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Coming to a Neighborhood Near You: Drone Spycraft

March 31st, 2012 - by admin

Charles V. Pe̱a / AntiWar.com Р2012-03-31 22:09:09

Coming to a Neighborhood Near You

(March 30, 2012) — I assume most, if not all, readers of Antiwar.com are familiar with drones, aka unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. I’ve written previously about drones in two Antiwar.com columns: “Memo to Rep. Ron Paul” and “Commuting to War.”

Armed drones have become the weapon of choice for the Obama administration to go after would-be terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Perhaps the most “famous” US drone strike was the one in September 2011 in Yemen that killed US-born radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was linked to underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Clearly, the Obama administration is enamored of using drones to kill suspected terrorists. But since civilians have also been killed by drone strikes (one of the deadliest was in March 2011 when 40 were killed, many believed to be attending a tribal meeting), not surprisingly, the Pakistanis aren’t so much.

Would-be terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, however, aren’t the only people who need to worry about drones. Our neighbors south of the border (the ones trying to sneak into the country in the dead of night) also now have to worry about drones. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) operates unarmed Predator drones along the US-Mexico border.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, drone operations have resulted in the apprehension of 4,876 undocumented immigrants and 238 drug smugglers since the program began in 2005 (by comparison, over 300,000 illegal immigrants were caught at the southwestern border in 2011). Ultimately, CBP plans to have as many as 24 drones deployed by 2016 so that the agency can deploy a drone anywhere over the United States within three hours.

Apparently, lawmakers don’t seem too concerned about the domestic use of drones. Michael Kostelnik, the retired Air Force general and former test pilot who runs the Office of Air and Marine for the CBP, says he has never been challenged in Congress about the appropriate use of domestic drones. Kostelnik said, “Instead, the question is: Why can’t we have more of them in my district?”

Apparently, the members of the “Drone Caucus” haven’t talked to the Pakistanis.

But we’re talking about unarmed drones, right? For surveillance purposes. Not armed drones to kill people. So what’s the big deal? I mean, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.

Well, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is worried that the use of drones for domestic surveillance “may implicate Fourth Amendment rights” [.pdf] (you know, the amendment that says that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”).

Fourth Amendment violations, however, may end up being the least of your worries. President Obama recently signed a law requiring the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to “allow police and first responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements.”

Already, drone manufacturers and police departments are contemplating the possibility of deploying so-called non-lethal weapons, e.g., tear gas, rubber bullets, on drones for law enforcement use.

Given the increased militarization of police departments since 9/11 and drones supporting SWAT operations (the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office north of Houston, Texas, used a federal homeland security grant to buy a $300,000 ShadowHawk drone, citing support SWAT operations as one of its intended missions), it’s not hard to imagine the prospect of armed drones — like those used in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia — in the not-so-distant future.

And it’s not just your local police department flying drones that you need to worry about. The Pentagon wants in on the action. According to Steve Pennington, the US Air Force director of ranges, bases, and airspace, the Department of Defense “doesn’t want a segregated environment. We want a fully integrated environment.” Translation: The military doesn’t want any restrictions placed on its ability to fly UAVs — armed or unarmed — in US airspace (just as combat aircraft aren’t restricted).

The Army is also interested. According to Mary Ottman, deputy product director for unmanned systems airspace integration concepts in the Army’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office, “we have training requirements, we have testing requirements, we have to provide defense support of civilian authorities.”

So even if local police departments don’t have armed drones, it’s certainly not out of the question that the military might make them available for law enforcement under certain circumstances — like, say, an operation against suspected terrorists. And let’s not forget that this administration believes it has the right to target US citizens it says are terrorists.

If the military and local law enforcement are going to be in on the drone action, what about federal law enforcement? CBP is already flying drones (albeit unarmed). Certainly, the likes of the FBI and the DEA won’t want to miss out on flying missions on a video screen with a joystick.

Of course, we are to believe that the government will be wise and prudent in the use of drones domestically. We are also to believe that the extraordinary power granted the president in the recently signed National Defense Authorization Act — namely the ability of the military to indefinitely detain an American citizen, even in the United States, without charging them — will not be abused (although he signed the bill into law, President Obama claims to have “serious reservations” about this provision). But even if we’re willing to believe that this president won’t exercise this provision, what’s to stop any future president?

Unfortunately, drones are likely to be accepted by a society that has grown too accustomed to a surveillance state as “normal” — particularly post-9/11 — without regard for the Constitution.

And who can blame them with television shows like NCIS: LA (and I’ll admit that I watch and like the show as entertainment — I’m a fan of LL Cool J) that portray all that surveillance capability as a good thing used by the good guys to catch bad guys, including terrorists.

After all, that’s what’s important, right? And how can you not swoon over drones in this high-tech US Air Force recruiting commercial? Drones are cool, and they’re coming to a neighborhood near you. But by the time we figure out they’re a danger to our freedoms and way of life, it will probably be too late.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Military Surplus a Bonanza for Law Enforcement

March 31st, 2012 - by admin

G.W. Schulz andAndrew Becker / California Watch & San Francisco Chronicle – 2012-03-31 21:58:28


SAN FRANCISCO (March 31, 2012) — San Francisco may be known for antiwar movements and peace rallies, but when local law enforcement agencies needed help with supplies, they’ve turned to the US military.

Over the past two decades, San Francisco authorities have acquired infrared devices, combat helmets, chemical protective gloves, vehicles and even a boat as discarded hand-me-downs free of charge from the Department of Defense.

In total, the San Francisco police and sheriff’s departments have taken $1.4 million in equipment, from a $20 pair of evidence boxes to “climber’s equipment” worth $325,000 in 1996.

Several other government agencies in California also have tapped the vast supply of free military surplus goods, equipping themselves with assault-style weapons and even tanks, first as part of the war on drugs and later in the name of fighting terrorism.

The agencies and their employees accumulated more equipment during 2011 than any other year in the program’s two-decade history, according to a California Watch analysis of US Department of Defense data.

A total of 163,344 new and used items valued at $26.2 million — from bath mats acquired by the sheriff of Sonoma County to a full-tracked tank for rural San Joaquin County — were transferred last year to state and local agencies.

Police nationwide sought $498 million worth of equipment, including 60 aircraft and thousands more weapons than in 2010. Listed dollar amounts are based on what the military initially paid for the equipment.

More than 17,000 public agencies across the nation — including police, sheriff and fire departments — have taken advantage of the equipment giveaway of an estimated $2.8 billion since Congress enacted laws in the 1990s that created the program.

For the sheriff of Orange County, it was hundreds of flashlights, exercise equipment, four trumpets and gun parts. The Vacaville Police Department got “combat coats,” pistol holsters and canteens.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, which in years past picked up a $4.4 million, 85-foot patrol boat as well as a grenade launcher, in 2011 asked for four rifles and more than 200 pillowcases, along with tools, a $200 medical treatment table and other equipment.

The program is run online and open to law enforcement and other public agencies that sign up with the Department of Defense. Once the goods are transferred, the civilian police departments are responsible for maintenance and storage.

