May 31st, 2014 - by admin
Friends Committee on National Legislation & Doug Bandow / Forbes – 2014-05-31 01:45:14
President Obama Gets it Half Right on Foreign Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation
(May 29, 2014) — In his speech yesterday at West Point, President Barack Obama rolled out a new vision of the US role in the world, one based on mounting small-scale military engagements in many more countries rather than fighting large scale wars.
The president’s caution about military power, and his insistence on foreign policy toolbox that includes diplomacy and other non-military means of engagement, deserves support. However, the presidentâ€™s actions — expanded use of US Special Operations forces in Africa, armed drone warfare and the proposed expansion of flexible funding for “counterterrorism”â€”undermine potential US leadership on bringing more peace and security to the world.
Read perspectives from FCNL’s Jim Cason and Elizabeth Beavers.
Take Action: Don’t Send Weapons to Syria
The president’s call in his speech for supporting opposition in Syria could give new life to proposals to send arms to the Syrian rebels, but that would be counterproductive.
Ask your representative to state their opposition.
Barack Obama’s Feckless and Foolish Foreign Policy: Doing Too Much And Doing It Badly
Doug Bandow / Forbes
(May 30, 2014) — President Barack Obama enjoyed one of the prerogatives of his office when he spoke at West Point. There may be no better setting for a speech on foreign policy. But it wasn’t easy to defend the incoherent mess representing his administration’s dealings with the world.
The problem is not that the president had no successes to defend — he has resisted persistent neoconservative demands for multiple new wars and interventions. But President Obama almost always rushed to the inconsistent middle ground, entangling the US unnecessarily without committing enough to achieve even his limited ends. Experience demonstrates that Uncle Sam rarely succeeds at being a little bit pregnant. When it comes to military action, chastity more often is the best strategy.
Despite sharp criticism of his speech on the right, Barak Obama got a lot right. For instance, the constant complaint by uber-hawks that the world is dangerous misses the fact that the world is not that dangerous for the US. During the Cold War American school children were trained to get under their desks in response to a Soviet missile launch.
Military strategists debated how to stop Soviet armored divisions from pouring through Germany’s Fulda Gap. The two superpowers tested and prodded one another in bloody proxy wars in Afghanistan, Angola, Korea, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and elsewhere. Washington and Moscow risked nuclear war over Cuba.
That world is gone. The US dominates the globe. Noted the president: “by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away — are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. Think about it. Our military has no peer. The odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low, and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the Cold War.”
Yet Barack Obama failed to confront the obvious implication of this fact: why does America spend so much on “defense” when it has so little to defend against? In fact, the Department of Defense has little to do with protecting America and far more to do with imposing Washington’s wishes, aspirations, and even whims on the rest of the world.
To the extent “defense” is involved, it is primarily defense of others, most obviously prosperous and populous allies in Asia and Europe, which have become the international equivalent of welfare queens.
The president does point to “new dangers.” However, some result from Washington’s promiscuous interference in other nations’ affairs. Most affect allied nations far more than America.
For instance, President Obama cited terrorism, the most serious ongoing security threat to the US. However, terrorists do not target Americans because we are so free, but because our government bombs, invades, occupies, and otherwise intervenes all over the globe. This is not to justify, but to understand. Similar has been the experience of Russia, Israel, Pakistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, India, and other nations which have been attacked by terrorists for reasons other than their liberality.
Terrorism typically is a weapon in an ongoing political conflict — awful, immoral, unjustified, but predictable. Thus, the more Washington intervenes, the more it exposes its citizens to terrorist threats. Terrorism is a cost of global hegemony and promiscuous intervention.
The president warned that Moscow’s aggressive actions have unnerved “capitals in Europe” — which he failed to acknowledge has a collective GDP and population bigger than America’s and much bigger than Russia’s.
Barack Obama cited China’s growing economy and “military reach” which “worries its neighbors.” But Beijing has neither the ability nor desire to battle America. Why should Washington defend China’s neighbors’ territorial claims? Wouldn’t it make more sense for China’s neighbors to develop the means to defend those claims themselves?
As was inevitable, President Obama attacked the straw man of “isolationism,” even though it’s hard to find a true isolationist in Washington. What the president calls isolationists are those who view military action as a last resort, and who believe that the mere fact there might be consequences of events abroad, whether the civil war in Syria or Russian absorption of Crimea, does not justify US military action.
Indeed, the president inadvertently articulated an argument for nonintervention. He noted: “I believe we have a real stake — an abiding self-interest — in making sure our children grow up in a world where school-girls are not kidnapped; where individuals aren’t slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political beliefs. I believe that the world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative — it also helps keep us safe.”
These are wonderful ideals and worth pursuing if practicable and at reasonable cost. But as Barack Obama noted in his next sentence: “to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.” Which is precisely the point of those who argue against intervening in Nigeria to rescue kidnapped school girls, intervening in Syria, to halt a civil war, and intervening all over the world to promote freedom and tolerance.
President Obama’s strongest criticism was reserved for neoconservatives who had hectored him at every turn demanding more wars and threats of war. Their philosophy can be summarized as: “Circle the globe. Find interesting people. Kill them.”
The president pointed out that “Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures — without thinking through the consequences; without building international support and legitimacy for our action, or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required.” In fact, that describes almost all of Washington’s military recent misadventures.
Barack Obama set forth his criteria for use of the military. “When our core interests demand it,” he said. But what are those interests? “When our people are threatened,” yes. “When our livelihood is at stake,” not so obvious. Economic convenience and expense are different from economic prosperity and survival. “When the security of our allies is in danger,” no.
The purpose of alliances should be to advance US security, not subsidize countries, which prefer to let a superpower defend them. Washington should not hand out security guarantees like hotels leave chocolates on guest pillows. America should go to war in response to a threat to allies only when it also poses a threat to vital US security interests which cannot be resolved by the allied state.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization illustrates the problem. President Obama lauded NATO’s past role, in a Cold War world which has disappeared, and said “we are now working with NATO allies to meet new missions — within Europe, where our Eastern allies must be reassured; and also beyond Europe’s borders, where our allies must pull their weight.”
However, concocting new missions for an organization which fulfilled its purpose brings to mind Public Choice economics, and the institutional incentive for self-preservation, irrespective of circumstance. NATO was created to prevent Soviet domination of Eurasia. The alliance succeeded. Completely.
There is no reason now to add reassuring Eastern European states to Washington’s long list of international duties. The Soviet Union has dissolved. The Warsaw Pact has disappeared. The Europeans have recovered from World War II. If the Eastern Europeans must be reassured, then that job should go to a European continent which has united and collectively surpassed America in wealth and population. Basic economic incentives and human nature ensure that the Europeans will never carry their own weight so long as Washington insists on doing the job for them.
The president rightly emphasized the importance of empowering other nations to combat terrorism. But his most detailed example, Afghanistan, was a poor one. Washington has spent more than a dozen years nation-building, trying to create a competent, honest, efficient, democratic, and strong central government in Kabul to govern the rest of the country.
That’s a worthy but not particularly realistic goal, and certainly not one worth thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of US dollars. In fact, nation-building hasn’t worked well anywhere, including in Haiti, Iraq, and Somalia. Far less costly would be ensuring that all combatants in a conflict like Afghanistan understand that cooperating with al-Qaeda or other terrorist bands would be the one sure means of bringing Washington back, with terrible results for those in power.
President Obama offered a high opinion of international institutions, such as the United Nations, not warranted by past experience. He argued that so-called foreign aid is “part of what makes us strong,” despite the long and tortured history of government-to-government financial transfers which have subsidized both collectivism and authoritarianism. And in calling for support for democracy he ignored Washington’s flagrant, consistent, and embarrassing hypocrisy.
For instance, he said: “In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests — from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government. But we can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.”
The president was deceiving himself if that’s what he believed Washington to be doing. For three decades succeeding US administrations subsidized a brutal dictatorship which tortured its citizens, looted its country, and persecuted its religious minorities.
When the government of President Hosni Mubarak tottered the Obama administration first supported him, then advocated his negotiated departure. After he was ousted the US endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected president.
When the latter was overthrown in a coup Washington refused to admit the obvious, that a coup had occurred, and follow the law, which required cutting off aid. Since then Secretary of State John Kerry has declared the military regime to be restoring democracy even as it was shooting down hundreds of protestors, imprisoning tens of thousands of demonstrators, journalists, students, and others, abusing and torturing those detained, and sentencing hundreds of people to death in mass Soviet-style trials. Along the way the administration resumed shipment of military equipment and provision of military aid.
Far better than such unprincipled “cooperation” would be nonengagement. Washington should stop making demands which will be ignored, issuing pronouncements which will be dismissed, and handing over cash which will be misused. Where there is no good option the US should choose none of the above.
The president closed with a call for global leadership and an ability to “see the world as it should be — a place where the aspirations of individual human beings matter.” Indeed. But real leadership requires discretion, humility, prudence, judgment, wisdom, and much more in pursuing that dream.
