to avoid attracting attention” in Western environments, as argued by author Hoffman, there is no indication that these “manuals” warned wannabe terrorists to avoid the police in “enemy territory”. For the alleged 9/11 terrorists were repeatedly arrested in the United States for too fast driving and one of them even complained to the local police about being mugged. Mohamed Atta once attracted unusual attention to himself by leaving a small aircraft in the middle of the runway of Miami airport, because he did not know how to restart the engine. This would normally cause him to lose his flight license or trigger an inquiry. But not in his case. He apparently had some protectors at higher places.
Author Hoffman blithely ignores all these widely reported facts, which would have seriously dented the theories he promotes.

Conclusions

My findings above confirm what German intellectual Reinhard Jellen once wrote, namely that “ignorance and pretension [are today ] not obstacles, but on the contrary prerequisites for professional success.” This can be observed in the case of Bruce Hoffman and others in the same league. That such a book was published by Columbia University Press taints seriously the credibility of that publisher.

While utterly useless as a textbook on terrorism, Bruce Hoffman’s book can be profitably used by aspiring academic prostitutes.

Egypt’s propagandists and the Gaza massacre

http://electronicintifada.net/content/egypts-propagandists-and-gaza-massacre/13662

Egypt’s propagandists and the Gaza massacre

Joseph Massad
The Electronic Intifada
29 July 2014

Sisi’s “ceasefire” offered a week into the Gaza slaughter was spurned by Palestinians in favor of a valiant military resistance.
(ActiveStills)

As Israel’s murderous machine inflicts terror and death on the Palestinian people with the collaboration of the US government and its principal Arab allies, not least of which is the Saudi clan of 20,000 princes and princesses, a huge campaign of hate on the official and unofficial level has been launched in Egypt.

Egypt’s regime is one of the two principal jailers of Gaza Palestinians in the largest concentration camp in the world.

Hosni Mubarak’s heir on the Egyptian throne, General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, expressed well the lies that the Egyptian ruling class of thieves has been propagating in Egypt since the anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian campaigns of the mid to late 1970s under President Anwar Sadat.

The uncharismatic Sisi, whose oratorical abilities rival those of Yasser Arafat, announced with much pomp in his 23 July speech marking the anniversary of the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy that Egypt had already sacrificed “100,000 Egyptian martyrs” for the Palestinian cause.

While few people doubt the sacrifices that Egyptian soldiers have made to defend Egypt in the last 67 years, to claim that these sacrifices were made on behalf of Palestine and the Palestinians is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

It is a line of argument that the ruling class of Egyptian thieves has been propagating in order to claim that Egypt’s terrible economy and state of poverty are not the product of this class’ outright pillage of Egypt with the help of their American and Saudi sponsors since the 1970s, but on account of Egypt’s alleged defense of Palestine and the Palestinians and President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s alleged commitment to liberate the Palestinians from Israel’s colonial occupation.

Tawdry pillaging class

Since the 1970s, Palestinians have been subjected to these lies and to the vacuity and utter tawdriness of this Egyptian class of the ignorant and the illiterate. This class’ lack of education and worldliness was on full display during the last three years of counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation on its television stations and in its press.

The form and content of this output would embarrass and scandalize any self-respecting community of intellectuals, journalists and artists, except that the majority of Egyptian intellectuals, journalists and artists have either been conscripted or fully bought off to defend this class’ interests (though some of those conscripted in support of the regime, especially academics, started to backpedal more recently and to rewrite their history denying their cheerleading for it).

The degradation of Egyptian intellectual and aesthetic cultures and products in the last four decades is a direct outcome of this class’ tyrannical rule. One only has to sit with these businessmen and women, or visit their homes, or watch their representation in Egyptian serials and films and the culture they want to impose through them, or listen to their conversations in Cairo’s five-star hotel bars and restaurants, or watch their interviews on Egypt’s scandalously substandard television stations, to realize their utter mediocrity on every level of economic and political thinking and of aesthetic taste, not to mention their ignorance of Egyptian, Arabic and world literatures and arts, let alone their utter contempt for Egypt’s poor who constitute more than eighty percent of the population.

That this envious and jealous super-wealthy class resents and begrudges the poorest of the poor for their meager possessions, especially the Palestinians of Gaza, illustrates the kind of moral compass that guides its actions.

I still remember my horror when I had dinner in Cairo in October 2010 with billionaire Nassef Sawiris, the richest man in the country, when he announced with much pride to the small dinner party of seven persons that he keeps three TV screens on at all times, in his office, at home and while traveling, set to three different US news channels simultaneously (if memory serves, he listed CNN, CNBC and Fox News) that clearly function as his major sources of education.

Sawiris, who is much less exhibitionist than either of his two older brothers, seemed in disbelief when I informed him that I opposed the right-wing policies of US President Barack Obama, both domestic and foreign, as he seemed unable to conceive of a political position left of Obama.

In a just-published interview with the pro-Sisi newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sawiris commended Sisi for lifting fuel subsidies on the poor (while keeping the price of gasoline for luxury cars down for the rich), and made a series of neoliberal recommendations, including devaluing the Egyptian pound further; privatizing public transportation; removing taxes imposed on the rich (which he claims the government of deposed president Muhammad Morsi had illegally imposed on his company); shielding ministers and government employees from legal prosecution and allowing coal to be used to fuel cement factories despite the massive opposition of health and environmental activists.

Such measures would surely continue to enrich the rich one percent and impoverish the poor (Nassef’s more flamboyant older but poorer brother Naguib just started to write a weekly column for Egypt’s Al-Akhbar in which he reiterates his brother’s neoliberal recommendations. He also calls on Sisi, in a TV interview, to grant Mubarak amnesty and release him from prison).

“Fiction and fabrication”

What Sisi and this class with which he is allied want to claim is that all of Egypt’s wars with Israel were launched to defend Palestine and the Palestinians and that they were hugely costly to Egypt financially and in the lives of soldiers lost. But none of this is true.

In 1956, Israel invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai, and the Egyptian soldiers who were killed died while engaged in defending their country and their land; in 1967, Israel again invaded Egypt and occupied Sinai, and Egyptian soldiers were killed defending their country against foreign invasion; between 1968 and 1970, Israel and Egypt fought the “War of Attrition” in which Egyptian soldiers were killed defending their country against continuing Israeli aggression and the preservation of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Sinai, a war that was fought on Egyptian soil; and in 1973, Egypt launched a war to liberate Sinai, not Palestine, and Egyptian soldiers were again killed defending their country against foreign occupation.

This leaves us with the 1948 war in which, depending on sources, anywhere from one thousand to two thousand Egyptian soldiers and volunteers were killed. This Egyptian military intervention to stop Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians and the Zionist theft of the land of the Palestinians was launched not by Nasser, who is blamed for his rhetorical support of the Palestinians, but by King Farouq.

As most studies of the motives behind Farouq’s and his government’s intervention in Palestine attest, it was on account of Farouq’s concern about Egypt’s leading regional role and fear of Iraqi rivalry and less so as some form of Arab nationalism or solidarity.

These motives aside, most Palestinians do not doubt that the Egyptian soldiers and volunteer fighters who died had indeed died defending Palestine and the Palestinians even if the soldiers among them were doing so based on orders that sought to defend Egyptian regional hegemony. But this remains the only war where Egyptian soldiers and volunteers died defending Palestine and for whom the Palestinian people and their national movement have expressed much gratitude.

But the way these one to two thousand soldiers and volunteers multiply to the tune of “100,000 martyrs,” as Sisi falsely claimed, is the stuff of fiction and fabrication, which the ruling Egyptian class of thieves and their intellectuals-for-hire and paid propagandists in the press have concocted following Sadat’s 1978 Camp David accords, which sacrificed the rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestinians of Gaza, in return for Egyptian non-sovereign, partial police control of Sinai.

This is not to suggest that millions of Egyptians, civilians and soldiers, do not or would not support Palestine and the Palestinians, or that they would not fight for Palestine and the Palestinians, as they often avow and declare that they would; it is to say that aside from the 1948 battles, they have never been given a chance to defend the Palestinians on the battleground. This is precisely what galls the Egyptian ruling class of thieves and what propels the ongoing anti-Palestinian propaganda and hate speech on the television stations owned by this class.

Hearing their propaganda, one would think that it was the Palestinians who had occupied Sinai, not Egypt that had taken over and ruled Gaza from 1948 to 1967 and had laid siege to it intermittently since, imposing a full, continuing siege for the last eight years.

Despite these massive media campaigns, Egyptians are not deterred in their support of the Palestinians, whether by demonstrating against the Sisi regime’s complicity in the massacres as they have been doing in the last two weeks, or by sending medical relief convoys to Gaza, which Sisi’s soldiers turn back, refusing them passage.

Intellectual mass suicide

In this context, it is crucial to understand that this Egyptian ruling class of thieves is the primary enemy not of the Palestinian people, but of most Egyptians whom it oppresses, exploits, robs and humiliates on a daily basis. That the enemies of the Palestinians in Egypt are also the enemies of most Egyptians has recently been obscured by the role played by the cheerleaders of Sisi’s regime.

The intellectual mass suicide that the majority of Egypt’s intellectuals and artists (Nasserists, Marxists, liberals and Salafists) have committed in their abdication of their critical faculties when they supported or remained silent on the massacres and repression of the new regime, let alone their silence on the campaigns against the Egyptian poor and the Palestinians, is reminiscent of the suicide committed by Egyptian communists who disbanded their party in 1964 to join Nasser’s Socialist Union.

This class extends from the Marxist economist and indefatigably pro-Sisi Samir Amin to much less illustrious figures like novelist and Mubarak critic Alaa al-Aswany, and everyone in between including economist Galal Amin and writers and poets Sonallah Ibrahim, Abd al-Rahman al-Abnudi, Bahaa Taher, and scores more.

The suicide of Egyptian communists in 1964, however, was staged due to the communists’ understanding that Nasser’s repression, while unwelcome and regrettable, was ultimately aimed to serve their common project of nationalization and socialization of property in order to eradicate Egyptian poverty. It remains unclear what the rationale of Egypt’s contemporary intellectuals is in committing suicide in order to support Egypt’s ruling class of thieves.

Gaza massacre is “plan B”

That Sisi has outdone Mubarak’s policies in allying himself with Israel and coordinating with it against the besieged Palestinians is hardly surprising, since he serves the very same class and interests which Mubarak served. What is different, however, is Hamas’ erstwhile quiescence and submission to Mubarak’s diktat out of a sense of entrapment, which Hamas has since abandoned.

It is now clear that Israel’s ongoing slaughter of the Palestinians turns out to be plan B, wherein plan A had been a possible Egyptian ground invasion of Gaza that Sisi’s government had threatened to carry out a few months ago after it had destroyed Gaza’s lifeline tunnels (and this was before Sisi’s sham elections), presumably with Israeli help, with the ostensible purpose to re-install Muhammad Dahlan as Gaza’s warlord and get rid of Hamas and Palestinian resistance.

That the Egyptian head of intelligence was on a visit to Israel a few days before Israel’s massacres were launched, and that three Israeli intelligence officials visited Egypt a few days later, are only tiny indicators of the high level of coordination between the two countries.

The sadism and narcissism that are traits of mainstream Israeli Jewish colonial culture and which manifest in pervasive street mobs crying “death to the Arabs” and propel segments of the country’s colonial Jewish population to watch from the hilltops and cheer the slaughter of the native Palestinians is only matched by the sadistic and hateful propaganda of the Sisi regime media and that of the Egyptian ruling class of thieves.

Indeed, even while Israel’s slaughter of the Palestinians of Gaza continues, the Egyptian army announced on 27 July that it had just destroyed thirteen more tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, presumably as part of its own heroic contribution to the ongoing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

As for the “ceasefire” that Sisi offered a week into the Gaza slaughter, which was dictated to him by his Israeli allies, it has been appropriately spurned by the Palestinian people in favor of a valiant military resistance to their Israeli colonial captors’ criminality and a courageous political and diplomatic resistance in facing up to their Egyptian jailers’ cruelty.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history. He is author of the forthcoming book Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press).

Rwanda’s massacres preceded by a false-flag operation covered-up by the UN

Evidence of Kagame’s Crimes Suppressed by Chief Rwanda Prosecutor Louise Arbour – Affidavit of Michael Andrew Hourigan

http://www.globalresearch.ca/evidence-of-kagames-crimes-suppressed-by-chief-rwanda-prosecutor-louise-arbour-testimony-of-michael-andrew-hourigan/5377200

COMPLETE DOCUMENT

Date of document:                                          27 November 2006

Filed on behalf of the Plaintiff by:            

Michael Hourigan

Carrington House

61-63 Carrington Street

Adelaide South Austrlia 5000

AUSTRALIA

Ph: (08) 8237 0584

Mobile: 0415 668 732

Fax: (08) 8237 0555

Email: mikehourigan@gmail.com                                                                    

Date and time of filing or transmission:    27 November 2006

AFFIDAVIT

I, MICHAEL ANDREW HOURIGAN Lawyer of 61-63 Carrington Street Adelaide 5000 in the State of South Australia Solicitor MAKE OATH AND SAY as follows:

1                    I am a qualified legal practitioner in the State of South Australia. I was also a former police detective before completing a law degree in 1995 after which time I took up a post as a Crown Prosecutor with the Director of Public Prosecutions (D.P.P. Adelaide).

2                    In April, 1996 I left the D.P.P. in Adelaide and took up a position as an investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

3                    Soon after my arrival in Rwanda I was put made a team leader in charge of a team consisting of about 20 members and the team was to be known as ‘the National Team’.

4                    I was directed by Judge Richard Goldstone (the then Chief Prosecutor) and Judge Honoré Rakotomana (the then ICTR Prosecutor) and Mr. Alphonse Breau (the then Director of Investigations) to focus my teams investigations on the following matters:-

4.1.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and then locate and arrest him;

4.2.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and then locate and arrest him;

4.3.            Investigate the murder of thousands of Rwandan elite in the first days of the genocide by the Rwandan Presidential.

4.4.            identify the person(s) responsible for the fatal rocket attack on 6 April 1994 killing President Habyarimana and all others on board;

5                    Together with my investigators we conducted investigations into these matters throughout the next year. During the course of 1996 I was called upon to brief Judge Goldstone and then his replacement Judge Louise Arbour and other senior prosecutors on the progress of our investigations into Bagosora, Nsengiyumva, the Presidential Guard and the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

6                    At no time did Judge Goldstone, Judge Arbour or any other member of the ICTR ever indicate to me that our investigations into the downing of the President Habyrimana’s aircraft were outside the ICTR mandate. On the contrary, it was made clear to me that our investigations into the rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft was an act of international terrorism which clearly fell within the ICTR statute Article 4 Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions:-

Article 4: Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II

The International Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the power to prosecute persons committing or ordering to be committed serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, and of Additional Protocol II thereto of 8 June 1977. These violations shall include, but shall not be limited to:

a) Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment;

b)

c)

d) Acts of terrorism;

e)

f)

g)

h)

7                    I am pleased to say that the National Team was successful and we achieved the following results:-

7.1.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Theoneste Bagosora with Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.2.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.3.            Gathered evidence against senior members of the Presidential Guard in relation to the killing of key Rwandan citizens, including but not limited to, UNAMIR-protected VIPS  Justice Joseph Kavaruganda, (President of the Constitutional Court) and Vice President  Lando Ndasingwa (the head of the Parti liberal);

7.4.            In late January or early February 1997 members of the National Team were approached by three (3) informants (either former or serving member of the R.P.F.) claiming direct involvement in the 1994 fatal rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft. Their evidence specifically implicated the direct involvement of President Paul Kagame, members of his administration and military. The informants also advised that the Kagame administration was actively involved in covert operations aimed at murdering high profile expatriate Rwandans – once such murder was the death of Seth Sedashonga in Nairobi.

8                    With respect to the highly sensitive information from the three informants regarding the plane crash I immediately informed my Commander Jim Lyons. My Director Mr. Alphonse Breau was out of the country and I arranged for him to be told by telephone.

9                    The information from the sources was very detailed and seemed very credible. I was very concerned about the sensitivity of the information and arranged for an urgent ‘secure’ telephone call to Judge Arbour.

10                Commander Jim Lyons and I attended at the US Embassy in Kigali and I made a call to Judge Arbour at the US Embassy in the Hague using an encrypted (‘secure’) STU III telephone. I informed Judge Arbour in considerable detail about the information implicating President Kagame. She was excited by the break through and advised me that the information corroborated some other information she had just learnt from Alison Des Forge the week before. At no time did she suggest that our investigations were improper. On the contrary, I would describe her mood as upbeat and excited that at last we were making significant progress into the events surrounding the plane crash.

11                Judge Arbour was concerned about the safety of the informants and my men. I advised her that the informants’ identities had been kept secure and if she so directed me I would arrange for my investigators involved in the plane crash to leave Rwanda. She directed that my investigators should leave and I agreed to have them travel from the country on suitable inquiries inNairobi. As for me I declined to leave Rwanda and advised her that I wanted to stay with my team and assist them complete other important investigations. She consented to this  but asked me to keep in touch with her while she considered what to do with this sensitive information.

12                During the next week I was directed by senior members of the UN in Kigali that I was required to travel to the ICTY in the Hague in order to meet with Judge Arbour and brief on her on our investigations in the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

13                Some days later I was approached at the ICTR headquarters in Kigali by Mr. Michael Hall, UN Deputy Security (NY). He advised me that I would be flying to Arusha the next day on the ICTR aircraft and from there board an international KLM flight to Amsterdam. Mr. Hall asked me to give him any information that I had on air crash and he would convey it to the airport in a UN diplomatic pouch. I then gave Mr. Hall a single floppy disc containing a memorandum I had prepared for Judge Arbour.

14                The next day Mr. Hall conveyed me to the Kigali airport where I checked in for the UN flight. There Mr. Hall and I were told that the flight was overbooked and that I could not to Arusha. Mr. Hall became agitated and told the UN flight officer that the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan had personally ordered my attendance in Arusha for an international connection the next day. As a consequence I was given a seat on the UN flight and flew to Arusha.

