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Blow to Bush: Canada Rules Indefinite Detention Is Wrong

February 28th, 2007 - by admin

Beth Duff-Brown / Associated Press – 2007-02-28 01:18:14


OTTAWA (Febraury 23, 2007) — One of Canada’s most contentious anti-terrorism provisions was struck down Friday by the Supreme Court, which declared it unconstitutional to detain foreign terror suspects indefinitely while the courts review their deportation orders.

The 9-0 ruling was a blow to the government’s anti-terrorism regulations. Five Arab Muslim men have been held for years under the “security certificate” program, which the Justice Department had insisted is a key tool in the fight against global terrorism and essential to Canada’s security.

The court found that the system violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom, Canada’s bill of rights. It suspended the judgment from taking effect for a year, to give Parliament time to rewrite the part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that covers the certificates.

The security certificates were challenged on constitutional grounds by three men from Morocco, Syria and Algeria – all alleged by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to have ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist networks.
The law now allows sensitive intelligence to be heard behind closed doors by a federal judge, with only sketchy summaries given to defense attorneys.

The men have spent years in jail while fighting deportation orders. They risk being labeled terrorists and sent back to their native countries, where they face possible torture.

The court called this a fundamental violation of their human rights.

“The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: Before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in a ruling for all nine justices.

“The secrecy required by the scheme denies the person named in a certificate the opportunity to know the case put against him or her, and hence to challenge the governments case,” she said.

The court said the men and their lawyers should have a right to respond to the evidence used against them by intelligence agents and noted that a law in Britain allows special advocates to review sensitive intelligence material.

The Justice Department said it would have no immediate comment.

Two of the men are out on bail and remain under house arrest. Three others are being held in a federal facility in Ontario that has been dubbed the “Guantanamo Bay of the North,” a reference to the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Human rights activists and lawyers for the men hailed the ruling as a victory for those who believe fundamental rights and freedoms have been overshadowed by the demands of national security since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

“This is a judgment that, quite frankly, I think we should all be very proud of, because our court has not bought into the rhetoric of national security,” said John Norris, who represents one of the five. “They have recognized the fundamental importance of preserving the security of all of us, but at the same time has stated, in the clearest possible terms, that that must never be done at the expense of human rights.”

Barbara Jackman, who represents another detainee, said the Supreme Court decision in no way compromises national security.

“It only strengthens our democracy,” she said. “It’s an indication to other countries that to detain people and mistreat them, it’s not satisfactory. There are ways to provide fair hearings in the face of national security concerns.”
Although the security certificates have been around for decades, their use became more contentious after 9/11, and more suspect since Ottawa used faulty intelligence in a case that led to a $9 million apology to another former terror suspect, Maher Arar.

In that case, the Syrian-born Canadian was seized by U.S. authorities in New York and sent to Syria for questioning about suspected ties to terrorists. He was held in a cell for a year and tortured before being sent back to Canada, where he was cleared by a federal inquiry of any links to Islamic extremists.

Five Arab Muslim men now stand accused of terrorist links under the certificates, and all deny any ties to terrorism. It was not immediately clear if the three men still in detention would be released, or remain jailed until the law is rewritten.
The most notable is Adil Charkaoui, 33, a native of Morocco.

The former University of Montreal student and pizzeria operator was arrested in Montreal in 2003 and freed on bail under strict conditions in 2005. He is accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, which has ties to al-Qaida and a history of terrorist attacks in Spain.

CSIS also claims Ahmed Ressam, convicted in 2001 of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, identified Charkaoui as someone he met at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan – a contention denied by Charkaoui.

The others are Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian native arrested in 2002 and freed on bail last year; Mahmoud Jaballah, an Egyptian who remains in detention; Mohammad Mahjoub, also from Egypt and recently granted bail, although he has yet to be released; and Hassan Almrei, a native of Syria who was arrested in 2001 and is still in custody.

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Jailed Conspirator Claims FBI ‘Involved’ in Oklahoma Bombing

February 28th, 2007 - by admin

Pamela Manson / The Salt Lake City Tribune – 2007-02-28 01:13:18


Affidavit: McVeigh Had High-Level Help
Pamela Manson / The Salt Lake City Tribune

(February 21, 2007) — Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols says a high-ranking FBI official “apparently” was directing Timothy McVeigh in the plot to blow up a government building and might have changed the original target of the attack, according to a new affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Utah.

The official and other conspirators are being protected by the federal government “in a cover-up to escape its responsibility for the loss of life in Oklahoma,” Nichols claims in a Feb. 9 affidavit.

Documents that supposedly help back up his allegations have been sealed to protect information in them, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah had no comment on the allegations. The FBI and Justice Department in Washington, D.C., also declined comment.

Nichols does not say what motive the government would have to be involved in the bombing.

An Innocent Man Murdered in US Prison Interogation?
The affidavit was filed in a lawsuit brought by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, who believes his brother’s death in a federal prison was linked to the Oklahoma City bombing.

The suit, which seeks documents from the FBI under the federal Freedom of Information Act, alleges that authorities mistook Kenneth Trentadue for a bombing conspirator and that guards killed him in an interrogation that got out of hand.

Trentadue’s death a few months after the April 19, 1995, bombing was ruled a suicide after several investigations. The government has adamantly denied any wrongdoing in the death.

Information Sent to AG John Ashcroft in 2004
In his affidavit, Nichols says he wants to bring closure to the survivors and families of the attack on the Alfred B. Murrah Federal Building, which took 168 lives. He alleges he wrote then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004, offering to help identify all parties who played a role in the bombing but never got a reply.

Nichols is serving a life sentence at the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colo. McVeigh, who carried out the bombing, was executed in 2001.

McVeigh and Nichols were the only defendants indicted in the bombing. However, Nichols alleges others were involved.

McVeigh told him he was recruited for undercover missions while serving in the military, according to Nichols. He says he learned sometime in 1995 that there had been a change in bombing target and that McVeigh was upset by that.

“There, in what I believe was an accidental slip of the tongue, McVeigh revealed the identity of a high-ranking FBI official who was apparently directing McVeigh in the bomb plot,” Nichols says in the affidavit.

Nichols also says that McVeigh threatened him and his family to force him to rob Roger Moore, an Arkansas gun dealer, of weapons and explosives. He later learned the robbery was staged so Moore, who was in on the phony heist, could deny any knowledge of the bombing plot if the stolen items were traced back to him, Nichols claims.

He adds that Moore allegedly told his attorney that he would not be prosecuted in connection with the bombing because he was a “protected witness.”

Moore could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In addition, Nichols says McVeigh must have had help building the bomb. The device he and McVeigh built the day before the bombing did not resemble the one that ultimately was used, Nichols says, and “displayed a level of expertise and sophistication” that neither man had.