Offensive Capabilities
Police are allowed to sell or transfer the military surplus after a year. But weapons and anything else with “offensive military capability” can’t be sold — the equipment technically belongs to the Department of Defense and is considered on permanent loan to the civilian police agencies.

The program has ballooned despite congressional largesse that since 2002 has resulted in billions of dollars worth of homeland security grants — including $3.8 billion for California alone — set aside for disaster preparation and counterterrorism.

Erroll Southers, a former top state homeland security official, said the combat-ready equipment can look intimidating to the public, but it enhances safety during critical, high-stress calls.

“I don’t know how it could not look threatening, but that’s not the intent,” said Southers, now an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.

Officials attribute the recent surge in demand to better promotion and outreach, an influx of equipment with the war in Iraq winding down, and money woes that have left police across the state scrambling to fill their needs.

“State and local budgets are rapidly diminishing and dwindling, so they’re getting pretty creative about looking for alternative sources of equipment,” said Twila Gonzales of the Defense Logistics Agency, which oversees military transfers to police.

Tactical Vehicles
On New Year’s Eve 1984, Kenneth Mohar, a 39-year-old with a history of alcohol abuse, stood in the doorway of his Concord home, pointing a hunting rifle at his roommate’s head. After an argument, Mohar shot and killed the roommate in the driveway.

When local police arrived, they feared Mohar wasn’t finished. So they dialed up the nearby Concord Naval Weapons Station to ask if they could borrow something: a Peacekeeper armored personnel carrier.

Nearly three decades later, Concord police no longer need to borrow armored trucks. In November, the military’s excess equipment program enabled the city to obtain its own 8 1/2-ton bulletproof tactical vehicle, among other discarded equipment.

“Without the surplus program, these are probably items that we as an agency couldn’t afford,” said Concord police Lt. Bill Roche. “It provides us with an ability to remain competitive with the criminal community.”

Much of the gear sought last year across California had nothing to do with firearms or bulletproof vehicles and served more everyday needs — treadmills, parkas, computers, tweezers, cameras and office supplies.

Big-ticket Items
But some agencies have used the program to get big-ticket items that might otherwise be no more than a fantasy under today’s budget belt-tightening.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department has taken in more than $13.8 million worth of surplus equipment since the late 1990s, including four helicopters that account for much of that money.

Spokesman Drew Sugars said the aircraft help deputies reach lost or stranded hikers in isolated areas of the county that include parts of the Los Padres National Forest.

Other departments can’t resist free machinery that most people would have difficulty imagining on America’s streets, even if it might not fit their image or needs.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, for example, last year picked up a full-tracked tank, even though it had a sophisticated, $532,000 mobile-command vehicle that it bought with federal grant money. A spokesman said the county has since gotten rid of the tank because it didn’t meet the agency’s “mission needs.”

Demand for surplus equipment doesn’t appear to be slowing.

“There’s a lot of competition for it,” said Sgt. Jon Zwolinski, who leads the effort to track down excess property for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. “The longer you delay in ordering it, the more likely the chances someone else is going to get it. So you just have to be quick on the draw.”

Searchable database
Look up free military surplus equipment in your community at links.sfgate.com/ZLIS.

California Watch, the state’s largest investigative reporting team, is part of the independent, nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. www.californiawatch.org. gwschulz@cironline.org, abecker@cironline.org

(c) 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.

Russia Is Not Public Enemy Number One

March 29th, 2012 - by admin

Ivan Eland / AntiWar.com – 2012-03-29 01:34:35

Russia Is Not Public Enemy Number One

(March 27, 2012) — In response to Barack Obama’s unintended public candor about his greater post-election flexibility on missile defense negotiations with Russia, Mitt Romney reflexively declared in an interview with CNN that Russia is the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe,” adding that Russia “always stands up for the world’s worst actors.”

However, Romney is pandering to the gallery for the election rather than looking at the facts of recently improved US-Russian relations. And it is significant that more than two decades after the Berlin Wall fell, and despite the improved bilateral relations, American politicians can still demagogue the issue by dredging up the American public’s lingering fear of Russia from the Cold War.

Recently, the Russians, contrary to Romney’s implication, have helped the US pressure Iran on its nuclear program. Also, the Russians have provided an important alternative supply route for US supplies going into Afghanistan, which recently has become even more vital since Pakistan closed its supply line during a dispute over the American killing of Pakistani soldiers.

Furthermore, Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization will bind it to rules of open world commerce. Finally, and most important, the US and Russia agreed to significant bilateral cuts in long-range strategic nuclear warheads, which makes the world safer because together the Americans and Russians hold 95% of the planet’s nuclear weapons.

Are there still issues between the two nations? Yes. But in the post–Cold War world, the American view has often been “it’s my way or the highway.” American politicians, like Romney, often characterize any Russian deviation from American desires as enemy-like behavior. Yet, after 9/11, George W. Bush declared that any nation not for America was against it. By those standards, Russia, also fearing Islamist radicalism in its own country and on its borders, came down firmly in the US camp.

And improved US-Russian relations have occurred despite the broken American promise not to extend eastward a NATO alliance hostile to Russia in exchange for a united Germany after the East Bloc collapsed. Also, after the country of Georgia started a war with Russia, the Western media seemed to forget this fact, as Russia was condemned for its limited invasion and withdrawal from that country.

The US and Russia have also disagreed on the repression by Syria, a Russian ally, of a pro-democracy rebellion. The Russians are leery of supporting U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning or sanctioning Syria because they fell victim to a US bait-and-switch during the recent war on Libya. Rhetorically, the United States and the West wanted a U.N. resolution giving legitimacy to a bombing campaign to protect the Libyan opposition from Moammar Gadhafi’s threatened onslaught.

Yet the air campaign went far beyond the objective of that resolution and ousted Gadhafi from power. In addition, the Russians are probably right about economic sanctions: they probably will not motivate Syria to stop the oppression but instead will likely cause more Syrians to rally around the autocratic regime in defiance of external pressure.

As for US missile defense, it is an unneeded, expensive, and ineffective system that is an unnecessary irritant to US-Russian relations. Although American missile defense sounds, well, defensive, it destabilizes the nuclear balance because countries fear that their nuclear deterrent forces could be nullified.

Although the United States says that the system, based in Europe, is directed against the threat of Iranian missiles, the Russians fear that it could be expanded to attempt to nullify their nuclear deterrent force. Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund summed it up best on PBS: “The president is building a missile-defense system that doesn’t work against an Iranian threat that doesn’t yet exist with money we don’t really have.”

Finally, because the United States feels that Vladimir Putin has lower democratic standards for ruling Russia than the US would like, America likely will continue to be suspicious of Russia because it is not in the category of “liberal democracies.” But that is far from being America’s number-one foe, as candidate Romney claims in harking back to Cold War rhetoric.

There are many issues on which the United States and Russia can cooperate. The US can drop the outdated Cold War Jackson-Vanik law inhibiting the normalizing of trade relations; if it doesn’t, US companies can be discriminated against when Russia enters the WTO.

