Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

It Stinks A Mile In the Wind

by Oui Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 02:58:03 AM EST

"... contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this."

Who's Lying? Clapper, Brennan, Rice, Obama, or ALL?

(Consortium News) - Despite the Obama administration's supposedly "high confidence" regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story.

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?

Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public - and perhaps even you.

[Read more on Consortium News...]

John Kerry, sir, you are a fraud!

Continued below the fold ...

This article written for the MintPress News has been picked-up in recent days in "quality" newspapers around the globe -
EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.    h/t Marie2

Dutch Military Intelligence (MIVD) has given their evaluation and analysis of the US, UK and France NIE's from which MP's Dutch Parliament concluded the evidence of who was responsible and what was the scientific proof of the neurotoxin used, wasn't there (yet).

The Dutch have had a bad encounter with US and British intelligence when a trap was set in the southern district of Iraq, the desert region to the Saudi border in Operation Iraqi Freedom. An ambush was set up by Saudi militants to murder a Dutch Marines patrol to incur casualties. This was known by US/UK intelligence which they did not share with the Dutch Marines in As Samawah. The Dutch had been reluctant to join the US/UK led allied forces to join only after UN approval. The Dutch government immediately send additional Apache helicopters for reconnaissance and do their own intelligence gathering. Casualties by nationality in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As an aside, the Dutch took over Camp Smitty from the US Forces and found radiation levels of depleted uranium so hot they ordered to move out and camp in the desert! Sickened Iraq Veterans Cite Depleted Uranium

Churchill was right, what do we care if they gas each other?

Propaganda: Repeating Lies Over and Over Again. What had effect perhaps 60 years ago leading up to WWII and during the Cold War, today people can find the other views and opinions through modern media. Listening to the press conference of John Kerry and French FM Laurent Fabius, it's repeating the same old lines of total bs. Reading from the same playbook as Samantha Power yesterday and the day before that by President Obama. The EU will only act on Syria and the apparent gas attack through the UN Security Council. No one knows whether Obama will wait that long. The objective is to degrade the military capability of the Assad regime and make a political solution possible. Kerry mentioned the strenghtening of the Al Qaeda groups but provides no insight how to deal with these thugs committing war crimes every day.

It's just a disgusting mess in US foreign policy towards the Middle-East. Kerry did mention our "national interest," meaning Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Kerry dares to speak out that if Assad isn't stopped with his chemical arsenal, it will endanger all of us. Both Kerry and Fabius referred to the heinous scenes on videos of children suffering in neurotoxin attack in Ghouta, telling the world it's Assad's crime. No, the US will do all that's necessary to get rid of Assad and hope for the best. There is no room for failure. I find it once again stunning he mentions the gas attack of Assad in the same breath as Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Also mentions Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and North Korea with possessing WMDs and risk of proliferation to terror groups. This does injustice to Iran and its people who have been on the receiving end of heinous gas attacks in the 1980s by Iraq. Iran has signed and ratified the CWC protocol and treaty. Iran leadership has always condemned the use of nerve gas in the strongest terms. John Kerry, you are a fraud! It's just ugly propaganda based on LIES.

CIA files: In 1980s ... US helped Saddam gas Iran

WASHINGTON Aug. 26, 2013 - The United States provided Iraq with intelligence on preparations for an Iranian offensive during the Iran-Iraq war even though it knew Baghdad would respond with chemical weapons.

Foreign Policy magazine said the US knew in 1983 that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would not hesitate to resort to shelling Iranian forces with sarin or mustard gas.

"As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings," a top secret CIA report said in November 1983.

Link to YouTube video - Iraq-Iran War 1980-1988.

In late 1987, US satellite imagery showed that Iran was concentrating a large force east of the southern Iraqi port city of Basra in preparation for a spring offensive. The images also showed that the Iranians had identified a strategic weakness in the Iraqi defenses.

The report, titled "At the Gates of Basra," was shown to President Ronald Regan, who wrote a note in the margins that said, "An Iranian victory is unacceptable." The United States decided to inform Baghdad of its findings and help the Iraqis with intelligence on Iranian logistics centers and anti-aircraft defenses.

US Policy In Support of Sunni Militants

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 03:02:53 AM EST
Democrats Didn't Listen to Obama, in 2004 he did promise to expand the War on Terror in Afghanistan. Obama has done nothing to change the mindset of Americans and imperial wars.