Copyright 2007, The Salt Lake Tribune

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Former CIA Official: US Will Be Defeated in Afghanistan

February 28th, 2007 - by admin

The Daily Times / Zee News.com – 2007-02-28 01:03:25


WASHINGTON (December 31, 2006) — A former senior CIA operative who tracked Osama bin Laden for 10 long years foresees “an apparent American defeat in Afghanistan.”

Michael Sheuer said the way ahead in Afghanistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border “ultimately would lead to the defeat of US and NATO forces and the demise of the Karzai government”.

Scheuer told the Daily Times in Washington that by failing to accomplish the only mission that had to be accomplished in Afghanistan, the US was now faced with a growing insurgency that probably already outnumbered the combined US-NATO forces.

But he has handsome words of praise for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. The US has seldom found an ally better than Musharraf, who has acted to advance “US interests” even while jeopardizing his own, Sheuer observed.

Some of Musharraf’s actions, like sending Pakistani troops to tribal areas, were clearly “against Pakistan’s interests” and have “brought his country to the brink of a civil war”, he said.

By not abandoning the Cold War practice of trying to find foreigners to do “America’s dirty work, we have blithely assumed that Musharraf’s Pakistan is an American proxy, with national-security interests that mirror those of the US”, he said.

“The truth is that virtually none of the many things Musharraf has done to assist the US in Afghanistan has been in Pakistan’s national interest; indeed, by sending the Pakistani Army into the Pashtun regions he brought his country to the brink of civil war.”

His praise for Musharraf was in sharp contrast to criticism from most American think tanks who, while crediting the President with working to fight terrorism, accuse him of either not doing enough or serving the interests of the Pakistani Pushtuns who support the Taliban and host foreign and Al Qaeda fighters.

The September 1 agreement that Musharraf’s regime signed with the tribals in North Waziristan has worked precisely in that direction and incensed Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Musharaf had also worked to rescue Pakistani nationals fighting alongside the Taliban, when the latter’s regime fell, allowing in the process many key Taliban and Al Qaeda hands to escape, they have said.

However, Sheuer takes a peep into American history to draw an analogy about Musharraf’s role.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Taliban Claims Bombers Targeted Cheney

February 28th, 2007 - by admin

Matthias Gebauer / Der Spiegel & News24.com / South Africa – 2007-02-28 00:58:01


Not a Good Omen for Afghanistan
Matthias Gebauer / Der Spiegel online

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (February 27, 2007) — It may have been little more than a ‘loud bang’ for US Vice President Dick Cheney. But it signals that the Taliban may be much more sophisticated than thought. And that more may be yet to come.

The suicide blast outside the US military base in Bagram seemed timed to send a message to the Western allies.

US Vice President Dick Cheney took his explosive morning in stride. Arriving in Oman at lunchtime on Tuesday following his brief visit to Kabul, Cheney told of his adventure at Bagram Air Base a few hours earlier. He had been sitting in his room, located in an ultra-secure section of the largest US military base in Afghanistan. Cheney reported he heard a “loud bang” at about 10 a.m., adding that Secret Service agents briefly took him to a bunker before he continued working.

Yet what sounds almost harmless in Cheney’s account was far from it — rather it was a massive and hitherto unheard of attack near the US military base, located about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Kabul. Despite countless checkpoints on the road to Bagram, the attacker managed to drive his carload of explosives all the way to the base’s outermost security perimeter. T

he bomb in his car caused a tremendous explosion that could be seen from kilometers away. In addition to the attacker himself, the bomb killed at least 12 Afghans — and possibly more — in addition to two international soldiers, though casualty reports varied widely.

Not even an hour had passed before the radical Islamists from the Taliban had proudly taken credit for the attack. Their myriad press spokesmen went into action, contacting wire services by sat-phone make sure credit was given where credit was due.

“We knew Cheney had remained at the base overnight,” said Kari Yousef Ahmadi, adding that “our man wanted to get through to him and kill him.” As if to prove his words, Ahmadi also cited the identity of the attacker. It is still unclear, however, whether the identity given is correct.

But even if the Taliban’s claims don’t prove 100 percent accurate, the incident on Tuesday morning is disconcerting news for the troops in Afghanistan. “The fact that the attacker was able to get all the way to the gate troubles us,” says a NATO officer. “But we’re even more startled by how much the Taliban know.”

It was clearly “a planned attack,” the officer said, since the planners knew “that Cheney was still in the base” — and even if the goal was not achieved, the message was understood.

The details of the attack bespeak a new, hitherto unknown logistical skill on the part of the Taliban. Cheney’s visit was shrouded in secrecy from the beginning with reporters travelling with him being asked to observe embargoes on revealing the Vice President’s whereabouts.

The fact that Cheney had to cancel a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai — originally scheduled for Monday evening — because of strong snowfall and spend the night in Bagram only became known on Monday evening.

Observers see a clear sign that the Taliban now dispose of a well-organized information network that allows them to track the movements of prominent political decision-makers like Cheney. “Of course plenty of information is available via the Internet,” the NATO officer said, “but you need to be able to use that tool.”

This was apparently what happened in the case of the attack on Bagram Air Base, the officer added, claiming there is no other way of “explaining the exact timing.” It’s hardly appropriate to continue characterizing the Taliban as simple guerrilla soldiers, in the officer’s view.

6,000 Suicide Attackers Ready to Strike
The spontaneity of the attack also gives new weight to the threats issued by Taliban. For weeks now, the radical group have used propaganda videos to announce the training of thousands of suicide attackers, ready to jump into action as soon as the snow melts in Afghanistan.

Until now, the threats had seemed exaggerated. But given that Cheney’s whereabouts could only have been known just a short time prior to the actual attack, the threats now seem more credible.

Especially active on the propaganda front is Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. The fighter even recently invited reporters from the Arab TV station al-Jazeera to visit him in the mountains near Kandahar. After presenting his troops, Dadullah — noted for his brutality — said he had 6,000 men ready to carry out suicide attacks.

As if to prove the claim, his propaganda videos repeatedly show young Afghans and Arabs signing their names on lists and announcing they are prepared to sacrifice their lives for Dadullah.

The new Taliban strategy is partly the product of the bitter lessons learned last year. The Taliban suffered heavy losses in 2006, especially during the last months of the year. Previously, their guerrilla troops had been able to seize entire villages in the south of the country. Then, almost 3,000 Taliban died during NATO air attacks in late 2006. “The Taliban can no longer afford large numbers of casualties and loss of equipment,” says Afghanistan expert Raimullah Yusufzai, “so they’re opting for the cheaper option of suicide attacks.”

Last year, there were 139 such attacks in Afghanistan. Western intelligence agencies say that is a five-fold increase on the previous year. Even prior to Tuesday’s attack, the new commander of US forces in Afghanistan David Rodriguez said he expected a further jump in deadly suicide attacks this year.

