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Air War Follies: Iraq Drops Food, Ammo on ISIS; US Coalition Nearly Bombs Allied Headquarters

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & The Daily Beast – 2014-09-30 23:57:26

Iraq Accidentally Drops Food, Ammo on ISIS Fighters

Iraq Accidentally Drops Food, Ammo on ISIS Fighters
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 30, 2014) — Iraqi military supply helicopters were supposed to be taking shipments of food, water, and ammunition to besieged troops in the Shaqlawah base in Anbar Province late last week, where they’ve been out of the normal supply lines for a week. The supplies were dropped, just not where you’d want them.

Instead of dropping the shipments of food, water, and ammunition on the besieged base, many of the pilots mistakenly dropped the supplies on the ISIS fighters themselves.

Which is great for ISIS, who after all is using the same US-made weaponry Iraq’s own military is, largely looted from Iraqi military bases, and might’ve had a hard time finding spare ammunition otherwise.

The bungled airdrops were reported by Iraqi MP Hakim al-Zamill, from the Security and Defense Committee. He said the mistakes were because of “lack of experience of the pilots.”

NBC quoted an unnamed Iraqi brigadier general as confirming the incidents had happened, and Zamill insisted that there will be an investigation into the commanders organizing the mission.

Exclusive: America’s Allies Almost Bombed in Syrian Airstrikes
The Daily Beast

(September 30, 2014) — The White House says it wants to work with Syria’s moderate rebels. But warplanes from the US-led coalition came awfully close to striking one of their HQs.

Last week, an airstrike from the American-led coalition nearly hit a command-and-control facility affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the moderate rebels the Obama administration says are America’s “boots on the ground,” according to two opposition leaders. They are asking the Obama administration to please coordinate with them in the future before America bombs its only allies in Syria.

Since US airstrikes against ISIS in Syria began on Sept. 22, there has been no coordination between the US military and its alleged partners on the ground, according to FSA leaders, civilian opposition leaders, and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the US and allied military operation. It’s this lack of communication that led to an airstrike that hit only 200 meters from an FSA facility in the suburbs of Idlib. One source briefed on the incident said multiple FSA fighters were killed in the attack.

“Unfortunately, there is zero coordination with the Free Syrian Army. Because there is no coordination, we are seeing civilian casualties. Because there is no coordination, they are hitting empty buildings for ISIS,” Hussam Al Marie, the spokesman for the FSA in northern Syria, told The Daily Beast. “We have been getting promises that the coordination will be coming, but we have been getting promises since the beginning of this revolution and nothing has happened yet.”

The incident, which was not been previously reported, doesn’t just highlight the gap between the US and its newly endorsed allies in the moderate opposition, however. It also shows how complicated it can be to make alliances in the multi-factioned Syrian civil war. The coalition airstrike was targeting a base used by al Nusrah, the local al Qaeda affiliate. And the camp was, essentially, next door to the FSA facility. The al Qaeda fighters and the U.S-endorsed rebels were neighbors — and, at times, partners in battle against ISIS and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

“Because there is no coordination, [the US-led coalition] hit an al Nusrah base in the Idlib suburbs that is only 200 meters from the Free Syrian Army,” Al Marie said.

There were 11 civilian casualties after the first day of US-led airstrikes inside Syria, according to the FSA, and at least one more when the coalition struck a Shariah Court near Idlib two days ago that was under the control of al Nusrah. The US government has said it cannot confirm any civilian casualties but will investigate any accidents.

“There are always civilian casualties when they are hitting al Nusrah because al Nusrah is just living among the people,” said Al Marie. “They didn’t do any real harm to ISIS, the buildings of ISIS were empty. Meanwhile, the main battle on the ground against ISIS hasn’t been supported yet. That’s the important thing, the ground battle.”

In the fight against ISIS in northern Syria, the FSA often fights alongside other rebel groups with varying levels of Islamic flavor: the Islamic Front, the Tawheed Brigade, and even the al Qaeda-linked al Nusrah Front. FSA fighters are moving around the area all the time and sometimes have to pass through al Nusrah checkpoints to get where they are going.

And yet, according to the Obama administration, these moderate rebels can be trusted — despite their alliances of convenience with al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. (On Sunday, the leader of al Nusrah made his first public statement in eight months, telling moderate rebels that his group, and not the United States, was their true partner.)

Now, in addition to the Assad regime and ISIS, they have to worry about getting killed by US and coalition airstrikes on al Nusrah targets too. Already, one Syrian rebel group supported in the past by the United States condemned the aerial attacks, calling them “an attack on national sovereignty” and demanding that the West train its firepower on Assad instead. To make matters worse, some FSA leaders now say that the airstrikes are threatening to push many rebel groups — including al Nusrah — back toward the side of ISIS.

“Before there were terrorists fighting terrorists. Now, after the airstrikes, you could see them working together against a common enemy (the United States), which is not what we want to see at all,” said Al Marie.

In President Obama’s Sept. 10 speech to the nation announcing his new strategy against ISIS, the president said, “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to” ISIS. He then called on Congress to authorize a program to train and equip 5,000 rebels per year in Saudi Arabia, which they did. Sunday night on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the President defended his decision to avoid arming the moderate Syrian rebels for the last two years, as most of his top national security officials had recommended.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said the FSA would be America’s boots on the ground in Syria and are a crucial part of the coalition strategy to defeat ISIS and then eventually work to oust Assad.

“The president has been very clear. This is going to be a long-term effort. It’s going to be sustained and it’s going to be more effective because we’re going to be working with partners on the ground, not sending in hundreds of thousands of Americans,” he said.

But a week into the strikes, the FSA hasn’t heard anything from the Obama administration or the US military about where the strikes are, how they can help make them effective, or even how to avoid getting killed by US bombs and missiles. And because Obama doesn’t want American boots on the ground, there are no US air controllers to guide in the strikes. Throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military found that such personnel were essential for minimizing civilian casualties.

‘This is really dangerous,” said Al Marie. “I really don’t know what’s the strategic plan for these airstrikes, how they are doing it. I can’t believe it, our friends are doing this big thing in our country and here we are, their friends, and they won’t coordinate with us.”

The US-led airstrikes have not done any significant damage to ISIS, Al Marie said, because the group moved all of their command and control, valuable weaponry, money, and even family members to new locations after Obama announced publicly the airstrikes were coming.

Another civilian Syrian opposition official told The Daily Beast that the lack of coordination was such a big problem, Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al Bahra pressed National Security Advisor Susan Rice last week in New York to set up a joint coordination center with the FSA for the operations to fight ISIS. Rice was noncommittal, the official said, but the opposition leadership is trying hard to get the Obama administration to start working more with the FSA.

“The FSA is passing on solid targeting information about ISIS and Nusrah. We don’t know if they are using it or not,” the opposition official said. “We’re hoping that the campaign will eventually transition to one of close air support based on mutual intelligence sharing.”

Major Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for US Central Command, told The Daily Beast he could not comment on the FSA’s allegation that the coalition had struck an al Nusrah base right next to a moderate rebel headquarters.

“As a matter of policy, we’re not going to discuss the specifics of our targeting process, coordination or intelligence, but based on our ISR capabilities and careful evaluation, we have high confidence in the ISIL and Khorasan Group targets we have chosen,” Kellogg said, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS and its name for a cadre of veteran al Qaeda planners.

Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the Obama administration is not coordinating with the FSA because it still doesn’t believe it can trust the FSA with sensitive information about ongoing military operations. But that also means the FSA can’t capitalize after the strikes by taking over the territory that has been cleared.

“Everybody knows you can’t bomb your way out of this problem, and if your game plan is for the moderate opposition to fill up that vacuum, then it would seem it’s important the moderate rebels benefit,” he said. “We need to win the opposition over to our side and this doesn’t help that at all. And if this continues, the Assad regime will be the main party to benefit.”

By announcing that US airstrikes would be paired with help for the FSA but then not delivering that help quickly or even talking to the FSA, the US is putting the moderate rebels in the worst possible position and needlessly harming the effectiveness of the mission, said Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American-based organization that works with the Syrian opposition, and political director of United for a Free Syria.

“You are helping alienate the FSA from their popular support on the ground and you are risking ISIS regrouping or allowing the regime to take over these areas, which contradicts the stated policy of the president of the United States,” he said.

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

US Signs Deal to Keep Troops in Afghanistan; Loosens Rules on Killing Civilians

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Michael Isikoff / Yahoo News – 2014-09-30 23:41:41

US Signs Afghan Troop Deal, Kills Four Civilians in Airstrike

US Signs Afghan Troop Deal, Kills Four Civilians in Airstrike
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 30, 2014) — Newly inaugurated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has signed a troop deal with the US, keeping occupation forces in the country “through 2024 and beyond.” The pact had been rejected by his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, over claims that the deal didn’t do enough to limit the US use of airstrikes in civilian areas.

As if to rub that fact in, the ink wasn’t even dry on the document when the latest US airstrike incident was reported in the Khost Province, where US drones attacked and destroyed a carload of civilians, killing four.

Khost police suggested the strike was a case of mistaken identity, as a district development council chief had been reported assassinated by militants who fled in a car that was apparently similar to the one attacked.

Police promised an investigation into the attack, and relatives of the slain assured that their killed family members were not militants, nor were they armed. The Pentagon has not yet issued a statement on the incident.