Andrew Bacevich on Taking Action in Syria

(Bill Moyers) - With the probability of American intervention, Syria is everywhere in the news.  Phil Donahue, filling in for Bill Moyers, speaks with historian and Vietnam veteran Andrew Bacevich about America's role in the world and the possible repercussions of our actions in the Middle East.  Given what we know about what's going on in Syria, is a U.S. response justified? And if we take action, where and when does it stop? Is a military response justified and if we take action, where does it stop?

Andrew Bacevich on Changing Our Military Mindset

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 03:04:09 AM EST
Speaking of morals and conscience in the 21th century. Just watched part of a documentary on Al Jazeera about the Salvadorization in Iraq. Policy set by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, executed by Gen. Petreaus with the mention of two mystical figures: Jim Steele and Special Forces Colonel James Coffman. Because the training of a new Iraqi police force was nor effective in a surge of Sunni led terror attacks, the Pentagon decided to train "police" commandos drawn from the Shia community and belonging to the Sadr militia. These death squads of terror, torture and murder were very effective to start a full-fledged sectarian war inside Iraq which is still raging. One Sunni city that suffered greatly was Samarra, where the mosque with the golden dome was bombed.

Baghdad: Searching for Steele

(Al Jazeera) - When the Wikileaks documents came out in November 2010, there was one leak in particular that caught my attention. It referenced something called "Frago 242," which was short for "Fragmentary Order 242" - a US military order instructing US soldiers to ignore Iraqi-on-Iraqi torture.

Sparked by Wikileaks' release of classified US military documents, this investigation uncovers how the Pentagon sent James Steele, a US veteran of the 'dirty wars' in Central America, to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents.

Composed of violent Shia militias, these commandos evolved into death squads and eventually numbered over 17,000 men. There were also references in the files to a General Adnan Thabit, who was visiting the American embassy at the time.

Link to YouTube - video.

The Iraq war is indicative of a very dysfunctional, brutal time. I hope this film will be a legacy that says: If you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured, it means men being turned on spits - that is your 'counterinsurgency'. I feel it is important that this information comes out and I am shocked that we want to forget it so quickly.

From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads

Found not a single mention of "Fraga 242" here @EuroTrib. With "Fraga 242" the order is laid at the desk of President George Bush. The term "Salvador option" in Iraq was witnessed and reported often at the time. Excellent coverage in this diary - Fear Up Harsh: The Iraqi Civil War in Context by ghandi on Mar 28th, 2006  . @BooMan a fp story by Steven D in October 2006 - You Get What You Pay For, and in Iraq We Paid for Death Squads.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 03:19:36 AM EST
I'm no longer convinced it is possible to "know" whath happened and the more various secret services kick dust up about what they think happened, the more the truth remains obscured.

It's possible we might know the day after we find out who really killed Kennedy and why, but till then...? Lies, disinformation and propaganda.

As Mulder might have said "I refuse to believe"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 12:37:35 PM EST
UN inspectors are on the ground.  Until they make their report I suggest a goodly dose of skepticism towards what anybody says about chemical weapon use in Syria.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 12:54:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A new argument added by John Kerry to the earlier "moral high ground" and "conscience" routine ...

US: 'Common-sense test' holds Assad responsible

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House asserted Sunday that a "common-sense test" rather than "irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence" makes the Syrian government responsible for a chemical weapons attack. Obama's top aide says the administration lacks "irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence" that skeptical Americans, including lawmakers, are seeking.

To meet the needs of right-wing Repugs like McCain ... do a bit extra on bombing runs! Obama needs to get the votes in Congress.

Pentagon adjusts plans for more intense attacks on Syria

WASHINGTON (LA Times) -- The Pentagon is preparing for a longer bombardment of Syria than it originally had planned, with a heavy barrage of missile strikes followed soon after by more attacks on targets that the opening salvos missed or failed to destroy. The planning for intense attacks over a three-day period reflects the growing belief in the White House and the Pentagon that the United States needs more firepower to inflict even minimal damage on Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

The administration ran into a new diplomatic roadblock Saturday at the European Union. Foreign ministers of the EU's 28 member nations, meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, said that "the international community cannot remain idle" after reports that poison gas was used Aug. 21 against neighborhoods near Damascus held by rebels trying to topple Assad. But despite the presence of U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the EU declined to back a military strike without approval of such intervention by the United Nations.

John Kerry careful not to rule out return to UN for Syria resolution

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 01:45:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As an aside, the Dutch took over Camp Smitty from the US Forces and found radiation levels of depleted uranium so hot they ordered to move out and camp in the desert! Sickened Iraq Veterans Cite Depleted Uranium

That the USA ignores the dangers of their use of  depleted uranium is one of the most shameful and damaging aspects of our war machine. The danger is not just the radioactivity but also the heavy metal poisoning produced by DU Depleted_uranium when turned into a fine powder and inhaled or ingested. It has been apparent that the US DOD has adopted a policy of minimizing the risks and denying claims of poisoning by veterans or civilians in combat zones.

