Friday, October 16, 2009

UN Rights Council Endorses Gaza War Report

Goldstone Report Moves on to Almost Certain US Veto at Security Council
by Jason Ditz,
October 16, 2009

The 575-page Goldstone Report, a report on war crimes by the Israeli government and Hamas during the January Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, has been formally endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in a 25-6 vote.

The report will now be referred to the United Nations Security Council, where assuming it is even brought up for a vote it will almost certainly be vetoed by the United States, which has repeatedly and vociferously parroted Israeli objections to the report.

Israel has insisted that the report, penned by a group of experts led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, is biased despite the fact that it faults both Israel and Hamas over the massive civilian toll. Israeli officials have also insisted that Goldstone, who is Jewish, is an “anti-Semite” for issuing a report so critical of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cited the report frequently in a screed condemning the United Nations last month on the assembly floor, has warned the rest of the world that it had better reject the accusation of war crimes, because so many of them are involved in similar wars and might face similar charges if the precedent is set.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

War Criminals Are Becoming The Arbiters Of Law

By Paul Craig Roberts

October 12, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- The double standard under which the Israeli government operates is too much for everyone except the brainwashed Americans. Even the very Israeli Jerusalem Post can see the double standard displayed by “all of Israel now speaking in one voice against the Goldstone report”:

“This is the Israeli notion of a fair deal: We’re entitled to do whatever the hell we want to the Palestinians because, by definition, whatever we do to them is self-defense. They, however, are not entitled to lift a finger against us because, by definition, whatever they do to us is terrorism.

“That’s the way it’s always been, that’s the way it was in Operation Cast Lead.

“And there are no limits on our right to self-defense. There is no such thing as ‘disproportionate.’

“We can deliberately destroy thousands of Gazan homes, the Gazan parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, courthouses, the only Gazan flour plant, the main poultry farm, a sewage treatment plant, water wells and God knows what else.


“Why? Because we’re better than them. Because we’re a democracy and they’re a bunch of Islamo-fascists. Because ours is a culture of life and theirs is a culture of death. Because they’re out to destroy us and all we are saying is give peace a chance.

“The Goldstone's of the world call this hypocrisy, a double standard. How dare they! Around here, we call it moral clarity.”

A person would never read such as this in the New York Times or The Washington Post or hear it from any US news source. Unlike Israeli newspapers, the US media is a complete mouthpiece for the Israel Lobby. Never a critical word is heard.

This will be even more the case now that the Israel Lobby, after years of effort, has succeeded in repealing the First Amendment by having the Hate Crime Bill attached to the recently passed military appropriations bill.(Editor's emphasis) This is the way the syllogism works:

It is anti-semitic to criticize Israel. Anti-semitism is a hate crime. Therefore, to criticize Israel is a hate crime.

As the Jerusalem Post notes, this syllogism has “moral clarity.”

Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Sawers, stepped into the hate crime arena when he told Israel Army radio that the Goldstone report on Israel’s military assault on Gaza contains “some very serious details which need to be investigated.” A year from now when the Anti-Defamation League has its phalanx of US Department of Justice (sic) prosecutors in place, Sawers would be seized and placed on trial. Diplomatic immunity means nothing to the US, which routinely invades other countries, executes their leaders or sends them to the Hague for trial as war criminals.

In the meantime, however, the Israeli government put Sawers and the UK government on notice that British support for the Goldstone Report would result in the destruction of the double standard that protects the West and Israel and create a precedent that would place the British in the dock for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“London,” declared the Israeli government, “could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document [the Goldstone report].”

Once the DOJ’s hate crime unit us up and running, “self-hating Jews,” such as leaders of the Israeli peace movement and Haaretz and Jerusalem Post journalists, can expect to be indicted for anti-semitic hate crimes in US courts.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Making a Federal Case for Gay Rights March Pushes Marital, Military Equality

By Nelson Hernandez and Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 12, 2009

Tens of thousands of gay-rights activists marched Sunday in Washington to show President Obama and Congress that they are impatient with what they consider piecemeal progress and are ready to fight at the federal level for across-the-board equality, including for the right to marry and the right to serve in the military.

Key votes on same-sex marriage are coming up in the District and Maine, and Obama reiterated his campaign promise Saturday to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that forces gay and lesbian members of the armed forces to keep their sexual orientation a secret.

But organizers of the National Equality March and its participants said they want to shift the political effort toward seeking equality in all states, rather than accepting just local and state-level victories.

"We're not settling," said Cleve Jones, co-chairman of the march and founder of the Names Project, the AIDS memorial quilt that recognizes Americans who have died from HIV- or AIDS-related causes. "There's no such thing as a fraction of equality. We want equal protection under the law."