US Loosens Standards on Killing Civilians
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 30, 2014) — The Obama Administration’s previous promises not to launch drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” that the strike won’t kill any civilians, much publicized in the lead up to the new ISIS war, doesn’t apply to US strikes in Iraq or Syria, according to Centcom.

The “near certainty” standard was meant to apply “only when we take direct action outside areas of active hostilities,” according to Centcom spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, who says that the war with ISIS doesn’t count.

The US has often played fast and loose with that standard at any rate, routinely killing civilians in Pakistan and Yemen in areas most assured “outside areas of active hostilities.” Nevertheless, one shudders to think how much worse the civilian toll in Iraq and Syria will be, with officials openly saying that nominal care they’re supposed to take doesn’t apply.

US strikes, particularly in Syria, have killed a number of civilians already, with two confirmed civilian deaths yesterday when US warplanes attacked grain silos in ISIS-held territory. Though the Pentagon is officially denying any deaths, today’s Centcom comments clearly lay the groundwork for an admission of guilt, and a position of formal ambivalence about the civilians the military is killing.

The more fast-and-loose definition of care may mirror the US occupation of Afghanistan, where airstrikes have routinely killed large numbers of civilians, and incidents of scores and even hundreds of civilians slain in botched strikes are not unheard of.

It also makes the weekend admonition by the Red Cross for the US to take care that it abides by international bans against targeting civilians and medical personnel all the more important, as their checkered track record of doing that in past wars seems to be the template they’re applying to the new conflict.

White House Exempts Syria Airstrikes from Tight Standards on Civilian Deaths
Michael Isikoff / Yahoo News

The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from US drone strikes will not apply to US military operations in Syria and Iraq.

A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria’s Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.

The village has been described by Syrian rebel commanders as a reported stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front where U.S officials believed members of the so-called Khorasan group were plotting attacks against international aircraft.

But at a briefing for members and staffers of the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last week, Syrian rebel commanders described women and children being hauled from the rubble after an errant cruise missile destroyed a home for displaced civilians. Images of badly injured children also appeared on YouTube, helping to fuel anti-US protests in a number of Syrian villages last week.

“They were carrying bodies out of the rubble. . . . I saw seven or eight ambulances coming out of there,” said Abu Abdo Salabman, a political member of one of the Free Syria Army factions, who attended the briefing for Foreign Affairs Committee members and staff. “We believe this was a big mistake.”

Asked about the strike at Kafr Daryan, a US Central Command spokesman said Tuesday that US military “did target a Khorasan group compound near this location. However, we have seen no evidence at this time to corroborate claims of civilian casualties.” But Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told Yahoo News that Pentagon officials “take all credible allegations seriously and will investigate” the reports.

At the same time, however, Hayden said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring US drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties — “the highest standard we can meet,” he said at the time — does not cover the current US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,” Hayden said in an email. “That description — outside areas of active hostilities — simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.”

Hayden added that US military operations against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Syria, “like all US military operations, are being conducted consistently with the laws of armed conflict, proportionality and distinction.”

The laws of armed conflict prohibit the deliberate targeting of civilian areas and require armed forces to take precautions to prevent inadvertent civilian deaths as much as possible.

But one former Obama administration official said the new White House statement raises questions about how the US intends to proceed in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, and under what legal authorities.

“They seem to be creating this grey zone” for the conflict, said Harold Koh, who served as the State Department’s top lawyer during President Obama’s first term. “If we’re not applying the strict rules [to prevent civilian casualties] to Syria and Iraq, then they are of relatively limited value.”

Questions about civilian deaths from US counterterrorism operations have confronted the Obama administration from the outset, after the president sharply ramped up drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, resulting in sometimes heated internal policy debates.

Addressing the subject last year in a speech at the National Defense University, Obama acknowledged for the first time that US strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, adding: “For me and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live.”

Sources familiar with the new “near certainty” standard Obama announced at the time said that, as a practical matter, it meant that every drone strike had to be signed off on by the White House — first by Lisa Monaco, Obama’s chief homeland security adviser, and ultimately by the president himself. The policy, one source said, caused some Pentagon officials to chafe at the new restrictions — and led to a noticeable reduction in such strikes by the military and the CIA.

While the White House has said little about the standards it is using for strikes in Syria and Iraq, one former official who has been briefed on the matter said the looser policy gives more discretion to theater commanders at the US Central Command to select targets without the same level of White House oversight.

The issue arose during last week’s briefing for two House Foreign Affairs Committee members and two staffers when rebel leaders associated with factions of the Free Syria Army, including Abu Abdo Salabman, complained about the civilian deaths — and the fact that the targets were in territory controlled by the Nusra Front, a sometimes ally of the US-backed rebels in its war with the Islamic State and the Syrian regime.

But at least one of the House members present, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who supports stronger US action in Syria, said he was not overly concerned. “I did hear them say there were civilian casualties, but I didn’t get details,” Kinzinger said in an interview with Yahoo News. “But nothing is perfect,” and whatever civilian deaths resulted from the US strikes are “much less than the brutality of the Assad regime.”

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

Human War on Wildlife: 52% of World’s Species in Decline over Past 40 Years

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Al Jazeera America & World Wildlife Fund – 2014-09-30 23:18:07


Wildlife Populations Fall by Half in 40 Years
Al Jazeera America

High-income countries use five times the ecological resources of low-income countries, but low-income countries are suffering the greatest ecosystem losses. In effect, wealthy nations are outsourcing resource depletion.
— Keya Chatterjee, World Wildlife Fund

(September 30, 2014) — The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the biggest environmental groups.

In a study released on Tuesday, the Swiss-based World Wildlife Fund blamed human threats to nature for the decline particularly in tropical regions like Latin America.

The group described the study it has carried out every two years since 1998 as a barometer of the state of the planet.

“There is no room for complacency,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini, calling for a greater focus on sustainable solutions to the impacts that people are inflicting on nature, particularly through the release of greenhouse gases.

The latest “Living Planet” study analyzed data from about 10,000 populations of 3,038 vertebrate species from a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London.

It is meant to provide a representative sampling of the overall wildlife population in the world, said WWF’s Richard McLellan, editor-in-chief of the study.

It reflects populations since 1970, the first year the London-based society had comprehensive data. Each study is based on data from at least four years earlier.

In the new WWF study, hunting and fishing along with continued losses and deterioration of natural habitats are identified as the chief threats to wildlife populations around the world.

The same report two years ago put the decline at 28 percent between 1970 and 2008.

The worst decline was among populations of freshwater species, which fell by 76 percent over the four decades to 2010, while marine and terrestrial numbers both fell by 39 percent.

Other primary factors are global warming, invasive species, pollution and disease.

The report also measured how close the planet is to nine so-called “planetary boundaries,” thresholds of “potentially catastrophic changes to life as we know it.”

Three such thresholds have already been crossed — biodiversity, carbon dioxide levels and nitrogen pollution from fertilizers.

Two more were in danger of being breached — ocean acidification and phosphorus levels in freshwater.

The report suggests solutions, which include accelerating a shift to smarter food and energy production and valuing natural capital as a cornerstone of policy and development decisions.

“This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live,” said Ken Norris, science director at the London Society.

“There is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry.”

The report says that the majority of high-income countries are increasingly consuming more per person than the planet can accommodate; maintaining per capita ecological footprints greater than the amount of biocapacity available per person. People in middle- and low-income countries have seen little increase in their per capita footprints over the same time period.

While high-income countries show a 10 percent increase in biodiversity, the rest of the world is seeing dramatic declines. Middle-income countries show 18 percent declines, and low-income countries show 58 percent declines. Latin America shows the biggest decline in biodiversity, with species populations falling by 83 percent.

“High-income countries use five times the ecological resources of low-income countries, but low income countries are suffering the greatest ecosystem losses,” said Keya Chatterjee, WWF’s senior director of footprint. “In effect, wealthy nations are outsourcing resource depletion.”

According to the report, Kuwaitis had the biggest ecological footprint, meaning they consume and waste more resources per head than any other nation, followed by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“If all people on the planet had the footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 planets. If we lived the lifestyle of a typical resident of the USA, we would need 3.9 planets,” the report said.

Many poorer countries — including India, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — had an ecological footprint that was well within the planet’s ability to absorb their demands.

Al Jazeera and wire services

Living Planet Report 2014
World Wildlife Fund

The Living Planet Report provides a comprehensive view of the health of our planet and what it means for humans and wildlife.

The Living Planet Report documents the state of the planet — including biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources — and what this means for humans and wildlife. Published by WWF every two years, the report brings together a variety of research to provide a comprehensive view of the health of the earth.

Population sizes of vertebrate species — mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish — have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years. In other words, those populations around the globe have dropped by more than half in fewer than two human generations.

At the same time, our own demands on nature are unsustainable and increasing. We need 1.5 Earths to regenerate the natural resources we currently use; we cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than oceans replenish, and emit more carbon into the atmosphere than forests and oceans can absorb.’

Though the report confirms some disturbing trends, we can still change course.
WWF helps provide solutions for a living planet. We’re working with governments, businesses, and communities to reduce carbon emissions, prevent habitat loss, and advance policies to fight climate change. WWF focuses on protecting wildlife, conserving natural capital — from forests and oceans to freshwater and grasslands — and producing and consuming food more wisely. Together with our members and partners, we advocate for change and find solutions that will safeguard our planet and future.

Download the Full Report HERE.

AT A GLANCE: The State of the Planet

Biodiversity is declining sharply
• The global Living Planet Index (LPI) shows an overall decline of 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. Due to changes in methodology to better reflect the relative sizes of species groups across biomes, this percentage has decreased considerably in comparison with previous publications.