15                The next day I flew to the Hague and over-knighted in a hotel near the ICTY.

16                The following morning I met with Mr. Al Breau and briefed him on the information concerning the plane crash. Together we discussed forming a special ICTR investigations unit based outside of Kigali to investigate the plane crash.

17                Following breakfast Mr. Breau and I attended at the ICTY and met with Judge Arbour. Also present was Mr. Mohammed Othman, Acting ICTR Prosecutor.

18                I briefed Judge Arbour on the informants and their information regarding the involvement of President Kagame and members of the RPF in the downing of President Habyrimana’s aircraft.

19                I presented her with a copy of a memo I had prepared entitled ‘Secret National Team Inquiry – Internal Memorandum’ and this document which is undated is attached to this statement. This document detailed the information provided by the three informants.

20                To my surprise Judge Arbour was aggressive and questioned me about the source of the information regarding the informants and the quality and potential reliability of their information. I advised her that the information was given to me by members from my team – the National Team. Those members were Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistriansky. I advised her that I held both investigators in the highest regard. I did say that I was not able to provide any advice as to the reliability of their information as it had not been tested. However, I did suggest that it was very detailed and this is itself meant that it could be subjected to considerable forensic examination.

21                Mr. Al Breau also expressed his strong view that both Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistrianksy were highly effective and reliable men.

22                Judge Arbour then advised me that the National Team investigation was at an end because in her view it was not in our mandate. She suggested that the ICTR’s mandate only extended to events within the genocide, which in her view began ‘after’ the plane crash.

23                I was astounded at this statement. I pointed to the temporal mandate of the ICTR being 1 January 1994 until 31 December 1994 and this clearly covered the time of the plane crash. I also addressed the ‘terrorism’ and ‘murder’ provisions of the ICTR statute.

24                More particularly I also told her that this was the first time she had ever suggested that this was outside the ICTR mandate. I reminded her that I had personally briefed her before about our investigations  into the plane crash and that she had never ever expressed a view that this matter should be part of an ICTR inquiry.

25                I expressed my strong view to her that these Rwandan informants were courageous and were deserving of our protection. I cautioned her that the UN had a history of abandoning informants in Rwanda and I specifically reminded her of the UN’s abandonment of Jean Pierre Turatsinze in 1994.

26                Judge then became hostile and asked me if I was challenging her authority to direct to end our investigations into the plane crash.

27                I told her that I was not questioning her authority only her judgement. I informed her that I was her servant and I would obey her direction.

28                Judge Arbour then asked me if the memo that I had prepared for her was the only copy. I told her that it was and she said she was pleased to hear that and placed in her office filing cabinet.

29                She then asked me to leave the room.

30                I was extremely concerned at Judge Arbour’s decision and felt that it was wrong both in law and policy.

31                I returned to Kigali and a short time later resigned from the ICTR.

32                After my resignation from the ICTR I was offered a position as an investigator with the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. Soon after taking up my appointment I was asked to provide OIOS  investigators investigating corruption within the ICTR with a statement re my service in Rwanda for the ICTR.

33                On 1 August 1997 I prepared an internal memorandum detailing various issues which I felt lay behind some of the difficulties with the ICTR. A copy of this memorandum is attached here.

34                The OIOS leadership were not at all interested in the memorandum and they expressed their concern at some of the contents of the document implicating the Secretary General in some of the serious events inRwandain1994.

35                I completed six months with OIOS and resigned.

36                I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership and possibly elsewhere pressured Judge Arbour to end the National Team’s investigations into the shooting down of President Habyarimana.

37                Following my resignation my National Team was dismembered – the National Team investigations into the plane crash were brought to an end.

38                I have suffered at the hands of Judge Arbour and the UN because my career with the ICTR was brought to an untimely and ignominious end. I was proud of serving with the ICTR but I felt that I could not work for Judge Arbour when, in my view, she acted for personal reasons against the interests of the ICTR, the UN and world community which we served.

39                I know the facts deposed to herein to be true of my own knowledge, information and belief except where otherwise plainly appears.

The case of Muhammad Haidar Zammar



 

The case of Muhammad Haidar Zammar1

By Elias Davidsson (January 2014)

How German leaders conspired with the U.S. and Syria in covering-up a secret operation

1. Who is Zammar?

Muhammad Haidar Zammar (also written Mohammad or Mohammed Haydar) was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1961. He moved to Germany with his family when he was ten years old and became a German citizen in 1982. According to intelligence services, he participated in the war against the occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet forces and in the civil war in ex-Yugoslavia, on the Bosnian side. According to these sources, Zammar decided in 1991 to dedicate himself fully to “jihad”, whatever that means.

2. Why is Zammar’s case relevant for understanding the conduct of Mohammed El Amir Atta?

The reason for examining thoroughly the case of Zammar, is that he reportedly claimed to have recruited Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and Ziad Jarrah, three of the alleged suicide-pilots of 9/11,into the Al Qaeda network and induced them go to Afghanistan for military training.1While Zammar’s claims have not been confirmed independently, U.S. and German authorities have not denied these claims. According to unnamed U.S. investigators, Zammar is indeed believed to have recruited Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg group to become “suicide attackers”.2

Should that have been the case, the question would arise whether he acted on his own or as an operative for “higher-ups”. In the latter case, discovering the identity of these “higher-ups” would help explain the role played by Mohamed El Amir Atta and his friends, in relation to 9/11.

The present study demonstrates that Zammar was no marginal figure in relation to the group around Mohamed Atta; that the German government was aware of his key role long before 9/11; that it facilitated his departure from Germany after 9/11; and that it remains determined to hide the true function of Zammar.

3. Zammar was monitored by German intelligence long before 9/11

According to the German weekly Der Spiegel, unnamed officials said that Zammar, who obtained a German passport in 1982, had been already known to Germany’s Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, or BfV) since the end of the 1980s as a militant Muslim and recruiter for “jihad”.3 According to diverse mainstream sources, German and U.S. intelligence services had Zammar under extensive observation at least since 19984, probably earlier.5They reportedly interceptedhis phone calls6, monitored his meetings7 and surveilled his movements.8 Information about the surveillance of Zammar “from the files of various German police and intelligence agencies”, was provided to the New York Times “by someone with official access to the files of the continuing investigation into the events leading to the Sept. 11 attacks.”9 German officials did not dispute the authenticity of these documents.

According to the German weekly Der Spiegel,10 the newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten11 and a later Spiegel article12, Turkish authorities informed their German colleagues already in 1996 that Zammar had flown more than 40 times through Istanbul and Ankara on the way to, or back from war zones. This fact was withheld from the Commission of Inquiry of the Bundestag (COI) and was not mentioned in the commission’s final report.Yet, such extensive travel by an unemployed person who depended on welfare payments, should have raised immediate alarms.

A German investigator, EKHK Kröschel, was asked by the Commission of Inquiry what was known to German intelligence about Zammar before 9/11. As part of his answer, he read from a dossier on Zammar from the Hamburg Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV), that predates 9/11:

“On the base of numerous information, Zammar is known to the Hamburg Office of the Protection of the Constitution as a follower of Osama bin Laden and is considered as belonging to the network of ‘Arab Afghans’. According to his own wish, Zammar underwent already in 1991 military training as a Mujahedeen in the use of infantry weapons and explosives in Pakistan and participated thereafter in combat in Afghanistan. He had presumably personal contact to Osama bin Laden, whom he admires.”

According to an unnamed investigator quoted by Der Spiegel, Zammar acted as a kind of “travel agency to Afghanistan.”Long before 9/11, it was suspected by German intelligence that Zammar organized military training for wanabee German “jihadists” in Bin Laden’s camps. According to Azam Irschid, deputy director of the Al-Muhadjirin mosque in Hamburg, Zammar was known within the Islamic community in Hamburg as a full-fledged apostle of “jihad”.13

According to Der Spiegel, the BfV tried to recruit Zammar in 1996 as an informant, an offer he supposedly declined: He was said not to serve Westerners, “only Allah and the jihad.”14He reportedly claimed to have been militarily trained in a “mujahedeen” camp already in 1991 and had got to know Bin Laden personally. Zammar, however, supposedly said that Al Qaeda considered him of little value.15 His statements cannot be independently verified. No open-source evidence exists regarding the period of surveillance, its extent, purpose and nature. There is, however, no plausible reason why mainstream media would fabricate evidence of Zammar’s surveillance by intelligence agencies, nor why such agencies would wish to promote Zammar’s bluster. In fact, when reports appeared about pre-9/11 surveillance of the Hamburg group in general and that of Zammar in particular, Germany’s intelligence agencies tried to downplay the significance of its surveillance. Yet, according to the German weekly STERN, German investigators informed the CIA about their surveillance of Zammar, suggesting thereby that they considered his activities sufficiently significant to report them to their U.S. colleagues.16

The name of Haydar Zammar did never appear in German media prior to 9/11. Public evidence of his existence appeared in German media only after he left Germany with the knowledge of the German authorities in the end of October 2001.

4.  What was the purpose of monitoring Zammar?

There is no public evidence that Zammar was questioned by German criminal investigators prior to 9/11. Had he been considered as a security threat – as later claimed by German authorities – they would have possessed at least five good reasons to invite him for questioning prior to 9/11: (1)Three Yemeni men, suspected of being members of Islamic Jihad, were arrested in Torino, Italy, on October 2, 1998, alleged to have prepared attacks on U.S. facilities in Europe. On their address list, Italian authorities found contacts of Mohamed Haydar Zammar;17 (2) The arrest of Al Qaeda suspect Mamduh Mahmud Salim in Munich in the fall of 1998, equally led to Zammar;18 (3) Zammar’s modest financial means (he was on welfare) were not commensurate with his extensive international travel of which intelligence agencies were aware; (4) After he was detained in Jordan in July 2001 and expelled from there to Germany, there existed ample grounds to debrief him;19 (5) other known “suspected extremists” or “Al Qaeda sympathizers” among Hamburg’s Muslims, monitored from as early as 1996,20 included the group around Mohamed Atta and were in permanent contact with Zammar.21If such questioning or debriefing did not take place, German intelligence and investigative authorities owe the public an explanation. Was it the result of gross negligence, or were they ordered to leave him alone? If such questioning or debriefing had taken place before 9/11, the question would arise why this fact is being suppressed and what did these interrogations reveal.

After mainstream media revealed the extensive surveillance of Zammar by German intelligence agencies prior to 9/11, German officials did not issue a denial but rather tried to downplay the significance and the extent of the surveillance. They claimed that Zammar was then not considered as an “extremist”; that “what we did not see, were concrete signs for such a violent act as occurred in New York”;22 that the surveillance had been a “routine operation,”23that intercepted phone calls did not allow to determine the identities of the later “9/11 terrorists” because callers used only first names;24 that at the time, German officials were not overly concerned of a threat emanating from Osama bin Laden25; and that nothing Zammar did was illegal at the time. As a “final proof” of Zammar’s benign intentions, Spiegel’s journalists presented the fact that he did not attempt to flee from Germany after 9/11.26

The above explanations revealed themselves later as contrived: According to Der Spiegel 45/2002, Zammar admitted in interrogations conducted in Syria, that he planned in 1998, together with several other “Islamists”, to carry out a bombing attack in Hamburg, Germany. He and his colleaguesreportedly surveilled the target to be bombed but ultimately found the attacks too risky to carry out because of security considerations. If he actually made this admission, it is surprising that nothing of these plans had transpired in the massive surveillance to which he was subjected. If his statement was the result of torture, the question arises why it was presented by Der Spiegel as a genuine admission.

5. Why was Zammar detained in Jordan in July 2001?

The German authorities reportedly knew that Zammar had been detained in July 2001 in Jordan for several days and expelled to Germany.27 He most probably was debriefed by German officials upon his return to Germany. It is, therefore, surprising that the German authorities did never mention such debriefing (or explained the lack thereof).The reasons for his detention in Jordan have never been clarified. Surprisingly, the 1460-page report by the Commission of Inquiry of the Bundestag (COI), does neither mention Zammar’s detention in Jordan nor his alleged admission to have planned a terrorist attack in Hamburg.

6. Zammar was interrogated after 9/11 in Germany and released immediately

The German authorities interrogated Zammar already six days after 9/1128. He reportedly admitted to a German judge that he had previously distributed Osama bin Laden’s “Declaration of War against the Americans” to Muslims in Germany.29 It was not clear why he was presented to a judge. According to Der Spiegel journalist Holger Stark, this was no mere interrogation but actually a “trial”, which was “not open to the public”.30 At the time he made the aforementioned admission, Osama bin Laden was already widely considered as the instigator of the 9/11 attacks. German officials knew after 9/11 that Zammar had in the past entertained “intensive contacts” with the alleged perpetrators of 9/11, i.e. to Atta, Alshehhi and Jarrah, as well as to the fugitive Ramzi Binalshibh.31 The authorities also knew that Zammar travelled extensively but had not the financial means to pay for his travel himself. The fact that Zammar was interrogated shortly after 9/11 was not reported at the time in German media. Yet, Der Spiegel was apparently informed of Zammar’s interrogation, for it interviewed Zammar four days later.32 But Der Spiegel mentioned its interview only in 2002. In its extensive report regarding the Hamburg group published on October 15, 2001, Der Spiegel did not mention Zammar at all.33 The contents of Der Spiegel’s interview with Zammar were never published.

It took four weeks after Zammar’s interrogation for Germany’s Attorney General’s Office to initiate a criminal investigation of Zammar as a suspected supporter of a terrorist organisation. The evidence prompting this criminal investigation included – in addition to what the authorities knew before 9/11 –incomplete and untrue statements made by Zammar to the judge on September 17, particularly about his contacts withthe alleged perpetrators of 9/11.34 It was revealed in 2007 that the investigation of Zammar, initiated in 2001, had not yet been closed.35

It was revealed in the report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Bundestag, that merely hours after the 9/11 attacks, the decision was adopted by the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) to establish a special unit, entitled “Besondere Aufbauorganisation USA” (BAO USA) – a peculiar name given to that unit – whose role was to “take the appropriate measures regarding the investigations by the Office of the Attorney General in relation to the attacks of 9/11 and to ensure national and international obligations of informational cooperation.”36The unit employed at times more than 600 people37, and hosted at one time fifteen FBI agents.38 The then director of the Office of the Chancellor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told to the Commission of Inquiry: “It was and remains for me entirely self-evident that we cooperate – within our law – with the USA.The USA together with our European partners are and remain allies, also and particularly in the struggle against international terrorism.”39

Manfred Klink, who headed in 2001 the BAO-USA task force, informed the Commission of Inquiry, that Zammar was considered at the time “a very dangerous islamist fundamentalist, who could be expected at any time to participate in plotting new terrorist attacks.”40 Due to the alleged dangerousness of Zammar, the Office of the Attorney General also instituted after 9/11 a covert and systematic observation of Zammar. On the base of this observation, German officials learned that Zammar had booked a flight to Morocco.The Attorney General kept Germany’s Chancellor’s Office informed about both the investigation and the surveillance.41 Germany’s leaders manifestly considered Zammar as a key player in a murky operation.

Yet, officials explained later that the evidence on Zammar they possessed was not sufficient for detaining him as a suspect.Transcripts of his interrogations by German officials have not been released to the public, though The New York Times somehow obtained a copy of one such transcript from which it selectively quoted certain phrases.42

7. Officials allowed Zammar to leave Germany while he was under investigation

Germany’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) was aware early on, that Zammar, while being investigated in relation to 9/11,planned to travel abroad, allegedly for personal reasons.On the base of surveillance, the OAG knew that Zammar inquired on October 17, 2001 about travel plans at the Hamburg airport.The OAG was also aware that on October 18, Zammar – claiming that he had lost his passport43 – attempted to obtain a temporary replacement passport, booked on October 24 a return flight from Hamburg to Casablanca and applied and obtained on that same day a temporary passport. The chief of the Customer Service Center at Hamburg North, Ms. Wolter, whose competence includes the issuance of passports, testified before the Commission of Inquiry that immediately after Zammar left the Center, a police officer came and told her that Zammar was under police observation. The officer wanted to know what Zammar was doing there.44

The authorities admit that they did not attempt to impede or at least delay Zammar’s travel, although he was under criminal investigation in relation to the mass-murder of 9/11. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) was actually advised by the OAG that in the case of Zammar’s departure from Germany, he should not be arrested,45 suggesting thereby the need to override an existing injunction to ban Zammar’s departure from Germany.

According to Kay Nehm, who served in 2001 as Germany’s Attorney General, he claimed before the Commission of Inquiry, that the authorities possessed in 2001 no legal means to prevent Zammar’s departure from the country.46 His claim was endorsed by the former head of the German “FBI” (BKA), Dr. Ulrich Kersten.47 This claim was, however, rejected as ludicrous by members of the opposition.48 Mounir el-Motassadeq, for example, who in the fall of 2001 was also designated by German authorities as a suspect by virtue of his friendship with Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, was actually arrested and detained in order to prevent him from leaving Germany. Yet, in his case, no evidence existed at the time – or at any time later – of any connections between him and Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda. The differential treatment of Mounir el Motassadeq and Zammar suggests that German authorities were not truthful about their alleged inability to prevent or delay Zammar’s departure from Germany.

The President of the BfV (Germany’s domestic intelligence service), Heinz Fromm, asked by members of the Commission of Inquiry why the authorities let Zammar, a “dangerous suspect”, leave Germany, gave the curious answer that “when he is not here, he cannot do much damage.”49 It was not reported whether the Commission’s members sniggered.

According to the German newspaper Welt Online, Zammar left Germany for Morocco on October 27, 2001. His car was reportedly found abandoned in a [Hamburg] street.50

Dr. Hansjörg Geiger, who at the time served as the Chief of the Ministry of Justice, told the Commission of Inquiry that Kay Nehm informed him on October 25, 2001 of the impending departure of Zammar from Germany scheduled two days later.51 In parallel, the coordinator of the German BND (Federal intelligence service),, Ernst Uhrlau, informed the Office of the Chancellor on October 22 or 23 about Zammar’s plans to leave Germany.52 A discussion about Zammar’s impending departure from Germany took place on October 26, 2001 at the Office of the Chancellor.53 Such high level interest in the movements of Zammar and the reluctance to arrest him, suggests that he was as a key government asset.