If America at last agrees to such normalization, then the US and Russia can more fully develop their commercial relationship, which would raise the cost of any future bilateral conflict. They can also continue to cooperate in negotiations to dissuade Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Lastly, the US could trade unneeded missile defense and further reductions in long-range strategic nuclear warheads for cuts in short-range tactical nuclear weapons, which Russia has many more of than does the US The Russians might take this deal to get rid of missile defense and because their deployable strategic warheads will decay down past the recently negotiated START limit of 1,500 warheads.

So instead of claiming that Russia is Public Enemy Number One, perhaps Romney should avoid inflaming the most important bilateral relationship the United States has in the world; the only other nuclear superpower in the world is still Russia. Instead, realistically, he and the United States should look on Russia as an important country with its own interests and security needs, which might not always coincide with those of the United States. That is why we have negotiations. They are superior to irresponsible campaign rhetoric.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Some Facts about Iran’s Nuclear Activities

March 29th, 2012 - by admin

David Morrison / Special to EAW – 2012-03-29 01:25:31


Some Facts about Iran’s Nuclear Activities

“The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.”
— Reuters Special Report, 23 March 2012

• Iran has no nuclear weapons

• Iran has no nuclear weapons programme

• Iran is not in breach of any obligations under the NPT

• Uranium enrichment is Iran’s “inalienable right” under the NPT

• The US and its allies are trying to deny Iran its right to uranium enrichment under the NPT

• ran’s nuclear facilities are open to IAEA inspection

• A double standard is being applied with regard to nuclear weapons in the Middle East:-
(1) Iran, which has none, is the object of ferocious economic sanctions and threats of military action;
(2) Israel, which has many (perhaps as many as 400) and the ability to deliver them to any capital in the Middle East, is the object of over $3 billion a year of military aid.

• The US, Israel and others, who are threatening military action against Iran, are in breach of Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, which requires that all UN member states “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.

Special Report — Intel Shows Iran Nuclear Threat Not Imminent
Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball / Reuters

WASHINGTON | Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:02pm GMT
(Reuters) – The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.

Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

“They’re keeping the soup warm but they are not cooking it,” a U.S. administration official said.

Reuters has learned that in late 2006 or early 2007, U.S. intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped.

That led to a bombshell conclusion in a controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate: American spy agencies had “high confidence” that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003.

Current and former U.S. officials say they are confident that Iran has no secret uranium-enrichment site outside the purview of U.N. nuclear inspections.

They also have confidence that any Iranian move toward building a functional nuclear weapon would be detected long before a bomb was made.

These intelligence findings are what underpin President Barack Obama’s argument that there is still time to see whether economic sanctions will compel Iran’s leaders to halt any program.

The Obama administration, relying on a top-priority intelligence collection program and after countless hours of debate, has concluded that Iranian leaders have not decided whether to actively construct a nuclear weapon, current and former officials said.

There is little argument, however, that Iran’s leaders have taken steps that would give them the option of becoming a nuclear-armed power.

Iran has enriched uranium, although not yet of sufficient quantity or purity to fuel a bomb, and has built secret enrichment sites, which were acknowledged only when unmasked.

Iran has, in years past, worked on designing a nuclear warhead, the complicated package of electronics and explosives that would transform highly enriched uranium into a fission bomb.

And it is developing missiles that could in theory launch such a weapon at a target in enemy territory.

There are also blind spots in U.S. and allied agencies’ knowledge. A crucial unknown is the intentions of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Another question is exactly how much progress Iran made in designing a warhead before mothballing its program. The allies disagree on how fast Iran is progressing toward bomb-building ability: the U.S. thinks progress is relatively slow; the Europeans and Israelis believe it’s faster.

U.S. officials assert that intelligence reporting on Iran’s nuclear program is better than it was on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which proved to be non-existent but which President George W. Bush and his aides used to make the case for the 2003 invasion.

That case and others, such as the U.S. failure to predict India’s 1998 underground nuclear test, illustrate the perils of divining secrets about others’ weapons programs.

“The quality of intelligence varies from case to case,” a U.S. administration official said. Intelligence on North Korea and Iraq was more limited, but there was “extraordinarily good intelligence” on Iran, the official said.

Israel, which regards a nuclear Iran as an existential threat, has a different calculation. It studies the same intelligence and timetable, but sees a closing window of opportunity to take unilateral military action and set back Iran’s ambitions. Israel worries that Iran will soon have moved enough of its nuclear program underground — or spread it far enough around the country — as to make it virtually impervious to a unilateral Israeli attack, creating what Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently referred to as a “zone of immunity.”

While Israel would not be able to launch an effective offensive in this analysis, the U.S., with its deeper-penetrating bombs and in-air refuelling capability, believes it could still get results from a military strike.

Israel has not publicly defined how or when Iran would enter this phase of a nuclear weapons program. Barak said last month that relying on an ability to detect an order by Khamenei to build a bomb “oversimplifies the issue dramatically.”

U.S. confidence that Iran stopped its nuclear weaponization program in 2003 traces back to a stream of intelligence obtained in 2006 or early 2007, which dramatically shifted the view of spy agencies.

Sources familiar with the intelligence confirmed the intercept of Fakhrizadeh’s communications. The United States had both telephone and email intercepts in which Iranian scientists complained about how the leadership ordered them to shut down the program in 2003, a senior European official said.

U.S. officials said they are very confident that the intercepts were authentic – and not disinformation planted by Iran.
“Iran has been a high-priority intelligence target for years. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes we really are good,” said Thomas Fingar, who was chairman of the National Intelligence Council when it compiled the 2007 intelligence estimate.

While declining to provide specific details, Fingar, now at Stanford University, said: “We got information that we had never been able to obtain before. We knew the provenance of the information, and we knew that we had been able to obtain it from multiple sources. Years of hard work had finally paid off.”

The judgment that Iran had stopped work on the weapons program stunned the Bush White House and U.S. allies. Critics accused U.S. spy agencies of over-compensating for their flawed 2002 analysis that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had active nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.

The 2007 report gummed up efforts by the Bush administration to persuade the U.N. Security Council and others to add pressure on Iran with more sanctions. It was greeted with disbelief by Israel and some European allies.
“It really pulled the rug out of our sanctions effort until we got it back on track in 2008,” recalled Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to Bush.

Overlooked by many was that the report said Iran had been pursuing a nuclear weapon and was keeping its options open for developing one, he said. “The problem was that it was misinterpreted as an all-clear when it wasn’t that at all,” Hadley said.

A November 2011 report by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said suspected nuclear weaponization efforts led by Fakhrizadeh were “stopped rather abruptly pursuant to a ‘halt order’ instruction issued in late 2003 by senior Iranian officials.”

The reasons for this are not clear. Western experts say it was probably related to a fear of being next on the hit list after the United States toppled Saddam next door.

Iran emphasizes its nuclear program is for civilian purposes. Ayatollah Khamenei this week said Iran does not have nuclear weapons and will not build them.

Some key U.S. allies were never entirely comfortable with the 2007 U.S. intelligence estimate. The Europeans conceded that a centrally directed weaponization program probably stopped, but believed pieces of the program were being pursued separately.

Many European experts believed the Iranians had dismembered their bomb program and scattered and buried its parts, some of them in military or scientific installations, some in obscure academic institutions.