• Falling by 76 percent, populations of freshwater species declined more rapidly than marine (39 percent) and terrestrial (39 percent) populations.

• The most dramatic regional LPI decrease occurred in South America, followed closely by the Asia-Pacific region.

• In land-based protected areas, the LPI declined by 18 percent, less than half the rate of decline of the overall terrestrial LPI.

Our demands on nature are unsustainable and increasing
• We need 1.5 Earths to meet the demands we currently make on nature. This means we are eating into our natural capital, making it more difficult to sustain the needs of future generations.

• The carbon Footprint accounts for over half of the total Ecological Footprint, and is the largest single component for approximately half of the countries tracked.

• Agriculture accounts for 92 percent of the global water footprint. Humanity’s growing water needs and climate change are exacerbating challenges of water scarcity.

• The dual effect of a growing human population and high per capita Footprint will multiply the pressure we place on our ecological resources.

• The Ecological Footprint per capita of high-income countries remains about five times more than that of low-income countries.

• By importing resources, high-income countries in particular, may effectively be outsourcing biodiversity loss. While high-income countries appear to show an increase (10 percent) in biodiversity, middle-income countries show declines (18 percent), and low-income countries show dramatic and marked declines (58 percent).

• Countries with a high level of human development tend to have higher Ecological Footprints. The challenge is for countries to increase their human development while keeping their Footprint down to globally sustainable levels.

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

Khorasan? It Doesn’t Exist: How Washington Created the Latest ‘Imminent Threat’

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Ali Velshi / Al Jazeera & Justin Raimondo / AntiWar.com & Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain / The Intercept – 2014-09-30 01:47:07


What Obama Accomplished at the UN Security Council Meeting
Ali Velshi / Real Money: Al Jazeera (September 24, 2014)

Khorasan? They’re Making Up Stuff
Justin Raimondo / AntiWar.com

(September 28, 2014) — It’s hard to keep the American people engaged with foreign affairs: notoriously “isolationist,” we just can’t stay interested in the various overseas “threats” our rulers would have us in a panic over.

While Al Qaeda was Washington’s biggest “success” in this regard — the 9/11 attacks really got everyone’s attention and managed to keep Americans focused on the absolute necessity of gutting our Constitution and rampaging over half the earth — that was some 13 year ago. The assassination of Osama bin Laden, and two drawn-out and absolutely disastrous wars — both ending in what looks dismayingly like defeat — have pretty much exhausted everyone’s patience.

The “war on terrorism” launched by George W. Bush with such dramatic fanfare was in danger of petering out, ending not with a bang — or a victory — but without even any acknowledgment on the part of our wise rulers that it was (a) over, and (b) a horrific failure.

Yet the blowback from our obtusely wrongheaded policies continues to play havoc with the international landscape, destabilizing governments throughout the Middle East and putting Americans and American interests at risk around the globe. The political class is united in the belief that Washington has to Do Something — after all, our National Prestige is at stake!

Having deliberately and viciously destroyed the Iraqi state, we stood looking at our handiwork aghast — why, the whole country was in utter chaos! The Iranians were practically in charge, the Kurds were rebelling, and those bothersome Sunnis were up in arms again. What to do?

The Washington policy wonks and the Big Donors who pour millions into their think-tanks knew exactly what to do: start another war, this time in Syria. That way we could always cross the border into Iraq, as necessary — and kill two birds with one stone, while injuring the biggest bird of them all, Iran. We could knock off Bashar al-Assad — the last secular despot left standing in the region — and tame the Sunnis in preparation for the Big One, i.e. the assault on Tehran.

All was made ready: a propaganda campaign on behalf of the Syrian rebels was deployed. Cries of “He’s killing his own people!” were heard from our “humanitarian” liberals, and the Nicholas Kristoff Brigade, a crack division of America’s famous laptop bombardiers, was off and running.

On the right, Bill Kristol’s Legion of Teddy Roosevelt Impersonators went into their all-too-familiar act, but it was the liberals and the “national security Democrats” who gave the campaign real heft. Kristol and his gang were already so discredited that anything they said in favor of bombing Syria would probably have a boomerang effect, and so it was left to the ready-for-Hillary crowd to do the heavy lifting — which, in the end, proved too much for them to handle.

The War Party thought they had it in the bag, but they forgot about one key factor: the American people, famously “isolationist,” and sick unto death of endless overseas conflicts.

In spite of years of war propaganda, which portrayed the Syrian rebels as little Islamic angels and Assad as the Devil Himself, the American people weren’t swallowing it. Ignoring the conventional wisdom of the political class, which smugly informs us we don’t care about foreign policy, ordinary citizens overwhelmed congressional switchboards with a veritable tsunami of calls protesting yet another war to be launched in their name.

Another factor the War Party forgot about: the President of these here United States, who plainly didn’t want his final years in office to be dominated by yet another unwinnable war. No, they weren’t going to pass this hot potato off to the only black guy in the room: Obama, after a long walk in the Rose Garden with his chief advisor, suddenly announced he was throwing the steaming potato back — to Congress.

The highlight of this year so far was watching formerly bellicose members of Congress — Democratic hawks and fence-sitters alike, as well as Republican big mouths like Ted Cruz — back down, one by one, as the prospect of voting for another war loomed ever closer.

Oh well, let’s call the whole thing off . . . but not quite.

The Kristoff Brigade and their Kristolian allies on the right were rebuffed, but not defeated. They simply bided their time. After all, things were looking pretty ugly in Iraq, and it wasn’t long before they got ugly enough to spawn the creature known as ISIS — the Islamic State in al Sham [the Levant].

A few beheadings conveniently tweeted by the media-savvy jihadists, a flurry of panicked news reports predicting the imminent fall of Baghdad, a “humanitarian disaster” that in retrospect proved to be greatly exaggerated, and — voila! — another “crisis” erupted, which the War Party was quick to take advantage of.

Yet still the propaganda campaign failed to achieve the desired result. For while the panic level of the American public had risen considerably, it hadn’t risen enough to persuade them to send US troops back to the graveyard of George W. Bush’s dreams, the now largely nonexistent nation of Iraq. Nor did they want to see US troops in Syria — or anywhere else, for that matter.

All those old poll numbers showing Americans want Washington to mind its own business internationally, which were supposedly non-operational, came roaring back, full-throated, saying “No boots on the ground!”

The problem, it seems, is that ISIS wasn’t scary enough. Oh sure, those beheadings were pretty awful, but they took place in Syria, after all, and you know how the average American is — if it isn’t occurring here, then it isn’t really happening at all, or, if it is, it hardly matters. Yes, those people in Flyover Country really are that provincial, my dear, but what can one do?

Well, one can scare them sufficiently so that they believe in the Imminent Threat — that is, an immediate threat to them personally.

And so it was back to the drawing board, and quickly — because timing is everything in these matters. You can’t get a good war hysteria going and then just let it run out of steam. Oh no. You have to keep beating those war drums harder and harder, no matter how many drumsticks you break in the process, until you get the desired result — the consent of the citizenry, however passive and ultimately fickle it may turn out to be.

They had to come up with something fast, and so — like their predecessors — they simply started to make up stuff. This was the modus operandi of the Bush crowd, and it worked for them, at least temporarily — how many people still believe Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks? And, yes, there are still conservative cargo-cultists who think Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” are somewhere out there, waiting to be found. I’m sure Laurie Mylroie still has her fan club, which used to include top Bush administration officials.

In short: lying works, and so administration officials simply invented a new enemy, one more fearsome — and, simultaneously, more familiar — to Americans than ISIS. They dubbed it “Khorasan,” which, as far as anyone knows, is a former province of Iran, now divided into three separate provinces also named Khorasan. [See story from “The Intercept” below.]

We are told their ostensible leader — whom we have just now supposedly killed in air strikes — was once head of “Al Qaeda in Iran,” a shadowy group that has never pulled off a single action or engaged in any propagandistic activities, and for all we know never really existed at all.

Those evil Iranian mullahs, the “experts” aver, have been sheltering a radical Sunni terrorist group — one that considers them heretics deserving of death — for their own malign purposes. No convincing evidence of this unlikely alliance is ever offered, however, and it seems about as credible as the Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein connection Bush and his crew broadcast far and wide.

What’s so fearsome about “Khorasan”? Well, they couldn’t care less about establishing a Caliphate, because, you know, that’s so 632, and as for overthrowing Assad, the Khorasanians won’t stoop to conquer. No, nothing less than an attack on America, preferably using an airliner as a weapon of choice, will do.

What they lack in originality they more than make up for when it comes to the all-important Imminence Factor. We are told the Khorasan Group — sounds like an investment bank, doesn’t it? — is planning an attack on an unnamed Western target and that they have assembled a cadre of Western fighters who could just hop on a plane and ignite themselves in midair.

And, oh yes, they have special clothing that ignites spontaneously and other tricks of the terrorism trade which no one has ever seen or heard of before.

No one had ever heard of a group named “Khorasan” before: it simply appeared spontaneously, like Minerva from the head of Zeus — or from the head of some war propagandist somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon. We are told the very name of this mysterious group was “classified,” at least according to the dubious Rep. Peter King (R-IRA), but as Glenn Greenwald points out here a great number of anonymous government officials were glad to drop this hot stuff into the eager hands of those court stenographers otherwise known as “mainstream journalists,” who dutifully “reported” it as the gospel truth.