The ultimate folly is the belief that people are infinitely malleable, that Americans have been anointed to shape and mold humanity against its will, and that there is nothing which cannot be achieved through a few bombing runs, an occasional invasion, and a thorough military occupation.
Real leadership means being prepared not to get involved. Real leadership means not being flattered into war by other states proclaiming America’s indispensability in solving their problems. Real leadership means allowing, indeed, expecting, others to take control of their own destinies.
Foreign policy is a difficult business. In practice the administration has been foolish and feckless, often blundering along even when it has made the right decision, such as not to attack Syria.
But the biggest danger that we face is from those who would more efficiently take America in the wrong direction. Give President Obama credit: he has exhibited caution where the neoconservatives demanded conflict. He would have done even better had he forthrightly embraced a policy of more consistent nonintervention.
At West Point, President Obama rightly criticized the uber-hawks. But more restraint is needed in US foreign policy.
Obama Defends Controversial Policy of Not Invading Countries for No Reason
>Andy Borowitz / The Borowitz Report, The New Yorker
WEST POINT (May 28, 2014) — President Obama raised eyebrows with his West Point commencement address Wednesday by offering a defense of his controversial foreign-policy doctrine of not invading countries for no reason.
Conservative critics were taken aback by Obamaâ€™s speech, which was riddled with incendiary remarks about only using military force for a clearly identified and rational purpose.
Obama did not shy away from employing polarizing rhetoric, often using words such as â€œresponsibleâ€ and â€œsensibleâ€ to underscore his message.
Harland Dorrinson, a fellow at the conservative think tank the Center for Global Intervention, said that he was “stunned” to see Obama “defend his failure to engage the United States in impulsive and random military adventures.”
“History tells us that the best way to earn respect around the world is by using your military in a totally unpredictable and reckless manner,: he said. “Today, President Obama showed once again that he doesnâ€™t get it.”
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May 31st, 2014 - by admin
Tony Capaccio / Bloomberg – 2014-05-31 01:15:37
(May 28, 2014) — The Israeli government has agreed to spend more than half the funds the Pentagon provides for its Iron Dome system in the US, bolstering the political appeal of the missile-defense system in America.
Funds going to US contractors for components of the Israeli-built, Pentagon-funded system will jump to 30 percent this year and 55 percent next year from 3 percent previously, according to a US Missile Defense Agency report to Congress obtained by Bloomberg News. That amounts to at least $97 million of $176 million requested by the Defense Department for the coming fiscal year.
Iron Dome is designed to intercept and destroy rockets capable of flying as far as 70 kilometers (44 miles). It gained international attention in 2012, when Israeli and US officials said the system intercepted about 400 rockets fired at Israel, or about 85 percent of those targeted as heading toward populated areas during eight days of fighting between Israel and the militant Islamic Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
While that performance bolstered Iron Dome’s popularity in the US as a way to aid the nation’s closest ally in the Mideast, lawmakers have been pushing for more of the Defense Department’s funds for the program to be spent on American contractors in a time of declining defense spending.
“Under this agreement, the United States focus shifts toward maximizing economic activity in the United States while ensuring that Israel’s security needs are met,” the missile defense agency said in the April 2 report. “This new agreement strikes a better balance for both parties and should serve as a model for the future.”
Raytheon Co. (RTN), based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is under contract with Iron Dome’s Israeli maker, Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., to find suitable US suppliers, the Missile Defense Agency said in the report. Raytheon is the fourth-largest federal contractor and the world’s biggest missile maker.
The agreement “provides for significant United States co-production of Iron Dome components and interceptors in the United States,” according to the report.
Israel has fielded the first five batteries of launchers and interceptors costing as much as $90,000 apiece, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
Congress has approved $703 million since 2011 for Israel to spend on Iron Dome.
“Given the significant US taxpayer investment in this system, the committee believes that co-production of parts and components should be done in a manner that will maximize US industry participation,” the House Armed Services Committee said in its report on the defense authorization measure for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The committee added $175 million to the administration’s request after Israel sought more money, according to the Missile Defense Agency report.
The committee placed strings on spending the extra $175 million, including the submission of “signed and ratified contracts, subcontracts and teaming arrangements” with US companies. The full House passed the defense policy bill May 22.
The Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved the full amount, including the extra $175 million.
“We anticipate the first contracts will be awarded later this year,” and that “a significant portion of US funding for Iron Dome will be allocated to US contracts,” Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner said in an e-mailed statement.
Rafael spokesman Amit Zimmer didn’t respond to an e-mail requesting comment. Raytheon spokesman Michael Doble had no comment.
The agreement with Israel includes a provision allowing production of any part to revert to Rafael if its US price exceeds what it would cost to make in Israel by five percent or more, according to the documents.
“Raytheon believes there are very few components for which it couldn’t meet this percent cost target,” the Missile Defense Agency report said.
The first contracts to be awarded by July will call for production of parts for Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptor, including the incoming rocket seeker and fuse.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
May 31st, 2014 - by admin
Eric Schmitt / The New York Times – 2014-05-31 01:09:13
WASHINGTON (May 26, 2014) — United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies.
The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.
The goal over the next few years is to build homegrown African counterterrorism teams capable of combating fighters like those in Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls last month. American military specialists are helping Nigerian officers in their efforts to rescue the girls.
“Training indigenous forces to go after threats in their own country is what we need to be doing,” said Michael A. Sheehan, who advocated the counterterrorism program last year when he was the senior Pentagon official in charge of Special Operations policy. Mr. Sheehan now holds the distinguished chair at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
As the United States military seeks to extend its counterterrorism reach in Africa, President Obama is expected to appear at West Point on Wednesday to emphasize a foreign policy that would avoid large land wars, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and instead stress the training of allied and partner nations to battle militants on their own soil.
Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has slowly built a multipronged counterterrorism strategy in Africa: It has carried out armed drone strikes in Somalia from its only permanent base on the continent, in Djibouti; backed African proxies and French commandos fighting Islamist extremists in Somalia and Mali; and increasingly trained African troops to combat insurgents.
Under the new Africa plan, the Pentagon is spending nearly $70 million on training, intelligence-gathering equipment and other support to build a counterterrorism battalion in Niger and a similar unit in nearby Mauritania that are in their “formative stages,” a senior Defense Department official said.
In a cautionary note about operating in that part of Africa, troubled by a chronic shortage of resources and weak regional partners, the effort in Mali has yet to get off the ground as a new civilian government recovers from a military coup last year. In Libya, the most ambitious initial training ended ignominiously last August after a group of armed militia fighters overpowered a small Libyan guard force at a training base outside Tripoli and stole hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, vehicles and other equipment.
As a result, the training was halted and the American instructors were sent home. Libyan and American officials have been searching for a more secure training site in Libya to restart the program. But last summer’s debacle and the political upheaval in Libya since then have caused American officials to rethink how they select local personnel.
“You have to make sure of who you’re training,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, the commander of United States Army soldiers operating in Africa. “It can’t be the standard, ‘Has this guy been a terrorist or some sort of criminal?’ but also, ‘What are his allegiances? Is he true to the country, or is he still bound to his militia?’ ”
The American military uses conventional troops and elite Special Operations forces to train foreign armies all over the world. The tasks range from teaching basic marksmanship to more advanced counterterrorism tactics and techniques.
In the past decade, the Bush and Obama administrations put a premium on training and equipping foreign troops to combat terrorists and other Islamist extremists and persuaded Congress to approve funding for those programs.
The new program to train small counterterrorism forces in Africa resembles larger efforts by American Special Operations troops carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pentagon officials declined to comment publicly on the new program, but budget documents reveal some details.
In Libya, the Pentagon has allotted just over $16 million from a train-and-equip fund to develop two companies of elite troops and their support elements “to counter terrorist and extremist threats in Libya,” according to budget documents. For the aborted training outside Tripoli, the Defense Department also tapped into a classified spending account called Section 1208, devised to aid foreign troops assisting American forces conducting counterterrorism missions.
For Mauritania, about $29 million has been set aside for logistics and surveillance equipment in support of the specialized unit.
For Niger, where the United States launches unarmed surveillance drones to fly over Mali in support of French and United Nations troops, the Pentagon is spending nearly $15 million on the country’s new counterterrorism unit. The funds are part of $39.5 million this year to train and equip the West Africa nation’s army as it struggles to stem a flow of insurgents across Niger’s lightly guarded borders with Mali, Nigeria and Libya.
Maman S. Sidikou, Niger’s ambassador to the United States, said he could not comment on the counterterrorism unit, but he added in an email, “Training remains a critical part of our needs to further increase our men’s readiness to face the many challenges of our regional environment.”
Mr. Sheehan, the former Pentagon official, said a 12-member Army Special Forces team could train about 50 soldiers initially, and expand after that. “It can be done,” said Mr. Sheehan, who conducted similar training in Latin America in the 1980s as a Special Forces commander.