The well-timed attack on Bagram Air Base seems to mark the beginning of what could become a bloody spring in Afghanistan.

Taliban ‘Knew of Cheney Visit’
News24.com / South Africa

ISLAMABAD< Pakistan (February 27, 2007)— A suicide attack at an Afghan air base where US vice-president Dick Cheney was staying shows that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have penetrated local intelligence agencies, analysts and officials said. The blast early on Tuesday at Bagram air base near Kabul also highlights the increasing sophistication of the extremist outfits as they prepare for a feared spring offensive against Western troops, they said. The day before the explosion Cheney warned President Pervez Musharraf of neighbouring Pakistan to crack down on militants regrouping in Pakistan's tribal areas to mount attacks across the border and further afield. "This shows how much the militants have penetrated the intelligence of the Afghan security forces. It is a most shocking attack," retired Pakistani general turned analyst Talat Masood told AFP. Visit Unannounced
Cheney’s visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan were unannounced and shrouded in even tighter secrecy than when US President George W Bush travelled to the two countries in March 2006.

Author Ahmed Rashid, who has written a book on the Taliban, said the bombing was a “very provocative” move by the Taliban.

“They were waiting for a high-level visit to carry out an attack. This visit, although highly secretive, was known in circles in Kabul and Islamabad,” he said.

A senior Pakistani counter-terrorism official said the “sophisticated” attack “indicates the militants’ preparedness and the quality of their intelligence collection in the run-up to the so-called spring offensive”.

He added: “They must have had information (a) few days before that the US vice-president would be in town and stay at Bagram. This is not something you can plan with 12 hours notice.”

Agence France-Presse

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Independent Jewish Voices Heard Worldwide

February 27th, 2007 - by admin

Hasan Suroor / The Hindu & Jason Kunin / Winnipeg Free Press – 2007-02-27 01:27:28

http://www.hindu.com/2007/ 02/13/stories/ 2007021301591000.html

British Jews Take on Israeli Lobby
Hasan Suroor / The Hindu

(February 13, 2007) — Their campaign is meant to challenge the claim of the Israeli state and its
proxy institutions abroad to represent the opinion of all Jews, especially on the Palestinian issue.

Some of the leading British Jewish intellectuals such as Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, Marxist thinker Eric Hobsbawm, and film-maker Mike Leigh have come together on a common platform with a cross-section of others from the community to start a debate on free speech. This, they hope, will encourage independent voices in other communities also to stand up against attempts to gag them in the name of religious, ethnic, and national “solidarity. ”

In what has been billed as a “unilateral declaration of independence” from the Jewish Establishment, their campaign is meant to challenge the claim of the Israeli state and its proxy institutions abroad to represent the opinion of all Jews, especially on the Palestinian issue.

More significantly, it questions the idea that any criticism of Israel is, ipso facto, an attack on the Jewish people and therefore amounts to anti-semitism.

It is this aspect of the campaign, launched by the newly created Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) last week, that has wider resonance. No doubt, Jewish sensitivities around race identity and nationhood are particularly acute because of the history of their persecution but it is not something unique to Jews.

We have all met Muslims who see any criticism of their community as an attack on Islam itself; Hindus who regard critics of Hindutva as anti-Hindu; and Sikhs who are quick to dub the slightest criticism of Sikh practices an insult to their faith.

Novelist and writer Lisa Appignanesi, joining the IJV debate on The Guardian’s Comment is Free website, makes an interesting point saying that
many of the coordinated attempts to silence public expression have come from faith or immigrant groups and have been directed against their own people.

“It was young Muslims who, back in 1989, burned Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. It was Sikh rioters and a critical community who managed to close Gurpreet Bhatti’s play Behzti, because the rape she depicted of a girl by an elder was considered shaming.

The filming of Monica Ali’s Brick Lane had to move to a secret location after protests from a small group of local Bangladeshis. Groups — who may in some way feel vulnerable — confound dissent with disloyalty,” she says.

Given the long and robust tradition of argument and debate among Jews, she feels sad that they too should have been “infected” by the same “spirit of intolerance, the same attempt at silencing dissenting views” as the more vulnerable immigrant groups.

What the IJV has set out to challenge is the attempt to force people into medieval-style tribal loyalties by calling them disloyal and unpatriotic if they don’t sing from the same sheet.

For example, if an Indian is not seen cheering the current hype over India’s “great” future his nationalistic credentials become immediately suspect; a Pakistani must share the Establishment view on Kashmir or be open to the charge of sleeping with the enemy; and in George W. Bush’s America the stark choice is: either you are with “us” or with the enemies of America.

Indeed, the provocation that led to the formation of IJV happened on American soil when an influential Jewish lobby, which wants all Jews to be unquestioningly loyal to the Israeli state and its policies, picked a fight with those who insist that they have a democratic right to make legitimate criticism of the Israeli Government’s policies without inviting the charge of “disloyalty. ”

The trouble started a few weeks ago when the American Jewish Committee (AJC), one of America’s oldest and most powerful Jewish advocacy groups, published an article calling upon the community to “confront” Jews who, according to it, were engaged in attacking Zionism and the Jewish state.

It also attacked playwright Tony Kushner and the US-based British historian Tony Judt — both prominent liberal Jews — denouncing their criticism of Israel as “anti-semitic.”

Professor Judt hit back with an interview in The New York Times accusing AJC of trying to stifle dissenting views about Israel. “The link between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism is newly created,” he said calling it a “political defence of Israeli policy.”

Last October, a lecture Professor Judt was to give at the Polish consulate in New York was suddenly cancelled under pressure from AJC and other Jewish lobby groups protesting against an article in which he called for the creation of a secular bi-national state of Jews and Palestinians.

The Polish consul general at the time acknowledged receiving telephone calls from hardline Jewish lobby groups. “The phone calls were very elegant but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure,” said Krzysztof Kasprzyk.

In Britain, the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, an independent think-tank, was embroiled in a controversy when a number of its high-profile members resigned protesting the remarks of its director Tony Lerman reportedly questioning the viability of Israel and arguing for a Jewish-Arab state . The comment, made long before he joined the institute, was seen as anti-semitic and tantamount to proposing the “suicide of the state of Israel.”

It was against this background that IJV was launched. In its manifesto published, the group says that its aim is to promote alternative Jewish voices particularly in respect of the “grave situation in the Middle East which threatens the future of both Israelis and Palestinians as well as the stability of the whole region.”

The group, comprising Jews from diverse backgrounds and political affiliations, is united by its members’ “strong commitment to social justice and universal human rights.” It is also defined by what a prominent member of the group called its “abhorrence” of a “culture of vilification” in which anyone who does not support the official Israeli policies is denounced as a “traitor” or a “self-hating Jew .”