Greenwald goes on to write: “Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual ‘Khorasan Group’ was to some degree an invention of the American government.” My question is: to what degree isn’t “Khorasan” an invention of the American government?

There is absolutely zero evidence that such a group has ever existed: no documents, no testimony, no public “intelligence” of any kind. Such descriptions of its history and character as we do have — the hurried and often contradictory explanations of anonymous US officials — all point to “Khorasan” as being a simple re-branding of an old enemy: Al Qaeda.

“Khorasan” is a marketing ploy, and the target is the American people. We’re used to hearing that the Al Qaeda bogeyman is under the bed, which is why we supposedly have to give the government carte blanche to spy on us and, while they’re at it, the whole world.

This is the great problem Washington faces: it just isn’t having the same effect anymore. So a new brand name for terror had to be conjured, with new imagery — beheadings instead of falling buildings — to overwhelm our reason and let us forget the history of the past decade or so.

It took them a while, but the Obama administration has now taken on all the worst characteristics of the neocons during the Bush years. This “Khorasan” ploy is far less believable than even the most extravagant effusions of the Weekly Standard crowd during the neocons’ heyday: remember that Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence that never took place?

Do you recall the Niger uranium forgeries — a series of obviously invented-out-of-whole-cloth “documents” that were cited by George W. Bush in a major wartime speech? And then there were those Iraqi drones, also cited by Bush, that were primed to rain hellfire down on America’s cities.

All lies — and all far more credible, at least at the time of their initial utterance, than this phony baloney “Khorasan” concoction.

As Halloween approaches — my Sunday paper had an advertising insert for the local hardware store featuring scary plastic witches and goblins for the yard — our war propagandists are running wild, stretching their imaginative abilities to the limit in order to frighten Americans into submission.

My guess is they’re wasting their energy, because the American people are by this time so inured to this kind of thing that they view the whole spectacle as something of a circus, with the ringmasters in Washington running out of ways to bring in the paying crowds.

The Fake Terror Threat Used
To Justify Bombing Syria

Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain / The Intercept

(September 28, 2014) — As the Obama Administration prepared to bomb Syria without congressional or UN authorization, it faced two problems. The first was the difficulty of sustaining public support for a new years-long war against ISIS, a group that clearly posed no imminent threat to the “homeland.” A second was the lack of legal justification for launching a new bombing campaign with no viable claim of self-defense or UN approval.

The solution to both problems was found in the wholesale concoction of a brand new terror threat that was branded “The Khorasan Group.” After spending weeks depicting ISIS as an unprecedented threat — too radical even for Al Qaeda! — administration officials suddenly began spoon-feeding their favorite media organizations and national security journalists tales of a secret group that was even scarier and more threatening than ISIS, one that posed a direct and immediate threat to the American Homeland. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new terror group was created in media lore.

The unveiling of this new group was performed in a September 13 article by the Associated Press, who cited unnamed US officials to warn of this new shadowy, worse-than-ISIS terror group:

While the Islamic State group [ISIS] is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria — a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe — poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target US aviation, American officials say.

At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, US officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a US-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.

AP warned Americans that “the fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto US-bound flights.” It explained that although ISIS has received most of the attention, the Khorasan Group “is considered the more immediate threat.”

The genesis of the name was itself scary: “Khorasan refers to a province under the Islamic caliphate, or religious empire, of old that included parts of Afghanistan.” AP depicted the US officials who were feeding them the narrative as engaging in some sort of act of brave, unauthorized truth-telling: “Many US officials interviewed for this story would not be quoted by name talking about what they said was highly classified intelligence.”

On the morning of September 18, CBS News broadcast a segment that is as pure war propaganda as it gets: directly linking the soon-to-arrive US bombing campaign in Syria to the need to protect Americans from being exploded in civilian jets by Khorasan. With ominous voice tones, the host narrated:

This morning we are learning of a new and growing terror threat coming out of Syria. It’s an Al Qaeda cell you probably never heard of. Nearly everything about them is classified. Bob Orr is in Washington with new information on a group some consider more dangerous than ISIS.

Orr then announced that while ISIS is “dominating headlines and terrorist propaganda,” Orr’s “sources” warn of “a more immediate threat to the US Homeland.” As Orr spoke, CBS flashed alternating video showing scary Muslims in Syria and innocent westerners waiting in line at airports, as he intoned that US officials have ordered “enhanced screening” for “hidden explosives.” This is all coming, Orr explained, from ”an emerging threat in Syria” where “hardened terrorists” are building “hard to detect bombs.”

The US government, Orr explained, is trying to keep this all a secret; they won’t even mention the group’s name in public out of security concerns! But Orr was there to reveal the truth, as his “sources confirm the Al Qaeda cell goes by the name Khorasan.” And they’re “developing fresh plots to attack US aviation.”

Later that day, Obama administration officials began publicly touting the group, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned starkly: “In terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.” Then followed an avalanche of uncritical media reports detailing this Supreme Threat, excitingly citing anonymous officials as though they had uncovered a big secret the government was trying to conceal.

On September 20, The New York Times devoted a long article to strongly hyping the Khorasan Group. Headlined “US Suspects More Direct Threats Beyond ISIS,” the article began by announcing that US officials believe a different group other than ISIS “posed a more direct threat to America and Europe.” Specifically:

American officials said that the group called Khorasan had emerged in the past year as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the United States or its installations overseas with a terror attack.

The officials said that the group is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a senior Qaeda operative who, according to the State Department, was so close to Bin Laden that he was among a small group of people who knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they were launched.

Again, the threat they posed reached all the way to the US: “Members of the cell are said to be particularly interested in devising terror plots using concealed explosives.”

This Khorasan-attacking-Americans alarm spread quickly and explosively in the landscape of US national security reporting. The Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake warned on September 23 — the day after the first US bombs fell in Syria — that “American analysts had pieced together detailed information on a pending attack from an outfit that informally called itself ‘the Khorasan Group’ to use hard-to-detect explosives on American and European airliners.”

He added even more ominously: “The planning from the Khorasan Group . . . suggests at least an aspiration to launch more-coordinated and larger attacks on the West in the style of the 9/11 attacks from 2001″ (days later, Lake, along with Josh Rogin, actually claimed that “Iran has long been harboring senior al Qaeda, al Nusra, and so-called Khorasan Group leaders as part of its complicated strategy to influence the region”).

On the day of the bombing campaign, NBC News’ Richard Engel tweeted this:

Richard Engel
Officials say #Khorasan is a threat to US because it aims to bring down airplanes with explosives @nbcnightlynews

That tweet linked to an NBC Nightly News report in which anchor Brian Williams introduced Khorasan with a graphic declaring it “The New Enemy,” and Engel went on to explain that the group is “considered a threat to the US because, US intelligence officials say, it wants to bring down airplanes with explosives.”

Once the bombing campaign was underway, ISIS — the original theme of the attack — largely faded into the background, as Obama officials and media allies aggressively touted attacks on Khorasan leaders and the disruption of its American-targeting plots. On the first day of the bombing, The Washington Post announced that “the United States also pounded a little-known but well-resourced al-Qaeda cell that some American officials fear could pose a direct threat to the United States.” It explained:

The Pentagon said in a statement early Tuesday that the United States conducted eight strikes west of Aleppo against the cell, called the Khorasan Group, targeting its “training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities.”

The same day, CNN claimed that “among the targets of US strikes across Syria early Tuesday was the Khorasan Group.” The bombing campaign in Syria was thus magically transformed into an act of pure self-defense, given that ”the group was actively plotting against a US homeland target and Western targets, a senior US official told CNN on Tuesday.” The bevy of anonymous sources cited by CNN had a hard time keep their stories straight:

The official said the group posed an “imminent” threat. Another US official later said the threat was not imminent in the sense that there were no known targets or attacks expected in the next few weeks.

The plots were believed to be in an advanced stage, the second US official said. There were indications that the militants had obtained materials and were working on new improvised explosive devices that would be hard to detect, including common hand-held electronic devices and airplane carry-on items such as toiletries.

Nonetheless, what was clear was that this group had to be bombed in Syria to save American lives, as the terrorist group even planned to conceal explosive devices in toothpaste or flammable clothing as a means to target US airliners. The day following the first bombings, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed: “We hit them last night out of a concern that they were getting close to an execution date of some of the plans that we have seen.”

CNN’s supremely stenographic Pentagon reporter, Barbara Starr, went on air as videos of shiny new American fighter jets and the Syria bombing were shown and explained that this was all necessary to stop a Khorasan attack very close to being carried out against the west:

What we are hearing from a senior US official is the reason they struck Khorasan right now is they had intelligence that the group — of Al Qaeda veterans — was in the stages of planning an attack against the US homeland and/or an attack against a target in Europe, and the information indicated Khorasan was well on its way — perhaps in its final stages — of planning that attack.

All of that laid the fear-producing groundwork for President Obama to claim self-defense when he announced the bombing campaign on September 23 with this boast: “Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”

Ken Dilanian (September 23, 2014)
Joint Cheifs chairman @Martin_Dempsey:
We hit the Khorasan Group before they “may have scattered.” Distrupted “imminent attack plotting.”

The very next day, a Pentagon official claimed a US airstrike killed “the Khorasan leader,” and just a few days after that, US media outlets celebrated what they said was the admission by jihadi social media accounts that “the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Khorasan group was killed in a US air strike in Syria.”