Another person connected to the group surrounding Mohamed Atta, who was also under surveillance by German intelligence, was Sa’eed Bahaji. He also left Germany while under observation. An unidenfied official of the BfV, using the pseudonym Jürgen Lindweiler, testified in Mounir el Motassadeq’s trial in 2003, that border control officials had to notify the BfV, should Bahaji leave Germany. He was not to be arrested but his departure date had to be immediately notified to the BfV. Yet, when Bahaji left Germany, the system surprisingly failed because the BfV was not notified about his departure.54 Was Bahaji’s departure from Germany also facilitated by the authorities?

8. German officials informed Dutch, Moroccan and U.S. intelligence services in advance about Zammar’s travels

The German authorities informed on October 26, 2001, Dutch55, Moroccan56 and U.S. authorities57 about Zammar’s travel plans, flight numbers, etc., and requested that they check whether he actually carried out his flights.58 The Moroccan authorities were reportedly informed by their German counterparts that Zammar was under criminal investigation in Germany for allegedly supporting a terrorist organisation and that he was known to have had contact with the fugitives Bahaji, Binalshibh and Essebar, accused to have been indirectly involved in the mass-murder of 9/11.59 Mr. Kröschel, who testified before the Commission of Inquiry, claimed that the main reason for informing the Moroccan authorities of Zammar’s travel was to warn the Moroccans: “Beware, here comes someone who is suspected here to have had strong contacts with the perpetrators of 9/11! He is suspected and accused here to be a supporter. Beware!”60 On November 26, 2001, German officials transmitted to the FBI information about Zammar’s family circumstances, in addition to travel details.61 It is not known what was the purpose of providing such information to the FBI.

German officials claim that they could not have envisaged at the time that, should Zammar leave Germany, he might be abducted by U.S. officials and “rendered” to a third country.62 Yet, according to a report by the Special Expert of the European Council on U.S. renditions, Dick Marty, U.S. allies were informed at a secret meeting held at the fringe of the NATO Council, as early as on October 2, 2001, about the U.S.rendition practice.63 The European chief of the CIA, Tyler Drumheller, corroborated in an interview with the German weekly STERN of March 11, 2008, that European governments and intelligence services were aware of the renditions’ practice already in the fall of 2001.64 He emphasized that he knows both Ernst Uhrlau, the then President of the BND and Dr. Steinmeier, personally, whom he said he met in the Chancellor’s Office in the fall of 2001. According to him the Germans expressed their displeasure at the time about unilateral U.S. “renditions” of terrorists from European soil, carried out without the permission of the respective governments. The CIA had then, according to Drumheller, “promised to involve our allies in the operations.” German officials, including Uhrlau and Steinmeier, emphatically rejected Drumheller’s allegations. Uhrlau said he “does not remember” having met Drumheller in the fall of 2001 but remembers having met him in Russia during a conference in 2002.65 However, he denied to have discussed renditions with him. Dr. Steinmeier, for his part, denied to have ever known, let alone met, Mr. Drumheller.66 Due to the status of Tyler Drumheller,as the chief of CIA in Europe,it is difficult to take these denials at face value.

9. Zammar disappears

Zammar was supposed to return from Morocco to Germany on December 8th, 2001. However, he did not show up to his flight. He later, when he was in Syrian detention, told a German consular official that he had been arrested in Morocco on December 8th, 2001, held there for 23 days and moved to Syria in the beginning of 2002.67

On December 13, 2001, an official of the BKA, Mr. Calame, learned that Zammar had been arrested by the Moroccan authorities.68 Yet, upon requests for information, the Moroccan authorities lied repeatedly to their German counterparts about Zammar’s fate: First, they denied that Zammar entered Morocco on October 27, 2001.69 Then they told the Germans that Zammar had left Morocco on August 15, 2001, i.e.long before his current entry into Morocco (there was no evidence that Zammar had at all traveled to Morocco in August 2001).70 Zammar was then said to have left Morocco through Agadir airport.71 Another time, that he left for Spain.72 A third time that he was expelled to Spain.73 A fourth time that he left for an “unknown destination.”74 Although aware of Morocco’s lies regarding Zammar, German officials refrained from asking their Moroccan counterparts about the circumstances of Zammar’s arrest.75 German leaders – previously anxious to be informed about the movements of that particular individual – allegedly refrained to inquire about Zammar’s fate.76 On June 5, 2002 – five months after his “rendition” – the Moroccan authorities informed the BKA that Zammar was expelled to Spain on December 27, 2001 and was now in Syria.77

According to a Spiegel report of January 8, 2007, based on a memorandum from the German embassy in Washington, D.C., representatives of the State Department told German embassy officials that Germany “should not undertake steps against Morocco regarding Zammar because Morocco had acted expressly at the request of the United States.“78 Asked whether to his opinion Germany had been lied to by ”friendly partners”, Mr. Uhrlau admitted that this had been the case.79 He added that one cannot always expect from partners truthful answers to questions.80 Indeed, “friendly partners” are not necessarily true friends.

At this point, it might be useful to recall that Zammar was a German citizen who was at the time under investigation in Germany as a extremist Muslim with an Al Qaeda background, and a friend of the alleged perpetrators of 9/11.The officially displayed disinterest in seeking information about the fate of Zammar was therefore most likely contrived.

At no time then or thereafter, did German officials criticize Morocco for the arrest and the kidnapping of Zammar.Not in the least offended by Moroccan lies, a delegation of the BKA that comprised the vice-president of the agency, Bernard Falk, visited Morocco between April 8 and 12, 2002 in order to strengthen the cooperation between the BKA and the respective Moroccan agency.81 Between May 14 and 17, 2002, a delegation of the Moroccan DGST (the Moroccan secret services), visited the headquarters of the BKA in Meckenheim (Germany), to further develop intelligence cooperation.82 These meetings did not – according to testimonies before the Commission of Inquiry – yield information about the fate of Zammar.83 Officials of the DGST claimed they had no idea of hisfate.

10. Zammar was “rendered” by the CIA to Syria

In June 2002, it was reported for the first time that Zammar had been “rendered” by the CIA from Morocco to Syria after being detained by the Moroccan authorities. The exact circumstances of his transfer to Syria were not revealed. The Commission of Inquiry of the Bundestag concluded in their final report that, in spite of questioning hundreds of witnesses, including high officials, it could not determine when and where Zammar was arrested and when and how he was transferred to Syria.84 Were German officials unable to obtain this information from Morocco and the U.S. or did they suppress their knowledge while testifying before a parliamentary commission?

Yet, three months earlier, in March 2002, a delegation of the BND visited Syria and was given a five-page “study” on Zammar. The “study” was not released to the Commission of Inquiry because its release would – so the German government – endanger Germany’s the state’s welfare (Staatswohl).85 One may be justified in asking what prompted the BND to travel to Syria in March 2002, and what prompted the Syrian government to hand such a “study” to the BND. According to a BKA memorandum of June 20, 2002, cited in the Commission’s report, the Zammar “study” contains “detailed information to his personal surroundings, in relation to his presence in Hamburg and his contacts there. The study also designates Zammar as a recruiter of the 9/11 perpetrators and their supporters who lived in Hamburg.”86 No further details of the “study” are included in the Commission’s report. German officials, interviewed by the Commission, purported not to know who compiled the Zammar” study” and on which basis it was compiled.

Another delegation, headed by the President of the BND, visited Syria on May 16/17, 2002 to further develop intelligence cooperation.87 This was followed by a week-long visit in Germany between July 6 to July 13, 2002, by a Syrian delegation headed by General Asef Shaukat, vice-chairman of Syria’s military intelligence service, who is apparently also the brother-in-law of Syria’s president.88 At this meeting, the German side did not request to obtain access to Zammar. Those who participated in the meeting said that the case of Zammar was not discussed.89

Shortly thereafter, a delegation headed by Dr. Kersten, president of the BKA, visited Damascus between July 29 to 31, 2002. The declared purpose of the visit was to ameliorate the cooperation between the countries in the fight against illegal migration and the struggle against “islamist terrorism”.90 The case Zammar was only mentioned as an aside.Cooperation between Germany and Syria in police and security matters began decades ago and continued at least until the year 2012:Syrian refugees in Germany, including teenagers, were routinely deported to Syria, in the knowledge that they might be arrested and tortured in their home country.91 According to a CIA official, cited by Dick Marty, “when one wishes to have prisoner seriously interrogated, one sends him to Jordan. When one wants him to be tortured, one sends him to Syria.When one wishes him to disappear from this earth, one sends him to Egypt.”92 The German BND, incidentally, cooperates also with the Egyptian secret services.

Another delegation from Germany, composed of representatives from the BND, the BfV and the BKA, visited Syria weeks later, in order to continue its discussions on intelligence cooperation between the countries.93Not much is known about the real purpose of that particular visit.Asked whether the German delegation requested from the Syrian side that Zammar be allowed to be questioned in Germany, Fromm told the Commission of Inquiry that he does not remember whether this was mentioned. He said: “I guess that this issue was not pursued, perhaps the idea did not even occur [to us], because it appeared unrealistic at this juncture to make this demand.”94

According to media reports that appeared in 2002, possibly based on the Zammar “study”, Zammar claimed to have recruited Mohamed Atta and other members of the “Hamburg group” as volunteers for training in Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan.95 On that ground alone, Germany’s judicial authorities should have possessed a vital interest in having him testify before a German court. Their aversion to such a deposition indicates that, on the contrary, their vital interest(and that of the German leadership) resided in keeping Zammar beyond the reach of German courts and media.

Indeed, after learning that Zammar was detained in Syria, German authorities undertook no efforts to have this German citizen returned to Germany, even in the knowledge that he might be tortured and could be sentenced to death.

At the time, Germany held in custody two Syrian nationals, who were arrested in December 200196 and accused of spying on Syrian nationals living in Germany.97 Under pressure from Syria, the German government waived criminal charges against these two Syrian intelligence agents and accepted to upgrade its intelligence cooperation with Syria. German officials emphatically denied that their decision to free these agents had anything to do with Syria’s cooperation regarding Zammar (whatever the nature of this cooperation!)98, Germany Ministry of Justice advised on July 22, 2002, that lifting the charges against the Syrians agents was related to the “geopolitical situation concerning the war on terrorism”, whatever that meant.99 The former Director of the Ministry of Justice, Dr. Geiger, testified before the Commission of Inquiry that the decision not to press the charges against the Syrian agents was based on an “overriding public interest”, whatever that meant.100 He said that the Zammar case did not play any role in lifting the charges. The sole reason for doing so were “the security considerations of the German Federal Republic”, whatever that meant.101

11. Germany acquiesces to Zammar’s incarceration and torture in Syria

German authorities knew that political detainees in Syria are routinely tortured but did not ask the Syrian authorities to spare Zammar from torture. They accepted to interview Zammar in the knowledge that he may have been tortured. Before they met to interview Zammar in November 2002, they Syrian authorities had for three days “prepared Zammar for questioning to make him sufficiently cooperative.”102 as formulated in the report of the Commission of Inquiry. German officials were allowed to meet him on November 21, 22 and 23, 2002 for a total of 13 hours and 20 minutes in the presence of a Syrian official.103 The report by the Commission does not explain what was the nature of Zammar’s three-day “preparation” and apparently no Commission member was curious to know. German officials interviewed by the Commission conceded that torture is practiced routinely in Syria, but argued that Germany must also cooperate, including on intelligence and police matters, with countries that practice torture.104 According to Dr. Hanning, the only possibility to interrogate Zammar was that provided by the Syrians on Syrian soil:“Zammar was deemed one of the main threats in the Hamburg environment and we possessed therefore an overriding interest, from a security perspective, to access Zammar and question him.” German officials did not provide details about the content of their questioning of Zammar; in their testimony to the Commission of Inquiry the mainly described Zammar’s outward appearance, demeanor and willingness to talk, and the logistics surrounding the interrogations.105

According to Amnesty International, Zammar was described in October 2004 in a “skeletal” physical condition as a result of “three years’ incommunicado detention in Far’ Falastin without charge, in prolonged, solitary confinement in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions.”106 In 2006, the Syrian Higher State Security Court sentenced Zammar to life imprisonment, commuted to 12 years, accused of being a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.107 Apparently the Syrian prosecutors used information provided by German services, including evidence of Zammar’s stints in training camps in Afghanistan and Bosnia, to convict Zammar.108 According to German officials, they did not attend Zammar’s trial. According to a report by Amnesty International from 2005, Zammar has not been seen by any outsider, including family members and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, after German officials saw him last in November 2002.109

12.German court is denied protocols of Zammar’s interrogations

The BND sent to the Syrian secret service on July 20, 2002, a catalogue of questions to submit to Zammar and repeatedly received results from interrogations carried out by Syrian officials.110

On January 29, 2003, counsel for Mounir el Motassadeq, who was standing trial in Hamburg, requested that (1) Zammar be allowed to testify as witness for the defense and that (2) the protocols of the interrogations of Zammar as well as the answers to the catalogue of questions submitted to the Syrian interrogators, be entered as exhibits to the trial.111 Counsel argued that Zammar’s testimonies might exculpate their client.

On February 3, 2003, the Office of the German Chancellor sent to the Attorney General, the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice and the BND, a declaration in which it justifies its endorsement of BND’s refusal to release to the court evidence and documents relative to Zammar.112 The main justification for the refusal was that it would cause “disadvantage to the welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany”, whatever that means. According to the Chancellor’s Office, the BND is entitled to withhold from the court information about the whereabouts of Zammar, as well as the contents and the source of documents about him. On the same day, the Ministry of Interior issued a similar paper.113

One day later, on February 4, 2003, the Hamburg court– having presumably been informed of the above documents –issued two Decisions. In its first Decision,114 it rejected the request by defense counsel for the protocols of Zammar’s interrogations that took place in Morocco.The court claimed that such protocols do not exist.

In its second Decision,115 the court rejected the request by defense counsel to produce Zammar as a witness and to produce the protocols of Zammar’s interrogations in Germany and Syria. The court claimed that Zammar’s testimony is not necessary for establishing the truth in the case before trial. The court also argued that it is unlikely that Syria would permit Zammar to testify, even if this were done through a simultaneous video transmission. The court based its conclusion on the decisions by Germany’s Office of the Chancellor and by the Ministry of Interior of January 30, 2003 and February 3, 2003 to refuse access to documents concerning the interrogations of Zammar in Syria.The court added that, on the base of Zammar’s interrogation of September 17, 2001 in Germany, it appears unlikely that Zammar, even if he were allowed to testify, would provide new information relevant to the present trial, for in theinterrogation of September 17, 2001, Zammar refused to answer questions regarding Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and Ziad Jarrah, three of the alleged suicide-pilots of 9/11. In that interrogation – according to the court’s Decision – Zammar claimed that he did not know Binalshibh and Essabar.Should he have lied about these facts in October 2001 – so the court – he would certainly refuse to contradict his former statements and thus incriminate himself in perjury.It was therefore unlikely, so the court, that Zammar would make any statements that might exculpate the accused. The court thus reasoned, that his appearance before the court would be superfluous!

On appeal by defense counsel to the Federal Administrative Court (FAC), the FAC upheld on February 10, 2003116 the lower court’s refusal to ask for the appearance of Zammar and for the release of the protocols of his interrogations, arguing that the German authorities had pledged to the Syrian services strict confidentiality. The FAC uncritically espoused the government’s position that releasing such information to the court would “significantly harm the “welfare of the Federal Republic of Germany”, whatever that means.117 The FAC argued that if the confidentiality promise were breached, Germany would be excluded from further information exchange between intelligence services in the so-called war on terrorism and particularly from cooperation with Syria.118 The FAC did not explain in its ruling how the release of protocols of Zammar’s interrogation, in so far as they relate to the particular court case, could harm the welfare of the nation.The decision by the FAC did not, incidentally, spell out the limits beyond which it would be unlawful or even treasonous for German government officials to promise foreign governments total confidentiality and thereby undermine their democratic accountability to their own citizens.

13. Zammar and Germany’s alleged national interest

A central argument proffered by the German government in support of its suppression of information obtained from Zammar, was that it pledged to the Syrian government not to reveal this information. To violate this pledge would endanger intelligence cooperation with Syria and more generally the credibility of German intelligence agencies. Syria, said Dr. Steinmeier, “belonged at the time to the allies of the West in the war on terror” and was no longer a “rogue state” because it condemned the 9/11 attacks and announced its readiness to participate in the “war against terrorism”. “We needed Syria’s active cooperation,“ said Steinmeier, “because the perpetrators of 9/11 maintained contacts to members of the Syrian Muslim brothers” and “we needed Syria as a constructive partner to prevent an explosion of the Middle East conflict after 9/11.”119The former president of the BND, Dr. Hanning, also emphasized to the Commission of Inquiry the importance of intelligence cooperation with Syria in the war on terror. Syria played a very important role in this matter, he said.120 He did not specify the nature of that “very important role.”

More generally, the German administration, through its various departments, argued that intelligence cooperation with other countries would suffer grave damage, if information transmitted confidentially by foreign services to German intelligence agencies, would be provided to “third parties”, including judicial authorities.

The Commission of Inquiry repeatedly requested, through the Syrian Embassy in Germany, to be allowed to interview Zammar. The Embassy reportedly did not answer a single request. Was this refusal solely based on Syrian domestic considerations or did the governments of the United States and Germany ask Syria to ignore these requests”The fact that the United States kidnapped Zammar and forcefully transferred him to Syria and that German authorities did not press for his return to Germany, suggests, however, a collusion between the three governments.

14. Why do German authorities want Zammar outside the reach of German courts?

As shown above, every move by the German authorities in relation to Zammar demonstrates the existence of a policy, adopted at the highest echelons of German politics, to remove Zammar from the reach of German courts and media. The interest shown by the highest echelons of German politics to the case of Zammar indicates that he was certainly not a “marginal figure” from their perspective.

If Zammar was no “marginal figure”, what was his role? He either was an Al Qaeda operative believed by the German authorities to be highly dangerous, or an asset of German and/or American intelligence services, whose role was to induce Muslims to become “jihadists” and spend some time in an alleged Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan. After their return home, they would become ideal targets for a media-savvy “war on terrorism.”