J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, a policy research group in Washington, said the United States must make tough political judgments before investing in ambitious counterterrorism training programs. Mr. Pham cited the lessons of Mali, where American-trained commanders of elite army units defected to Islamic insurgents that seized the north last year.
“The host country has to have the political will to fight terrorism, not just the desire to build up an elite force that could be used for regime protection,” Mr. Pham said. “And the military has to be viewed well or at least neutrally by a country’s population.”
American counterterrorism officials also warn that without a commitment to support the specialized units, training can stall. “It’s very difficult, very challenging dealing with African forces,” said Rudy Atallah, the former director of African counterterrorism policy for the Pentagon. “You train them to a certain level, and then they can run short on gear, communications, even tires for their vehicles.”
American officials say trainees must be carefully screened and monitored for possible human rights violations or shifting allegiances. “Any unit we train could be used to go after political opponents rather than Al Qaeda,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has visited Libya frequently.
No episode is a more sobering reminder of these risks than the collapse of the American counterterrorism training mission last August at Base 27, also called Camp Younis, a Libyan military installation about 15 miles from Tripoli, the capital.
The American trainers issued the Libyans M4 automatic rifles, night-vision goggles, Glock pistols and armored vehicles. The Libyans took custody of the weapons and equipment and were responsible for safeguarding them in a warehouse at the camp, American military officials said.
In a predawn raid on Aug. 4, gunmen believed to be from one of the local militias overpowered the Libyan guards and seized the weapons and equipment in the storage area, American officials said.
The American trainers were not at the training camp when the raid occurred because they regularly stayed at a nearby villa that served as a safe house at night, American officials said.
American military officials briefed on the raid suspect that the theft was an inside job in which a Libyan officer or soldier tipped off some local Tripoli militia members about the matÃ©riel stored at the base. Much of the stolen equipment was later recovered, but not before news reports indicated that some of the pilfered weapons had showed up online for sale on the black market.
The episode abruptly ended a weekslong training course that American and Libyan officials had hoped would restart broader training efforts that were suspended after the attack on the American Mission in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
A former American Special Operations officer said there was a broader lesson for any future Libya training mission: “The take-away here is they’re going to take a lot more adult supervision to make sure the checks and balances are in place, so you don’t have outside militia taking over.”
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May 31st, 2014 - by admin
ZoÃ« Carpenter / The Nation – 2014-05-31 01:08:20
(May 29 2014) — Despite talk of a pivot to Asia, the US military’s gaze has settled on Africa. That isn’t news for anyone who has followed the expansion of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) on the continent. But it’s a decisive shift that until now US officials have been loath to acknowledge.
The veil lifted slightly on Wednesday when President Obama asked Congress for $5 billion to train and equip foreign governments for counterterrorism activities. Most of the countries he cited are in northern Africa, including Somalia, Libya and Mali. US Special Operations are reportedly already training new counterterrorism units in Libya and Mali, as well as Niger and Mauritania.
“Today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized Al Qaeda leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized Al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in the countries where they operate,” Obama said. “We need a strategy that matches this diffuse threat; one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military thin, or stir up local resentments.”
The Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund, as the administration dubbed the program, would apparently add more money and a new name to an existing slate of security cooperation programs.
Over the last few years the United States has spent millions training proxy forces to combat local insurgents in Africa; one example is a $500 million operation called the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative that provides training and equipment to ten African partners.
According to the journalist Nick Turse, who has covered AFRICOM extensively for TomDispatch, the number of operations, programs and missions conducted by the US military in Africa has increased by more than 200 percent since the command was established in 2008. In 2012 alone the United States planned fourteen major training operations across the continent, including in Mali, Morocco, Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, Senegal and Nigeria.
“AFRICOM talks about this like it’s small-scale and low-key to the public, but when you listen to what they’re saying in private it’s really startling,” Turse told me. He’s heard officers refer to Africa as “the battlefield of tomorrow, today.”
One AFRICOM official acknowledged to a room full of private contractors that the command had “shifted from our original intent of being a more congenial combatant command to an actual war-fighting combatant command.”
Counterterrorism cooperation sounds innocuous enough, particularly when presented rhetorically as an alternative to ground wars. However light-footed, the strategy Obama made explicit on Wednesday nevertheless endorses expanded US military activity on the continent.
Unfortunately, the president was not so much signaling the end of the era of military adventurism as directing it towards a new arena in fresh packaging. And as with more conventional military endeavors, deeper involvement in Africa carries risks of blowback, particularly by drawing large militant networks into local conflicts.
Recent experiences in Libya and Mali — two countries that Obama cited on Wednesday as presenting opportunities for expanded military cooperation — are instructive. In Libya, the US-backed operation to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi empowered a handful of militant groups and helped turn the country into a training ground for radical guerrillas.
Meanwhile, arms from Qaddafi’s arsenal made their way to Mali, where they enabled a coup led by a captain named Amadou Haya Sanogo, who had received extensive military training in the United States. In turn, weapons and militants from Mali now appear to be boosting the insurgency in Nigeria.
Obama’s speech has been widely interpreted as hailing a “new, postwar foreign policy,” marking the start of a new era focused on “facilitat[ing] partner countries on the front lines.” But deriding the “costly mistakes” of large-scale military intervention is not a new position for Obama. It’s what got him elected.
Obama wasn’t announcing a novel position at West Point; he was defending his policies, including drone strikes and deepening engagement in Africa. In doing so Obama spoke as if overt intervention and behind-the-scenes meddling were not two sides to the same coin.
Fundamentally, both are military solutions. America’s fights in Iraq and Afghanistan may be (not quite) over, but it’s shortsighted to call policy “postwar” if it’s dedicated to perpetuating the “War on Terror.”
The good news is that by asking Congress to fund the Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund, Obama has created an opportunity for lawmakers and the public to ask tough questions about the objectives and risks of expanding the military’s footprint in Africa, and with dubious partners. Let’s hope they take it.
Copyright 2012 The Nation
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May 31st, 2014 - by admin
Lynn Stuart Parramore / AlterNet – 2014-05-31 00:38:53
Thousands of Workers Exploited as
Greedy Universities Grab Petrodollars to
Globalize and Corporatize
Lynn Stuart Parramore / AlterNet
(May 28, 2014) — When New York University President John Sexton decided to risk the university’s considerable reputation for petrodollars, lots of people got worried. They were right to worry. From the get-go, Sexton’s sick vision of cloning the entire NYU campus in Abu Dhabi has been rife with contradictions and problems that violate much of what a university is supposed to stand for — namely, academic freedom and the promotion of civilized values. The latest is an explosive report  in the New York Times detailing how people working construction on the site were horribly abused, then beaten to a pulp and arrested when they complained.
Welcome to globalized academia.
So how did a prestigious university like NYU get into the ugly business of selling its soul for foreign cash in the first place? The answer, of course, lies in how America currently does business.
The Invisible Hand Grabs the Ivory Tower
Under Sexton’s tenure, NYU has come to look more like a mulinational corporation than an institution of learning. Its board of trustees is stuffed with such capitalist posterboys as GOP megadoner Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot and one of the most virulently anti-worker corporateers in America, along a slew of Wall Street tycoons.
When the shit hit the fan with the worker abuse story, the NYU board quickly went into PR damage control mode and tried to push blame onto a contractor. But the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin quickly exposed that strategy for exactly what it is: baloney.
Following the money trail, Sorkin revealed that the contractor in question is run by none other than NYU trustee Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, who happens to be the chief executive of the Mubadala Development Company and the guy who helped get NYU $50 million from Abu Dhabi’s government as a starter “gift” for the campus cloning project.
In a country where labor conditions are little better than slavery and objection will earn you a knuckle sandwich, Sexton should have seen this coming. And he did: In 2009, NYU issued a perfectly reasonable “statement of labor values ” to guarantee that workers would be treated fairly on the NYUAD project. Which, in the absence of an independent monitor, was worth about as much as the paper it was written on.
It didn’t have to be that way. NYU professor Andrew Ross, who serves as president of the NYU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), explained to AlterNet that American universities need to either ensure basic standards of decency and fairness or stop trying to cash in by replicating their “product” in authoritarian countries:
“The labor code violations at NYUAD could have been prevented if the administration had heeded faculty and student advice to hire a truly independent monitor. Other universities can learn from this. They should protect the rights of non-instructional employees as strongly as they insist on the academic freedoms of faculty and students. If neither can be guaranteed, they should not operate in the country in question.”
But what if universities aren’t really universities anymore?
In the weird world of neoclassical economic theory, competition driven by “market forces” is supposed to be the best and fairest distributor of goods and services. Doesn’t matter what it is — Mr. Market will deliver. Only that’s not what really happens with many things humans need, like health care, for example. Which is why the American system of health care delivery is a domestic nightmare and an international scandal. It doesn’t work too well with education, either.