The IJV sees itself as a response to a climate in which many Jews feel frightened to speak openly about Israel’s approach to the Palestinian issue for fear of being vilified by Jewish organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, whose aim ostensibly is to promote the interests of British Jews but which, its critics say, has effectively become a mouthpiece for the Israeli government.

“People are anxious about contravening an unwritten law on what you can and cannot discuss, may or may not assert. It is a climate that raises fundamental questions: about freedom of expression, Jewish identity, representation, and the part that concerned Jews in Britain can play in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to find their way to a better future,” wrote Brian Klug, a Jewish Oxford academic and an IJV activist, in The Guardian.

Not Monolithic
Apart from seeking to uphold the right of individual Jews to speak openly about Israeli actions, IJV campaigners want to highlight that Jews are not a monolithic entity with a collective worldview. Equally importantly, they want to expose the “fallacy” of Israeli claims that the worldwide Jewish community supports all its policies whether in relation to the Palestinian territories or elsewhere.

Many Jews in Britain and elsewhere — indeed including Israel — were angry when during the Israel-Lebanon crisis last summer, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: “I believe that this is a war that is fought by all the Jews.”

They questioned Mr. Olmert’s claim saying it was misleading and part of Israeli claim to represent Jews all over the world. “This is a fallacy; and moreover a dangerous one, since it tars all Jews with the same brush. Yet this misconception is reinforced here (in Britain) by those who, claiming to speak for British Jews collectively or allowing that impression to go unchallenged, only ever reflect one position on the Middle East,” said Professor Klug.

The view is echoed in the IJV manifesto, which says that the group believes that the broad spectrum of opinion among British Jews is not reflected by those institutions that claim authority to represent the Jewish community as a whole. “We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty,” it says.

A five-point charter, which will guide the group, stresses that human rights are universal and indivisible, and the rights of Palestinians living in occupied territories are as important as those of Israelis. This principle, it points out is “contradicted” when those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and elsewhere consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people. The IJV declares support for the Palestinian struggle and opposes any attempt by Israel to impose its own solutions on the Palestinians.

However, the significance of such an initiative lies not so much in the position it takes on individual issues but in its attempt to reclaim the great Jewish intellectual tradition from Israeli propagandists and lobbyists. Britain’s Jews have set an example. Will Muslims care to follow?

Criticizing Israel Is Not an Act of Bigotry
Jason Kunin / Winnipeg Free Press

(February 24, 2007) — A grassroots revolt is underway in Jewish communities throughout the world, a revolt that has panicked the elite organizations that have long functioned as official mouthpieces for the community. The latest sign of this panic is the recent publication by the American Jewish Committee of an essay by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, entitled “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” which accuses progressive Jews of abetting a resurgent wave of anti-Semitism
by publicly criticizing Israel.

This is the latest attempt to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism in order to silence or marginalize criticism of Israel. This approach is widely used in Canada. Upon becoming CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie
Farber declared that one of his goals was to “educate Canadians about the links between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”

It is misleading for groups like the CJC to pretend that the Jewish community is united in support of Israel. A growing number of Jews around the world are joining the chorus of concern about the deteriorating condition of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories as well as the inferior social and economic status of Israel’s own Palestinian population.

In a world where uncritical support for Israel is becoming less and less tenable due to the expanding human rights disaster in the West Bank and Gaza, leaders of Jewish communities outside Israel have circled their wagons, heightened their pro-Israel rhetoric, and demonized Israel’s critics. These leaders imply that increased concerns about Israel do not result from that state’s actions, but from an increase in anti-Semitism.

Despite this effort to absolve Israel of responsibility for its treatment of Palestinians, Jewish opposition is growing and becoming more organized. On February 5, a group in Britain calling itself Jewish Independent Voices published an open letter in The Guardian newspaper in which they distanced themselves from “Those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries (and who) consistently put support for the policies of an
occupying power above the human rights of the occupied people.”

Among the signatories of the letter were Nobel-prize winning playwright Harold Pinter, filmmaker Mike Leigh, writer John Berger, and many others.

This development follows the emergence of similar groups in Sweden (Jews for
Israeli-Palestinian Peace), France (Union Juive Francaise pour la paix, Rencontre Progressiste Juive), Italy (Ebrei contro l’occupazione), Germany (Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost), Belgium (Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique), the United States (Jewish Voice for Peace, Brit Tzedek, Tikkun, the Bronfman-Soros initiative), South Africa, and
others, including the umbrella organization European Jews for a Just Peace and the numerous groups within Israel itself. In Canada, the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians (ACJC) has been founded as an umbrella organization bringing together Jewish individuals and groups from across the country who oppose Israel’s continued domination of the West Bank and Gaza.

Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, nor does it “bleed into anti-Semitism,” a formulation that says essentially the same thing. Some genuine anti-Semites do use Israel as a cover for maligning the Jewish people as a whole, but it is fallacious to argue that anyone who criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic because anti-Semites attack Israel. There are some anti-Semites who support Israel because they are Christian fundamentalists who see the return of Jews to Jerusalem as a precondition for the return of Christ and the conversion of Jews to Christianity, or because they are xenophobes who want to get rid of Jews in their midst. Anti-Semites take positions in support of and in opposition to Israel.

It is wrong to criticize all Jews for Israel’s wrongdoings, yet Israel’s leadership and its supporters in the Diaspora consistently encourage this view by insisting that Israel acts on behalf of the entire Jewish people. This shifts blame for Israel’s crimes onto the shoulders of all Jews. But Jewish critics of Israel demonstrate through their words and deeds that the Jewish community is not monolithic in its support of Israel.

Defenders of Israel often argue that Israel is forced to do what it does — to destroy people’s homes, to keep them under the boot of occupation, to seal them into walled ghettos, to brutalize them daily with military incursions and random checkpoints — to protect its citizens from Palestinian violence. Palestinian violence, however, is rooted in the theft of their land, the diversion of their water, the violence of the occupation, and the indignity of having one’s own very existence posed as a “demographic threat.”

To justify Israel’s continued occupation and theft of Palestinian land, the state and its defenders attempt to deny Palestinian suffering, arguing instead that Palestinian resentment is rooted not in Israeli violence, but rather in Islam, or the “Arab mentality,” or a mystical anti-Semitism inherent in Arab or Muslim culture.

Consequently, pro-Israel advocacy depends upon on the active dissemination of Islamophobia. Not surprisingly, engendering hatred in this manner inflames anti-Jewish sentiment among Arabs and Muslims. None of this is a recipe for making Jews safe.

Jewish people can help avert the catastrophic effects of Israeli behaviour, but only by taking a stand in opposition to it.

Jason Kunin of Toronto is a member of the administration council of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians. This article was written with help from other council members, including Cy Gonick and Dr. Mark Etkin, both of
Winnipeg, Andy Lehrer of Toronto, Sid Shniad of Vancouver and Abraham Weizfeld of Montreal.