Had Zammar been regarded by the German authorities as a highly dangerous Al Qaeda operative, the question would arise why they did not interrogate or detain him before 9/11 and why they let him leave Germany after 9/11, although they had known virtually everything about him for years, including his alleged radical views, his contacts with suspected terrorists, his trips to Afghanistan and his lack of means to finance his frequent trips. Apologists for the German government, such as journalists of Der Spiegel, argue that before 9/11 “no one was concerned about Al Qaeda” and that those who listened to Zammar’s phone calls before 9/11 did not “connect the dots”. This explanation is tenuous and does not explain why he was not arrested after 9/11, when it transpired that he may have facilitated the travel of the alleged perpetrators of 9/11 to Afghanistan.After the bombings of the U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 – the largest terrorist attacks committed anywhere in that year – the U.S. designated Osama bin Laden as the main suspect for these attacks. As a U.S. ally, the German authorities would have certainly been asked to cooperate in the investigation by monitoring and interrogating individuals residing in Germany suspected of connections to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Zammar was known at the time as one of the most prominent contacts to Al Qaeda living in Germany. His contacts to other “jihadists”, as mentioned above, provided further reasons for the German authorities to consider him, even before 9/11, a dangerous person, had he been a genuine “jihadist.”

The failure of the German authorities to act on Zammar’s alleged menace, both before and after 9/11, strongly suggests that Zammar played a radically different role from that attributed to him by government officials.

Is it possible, for instance, that Zammar actually accepted the reported proposal of the German BfV in 1996 to act as an informant (see above)”In that case, he would have been an asset in a covert strategy managed by U.S. and German intelligence and abetted by Moroccan and Syrian services. His role would have been to pose as a true “jihadist” and induce young Muslims to go for training to Pakistan or Afghanistan in camps led by Osama bin Laden. In order to understand the rationale for such a policy, we must briefly digress from our subject and point out what strategical benefits the West would gain by such a policy.

Around 1990, the Soviet bloc imploded. For over 40 years, the Warsaw Pact, led by Moscow, served as the main threat to the West, contributed to NATO’s political cohesion and justified a high level of military expenditures by the United States and its allies. The disappearance of that external perceived threat threatened to make NATO redundant and severely affect the revenues of the extremely profitable military-industrial complex. While the majority of ordinary people could then hope to enjoy the “peace dividend”, those dependent upon an external threat for their profit, searched for a new epochal threat that would maintain their revenues. In addition, the United States – now the sole remaining super-power – faced a unique historical opportunity to secure its long-term global hegemony. To do so, however, required the support of the American public and such support depended upon public perception of an external existential threat. It was thus both imperative and urgent for U.S. strategists to find a credible “threat” that would profitably supplant the Red Threat. No single state or group of states could at that time be credibly regarded as fulfilling this role. An alternative was therefore sought. It was found in the guise of an “Islamic global terrorist network” that would be manufactured and nurtured.121 This invention was a genial – and Machiavellian – strike of the mind:As most oil resources in the world lie under the feet of Muslims, the quest to control these resources by military means could be usefully be concealed behind policing efforts to battle “Islamic terrorists” hosted in such countries. Another advantage of this mythical construction was that authorities in Western nations could justify increased “security” measures, such as mass surveillance of telephone and internet communications, by the need to discover potential “Islamic terrorists” among the Muslims living in the particular country.

To successfully implement this strategy, Western intelligence agencies need to maintain an large pool of wannabe terrorists, agents provocateurs, hate preachers and big-mouthed jihadists, whose mainly verbal feats are useful media feed and help to promote the myth of Islamic terrorism. The initial “raw material” for that mythical network – trade-marked Al Qaeda – were the so-called Arab Afghans, who after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, found themselves unemployed and looking for new sponsors. Their new sponsors were Western intelligence agencies, acting behind the façade of Saudi and Pakistani handlers, in order to conceal their own hands.122 In order to maintain the supply of such “jihadists”, recruiters ensure a continuous flow of wannabe fighters to training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who could later be arrested as terrorist suspects and ensure regular media coverage of the “terrorist threat.”It is beyond the scope of this study to elaborate upon this development. This network – financed and managed by Saudi and Pakistani intelligence services, but ultimately serving a Western strategical concept – is now operating globally in furtherance of imperial design (the most recent example being Syria).

The conduct of German officials strongly suggests that Mohammad Haydar Zammar played a role within this covert strategy.He reportedly said he ensured that Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and Ziad Jarrah would go to Afghanistan for training. These three persons were famously accused by the United States authorities to have flown three of the four aircraft that allegedly crashed on 9/11. There is, however, no evidence whatsoever, that they boarded these aircraft.123

For two of them – Atta and Alshehhi – there is no reliable evidence, that they ever went to the United States.124 By inducing them to make a stint in a training camp in Afghanistan, they could later be linked to Al Qaeda. Their presence in Afghanistan was indeed relied upon by the Hamburg Higher Regional Court (Oberlandsgericht) in the case of Mounir el Motassadeq in order to “prove”, as it were, their terrorist inclination.125 Had this been one of Zammar’s roles, it would explain why he had to be removed from German jurisdiction, maintained outside the reach of German courts and media and why the intercepts of his phone calls, surveillance logs and protocols of his interrogations are kept secret.

The present case provides a glimpse into the systematic deception of the tax-paying public carried by German intelligence agencies, the absence of effective parliamentary control of these agencies, the lack of independence of German judicial authorities, and the deplorable deference of German leaders to Washington’s imperial strategy.

NOTES

1. Acronyms used in this chapter:

BAO USA: Besondere Aufbauorganisation USA

BfV: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz

BKA: Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police Office)

BND:Bundesnachrichtendienst

COI: Commission of Inquiry of the German Parliament (Bundestag) set up to investigate the cooperation of German government bodies with CIA “renditions” of alleged terror suspects

FAC:Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court)

OAG:Bundesstaatsanwalt (Germany’s Office of the Attorney General)

1. Klaus Brinkbäumer et al, “Attas Armee”, Der Spiegel, 2 September 2002, p. 9

2. DW, “Plante er den 11. September?”Welt Online, 13 June 2002

3. Andreas Ulrich, “Operation Zartheit”, Spiegel Online, 15. July 2002

4. Desmond Butler, “Germans were tracking Sept. 11 conspirators as early as 1998, documents disclose”, The New York Times, January 18, 2003

5. According to Ulrich – supra n. 3 –, German officials started already in 1997a monitoring operation of Zammar and his contacts, entitled Operation Tenderness (Operation Zartheit). According to Dominik Cziesche, Georg Mascolo and Holger Stark, “Das Puzzle lag auf dem Tisch”, Der Spiegel, 3 February 2003, the German BfV intercepted telephone communications of the group surrounding Mohamed Atta since 1996.According to Peter Finn (“Hamburg’s Cauldron of Terror”, Washington Post, 11 September 2002), Brinkbäumer (supra n. 1) and Ulrich (supra n. 3), German intelligence placed Zammar under surveillance after being tipped by Turkish authorities that he had passed Istanbul and Ankara on his way to various war zones over 40 times. According to Vanity Fair (“The Price of Failure”, November 2004), the BfV was tipped off by Turkish intelligence in 1996 that Zammar had been traveling the globe to trouble spots: more than 40 journeys in all, to such places as Bosnia and Chechnya.

6. Butler, supra n. 4

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ulrich, supra n. 3

11. Franz Feyder, “11. September Geheimdienst – Operation Zartheit”, Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 8 September 2011

12. Klaus Brinkbäumer et al, “Atta’s Army”, Der Spiegel Online, 23 November 2006

13. Peter Finn, Hamburg’s Cauldron of Terror, Washington Post, 11 September 2002

14. Dominik Cziesche, Georg Mascolo and Holger Stark, “Das Puzzle lag auf dem Tisch”, Der Spiegel, 3 February 2003; and Feyder, supra n. 11

15. Cziesche et al, supra n. 14

16. Finn, supra n. 13

17. Feyder, supra n. 11

18. “Früher Verdacht”, Der Spiegel, 29 October 2001

19. DW, supra n. 2

20. Cziesche et al, supra n. 14

21. Butler, supra n. 4

22. Comment by Peter Frisch, former head of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV); and Finn, supra n. 13

23. Cziesche et al, supra n. 14

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

26. Brinkbäumer, supra n. 1

27. “Atta von Deutsch-Syrer angeworben”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13 June 2002; also DW, supra n. 2

28. According to Butler (supra n. 4), “10 days after the attacks” of 9/11.According to DW (supra n. 2) “in the middle of October [2001]”.Ultimately, it was revealed in an address to the German parliamentary commission that Zammar was made to appear before a judge on September 17, 2001, that is six days after 9/11.See infra n. 29, p. 217.

29. Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Bundestag (“Beschlussempfehlung und Bericht des 1. Untersuchungsausschusses nach Artikel 44 des Grundgesetzes”)Berlin, 18 June2009, Document 16/13400, p. 217

30. Private communication to the author of June 8, 2012

31. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 217

32. Dominik Cziesche, Georg Mascolo and Gerhard Spörl, “Die zweite Welle”, Der Spiegel, 24 June 2002

33. Klaus Brinkbäumer et al, Anschläge ohne Auftrag, Der Spiegel, 15 October 2001

34. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 218

35. N/A

36. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 58

37. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 58.In October 2001 that number had already reached 615 (source: Brinkbäumer, supra n. 33)

38. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 222

39. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 59

40. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 218

41. Final Report (…),supra n. 29,p. 218

42. Butler, supra n. 4

43. “Geheimdienste: Ausser Kontrolle”, Stern, 8 Mai 2006

44. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 220

45. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 218

46. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 218-219

47. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 219

48. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 442-3

49. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 866

50. DW, supra n. 2

51. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 219

52. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 866

53. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 221

54. Oliver Schröm and Dirk Laabs, “Unser Mann in der Moschee”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 2 February 2003

55. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 443

56. “Geheimdienste: Ausser Kontrolle”, supra n. 43; and, Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 443

57. The BKA informed a FBI investigator about Zammar’s return date, two weeks in advance (“Geheimdienste: Ausser Kontrolle”, supra n. 43)

58. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 221-222. The U.S. authorities were informed about Zammar’s travel plans on the day on which he booked his flight (p. 925)

59. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p.444

60. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 222

61. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 926

62. Renditions is the term used for the practice by the CIA to abduct alleged terror suspects and transfer them to various secret prisons around the world, or deliver them to certain states in order to be tortured or “eliminated.”This unlawful and criminal practice has called forth widespread outrage.

63. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 445

64. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 445; also Uli Rauss and Oliver Schröm, “Ex-CIA Mann belastet deutsche Kollegen”, Stern, 11 März, 2008

65. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 62

66. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 457

67. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 925

68. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 867

69. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 225

70. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 228

71. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 867

72. Final Report (…),supra n. 29,p. 228; and DW, supra n. 2

73. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 228.In a latter communication from the Moroccan Ministry of Interior, January 22, 2002, Zammar was said to have been “deported” from Morocco, but the destination was not anymore given as Spain.It was unspecified; see also Georg Mascolo and Holger Stark, “Mysteriöse Auskunft”, Der Spiegel, 15 April 2002

74. Mascolo et al, supra n. 731

75. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 868

76. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 867

77. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 232

78. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 932

79. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 229

80. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 232

81. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 231

82. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 231

83. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 231-2

84. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 226

85. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 230

86. Final Report (…),supra n. 295, p. 230

87. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 238

88. “Geheimdienste: Ausser Kontrolle”, supra n. 43

89. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 239

90. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 242

91. Hans Georg, “Deutsch-syrische Kooperation begann schon in den frühen 50er Jahren”, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 6 April 2011

92. Ibid,footnote 16

93. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 243

94. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 245

95. “Atta von Deutsch-Syrer angeworben”, supra n. 27; also DW, supra n. 2

96. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 239

97. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 446

98. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 238

99. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 240

100. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 240

101. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 241

102. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 931

103. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 250

104. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 245

105. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 250-256

106. Amnesty International: Muhammad Haydar Zammar

107. “Terror suspect Zammar gets twelve years”, Der Spiegel, 12 February 2007

108. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 934

109. Amnesty International: Muhammad Haydar Zammar

110. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 927

111. Antrag des Strafverteidiger von el Motassadeq vom 29. Januar 2003

112. Bundeskanzleramt, Sperrerklärung, 3 Februar 2003

113. Bundesministerium des Inneren, Sperrerklärung, 3 Februar 2003

114. Beschluss des OLG Hamburg, Anlage 96, 4. Februar 2003

115. Beschluss des OLG Hamburg, Anlage 95, 4. Februar 2003

116. Antrage auf Übergabe von Akten des BND and das OLG Hamburg im Motassadeq-Prozess abgelehnt, Pressemitteilung des Bundesverwaltungsgerichts, 10. Februar 2003

117. Ibid.

118. Ibid.

119. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 235

120. Final Report (…),supra n. 29, p. 236

121. No empirical evidence has ever been produced by NATO, the United Nations and Western governments, that international terrorism is a serious threat to any Western nation, let alone to “world peace”. More people did in the Western world from lightning strikes than in terrorist attacks.More people are killed yearly in the U.S. alone than worldwide in terror attacks.In Germany, home to approximately four million Muslims, no German national has ever been killed in Islamic terrorism. Yet, the myth of the terrorist threat is regularly promoted by the authorities and by complying media.

122. See, for example, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism”, Interlink Pub Group (2005)

123. See, in particular, Elias Davidsson, “Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11”, Algora Publishers (New York, 2013), pp. 29-58

124. Ziad Jarrah, however, credibly pursued flight training in the United States prior to 9/11.

125. Court documents in the case of Mounir El Motassadeq (in German)

 

Henri A. Kissinger’s strategic vision 2008

The debate we need to have

Henri A. Kissinger, 8 April 2008 (International Herald Tribune)

The long-predicted American debate about national security policy has yet to occur.

Essentially tactical issues have overwhelmed the most important challenge a new administration will confront: how to distill a new international order from three simultaneous revolutions occurring around the globe.

These are a) the transformation of the traditional state system of Europe; b) the radical Islamist challenge to historic notions of sovereignty; and c) the drift of the center of gravity of international affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Conventional wisdom holds that disenchantment with President George W. Bush’s alleged unilateralism is at the heart of European-American disagreements.

But it will become apparent soon after the change of administrations that the principal difference between the two sides of the Atlantic is that America is still a traditional nation-state whose people respond to calls for sacrifices on behalf of a much wider definition of the national interest than Europe’s.

The nations of Europe, having been drained by two World Wars, have agreed to transfer significant aspects of their sovereignties to the European Union. Political loyalties associated with the nation-state have proved not to be automatically transferable, however. Europe is in a transition between its past, which it is seeking to overcome, and a future that it has not yet reached.

In the process, the nature of the European state has been transformed. With the nation no longer defining itself by a distinct future and with the cohesion of the European Union as yet untested, the capacity of most European governments to ask their people for sacrifices has diminished dramatically.

The disagreement over the use of NATO forces in Afghanistan is a case in point. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the North Atlantic Council, acting without any request by the United States, invoked Article 5 of the NATO Treaty calling for mutual assistance. But when NATO set about to assume military responsibilities, domestic constraints obliged many allies to limit the number of troops and to constrict the missions for which lives could be risked.

As a result, the Atlantic Alliance is in the process of evolving a two-tiered system – an alliance à la carte whose capability for common action does not match its general obligations.

Over time, one of two adaptations must take place: either a redefinition of the general obligations or a formal elaboration of a two-tiered system in which political obligations and military capabilities are harmonized. This might be accomplished by assigning out-of-area projects to a European reaction force, which would then create an ad hoc alliance of the willing.

While the traditional role of the state in Europe is diminished by the choice of its governments, the declining role of the state in the Middle East is inherent in the way they were founded.

The successor states of the Ottoman Empire were established by the victorious powers at the end of the First World War. Unlike the European states, their borders did not reflect ethnic principles or linguistic distinctiveness but the balances achieved by the European powers in their contests outside the region.

Today it is radical Islam that threatens the already brittle state structure via a fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran as the basis of a universal political organization. Radical Islam rejects claims to national sovereignty based on secular state models, and its reach extends to wherever significant populations profess the Muslim faith.

Since neither the international system nor the internal structure of existing states has legitimacy in Islamist eyes, its ideology leaves little room for Western notions of negotiation or of equilibrium in a region of vital interest to the security and well-being of the industrial states.

That struggle is endemic; we do not have the option of withdrawal from it. We can retreat from any one place like Iraq but only to be obliged to resist from new positions, probably more disadvantageously. Even advocates of unilateral withdrawal speak of retaining residual forces to prevent a resurgence of Al Qaeda or radicalism.

These transformations take place against the backdrop of a third trend, a shift in the center of gravity of international affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Paradoxically, this redistribution of power is to a part of the world where the nation still possesses the characteristics of traditional European states. The major states of Asia – China, Japan, India and, in time, possibly Indonesia – view each other the way participants in the European balance of power did, as inherent competitors even when they occasionally participate in cooperative ventures.

In the past, such shifts in the structure of power generally led to war, as happened in the case of the emergence of Germany in the late 19th century. Today the rise of China is assigned that role in much alarmist commentary.

True, the Sino-American relationship will inevitably contain classical geopolitical and competitive elements. These must not be neglected. But there are countervailing elements. Economic and financial globalization, environmental and energy imperatives, and the destructive power of modern weapons impose a major effort at global cooperation – especially between the United States and China.

An adversarial relationship would leave both countries in the position of Europe after the two World Wars through self-destructive conflict with each other, while other societies achieved the pre-eminence they sought.

No previous generation has had to deal with different revolutions occurring simultaneously in separate parts of the world. The quest for a single, all-inclusive remedy is chimerical.

In Europe, the civil society is congruent with the political structure of states but not – at least yet – with the political structure of the European Union.

In the Middle East, civil society is being shaped by transnational forces at odds with the internal structure of many states.

In the Atlantic area, the challenge is how to evolve institutions that bring the willingness to sacrifice for the future into balance with the requirements of international order.