The fearsome US A10 Warthog  anti-tank airplane has a Gatling gun that fires the above 30mm DU penetrators at a rate of 4,000/minute. 26mm DU penetrators are used in the rapid fire cannons on the U.S. Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Marine Corp's LAV-25 and other caliber DU ammunition is used on several types of helicopter gun ships. Most penetrators never strike an object hard enough to cause them to shatter. The landscapes of Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan have been peppered with these penetrators. In desert environments these long lived penetrators are vulnerable to exposure by erosion followed by sandstorms which will free tiny particles into the atmosphere. In all environments they can add to groundwater contamination from rainfall.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 01:33:13 PM EST
I don't want to link to Iraqi reports of birth defects, ten years after the massive bombing and carnage perpetrated by the US/UK (and its allies) war machine. Horrific suffering  by ordinary families and citizens trying to survive the after effects. Obama is ready for a new bombing run on the Syrian people. Speaking of war crimes ...

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 01:51:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Obama starts with Tomahawks it could well end with Warthogs and helicopter gun ships being used extensively. And it it comes to 'boots on the ground' many of them would be riding in LAV-25s, if not Bradleys. Then Syria would be peppered with DU.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 05:45:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The primary cause of increased health problems in Iraq is almost certainly the destruction of the grid, and the subsequent constant use of diesel generators, mostly badly maintained ones at that. This produces known toxins that are in the air, where people live, in vast amounts, as opposed to chunks of metal scattered around battlefields.

.. Darkly amusing fact: The primary reason DU is still in use is that the preliminary research into the health effects of the alternatives produced highly alarming results. As in "Over half the lab animals got cancer".

by Thomas on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 04:17:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also vast damage to health and sanitation infrastructure. Ascribing causation to the DU ammo is dubious - The entire country got fouled to heck and gone with poisons and diseases as old as time, and blaming the problem on the DU is sheerest optimism. Running around with a radiation counter and a doggy bag would after all be a lot faster and easier than rebuilding the infrastructure bones of the country.
by Thomas on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 04:23:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't seen the photos then?

Broken sanitation does not cause horrific birth deformities. No one could see the photos and blame broken sanitation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 05:19:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, DU is a heavy metal. All the heavy metals are toxic -  Get it in your system, and it is going to fuck you up.
But ascribing very much of the health problems of Iraq to this issue is simply a mistake, because it ignores all the other things poisoning the people there. Things with lots, and lots and lots of documented health effects. Including birth defects, cancer, ect, ect.

At some point someone really ought to go over those battlefields with a Geiger counter and a doggy bag. But as public health priorities goes, it is way down the list. Air pollution at the level running generators everywhere causes is simply so much worse. As is not having clean water and proper sewage handling.

by Thomas on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 05:58:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can find equivalent - or worse - air pollution and sanitation throughout most of the developing world.

I challenge you to find equivalent levels of birth defects elsewhere.

So it's hardly a stretch to suggest that DU is a major cause - because unlike most pollution it's both mildly radioactive and extremely toxic.

Lead is bad enough. But DU is worse than Thallium, worse than Mercury, and far worse than Cadmium - all of which are carefully (well - fairly carefully) controlled in Western populations.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 06:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.. 15 seconds of googling: Birth defects per thousand in Basra: 23. China, 15. Basra having half again the air and water pollution of China, disregarding the DU entirely is probably low. China may have very dirty industry but it does have sewers and power plants outside the city, with chimneys.
by Thomas on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 07:24:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, the DU is a health issue. I am just objecting to the way it gets portrayed as the main or sole problem.
by Thomas on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 07:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
@Thomas: 15 seconds of searching? A mathematician or will you look what's behind the numbers as these are not just the average congenital birth defects seen in Iraq.

Iraq War Anniversary: Birth Defects And Cancer Rates At Devastating High In Basra And Fallujah (VIDEO)

(Huff Post) March 20, 2013 - Ten years after the start of the U.S. invasion in Iraq, doctors in some of the Middle Eastern nation's cities are witnessing an abnormally high number of cases of cancer and birth defects. Scientists suspect the rise is tied to the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in military assaults. [It's not just the 2003 Iraq War, also the 1991 Gulf War, air strikes during Clinton presdidency and the harsh UN sanctions - Oui]

A  September 2012 study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology that focused on maternity hospitals in the cities of Basra and Fallujah recorded a devastating number of birth defects in the past decade. The study also indicated that childhood leukemia and other types of cancers are on the rise.