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AIPAC Demands “Action” on Iran

February 27th, 2007 - by admin

Gary Leupp / CounterPunch – 2007-02-27 01:06:15


AIPAC Demands “Action” on Iran:
“An American Strike on Iran is Essential for Our Existence”

Gary Leupp / CounterPunch

(February 25, 2007) — Former CIA counterterrorism specialist Philip Giraldi, comparing the propaganda campaign against Iran to that which preceded the war on Iraq, has recently declared, “It is absolutely parallel. They’re using the same dance steps — demonize the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux.”

He’s only one of many in his field (including Vincent Cannistraro, Ray McGovern, and Larry C. Johnson) doing their best to expose the Bush-Cheney neocon disinformation campaign according to which Iran is planning to produce nukes in order to commit genocide, while abetting terrorists in Iraq who are killing American troops.

Their efforts, and those of many others, are producing results. The mainstream corporate press is far more skeptical about administration claims pertaining to Iran than they ever were towards the equally specious claims made about Iraq on the eve of the 2003 invasion.

The American people are now inclined to distrust claims made by nameless officials about Quds Force-provisioned IEDs and EFPs, etc., supposedly smuggled by “meddling” Iranians into Iraq. Unfortunately the Congress dominated by Democrats elected in a popular expression of antiwar sentiment has not taken a firm stance against an attack on Iran based on lies. Maybe given the nature of the power structure it simply can’t.

Giraldi matter-of-factly sums up the unfortunate politics of situation.

“The recent formation of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus should. . . be noted as well as AIPAC’s highlighting of the threat from Iran at its 2006 convention in Washington, an event that featured Vice President Dick Cheney as keynote speaker. More recently, Senator Hillary Clinton addressed an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering in New York City.

Neither was shy about threatening Iran. AIPAC’s formulation that the option of force ‘must remain on the table’ when dealing with Iran has been repeated like a mantra by numerous politicians and government officials, not too surprisingly as AIPAC writes the briefings and position papers that many Congressmen unfortunately rely on.”

In other words, the American Israel Political Action Committee is the main political force urging — indeed, demanding — US action. That’s the AIPAC already under scrutiny for receiving classified information about Iran from Lawrence Franklin, former Defense Department subordinate of Douglas Feith.

(That’s the neocon Feith who supervised the Office of Special Plans — headed by Abram Shulsky, the neocon specialist on Leo Strauss who currently heads up the Iran Directorate at the Pentagon — that shamelessly cherry-picked intelligence to support the Iraq attack. That’s the Franklin who worked in the OSP, and was sentenced last month to 13 years in prison. Feith has not been indicted on any charge and continues to insist in defiance of reason and even a Pentagon internal investigation finding it “inappropriate” that his office’s disinformation project was “good government.” Small wonder Gen. Tommy Franks, formerly head of the US Central Command, famously called Feith “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.” Congressional investigations are just now getting underway into Feith’s role in facilitating the invasion of Iraq.)

That’s the AIPAC embarrassed by the indictment of its policy director Steven Rosen and senior Iran analyst Keith Weissman for illegally conspiring to pass on classified national security information to Israel. Despite the already intimate ties between Israeli and US intelligence (documented by Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski among others) it seems the Israelis felt obliged to spy on the Pentagon to learn just how inclined the Americans were to oblige them by attacking Iran.

Now, as Israeli calls for a US attack on Iran become more shrill by the day, AIPAC recognizes that the American people profoundly distrust Vice President Cheney and the nest of neocon liars he has sheltered. The Bush-Cheney war machine has been pretty well exposed, and that must worry the warmongers within the group. Israeli Defense Force chief artillery officer Gen. Oded Tira has griped that “President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran,” adding that since “an American strike in Iran is essential for [Israel’s] existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors.

We need to do this in order to turn the Iran issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.” Tira urges the Lobby to turn to “potential presidential candidates. . . so that they support immediate action by Bush against Iran,” while Uri Lubrani, senior advisor to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, tells the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors that the US “does not understand the threat and has not done enough,” and therefore “must be shaken awake.”

Many Americans would find such statements deeply offensive in their arrogance and condescension. President Bush has indeed been weakened by the “Iraq failure” Tira acknowledges, arising from a war that the Lobby once endorsed with enormous enthusiasm. (As Gen. Wesley Clark put it way back in August 2002, “Those who favor this attack now will tell you candidly, and privately, that it is probably true that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the United States. But they are afraid at some point he might decide if he had a nuclear weapon to use it against Israel.” Recall that that weapon was imaginary.)

So now, the Israeli war advocates aver, the US president needs to be helped to do the right thing and attack Iran by lobbyists who will use their power to force the fools in the Democratic Party, especially presidential candidates. Because Americans don’t understand and have to be shaken out of their current skeptical mode.

By who? By AIPAC, of course! The confidence expressed by these gentlemen (in the second most powerful political action committee in the country) is quite extraordinary. But alas, maybe it’s warranted. Giraldi dispassionately concludes:

“Knowing that to cross the Lobby is perilous, Congressmen from both parties squirm and become uneasy when pressured by AIPAC to ‘protect Israel,’ even if it means yet another unwinnable war for the United States. The neocons know full well that if a war with Iran were to be started either inadvertently or by design, few within America’s political system would be brave enough to stand up in opposition.”

One should ask these spineless politicians how they suppose the people will remember their votes and positions within weeks of the “immediate action” Tira and his allies in the Bush administration (most notably Condi Rice’s deputy Elliott Abrams, the most powerful neocon remaining in the team) are demanding.

Will they not be blamed for the total collapse of cooperation between the US occupation and Iraq’s Shiite majority, the fall of the current client regime dominated by Iranian allies, the intensification of Shiite militia attacks on US forces, the broadening of the current two-front war to enflame all of Southwest Asia?

One should ask those squirming manipulators blissfully ignorant of the Islamic world — clueless about the difference between Arabs and Persians or Sunnis and Shiites, coached almost entirely by State Department Zionists who don’t bother to conceal their Islamophobia — to recognize that American Jewry is not generally pro-neocon nor united in support of an Iran attack.

Indeed many American Jews are alarmed at Israeli/AIPAC efforts to push the US into another crusader war on a Muslim nation. (A lot of them are in New York. Hillary might consult with them rather than suppose that her ticket to the presidency is the support of the Cheney-friendly Lobby. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.)

One should ask the Lobbyists as well as the government of Israel that they think they serve (as well as the people of Israel, honestly divided in their opinions) how the security of the Jewish State will be abetted by a generalized war between Israel’s great patron and the entire Muslim world.

When one plays this Islamophobic game of exploiting ignorance, fear, hatred and bigotry; when one conflates al-Qaeda with Iraq with Hamas with Hizbollah with Iran knowing that most Americans know little about the details and will be inclined to side (for now) with Israel against Muslims in general; when one lies (as the neocons do with such arrogance, supposing they will escape any consequences of the lies down the road) — then one invites a backlash.