But once it served its purpose of justifying the start of the bombing campaign in Syria, the Khorasan narrative simply evaporated as quickly as it materialized. Foreign Policy‘s Shane Harris, with two other writers, was one of the first to question whether the “threat” was anywhere near what it had been depicted to be:

But according to the top US counterterrorism official, as well as Obama himself, there is “no credible information” that the militants of the Islamic State were planning to attack inside the United States.

Although the group could pose a domestic terrorism threat if left unchecked, any plot it tried launching today would be “limited in scope” and “nothing like a 9/11-scale attack,” Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in remarks at the Brookings Institution earlier this month. That would suggest that Khorasan doesn’t have the capability either, even if it’s working to develop it.

“Khorasan has the desire to attack, though we’re not sure their capabilities match their desire,” a senior US counterterrorism official told Foreign Policy.

On September 25, The New York Times — just days after hyping the Khorasan threat to the homeland — wrote that “the group’s evolution from obscurity to infamy has been sudden.” And the paper of record began, for the first time, to note how little evidence actually existed for all those claims about the imminent threats posed to the homeland:

American officials have given differing accounts about just how close the group was to mounting an attack, and about what chance any plot had of success. One senior American official on Wednesday described the Khorasan plotting as “aspirational” and said that there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works.

Literally within a matter of days, we went from “perhaps in its final stages of planning its attack” (CNN) to “plotting as ‘aspirational’” and “there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works” (NYT).

Late last week, Associated Press’ Ken Dilanian — the first to unveil the new Khorasan Product in mid-September — published a new story explaining that just days after bombing “Khorasan” targets in Syria, high-ranking US officials seemingly backed off all their previous claims of an “imminent” threat from the group.

Headlined “US Officials Offer More Nuanced Take on Khorasan Threat,” it noted that “several US officials told reporters this week that the group was in the final stages of planning an attack on the West, leaving the impression that such an attack was about to happen.” But now:

Senior US officials offered a more nuanced picture Thursday of the threat they believe is posed by an al-Qaida cell in Syria targeted in military strikes this week, even as they defended the decision to attack the militants.

James Comey, the FBI director, and Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, each acknowledged that the US did not have precise intelligence about where or when the cell, known as the Khorasan Group, would attempt to strike a Western target. . . .

Kirby, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, said, “I don’t know that we can pin that down to a day or month or week or six months. . . . We can have this debate about whether it was valid to hit them or not, or whether it was too soon or too late. . . . We hit them. And I don’t think we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes.”

Regarding claims that an attack was “imminent,” Comey said: “I don’t know exactly what that word means. . .’imminent’” — a rather consequential admission given that said imminence was used as the justification for launching military action in the first place.

Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual “Khorasan Group” was to some degree an invention of the American government. NBC’s Engel, the day after he reported on the US government’s claims about the group for Nightly News, seemed to have serious second thoughts about the group’s existence, tweeting:

Richard Engel (September 24, 2014)
Syrian activists telling us they’ve never heard of Khorasan or its leader.

Indeed, a Nexis search for the group found almost no mentions of its name prior to the September 13 AP article based on anonymous officials. There was one oblique reference to it in a July 31 CNN op-ed by Peter Bergen. The other mention was an article in the LA Times from two weeks earlier about Pakistan which mentioned the group’s name as something quite different than how it’s being used now: as “the intelligence wing of the powerful Pakistani Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.”

Tim Shorrock noted that the name appears in a 2011 hacked Stratfor email published by WikiLeaks, referencing a Dawn article that depicts them as a Pakistan-based group which was fighting against and “expelled by” (not “led by”) Bahadur.

There are serious questions about whether the Khorasan Group even exists in any meaningful or identifiable manner. Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism official until 2009, told Time: “I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” while Obama’s former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said: ”We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from. . . . All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.”

As The Intercept was finalizing this article, former terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the group was a scam: “You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan . . . had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”

What happened here is all-too-familiar. The Obama administration needed propagandistic and legal rationale for bombing yet another predominantly Muslim country. While emotions over the ISIS beheading videos were high, they were not enough to sustain a lengthy new war.

So after spending weeks promoting ISIS as Worse Than Al Qaedaâ„¢, they unveiled a new, never-before-heard-of group that was Worse Than ISISâ„¢.

Overnight, as the first bombs on Syria fell, the endlessly helpful US media mindlessly circulated the script they were given: this new group was composed of “hardened terrorists,” posed an “imminent” threat to the US homeland, was in the “final stages” of plots to take down US civilian aircraft, and could “launch more-coordinated and larger attacks on the West in the style of the 9/11 attacks from 2001.””

As usual, anonymity was granted to US officials to make these claims. As usual, there was almost no evidence for any of this. Nonetheless, American media outlets — eager, as always, to justify American wars — spewed all of this with very little skepticism.

Worse, they did it by pretending that the US government was trying not to talk about all of this — too secret! — but they, as intrepid, digging journalists, managed to unearth it from their courageous “sources.”

Once the damage was done, the evidence quickly emerged about what a sham this all was. But, as always with these government/media propaganda campaigns, the truth emerges only when it’s impotent.

Email the authors: glenn.greenwald@theintercept.com, murtaza.hussain@theintercept.com

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

‘Peace Be With You’: An Unlikely Greeting From ISIS

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Tony Dokoupil and Bill Neely / NBC Evening News – 2014-09-30 01:11:05


‘Peace Be With You’: An Unlikely Greeting From ISIS
NBC Evening News

KIRKUK, Iraq — After a summer of murderous progress, ISIS militants have settled into an uneasy peace here, across a canal on the outskirts of a village called Mula Abdula. The Iraqi army abandoned the city of 2 million people months ago, but Kurdish forces — eager to control an area they consider their historical homeland — regained the major oil city, staring down an enemy close enough to hear shouting.

Firsthand Look at ISIS Fighters on Frontlines in Iraq
Tony Dokoupil and Bill Neely / NBC Nightly News

KIRKUK (September 26, 2014) — “What is breathtaking here is that the ISIS fighters are less than 200 yards away,” NBC News’ Bill Neely said. “We’re watching them. They’re watching us. And yet there seems to be a truce here — at least for now.”

An ISIS militant stands behind fortifications next the feared black flag of the extremist group on a bridge at the village of “Mula Abdula” in Kirkuk, Iraq on 26 September 2014. Facing them less than 100 yards are hundreds of Peshmerga fighters.

War is not black and white, it is many shades of gray, and here, it is as gray as it gets, even though the two sides are enemies, Peshmerga commanders tell NBC News that sometimes they talk to the militants.

Both the ISIS fighters and Kurdish forces are dug in for miles. On the ISIS side of the canal, militants camp under their black flag, guns at the ready, guarding their front line. One wears a red and white scarf around his head. Another has on a black balaclava.

Shot through sand bags, here two ISIS militants, one in a balaclava and the other using binoculars to watch Peshmerga positions in the village of “Mula Abdula” in Kirkuk on 26 September 2014.

The man-made irrigation canal that splits the village into two acts like a natural barrier between the two sides, a Peshmerga commander told NBC News the militants sometimes shout at them across the canal calling them to join “true Islam” while Peshmerga members shout back telling them that what ISIS does is not Islam at all.

“We called out to them,” Neely said. “They called back. ‘Peace be with you.’ Chilling from a group that has beheaded two American journalists.” The Kurds have no plans to attack ISIS, but they’re on their guard, as well. “We will beat them,” a Kurdish commander told Neely, “even if it takes 10 years.”

An ISIS militant stands on a roadblock in the village of “Mula Abdula” in Kirkuk, Iraq on 26 September 2014. The roadblock cuts off the road between Kirkuk and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city that fell to the militant group in less than 4 days in June this year with virtually no resistance from the Iraqi Army.

A sign to Mosul is visible just past the ISIS front line, an eerie reminder of the terrorist group’s lightning-quick advance through the northeast part of Iraq. It now controls huge swaths of Syria, as well, declaring a caliphate of strict, uncompromising Islam. But to the east is independent Kurdistan — and the Kurds, with the help of a U.S.-led coalition, intend to keep it that way.

The Peshmerga fighters hold the territory east of the canal while less than 100 yards away ISIS militants hold the territory west of the canal on Sep 26th 2014.

There has not been fighting between the two sides here since June, a Peshmerga commander told NBC News, however the US has been bombing ISIS locations close by, the Peshmerga commander added that “Ironically, the militants have come closer to the Kurdish lines since the bombing started” he said the militants think they are safer there because the US would not bomb a location so close to the Peshmerga.

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

Defying Airstrikes, ISIL Shells Syrian Kurdish Town

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Al Jazeera America & Reuters – 2014-09-30 00:59:44


(September 27, 2014) — Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have continued to advance into the Kurdish-dominated town of Ain al-Arab in Syria, despite the US-led air campaign against the Al-Qaeda-linked group.

The US Central Command said the airstrikes destroyed an ISIL building and two armed vehicles near the border town of Kobane, which the insurgents have been besieging for the past 10 days.

It said an airfield, garrison and training camp near the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa were also among the targets damaged in seven airstrikes conducted by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, using fighter planes and remotely piloted aircraft.

The US has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since Aug. 8 and in Syria, with the help of Arab allies, since Tuesday, in a campaign it says is aimed at “degrading and destroying” the militants who have captured swathes of both countries.

A day after the UK parliament voted to allow British warplanes to attack ISIL in Iraq, two British fighter jets flew a mission over the country, the Ministry of Defense said, adding they had gathered intelligence but did not carry out air strikes.