Under pressure from both European allies and Israel’s supporters, U.S. intelligence agencies late in the Bush administration and early in Obama’s tenure began to take a second look at the 2007 estimate. Some consideration was given to bringing it more into line with European views. Intelligence received after publication of the 2007 estimate suggested that in 2006, Iran believed the United States was going to have to abandon its troubled venture in Iraq.

Wisps of information were gathered that Iranian officials were talking about restarting elements of the bomb program, a U.S. intelligence official said on condition of anonymity. But analysts were divided about the significance of the new information. The revised estimate was delayed for months. Eventually, at the very end of 2010, an updated version was circulated within the government. Unlike the 2007 estimate, the White House made public no extracts of this document.

A consensus emerged among U.S. experts that the new intelligence information wasn’t as alarming as originally thought, according to officials familiar with the result. The 2010 update largely stuck to the same assessments as the 2007 report, these officials said. U.S. intelligence chiefs issued a vague public acknowledgement of the ambiguities of their latest assessment.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in February 2011 that “Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so.”

The United States and Israel are on the same page in judging how long it would take Iran to have a nuclear weapon that could strike a target: about a year to produce a bomb and then another one to two years to put it on a missile.

Both countries believe Iran has not made a decision to build a bomb, so even if Tehran decided to move forward, it would be unlikely to have a working nuclear device this year, let alone a missile to deliver it.

“I think they are years away from having a nuclear weapon,” a U.S. administration official said.

Three main pieces are needed for a nuclear arsenal: highly enriched uranium to fuel a bomb, a nuclear warhead to detonate it, and a missile or other platform to deliver it. For Iran’s program, the West has the most information about the first.

Iran has a declared nuclear program for medical research and producing energy, is a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allows U.N. nuclear inspectors into its facilities.

The inspections are conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and its reports provide some of the best snapshots of where Iran’s program stands.

Iran conducts uranium enrichment at the Natanz plant in central Iran and at a site at Fordow buried deep in a mountainous region near the holy city of Qom. Both sites were built secretly and made public by others.

Natanz was unveiled in 2002 by an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq. Obama and other world leaders announced the existence of the Fordow site in 2009.
Natanz houses about 8,800 centrifuge machines spinning to increase the concentration of U-235, the type of uranium that yields fissile material. Fordow is built to contain about 3,000 centrifuge machines, but the most recent IAEA report says about 700 are operational.

Most of Iran’s stockpile is 3.5 percent low enriched uranium. When Tehran declared in February 2010 that it would begin enriching uranium up to 20 percent purity, that sharply increased the anxiety of Israel and others.

Nuclear experts say that enriching uranium from the naturally occurring 0.7 percent concentration of U-235 to the low-level 3.5 percent accomplishes about 70 percent of the enrichment work toward weapons-grade uranium. At 20 percent concentration, about nine-tenths of the work has been completed. For Iran, getting to 90 percent would require changing some of the plumbing in the centrifuges, experts said.

“From 20 to 90 is exponentially easier,” a U.S. intelligence official said.

An IAEA report last month said that Iran has produced nearly 110 kilograms (240 pounds) of uranium enriched to 20 percent. That is less than the roughly 250 kilograms (550 pounds) that nuclear experts say would be required, when purified further, for one nuclear weapon.

Iran’s enrichment program was set back by the Stuxnet computer virus, which many security experts suspect was created by Israeli intelligence, possibly with U.S. assistance. It wormed its way into Iranian centrifuge machinery as early as 2009. The Institute for Science and International Security estimated that Stuxnet damaged about 1,000 centrifuges at Natanz and stalled its enrichment capability from growing for about a year.

But it isn’t clear how lasting an impact Stuxnet has had. Reuters reported last month that U.S. and European officials and private experts believe Iranian engineers have neutralized and purged the virus.

U.S. officials and experts are confident that Iran would be detected if it jumped to a higher level of enrichment.
The IAEA monitors Iran’s enrichment facilities closely, watching with cameras and taking measurements during inspections. Seals would have to be broken if containers that collect the enriched material were moved or tampered with.
U.S. and European intelligence agencies are also keeping tabs through satellites, sensors and other methods. They watched for years as a hole was dug into a mountainside near Qom and determined – it is unclear precisely how — late in the Bush administration that Fordow was likely a secret uranium enrichment site.

Obama was briefed on Qom when he was president-elect and was the one to publicly announce it to the world in September 2009.

“They had a deep understanding of the facility, which allowed them to blow the whistle on Tehran with confidence,” a U.S. official said.

Rumours periodically pop up of other secret enrichment sites, but so far they have not been substantiated. “Most of the people who make the argument that they might have a covert facility or a series of covert facilities are doing that to justify bombing them sooner rather than later,” said Colin Kahl, a former defence official focused on the Middle East.
“We are very confident that there is no secret site now,” a U.S. administration official said. But given Iran’s history of secretly building facilities, the official predicted Tehran would eventually construct another covert plant.

One of the biggest question marks is how far Iran advanced in designing a nuclear device – a task considered to be less complicated than producing highly enriched uranium.
The more primitive the device, the more enriched uranium is required. Making it small enough to fit on the tip of a missile would be another challenge.

The IAEA has information that Iran built a large containment chamber to conduct high-explosives tests at the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran. Conventional weapons are tested at that base, and the U.S. government appears convinced that any nuclear-related tests occurred prior to the 2003 halt.

But Iran denied the IAEA access to the Parchin site in February, raising more suspicion, and the nuclear agency seems less confident that weapons work has halted altogether.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said recently, “We have information that some activity is ongoing there.”
In its November 2011 report, the IAEA said it had “serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

It cited Iran’s efforts to procure nuclear-related and dual-use equipment, acquisition of nuclear-weapons development information and work on developing a nuclear weapon design in the program that was stopped in late 2003.

“There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing,” the IAEA said.

While Iran does not yet have a nuclear warhead that can fit on a missile, it does have the missiles.

Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, and many of those projectiles could be repurposed to deliver a nuclear device, intelligence director Clapper said in congressional testimony.

Western experts also point to Iran’s test firing of a rocket that can launch satellites into space as an example of a growing capability that could potentially be used for nuclear weapons.

“The nuclear threat is growing. They are getting relatively close to the place where they can make the decision to assemble all three parts of their program — enrichment, missile, weaponization,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said in an interview. Khamenei “hasn’t said ‘put it together’ yet,” said Rogers, a Republican. “Have they decided to sprint to making the device that blows up? Probably not. But are they walking to a device that blows up? Yes.”

The debate over air strikes, supercharged by Israel’s anxiety and U.S. election-year politics, has raised the spectre of the Iraq war. The White House justified that conflict on the grounds of weapons of mass destruction, as well as significant ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. Both proved to be mirages.

“There are lots of disturbing similarities. One has to note the differences, too,” said Paul Pillar, a former top CIA analyst.

“The huge difference being we don’t have an administration in office that is the one hankering for the war. This administration is not hankering for a war,” said Pillar.

Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities

March 26th, 2012 - by admin

David Swanson & The Occupy General Assembly – 2012-03-26 01:34:01


Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities


Whereas the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not self-enforcing,

Whereas statement of the inherent dignity and of the equal and supposedly inalienable rights of all members of the human family achieves little without a struggle against greed, injustice, tyranny, and war,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights could not have resulted in the barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of humankind without the cowardice, laziness, apathy, and blind obedience of well-meaning but unengaged spectators,

Whereas proclaiming as the highest aspiration of the common people the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want doesn’t actually produce such a world,

Whereas nonviolent rebellion against tyranny and oppression must be a first resort rather than a last, and must be our constant companion into the future if justice and peace are to be achieved and maintained,

Whereas governments do not reliably conduct themselves humanely toward other nations’ governments unless compelled to do so by their own people and the people of the world,

Whereas a common understanding of human rights and freedoms is false if it omits the eternal vigilance, struggle, and sacrifice necessary to create and maintain them,

Now, Therefore THE OCCUPY GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES as a common standard of practice for all people, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by energetic use of creative nonviolence to promote the actual observance of what have never been but indeed should be made universal, equal, and inalienable rights and freedoms,

Article 1.
* Human beings are born into every variety and degree of freedom and oppression, privilege and poverty, peace and war. All have a responsibility to work for the betterment of the condition of those around them and those less well off.

Article 2.
* Everyone is obligated to work at building understanding and equality across lines of race, color, sex, ethnicity, sexual-orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, and birth or other status. Everyone is obligated to actively reject the privileging of or discriminating against any such group, whether their own or others’, with no exceptions created by the presence of or participation in war.

Article 3.
* Everyone has the responsibility to help organize and take part in resistance to any violation of anyone’s right to life, liberty or security of person, whether that violation impacts a single individual or a large number, but in particular including resistance to war of any kind.

Article 4.
* Everyone has a responsibility to work for the swift elimination of slavery and servitude in all their forms.

Article 5.
* Everyone has a responsibility to expose any instance of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or of any conspiracy to facilitate such acts, and a responsibility to work to end these practices and to prosecute those responsible in a fair and open court of law.

Article 6.
* Everyone has a responsibility to work and to sacrifice something of their own comfort to ensure that every other human being is afforded equal recognition as a person before the law.

Article 7.
* All are obliged to actively oppose any discrimination in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
* Everyone has the responsibility to insist upon, for themselves and all others, an effective remedy by the competent local, national, or international tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 9.
* Everyone has a responsibility to treat the arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, of anyone else as though it were that of themselves or a loved one.

Article 10.
* Everyone has a responsibility to understand and require for every human being the right to full equality and to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of their rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against them.

Article 11.
* (1) Everyone is obligated to ensure for anyone charged with a penal offense the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defense.

* (2) Everyone is obligated to ensure that no one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offense, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed, and that no heavier penalty shall be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offense was committed.

Article 12.
* All are responsible for not taking part in and for working to eliminate and to legally prohibit any arbitrary interference with anyone’s privacy, family, home or correspondence, or attacks upon their honor and reputation.

Article 13.
* (1) Everyone has the responsibility to protect everyone’s freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
* (2) Everyone has the responsibility to protect everyone’s right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.

Article 14.
* Everyone has the responsibility to protect for all the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution but not from prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes.

Article 15.
* Everyone has the responsibility to protect for all the right to a nationality and the right to change that nationality.

Article 16.
* All are obliged to protect the right of free and fully consenting adults to marry.

Article 17.
* All are obliged to defend the right of all others to own property.

Article 18.
* Everyone has the responsibility to protect freedom of thought for all.

Article 19.
* Every human being has a duty to help communicate to others to the greatest extent possible information about injustice and war, and information about nonviolent efforts to achieve justice and peace. This duty includes a responsibility to work for the creation of meaningful freedom of the press in which the communication of neither current events nor history is dominated or controlled by any privileged group within a society.

Article 20.
* Everyone has the responsibility to frequently exercise or attempt nonviolently to exercise the right to peaceful assembly and association in opposition to injustice or war, and in support of the rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 21.
* Everyone has the responsibility to work for the creation and maintenance of democratic and/or representative government uncorrupted by bribery of any form, by an unfree press, or by arbitrary restrictions on participation as electoral candidates or voters.

Article 22.
* Everyone has a responsibility to struggle nonviolently to alter the political and economic world so as to increase the opportunity for every human being to live, learn, and work in dignity with security from fear and want.

Article 23.
* Everyone has the responsibility to work with others to ensure the protection of one and all to a free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, to protection against unemployment, to the freedom to join a trade union and to strike, to equal pay for equal work, and to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for themselves and their family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

Article 24.
* Everyone has the responsibility to work not only at their primary career but also for the betterment of society and the establishment of the rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 25.
* Everyone has the responsibility to work for a more just and less wasteful distribution of resources to ensure that one’s own and all future generations can provide every single human being, including every child, a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood.

Article 26.
* Everyone has the responsibility to assist in the education of themselves and others and to work toward the provision of free, high-quality education, including education in civil responsibilities and the history of social change through people’s movements, education directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, education that promotes understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and education that furthers the creation and maintenance of peace.

Article 27.
* Everyone has the responsibility to defend and exercise the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits, and the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are the author.

Article 28.
* Everyone has the responsibility to organize, agitate, sacrifice, and struggle nonviolently and strategically for sustainable environmental practices, demilitarization, the development of democratic and representative structures of government, and the realization of the rights found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

A Message of Peace and Friendship from Iran

March 26th, 2012 - by admin

Leila Zand / Fellowship of Reconciliation & The People of Iran – 2012-03-26 01:17:37


A Message of Peace and Friendship from Iran
Leila Zand / Fellowship of Reconciliation & The People of Iran

One of the speakers on Saturday at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference in Stamford, Ct., was Leila Zand, Program Director, Middle East & Civilian Diplomacy, Fellowship Of Reconciliation. She said that rather than sharing her own views on the dangers of a war on Iran, she had asked friends in Iran what they would say. She read the following message that they sent her:

To all the wonderful peacemakers in national peace conference

To all of our brothers and sisters in the beautiful world

We are sending you the message of peace and friendship from Iran, the land of love and poetry, friendship and roses. Iran, a country that has not initiated any violence on another nation in the past 200 years, but unfortunately has been the subject of such violations many times in her recent history.

In the past 30 years the loving people of Iran have experienced all kinds of difficulties; revolution, sanctions, war and terrorism. Iran has also taken sweet, strong beginning steps towards democracy. We Iranians have had the experience of revolution. We know that real change will not occur through a sudden move, with violence. We know that real change will come from within, from each one of us, Iranians.

We have learned this lesson and paid a very high price for it. That is why we are strongly opposed to any violence, or pressure for change, including regime change, through the direct or indirect intervention of foreign powers.

We are proudly and persistently working hard to reach the level of democracy we deserve and desire. Any attack on our beloved Iran will destroy all our work; any violence imposed on our motherland will eclipse our efforts, efforts of a 100 years, a 100 years of the hard work of generations.

A war on Iran is a war on a nation’s desire for democracy. A war on Iran is a war on human history, a war on a culture of peace and a war on a people who have never appreciated violence.