We live in a racist culture that easily slides into religious bigotry. Why use that culture (not so dissimilar to the German culture of the 1930s) so shamelessly — against Arabs and other Muslim peoples of the Middle East? One’s disinformation with its murderous results in the Muslim world might just produce the ignorant conclusion that could sweep Middle America down the road: “The Jews made us do it.” That’s what the red-necks including a whole lot of today’s brain-dead Christian Zionist fundamentalists will say as soon as everything goes wrong in the Middle East, Jesus doesn’t come back and is nowhere in sight, and the three US troops killed per day becomes six or ten for no good goddamned reason.

“They have the money, they control the media and the politicians. They made us attack Iran and now look what’s happening.” That’s what the ignorant who can one day cry “Nuke ’em all!” referring to Muslims, and the next day swear “Fucking Christ-killers” will say. Is the Lobby’s paranoia about Iran’s uranium enrichment so severe as to risk that kind of assessment, that kind of blowback bigotry?

We are perhaps arriving at a critical point in the history of the powerful Lobby, including its capacity to intimidate honest, critically reasoning people who do not embrace its fears, prejudices and preoccupations. It’s under unprecedented scrutiny following the carefully argued paper by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” and Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid both published last year, to which it’s reacted with its wonted technique of character assassination.

The political power of the Lobby would appear to be reaching its zenith; and while it used its hand subtly in the build-up for war on Iraq, it now uses it in crude, bullying fashion. Israeli officials weren’t publicly calling for the simple-minded Christian-Zionist Bush to “smite” Iraq to defend Israel in 2003, but now they’re nervously demanding that Bush destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent a “genocide” worse that that accomplished by Hitler!

Their boldness betrays a confidence that they can indeed continue to shape American political discourse about the Middle East (to the exclusion of any audible Arab or Muslim voice) and that to challenge them is indeed “perilous.”

“Attack Iran! NOW! Or support GENOCIDE! and side with the new HITLER! Destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities! NOW! Or reveal your thinly-disguised ANTI-SEMITISM!”

That’s the hyper-message calculated to stimulate an assault, to which the calm counterterrorism analyst Giraldi draws our attention. One could respond to the message with a polite, firm, principled refusal:

No thanks this time, AIPAC. You’re just not credible. Can’t do it for you. My constituents aren’t into more war, and they think this whole Iran thing’s a lot of hype. I can’t support nuking Iran, and frankly, I don’t see how you can either. I don’t think you speak for all or even most American Jews, and you can’t scare me this time by accusations of anti-Semitism. I can’t have an attack on Iran my conscience, sorry. I’d rather be defeated in the next election. Keep your money; I just can’t do what you ask.

Will the Congress targeted by the Lobby be able to say that? If it doesn’t, all the belated, posturing moves to limit Bush’s power, withdraw troops and end the imperialist war in Iraq will mean nothing. An attack on Iran will unleash the gates of hell. The attackers will argue that a new situation makes all prewar debate irrelevant (or even if encouraging doubt about the “existential” cause, downright treasonous).

The fascistic proclivities of the administration will blossom immediately. The legal basis has been laid for the repression of the dissent an Iran attack will naturally inspire. Prison camps, suspension of habeas corpus. The proponents of the war are comfortable with these things, and the waters have already been tested.

O nation miserable, With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d, When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again?

Can the American people allow this unelected unpopular administration, headed by a manifestly stupid sadistic fool, to continue to provoke international contempt and fear, while planning more carnage?

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Iran Intelligence ‘Is Incorrect’

February 27th, 2007 - by admin

Julian Borger / The Guardian – 2007-02-27 01:02:48


VIENNA (February 22, 2007) — Much of the intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities provided to UN inspectors by US spy agencies has turned out to be unfounded, diplomatic sources in Vienna said today.

The claims, reminiscent of the intelligence fiasco surrounding the Iraq war, coincided with a sharp increase in international tension as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was defying a UN security council ultimatum to freeze its nuclear programme.

That report, delivered to the security council by the IAEA director general, Mohammed ElBaradei, sets the stage for a fierce international debate on the imposition of stricter sanctions on Iran and raises the possibility that the US could resort to military action against Iranian nuclear sites.

At the heart of the debate are accusations — spearheaded by the US — that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

However, most of the tip-offs about supposed secret weapons sites provided by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies have led to dead ends when investigated by IAEA inspectors, according to informed sources in Vienna.

“Most of it has turned out to be incorrect,” a diplomat at the IAEA with detailed knowledge of the agency’s investigations said.

“They gave us a paper with a list of sites. [The inspectors] did some follow-up, they went to some military sites, but there was no sign of [banned nuclear] activities.

“Now [the inspectors] don’t go in blindly. Only if it passes a credibility test.”

One particularly contentious issue was records of plans to build a nuclear warhead, which the CIA said it found on a stolen laptop computer supplied by an informant inside Iran.

In July 2005, US intelligence officials showed printed versions of the material to IAEA officials, who judged it to be sufficiently specific to confront Iran.

Tehran rejected the material as forged, and there are still reservations within the IAEA about its authenticity, according to officials with knowledge of the internal debate in the agency.

“First of all, if you have a clandestine programme, you don’t put it on laptops which can walk away,” one official said. “The data is all in English which may be reasonable for some of the technical matters, but at some point you’d have thought there would be at least some notes in Farsi. So there is some doubt over the provenance of the computer.”

IAEA officials do not comment on intelligence passed to the watchdog agency by foreign governments, saying all such assistance is confidential.

A western counter-proliferation official accepted that intelligence on Iran had sometimes been patchy, but argued that the essential point was Tehran’s failure to live up to its obligations under the non-proliferation treaty.

“I take on board on what they’re saying, but the bottom line is that for nearly 20 years [the Iranians] were violating safeguards agreements,” the official said. “There is a confidence deficit here about the regime’s true intentions.”

That deficit will be deepened by yesterday’s IAEA report, which concluded bluntly that “Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities”, in defiance of a December UN ultimatum to stop.

The report noted that Iran had continued with the operation of a pilot enrichment plant.

Furthermore, the report said Iran had informed the agency of its plan to install 18 arrays, or cascades, of 164 centrifuges in an underground plant by May — a total of nearly 3,000.

At the moment, Iran’s centrifuges are being used to make low enriched uranium, but if they were switched to making highly enriched, weapons grade uranium they could produce enough for a bomb in less than a year.

Mr ElBaradei’s report said that Iran had so far not agreed to the IAEA installing remote monitoring devices in the enrichment plant to keep constant tabs on what the Iranians were doing with them.

Furthermore, the IAEA still has a string of questions about the Iranian programme that remain unanswered. Until they are, the agency will not give Iran a clear bill of health.