In the Islamic world, the jihadists are prepared to sacrifice all notions of civil society to the pursuit of an apocalyptic utopia.

In Asia, in terms of classical diplomacy, two kinds of adjustments will define 21st-century diplomacy: the relationship between the great Asian powers, China, India, Japan and possibly Indonesia, and how America and China deal with each other.

In a world in which the sole superpower is a proponent of the prerogatives of the traditional nation-state, in which Europe is stuck in a halfway status, in which the Middle East does not fit the nation-state model and faces a religiously motivated revolution, and in which the nation-states of South and East Asia still practice the balance of power, what is the nature of the international order that can accommodate these different perspectives?

Are existing international organizations adequate for this purpose? If not, which changes would be desirable? What goals can America set realistically for itself and the world community? Can we make the transformation of major countries a condition for reliable progress, or need we concentrate on a less crusading purpose?

What objectives must be sought in concert, and what are the extreme circumstances that would justify unilateral action? What is the style of leadership most likely to achieve these aims?

This is the kind of debate we need, not slogans driven by focus groups for daily headlines.

Henry A. Kissinger heads the consulting firm Kissinger & Associates. Distributed by Tribune Media Services.

And with the Saudi king, five plane-loads of advisers

And with the king, five plane-loads of advisers

The Telegraph, October 30, 2007

New Realities in the Media Age: A Conversation with Donald Rumsfeld

New Realities in the Media Age: A Conversation with Donald Rumsfeld

Speaker: Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense
Presider: Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman, American Express Company
February 17, 2006


Council on Foreign Relations New York, NY

KENNETH CHENAULT: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today’s luncheon with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

I want to extend a particular welcome to our members participating via teleconference, and of course, an especially warm welcome to Secretary Rumsfeld.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for taking time to be with us today.

Approximately, half our program will consist of the secretary making remarks on an important topic, specifically, the changes our government and military need to make in the way they communicate. In the second half, we will open the floor and the airwaves to questions on this or any other topic. Both portions of the meeting are on the record.

Secretary Rumsfeld is one of the most experienced and dedicated senior public officials in our nation’s modern history. Many Americans know that this is his second tour of duty as secretary of Defense. The first undertaken in a radically different period in the mid-1970s. But many are unaware that he also served as White House chief of staff, U.S. ambassador to NATO, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and as a four-term congressman. He also managed over the course of his career to make his mark on the world that I know best—as CEO of two outstanding companies, G.D. Searle and General Instrument Corporation.

I think you would agree that he needed all of this experience and more to prepare him for the extraordinary challenges he has faced from virtually the beginning of this tour as secretary of Defense, beginning in January 2001.

Over the last five years, he has prosecuted two wars—in Afghanistan and Iraq—and dealt with terrorist threats all over the world. Simultaneously, he initiated and is in the process of executing wholesale changes in the way our military is organized in order to adapt it to the needs of the new century.

Now, we will get to some of these subjects during our Q&A session. But now, without further delay, let me present to you the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. (Applause.)

SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: Thank you very much, Ken. Ladies and gentlemen. Richard. My old colleague in Congress, John Brademas—nice to see you, sir.

I’m pleased to be back. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with this group on a couple of occasions recently, in the last few years. I thank all you members of the council for playing a valuable role in—over many, many years in encouraging an exchange of ideas about our country and the world.

As Ken indicated, we are meeting today in what is the beginning of the sixth year in which our nation has been engaged in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be fought in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq, but in the newsrooms in places like New York and London and Cairo and elsewhere.

Consider this statement, quote, “More than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. We are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of Muslims.” Unquote. The speaker was not some modern-day image consultant in a public relations firm here in New York City, it was Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri. I mention this because I want to talk today about something that at first might seem obvious, but really isn’t obvious.

Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part we, our country, our government, has not adapted. Consider that the violent extremists have established media relations committees—these are terrorists and they have media relations committees that meet and talk about strategy, not with bullets but with words. They’ve proven to be highly successful at manipulating the opinion elites of the world. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communication to intimidate and break the collective will of free people.

Go ahead and answer the phone. What the heck. (Laughter.)

They know that communications transcend borders and that a single news story handled skillfully can be as damaging to our cause and helpful to theirs as any other method of military attack. And they’re doing it. They’re able to act quickly. They have relatively few people. They have modest resources compared to the vast and expensive bureaucracies of Western governments.

Our federal government is really only beginning to adapt our operations to the 21st century. For the most part, the U.S. government still functions as a five and dime store in an eBay world. Today we’re engaged in the first war in history—unconventional and irregular as it may be—in an era of e-mails, blogs, cell phones—(laughter)—Blackberrys, Instant Messaging, digital cameras, a global Internet with no inhibitions, cell phones, hand-held videocameras, talk radio, 24-hour news broadcasts, satellite television. There’s never been a war fought in this environment before.

I just came back from Tunisia and Algeria and Morocco. In Tunis the largest newspaper, I’m told, has a circulation of about 50,000. It’s a country of 10 million people. But even in the poorest neighborhoods are satellite dishes on building after building after building. Balconies. Rooftops. A few years ago in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi could have his tongue cut out if he was found in possession of a satellite dish or used the Internet without government approval. Today satellite dishes are ubiquitous in that country as well. Regrettably, many of the news channels being watched through these dishes are extremely hostile to the West.

The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world still have relatively immature standards and practices that too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than to explain and inform. And while al Qaeda and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years and have successfully further poisoned the Muslim’s public view of the West, we in the government have barely begun to compete in reaching their audiences.

In this environment, the old adage that “A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on” becomes doubly true with today’s technologies. We saw this with the false allegations of the desecration of the Koran last year. Once it was published in a weekly news magazine, it was posted on websites, sent in e-mails, repeated on satellite television, radio stations for days before the facts could be discovered. And in those first days, the false story incited anti-American riots in Pakistan and elsewhere. Human beings were killed in the those riots.

Once aware of the story, the U.S. military, appropriately and of necessity, took the time needed to try to ensure that they had the facts before responding, having to conduct interviews, pored over countless documents, investigations and log books, and finally determined that the charge was not correct. But in the meantime, some lives had been lost and damage had been done to our country.

What complicates the ability to respond quickly is that, unlike our enemies, which propagate lies with impunity with no penalty whatsoever, our government does not have the luxury of relying on other sources for information—anonymous or otherwise. Our government has to be the source, and we tell the truth.

These new realities have placed unprecedented challenges on the members of the press as well. Today’s correspondents are under constant pressure in a hypercompetitive media environment to produce exclusives and breaking stories. Daily or weekly deadlines have turned into updates by the hour, even by the minute, to feed a constant news crawl that now appears on most cable channels. And the fact is that the federal government, at the speed at which it operates, doesn’t always make their job much easier.

The standard U.S. government public affairs operation was designed primarily to respond to individual requests for information. It tends to be reactive, not proactive, and it still operates for the most part on an eight hour, five- or six-day-a-week basis, while the world events and our enemies are operating 24/7, across every time zone. That’s an unacceptable dangerous deficiency.

The government is, however, beginning to adapt. In Iraq, for example, the U.S. military command, working closely with the Iraqi government and the U.S. embassy, has sought nontraditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of aggressive campaign of disinformation. Yet this has been portrayed as inappropriate; for example, the allegations of someone in the military hiring a contractor, and the contractor allegedly paying someone to print a story—a true story—but paying to print a story. For example, the resulting explosion of critical press stories then causes everything, all activity, all initiative, to stop, just frozen. Even worse, it leads to a chilling effect for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.

The conclusion to be drawn, logically, for anyone in the military who is asked to do something involving public affairs is that there is no tolerance for innovation, much less for human error that could conceivably be seized upon by a press that seems to demand perfection from the government, but does not apply the same standard to the enemy or even sometimes to themselves.

Consider for a moment the vast quantity of column inches and hours of television devoted to the allegations of unauthorized detainee mistreatment. Some additional photographs have come out just this week. This, of course, was an event where the policy of the president and the policy of the government was for humane treatment and was against torture. And there were some people on a night shift who engaged in mistreatment of detainees. So this week, again, out of Australia, I guess, some same pictures—similar pictures, same event—of people on the night shift, one night shift in Iraq, who did some things that they have since been punished for under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

But weigh the numbers of column inches and hours of television involving that event, for example, against the discovery of Saddam Hussein’s mass graves, which were filled with literally hundreds of thousands of human beings, innocent Iraqis who were killed.

That’s the reality of the world in which we must operate, and in which our forces are fighting. The terrorists are trained—we’ve seen the so-called Manchester manual—they’re trained to lie. They’re trained to allege that they’ve been tortured. They’re trained to put out misinformation, and they’re very good at it.

Looking ahead, a number of changes are under consideration. First, government at all levels will need to make communications planning a central component of every aspect of this struggle, what will be a long struggle and a difficult one. Despite best efforts, for example, it took many months to put in place an effective communications operation in the post-major-conflict Afghanistan and in Iraq. In some cases, military public affairs officials have had little communications training and little, if any, grounding in the importance of timing and rapid response, and the realities of digital and broadcast media.

We’ve become somewhat more adept in these areas, but progress is slow. And importantly, public affairs posts have not proven to be career enhancing in the military. Quite the contrary. Anyone who looks at those careers and recognizes the near-instantaneously public penalty that is imposed on someone in the military who is involved in anything that the media judges instantaneously to be imperfect or improper and that then requires a long time to figure out what actually took place, people are—you know, military people are intelligent, they’ll move away from those careers.

We need to get better at engaging experts from both within and outside of government to help communicate, to rapidly deploying the best military communications capabilities to new theaters of operation, developing and executing multifaceted media campaigns—print, radio, television and Internet. But let there be no doubt: The longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.

There are some signs of modest progress. Within the past year and a half, the U.S. military’s Joint Forces Command has developed a rapidly deployable communication team. They are organized and focused on specific geographical areas of the world. For example, soon after the devastating earthquakes in Pakistan, I had occasion to fly over the areas where entire sides of mountains had collapsed because of the quake, and entire cities and villages were gone and just rubbled, where the roofs had all just collapsed down to the ground and there were no walls left. One of these newly fashioned teams—military teams went along with our very sizable military forces into the disaster area. And operating in conjunction with other federal agencies and the U.S. embassy, they worked directly with the commander who was in charge of the humanitarian effort there to help focus the attention on the U.S. government’s truly extraordinary commitment to helping the Pakistani people.

Public opinion surveys taken by private groups in Pakistan before and after the earthquake suggest that public attitudes in that country regarding the United States changed dramatically because of the new awareness by the Pakistani public. Indeed, it was not long before the favorite toy in Pakistan was a small replica of a Chinook helicopter—they were just everywhere in that country—because of the many lives that our helicopters saved and the mountain of relief supplies that they delivered. The communications team was attached to it and rapidly deployable and needed because, frankly, we were concerned about our troops’ safety. Given the number of people in that country that do not favor the West and the potential difficulties that occurred, we were uncertain as to what the reception would be. The reception over time was terrific.

Second, government public affairs and public diplomacy efforts are slowly beginning to reorient staffing and schedules and culture to engage the full range of media that are having such an impact today. Our U.S. Central Command, for example, has launched an online communications effort that includes electronic news updates and a links campaign that has resulted in several hundred blogs receiving and publishing Centcom content.

The U.S. government will have to develop an institutional capability to anticipate and act within the same news cycle. That will require instituting 24-hour press operation centers, elevating Internet operations and other channels of communication to the equal status with the traditional 20th Century press relations. It will result in much less reliance on the traditional print press, just as the publics of the U.S. and the world are relying less on newspapers as their principal source of information. And it will require attracting more experts in these areas from the private sector to government service. This also will likely mean embracing new institutions to engage people across the world.

During the Cold War, institutions such as the U.S. Information Agency and Radio Free Europe—just to mention a couple of examples—proved to be valuable instruments for the United States. We need to consider the possibility of new organizations and programs that can serve a similar valuable role in the war on terror in this new century.

What, for example, should a U.S. Information Agency, or a Radio Free Europe for the 21st Century look like? We remember—John Brademus (sp), I’m sure does, and I do—that the—I think it was—USIA was highly criticized because they did a film on President Kennedy going to India, if my memory serves me correctly, and that film was then used in the United States. And the argument was, of course, that it was taking taxpayers’ dollars, creating a film that was promoting a person running for public office in the United States and propagandizing the American people. Of course, when you speak today, there’s no one audience; there are multiple audiences. So you—we can’t avoid communicating—whatever it is we communicate inevitably is going to be heard by multiple audiences.

So I don’t know the answer. But I do think we ought to ask ourself the question: What should a U.S. Information Agency or a Radio Free Europe for the 21st century look like? These are tough questions, and I suggest that some humility is in order. There’s no guidebook for this, there’s no roadmap that says here’s what you ought to do when you get up in the morning, if you’re in the government of the United States. These are tough questions and it’s tough to find the answers for them and to do it right so that we can tell our hard-working folks what to do to meet these challenges. We’re trying to figure it out as we go along—the country is trying to figure it out.

I noticed this week that Secretary of State Condi Rice offered a proposal to support the democratic aspirations of Iranian people through expanding broadcasting, the Internet and student exchanges. Personally, I think she deserves support in those recommendations. I don’t know quite how it ought to be done. But I notice that she is meeting a lot of resistance and criticism in Congress about that. I suppose that’s because it is new, it’s different, and people need time to adjust and adapt to new ideas.

For the past minutes I’ve been commenting on the challenges facing our country—not just our government, but our country—in fighting a war in this new media age. And while the enemy is increasingly skillful at manipulating the media and using the tools of communications to their advantage, it should be noted that we have an advantage as well, and that is, quite simply, that the truth is on our side, and ultimately, in my view, truth wins out. I believe with every bone in my body that free people, exposed to sufficient information, will, over time, find their way to right decisions.

Throughout the world, advances in technology are forcing a massive information flow that dictators and extremists ultimately will not be able to control. Blogs are rapidly appearing even in countries where the press is still government-controlled. Pro-democracy forces are communicating and organizing by e-mail, pagers and BlackBerrys. Today in Iraq, an energetic media has emerged from the rubble of Saddam’s police state, with nearly 300 newspapers, over 90 radio stations and more than 40 television stations. Iraqis are now accessing the Web in their homes, as well as in Internet cafes that have sprung up in towns and cities across the country.

We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake, and the center of gravity of that struggle is not simply on the battlefields overseas. It’s a test of wills, and it will be won or lost with our publics and with the publics of other nations. We’ll need to do all we can to attract supporters to our efforts and to correct the lies that are being told which so damage our country and which are repeated and repeated and repeated.

In the early years of the Cold War, another “long twilight struggle,” President Eisenhower made a very perceptive observation. He said—and I understand there’s enormous differences between the Cold War and the struggle we’re engaged in today—but he said something that has resonance even today. He said, quote, “We face a hostile ideology, global in scope, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method. To meet it successfully, we must carry forward steadily, surely and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle with liberty the stake,” end quote.

For nearly 50 years we did just that as a country through successive administrations of both political parties with our allies in Europe. We’ll need to show the same perseverance in the long struggle we face today.

I thank you, and will be happy to respond to questions on this subject or other subjects. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

CHENAULT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

We’re going to move to the Q and A section. What I’d like to do is to ask two questions of my own, one question from a national member, and then we’ll open it up to the audience.

From the standpoint of focusing on the content of the message, my question is in measuring the progress we’ve made in Iraq, what are the specific guideposts and indicators that you look at?

RUMSFELD: In Iraq, as opposed to the broader struggle, which is even more critical, I would say that there are several things that one has to look at to measure progress.

If you think of—the enemy is determined to prevent that country from having a representative government. For them to be able to control that real estate with that oil and that water and that history and use it as a haven for terrorists, to establish a caliphate, which is what their announced interest and goal is in that country, and use it as a base would put in jeopardy all the neighborhood and much of the world.

What do we look for? Well, they tried to stop having the elections on January 15th, and they failed. The insurgents and the terrorists tried to stop them from crafting a constitution, and they failed. They tried to prevent the constitutional referendum on October 15th, and they failed. They tried to stop the elections that took place on December 15th, and they failed. They’re trying now to prevent the establishment of a decent government, and I think they’ll fail. So certainly the political progress is something.

Second, there’s been a big debate about how many troops should be in Iraq, and we see some people saying, oh, there should be more or there should be less and what have you, and there should have been more in the first place or there should have been more in the second place, and everyone’s got an opinion. But the fact of the matter is, it is a complex question. There’s a tension between the desire to have enough people there, coalition forces, that you can create an environment that’s sufficiently hospitable for the Iraqi people to build their nation, to make political progress and economic progress—because we’re not going to do nation building; we don’t know how. They’re going to build their own nation, ultimately, and they have to do it in an environment that’s possible. So they need enough security to do that.

On the other hand, if you have too many people, two things happen. One is you create the presence of an occupying force. You’re sufficiently heavy and intrusive that you contribute to the number of people who are willing to participate in the interagency, and it’s self-defeating.

The second thing that happens is, Americans are Americans, and if you’re in that country with 138,000 people and there’s a ditch to be dug or a building to be built or a generator to be put in a hospital, they do it. Our forces do it. They just are can-do people. And the last thing you want to do is create a dependency. You’ve got to—you can’t fill every vacuum in that country. They need to have to step—it’s their country.

They’re going to have to step up, grab ahold of it, and take charge of their country. Therefore, we have to make darn sure we don’t have too many people that we prevent them from having it—that ability to do it. So it’s that tension that’s taking place.

And you asked, how do we mark progress? It seems to me that the progress has to be marked by the political progress and by the ability of the Iraqi security forces to replace our forces. We’ve now shut down or turned over 30 bases to the Iraqis. We’re passing over big pieces of real estate to the Iraqi security forces. There’s 227(,000) or (2)28,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security forces. They provided security for the election. So they’re making good progress, and it seems to me that that’s a measurement that’s important.