Dear fellow American peace lovers, please deliver our message to your politicians. We are not just a piece of land. We are not oil. We are not nuclear sites. We are not evil. We are women, men, children. We are people with dreams, jobs, families, with a baggage of 5000 years of experience.

When we talk about war we know what we are talking about. We have heard the shrieks of missiles. We have smelled the gunpowder. We have run for shelters. We have seen pieces of a human body in top of our trees and on our roof tops. We have lost loved ones. We know what war means. War was behind our windows. We experienced war in our back yard.

For my generation, killing, bombs, missiles, chemical weapons and terrorism is not just in Hollywood; is not a computer game; it is real. And that is why we don’t want evil to knock on our door again. We don’t want war.

Iranians has experienced 30 years of sanctions that were imposed on them in the harshest way. Discussing and deciding on “crippling sanctions” is one thing. Living with them is another. Your government thinks they can bring our governments to its knees with these kinds of pressure. They are dead wrong.

Your government is sanctioning Iranian children, workers, women, students, activists, but not the government. Your government is targeting Iranian people, who are disconnected from the circles of power. Those who live in the bountiful land of Iran pay the price; they suffer the most from these sanctions.

My American sisters and brothers let me say one last word on “crippling sanctions”. The People of one of the wealthiest countries in the world can hear the breaking sounds of their backs under the economic pressure. How long we can we continue to tell to our children that we don’t have bread to eat? Please help us to find a way to explain sanctions, nuclear, 5+1, IAEA and NPT to our little children who want and deserve to live like your children.

Don’t let the history repeat itself. Don’t allow the scenario that caused Iraq to lose more than half a million children because of punitive sanctions repeat here in our beautiful Iran. Sanctions will not stop the government from following their planned policy.

Sanctions destroy people’s lives. Today, as I am writing to you, there is a strong need for medicine, food, clean water and even toys for little children. Today we are talking about precious human lives. Today is the day to rethink, rebuild and get back to the most important role of our life, that of a loving human being.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Facebook Diplomacy Breaches the Iran Israel Divide

March 26th, 2012 - by admin

Dimi Reider/ AntiWar.com & Noam Sheizaf / 972 Mag.com & Larry Derfner / 972 Mag.com – 2012-03-26 01:12:26


Facebook Diplomacy Breaches the Iran Israel Divide
Scott Horton / AntiWar.com & Dimi Reider / 972 Mag.com

Dimi (Dmitry) Reider is an Israeli journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, and Index on Censorship. Reider discusses his article “Israeli-Iranian solidarity exchange sweeps Facebook in an interview with Scott Horton.
Hear how a simple friendly gesture got Israelis and Iranians talking about peace; bypassing the mainstream media’s filter with Facebook, where real people can express themselves directly; and the Israeli peace movement’s influence (or lack thereof) on Bibi Netanyahu. Hear the MP3 here [3]. (9:30)

Israeli-Iranian Solidarity Exchange Sweeps Facebook
Dimi Reider/ AntiWar.com

(March 18, 2012) — On Saturday night, an Israeli couple — two graphic designers named Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir — decided to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly. They created a slogan you can impose over your profile picture or any picture of your choice:

[The image read:
We Love You.”]

The Israeli meme nation is a harsh and biting one, and many of the first responses were on the cynical side:

[Image of a parody poster with the image of a Trojan Horse and the message: “Trojans. We would never bomb your country. We love you.”

And some added messages of their own; as these are also being enthusiastically copied and reproduced, it’s hard to establish authorship, but one of the more popular ones ran:

To the Iranian People
To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters

For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you. I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian…Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.

I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian. He is talking about war. I’m sure he does not represent all the people of Iran. If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you …be sure he does not represent all of us.

I’m not an official representative of my country. I’m a father and a teacher. I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbors, my family, my students, my friends and in the name of all these people …we love you.

We mean you no harm. On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.

To all those who feel the same, share this message and help it reach the Iranian people.

And then came the response:
“We love you, Israeli People.
The Iranian people do not like war with any country.”

[One of the images on this series of posters showed Iranian Diplomat Abdol-Hossein Sodari, the “Iranian Schindler,” who helped up to 2,000 Jews to flee Germany for safety in Iran.]

[Another variation of the poster included the words of Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC):
“I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other’s rights.”]

The couple told “The Marker” they had received hundreds of private messages from Iranians saying they were deeply moved by the campaign.

So what does it all mean? Quite simply, that neither party has any appetite for a war right now. As an Iranian first strike on Israel is not even on the cards right now, Iranian opposition to war may come as no surprise. But it’s important to stress the Israeli opposition to war reflected above is also far from an abstract “make love not war” one.

A recent survey found a whopping 50 percent of Israelis were totally opposed to an attack on Iran, even if the diplomatic efforts to stall the nuclear program failed. 43 supported the move, but 78 percent of those surveyed recognised that even a successful attack would at best delay Iran’s acquisition of an A-Bomb by a few years. Only 16 percent believed such an attack would wipe out the Iranian nuclear program for good. An earlier survey that specifically asked if Israel should attack on Iran on its own found 65 percent of Israelis were opposed.

Although I’m normally very cynical on just how much leaders care for public opinion when making a decision to go to war, we should remember Netanyahu is first and foremost a populist and that this is an election year. I’d be surprised if Netanyahu doesn’t repeatedly reminisce on the experience of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who went to a much more popular war in Lebanon, botched it, lost power and set in motion the destruction of his own party; although Olmert characteristically leeched on to power for another two and a half years, the inconclusive ending of the war and the severe casualty toll foretold Kadima’s downfall as soon as the ceasefire in Lebanon was enacted.

A war with Iran has much higher chances of failure and much greater casualties are at stake. In this situation, such campaigns might — just might — add a few grams of pressure on Netanyahu to stay his hand.

More Iran coverage on +972 Magazine:
*Poll: Most Israelis against Attack on Iran
*Author David Grossman against attack on Iran — by Israel or US.
*US embassy alarmed by ‘missile’ in anti-war art project
*In front-page editorial, Pro-Netanyahu paper supports attack on Iran
*Polls: Israelis fear unilateral strike more than Iranian bomb
*Poll: Huge majority opposes unilateral Israeli war on Iran

Poll: Most Israelis against Attack on Iran
Noam Sheizaf / 972 Mag.com

(March 7, 2012) — Since the shift in the American policy, to one which is much more hospitable to Netanyahu and his government, every time the prime minister returns from Washington, his numbers jump. The last poll (from Haaretz) sees the Likud with 37 seats, which means a very easy job assembling the next government.

Yet note this: Despite personal support for Netanyahu, a clear majority of the public — 58 percent! — believes that Israel should not strike Iran’s nuclear facilities on its own, even if the United States decides to avoid military action. In a country where military operations usually get very high support in the public (until they go wrong), this is very telling. With all of Netanyahu’s Holocaust rhetoric, it seems that Israelis don’t want this war.

Poll: Huge Majority Opposes Unilateral Israeli War on Iran
Larry Derfner / 972 Mag.com

(March 1, 2012) — This is the best news on the antiwar front since Meir Dagan went public — a poll published today by Dahaf, Israel’s leading public opinion surveying firm, found that only 19 percent of Israelis are in favor of Israel bombing Iran on its own, which is what most everyone, myself included, is predicting Israel will do.