The study opens:

    "Between October 1994 and October 1995, the number of birth defects per 1,000 live births in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital was 1.37. In 2003, the number of birth defects in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital was 23 per 1,000 livebirths. Within less than a decade, the occurrence of congenital birth defects increased by an astonishing 17-fold in the same hospital."

Cancer and Birth Defects in Iraq: The Nuclear Legacy

(ScienceDaily) - Ten years after the Iraq war of 2003 a team of scientists based in Mosul, northern Iraq, have detected high levels of uranium contamination in soil samples at three sites in the province of Nineveh which, coupled with dramatically increasing rates of childhood cancers and birth defects at local hospitals, highlight the ongoing legacy of modern warfare to civilians in conflict zones.

They conclude that: "The Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003 left a legacy of pollution with DU in many regions of Iraq. The effects of these munitions may be affecting the general health of Iraqi citizens, manifesting in an increase in cancers and birth defects." They also warn that, even though some of the contamination measured in this study is specifically linked to known sites, it can be easily spread widely in the air, soil and water, particularly as dust in windstorms.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 08:00:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, if DU from expended ammunition is the problem, that would be preferable.
Because spent bullets - being mildly radioactive - are easily found with cheap equipment, and giving everyone a dose of prussian blue once a year would probably reduce  the effects greatly, and cost very little. I doubt the Iraqis have any such "luck", however.

The war is the reason these people are dying. But the mechanism causing people to die or be born wounded is the destruction wrecked on the physical and social infrastructure that kept their air and water clean.

by Thomas on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 09:31:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be interesting to know the number of DU penetrators expended in Iraq. I am certain that the US DOD could obtain a pretty good number. Those which hit metal objects typically vaporized into a powder, much of which was immediately deposited on the interior of the vehicle and readily available for transport by wind and water. Parts of those penetrators striking rocks of any size were likely also partly broken down, partly to a powder. Given the density I would guess that the 30mm penetrator shown above might weigh 50 to 100 grams, so the destruction of the Iraqi armor in Iraq and Kuwait in '91, perhaps two thousand vehicles, at  five penetrator strikes per vehicle would account for ten thousand mostly vaporized penetrators. At 425 grams each that would be 4,250kg of depleted uranium dust. If only 25% hit intended targets, a quite high percentage likely, that would leave another 12,750kg of penetrators in various states of fragmentation buried in the desert. That is just one battlefield.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 10:58:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And by "minimize the risk", not actually minimize the risk, but minimize the risk assessment.

Its like an Arizona road repair: I remember reading a sign driving into Arizona on the Interstate in the 1980's, "Ruts In Road / Next 10 Miles" and thinking, "well, that's a lot cheaper than fixing the ruts".

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 09:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My statement was ambiguous. I better could have said 'low-balling' the risk.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 11:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My statement was ambiguous. I better could have said 'low-balling' the risk.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 11:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This War Too Is A Lie

(FDL) - Wars, a central lie maintains, are fought against evil.  But Assad is not the devil incarnate.  He's a horrendously awful ruler, pushed in bad directions by those around him as much as they by him.  He's someone who has proposed disarmament in the past and been rejected by the United States.  He's someone who has done evil things in cooperation with the United States, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  He's not going to eat American children in their sleep.  He's never threatened the United States, and has shown remarkable restraint in the face of threats by the United States and the CIA's efforts to undermine and attack his government.  

Residents of the United States in search of dangers to get excited about shouldn't arrive at Bashar al Assad until far, far down the list past poor diet, poor healthcare, lack of exercise, automobiles, obesity, industrial pollution, unsafe workplaces, gun accidents, chain saws, lightning strikes, and countless other causes of death. Wars, a common lie holds, are fought in defense. But Syria is no threat to the United States, and when President Obama suggests that theoretically it could be, the laughter you hear from most listeners is the correct response.  

Except going to war is no laughing matter especially when the risks are not thought through. I wonder what General Dempsey advised the President and why Obama's "humanitarian hawks" won the fight in the Oval Office. The White House based the legality to act on the Responsibility to Act doctrine which states a limited military action to protect civilians and no stated goal of regime change. Unless Bashar Assad is "declared" an Adolf Hitler of course.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 03:18:39 PM EST
Regime change didn't happen in a matter of weeks or months as expected (based on intelligence?). The chosen policy of feeding arms, funds and intelligence to the rebels backfired as there was no opposition to unite and foreign fighters came in with its goal of a Sunni Islamic state accompanied by ugly atrocities and war crimes. A re-evaluation and Obama is staying the course by increasing support for the rebels. Excellent reminder by Juan Cole ...