But the market nonsense has prevailed so long in American business schools and corporate boardrooms that it has permeated universities, where overpaid presidents act like Walmart CEOs and boards stuffed with business moguls push higher education toward corporate dystopia. No longer are universities to be places for rumination, research, and exposure to a wide range of ideas. They are “enterprises” that focus on the three Bs: branding, business model, and the bottom line.
One of the bright ideas drawn from the corporate playbook is that of taking your “brand” and creating a knock-off version which you can then sell abroad. Instead of the high quality washing machine sold at home, you ship over a crappier version overseas. The foreigners get inferior washing machines and you get the dough — nice deal.
Academic freedom? Human rights? Piffle, say the corporateers. Such niceties aren’t required at a Chinese factory, so why should they be necessary in a “global university hub”?
The Frenzy for Petrodollars
Over the last decade or so, really since 9/11, top American universities have seen opportunities to go where no such Western institution has gone before.
First there was “Education City ” in Qatar, where marquee names like Georgetown, Cornell, and Northwestern set up sumptuous facilities in the midst of an Islamic monarchy with the second highest GDP per capita in the world. Rising out of the blistering, dust-choked and weirdly torpid cityscape of Doha (built on the backs of abused migrant workers), Education City offers the dissonant spectacle of American professors droning out their lectures via satelite to wealthy, Ray-Banned students from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, along with graduation ceremonies where the occasional mortar board-burqua combination offers a new take on scholarly fashion.
(Back in 2008, I was invited to attend the first convocation of Education City and to learn about the progressive programs of emir. My trip was supposed to include a tour of Al Jazeera facilities, but that part was cancelled, reportedly because the emir was offended by a story put out by the broadcaster. So much for a cultural free zone!)
John Sexton, from his lofty perch above Manhattan’s Washington Square, beheld Education City, and saw that the money was good. Very, very good. His heart’s desire was to thrust NYU into the ranks of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, but without similar endowments, he needed a bold plan. So he would go one step further than Education City.
In Abu Dhabi, he would agree to duplicate of the entire NYU campus, making the university the first US research institution to open a complete liberal arts university off American soil. The city-state of Abu Dhabi forked over the princely $50 million gift/down-payment and promised to finance the entire Middle East campus and a nice chunk of NYU New York as well. Presto! An unholy alliance was born.
The educational gold rush was on. Soon, other prestigious American universities jumped into the game, competing to set up outposts in countries with limited higher education opportunities. The markets were endless. Yale, for example, decided  that an authoritarian, corporate city-state was the perfect soil on which to establish the new Yale-National University of Singapore.
Early in fall 2012, members of the AAUP wrote a public letter  to Yale University arguing against its partnership with the National University of Singapore in light of egregious violations of academic freedom and broader civil rights in the country. Not that anybody was listening: Yale-NUS has just finished its full operating year .
Cultural Free Zone? Or Corporate Dead Zone?
Proponents of projects like NYUAD argue that cultural cross-pollination will offer a mutually beneficial sharing of ideas, and like to suggest that Western values will come to influence the host countries. But which Western values, exactly?
I received my doctorate from NYU, where I had a fellowship and taught writing classes to first-year students. I well remember the flinty, threadbare conditions in the English department, where I taught, as compared to the sleek, up-to-date facilities in the business school, one of the university’s “profit centers.”
The conditions under which I and my fellow grad student instructors toiled — insane hours, resources so scant we would have to pay out of our pockets for photocopies, zero workplace protections, etc. etc. — were so bad that the students fought back and became, in 2000, the only graduate-student union at a private university in the US Of course, the university fought back tooth and claw and eventually scuttled the union. NYU grad students tried unsuccessfully to get it back ever since until a breakthrough in December 2013 .
Who would believe that NYU would strain itself to protect the interests of workers on its foreign campuses when it is so contemptuous of those at home?
American students from NYU who have had enjoyed a stint at the Abu Dhabi campus find it less a cultural exchange than an opportunity to be stuck in a high rises resembling a soulless Florida beach resort, only without booze for entertainment. In a New York Magazine story, NYU junior Jessica DeOliveira described her experience , and it did not resemble her visions of mind-expanding cultural communion.
Instead of learning Arabic and diving into the local culture, she and her fellow students languished in sterile upscale dorms, where they were offered ping pong parlors and perks like deep-sea diving to make up for the utter lack of cultural opportunities.
The current corporate vision of the American university, based on student indebtedness, revenue generation and relentless expansion, is sucking the soul right out of education at home, and globalizing this system may only serve to blend many of the worst practices of US corporate culture with authoritarian abuses abroad.
In an address  on the NYUAD scandal, Harvard professor Harry Lewis warns that the globalization and corporatization of American universities will inevitably ruin the public trust on which these institutions rely:
“Universities are not a system; the top places compete with each other as much as Ford and GM do. But they are in one important way not like Ford and GM. They are public charities, devoted before all else to the pursuit of the truth, exempt from taxation and largely unregulated from control of their teaching and research because of American confidence that the free exchange of ideas develops a citizenry capable of enlightened self-governance.”
“To do their job, universities rely on the public’s trust . The expectation that they will be left alone to pursue the truth, and to promote the impartial search for the truth, and to inspire their students to be incorruptible in the face of temptations to twist the truth for private benefit, places an enormous moral burden on universities, much greater than that on any other kind of corporation.
To the extent they are seen as just as venal and corruptible as the political and corporate institutions of society, they will be treated with the same cynicism and contempt as are currently reserved for the likes of the US Congress and Exxon. So it goes, it would seem, at NYU.”
John Sexton has done a bang up job of instilling cynicism towards the American university. We should probably add an “inc.” to that.
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May 30th, 2014 - by admin
Tim Shorrock / Salon.com – 2014-05-30 01:04:11
Exclusive: New Document Details America’s War Machine — and Secret Mass of Contractors in Afghanistan
Tim Shorrock / Salon.com
(May 28, 2014) — On Tuesday, following his surprise Memorial Day visit to Bagram Air Force Base outside Kabul, President Obama announced that the United States plans to keep at least 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan until 2016, further delaying the end of what he calls “America’s longest war.”
But in his remarks at the White House, the president didn’t say that the nearly 10,000 US troops he’s asking to remain in an “advisory role” will be augmented by a huge army of private contractors. As they have in Iraq, contractors will vastly outnumber the US uniformed forces training Afghan troops as well as the special operations forces providing counterterrorism operations against what the president called “the remnants of al-Qaida.”
The role of contractors in the Afghanistan war is spelled out in a document obtained by Salon from SAIC, one of the nation’s largest military and intelligence contractors. The document, an unclassified PowerPoint presentation, shows exactly how contractors have been used in that war since 2009, when Obama endorsed a surge of 33,000 troops and a counterinsurgency strategy in the war against the Taliban. Those policies increased the US presence in Afghanistan to more than 100,000 troops.
One of the PowerPoint slides defines the four “mission areas” of the company’s five-year, $400 million contract with the US Army Research Laboratory, which provides contracted services to other combat commands, special forces and other parts of the US military. They are “Expeditionary Warfare; Irregular Warfare; Special Operations; Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations.”
There, in black and white, is proof positive of how deeply contractors have penetrated the US war machine.
“We’ve already taken public functions and privatized them,” said Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired US Army colonel who was the chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell during the Bush administration, in a recent interview with Salon. “But this is an example of privatizing the ultimate public function, war.”
The PowerPoint was created by SAIC to help its subcontractors understand the Army’s needs in the contract, which was signed in 2010. The ARL, which is based in Adelphi, Maryland, just outside of Washington, provides the “underpinning science, technology, and analysis that enable full-spectrum operations” by the US military, its website says.
According to SAIC, the ARL is the “execution agency in support of” all US combatant commands, the United States Special Operations Command as well as the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, which funds much of the US military’s high-tech wizardry.
“It is an SAIC contract vehicle to support COCOMs, DARPA and SOF, yet it can and has gone beyond this market as approved by ARL,” one slide states. It adds: “SAIC staff is very well matched with ARL counterparts.”
An ARL spokesperson confirmed that the PowerPoint presentation was authentic. A spokesperson for SAIC, which recently changed the name of its national security division to Leidos, would not comment, and directed my questions to the Army.
In addition to SAIC, the “ARL III” contract has 11 primes and more than 180 subcontractors, according to a project manager for the project. The primes include such well-known providers of weapons and intelligence as Raytheon, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and ManTech.
Another major prime is General Atomics, which manufacturers the drones used extensively in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper (it tags its ads with the slogan “dwell, detect, destroy”).
The SAIC document was obtained from a source working for one of the subcontractors on the ARL project who asked that his identity, and the name of his employer, be kept secret. He also provided a copy of his company’s teaming agreement with SAIC for its work in Afghanistan with DARPA under the ARL contract.
It states that “the Army Research Laboratory is planning to issue a solicitation for classified work in support for DARPA requirements …. The parties wish to establish a team arrangement in the form of a prime contractor/subcontractor relationship pursuant to which SAIC will act as the prime.”