The poll results, though, are not all peace and love — a plurality of 42 percent favor a joint U.S.-Israeli attack, which means the pro-war camp has a 2-1 advantage over the peace camp. (32 percent are against an attack on Iran, period.)

But if you judge by the public statements of Israeli politicians, there’s 0 percent opposition to war. If you judge by the news coverage and the commentators, there’s maybe 5 percent opposition. There’s been such a brainwashing campaign going on in this country, such a colossal amount of self-censorship by all the politicians, security establishment types and other influential figures over the war issue, so I find it remarkable that only 19 percent of Israelis are behind Netanyahu and Barak, that one-third of the public doesn’t want a war of any kind, no matter who’s behind us.

I hope to God that Obama brings this up in his meeting on Monday with Netanyahu, and in his speech the day before to AIPAC. This is powerful ammunition. And I hope to God that Peace Now, Meretz, Hadash, David Grossman, Amos Oz and everyone else who’s ever fought for peace in this country takes this poll as a wake-up call. There’s a movement waiting to be born. There’s a chance to stop this thing.

Facebook Diplomacy Soars as Israelis and Iranians March for Peace

March 26th, 2012 - by admin

John Glaser / AntiWar.com & Haaretz – 2012-03-26 01:04:58

Israelis Protest Against War on Iran

Israelis Protest Against War on Iran
John Glaser / AntiWar.com

(March 24, 2012) — Hundreds of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against a possible unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran, as more Israeli citizens begin to reach out to Iranians. The protest sprung up independently after a Facebook campaign by Israelis aimed at peacefully engaging Iranians went viral.

A doctoral student from Tel Aviv posted a photo of herself and her cat on Facebook, with a sign in Farsi reading: “We love you, people of Iran.” Another Israeli posted a photo of himself and his daughter with a poster reading, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you.”

It wasn’t long before the movement caught on and Iranians on Facebook began to respond in kind. Apart from the Facebook activism that seems to have started this campaign, “Israelis mounted an art exhibit in Tel Aviv centered on Iran, built a website in Farsi with news of Israeli daily life, and protested Saturday against a potential strike on Iranian nuclear installations,” the Associated Press reports.

The US has become increasingly bellicose towards Iran, heaping crippling economic sanctions and hurling rhetoric at Tehran. US and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran is far off from having nuclear weapons, but while the Obama administration is decidedly against an attack now, Israel has warned that a unilateral strike may be imminent, despite the intelligence consensus.

Hundreds of Israelis March in
Tel Aviv to Protest War with Iran


(March 24, 2012) — Hundreds of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The protest came amid a recent Facebook campaign linking Israeli and Iranian citizens in their opposition to war between the two nations. Campaign leaders, however, made it clear on their Facebook page that they had nothing to do with the Tel Aviv protest march.

Last week, graphic designers Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir, unknowingly began a Facebook phenomenon when they uploaded a poster depicting Edry and his daughter with the words, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you.”

That one image sparked a movement of sorts, with hundreds, if not thousands, of images sent from Israel, Iran, and elsewhere in the world, in support of exposing what participants consider to be the human side of the conflict between Iran and Israel.

“My Israeli friends, I do not hate you; I do not want war. love, Peace,” read many Iranian posters that were posted by Iranians to the new group page. Most of the Iranians, who posted messages to the Facebook group, did so with their faces partially veiled, possibly out of fear from the Iranian authorities.

Last Saturday, Edry said that Iranian group members explained that they could be arrested if recognized in the photos.

“Dear Israeli Friends and World! Iranians love peace and we hate hate!… and we don’t need any Nuclear Power to show it!” one poster caption stated.

“I’m from Iran and love your idea and your efforts against war and for peace. I am really happy to get to know you and people like you, and hope to find more people like you. Here in Iran the situation is complicated and many people hate the governments and their bullshit,” another anonymous Iranian wrote in a poster he published.

On Saturday, the protest against a strike on Iran — one, it should be added, that was not endorsed by the leaders of the Facebook campaign — began its march at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, making its way to the city’s Meir Park.

Participants held signs with such captions as “No to War with Iran,” and “Talks, not Bombs.”

US, Europe, Israel Agree On Solid Intel:
Iran Nuke Threat Far Off

John Glaser / AntiWar.com

(March 23, 2012) — The United States, European allies, and Israel all agree that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, has not decided to build one, and is several years away from having a deliverable nuclear missile. Still, aggressive postures towards Tehran continue.

In 2007, the US intelligence community concluded that Iran had halted weaponization of its nuclear program back in 2003 and has not restarted it since. That conclusion has been repeatedly reaffirmed in recent years, but some further details of the secret intelligence have been released.

According to Reuters, US intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications from late 2006 or early 2007 in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped. This was one piece of the puzzle that led to the 2007 finding.

According to reports, the US has “significantly ramped-up American covert sabotage and non-proliferation campaign” inside Iran. Apparently “the CIA’s ops arm, the National Clandestine Service, along with the US military” are “scrutinizing and seizing cargo shipments bound for Iran, tapping the black market for nuclear supplies and buying up spare parts, and maximizing the collection of Iranian signal traffic.” This has increased US confidence in their assessments.

One primary type of intelligence the US has on Iran’s nuclear program is what is called “measurement and signature intelligence,” or MASINT. These are “sensors on satellites, drones, and on the ground” measuring “everything from the electromagnetic signatures created by testing conventional missile systems to disturbances in the soil and geography around a hidden nuclear facility to streams of radioactive particles that are byproducts of the uranium enrichment process.” The US “knows what Iran has and doesn’t have,” writes journalist Marc Ambinder.

These and other forms of intelligence have made current and former US officials highly confident that Iran has no secret uranium-enrichment site outside the purview of U.N. nuclear inspections. While it was given hyperbolic treatment in the media, the IAEA’s November report helped confirm this in reporting that “the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of [Iran’s] declared nuclear material.”

Hawks, mainly in the US and Israel, have argued for waging preventive war on Iran in a unilateral attack aimed at crippling Iran’s legal civilian nuclear program before it can make it immune from bombing by building facilities underground and making the program sufficiently redundant throughout the country.

But here again, US intelligence has held that they would detect any move by Iran to restart weaponization activities. There is simply no evidence for a nuclear program and no sensible reason, or legal justification, to attack if a nuclear weapons program is the pretext.

There are perfectly viable alternatives to sanctions, aggression, and war. If Israel, for example, agreed to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open up its nuclear program to international inspections, as Iran has, the tension would probably dissipate.

Further, if Israel agreed to give up its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to imposing a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East — a deal Iran has repeatedly proposed — the tensions would surely vanish, along with the pretext for war. But this remains out of the question for Tel Aviv and Washington.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

An Administration Gone Rogue

March 25th, 2012 - by admin

Hon. Ron Paul / US House of Representatives – 2012-03-25 00:59:04

An Administration Gone Rogue

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2012) — Have certain parts of the Constitution become irrelevant, as a former Republican leader once told me at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing? At the time, I was told that demanding a Congressional declaration of war before invading Iraq, as Article I Section 8 of the Constitution requires, was unnecessary and anachronistic. Congress and the president then proceeded without a Constitutional declaration and the disastrous Iraq invasion was the result.