When Syria was a US Ally (or at Least Helpful)

One of George Orwell's keenest insights in 1984 is the kaleidoscopic character of modern state-to-state relations, wherein countries go from being allies to enemies and back again, and government spokesmen and the press report on each situation (friendship or enmity) as though it was eternal.

  1. In 1976 as the Palestine Liberation Organization and its Muslim and Druze allies were poised to take over Lebanon, Syria received a green light from the US and Israel to invade and put them down, strengthening the right wing Christian militias that were rivals to the PLO.

  2. In 1989, Syria supported US and Saudi attempts to broker a deal among Lebanon's warring factions, leading to the Taif Accords that brought the Lebanese Civil War to an end.

  3. Syria fought as an ally of the US against Iraq in the Gulf War in 1991. (Jordan and PLO backed Saddam Hussein)

  4. In the 1990s, Syria attended several peace summits aimed at ending the Israel-Palestinian struggle. Then President Hafez al-Assad accepted George H. W. Bush's invitation to talks, and later he met with President Clinton during the latter's diplomatic push.

  5. Syrian intelligence let the United States know when it discovered an al-Qaeda plot to attack the US Fifth Fleet Navy HQ in Bahrain.

  6. After 2001, the US sent captured al-Qaeda operatives to Syria to be tortured by that country's secret police.

[Links added are mine - Oui]
    Russia calls for Syrian "Taif" accord

    During the last decade, beginning with the Bush presidency, Bashar Assad was again vilified and blamed for most of the atrocities in Lebanon. This included the so-called Israeli evidence pointing towards Damascus for responsibility of the Rafic Hariri assassination in Beirut. Bush was clearly doing King Abdullah's bidding through "mediator" Ambassador Prince Bandar in Washington DC. Can someone explain why the Syrian Orthodox Christians will be left to hang and dry and by bombing the Assad regime, the US will give military advantage to Al Qaeda terror groups funded and aided by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Western powers.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 03:21:54 PM EST
A must read, quite excellent investigative journalism by Max Blumenthal @Mondoweiss. Article established for a fact what my suspicion has been from the outset.

Shady PR operatives, pro-Israel ties, anti-Castro money: Inside the Syrian opposition's DC spin machine

(Mondoweiss) - During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria on September 3, Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain both cited a Wall Street Journal editorial by Elizabeth O'Bagy to support their assessment of the Syrian rebels as predominately "moderate," and potentially Western-friendly.

"She works with the Institute of War," Kerry said of O'Bagy. "She's fluent in Arabic and spent an enormous amount of time studying the opposition and studying Syria. She just published this the other day. Very interesting [Wall Street Journal] article, which I commend to you."

Kerry added, "I just don't agree that a majority are al-Qaida and the bad guys."

What Kerry and McCain neglected to mention was that O'Bagy had been recently hired as the political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a little known outfit that functions as a lobbying arm of the Syrian opposition in Washington.

Until today, O'Bagy had failed to note her role as a paid Syrian opposition lobbyist in her Wall Street Journal byline and did not note the position in her official bio at the Institute for the Study of War. Only after a storm of criticism did the Wall Street Journal insert a note in O'Bagy's recent op-ed disclosing her paid position at SETF. O'Bagy was also compelled to amend her bio with a lengthy clarification about her work at SETF. But her work at the Institute for the Study of War should have been enough to set off alarm bells.

... the activist told me about meetings at WINEP and entreaties to AIPAC. He mentioned Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Syrian Center for Political & Strategic Studies, as a key emissary between SETF and pro-Israel lobbyists. Ziadeh appeared at the American Jewish Committee's 2011 Global Forum to make the case for Western intervention in Syria. Ziadeh was among the self-proclaimed "foreign policy experts" who signed an August 27 open letter to Obama calling for military intervention in Syria. Other "experts" lending their names to the letter included Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams, Governor Tim Pawlenty, and veteran anti-abortion activist Gary Bauer.

"Logrolling for war"

In its 2011 annual report [PDF], the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) detailed its close working relationship with Palantir Technologies, a private surveillance firm contracted by Bank of America in 2011 in an unsuccessful plot to dismantle Anonymous and sabotage Glenn Greenwald.