Under the contract, the primes and their subcontractors provide typical technologies used by US forces, including electronic and electro-optic equipment, systems integration software, energy generation and storage, as well as body armor and cold weather gear.
But it also calls for contractors to provide software for “data analysis and intelligence tools,” as well as “individual and platform lethality.” The latter should be designed for “enhanced lethality, including accuracy, destructive capabilities, and speed of engagement for US Army and USSOCOM individuals and platforms (air, land, sea).”
The contract ends in 2015, and “is being prepared now for recomplete,” the SAIC document says.
Using contractors to supply or enhance weapons is not unusual. But expeditionary warfare, stabilization and reconstruction operations, and intelligence services are tasks that most Americans believe are the sole job of the government or the military.
Thomas A. Moyer, ARL’s public affairs director, told me that those areas don’t fit the legal definition of “inherently governmental,” the term for functions reserved only for men and women in uniform or government employees.
“These type [of] activities do not require either the exercise of discretion in applying government authority, or the making of value judgements in making decisions for the government,” he said in an email.
I passed this exchange by a former high-ranking general who served in Afghanistan and later worked as a US diplomat. “That makes my eyes water,” he said. The companies involved in the ARL contract, he explained, represent “an entirely new set of actors” who have come to prominence during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under the new plan for Afghanistan, which the president is outlining in a speech Wednesday at West Point, US forces will no longer be involved in direct combat after 2015 with the exception of counterterrorism operations directed against the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaida.
Those operations would undoubtedly be led by the US Special Forces Command, which is expected to retain a large presence in Afghanistan long after the last regular troops have left.
And, clearly, thousands of contractors.
Tim Shorrock is the author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. You can follow his frequent postings on Twitter at @TimothyS
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
May 30th, 2014 - by admin
Tom McCarthy / The Guardian & Dan Roberts / The Guardian – 2014-05-30 00:52:00
Edward Snowden: ‘If I Could Go Anywhere
That Place Would Be Home’
Tom McCarthy / The Guardian
NEW YORK (May 29, 2014) — One year after revealing himself as the source of the biggest intelligence leak in US history, Edward Snowden appeared in a long network television interview on Wednesday to describe himself as an American patriot and to make the case that his disclosures were motivated by a desire to help the country.
In his most extensive public comments to date Snowden sought to answer critics who have said his actions damaged US national security or that the threat from the secret government surveillance he revealed was overblown. Snowden was interviewed by the NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who travelled to Moscow for the meeting.
Snowden defended his decision to leak documents to the press, instead of restricting his complaints to internal channels, and explained why he had decided for the moment not to travel back to the United States to face criminal charges.
“If I could go anywhere in the world that place would be home,” Snowden told Williams. “I’ve from day one said that I’m doing this to serve my country . . . I don’t think there’s ever been any question that I’d like to go home.”
Snowden said he had not second-guessed his decision, however, to release an estimated 1.7 million top secret government documents. “My priority is not about myself,” Snowden said. “It’s about making sure that these programs are reformed — and that the family that I left behind, the country that I left behind — can be helped by my actions.”
The interview, which took place at Kempinski Hotel in Moscow last week, followed months of negotiations between the news network and representatives of Snowden. The conversation, which was held in a library and lasted more than four hours, was billed as Snowden’s first interview with a US television network.
Snowden has regularly participated in interviews over the last year, although never on such a large stage, or on one as likely to bring his words — and his argument — into American living rooms. NBC Nightly News, which ran clips from the interview, drew about 8.4 million total viewers per night in May.
On Wednesday Snowden, 30, described for the first time his experience of the 9/11 terror attacks and talked about his views on the threat of terrorism.
“I’ve never told anybody this,” he said. “No journalist. But I was on Fort Meade [Maryland] on September 11th. I was right outside the NSA. So I remember — I remember the tension of that day. I remember hearing on the radio the planes hitting. And I remember thinking my grandfather, who worked for the FBI at the time, was in the Pentagon when the plane hit it.
“I take the threat of terrorism seriously. And I think we all do. And I think it’s really disingenuous for the government to invoke and sort of scandalize our memories, to sort of exploit the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our constitution says we should not give up.”
Snowden said he did not consider himself blameless. “I think the most important idea is to remember that there have been times throughout history where what is right is not the same as what is legal,” he said. “Sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break a law.”
In a Pew Research poll of Americans earlier this year 57% of 18 to 29-year-olds said Snowden’s leaks had served the public interest but respondents 65 and over disagreed. A majority of respondents in older age groups supported prosecuting Snowden, while the 18-29 group split 42-42% on the question.
As much as he wanted to return home, Snowden said, he did not plan “to walk into a jail cell”. He repeated a view explained elsewhere by his legal counsel that the charges he faces under the 1917 Espionage Act would not allow him to mount a defense that he had acted in the public interest.
“These are things that no individual should empower himself to really decide, you know, â€˜I’m gonna give myself a parade,'” Snowden said in reply to a question about how he judged his actions. “But neither am I going to walk into a jail cell, to serve as a bad example for other people in government who see something happening, some violation of the constitution, and think they need to say something about it.”
In the year he has lived in Russia as a fugitive from US law, Snowden said, he had not met President Vladimir Putin. “I have no relationship with the Russian government at all,” he said.
NBC News said it had confirmed “with multiple sources” that before he took the story to the press Snowden had raised a concern about possibly illegal surveillance on at least one occasion with intelligence agency superiors. Snowden said he had advanced his concerns on multiple occasions, even sending emails to the office of the NSA general counsel, and that the NSA would have a paper trail. The NSA has denied Snowden took such steps.
Snowden said he remained comfortable with the decision he made.
“I may have lost the ability to travel but I’ve gained the ability to fall asleep at night and know I’ve done the right thing and I’m comfortable with that.”
NSA Releases Email in Dispute over
Snowden’s ‘Internal Whistleblowing’
Dan Roberts / The Guardian
WASHINGTON (May 29, 2014) — The National Security Agency has disputed Edward Snowden’s insistence that he made efforts to raise his concerns about its surveillance practices internally before he decided to go public.
Releasing an email exchange it claimed to be the only record it could find of such an effort by Snowden, the agency said on Thursday he was merely “asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed”.
Six months ago, the agency issued a statement saying it had “not found any evidence to support Mr Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention”.
The email exchange with the NSA’s Office of General Counsel, dated April 2013, emerged after Snowden repeated his claim to have attempted an internal whistleblowing during an interview with NBC that aired on Wednesday night.
Snowden told interviewer Brian Williams: “I actually did go through channels, and that is documented. The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.
“The response, more or less, in bureaucratic language, was: â€˜You should stop asking questions.'”
Snowden’s description appears to match parts, if not all, of the newly emerged email, which was made public on Thursday via the Senate intelligence chair, Dianne Feinstein.
“Hello, I have a question regarding the mandatory USSID 18 training,” writes Snowden to a redacted address that appears to be in the Office of General Counsel.
He goes on to cite a list provided in the training that ranks presidential executive orders alongside federal statutes in the hierarchy of orders governing NSA behaviour.
“I’m not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law,” adds Snowden.
“My understanding is that EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EO’s may not override statute. Am I incorrect in this?”
In a reply which was cc’d to a number of redacted email addresses, Snowden is told by an unnamed individual that he is “correct that EO’s cannot override a statute” but that they have the “force and effect of law”.
The issue is an important one in the context of whether NSA surveillance activities were permissible, as it addresses possible conflict between laws passed by Congress and orders given by the White House.
Senate intelligence committee members Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have long argued the administration may have been in breach of surveillance statutes in its activities. They were prevented from raising many of their concerns in public due to confidentiality requirements.
The NSA, however, disputes that this latest email exchange is proof of Snowden raising concerns about “interpretations of its legal authorities”.
“The email did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed,” said the agency in a statement released on Thursday.
It added: “There are numerous avenues that Mr Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations.
“We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims.”
The denial was repeated by the White House, which went further than it normally does when asked by an NBC reporter about the possibility of Snowden’s return to the US and stated: “Clemency is not on the table.”
“There are avenues available to somebody like Mr Snowden to raise those kind of concerns,” added Obama spokesman Jay Carney.
Senator Feinstein said the email had been provided to her committee on 10 April, in response to a request, and added: “It does not register concerns about NSA’s intelligence activities, as was suggested by Snowden in an NBC interview this week.”
Ben Wizner, Snowden’s legal adviser, said of the email: “This whole issue is a red herring. The problem was not some unknown and isolated instance of misconduct. The problem was that an entire system of mass surveillance had been deployed — and deemed legal — without the knowledge or consent of the public. Snowden raised many complaints over many channels. The NSA is releasing a single part of a single exchange after previously claiming that no evidence existed.”
During the interview, Snowden also repeated his calls for full disclosure of the communication trail.
“I would say one of my final official acts in government was continuing one of these communications with a legal office,” he told NBC.
“And in fact, I’m so sure that these communications exist that I’ve called on Congress to write a letter to the NSA to verify that they do.”