Last week, Obama administration officials made it clear that even the fig leaf of Congressional participation provided by the 2003 “authorization” to use force in Iraq was to be ignored as well. In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated clearly and repeatedly that the administration felt it was legally justified to use military force against Syria solely with “international permission”.

Such “international permission” could come by way of the United Nations, NATO, or some other international body. Secretary Panetta then told Senator Sessions that depending on the situation, the administration would consider informing Congress of its decision and might even seek authorization after the fact.

While Senator Sessions expressed surprise at the casual audacity of Panetta in making this statement, in reality his was just a bluntly stated explanation of what has been, de facto, the case for many years.

When President Obama committed the US military to a pre-emptive war against Libya last year, for example, Congress was kept completely out of the process. Likewise, military action in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and so on, proceed without a Congressional declaration.

In fact, we haven’t had a proper, constitutional declaration of war since 1942, yet the US military has been engaged in Korea, Lebanon, Iraq, Bosnia, Liberia, Haiti, and Libya with only UN resolutions as the authority. Congress’s only role has been authorizing funds, which it always does without question, because one must “support the troops”.

Of course we should reserve our harshest criticism for Congress rather than the Administration. If the people’s branch of government abrogates its Constitutional authority to the Executive branch, who is to blame? Who is to blame that Congress as a body will not stand up and demand that the president treat the Constitution as more than an anachronistic piece of paper, or merely a set of aspirations and guidelines?

The Constitution is the law of the land and for Congress to allow it to be flouted speaks as badly about Congress as it does about a president who seeks to do the flouting.

Just last week the administration announced that it would begin providing material support to the rebels who seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Was Congress involved in this decision to take sides in what may develop into a full-fledged civil war? And what of reports that US special forces may already be operating inside Syria?

Still, Congress sits silently as its authority is undermined. Does anybody really wonder why approval numbers for Congress are so low?

Many of my colleagues who stood by as then-President Bush used the military as a kind of king’s army are now calling for Congress to act against this president for openly admitting that is his intent.

I agree it is time for Congressional action in response to these attacks on our Constitution, but the solution is simple and Constitutional. The solution is simply voting to withhold funds, since Congress has the power of the purse. No money for undeclared wars!

Read more by Rep. Ron Paul
• Demolishing Due Process – March 19th, 2012

• Overspending on National Security Threatens National Security – February 22nd, 2012

• Stop Internet Censorship – January 23rd, 2012

• The NDAA Repeals More Rights – December 27th, 2011

• Mutually Assured Destruction vs Mutually Assured Respect – December 9th, 2011

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Journalist Fired for Criticizing Israel

March 25th, 2012 - by admin

Muslim News & Al-Akhbar – 2012-03-25 00:54:16


US: Journalist Fired after Calling Israeli Occupation ‘Brutal’
Muslim News

LONDON (March 23, 2012) — A veteran American journalist has been fired after referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land as “brutal.” Sunni Khalid, managing news editor at WYPR-FM in Baltimore, was dropped by the public radio station on Thursday after more than nine years on the job. He had been on probation following criticism of comments he made on Facebook about Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine.

“I, for one, have had enough of this pandering before the Israeli regime,” he wrote. “The war-mongering toward Iran has, once again, distracted the world from Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.” Khalid, who previously worked for National Public Radio, has also written for Time Magazine, The Washington Times, and USA Today.

Israel maintains economic control over Gaza and the West Bank, with devastating consequences for the Palestinian civilian population. Rights groups including Amnesty International have repeatedly condemned rights abuses against Palestinians.

Palestinian Man Shot by Invading Israeli Settlers

(March 24, 2012) — A Palestinian man was shot and injured on Saturday during clashes with Israeli settlers who attacked his village in the central West Bank, a local news agency reported. Hassan Muatan, 40, was shot in the abdomen after armed settlers stormed the Burqa village east of Ramallah and attempted to vandalize property, the Maan News agency said. Muatan was evacuated to the Palestine Medical Compound with moderate wounds.

Residents of the village said the attack was being confronted by the locals, when the settlers opened fire. Israeli soldiers were called to the scene but fired on the villagers as well, they said. The Israeli army did not respond to a request for comment.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that attacks by settlers on the local Palestinian population in 2011 had increased by 50 percent from the previous year. In a separate development Saturday, settlers uprooted about 85 olive trees in the Bethlehem village of al-Khader, local officials reported.

Israel continues to encourage the building of Jewish-only settlements in occupied Palestinian land, despite the UN declaring such constructions illegal. Attempts to condemn the practice at the level of the UN Security Council have been prevented by Israel’s closest ally the United States, which has repeatedly promised to use its veto power to stop such moves.

UN: Jewish Settlers Stealing Palestinian Water Springs:

(March 19, 2012) — Illegal Israeli settlers have taken over dozens of natural springs in the West Bank, preventing Palestinian access to much-needed water sources, a United Nations report said on Monday. The report produced by the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at least 30 springs across the West Bank had been completely taken over by settlers, with Palestinians unable to access them at all.

In most instances, the report said, “Palestinians have been deterred from accessing the springs by acts of intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers.” The report said an OCHA survey carried out in 2011 identified a total of 56 springs that were under total or partial control of Israeli settlers, most in the part of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and military control.

“Springs have remained the single largest water source for irrigation and a significant source for watering livestock” for Palestinians, OCHA said, noting that some springs also provide water for domestic consumption. The loss of access to springs and adjacent land reduced the income of affected farmers, who either stop cultivating the land or face a reduction in the productivity of their crops.”

The report said in most cases where settlers were trying to limit Palestinian access to springs, they have undertaken to turn the area into a tourist attraction, constructing pools, picnic areas and signs carrying a Hebrew name for the spring. “Such works were carried out without building permits,” the report said.

Israel maintains an economic blockade of Gaza and control over the economy of the West Bank through checkpoints and sanctions. The country has continued to endorse the growth of Jewish-only settlements in occupied Palestine, which are illegal under international law, despite condemnation from the international community.

The OCHA report added that settler actions including “trespass, intimidation and physical assault, stealing of private property, and construction without a building permit,” are also violations of Israeli law. “Yet, the Israel authorities have systematically failed to enforce the law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians with any effective remedy,” it said. OCHA called on Israel to stop the expansion of settlements, “restore Palestinian access to the water springs taken over by settlers,” and to “conduct effective investigations into cases of settler violence and trespass.”

Israel’s Civil Administration, the Israeli military body that administers parts of the West Bank, rejected the OCHA report. “The report is distorted, biased and full of inaccuracies,” spokesman Guy Inbar told AFP.

“As a general rule, it has been made clear that everyone has the right to access the local natural springs in the public spaces,” he said. “In case there is a complaint that any party is preventing, threatening or interfering with access to such sites, it must be reported to the nearest police station.”

Israel rarely convicts Jewish settlers for crimes against the indigenous Palestinian population.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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