SETF Organizes McCain Trip into Syria

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 8th, 2013 at 05:23:29 PM EST
Both McCain and Kerry quoted from O'Bagy's op-ed article. Kerry has worded all his statements on Syria very carefully, therefore all would have been vetted. Someone on his team let this pass? No, not really. This whole propaganda stunt is based on numerous lies and plain deceit. Had Obama not postponed the intented date to strike Syria, who would be talking about the lies going to war? The media would be filled with "shock and awe" Obama style. War is A Lie.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Draws Scrutiny Over Writer's Ties To Syrian Rebel Advocacy Group

(Huff Post) - Both Kerry and McCain noted O'Bagy's findings in addressing Congress' concerns over whether the Syrian rebels can be trusted.

McCain read part of O'Bagy's piece out loud during a Tuesday Senate hearing and asked Kerry if he agreed with the writer's findings. Kerry said he mostly did. "The fundamentals of Syria are secular and will stay that way," he told McCain. The following day, Kerry said it was a "very interesting article" and suggested members of Congress read it. (Reuters later challenged Kerry's assertions about the opposition).

Link to YouTube link on Kerry's allusion - here.

McCain and Kerry each mentioned O'Bagy's role with the Institute for the Study of War, a non-partisan think tank, in citing the column, but not her connection to the Syria support group.

When The Atlantic published an op-ed co-written by O'Bagy in June, "Why Arming the Rebels Isn't Enough," the magazine noted both her ties to the Institute for the Study of War and Syrian Emergency Task Force.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, the once quality paper The Wall Street Journalis now in the possession of Murdock and all is focused on supporting right-wing US policy (Israel included) and more anti-Obama editorial stance.

WSJ on Real Cause of Homelessness in America
WSJ on ObamaCare's Broken Promises
The MurdochStreet Journal, Not for Me, Thanks.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 01:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A follow-up from my earlier post about John Kerry and his source Elizabeth O'Bagy, "expert" on Syria.

Another Blatant Lie by Kerry Unmasked

A must read, quite excellent investigative journalism by Max Blumenthal @Mondoweiss. Article established for a fact what my suspicion has been from the outset.

WoW!  Karma didn't take long on that one (per Politico):

    The Syria researcher whose Wall Street Journal op-piece was cited by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain during congressional hearings about the use of force has been fired from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about having a Ph.D., the group announced on Wednesday.

    "The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O'Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University," the institute said in a statement. "ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O'Bagy's employment, effective immediately."

John Kerry needs to quote some more foreign organization lobbyists approvingly.

h/t by TarheelDem on Wed Sep 11th, 2013

Cross-posted from my diary @BooMan - World's Nr. 1 Despot Running Amok and Unchecked.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Sep 11th, 2013 at 04:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gloves Come Off: Israel Lobby Goes All-In for Syrian Intervention, While New York Times Self-Censors

(Tikum Olam) - Today's the day I knew was coming.  Despite the fact that Jodi Rudoren mistakenly said that the Lobby would maintain radio-silence about Obama's plan to strike Syria, I knew she was wrong. And she was.  Today, Obama pulled out all the stops and the Jewish leadership responded: virtually all the major organizations announced their support for military intervention.

This statement by the hawkish, pro-Israel Conference of Presidents highlights the real reason for the turnabout:

... Failing to take action would damage the credibility of the US and negatively impact the effort to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capacity.

So, Syria is really a sideshow.  It's a sort of precursor to war against Iran.  That's the main attraction and all Israel or the Jewish leadership cares about.  All the mumbling about setting a moral example and parallels between Syria and Jews being gassed by the Nazis is a smokescreen.  We want the Ayatollahs and we want `em bad.

AIPAC going to US Congress with army of 250 men (foreign agents)

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 01:41:03 AM EST
The White House is AIPAC and Bandar's bitch, so none of this is surprising.

What is surprising is that Bush 2.0 Obama and his immediate cronies are so politically isolated. The population doesn't want a war, the military don't want a war, and most of the pols don't want a war. Most allies don't want a war either.

Obama has exceeded everyone's cynicism by making this the one issue of his two terms where he's trying to ram through a policy choice.

He can of course start bombing anyway. But he doesn't have the votes or the PR momentum, and I think he knows that if he ignores that, there will be consequences.

Scarily, much more bonkers interpretations are possible, some of which include the words 'military coup.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 9th, 2013 at 05:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Posted earlier @BooMan]

I watched the press conference with William Hague after London meeting. Nothing new came forward. Kerry's reply to a question was later clarified by the State Department: "... should not be taken literally." Still moving forward on the path <s>to war</s> just a targeted bombing campaign over 72 hour period. No, we're not entering into a war like Iraq and Afghanistan. No, we aren't expecting a retaliation from the other side. No, there can be no military solution to the civil war, we need to get both parties to the table for a political solution. Bombing the Assad regime into submission.

"Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used," a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Syria crisis: Assad has one week to hand over chemical weapons arsenal and avoid attack, warns John Kerry

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 08:49:44 AM EST
"... is the only way to get the Assad regime to seriously consider a negotiated settlement that could protect the Alawites, Christians, and other religious minorities from Sunni reprisals in a post-Assad Syria."

Mind you, many initiatives for a political settlement came from the Russians, including getting Assad at the table. Ms Clinton wasn't ready for talks because the FSA and affiliated fighters weren't strong enough on the battlefield and she never managed to get a united opposition together, The Syrian National Council (SNC) failed although massive efforts and funds were put into the groups by the UK, France, Germany, Turkey, US and the GCC states. In the end there was an internal struggle between factions of Qatar (Muslim Brothers) and Saudi Arabia (Wahhabists and Salafists). Leaders came and went until the very end. In June, it became clear the Emir of Qatar was losing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Ms Clinton wasted the Geneva 1 proposal by Lavrov and a number of proposals in between. In the last two months, it was the Obama administration that dragged its feet to get together for Geneva 2. Listening to Obama, Kerry and Power in their world the US did its utmost for political dialogue and a military punitive strike is the only way to go. Striking, the whole Syrian setting shifted with the fall of Qusayr and the addition of thousands of Hezbollah fighters to the frontlines. Estimates of foreign jihadists and Al Qaeda terror groups from Iraq varies between 40 and 80,000 men.

Latest tactical reply from Russia and Syria -
Syria welcomes Russia's offer to put its chemical weapons under intl control.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 08:51:36 AM EST
Israel has set by example air strikes on Syria can be executed with impunity. The red line was set by our CoC himself, Netanyahu called him out on his responsibility and credibility in reference US commitment on Iran's nuclear issue.

Israel Lobby Goes All-In for Syrian Attack

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 08:52:57 AM EST
It could be that Assad doesn't want to demonstrate how good (or weak) his defenses are, thus providing information that could be used for devising countermeasures. This would change in the case of an all-out attack.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:01:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An unintended policy proclamation by Kerry is getting legs with a surprised David Cameron answering in the affirmative if the Syrians do act. Also UN Ban Ki-moon has embraced this "proposal" as an important step to a diplomatic solution. This morning, Kerry was very clear, a military solution to the civil war was not possible, agreeing with FM Hague that in the end there must be a political settlement.

Seems to have caught everyone by surprise and it undercuts the White House effort to gain support from US Congress and public opinion. Just noticed Susan Rice was holding a press conference, I didn't catch the content.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 08:55:03 AM EST
Vladimir Putin's news conference following the G20 Summit

I will recognize a bit of wishful thinking. At the G20 Summit were present UN Ban Ki-moon and envoy Brahimi. FM Lavrov was present, and Putin said the arguments were exchanged but opposing positions stayed firm. We understand each other but we do not agree. A very thin commitment, Putin and Obama agreed FM Lavrov and Kerry will meet together and discuss this painful topic.

Nothing Transpired At G20

There was no backchannel over the weekend. The impromptu question at the press conference and Kerry's answer was mooted within the hour by spokesperson that Kerry's answer was strictly rhetorical. It was Lavrov, the old fox, who picked up on the theme and called for a press briefing in Moscow. The rest is bunk, no credit to Obama or Kerry. Put that on the board of 11-dimensional chess played by Obama.

Russia, Syria Back Call for International Control of Syrian Chemical Weapons
White House takes 'hard look' at Russian proposal on Syria

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:07:30 AM EST
Excellent Analysis by TarheelDem @BooMan.

Minor quibbles ...
Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have joined together and are hard-core Al Qaeda which has established itself in part of the Levant. To underestimate this group will be fatal for any form of a political solution. This is a fact and McCain and Kerry relying on WSJ Op-Ed to deny this is basically a big lie. The Syrian division is an extension of Lebanon (Taif Accords) and Iraq along sectarian lines. The military frontlines has split Syria in three cantons: Kurds in a small part north-east. Sunni in a broad stretch from northern border with Turkey to oe leg extended to Iraq and another towards Homs. By recently recapturing Qusayr, the Assad forces gained a strategic link for the Alawite/Christian/Druze canton from the East-Med along the Lebanon border to Damascus.