ISIL, which swept across northern Iraq in June, has proclaimed an Islamic “caliphate,” beheaded Western hostages and ordered Shia Muslims and non-Muslims to convert or die. Its rise has prompted President Barack Obama to order US forces back into Iraq, which they left in 2011, and to go into action over Syria for the first time.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group that supports opposition forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Saturday’s air strikes set off more than 30 explosions in Raqqa.

Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the British-based Observatory, said 23 Islamic State fighters were killed. He said the heaviest casualties were inflicted in attacks on an airport.

But the monitoring group said ISIL was still able to shell eastern parts of Kobane, wounding several people, in a sign that its fighters were drawing closer. The insurgents’ weeklong offensive against the Kurdish town has prompted about 150,000 people to pour across the border into Turkey.

Turkey Shifts Stance
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signaled a shift in Ankara’s position by saying for the first time that Turkish troops could be used to help set up a secure zone in Syria, if there was international agreement to establish one as a haven for those fleeing the fighting.

Turkey has so far declined to take a frontline role in the US-led coalition against ISIL, but Erdogan told the Hurriyet newspaper: “The logic that assumes Turkey would not take a position militarily is wrong.”

He said negotiations were under way to determine how the airstrikes and a potential ground operation would be undertaken and that Turkey was ready to take part.

“You can’t finish off such a terrorist organization only with airstrikes. Ground forces are complementary …. You have to look at it as a whole. Obviously I’m not a soldier but the air [operations] are logistical. If there’s no ground force, it would not be permanent,” he said.

Turkey, however, worries that a campaign against ISIL could strengthen Syrian Kurdish forces, which maintain close ties to Kurdish separatists in Turkey, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Turkish officials near the Syrian border said ISIL fighters battling Kurdish forces for Kobane sent four mortar shells into Turkish territory, wounding two people. Heavy weapons fire was audible, and authorities blocked off the road towards the border.

“The situation has intensified since the morning. We are not letting anyone through right now because it is not secure at all. There is constant fighting, you can hear it,” the official said.

Kobane sits on a road linking north and northwestern Syria. ISIL militants were repulsed by local forces, backed by Kurdish fighters from Turkey, when they tried to take it in July.

Russia Questions Strikes
Syria’s government has not objected to the airstrikes that began on Tuesday and said it was informed by Washington before the air campaign began. But Russia questioned the legality of US and Arab airstrikes in Syria because they were carried out without the approval of Damascus, Moscow’s ally.

“It’s very important that such cooperation with Syrian authorities is established, even now that it’s an accomplished fact,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this week’s strikes in Syria had disrupted ISIL’s command, control and logistics capabilities. But he said a Western-backed opposition force of 12,000 to 15,000 would be needed to retake areas of eastern Syria controlled by the group.

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

International Law Ignored as US-led Strikes Kill Syrian Civilians

September 30th, 2014 - by admin

Al Jazeera America & Michael Pizzi / Al Jazeera America – 2014-09-30 00:52:25


US-led Strikes Across Syria Kill Civilians, Group Says
Al Jazeera America

DAMASCUS (September 29, 2014) — US-led airstrikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians and wounding insurgents, a group monitoring the war said on Monday.

The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij for an ISIL base, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The US military said its strikes were part of President Barack Obama’s “comprehensive strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL.”

“Although we continue to assess the outcome of these attacks, initial indications are that they were successful,” read a statement from US Central Command (CENTCOM), which is coordinating the air campaign.

CENTCOM added that the grain silo it struck was in the hands of ISIL, the violent Al-Qaeda splinter group that swept through Iraq and Syria this summer.

“The storage facility was being used by ISIL as a logistics hub and vehicle staging facility,” CENTCOM said.

However, the bombing in Manbij appeared to have killed only civilians, not fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, which gathers information from sources in Syria.

“These were the workers at the silos. They provide food for the people,” he said. He could not give a number of casualties and it was not immediately possible to verify the information.

The United States has targeted ISIL and other fighters in Syria since last week with the help of Arab allies, and has hit ISIL in Iraq since last month. Washington says it aims to damage and destroy the bases, forces and supply lines of the violent armed group that has captured large areas of both countries.

Manbij, the target site, sits between the western city of Aleppo and the northern town of Kobane, which ISIL has been trying to capture from Kurdish forces, forcing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee over the border to Turkey.

The CENTCOM statement also listed other strikes in the region, including what it said were ISIL assets in Deir al-Zour, Aleppo and Raqqa, the heart of ISIL-held territory.

Bombs also hit ISIL vehicles near Kirkuk, a contested city near the Kurdish region of Iraq, and Sinjar, just west of Kirkuk, where thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority, sought refuge from the ISIL onslaught in August.

Participating with the US in the attacks were the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

‘We Are Satisfied’
Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Moallem on Monday said Damascus was satisfied with the US-led bombing campaign against ISIL, adding that the airstrikes should be expanded to include all other rebel groups in Syria.

Rebel groups unaffiliated with ISIL, meanwhile, have criticized the US for not targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime, which they seek to overthrow. The White House maintains, as it has since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in 2011, that it hopes Assad will leave power, but has not effectively backed any anti-government group.

American diplomats have denied that they are working in concert with the regime — sometimes informing Syrian officials that the raids would take place, but not asking for permission to strike.

Al-Moallem said the US does not inform Syria of every strike before it happens, “but it’s OK.”

“We are fighting ISIS, they are fighting ISIS,” he said, referring to the group by one of its acronyms.

“Until today, we are satisfied. As long as they are aiming at ISIS locations in Syria and in Iraq, we are satisfied,” he said.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

Despite Questions over Legality of US Strikes in Syria, World Stays Quiet
Michael Pizzi / Al Jazeera America

(September 24, 2014) — For 13 years of the war on terrorism, the US took heat for bending — some say breaking — international law by intervening in sovereign states without the consent of their governments. So many were surprised on Tuesday that the international community hardly reprimanded Washington when it and five Arab nations launched a series of unprecedented strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets across Syria without securing the permission of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, their mutual enemy.

The US also launched unilateral strikes in Syria’s north against an Al-Qaeda-linked group that Lt. Gen. William Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said was nearing the “execution phase” of an attack on the West — a reprisal of the controversial pre-emptive self-defense argument that underpinned the war on terrorism.

The muted reaction doesn’t mean the world is buying the Obama administration’s legal rationale for striking ISIL in Syria, an argument that is premised on the White House’s refusal to partner with the Assad regime and that takes advantage of gray areas in international law.

Given the indiscriminate brutality of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and the sectarian threat it poses to regional stability, it may simply be the case that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye. Others say Washington’s partnership with regional powers lends credibility to the operation.

Still, many legal scholars say the US justification for striking ISIL may be valid.

The US has already invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter, which allows for collective self-defense of a sovereign state without Security Council approval, to justify the ongoing offensive against ISIL strongholds in Iraq. Baghdad has formally requested military assistance to combat the armed group in the country’s Sunni strongholds, so the legality of foreign intervention on the Iraqi side of ISIL’s vast territory is clear-cut.

But any campaign against ISIL that is limited to one side of the Iraqi border would amount to a stopgap measure, since ISIL fighters can easily retreat into Syria, where the group is based, to replenish and refuel. In other words, the US argues, defending Iraq from ISIL requires expanding the offensive into Syria.

“The US claim of self-defense is parasitic upon Iraq’s claim,” said Jens Ohlin, a professor at the Cornell University School of Law and an expert on the legality of international military action. “Iraq has suffered attacks from ISIS [an acronym for another name for ISIL] units that have a safe haven in Syria, which is unable to stop ISIS from operating on its territory. This argument is controversial but supportable in my view.”

In fact, there wouldn’t even be a debate over the legality of US strikes on ISIL if the White House secured the permission of the Assad regime. But after recently announcing it would boost aid to Syria’s moderate rebels and already under fire for taking too soft a line against the Assad regime over three years of bloody civil war, the White House is afraid it would paint itself as hypocritical by collaborating with Assad against a common enemy — even for a brief time.

So the US has made the controversial argument that the Syrian government is “unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory” by ISIL as a staging ground for attacks in Iraq, according to US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

After all, Assad has lost control of over one-third of his country to ISIL — hence “unable” — and there is evidence he has allowed ISIL to metastasize while focusing fire on other rebel factions because the group has spurred so much rebel infighting — therefore “unwilling.”

Furthermore, the US has designated ISIL a threat to its national security, in part because the group has beheaded two American journalists. That argument could, in theory, afford the US-led coalition the right to strike in Syria in defense of Iraq if the Assad regime isn’t doing enough on its own, wrote Ryan Goodman, a professor at New York University School of Law and editor-in-chief of the Just Security blog. But it’s a unique case.

“What is the international law when a host state (Syria) is willing and able to deal with a nonstate group (ISIS) through military cooperation with the threatened state (the United States) but the latter (the United States) doesn’t want to associate itself with the host state for potentially unrelated reasons?” Goodman wrote.

The Assad regime’s major backers — Iran and Russia — have cried foul, though their objection amounts to rhetorical support for Damascus since the consensus is that those two countries are happy the US is taking on a regionwide threat.

Scholars noted that Iran’s and Russia’s objections mean little if Damascus gave its tacit consent for foreign strikes against ISIL or the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, which lost 50 fighters in the US-Arab bombardment on Tuesday.

In a statement shortly after the strikes, the Assad government said it supported “any international effort to fight against terrorism” and emphasized that it was notified of the strikes beforehand, seemingly implying that it was on board.