Our goal has to be to reduce our forces down, to keep doing it and to do it at a pace where we recognize we’re going to—I almost said, make a mistake—it’ll look like a mistake. It’s a judgment call. We’re going to have to pull out of some pieces of real estate and turn over things to Iraqis. And they’re going to drop the ball; I mean, let’s face it. And we’re going to have to step in, go back in, and fix it, and then turn it back over again. And it’s going to be three steps forward and one step back. It isn’t going to be perfect. It isn’t going to be pretty. It isn’t going to look like a United States of America. It’s going to be an Iraqi solution politically, an Iraqi solution economically, and an Iraqi solution from a security standpoint.

I mentioned the political image and the security, the other is the economic. They’re going to have to keep making progress. I mean, they’ve got a currency that’s been fairly stable. They’ve got a stock market that’s open. They’ve got more companies being formed all the time in that country, and much of the country permits them to do that. It’s stable enough to do it. There are four provinces with a probably 60 plus percent of the population in them that where—I don’t know—90 percent of incidents occur.

And so it’s not the same everywhere; one size doesn’t fit all. We’re working it around the country, but progress is being made in all three of those categories.

CHENAULT: Thank you.

Let me read a question that was submitted by one of our national members, Newton Minow of Sidley and Austin.

RUMSFELD: Is he here?

CHENAULT: No. He submitted it in writing.

RUMSFELD: He’s a friend from 40 years.

CHENAULT: That’s terrific.

RUMSFELD: Let’s get after him for not being here.

CHENAULT: Absolutely. (Laughter.)

RUMSFELD: He’s a great guy.

CHENAULT: Well, Newt asks, is given the impact of Al-Jazeera, why have we been so slow to develop ways to effectively communicate our values in the Middle East?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think my—I’ll send Newt the speech. (Laughter.)

I mean, I don’t know. It’s hard—first of all, it’s hard to do. And second, there’s—Congress and the executive branch are uncomfortable with change, and it’s going to require change. It’s a totally new world. And third, the media—there’s nothing the media would rather talk about than the media. (Laughter.) I see Andrea Mitchell laughing. It’s true. You know it’s true. And therefore, anything we do in this area is like the third rail. And you start talking about it and you start trying to deal with it and try to figure out a different way to do it, and someone’s going to say, “Oh my goodness, you’re trying to manipulate, you’re trying to do something terrible.” And we’re not. We’re trying to—this is a great country we have, and by golly, we’re not seen that way around the world. And we do an enormous number of things that benefit this world. We’re big stakeholders in the success of this world. And when people are supportive, things are easier. And when people are not supportive, things are much harder. I mean, that’s just a fact. And we need to be able to do this better. And I—Newt was an expert on this subject when he ran the FCC for President Kennedy. I’m going to write him a letter and ask him to tell me, instead of me trying to answer him.

CHENAULT: All right, we’ll open the floor now. If people could give their name and also their organization that they are affiliated with.

Yes?

QUESTIONER: Esther Newberg, ICM. Mr. Secretary, Don Imus has been trying to raise $10 million this week to build a hospital in New Mexico to help kids coming back without arms and limbs from Iraq and Afghanistan. My question is, you’ve asked the government, I think, for $65 billion more dollars—the Congress. Isn’t our first obligation, sir, to take care of these children that are fighting the war for all of us old people sitting in this room and all over America?

RUMSFELD: Indeed it is. There’s—if you have a volunteer force and you have young men and women who are willing to stick up their hands and say, “Send me,” voluntarily, and to go out and to serve our country and to help defend our country, and they lose their lives or lose limbs, needless to say the American people have an enormous obligation to them.

And they are getting the best medical attention that has ever existed in any conflict in the history of the world. And anyone who spends time in Bethesda Naval Hospital or Walter Reed or Brooke Army Hospital or any of the hospitals where these folks are being treated, and talks to them, will find out that they believe what I just said is true. Their families believe it. They are grateful for the support and attention they’re getting.

We have established some new arrangements to try to, at that point where a person’s been wounded and is not able to stay in the military and moves into the private side, is passed over to the Veterans Administration, we’ve established ways to link them so that they don’t drop between the cracks and that they are looked after. And we have that obligation and it is something that we take very seriously in the military and in the Department of Defense and in—I know in the Congress shares that feeling deeply.

QUESTIONER: George Schwab, National Committee on American Foreign Policy. I’m wondering if you would care to comment about the danger that Iran constitutes now to the region as well as to the United States.

RUMSFELD: Thank you, sir. I guess that any time you have a government—first of all, let me say a word about Iran. This is an impressive country from a historic standpoint. It’s a large country. It has an interesting history and an intelligent population, and it’s being run by a handful of clerics that are for the most part very extreme in their views. Certainly the new president has been talking about the desirability of wiping Israel off the map and a world without the United States of America. He and his associates have a view of the world that is, by my characterization, extreme.

And we’ve always had extremists. As long as an extremist goes off and is extreme by themselves, that’s one thing. But when they’re extreme and violent extremists and they’re attempting to impose their view of the world on everybody else, and free people’s behavior is unacceptable, that’s a separate thing.

And so obviously this country and our friends in Europe have been working very hard with other countries in the world attempting to diplomatically find ways to persuade the government of Iran that it’s not in their interest to isolate themselves from the world. Certainly the—if you think of the women and the young people in that country who probably are somewhat uncomfortable with the leadership in that country, they do not have an interest in being isolated from the rest of the world, and my—the behavior of this leadership is having that effect. And one would hope that that would begin to influence them over time.

But a country with those views and that behavior pattern and—is certainly not a country that one would like to see have nuclear weapons.

CHENAULT: But let me just touch on—you had your hand up. And then I’m going to move to this side, a little bit back, and we’ll move back and forth.

QUESTIONER: I’m Ted Sorensen from Paul, Weiss.

First of all, Mr. Secretary, thank you for being gracious and courageous enough to take questions from the crowd. (Laughter.) Not every Council speaker has been willing to do that. (Laughter.)

I—my question—

RUMSFELD: I was a wrestler for 12 years. (Laughter.) I enjoyed it.

QUESTIONER: My—good. I hope you’ll continue to say that. My question—(laughter)—my question relates to your main topic. My own travels abroad convinced me that you are right, that America’s true values are often not getting through overseas, and our image—and as a result, our standing and maybe even our security has suffered. Is the answer to improve our public relations techniques and equipment, as you implied? Or is the answer to improve our foreign policy?

RUMSFELD: Well—(applause)—clearly, policies and communications are both terribly important. And the—you know, I quoted President Kennedy when I said “The long twilight struggle” about the Cold War. Did you write those words? (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: Ask not. (Laughter, applause.)

RUMSFELD: (Chuckles.) I like that. Very good.

It’s both. Clearly, you said change the policy. I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily that. It is—policy makes a difference, and—but how—if you believe your policy is a correct one, there are always times when other countries aren’t going to agree with those policies. And that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It just means that from their perspective—I mean, they just changed governments in a couple of countries in Europe, and their views changed with respect to our policies—some favorable and some unfavorable. So our policies stayed the same.

So just simply trying to get up every morning and following public opinion polls and changing your views to meet some appetite or opinion that is fickled and can change with one election in another European country, or a country anywhere in the world, isn’t, I don’t think, a behavior pattern that this country’s ever followed or should.

But clearly, it’s both. Our policies make a difference, and they need to be well thought-through, and they need to be well-supported in the country. And the reality is, there’s practically nothing important that needs to be done in the world that we can do alone. I mean, it’s just a fact. If you think of counterproliferation, you can’t do that with one country. The global war on terror—you can’t do that; you’ve got to share intelligence, you have to cooperate on law enforcement, you have to cooperate from a military standpoint.

We are at a point where we must have the cooperation of other countries, and therefore, we have to figure out how to do that. Now, to do that, you’re going to have to adjust your policies because the goal is to get enough people, for example, dealing with the problem of proliferation that you can be successful. And that may require—that desirable goal may require some adjustments as you work with other countries and fashion an approach that enough of them are comfortable with that you can accomplish your goal.

And so I’d say the answer’s both. But I liked your answer better. (Laughter.)

CHENAULT: Yes, right here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Toby Gati, Akin Gump. Mr. Secretary, you—

RUMSFELD: I couldn’t understand you. I’m sorry.

QUESTIONER: Toby Gati, Akin Gump.

RUMSFELD: Oh, Bob Strauss’s outfit.

QUESTIONER: Yes. Yes. In your closing comments, you said something very important, that free people exposed to information will make the right decision. And I know you were calling for foreigners to get more information, mainly from us. But in case after case, we are hearing from the administration the need to keep information from the American public, whether—and all of it in the name of national security, whether it’s our right to know through expanded congressional hearings, or executive privilege, or the idea that an average citizen who hears classified information will be subject to U.S. laws from disseminating that—and I speak as being a former assistant secretary for Intelligence and Research, so I know what that means.

And it just—I just wonder if—don’t you think it would be nice if we weren’t always talking about the need to make our debates less inclusive, get less information for our own people when we talk to foreigners, because if foreigners get their own television, they also hear what we’re saying to our own people, and it seems that we’re really not trusting our own people the way you’re saying we should trust foreigners with the truth.

RUMSFELD: Well, let me start with the truth. I used a partial quote without attributing it. In my senior year in Princeton, in 1954, Adlai Stevenson came to speak, and he used a sentence roughly like what I said, that free people, given sufficiently—sufficient access to information will find their way to reasonably right decisions over time. Or something like that. I believe that very strongly.

The comment that we need—that we’re not providing information to people I think is so fundamentally inconsistent with reality. Our country disgorges more information than probably any country on the face of the earth. I was one of sponsors of the Freedom of Information law in the 1960s, when I was a congressman, and John Moss was the leader of that. And I was one of the co-sponsors of that legislation. Getting people access to information, I believe in that, and I do believe that over time truth comes out.

Now, the problem is we’re living in a fast-moving world. Do I think that there are certain security things that should not be put out because they put people’s lives at risk? You bet I do! And does it break my heart when some information is leaked that puts American military people’s lives at risk, and they get killed because of it? You bet it bothers the dickens out of me! And I think there are things that need not to be publicized and should not be publicized, and that’s been true of every administration in my adult lifetime for darn good reason.

Now, is there a tendency to overclassify in government? You bet! Pat Moynihan was a leader in trying to lead to less classification of material. It’s a human instinct when you’re involved with sensitive materials to air on the side of—well, you know this; you were in the business—to air on the side of classification. And then we’re all so darn busy that you don’t go back and declassify in a timely fashion the way you should, and the way it would be good if you did.

But—I mean, just think of it. If there are people who killed 3,000 people in our country several years ago, and they are using a method of communicating, and we decide that—some person, some individual in the government, who was given access to information, decides that—on his own hook he thinks he’ll tell the world that we’re actually aware of how they’re communicating with each other; and he tells the world that. Do I think that person ought to be prosecuted for violating the oath they took? You bet! You bet! Now, does it happen very often? No! Is the government very successful? No! Does it build up legal fees for everybody, for—(audio break)—are there any meters working right—no. It does.

But this is tough stuff. It isn’t easy, and there are people getting killed. And there’s information that should be kept secret, and there’s a lot of information that shouldn’t be. And making those calls is not easy. And you’ve got a lot of people—honorable people trying to do the best they can at it.

QUESTIONER: Thank you.

QUESTIONER: John Brademus, New York University, 3rd District Indiana.

RUMSFELD: Now you’re talking!

QUESTIONER: Mr. Secretary, it’s good to hear you again. I remember having worked with you when you were running the Office of Economic Opportunity a little while ago.

RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)

QUESTIONER: This is my question, and it’s a—perhaps a softball of a question, but I think it’s a significant one. You’ve been getting a lot of criticism in respect of the Defense Department budget proposals for wanting to give too much money to big defense contractors for huge contracts and not allocating sufficient funds for our armed forces. Would you like to defend your position?

RUMSFELD: Well, John, if you’re reading that, you ought to change your reading material. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: New York Times, The Washington Post.

RUMSFELD: I repeat myself. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: I have to say that I resisted, but with that response I have to say when I saw my dear friend and former colleague in Congress, I said, is this the first “Rummy for Vice President” rally?

RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Oh, no.

No, here’s the situation. You’re talking about money for the troops. In an all-volunteer military, which you supported and which I supported, it is—you obviously have to do what you have to do in the private sector. You have to fashion a set of incentives to attract and retain the people you need to perform the functions that need to be performed. And it doesn’t take a genius to know how to do that. You just adjust those incentives like you would in any organization—in a law firm or a business or anything else—and keep adjusting them to do it.

They were out of adjustment when we came in five years ago. We have significantly improved the incentives. They are appropriate. The problem we’ve got is that the Congress keeps coming in without hearings and passes additional things that basically go to the people in their districts—retired and Guard and Reserve—as opposed to the active force. So we keep trying to get the thing back in balance.

And it is—we are meeting our recruiting goals, we’re meeting our retention goals, month and month after month the last eight or so months, and obviously, they are being rewarded in a way that’s perfectly acceptable to them, and that’s the test.

Second, the other part of it, you’re right, there are a few critics running around saying, “Oh, my goodness, you didn’t cancel enough big weapon systems, ships and tanks and airplanes, and therefore you’ve got a big”—they don’t use the word, but in the department we say a big “bow wave is building up—” that you’re not going to be able to pay the bills because there are too many major weapon systems coming down the road.”

The fact is—I’ve been around a long time—there’s always been a bow wave and it’s always been dealt with. And the reason it’s dealt with is things drop out that don’t work, you decide something doesn’t make sense and you make adjustments, and you always fit what it is you need to do in a budget that makes some sense.

Now, should we stop doing anything involving conventional war and assume that the world for the next—these things take 20 years to develop, and they last for 30 or 40 years. When I was secretary of Defense in 1975, I approved the M-1 tank. We’re still using it. I was at the flyover for the F-16 airplane. We’re still using them. The B-1 bomber—I flew the third one when it was just being tested I was in it. So these things are—last a long time.

I’m not smart enough to look out there 20 or 30 years and know precisely what it’s going to look like, but I do not believe that we’ve reached the end of history, and I think that we darn well ought—the reason we are not having today to contest with major armies, navies and air forces is because we have capable armies, navies and air forces that make it disadvantageous for people to try to contest us there. Therefore, they’re logically going to compete with us with asymmetrical warfare, irregular warfare. That’s what I would do if I were them. They have brains, they have thinking machines and they use them.

Now, what are we doing? So instead of stopping all of that and starting new, we’re shifting our weight, we’re shifting our balance, shifting our emphasis. And we’re doing it. It’s hard to do. I hope that—I just pray we’re doing it well and right. I believe we are. Goodness knows, I’m not smart enough to know how to do it. So we spent thousands of hours with the senior military and civilian people in the Department of Defense, and what has been produced in the Quadrennial Defense Review is a very thoughtful piece that a few people outside are tossing a tomato or two at on the basis that, “Oh, you didn’t go far enough.” Or—the fact that we cancelled the Comanche and the Crusader Weapon Systems and several other aircraft, discontinued them, that isn’t good enough. They wanted us to cancel something else. Everyone’s got their own opinion, and that’s fair enough.

I’d say it’s a darn good piece of work. The people have invested themselves in it. They believe that what we’ve done and the track we’re on is the right track.

If you think of the task that the military has, it’s to find the enemy, it’s to fix the enemy in time that you can do something about it, and finish. We have overwhelming ability to finish. We are light on the ability to find and fix. We could find the Soviet navy, army and air force. Finding a single individual, finding a network is a totally different task, and it’s a tough task. I mean, just think, the FBI’s had people on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for 20 years! This is not easy stuff! It’s a whale of a lot easier to sit in the outside and toss the tomato. I used to do that! (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, Andrea Mitchell from NBC News.

RUMSFELD: You’re kidding. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: Yes, sir. Last night, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that he believes based partly on this latest report from a panel to the United Nations that the human rights abuses that were alleged at Guantanamo were severe enough that Guantanamo should be closed as soon as possible. And I’m wondering if you can respond to that.

I know the administration has said that the people doing the report never got to Guantanamo, but it was, they claim, because they were told they could not do any interviews if they did go there. So I’m wondering, what do you see as the timetable, if any, for dealing with Guantanamo and for moving people into a state where they either prosecuted or released, as Mr. Annan suggested they should be?

RUMSFELD: Well, I know Kofi Annan, and there are a lot of things you can agree with him on, but he’s just flat wrong. We shouldn’t close Guantanamo. We have several hundred terrorists, bad people; people if they went back out on the field would try to kill Americans. That’s just a fact. And to close that place and pretend that merely there’s no problem, it just isn’t realistic.

Second, he’s never been to Guantanamo Bay. There have been hundreds of members of the United States Congress and their staffs who’ve been there. There have been hundreds of journalists who’ve been there. There have been hundreds of foreigners who’ve been there. The International Committee of the Red Cross stayed there, lived there 24-hours a day! That place is being run as well as any detention facility can be run, and it’s absolutely beyond comprehension that simply because some of the people that have habeas corpus rights and are—have hired lawyers and are telling lawyers exactly what they were trained to tell people in the Manchester document: Tell them you’re tortured! Tell them it’s terrible! Tell them this! Tell them that! That’s what they do.

And then these people from the U.N., who wrote this report, who’ve never been down there—they were invited down there! They could have looked around! They’re talking to their—they’re talking to the lawyers for these people. The International Committee of the Red Cross is not saying that. The members of Congress who have been down there aren’t—isn’t saying that. The foreigners who’ve gone to visit their detainees from their countries aren’t saying that.

Every once and a while some pop—someone pops up and gets some press for saying, “Oh, let’s close Guantanamo Bay.” Well, if someone has a better idea, I’d like to hear it! We didn’t come up with the rule that these people would come to our country and kill 3,000 people. We didn’t come up with the rule—the fact that throughout history, in a war, combatants are kept off the battlefield so they can’t go back and do it again. We’ve released people from Guantanamo on a continuing basis, and we’ve made mistakes. Fifteen of them have gone back to the battlefield and tried to kill Americans and have either been killed or captured. And the idea that you could just open the gates and say, “Gee, fellows, you’re all just wonderful” is not realistic. We live in a tough world.

And by golly, that place is being run. There’s no torture. There’s no abuse. It’s being handled honorably. And to the extent anyone does anything wrong, it’s reported and they’re punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And by golly, that’s the way it ought to be.

CHENAULT: In the back to the right, standing up.