As far as the Kurds are concerned, they are fighting for independence and are battling Jabhat Al Nusra forces. Jordan is trying to stay out of the Syrian War because the nation is divided in Muslim Brotherhood and a divided Palestinian block. Jordan can easily fall. Turkey has had a lot of support from Ms Clinton and was a proxy to overthrow Assad. I personally am very disappointed in the Tayyip Erdogan regime these past two years and consider his AKP party unreliable. I used to be for Turkey joining the EU, I now have considerable apprehension. The US has very close ties with Turkey because the nation was a crucial NATO partner during the Cold War and important ally for transporting oil from Caspian Basin to Europe and the East-Med. The US makes a strong case for Turkey to join the EU.

Seven Scenarios for the Future of Syria [Map Syria divided]

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:15:46 AM EST
Sexing up the intelligence dossier ...

Making the case for war: Dearlove doublethink on Iraq?

Just six weeks before the attack on Iraq, the "Dodgy" Dossier, based largely on a 12-year old PhD thesis culled from the internet, but containing nuggets of raw MI6 intelligence -- was presented by spy and politician alike as ominous premonitory intelligence.

Most memorably in the UK, it led to the bogus "Brits 45 minutes from Doom" front-page head­line in Rupert Murdoch's The Sun newspaper, no less, on the eve of the crucial war vote in Parliament.

So last week John Kerry used Murdoch's WSJ and article by Elizabeth O'Bagy (a paid lobbyist), h/t to investigative report by Max Blumenthal @Mondoweiss. Kerry: "We know who the good guys are in Syria, there are just a few bad guys amongst the opposition fighters." There are reports pointing to Clapper and Brennan for misleading intelligence, link here. Otherwise it would be the White House with responsibility of Susan Rice, the president's National Security advisor. Watch here remarks here.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:17:53 AM EST
Belgian who had been abducted in Syria is back

(FlandersNews.be) - Pierre Piccinin da Prata, a Belgian teacher who had been abducted in Syria, is back on home soil. He landed at Melsbroek military airport at 5:40 this morning. He was welcomed by his parents, but also by Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet. The man had been liberated together with Italy's Domenico Quirico, a journalist working for the daily La Stampa, in Syria.

"Ce n'est pas le gouvernement Assad qui a utilisé le gaz sarin"

(RTL.be) - L'enseignant belge Pierre Piccinin da Prata, kidnappé en Syrie au mois d'avril et libéré ce dimanche, a accordé une interview à RTL-TVI ce lundi matin. Il a indiqué que le gaz sarin avait été utilisé par les rebelles, et non par le régime syrien.

Overheard the militants acknowledging that President Bashar Al-Assad was not responsible for last month's chemical weapons attack.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:19:22 AM EST
Jerusalem Post could as well add Susan Rice to the list of NeoCons.

AIPAC and Syria

(JPost) - A decade ago as the US marched on Iraq, prominent news commentators and academics raised accusations that a "Zionist cabal" was pushing America to war. Sometimes this group - which included Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol and Douglas Feith - was referred to as "Likud-oriented members of the president's team," sometimes it was referred to as "the clique of conservative intellectuals pushing the war."

Whatever their title, according to two university professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who wrote a book called The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, these "neo-cons" had in common the inability to "distinguish their loyalties to their original homelands from their loyalties to America and its national interests."

In their 2007 book, they argued that pro-Israel organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee had managed to divert the US from its true national interests while simultaneous convincing Americans that US interests and those of Israel were essentially identical.

Mondoweiss and Another Blatent Kerry Lie Unmasked

Listening to the conciliatory words by JFK towards the communists and people of the Soviet Union, the world has drifted apart more than we realize in our daily, busy world. Such a shame, even Obama cannot provide change. See the diplomatic rhetoric by Susan Rice at the UN Security Council. Such a bloody shame.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 04:07:22 PM EST
Excellent, well balanced and credible statements by our President. PBO should have ended his presentation at 13:00 min., the rest was a redundancy where he put extra focus on the horror of Ghouta and puts repeated blame on the Assad regime. All images of war crimes from all sides in the civil war in Syria are horrific. The stream of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled destruction, bloodshed and murders are heart wrenching. The need for a political solution could have warranted more space in his speech. I'm glad the war rhetoric has diminished and I hear a clear intention and commitment for dialogue and diplomacy. A break with the rhetoric of our Minister of Propaganda just 24 hours earlier, NeoCon Susan Rice, she shames us all.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Sep 11th, 2013 at 04:27:09 AM EST

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