Six months ago, responding to questions on the subject from Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, the NSA issued a statement claiming there was no evidence of a paper trail at all.
“After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention,” said the agency.
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May 30th, 2014 - by admin
Jason Ditz AntiWar.com & Bill Gertz / The Washington Post – 2014-05-30 00:36:43
Obama Seeks to More Heavily Censor Drone Killing Memo
Obama Seeks to More Heavily Censor Drone Killing Memo
Jason Ditz AntiWar.com
(May 29, 2014) — During last week’s confirmation votes on David Barron, the Justice Department was promising to comply with a court order to release a partially redacted version of the Barron Memo, which offers the administration’s legal justification for killing Americans overseas with drone strikes.
Now that the Senate has confirmed Barron, the administration has changed its mind, and is pushing the court to give them permission to even more heavily censor the document.
The initial court order had allowed the censorship of certain “facts based on classified intelligence,” but insisted the legal justification had to remain intact. The Justice Department now says there are other passages that should be censored based on “other legal protections” the court forgot about.
In addition to the motion seeking to keep more of the memo secret, the Justice Department also filed a motion asking to be allowed to keep the first motion a secret. The court rejected this, but said it will allow the motion to also be redacted before being made public.
Inside the Ring:
Memo Outlines Obama’s Plan
To Use the Military against Citizens
Bill Gertz / The Washington Post
(May 28, 2014) — A 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama administration’s potential use of military force against Americans.
The directive contains noncontroversial provisions on support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The troubling aspect of the directive outlines presidential authority for the use of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, in operations against domestic unrest.
“This appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens,” said a defense official opposed to the directive.
Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that US commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”
“Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states.
“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.
The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”
“Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive states.
Military assistance can include loans of arms, ammunition, vessels and aircraft. The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest.
A US official said the Obama administration considered but rejected deploying military force under the directive during the recent standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters.
Mr. Bundy is engaged in a legal battle with the federal Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. Along with a group of protesters, Mr. Bundy in April confronted federal and local authorities in a standoff that ended when the authorities backed down.
The Pentagon directive authorizes the secretary of defense to approve the use of unarmed drones in domestic unrest. But it bans the use of missile-firing unmanned aircraft. “Use of armed [unmanned aircraft systems] is not authorized,” the directive says.
The directive was signed by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn. A copy can be found on the Pentagon website: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/302518p.pdf.
Defense analysts say there has been a buildup of military units within non-security-related federal agencies, notably the creation of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. The buildup has raised questions about whether the Obama administration is undermining civil liberties under the guise of counterterrorism and counternarcotics efforts.
Other agencies with SWAT teams reportedly include the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department.
The militarization of federal agencies, under little-known statues that permit deputization of security officials, comes as the White House has launched verbal attacks on private citizens’ ownership of firearms despite the fact that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens.
A White House National Security Council spokeswoman declined to comment.
President Obama stated at the National Defense University a year ago: “I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any US citizen — with a drone or with a shotgun — without due process, nor should any president deploy armed drones over US soil.”
HOUSE HITS ON A DOWNGRADE
The House defense authorization bill passed last week calls for adding $10 million to the Pentagon’s future warfare think tank and for codifying the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) as a semi-independent unit.
The provision is being called the Andrew Marshall amendment after the ONA’s longtime director and reflects congressional support for the 92-year-old manager and his staying power through numerous administrations, Republican and Democratic.
Mr. Marshall’s opponents within the Pentagon and the Obama administration persuaded Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this year to downgrade the ONA by cutting its budget and placing it under the control of the undersecretary of defense for policy. The ONA currently is a separate entity within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Members of the House Committee on Armed Services objected and added the $10 million to the administration’s $8.9 million request, along with a legal provision that would codify ONA’s current status as separate from the policy undersecretary shop.
The committee was concerned Mr. Hagel’s downgrade would “limit the ability and flexibility of ONA to conduct long-range comparative assessments,” the report on the authorization bill states.
“The office has a long history of providing alternative analyses and strategies that challenge the â€˜group think’ that can often pervade the Department of Defense,” the report says, noting an increasing demand for unconventional thinking about space warfare capabilities by China and Russia.
In addition to adding funds, the bill language requires the ONA to study alternative US defense and deterrence strategies related to the space warfare programs of both countries.
China is developing advanced missiles capable of shooting down satellites in low and high earth orbits. It also is building lasers and electronic jammers to disrupt satellites, a key US strategic military advantage. Russia is said to be working on anti-satellite missiles and other space weapons.
“The committee believes the office must remain an independent organization within the department, reporting directly to the secretary,” the report said.
Mr. Marshall, sometimes referred to as the Pentagon’s “Yoda,” after the Star Wars character, has come under fire from opponents in the administration, who say he is too independent and not aligned with the administration’s soft-line defense policies.
The ONA is known for its extensive use of contractors and lack of producing specific overall net assessments of future warfare challenges, as required by the office’s charter.
One example of the ONA’s unconventional thinking was the recent contractor report “China: The Three Warfares,” which revealed Beijing’s extensive use of political warfare against the United States, including psychological warfare, media warfare and legal warfare.
“â€˜The Three Warfares’ is a dynamic, three-dimensional, war-fighting process that constitutes war by other means,” the report says.
A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.
NO DENNIS RODMAN DEFENSE
Navy Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that the Pentagon is deploying more and higher-quality missile defenses to counter potential nuclear attacks from North Korea and Iran.
“This is about ensuring we can deny the objectives of any insecure authoritarian state that believes acquisition of deliverable weapons of mass destruction is key to the preservation of its regime,” Adm. Winnefeld said in a speech to the Atlantic Council. “The number of states trying to achieve that capability is growing, not shrinking, with our principal current concern being North Korea, because they are closest in terms of capability, followed by Iran.”
He added that missile defenses are needed “because we’re not betting on Dennis Rodman as our deterrent against a future North Korean ICBM threat.”
He was referring to the heavily tattooed and pierced former NBA star, who has traveled to North Korea as a guest of leader Kim Jong-un. Mr. Rodman calls the dictator his “friend.”
“A robust and capable missile defense is our best bet to defend the United States from such an attack and is, in my view, our No. 1 missile defense priority,” Adm. Winnefeld said.
North Korea is continuing to develop long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. It recently threatened to conduct a fourth nuclear test, and analysts say signs from the closed communist state suggest the North Koreans may test a missile warhead.
Contact Bill Gertz at @BillGertz.
Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
May 28th, 2014 - by admin
David Hoffman / Washington Post Foreign Service – 2014-05-28 23:51:24
LEONIDOVKA, Russia (August 16, 1998) — In a verdant pine forest here, sprinkled with birch trees, the lush growth suddenly disappears. Underbrush gives way to a black ulcer on the earth. In the clearing nothing grows, not even grass.
Vladimir Pankratov, a gray-haired former Soviet military man who is now an environmentalist, kicked at the ground on the edge of the dark clearing in the woods. He kicked again and again. He poked a stick into the soil — and pried up the nose cone of an aerial bomb.
This hole in the middle of a Russian forest is an uncharted chemical weapons graveyard. Buried here are vintage World War II aerial bombs, filled with a mixture of deadly lewisite, a blistering poison gas, and yperite, a sulfur mustard gas.
These abandoned bombs are a visible symbol of Russia’s chemical weapons nightmare: It has more chemical bombs than any country, and it cannot get rid of them, or even find them all.
Forty thousand tons of chemical weapons are stored in officially declared military depots. But thousands of other bombs lie in abandoned and uncharted weapons dumps, like this one. The Russian military, which created these undeclared dumps decades ago, still denies they exist.
Entombed in the forest here by Soviet soldiers in the early 1960s and then forgotten, the bombs are coming back to haunt the environment of today’s Russia. Preliminary tests by a team of experts working with Pankratov have found heavy concentrations of arsenic in the soil. Lewisite is 36 percent arsenic. The black, sandy scars on the forest floor give off a powerful metallic odor.
Moreover, the poison is spreading in an area where hundreds of thousands of people live. Water and soil tests by Pankratov’s team show that arsenic is turning up in higher concentrations than normal 2Â½ miles away in bottom sediments of tributaries to the Sursk Reservoir.
The reservoir provides drinking water to Penza, the nearby provincial capital, with a population of 530,000. Penza, 350 miles southeast of Moscow, is located in the rich black-earth farming belt of southern Russia, part of the Volga River basin, which itself was home to much of the Soviet chemical warfare industry.
Arsenic is extremely toxic. In acute poisoning, violent stomach and intestinal inflammation and bleeding lead to massive losses of fluid and bodily salts, causing collapse, shock and death. Long-term low-level exposure can lead to other ailments, including cancer.
Not on any map, protected only by one distant sign warning people to keep out, the chemical weapons graveyard is a small glimpse of what is becoming a painful torment for Russia — the legacy of chemical and nuclear weapons production during the Cold War.