One of the “outstanding issues” listed in yesterday’s report involves a 15-page document that appears to have been handed to IAEA inspectors by mistake with a batch of unrelated paperwork in October 2005.

That document roughly describes how to make hemispheres of enriched uranium, for which the only known use is in nuclear warheads. Iran has yet to present a satisfactory explanation of how and why it has the document.

“The issue here is the Iranians have not addressed outstanding issues, and we are still uncertain about the scope and intent of the programme,” a senior UN official said last night.

“We cannot ensure the correctness and completeness of their declaration.”

Kirkuk: Sparks Rise From a Time Bomb

February 27th, 2007 - by admin

Mohammed A. Salih / Inter Press Service – 2007-02-27 01:00:32


ARBIL (February 26 (IPS) — The security situation in Iraq’s northern oil rich-city Kirkuk has deteriorated over the past few weeks as a constitutional deadline approaches to determine the fate of the city.

The city is home to a mix of Kurds, Turkomens and Arabs, with the population of each hotly disputed.

Bombings on Feb. 3, 6 and 16, and three more Feb. 21 rocked the disputed city. The bombings coincided with a move by an Iraqi government committee to implement Article 140 of Iraq’s constitution that seeks to reverse demographic changes brought about in Kirkuk by the regime of former president Saddam Hussein.

Under Saddam, tens of thousands of Kurds and Turkomens were deported from Kirkuk and were replaced by Arab settlers from the south to tighten the regime’s control over the northern oil fields of the country.

That move eroded the traditional dominance of Kurds. But the new move to reverse the changes threatens also the Turkomens, a local people of Turkish origin.

“Without doubt the situation is very bad, and it has been become worse recently,” Nazhat Abdulghani, a senior official of the Iraqi Turkomen Front (ITF) told IPS.

Iraq’s new constitution sets out a three-phase plan to “normalise” the situation in Kirkuk.

In the first phase, Kurdish and Turkomen refugees will return to Kirkuk, and Arab settlers will be given financial incentives to return to their areas of origin. The Iraqi government is offering each of these Arab families 15,000 dollars and a piece of land. The returning settlers can transfer jobs to the areas they return to.

Also, in this first phase, predominantly Kurdish districts that were cut off from Kirkuk, like Kalar, Chamchamal and Kifri east of Kirkuk, will be re-attached to Kirkuk province. This phase is due to be completed by April this year.

Those settlers who do not want to leave will not be forced to, but will lose the right to vote, and denied other forms of participation in official decision-making.

The second phase provides for a census. That will then be followed in the third and last phase by an official referendum by the end of this year in which the population will vote on the destiny of the province.

Officials told IPS that the questions to be raised in the referendum have not been agreed yet. Some speak of a choice whether Kirkuk should be a part of the northern autonomous Kurdistan region or under the central government. Others say there must be a third choice whether Kirkuk should stand as a separate federal region similar to Baghdad.

The International Crisis Group, an international organisation that works on conflict resolution, recommended in a report released last summer that Kirkuk must stand “as a stand-alone federal region falling neither under the Kurdish federal region nor directly under the federal government for an interim period.”

Based on Article 53 of Iraq’s post-war interim constitution, many Turkomens and Arabs also demand the status of an independent federal region for Kirkuk. But that is strongly opposed by Kurds.

The debate on Kirkuk’s fate has gone beyond Iraq’s borders. Turkey, that has a sizeable Kurdish population, vehemently opposes Kurdish control of Kirkuk, fearing it would embolden its own Kurds.

At a meeting with Iraq’s Shia vice-president Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Teyyip Erdogan called for postponing the referendum on Kirkuk. “The conditions for holding the referendum in Kirkuk have not materialised yet,” Erdogan told Abdul-Mahdi.

With outside and inside pressures increasing, some Kurdish circles now speak of a compromise to appease the city’s Turkomens, who would be the second major ethnic group after Kurds if and when Article 140 is implemented.

“We are ready for dialogue with the ITF or any Turkomen party on Kirkuk,” Arez Abdullah, member of the Kurdistan regional parliament in Arbil told IPS.

A Kurdish compromise with Turkomens could be in the form of some power-sharing formula and “safeguarding their national and cultural rights,” Abdullah said.

“For example, they can run the administration in the areas where they constitute the majority of the population…and can have more effective participation in Kurdistan government institutions and parliament.”

Kurdistan parliament speaker Adnan Mufti said last year that Turkomens should be given autonomy in areas where they make up most of the population. That statement was intended to encourage Turkomens to vote for bringing Kirkuk within the Kurdistan region.

With ethnic tensions rising, and given the short period of time left and the security problems on the ground, many doubt the Iraqi government’s ability to implement Article 140.

“From a practical point of view, implementing Article 140 is impossible; there are many technical problems on the ground which have to be worked out,” said Abdulghani.

He said his party is working “first for annulling, second postponing and third modifying” the constitutional article.

Many Iraqis see Kirkuk as a time bomb that might go off at any moment and drag Iraq into a real civil war. Several urge a delay in implementing Article 140. Kurds see it differently. “The real bomb will explode if Article 140 is not executed,” said Abdullah.

Posted in accordance with title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Final Punch: Removing Iran from the New Middle East Equation

February 25th, 2007 - by admin

Ramzy Baroud / Global Research – 2007-02-25 23:12:45


(February 23, 2007) — The configuration of the New Middle East — as envisaged by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Israeli war against Lebanon in July-August 2006, most certainly has no place for more than one regional power broker, namely Israel.

Under such an arrangement — subservient Arabs and Iran governed by an all powerful Israel and supervised, even from afar by the seemingly philanthropic United States — would ensure Israel’s ‘security’, which has for long served as a casus belli, and supposed American interests in the region; regardless of what one thinks of such logic, in Washington, it is still prevailing.

With the elimination of Iraq — not just Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party as some in the mainstream media tirelessly reiterate, but rather Iraq as a strong Arab nation with immense regional influence — the long sought pact is close at hand. Iran, however, remains the only menacing reality that stands between Israel and its powerful Washingtonian allies and this New Middle East.

This means that the war of words between Teheran and Washington is mostly inspired by this redoubtable strategic chasm: where Washington strives to knock the Iran factor out of the regional equation, and Teheran pushes with all of its might to keep itself pertinent, indeed equally relevant to the shaping of the region’s future.

This conflict has been reduced, as required by rhetorical necessity, to that of Iran’s alleged intent to manufacture nuclear weapons, a right that has been exclusively reserved for Israel, who possesses hundreds of nuclear heads and the technology to deliver them, even past the threshold of its intended targets, neighbouring Arab capitals.

Iran might in fact be aspiring to obtain nuclear technology to produce the lethal weapon, to assert itself regionally, to create an equilibrium of terror, and to — in this age of global unipolarity — shield itself from the troubling fate of its neighbour to the West.