“Assad would be the one to assert Syrian sovereignty, not Russia or Iran,” said Jennifer Trahan, an associate professor at the NYU School of Global Affairs. “If Assad isn’t alleging a violation of sovereignty, it brings this closer to the framework of the US strikes in Yemen or Somalia.”

Analysts say there is greater legal basis to object to the strikes on the Khorosan group, a cadre of Al-Qaeda veterans that the US struck on its own just hours before the coalition took aim at ISIL.

As the US often did to justify military action against extremist cells after the 9/11 attacks, it invoked the amorphous doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense to justify violating Syrian sovereignty in that case. Of course, what led the US to deduce that an attack on the West was imminent, as always, remains a government secret.

“If the US has previously been attacked by this group, it should say so,” said Ohlin. “If the argument is that we need to stop an imminent attack from them in the future — well again, the administration needs to provide some evidence to support this conclusion.”

In that regard, the Obama administration may have slipped one under the radar by hitting the Khorosan group alongside the more internationally accepted coalition strikes against ISIL.

In fact, not even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised issue with Tuesday’s strikes. In his first comments after the strikes, Ban all but endorsed the “unwilling and unable” argument made by the US, noting “that the strikes took place in areas no longer under effective control of that government.”

“I think it’s undeniable that these extremist groups pose an immediate threat to international peace and security,” he said.

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

A Proven Cure for Police Militarization: Put Liberals in Charge of the Cops

September 29th, 2014 - by admin

Robert Greenwald / Brave New Films & Robert Gammon / The East Bay Express – 2014-09-29 02:26:11


How “Protect and Serve” Became “Search and Destroy”
Robert Greenwald / 
Brave New Films

(September 8, 2014) — Armored tanks. Automatic weapons. Tear gas. In small towns across America. When did we all become the potential target of hostile military-police aggression? When the federal government decided to spend billions getting police every toy they could possibly want? To use against our own citizens? With no protocol or training on when such force and intimidation may be justified?

But now we have the chance to tell the federal government that this must stop. Land of the free, home of the brave does not mean non-violent citizens being beaten into submission, SWAT team raiding homes on a regular basis, or armored tanks rolling through towns anytime Americans exercise their right to peaceful protest.

Share this video and join the fight against police militarization.

Thank you for your continued support of Brave New Film’s work around ending excessive militarization, both at home and abroad! (Brave New Films, 10510 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. 
You can keep up with Brave New Films on Twitter or Facebook.)

When Liberals Take Control of Police
Cops stop shooting people. Political protests end peacefully. And crime drops dramatically. Just ask Richmond, California

Robert Gammon / The East Bay Express

(September 10, 2014) — For the past century, moderates and conservatives have dominated the debate over what constitutes effective policing in the Bay Area and throughout the nation. Indeed, the conversation has been so one-sided toward the law-and-order crowd that it’s often taken for granted — even among some liberals — that the best way for police to fight crime and combat political unrest is with overwhelming force.

This point of view also has been repeatedly used to justify the lethal use of force by police against any perceived threat. As such, it’s not surprising that Oakland police officers shot thirty people from 2008 to 2013, and killed twenty of them.

Nor is it surprising that the City of Oakland has been forced to pay millions of dollars over the past few years to political protesters who were seriously injured by Oakland police officers. It’s also not surprising that police departments throughout the nation have become increasingly militarized in the past decade as they’ve bolstered their combat capabilities with sophisticated weaponry.

But one police department in the East Bay is proving that the law-and-order crowd has been wrong all these years, and that overwhelming force — especially lethal force — is not only unjustified, but completely unnecessary.

Since 2007, the Richmond Police Department, under the command of Chief Chris Magnus, the most progressive police chief in the Bay Area, has not had a single fatal shooting by one of its officers, a fact that was first reported last weekend by the Contra Costa Times.

When Magnus took over the troubled Richmond PD in 2006, he quickly realized that overwhelming force was not the answer. In 2006 and 2007, Richmond cops shot five people, killing one of them. So he instituted numerous reforms, including training officers to defuse tense situations without firing their weapons.

Magnus also emphasized the importance of investigating crime, and eschewed so-called hotspot policing, in which a department saturates an area with cops like an occupying force. “We are surgical,” he told the Contra Costa Times earlier this year. “We concentrate on people that need to be focused on.”

Magnus also installed a robust community-policing program, deploying officers into neighborhoods to forge relationships with residents. The effort was designed to reverse a longstanding problem in Richmond in which residents distrusted the city’s violent police force and refused to cooperate with it. Magnus also reformed the way police respond to political demonstrations, training officers to take a softer, gentler approach.

Now, according to the controlling view on policing in America, progressive reforms like the ones Magnus instituted are a recipe for disaster. They amount to the coddling of criminals and protesters, and lead to more crime and violent uprisings. According to the law-and-order crowd, cops need to be tough on crime if they want to reduce crime.

Wrong. Since Magnus implemented his reforms, Richmond, once one of the most violent cities in the United States, has experienced an extraordinary reduction in crime. In 2013, the city had just 16 homicides, the city’s fewest in 33 years. In fact, when it comes to crime, Richmond is an American success story.

The same is true for political demonstrations. At a time when Oakland has been paying out huge settlements to injured protesters, political activists have been heaping praise on Richmond PD.

After protesters demonstrated late last week against the shipment of highly explosive crude oil through a Richmond railyard, one longtime activist said that when Richmond police arrived on the scene they were “as usual, a delight to work with” and, of course, no violence ensued.

Oakland, are you listening?

Magnus is not the only Richmond leader who is proving that moderates and conservatives have been wrong on law and order. For years, the conventional wisdom has been that progressives don’t know how to govern, and that they especially don’t know how to manage a police department. Liberal politicians are often viewed as being anti-police, and according to the controlling point of view, if you elect them, chaos will surely follow.

Wrong again. Since 2006, Richmond has had the most liberal mayor in the Bay Area — Gayle McLaughlin — a Green Party member who has waged battles against Big Oil and Big Banks. McLaughlin also happens to be an unabashed supporter of Magnus.

In fact, the chief was able to institute his reforms without much opposition because of her leadership. In addition, progressives have held a majority of seats on the Richmond City Council since 2010 and remain committed to Magnus’ ideas.

Liberal politicians. Progressive police chief. Cops stop killing people. Protests go off peacefully. Crime drops dramatically.

It’s time to put the law-and-order point of view where it belongs: on the trash heap.

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

The First International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

September 29th, 2014 - by admin

United Nations & International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – 2014-09-29 02:23:25


September 26: International Day for the
Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

United Nations

“Nuclear disarmament is one of the greatest legacies we can pass on to future generations.”
— Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

NEW YORK (September 23, 2014) — Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. It has been on the General Assembly’s agenda along with general and complete disarmament ever since 1959. It has been a prominent theme of review conferences held at the UN since 1975 of States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was identified a priority goal of the General Assembly’s first Special Session on disarmament in 1978, which attached a special priority to nuclear disarmament. And it has been supported by every United Nations Secretary-General.

Yet today, some 17,000 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-range plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. More than half of the world’s population still lives in countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. As of 2014, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty, bilateral or multilateral, and no nuclear disarmament negotiations are underway.

Meanwhile, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence persists as an element in the security policies of all possessor states and their nuclear allies. This is so — despite growing concerns worldwide over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war.

These facts provide the foundation for the General Assembly’s designation of 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This Day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority. It provides an opportunity to educate the public — and their leaders — about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.

Commemorating this Day at the United Nations is especially important, given its universal membership and its long experience in grappling with nuclear disarmament issues. It is the right place to address one of humanity’s greatest challenges, achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.


Dear friends,

COSTA RICA — I want to tell you what Costa Rica is doing for this important day, the 26 of September, Nuclear Abolition Day. Today, two of my PNND members are going to do a motion at our National Assembly to support the International Day of the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 26 of September.

On the 26, we are going to the University of Costa Rica to film different students on “how many weapons do you think there are on the world” and “how many should there be” and get as many instagram photos of them holding a sign with #thecourageto and #goodbyenukes More signatures for the Parliamentary Appeal are on the way as well! Hope everybody is doing great!! Un abrazo, IPPNW Costa Rica


Dear Campaigners,

Greetings from Tunisia!

Today is International Nuclear Abolition Day and I would like to share the ways that International Campaign to has been working to achieve this goal in the past month.

The Tunisian institute for Human Rights (TIHRS), in partnership with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, organized a series of regional town hall meeting in Tunis, Bizerte, Jendouba, and Al Kef. Through these town hall meetings, we raised awareness among all segments of civil society and mobilized them to action. Through widespread collaboration with Tunisian civil society, our NGO will work towards achieving universal human rights by promoting this imperative ban on nuclear weapons.

With that, As a human rights activist I’d like to announce the establishment of the first Tunisian Network for a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons. Working together, we will continue educating the public about the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and elevate our discourse to a national level.

My integration in public government hearings initially sparked my desire to bring the discourse of non proliferation to Tunisia , and to focus my efforts on building a strong coalition of non-nuclear state actors. As a human rights activist, I was very able to apply the discourse of non-proliferation to a wider audience, and has allowed me to spread the importance of the humanitarian and environmental aspects of disarmament and destruction of present nuclear arsenals.

We are currently preparing the upcoming events in the south of Tunisia in cooperation with civil society organizations next October.