QUESTIONER: Raghida Dergham (ph) of Al-Hayat. My question is about Iran, but I want to follow up on Guantanamo. Those people did not get there, sir, because you did not allow them to have interviews with the detainees in Guantanamo. And we have our friends, such as Blair and others, telling us, close down that facility. So since this is a war of manipulation of the media and we’ve been in the media reduced in this speech to simply pawns in this war of manipulation, I’d like that follow-up.

But on Iran, sir—

RUMSFELD: What was the question?

QUESTIONER: The question is that why didn’t you allow them to interview the detainees? That was the condition. You said to them, no, you cannot interview them.

RUMSFELD: The International Committee for the Red Cross is the group that has historically done that. They do it. They have done it. They are doing it now. This group is not represented from—by the Security Council, as I understand it. It’s a few people from some group in—

QUESTIONER: The Human Rights Commission.

RUMSFELD: Right. Who’s the—

QUESTIONER: That’s from Geneva. This is a U.N. body.

RUMSFELD: I understand.

QUESTIONER: Yeah.

RUMSFELD: And they were offered the same thing that everyone else in their category was offered, as I understand it. This was not my decision. But they were allowed to do anything that people in their circumstance, not the same thing that the International Committee for the Red Cross allows, not the same thing that the lawyers are allowed, not the same thing that the other foreign people coming in visiting their nationals are allowed. But if you start letting every single person who wants to go in and interview these people, then you can’t manage a facility like that. They’re trying to get information from these people about what’s going on in the world of terrorism.

QUESTIONER: And on Iran, my question’s on Iran—

RUMSFELD: And—

QUESTIONER: I’ll ask my question on Iran, if I may.

CHENAULT: (Inaudible)—limit the questions just to one question.

QUESTIONER: No, I—

CHENAULT: That’s it.

QUESTIONER: You don’t want the question on Iran?

CHENAULT: That’s it.

Next person. We want to spread it around to give as many people an opportunity. Yes?

QUESTIONER: I’m Carroll Bogert from Human Rights Watch. (Laughter.) You want to wrestle, Mr. Secretary? (Laughter.)

RUMSFELD: I thought this was the Council on Foreign Relations! (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: It is.

QUESTIONER: You bet it is.

RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)

QUESTIONER: There have been many panels and commissions that have looked into the question of abuse of detainees in U.S. custody.

RUMSFELD: Right.

QUESTIONER: But not one of them has really been independent of the Pentagon. All but one of them have been led by military officers who weren’t authorized to go above their rank, and the Schlesinger Group drew significantly from a military advisory group that’s associated with the Pentagon. And as you know, there is substantial dissatisfaction among U.S. servicemembers that responsibility for this abuse is being pinned, frankly, as you just did in your speech, on lower-ranking servicemembers.

RUMSFELD: A general was dealt with. A colonel was dealt with. There were other officers that were dealt with.

QUESTIONER: Would you support—

RUMSFELD: The implication of your question is simply not accurate.

QUESTIONER: The—the question—which I haven’t had a chance to ask yet, is would you support the creation of a truly independent investigatory body independent of the Pentagon, that would therefore be credible in the eyes of the public and the servicemembers under your own command?

RUMSFELD: I’ll tell you where we are. There are a lot of people who are very anxious to take this issue and make sure it stays in the press month after month after month because it harms our country. There have been 20 investigations—11 or 12 investigations. There have been over—I think it’s 200 or 300 criminal investigations of individuals. There have been hearings in the Congress. There have been briefings in the Congress—I don’t know, 20 or 30. This has been so discussed, and, frankly, that Jim Schlesinger and Harold Brown, the people on the Schlesinger panel, the Republican, Democrat, are honorable people and did an honorable and it was independent. You can be darn sure they weren’t taking any orders from anyone in the Pentagon.

I think that it has been examined, officers have been punished, enlisted personnel have been punished. Some things were done, mistreatment of detainees—which never should have happened. It’s a terrible thing that it did.

But, no, I don’t think that it would serve our purpose, anyone’s purpose to have still one more—instead of 14 have 15 investigations of this and rehash all of this. I think it’s harmful to the country. I think it doesn’t serve any purpose. Any single example of abuse that’s ever been cited has been investigated and to the extent appropriate, people have been punished, and that’s how it should be dealt with.

CHENAULT: Yes, right here?

QUESTIONER: Mr. Secretary, my name is Roland Paul. I’m a lawyer in Greenwich, Connecticut. Years ago, I was an OSD at the Pentagon.

You know, the press daily reports the casualties suffered by American forces in Iraq and Iraqis on our side. But as far as I can see, they virtually never report the casualties incurred by the insurgents. Would you be willing to give us some idea or an order of magnitude numbers of over any time period you think appropriate that the insurgents have incurred?

RUMSFELD: I can’t. The data is so imperfect that anything I said would be—could conceivably be misleading.

I do know that in the last six or eight months, as we have worked very closely—we’ve had people embedded with the Iraqi security forces. And we do know that they are taking casualties—killed and wounded—that are roughly twice the rate of all coalition forces. So the implication that the Iraqi security forces are not in the fight, that they’re not out there providing security for their country simply isn’t true.

There isn’t any way of accumulating data on the civilians that are being killed by the insurgents. And, of course, those numbers are multiples, many multiples—

QUESTIONER: How many insurgents have been killed?

RUMSFELD: How many insurgents? We have a reasonable count on that, and we don’t put it out. And it’s just—if you’ll recall the Vietnam War, they had body counts that went on day after day after day. The implication of that was that you were winning if the body count went up, and losing if the body count went down. And that isn’t a good metric. That is not the metric that’s appropriate for an insurgency. I’m not making—being judgmental about whether it was appropriate in the Vietnam War. I do know that if we were to report that on a regular basis—now, the people—the journalists out there know how many insurgents are being killed and they report on a daily basis that there were 12 or 15 insurgents that were killed or captured in a certain activity. But to try to aggregate that and then pretend to the American people that that means we’re doing a good job, doesn’t work. It just doesn’t compute for me. But that’s just a personal view.

CHENAULT: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. We’ve run out of time. Thank you for attending. (Applause.)

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

 

United Nations and Transnational Corporations: a deadly association

TRANSNATIONAL INSTITUTE (TNI)

United Nations and Transnational Corporations: a deadly association
Alejandro Teitelbaum
4 April 2007


The United Nations is failing in its duty to control the abuses of transnational economic power, argues Alejandro Teitelbaum. The recent report by John Ruggie, special representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights, represents a setback in attempts to establish international control over the activities of transnational corporations.

I. The United Nations Organisation (UN) was created in order to keep the peace and defend human rights and dignity. Some important contributions towards these aims have been made, although the goal that it set itself has never been fully reached.

Over the last decade or so however, with the disruption of the relative balance of international power, the UN has begun to drift in a direction diametrically opposed to its original aims.

We do not wish to address at the moment the role which the Security Council plays in legitimating the imperialist and warmongering policies of the United States and its satellites, for example right now, as they prepare the ground for aggression against Iran.

Instead we want to discuss the way in which various organs of the United Nations system act as instruments of the international economic power embodied in transnational corporations. By this we don’t mean the institutions that are specifically concerned with economic power, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, but rather other bodies whose responsibilities relate to human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

II. With the break-up of the bipolar power balance at the beginning of the 1990s, the United Nations began to disband or neutralise those organs which had been attempting to establish some control over the activities of transnational corporations. One such organ was the Commission on Transnational Corporations, created by the Economic and Social Council in 1974. In 1994 the same Economic and Social Council decided that it should be reconstituted as a Commission of the Trade and Development Council of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), taking into account, says the resolution, of the “change of orientation” of the commission. This change consisted of abandoning attempts to establish control over transnational corporations and instead concern itself with the “contribution of transnationals to growth and development”.

But the ever-increasing abuses of transnational economic power, committed in the name of the expansion of the “market economy? at the global scale, provoked a reaction in public opinion which was also reflected within certain UN bodies.

For example, in 2004, after several years of work, a Working Group of the Sub-Commission for Human Rights finished a project establishing international standards with a view to preventing and eventually penalising activities of transnational corporations that contravene human rights. The project, despite being fairly tame, was vigorously rejected by international organisations representing big business, which demanded its withdrawal.

The overseeing body of the Sub-Commission, the now-defunct Commission on Human Rights, yielded unanimously to the demands of transnational corporations to bury the Sub-Commission’s Project. By a vast majority (49 votes out of 53) they also asked the Secretary General of the UN to appoint a special rapporteur to continue addressing the issue of transnational corporations. The United States and Australia voted against, maintaining that in no way should the commission continue dealing with transnational corporations, not even by means of a special rapporteur designated by the Secretary General. South Africa also voted against, and Burkina Faso abstained.

The then Secretary General Kofi Annan nominated his principal advisor in the Global Compact, John Ruggie, as his special representative to study transnational corporations. The Global Compact is the official association linking the UN and large transnational corporations. Ruggie published a preliminary report in 2006 and then in February 2007 presented his second report to the new Human Rights Council.

The Commission’s decision and the choice of Ruggie represented one more setback to attempts to establish international control over the activities of transnational corporations.

The close collaboration with transnational corporations is institutionalised within the United Nations via the Global Compact, an alliance between the Secretariat of the UN and large transnational corporations, many of which have long histories of human rights violations and corruption. The ideology which inspired the Global Compact was clearly expressed by the UN Secretary-General in a 1998 report to the General Assembly, entitled “Entrepreneurship and Privatisation for Economic Growth and Sustainable Development”. The Secretary-General said in this report that “deregulation? has become the watchword for government reforms in all countries, both developed and developing”, and advocated the sale of public corporations entrusting “the ownership and management to investors who have the necessary experience and capacity to improve productivity, even though this would sometimes mean selling assets to foreign buyers”.

III. The report that Ruggie recently presented to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations was faithful to the ideology of the Global Compact, with its first paragraph being a profession of faith in the virtues of the market. According to the author, the prerequisites for this are: the right to property (without adding any commentary about the social function of this), the fulfilment of contracts, competition (the rapporteur judiciously abstained from adding the adjective “free? because it is too widely accepted that free competition does not exist in a world dominated by monopolies and oligopolies) and the unhindered circulation of information (also nonexistent as all forms of information are monopolised and controlled by large multinational corporations).

In paragraph 2, Ruggie states that global markets have expanded significantly in recent decades as a result of commercial agreements, bilateral investment treaties and, at a national level, privatisations and “liberalisation”. He continues by saying that the rights of transnational corporations have increasingly become enshrined in national legislation and are better defended in obligatory arbitrations before international tribunals, which is undoubtedly true.

The report makes no mention of the disastrous consequences for the world’s peoples that accompany such commercial agreements, bilateral treaties, privatisation and liberalisation policies and obligatory international arbitrations, especially for the most economically vulnerable sectors in peripheral countries.

Ruggie continues by stating that “globalisation? has contributed to an impressive reduction in poverty levels in key countries that are emerging into the market economy, and a generally higher standard of living in the industrialised world.

This assessment of the report’s author totally contradicts not only the facts and statistics, but also the near unanimous opinion of specialists, who maintain that alongside economic growth social inequality has vastly increased. A tiny minority hoard a great and growing proportion of the fruits of human labour, whilst a good part of the population is not able to meet even its basic needs. This is true not only in peripheral countries, but also in the industrialised world. Even the World Bank, tireless advocate of the disastrous economic polices which dominate the global stage, has recognised that its policies have not managed to reduce the levels of poverty in countries which receive its credits.

Ruggie also forgets that international economic power, as embodied by large multinational corporations, is not content with merely accentuating social inequality and condemning large sectors of the world’s population to a life of poverty. The most powerful, in addition to backing coups d’etat, aiding dictators and financing paramilitaries and anti-union death squads, play a determining role in political decisions of ruling elites which go contrary to human rights, both at the nation state level and in regional and international organisations.

A serious evaluation of the role of transnational corporations, unlike that undertaken by Ruggie, should take all these aspects of their behaviour into account. It also should not ignore the close relationship that exists between the warmongering, anti-ecological and anti-human policies of the United States (the country where a large part of the biggest transnational corporations are based), and the omnipresence of representatives of the petroleum-military-industrial complex at the highest levels of its government.

It is worth noting that Ruggie’s report does not make reference to the heavy influence which transnational corporations have on the United Nations system. Institutionalised via the Global Compact, this is also exerted through private funding of UN programmes, projects, organs and organisations including the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, which receives two-thirds of its funding from the voluntary donations of nation states and private institutions.

Also absent from Ruggie’s report is any mention of the influence that transnational corporations have over some aspects of so-called “civil society”, for example over some important non-governmental organisations.

It is therefore hardly surprising that Ruggie concludes his report by adopting the focus “suggested? by the very same transnational corporations, namely that they should not be placed under any obligations by international law. Instead the most appropriate course of action should be to reach agreements between corporations, the United Nations (through the Global Compact) and “civil society? to establish “declarations of good intent”, forms of soft law, codes of contact etc., whose implementation is to be controlled by the corporations themselves alongside representatives of “civil society”.

Ruggie’s report is consistent not only with the now defunct Human Rights Commission, which shelved the Sub-Commission’s project to create international standards, but also with the more general orientation of the United Nations towards the serious economic, political and social problems represented by the disproportionate power of large transnational corporations.

The deadly association between the United Nations and transnational corporations is clearly shown in the attitude displayed by the UN to the tragedy which has been ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

IV. The January 2006 edition of the prestigious British medical Journal The Lancet points out that the ten years of civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has cost between 3.5 and 4.5 million lives. That makes it the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War.

It is universally recognised that the backdrop to this tragedy is the appropriation of strategic minerals which abound in the Congo: diamonds, gold, columbite-tantalite (coltan), cobalt, etc. It is estimated that the DRC has about 80 per cent of the world’s coltan reserves. The special properties of coltan account for its widespread use in the electronics industry, especially in the making of mobile telephones (one billion of which were sold globally in 2006).

Even the Security Council, in its resolution 1493 dated 28 July 2003, declared that it “Condemns categorically the illegal exploitation of the natural resources and other sources of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and expresses its intention to consider means that could be used to end it.”

A report of the Group of Experts to the Security Council Committee for the Democratic Republic of Congo, dated November 2006, analyses in detail the connection between armed groups and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and refers to a previous report which spoke of “viable and effective measures which the Security Council could impose in order to impede the illegal exploitation of natural resources in order to finance armed groups and militias in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

In its Recommendations Chapter the report states: “No counterpart whose views were solicited by the Group of Experts thought it advisable to sanction the importation of specific commodities originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Objections were raised concerning:
(a) The inability to enforce such sanctions; (b) The risk of increasing the price of the sanctioned commodity and thus rewarding the embargo buster; (c) Probable economic effects, variously described as “serious? or “probably leading to a new civil war?; and (d) The negative repercussion on the nascent investment climate in the country.”

UN bodies that deal with the DRC, such as the Group of Experts created by a decision of the Security Council, are completely partial in their approach to the problem. They refer only to the illegal exploitation of natural resources in order to finance armed groups and mention only certain local companies that are involved in this.

No mention whatsoever is made, however, of large transnational mining companies or the transnational electronics industry that directly or indirectly promote of the current situation, and end users and principal beneficiaries of the minerals that have been extracted from the DRC at the cost of an overwhelming massacre that has already lasted for ten years.

A document produced by the NGO Human Rights Watch points out the involvement of AngloGold Ashanti, a corporation headquartered in South Africa and Metalor, a Swedish firm. It fails to note, however, that AngloGold Ashanti is linked to Anglo-American, with head offices in Johannesburg and London, and to Barrick Gold Corporation, whose head office is in Canada. Anglo-American control around 45 per cent of the shares of DeBeers, the company which has a near monopoly over the global diamond industry. Amongst the mining companies associated with Barrick Gold is Adastra Mining, which has bought a diamond concession along the Congo-Angola border from Belgian mercenary firm International Defense and Security (1998). They are also currently developing cobalt and copper concessions in the Congolese province of Katanga (Shaba). Adastra is a member of the Corporate Council on Africa (a body made up of large companies operating in Africa) together with Goodworks, Halliburton, Chevron-Texaco, Northrop, Grumman, GE, Boeing, Raytheon and Bechtel, etc.

Major consumers of the coltan mined in the DRC are, amongst others: Sony, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nokia, Intel Lucent, Motorola, Ericsson, Siemens, Hitachi, IBM, etc.

One of the leaders of Anglo-American, the mining transnational involved in the Congolese drama, is Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. He is at the same time a notable member of the Global Compact.

It is therefore hardly surprising that in the Recommendations of the Group of Experts, the opinion of these “counterparts? is reflected, who consider it inadvisable to impose sanctions on the importation of these minerals because it could cause a price increase that could have negative repercussions for the “emergent investment environment of the country”.

The group also says: “The Group?s consultations with a broad range of stakeholders suggest that these problems are best addressed by promoting law-abiding industries and responsible Government oversight.”

The United Nations and large transnational corporations have the same priorities in the DRC: continuing exports of strategic minerals at low prices, to not discourage potential investors, and to attempt to create a legal framework for the plunder of the natural resources of the DRC by transnational corporations in the name of promoting law-abiding industries and responsible Government oversight. Meanwhile the human rights of the Congolese people, including the basic right to life, will have to wait until brighter times.

Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America’s War on Terrorism


Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to
America’s War on Terrorism

Despite once harboring Bin Laden, Khartoum regime has supplied key intelligence, officials say.

By Ken Silverstein

Los Angeles Times
April 29, 2005

The Bush administration has forged a close intelligence partnership with the Islamic regime that once welcomed Osama bin Laden here, even though Sudan continues to come under harsh U.S. and international criticism for human rights violations.The Sudanese government, an unlikely ally in the U.S. fight against terror, remains on the most recent U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, however, it has been providing access to terrorism suspects and sharing intelligence data with the United States. Last week, the CIA sent an executive jet here to ferry the chief of Sudan’s intelligence agency to Washington for secret meetings sealing Khartoum’s sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the administration, U.S. government officials confirmed.