The Iraq and Korea example are textbook illustrations of how small countries with or without deadly means of defence are treated with partiality in the global arena; Iraq, who possesses no weapons of mass destruction is experiencing prolonged genocide, while North Korea has admitted, even boasted about the possessing and testing of its nuclear capabilities and is now being rewarded with generous US aid packages and security guarantees. Chances are also great that Kim Jong II will not meet the gallows, unlike Saddam and will die peacefully in his bed.

(Professor Steven Weber’s article in the January-February issue of Foreign Policy Magazine: “How Globalization Went Bad,” offers a detailed elaboration on this topic.) It’s also important to note that the Koreans pose no danger to Israel, a fact that must have relegated their threat level significantly.

Thus the escalating war of words between the US and Iran must be settled somehow in a manner that yields a favourable solution for both sides, or military confrontation is simply unavoidable.

The British Guardian revealed in a mid-February report, quoting US officials and analysts, that the Bush administration is in the “advanced stages” of preparing for a military strike, targeting Iran’s nuclear sites. Though US deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, Mark Kimmitt dismissed allegations that his country is seeking a military confrontation with Teheran, the US action — the intensification of its naval build up, seeking the elimination of Iranian ‘agents’ in Iraq, and so forth — suggests that the Guardian report is quite accurate in its estimation.

Iran is still unwavering, however. Iran’s state television quoted the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on February 17, as he defended the country’s pursuit for nuclear technology. “Oil and gas reserves won’t last forever. If a nation doesn’t think of producing its future energy needs, it will be dependent on domination-seeking powers,” he was reported as saying. Again, regardless of the dialectics of Khamanei’s rationale, the US understands this view as continuing ‘defiance’, an understanding that positions the military option, from the US viewpoint, as inevitable.

US Democrats are practically ruling out any serious challenge to Bush’s war policies — House leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed from the outset any possibility to impeach the president despite his administration’s unequalled indiscretions, to say the least, of dragging the country into a most destructive war under false and largely forged pretexts. At the US Senate and for the second time in a week, Republicans managed to block a ‘debate’ on a resolution that would simply ‘rebuke’ the president for his Iraq troop buildup. Even if the debate convened and a resolution was passed, it would remain pitifully lacking, for it is simply non-binding.

It is unlikely that Iran will back down; again the North Korea lesson is too fresh, too poignant to ignore. Moreover, the Islamic Republic has a formidable power base in Iraq and Lebanon: Shia militias and the Hezbollah resistance movement respectively; the former is capable of worsening the US army’s plight in Iraq by several fold if decided to join the ongoing Sunni resistance, and the latter has proved an insurmountable foe to Israel in their latest military showdown last summer.

Naturally, the US — which is caught in an unwinnable war in Iraq, confined and blinded by its bizarre alliance with Israel, which is more of a liability to Washington than a strategic advantage and who is watching its own New World Order faltering under its feet, with Latin America going its separate ways, and China moving into what has been the unchallenged domains of the United States for decades — should be expected to avoid a military confrontation at any cost.

Savvy US diplomat and former Secretary of State James Baker had many ominous warnings in his Iraq Study Group recommendations. A traditionalist and a pro-business politician, Baker knows well that without a quick exit from Iraq, chaos will befall the waning empire, which is ultimately bad for business. Baker also knows that without solving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the US regional woes will amplify beyond repair.

But as the voice of reason, from a traditionalist viewpoint, is being hushed or sidelined, the warmongers’ hold on Washington is still as tight as ever, one of whom is Israel and its dedicated friends on Capitol Hill.

Evidently, Israel is a prime cheerleader for war, and most likely Israeli agents are working overtime to provide the needed case for war; at least we know, through news reports that Israeli agents are actively involved in Iraq and there is a possibility that they have penetrated the Iranian domain as well, through the northern Kurdish areas.

Last November, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed a major war advocate, Avigdor Lieberman, as the country’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and also as Deputy Prime Minister. Lieberman’s appointment was principally aimed at ‘countering’ the Iranian threat; championing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, has recently visited Washington to largely discuss the Iranian threat and won standing ovations and endless praise of Democrats and Republicans alike.

Other Israeli politicians have been adamant in their efforts to convince Washington that a war against Iran will yield strategic dividends and will ease the US mission in reigning in occupied Iraq, and will provide Israel with the security it covets. Of course, Israel knows well the disastrous affect that a war on Iran will bring to the waning American empire (even if merely by observing the Iraqi situation) but it matters little in the end, as long as the Iranian threat is eliminated, or so goes the Israeli logic.

Ramzy Baroud’s latest book, The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press), is available at Amazon.com and also from the University of Michigan Press. He is the editor of PalestineChronicle.com; his website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Copyright Ramzy Baroud, GlobalResearch.ca, 2007

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. www.globalresearch.ca

US Generals ‘Will Quit’ if Bush Orders Iran Attack

February 25th, 2007 - by admin

Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter / London Sunday Times – 2007-02-25 23:07:18


WASHINGTON (February 25, 2007) — Some of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”

A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.

The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table. He was responding to a comment by Tony Blair that it would not “be right to take military action against Iran”.

Iran ignored a United Nations deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment programme last week. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that his country “will not withdraw from its nuclear stances even one single step”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran could soon produce enough enriched uranium for two nuclear bombs a year, although Tehran claims its programme is purely for civilian energy purposes.

Nicholas Burns, the top US negotiator, is to meet British, French, German, Chinese and Russian officials in London tomorrow to discuss additional penalties against Iran. But UN diplomats cautioned that further measures would take weeks to agree and would be mild at best.

A second US navy aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS John C Stennis arrived in the Gulf last week, doubling the US presence there. Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, warned: “The US will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or US troops come under direct attack.”

But General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.

Pace’s view was backed up by British intelligence officials who said the extent of the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear”.

Hillary Mann, the National Security Council’s main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.

“He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier,” she said. “It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon.”

Mann fears the administration is seeking to provoke Iran into a reaction that could be used as an excuse for an attack. A British official said the US navy was well aware of the risks of confrontation and was being “seriously careful” in the Gulf.

The US air force is regarded as being more willing to attack Iran. General Michael Moseley, the head of the air force, cited Iran as the main likely target for American aircraft at a military conference earlier this month.

According to a report in The New Yorker magazine, the Pentagon has already set up a working group to plan airstrikes on Iran. The panel initially focused on destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been instructed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq.

However, army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat of a regional war.

Britain is concerned that its own troops in Iraq might be drawn into any American conflict with Iran, regardless of whether the government takes part in the attack.

One retired general who participated in the “generals’ revolt” against Donald Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq war said he hoped his former colleagues would resign in the event of an order to attack. “We don’t want to take another initiative unless we’ve really thought through the consequences of our strategy,” he warned.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposses.

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