Across Russia’s vast steppes and Siberian taiga, and into the seas from the Baltic to the Pacific, the Soviet Union and later Russia have dumped, buried, spilled and exploded chemical and nuclear substances that had only one purpose — to kill people. They were the ingredients or byproducts of weapons of mass destruction. They were the wastes of the Cold War. Now, they continue to damage the land and people.
Although the Soviet Union has collapsed, a full accounting of the contamination it loosed on the environment has never been made. For most of the Cold War, the Soviet Union kept the sources of this pollution — the arsenals and bomb factories — shielded by the strictest secrecy.
Little is known even now about the clandestine dumping and destruction of chemical weapons and radioactive materials. Moreover, little is being done about it, despite the health risks. In some cases, Russian authorities simply deny a threat exists and continue to stamp the files “top secret.”
“This place has been abandoned,” said Pankratov, surveying the chemical weapons graveyard, which lies less than a mile from one of the declared depots where nerve gas is stored. “No one is responsible for it. This information about old destruction sites hasn’t been opened, it’s still classified, and we are talking about it now because we have to face the obvious — we are talking about a dangerous contamination of the soil.”
The contamination may become an enormous economic burden to a country already flat on its back. Russia simply cannot afford to clean up the poisons left behind by 50 years of dumping and discharge by the military and its bombmaking industry. The pollution is a potential health time bomb, causing an increased incidence of cancer and disease for which no one wants to take responsibility, especially the beleaguered Russian military.
After an initial surge of citizen activism at the end of the Soviet period, Russians today are more focused on economic survival, sometimes desperately. “People are indifferent,” said Vladimir Verzhbovsky, a journalist in Penza, not far from the chemical weapons dump.
“Those who try and arouse public opinion are treated as clowns and not taken seriously. Life is so hard. Salaries haven’t been paid, in some cases for years. And people think, how are they going to feed the children? People are aware they are living on a powder keg. But their current interests are different.”
The Powder Keg
The small rural village of Leonidovka sits at a crossroads of two huge problems, both inherited from the Soviet era.
One is that Russia has the world’s largest supply of chemical weapons, which it promised by treaty to liquidate but now cannot afford to destroy.
The other problem is that, before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, tons of chemical weapons were discarded by the military and forgotten, and they are now an ecological threat. No one knows where they are, or how much of the deadly poisons are leaching into the air, water and soil.
Leonidovka is near one of the uncharted chemical weapons dumps, hidden in the nearby forest. The village also sits next to a walled military base that is an official depot for thousands of tons of the still-active chemical bombs.
Russia has formally declared it holds about 40,000 tons of chemical weapons. The stockpile consists of 32,200 tons of nerve gases — sarin, soman and VX, and 7700 tons of lewisite, mustard gas and their mixtures. They are stored in seven depots, including Leonidovka.
Behind the arsenal’s high walls here are 15 million pounds of VX, sarin and soman gases packed into aviation bombs.
These are known as nerve agents because they attack the nervous system after inhalation or contact with the skin. They can kill within minutes at very low doses. The agent sarin was used in the Aum Supreme Truth cult’s 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system, which killed 12 people and injured 5,500.
At Leonidovka alone, there is more than enough nerve gas, if distributed by individual doses, to wipe out every human on Earth.
Almost all of the villagers have worked in the arsenal. Maria Zavyalova, 72, recalled that in the 1950s she tended bombs there. “We were given gas masks,” she said. “It was hot in the summer. We were told not to gather mushrooms and berries in the woods, that it was all poison.”
Eventually, the bombs may be destroyed at a new facility here, but there are no plans for cleaning up the abandoned dump. Residents are uneasy. “People feel concerned, there is no denying it,” said Irina Molchanova, 33, a deputy school principal. She asked a visitor, “Do you think we are living on a powder keg?”
Russia has promised to liquidate the declared arsenal of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons. It signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and ratified it in 1996. The treaty, which took effect last year, calls for abolishing the development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons and outlaws their use.
Most experts agree that Russia’s aging stocks have outlived any military utility. Under the treaty, Russia and other nations agreed to destroy the weapons over 10 to 15 years. The United States already has begun destroying its stockpile of 32,000 tons of chemical weapons at two sites and is expected to finish by 2004 at a cost of about $13 billion.
But Russia’s government is chronically short of cash, and the military establishment is collapsing for lack of money. Gen. Stanislav Petrov, commander of Russia’s radiation, chemical and biological defense troops, said in an interview that Russia needs $5.5 billion to liquidate the chemical weapons. But in the last two years, he said, the government delivered only 2 or 3 percent of what was budgeted for the program, which is falling behind schedule.
“I cannot express a lot of enthusiasm here on how the state is financing this program,” he said.
The United States has provided as much as $194 million to help Russia launch the technology and design for a nerve agent disposal facility in southern Siberia, and Germany and the Netherlands are making contributions, but the totals are just a fraction of what Russia will need.
“There is no way Russia can fulfill the convention,” said Sergei Baranovsky, executive director of Green Cross Russia, an environmental group that has worked closely with the government. “Russia is left alone. It needs the help of the West.”
“This is a global problem, and the world has to participate in overcoming it,” said Valery Petrosyan, a chemistry professor at Moscow State University. “People cannot say that just because Russia synthesized this 50 years ago, so they must destroy it themselves. It has to be destroyed. The world must help Russia destroy it.”
The Soviet military had commissioned a plant in the city of Chapayevsk, in the Volga region, for destroying chemical weapons, but protests from citizens stymied the project before it ever went into full-scale operation. As a result, President Boris Yeltsin decided in 1992 that the chemical weapons should be destroyed in the seven cities where they are now stored.
Of the stockpile, 17.2 percent is at Leonidovka, in the Penza region; 13.6 percent at Shchuchye, in the Kurgan region; 18.8 percent at Pochep, in Bryansk; 17.4 percent at Maradykovsky, in Kirov; and 14.2 percent at Kizner, in Udmurtia.
These five locations hold nerve agents, packed inside shells and munitions. But at two other places — Gorny, in the Saratov region, and Kambarka, in Udmurtia — older chemical weapons, such as lewisite and sulfur mustard gas, are stored in giant vats, some nearly 50 years old.
While publicly declaring the size of the stockpile, Russia and the Soviet Union have never accounted for bombs that were secretly dumped and destroyed in earlier years, many of which are decaying in unmarked graveyards like the one in the woods outside Leonidovka.
Lev Fedorov, an activist who is president of the Union of Chemical Safety, a citizens’ network, has estimated that the Soviet authorities dumped half a million tons of chemical weapons in three periods between the end of World War II and the late 1980s.
Many were sunk at sea in 12 locations in the Baltic Sea, the Kara Sea and the Sea of Japan. They included Soviet-made weapons and those captured from Nazi Germany. Tens of thousands of tons also were buried in unmarked and still undisclosed graveyards around the Soviet Union, according to Fedorov.
Fedorov said the final wave of dumping and burying came in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union tried to reduce the size of its huge arsenal to something approximating the U.S. stockpile. The Chemical Weapons Convention only partially covers abandoned chemical weapons, those discarded after the mid-1970s.
At Leonidovka, the abandoned munitions dump is just a few hundred yards outside the walls of the military arsenal. Pankratov said the burial ground was used in the early 1960s to dispose of World War II Soviet aviation bombs, containing lewisite and yperite. These first-generation weapons were considered obsolete and were replaced by nerve agents, which are still in the arsenal.
“It’s no secret that chemical weapons were destroyed at all arsenals by methods that they knew at that time, and these toxic substances have spread,” said Pankratov, who once worked in the Soviet military’s chemical weapons troops and later helped with the cleanup of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. Now, he is the volunteer head of the Penza chapter of Green Cross.
Pankratov is overseeing experts who have taken soil samples at the abandoned dump as part of a Green Cross project.
“The results are dismaying,” he said. “On the place where the weapons were destroyed, there are excessive amounts of arsenic.” The tests found high concentrations of arsenic buried from six feet to 16 feet deep, he said.
The average concentration of arsenic was 30 grams per kilogram of soil, or 15,000 times greater than the permissible concentration of 2 milligrams per kilo by Russian standards, according to a report Pankratov has written for Green Cross. The original lewisite has dissipated, but studies have shown that arsenic compounds can remain in the soil for dozens of years.
Even more worrisome is the proximity of the dump to the Sursk Reservoir. Tests on the bottom sediments of tributaries to the reservoir have found the arsenic concentration is 20 milligrams per kilo, or about 10 times the permissible level, Pankratov said. So far, the findings have not been made public. No research has been done on the possible health effects.
Pankratov said no one will even admit to being responsible for the dump.
Petrov, the general in charge of chemical weapons, said that a search of military archives found “insufficient information” to locate such dumps. He also said they are “not our priority target.” He added, “I think this problem does not exist for us. The burials in the ground were nothing at all on Russian territory.”
Pressed about the site at Leonidovka, Petrov said perhaps the weapons were left by retreating German troops in World War II. But German troops never advanced as far as Leonidovka during the war. Then Petrov said perhaps the location was a bog. He said the military might send specialists to look at the site.