A decade ago Bin Laden and his fledgling Al Qaeda network were based in Khartoum. After they left for Afghanistan, the regime of Sudanese strongman Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir retained ties with other groups the U.S. accuses of terrorism. As recently as September, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell accused Sudan of committing genocide in putting down an armed rebellion in the western province of Darfur. And the administration warned that the African country’s conduct posed “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States.

Behind the scenes, however, Sudan was emerging as a surprisingly valuable ally of the CIA. The warming relationship has produced significant results, according to interviews with American and Sudanese intelligence and government officials. They disclosed, for example, that:

  • Sudan’s Mukhabarat, its version of the CIA, has detained Al Qaeda suspects for interrogation by U.S. agents.
  • The Sudanese intelligence agency has seized and turned over to the FBI evidence recovered in raids on suspected terrorists’ homes, including fake passports.
  • Sudan has expelled extremists, putting them into the hands of Arab intelligence agencies working closely with the CIA.
  • The regime is credited with foiling attacks against American targets by, among other things, detaining foreign militants moving through Sudan on their way to join forces with Iraqi insurgents.

Sudan has “given us specific information that is important, functional and current,” said a senior State Department official who agreed to discuss intelligence matters on condition of anonymity. The official acknowledged that the Mukhabarat could become a “top tier” partner of the CIA. “Their competence level as a service is very high,” the official said. “You can’t survive in that part of the world without a good intelligence service, and they are in a position to provide significant help.”

From Khartoum the view is markedly upbeat. “American intelligence considers us to be a friend,” said Maj. Gen. Yahia Hussein Babiker, a senior official in Sudan’s government. During an interview at the presidential palace, Babiker said Sudan had achieved “a complete normalization of our relations with the CIA.” Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh, who otherwise declined comment for this article, told The Times: “We have a strong partnership with the CIA. The information we have provided has been very useful to the United States.”

The paradox of a U.S.-Sudanese intelligence partnership is personified by Gosh. Members of Congress accused him and other senior Sudanese officials of directing military attacks against civilians in Darfur. During the 1990s, the Mukhabarat assigned Gosh to be its Al Qaeda minder. In that role he had regular contacts with Bin Laden, a former Mukhabarat official confirmed. Today, Gosh is keeping in contact with the office of CIA Director Porter J. Goss and senior agency officials.

In exchange for the collaboration, which has been largely unpublicized, Khartoum wants to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It is also pressing Washington to lift long-standing economic sanctions barring most trade between the two countries. “There can be a strong [intelligence] partnership, but there is some hesitation because the diplomatic relationship remains poor,” said Gutbi al-Mahdi, a former head of the Mukhabarat and currently senior presidential advisor for political affairs.

Babiker, a former deputy director of the Mukhabarat, said the CIA was seeking to smooth the broader political relationship between the Bush administration and the Bashir regime. The cooperation is politically delicate for both sides. Bashir’s government faces strong internal opposition ? including critics within the regime itself ? to cooperating with the U.S. Responding to an uproar over rumors of collaboration with the administration in late 2001, Bashir told a Khartoum news conference, “I swear in God’s name that we have not handed and will not hand in any [terrorism suspects] to the United States.”

Official acknowledgment of the relationship by Washington could also create a political backlash in the U.S. Sudan’s government has been accused of large-scale human rights violations, and the administration has been one of its leading global critics. In Congress, allies of human rights advocates share strong anti-Sudanese sentiment with supporters of conservative Christian groups that have been sympathetic to Christian and animist rebels in southern Sudan, where a peace deal has taken hold.

Concern that the White House might soften its policy toward Sudan on the Darfur issue to encourage intelligence assistance was raised in an October report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. It said Gosh and other Sudanese officials had played “key roles in directing ? attacks against civilians” and noted that the administration was “concerned that going after these individuals could disrupt cooperation on counter-terrorism.”

The administration denies that it is retreating in any way. A senior administration official called intelligence-sharing one of “the building blocks” of U.S.-Sudanese relations but said “it wouldn’t matter unless there was progress in other areas,” including human rights. “We began mobilizing and leading international pressure on Khartoum ever since the dimensions of the Darfur situation became clear, and we have continued to do so ever since,” the official said.

The CIA jet waiting on the tarmac here last week opened its doors to a stocky, cherub-faced man with a thin mustache and a smoldering cigarette. It was spy chief Gosh, and when he boarded, it was only the latest step in Sudan’s secret effort to improve relations with the U.S., using its historic ties with extremists to benefit counter-terrorism operations.

Sudan became a haven for Islamic radicals after the 1989 military coup that brought Bashir to power. He promptly declared that any Muslim could enter the country without a passport. Khartoum had become a “Holiday Inn for terrorists,” Barbara Bodine, a State Department official in the Clinton administration, said later. Visitors to Khartoum during the period included members of the hard-line Abu Nidal faction that had broken with the Palestine Liberation Organization, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Islamist guerrillas fighting governments in neighboring African states.

Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, lived in relative luxury in Khartoum during the early 1990s. Regulars at local hotels said he took breakfasts of coffee and croissants at the Meridien and had his hair styled at the Hilton. The Mukhabarat expelled Carlos in 1994, handing him to French authorities, reportedly while the terrorist was under an anesthetic for a vasectomy reversal operation.

Bin Laden moved his business and operations base to Khartoum in 1991 due to increasing conflict with Saudi Arabia, which revoked his citizenship three years later. His construction company built roads around the Sudanese capital. Al Qaeda expanded ties and offered financial support to a variety of radical Islamic groups. As a Mukhabarat officer, Gosh began serving as an intermediary between the intelligence agency and Bin Laden’s fledgling Al Qaeda network. Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent involved in tracking Bin Laden, said Sudanese members of Al Qaeda later told the bureau about Gosh’s contacts with the Saudi-born terrorist. “We remained wary of him ? for obvious reasons, but we never had any prima facie evidence linking Gosh to any Al Qaeda [activities],” Cloonan said in an interview.

Maj. Gen. Elfatih Mohammed Ahmed Erwa, now Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations and formerly a senior Mukhabarat officer, said that Gosh at the time held the rank of colonel in the spy service and was not a decision-maker. “He was charged with keeping an eye on those people,” he said. “He was monitoring their contacts, not discussing politics with them or facilitating their activities.”

By 1993, the Clinton administration had listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, citing the country’s “disturbing relationship with a wide range of Islamic extremists.” It said Sudan’s support of terrorists “included paramilitary training, indoctrination, money, travel documentation, safe passage and refuge.” In late 1995, the U.S. shut down its CIA station in Khartoum and, in February 1996, withdrew its ambassador. Sudanese officials said their government, alarmed by the frayed ties, tried repeatedly without success to regain favor by turning over Bin Laden to either the Saudis or the U.S.

Even after Sudan forced Bin Laden to move operations to Afghanistan in 1996, the regime continued to make overtures to the White House and the FBI. In letters reviewed by The Times, Sudan offered cooperation on counter-terrorism efforts. The Clinton administration accepted an invitation by Sudan to send a CIA-FBI counter-terrorism team to Khartoum in mid-2000, but otherwise the Bashir regime’s overtures were rejected ? even when, Cloonan said, it offered to turn over two suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Tim Carney, the last ambassador to Sudan, said the stated goal of American policy was to win cooperation from the Bashir regime, but he believed that the “real agenda” was to bring on the regime’s collapse. “That’s largely why there was no effort whatsoever to respond to Sudan’s initiatives,” he said.

Others were skeptical of Sudan’s intent. John Prendergast, who served at the National Security Council during Clinton’s second term, said Bashir’s regime remained committed to a radical Islamist project. “Their promises of cooperation were totally opportunistic and were designed to get sanctions removed,” he said.

The newly installed Bush administration took steps early in 2001 to improve relations with Khartoum, Sudanese and American officials said. In July, Walter Kansteiner, then assistant secretary of State for African affairs, met secretly in Kenya with Sudan’s foreign minister. Another clandestine meeting followed in London, attended by Babiker, then Sudan’s deputy intelligence chief. The meetings explored possible cooperation on terrorism issues. But there was little progress until the Sept. 11 attacks that year on the United States, which Sudan condemned.

In late September, Kansteiner and the CIA’s Africa division chief held discussions with Babiker at the U.S. Embassy in London. A deal was struck. Days later, the Bush administration abstained on a vote at the United Nations, with the result that Sudan was freed from international sanctions imposed for its alleged role in efforts to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995.

At roughly the same time, the Sudanese turned over to the U.S. a stack of intelligence files several inches thick. They contained the cream of the information collected on members of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups during their years in Khartoum and thereafter. The intelligence partnership had begun in earnest.

By November 2001, the CIA had an active station in Khartoum, according to multiple sources. Among other programs, the agency was running surveillance on suspected foreign extremists with the knowledge and assistance of the Mukhabarat. Material obtained by Sudanese intelligence was turned over to U.S. investigators by Babiker, said former FBI agent Cloonan ? including counterfeit visa stamps and blank passports from Arab countries seized in a raid on a terrorism suspect’s home.

Cloonan and several FBI colleagues arrived in Sudan that month to interrogate several longtime Al Qaeda members residing in Khartoum. The interviews were conducted at safe houses arranged by Sudanese intelligence. The Mukhabarat brought the suspects to the FBI. Among those Cloonan questioned were Mohammed Bayazid, a Syrian American whose alleged ties to Bin Laden dated to the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan after Moscow’s 1979 invasion. Bayazid allegedly sought to obtain uranium for Al Qaeda.

Another person interrogated was Mubarak Douri, an Iraqi who was regarded as part of Bin Laden’s business infrastructure. Cloonan said Douri and a second Iraqi laughed when he pressed them about possible Bin Laden ties to Saddam Hussein’s regime. “They said Bin Laden hated Saddam,” the retired FBI investigator recalled. Bin Laden considered Hussein “a Scotch-drinking, woman-chasing apostate,” the Iraqis told the former federal agent.

The Mukhabarat also allowed the FBI to interview the manager at Al Shamal Bank, where Bin Laden held multiple business accounts while living in Sudan, Cloonan said. Those records were made available to U.S. investigators as well. “Until then, the Sudanese had a credibility problem with the U.S., but they gave us everything we asked for,” Cloonan said.

Robert Oakley, a retired diplomat who served as special assistant to former Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), the Bush administration’s special presidential envoy to Sudan at the time, said intelligence cooperation had a positive influence on overall ties between Washington and Khartoum. “Our relationship with their Foreign Ministry was fragile,” he said. “The only established relationship we had was through the intelligence channel because we had our people working directly with them.”

Collaboration with Sudan has steadily deepened since then. Prendergast, the former National Security Council official, said the Sudanese have provided information to U.S. intelligence about extremist suspects. “They are valuable on these connections because they were deep in it,” he said. “They know aliases, business backgrounds, banking information and other data.”

At the request of American agencies, the Mukhabarat has continued to detain suspected extremists, some of whom have been interrogated by the FBI and CIA. “Some were implicated in [terrorist] activities,” Babiker said. “Others had a chance to talk and cleared themselves.”

A U.S. source familiar with Sudan’s cooperation said, “They’ve not only told us who the bad guys were, they’ve gone out and gotten them for us. Hell, we can’t get the French to do that.” Sudanese and American sources confirmed that the Bashir government has turned over terrorist suspects to other Arab security services, including agencies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya, another country long at odds with the U.S. that has been cooperating on counter-terrorism.

One of those expelled to the Saudi kingdom was a Sudanese national named Abu Huzifa, a suspected Al Qaeda operative who reportedly admitted taking part in a failed 2002 plot to shoot down an American military plane in Saudi Arabia with a surface-to-air missile. He was sentenced by the Saudis to prison for committing “terrorist acts against vital installations in the kingdom.” Sudan also has initiated an internal crackdown on suspected extremists, and it is closely monitoring foreigners moving through the country. “If they detect someone coming in that we might be concerned about, they let us know,” the senior State Department official said.

In May 2003, security forces raided a suspected terrorist training camp in Sudan. They arrested more than a dozen people ? mostly Saudis, who were expelled to the kingdom. Four months later, a Sudanese court convicted three men accused of training foreign radicals to conduct attacks in Iraq, Eritrea and Israel, a State Department report said.

Beyond its cooperation since 9/11, Sudan’s intelligence service presents an opportunity to gather information on suspected extremist groups in countries where U.S. agents are unable to operate effectively. Middle Eastern and Muslim intelligence agencies such as the Mukhabarat can “get firsthand information while we get 10th-hand information,” said Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council staffer in the Clinton and Bush administrations. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail acknowledged in an interview that the Mukhabarat already has served as the eyes and ears of the CIA in Somalia, a sanctuary for Islamic militants.

Late last year, a senior Mukhabarat official met in Washington with the CIA’s counter-terrorism center to discuss Iraq, according to sources familiar with the talks. Though the Bashir regime vocally opposed the American invasion of Iraq, it never had close ties with Hussein’s regime, which repressed religious parties and movements.

But in 2003, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq neared, Hussein sympathizers recruited local and foreign jihadists to fight American troops, sending small numbers to Baghdad. The Mukhabarat monitored and rolled up the pro-Hussein network. Those efforts also “led to the discovery of cells in other countries that were active and planning to target U.S. interests,” Babiker said.

Sudan’s extensive cooperation with the U.S. has been noted in the State Department’s annual reports on terrorism. The latest report said Sudan’s assistance had “produced significant progress in combating terrorist activity.” A senior U.S. government official familiar with terrorist threats in the region said Khartoum was not at present a state sponsor of terrorism. “These are not all nice guys, but they have gone way past a passing grade on counter-terrorism cooperation and don’t technically belong on the list,” he said. “The reason they are still there is Darfur, which is not related to state-sponsored terrorism but makes lifting sanctions now politically impossible.”

The State Department list also includes Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea and Syria. In March, the U.S. successfully pushed for a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Sudanese officials implicated in Darfur atrocities. The Bashir government rejects charges of genocide in Darfur and denies that senior officials such as Gosh have ordered attacks on civilians, which it blames on rogue army elements and militias that it says largely operate beyond its control. In late March, Sudan announced that it had arrested and charged 15 members of its military and security forces with war crimes.

Former assistant secretary of State Kansteiner said Sudan’s collaboration with the CIA did not win it a free pass from the Bush administration. “We always made clear that the relationship was not just about counter-terrorism, but also about the peace process with the south and human rights in general,” he said.

But critics are impatient for a stronger response on Darfur. “We have not taken adequate measures given the enormity of the crimes because we don’t want to directly confront Sudan [on Darfur] when it is cooperating on terrorism,” said Prendergast, the former National Security Council staffer.

Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to the Bashir government calling for steps to end the conflict in Darfur. But the letter, reviewed by The Times, also congratulated Sudan for increased cooperation with an African Union mission to Darfur. It also said the administration hoped to establish a “fruitful relationship” with Sudan and looked forward to continued “close cooperation” on terrorism.

Repaying the servants of Empire

Repaying the servants of Empire

 

Mistah Kurtz – he dead
http://ambit-gambit.nationalforum.com.au/archives/000275.html

 

I was greatly heartened lately to hear that the neo-cons at the Pentagon had arranged a showing of Pontecorvo’s the Battle of Algiers, before launching their current "war on terror". (The latter phrase is a classical piece of Orwellian New Speak and can be roughly translated to mean "Bombing and Brutalising the Bejaysuss out of the Third World"). Still one should be generous and admit that it is good to see the Bush team extending their range, beyond John Wayne Westerns. But self improvement should be not for the elites alone. I would like to suggest a range of texts for the betterment of the troops the "grunts" in Iraq and above all for the 20, 000 or so corporate warriors who are working so hard for their dollars over there.

 

I think they should start with the Aussie classic Bruce Beresford’s Breaker Morant (1980). Then they could detour through Joseph’s Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but if that proves a little daunting they might try and sit through Francis Ford Coppola’s, admittedly botched classic, Apocalypse Now (1979).

 

That might seem a rather eccentric list, but there is a common theme. There are three heroes involved, Morant, Kurtz (Conrad) and Kurtz (Brando), and they have a common approach to a fundamental problem. They work on behalf of three imperialisms Belgian, British and American. All three have taken up the white man’s burden. But unlike with Kipling’s poem, which enjoins its white readers to believe that empires are about working for the gain of others, there is a conscious knowledge among our heroes that imperialism involves dirty work. Morant and Kurtz and Kurtz know they are there to rip off the people. They are moreover determined to do whatever it takes. Slaughter, terror, torture, voodoo – you name it they will go there.

 

There is another aspect to this viewing list. Our heroes are all betrayed. They are terminated with ‘extreme prejudice’ by the various masters they laboured for. Why? Well war is politics by other means and what military tactics can be applied in any given context is subject to the whim of politicians, who in turn are responding to movements within the whole arena that the war is part of.

 

So suddenly Morant found that it was not acceptable to assassinate German missionaries. He was rightly puzzled and complained that ‘nobody told me’. Morant of course fought in the Boer War, but as the movie proudly tells us this was a war for another age. Indeed there were to be other soldiers who would tread paths similar to Morant’s and find all of a sudden that it was no longer acceptable to rape and chop off ears and perform the thousand other delightful practices that they had been engaging in. The name of Lieutenant Calley rings something of a bell here.

 

Having watched these two films and attempted to read the book (It is pretty short after all.), the US army and the corporate warriors would be, I am confident, in a better position to understand what rather than who is going down in Iraq at the moment. Little Lynndie England, who was photographed in Abu Ghraib prison, proudly smirking at Arab penises, should probably at least see the films too. She might not then have been surprised to hear Donald Rumsfeld say that what happened at Abu Ghraib prison was ‘Un-American’. If she were of an historical frame of mind she might be tempted to say something like, ‘Tell that to the victims of the Contra wars in Nicaragua, or to those processed by the Phoenix Program in Vietnam’. But I doubt if Lynddie’s education has taken her far in an understanding of how historical and indeed how American her role in Iraq was.

 

Alas I fear she and her colleagues are about to suffer the fate of Morant and Kurtz. Sodomising Arab prisoners is, it would seem, no longer in fashion. Hard to believe that I know, but them’s the breaks. But Lynndie should not despair. What goes round comes round, as they say. And as the reach of the American Empire extends to ever more parts of the globe there will be plenty of dirty work in the future for her and her likes.