We received a huge Arab and Tunisian media coverage during our first stage of town hall meeting. Attached to this email some photos and some news reports about the activities organized by ICAN-TUNISIA along with the Tunisian Institute of Human Rights Studies.

Here’s Some links of my interventions in Media:

ICAN Activities photos in Tunisia:

Posted by Tunisian Institute For Human Rights Studies on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Posted by Tunisian Institute For Human Rights Studies on Monday, August 11, 2014

Posted by Tunisian Institute For Human Rights Studies on Monday, August 11, 2014

Posted by Tunisian Institute For Human Rights Studies on Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thank you very much for your support!
See all soon 🙂
Best, Ashraf


Dear Campaigners,

Wishing you all a very successful observance, Thanks for sharing the wonderful activities of the campaign in Spain, France and Denmark and others.

Is it useful to use “Nuclear abolition day” and “International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” together. Will this confuse the media and the public. As UN use only “International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” for this year and the coming years and this will be in the UN documents, governments, and media.

Is it better to use only “International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” in our activities?

I was also looking to see the background materials long time ago as 2 days are not enough to approach the media and the public. May be the media release can be only 2-3 days but not the background materials.

All the best
Ghassan Shahrour

Dear friends,

Dear all,

(September 23, 2014) — Nuclear Abolition Day is just around the corner (September 26). To help you promote your actions and maximize exposure of our demand to ban nuclear weapons, we have prepared some material for you to use and share.

In this NAD kit folder you will find some shareable postcards, the nuclear abolition day logos, and a Facebook cover.

We also have prepared a simple action for you to develop. We have created a Tumblr blog page where we are going to collect pictures of people supporting a ban on nuclear weapons. The picture can be made holding a sign (attached), or simply share a picture of your action or yourself.

Use Instagram with the hashtags either #goodbyenukes or #thecourageto to upload the picture directly on our Tumblr blog page or send your pictures to daniela@icanw.org Subject line: NUCLEAR ABOLITION DAY.

We will run this action until Vienna, so plenty of time to share it with your network and make the world listen to our call: the time to ban nuclear weapons has arrived!

As it is also the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we are also encouraging people to send an email to Ban Ki Moon, cc Angela Kane and Valerie Amos, where we demand that the United Nations calls for a ban on nuclear weapons to be negotiated as soon as possible. On September 26 we are going to send this action to our newsletter, so stay tuned, participate in the action and share it with your network!

Attached you can find a PR template, modify or translate according to your national contexts. The PR is embargoed until September 26, 9.00 CET. Attached you can also find a Media Kit with key messages you can use in your media outreach activities.

We have produced a promo video that you can use to promote Vienna. Share it on social media!

ICAN Australia has produced one music video clip titled “(Don’t Want Your) Nuclear Umbrella”, which challenges nations to reject the doctrine of “extended nuclear deterrence” and support a treaty banning nuclear weapons. It’s an adaptation of Rihanna’s pop hit “Umbrella”, and features gas-masked ICAN campaigners carrying a four-metre-long nuclear bomb through the streets of Melbourne. View it here: http://www.icanw.org/nuclear-umbrella/ (it will be uploaded tomorrow, so stay tuned!).

All the best,


Dear everyone,

AUSTRALIA — All our bomb-carrying and umbrella-twirling has culminated in this music video adaptation of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” We hope it gives you a chuckle and some inspiration for all of your efforts to ban (and bin!) the bomb.

(Don’t Want Your) Nuclear Umbrella

Please enjoy and share it far and wide! We launched it last night in Melbourne to much cheering and applause, followed by a more serious film and discussion about the US alliance.

This morning in Canberra ICAN and the United Nations Information Centre are hosting a booked-out event for the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, kicking off right now.

For a world without nuclear weapons,
Gem Romuld, Outreach Coordinator
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons — Australia

0421 955 066


Greetings all,

AOTEAROA / NEW ZEALAND — A quick update from ICAN Aotearoa New Zealand — as it’s already the 26th here, today we’ve been providing information on both Nuclear Abolition Day 2014 and the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (as well as the CTBTO event in Vienna marking 18 years since the CTBT opened for signature), including links to the ‘Show the world you have the courage to ban nuclear weapons’ campaign and information on how folk here can be involved, through our national lists.

There’s an event in Auckland on Sunday to mark both Days for which we have provided iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand resources and one of our banners.

Best wishes from here for all your events and activities — here’s hoping our collective efforts will get things moving to (finally) rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Edwina Hughes,
Coordinator, iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand

ICAN Aotearoa New Zealand c/o Peace Movement Aotearoa
the national networking peace organisation
PO Box 9314, Wellington 6141, Aotearoa New Zealand

Tel +64 4 382 8129, email icanz@xtra.co.nz http://www.icanw.org.nz


Hallo to you all,

GERMANY — Some of you might have already seen us around on Facebook and Twitter. We have been mega-busy working on several fronts for Nuclear Abolition Day.

1. Our action week for Don’t Bank on The Bomb (known as “Atomwaffen — ein Bombengeschäft” here) begins today. At the last count we have 21 actions in 15 cities! Look out for the photos over the next week.
2. Those who can’t take part in the offline actions can take part in our online action — #banks4bombs, take a look at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Banks4Bombs

This great idea was thought up by the students taking part at the ICAN Action Academy.
3. And we decided at the last minute to join in the fun with #thecourageto and made ourselves a German sign.
4. Also, it seemed only right this year to celebrate the other impossible thing we achieved, so I made us a new Facebook cover with a picture I took here in Kreuzberg when the Wall came down.

Wishing you all a happy NAD,

Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy
Dr Rebecca E. Johnson FRSA Executive Director, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy 24 Colvestone Crescent, London E8 2LH United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 207 503 8857 mob: 07733360955 WEBSITE: www.acronym.org.uk CND Vice President ActionAWE co-founder International Steering Group, ICAN International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons International Panel on Fissile Materials

‘Say No to War and Media Propaganda’

September 29th, 2014 - by admin

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire / TRANSCEND & Human Wrongs Watch – 2014-09-29 01:36:27

'Say No to War and Media Propaganda', Mairead Corrigan Maguire , Nobel Peace Laureate

(September 17, 2014) — While US/UK/NATO are pushing for war with Russia, it behooves people and their governments around the world to take a clear stand for peace and against violence and war, no matter where it comes from.

We are at a dangerous point in our history of the human family and it would be the greatest of tragedies for ourselves and our children if we simply allowed the war profiteers to take us into a third world war, resulting in the death of untold millions of people.

NATO’s decision in Wales in September, to create a new 4,000 strong rapid reaction force for initial deployment in the Baltic is a dangerous path for us all to be forced down, and could well lead to a third world war if not stopped. What is needed now is cool heads and people of wisdom and not more guns, more weapons, more war.

NATO is the leadership that has been causing the ongoing wars from the present conflict in the Ukraine, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and others.

NATO’s latest move commits its 28 member-states to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on the military, and to establish a series of three to five bases in Eastern Europe where equipment and supplies will be pre-positioned to help speed deployments amongst other measures.

This decision by US/NATO to create a high readiness force with the alleged purpose of countering an alleged Russian threat reminds me of the war propaganda of lies, half truths, insinuations, rumours to which we were all subjected in order to try to soften us all up for the Iraq war and subsequent horrific wars of terror, which were wars carried out by NATO allied forces and causing the death of untold millions of people and destroying their countries.

NATO’s reports including its satellite photos which show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside sovereign territory of Ukraine, according to OSCE observation team, were based on false evidence.

While NATO is busy announcing a counter-invasion to the non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine, people in Ukraine are calling out for peace and negotiations, for political leadership, which will bring them peace, not weapons and war.

This spearhead military force will be provided by allies in rotation and will involve also air, sea and Special Forces. We are informed by a NATO spokesperson also that this spearhead military group will be trained to deal with unconventional actions from the funding of separatist groups to the use of social media, intimidation and black propaganda.

No doubt the current western media’s demonization of president Putin and the Russian people, by trying to inculcate fear and hatred of them is part of the black propaganda campaign.

NATO’s latest proposals of 4,000 soldiers, and a separate force of 10,000 strong British-led joint expeditionary force also proposed, is a highly aggressive move and totally irresponsible by US/UK/NATO forces. It is breaking the 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to base substantial numbers of soldiers in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis.

NATO should have been disbanded when the Warsaw Pact disintegrated but it was not and is now controlled by America for its own agenda. [One of president bill Clinton’s officials when speaking of NATO said ‘America is NATO’]. Today NATO instead of being abolished is re-inventing itself in re-arming and militarizing European states and justifying its new role by creating enemy images be they Russians, ISIS, etc.

In an inter-dependent, interconnected world, struggling to build fraternity, economic co-operation and human security, there is no place for the cold war policies of killing and threats to kill and policies of exceptionalism and superiority. The world has changed. People do not want to be divided, they do not want to return to a cold war and they want to see an end to violence militarism and war.

The old consciousness is dysfunctional and a new consciousness based on an ethic of non-killing and respect and co operation is spreading. It’s time for NATO to recognize their violent policies are counterproductive. The Ukraine crisis, groups such as Islamic state, etc., will not be solved with guns, but with justice and through dialogue.

Above all, the world needs hope. It needs inspirational political leadership and this could be given if president Obama and president Putin sat down together to solve the Ukraine conflict through dialogue and negotiation and in a nonviolent way.

We live in dangerous times, but all things are possible, all things are changing….

And peace is possible.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.

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

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