“We haven’t found anything in the archives about Leonidovka, nothing at all,” he said. “Our arsenal is there. We own this arsenal, and we know what is kept where.”
Secrecy and Fear
During World War II, the small town of Gorny in the Saratov region mined oil shale for the war effort. When the mines were depleted on the bleak steppe, 500 miles southeast of Moscow, a secret warehouse was opened.
The storehouse is still there — filled with the oldest of Russia’s chemical weapons. It holds 225 tons of lewisite, 690 tons of mustard gas and 210 tons of mixtures. Most of the toxic materials are contained in steel vats with walls less than half an inch thick, which hold 60 tons each.
Petrov said these vats, filled in 1953, are the most risky and should be the first to be destroyed.
For most of the last half-century, Gorny residents had no idea what was in the warehouse. But in the Gorbachev era of the late ’80s, they found out.
Gorny is an impoverished town in an economically depressed corner of Russia. The water supply is unfiltered. Lenin’s statue stands forlornly in the central square.
On the outskirts of the town, at the chemical weapons base, the first destruction facility is being built, with the help of German financing. But the German aid is only for destroying the weapons — the plight of the people in Gorny is Russia’s problem, and Russia is broke.
Tatyana Grozdova, deputy director of a regional children’s hospital in Saratov, carried out a series of screenings in 1994 and 1995 of 595 children in Gorny and neighboring villages. She found that the closer the children lived to the chemical weapons base, the greater was the incidence of illness. She said the sicknesses most often found were skin diseases and disorders of the urinary system and digestive organs.
But she acknowledged the research was incomplete. She lacked money for sophisticated tests, and the military has never provided any information about possible leaks or dumping of toxic chemicals from the base. “We have to trust our officials that all is good and wonderful,” she said, “but we do not have a clear system of protection of civilians.”
Lydia Budanova, a doctor in Gorny, said, “Of course, we think the factory might have some effect on children, but as for concrete facts, we can’t connect it. We cannot deal with it at our local level. We don’t have the right equipment; we don’t have toxicologists.”
Petrov, the military commander, dismissed reports of health problems as “inventions.”
On the main street, the sense of distrust and despair is palatable. Many people said they were afraid even to talk openly about the chemical base for fear of losing their jobs. Although demonstrations were held several years ago, now people are more worried about economic survival.
“All of us feel negative about it,” said Nadezhda Andreeva, 48, a former lawyer now working as a grocery clerk. “The information is meager, and people do not understand what is happening, what’s in store for us. People do not know the consequences.
“I understand the hopelessness of people,” she added. “They are happy to have anything. They are not thinking about our future. I think people understand with their brain — but finding work is necessary. Survival depends on it.”
Svetlana Bryadikhina, 25, said, “We are digging a grave for ourselves. All this science, it is no use what they say to us. We want to leave very badly, but we don’t have the means.”
Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
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May 28th, 2014 - by admin
Chaim Levinson / Ha’aretz & RT News – 2014-05-28 23:43:17
Israel’s Destruction of
The Bedouin Village Al-Arakib
Video by Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana.
(August 10, 2010) — The Israeli Police demolished the Arab Bedouin village of Al-Arakib for the third time in two weeks to clear space for a Jewish National Fund forest.
And for the third time, the residents of Al-Arakib rebuilt their destroyed homes alongside Jewish Israeli activists. Al-Arakib is a village in the Negev desert that was born decades before the foundation of Israel. Its residents are Israeli citizens.
Amana Settler Organization Accused of
Widespread Forgery of Ownership Documents
Chaim Levinson / Haaretz
OCCUPIED PALESTINE (May 26, 2014) — A police investigation has revealed that Al-Watan, a subsidiary of settlement organization Amana run by Ze’ev (Zambish) Hever, filed forged documents attesting to a legal purchase of Palestinian land, the site of the Amona outpost.
The Amona outpost was built completely on private Palestinian land, and is currently home to some 40 families. In 2008, the landowners, along with the Yesh Din organization and attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia, filed a petition requesting to demolish the entire outpost. The government responded to the petition, stating that the outpost would be demolished before the end of 2012, and later postponed demolition to June 2013.
Al-Watan is a registered organization in the West Bank, a subsidiary of the Amana movement. The organization’s goal is to purchase land from Palestinians in areas over which there is a dispute within the Supreme Court. A few days before Amona was scheduled to be demolished, Al-Watan officials claimed that they had purchased portions of the land there.
In response to Al-Watan’s claims, the government changed its position on Amona, and instead of demolishing it, divided the land there into three categories: private land whose owners have asked the courts to evacuate, private land whose owners haven’t asked the courts to evacuate despite the illegal land theft, and the lands purchased by Al-Watan. The lands belonging to this last category would be frozen until the end of legal proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court.
Last summer, the road leading to the outpost as well as one structure were cleared off of private Palestinian land. As for the entire outpost, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis has been putting off making a final decision.
Last Thursday, the state prosecutor reported to Yesh Din that according to the Israel Police forensics unit, the documents regarding one plot of land in Amona were forged. It is unclear which plot, specifically. In addition, the owners of two plots filed suit in the Jerusalem District Court over the forgery. The government has stated that it is considering its next moves regarding the forged documents.
This case is the latest in a series of forgeries. Ten days ago, it was determined that an Al-Watan document regarding the Migron outpost was forged. The forensics unit also reported to the Supreme Court last week that a document pertaining to a sale of land in Givat Assaf was also forged. The government has not been clear on what it intends to do with this information.
Haaretz reported last week that Al-Watan systematically produces and submits forged documents meant to obstruct Supreme Court proceedings. Evidence was found that “last-minute” deals for land in the Ulpana neighborhood, Givat Assaf and twice in Migron involved forged documents. Supreme Court justices, however, are holding up their decisions and postponing planned demolitions of the outposts.
Sfard and Zacharia stated in response that “the story of Amona involves a great crime, perpetrated by a small company of criminals, and this forgery is just the latest in a long history of similar criminal acts. Time after time, it turns out that the settlers’ claims of purchase, which always happen at the last minute, are based on forged documents.
Despite this, the government allows these claims to hold up enforcing the law, and prevent the evacuation of illegal structures built on private land. The Amona outpost is built entirely on private Palestinian land, and we hope and believe that it soon will be completely evacuated and returned to its rightful owners.”
Israel to ‘Evict the Dead’ in Bedouin Village
Demolished over 60 Times
(May 26, 2014) — Israel is trying out a new sort of “flexible evictions” in its quest to root out the “illegal” Bedouin village of Al-Araqib, demolished 63 times to date. Now even those buried in the village cemetery are reportedly receiving eviction orders.
The Arab Bedouin village, located in the arid Negev desert but still troubling the Israeli authorities ever since the first full-scale demolition in 2010, is dealing with its latest challenge: eviction orders for the deceased, rights activist Michal Rotem writes on +972 independent blog.
According to Rotem, who is a member of the joint Arab-Jewish group Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF), eight eviction orders were placed on structures in the cemetery at Al-Araqib last Wednesday.
While receiving eviction orders is nothing new for the Bedouins, who for years have been defiantly rebuilding the unrecognized village, this time the recipients’ names could have sent chills down some spines. The orders were partly issued against those no longer living in the village — and buried in the cemetery, where the Israelis placed eviction notes.
After demolishing Bedouin village
Al Arakib 63 times, Israel places
eviction orders on graves of its dead:
May 26, 2014
According to the NCF, the cemetery, along with several homes and a small improvised mosque, has so far been left untouched by the Israeli authorities. However, it soon might change as “flexible” evictions are to take place between June 12 and July 12, 2014. Hinting at what the author called “a new and disturbing development, with far-reaching implications beyond the confines of Al-Araqib itself” is the fact that the authorities have for some reasons photographed the buildings at the cemetery “for the first time.”
In response to the latest eviction orders, Al-Araqib’s Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi said in a statement, quoted by the NCF:
“To all the Jews who believe in equality and that it is possible for Arabs and Jews to live together, mobilize in support of truth and justice and stand up for every Bedouin home.”
“The state tells the Bedouin: you don’t have a place in the Negev or in Israel. This is a great loss for the Bedouin and a great loss for the Jews. As long as there is no recognition of Bedouin rights to their lands, there will be no peace in the region, no equality and no justice.”
The farcical situation is only the latest move of the Israeli government in what the rights activists have blasted as “discrimination” and “ethnic cleansing” of the 40,000-strong Bedouin population in the occupied Palestinian lands. Israel has also been dumping city waste right next to some of the Bedouin settlements in the desert, prompting health concerns from environmental experts.
The villagers earlier addressed the Guinness Book of World Records to register the ruinous “record” of Israel when the demolition count reached 38.
Locals told Ma’an news agency, that the recent developments were “very dangerous.”
“Israel has declared war against us from all directions,” a local council head Labbad Abu Affash told the agency. “Where do they plan to evacuate us? To the moon?”
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