The march was coordinated by Equality Across America, a group formed this year. Organizers said they represent those who want immediate fundamental change in the legal status of gays, as opposed to those who think patience is needed as legal obstacles are overcome.

Some in the latter group are political veterans, such as Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the highest-ranking openly gay political figure in the United States. Last week, Frank said he thought the march was "useless," a remark that was attacked at the rally.

"How many more tears should be shed before some politicians in a backroom can decide it is convenient to join us and fight for our freedom?" asked David Mixner, a longtime activist who spoke at the rally.

Attendees expressed complicated feelings about Obama. Nearly every person interviewed said he or she had voted for him, but many people said they were disappointed by what they see as a lack of action on key gay-rights issues, such as letting gays serve openly in the military.

Thousands of people marched from McPherson Square, a few blocks from the White House, down Pennsylvania Avenue, chanting "President Obama: Let mama marry mama!" and "L, G, B, T -- We demand equality!"

Marchers carried signs reading "We Won't Wait for Full Equality" and "Mind Your Own Marriage." Spectators watched from the street and the roof of the Newseum, many cheering the participants. As the march ended about 2:30 p.m., people gathered on Capitol Hill for a rally.

Many supporters identified themselves as heterosexual, carrying signs with such slogans as "I'm Not Queer But I'm Here."

"They told me that you didn't care and you wouldn't come," Mixner told the crowd. "The president asked us to help him, and help him we will."

The march occurred at a critical time for the gay-rights movement, with a president who has vowed to fight for equality and Democrats in control of Congress.

Obama pledged Saturday night at a fundraising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign that he would end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but he provided no specifics on how. Many gay activists said that they are tired of waiting and that he should immediately move to repeal the military's policy and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sue Null, 72, walked near the White House holding a sign that said "My Gay Children Deserve Rights."

The retired teacher said she traveled nine hours from Brevard, N.C., with dozens of others to represent children who were too busy working to make the trip. Of her four children, two are gay, she said.

"It's painful as a mother," she said. "It's discouraging. Every parent wants their children to have opportunities. But that's not what our government is about. I've seen nothing from the Obama administration."

Others seemed more hopeful.

"I love President Obama," said Kendra Bopp of Ashtabula, Ohio. "He's not perfect, but his heart's in the right place, and he's trying."

On Tuesday, David A. Catania (I-At Large), an openly gay member of the D.C. Council, introduced a bill that would allow same-sex marriages in the nation's capital. Council members have said they want to pass the measure by Christmas.

Maine is holding a referendum Nov. 3 that could overturn a state law approved in May that allows same-sex marriage. The vote is seen as a bellwether; five other states have legalized same-sex marriage, but none has done it with the affirmation of a popular vote.

Some District residents said they can taste victory.

Matthew Fornataro and William Dooner, a D.C. couple together for 3 1/2 years, said they want to get married as soon as the city will allow.

"Our country was founded on the idea all people are created equal," Fornataro said. "We as a country need to stand up for the ideals the founders based it on."

"D.C. is our nation's capital," said Jamie Stephens, who lives in the District. "If D.C. goes someplace, the rest of the nation is sure to follow. This is just a great steppingstone."


It is truly sad that traditional morality in the United States has deteriorated to the point where homosexuality is now widely considered a "right" i.e. gay "rights", a right to gay "marriage" etc. There can be no right to engage in practices which are contrary to the Natural (moral) Law. Homosexual activity is clearly incompatible with the Natural Law. Any "relationships" which result from such behaviors are illegitimate and destructive of the common good irrespective of what the individuals involved may think.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?

By David Ray Griffin

October 10, 2009 "Global Research" -- Is Osama bin Laden still alive? I have dealt with this question in a recent little book entitled Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? The present essay summarizes the main points of this book.

Since the transference of power from the Bush administration to that of Barack Obama administration, the question of whether bin Laden is dead or alive has become more important.

Although George W. Bush famously said that he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive,” he made clear that he was not serious about this. Besides stating that he was not concerned about bin Laden, he demonstrated this by diverting most of America’s military resources to Iraq. Bush could, of course, be unconcerned about bin Laden because he knew that, besides the fact that bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11, he was probably dead anyway.

I do not know what President Obama and his people think about these matters, but their rhetoric presupposes that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 and is still alive.

In November 2008, for example, a Washington Post story said:

“President-elect Barack Obama . . . intends to renew the U.S. commitment to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. . . . ‘This is our enemy,’ one adviser said of bin Laden, ‘and he should be our principal target.’”

In his White House address of March 27 of this year, President Obama said:

“[A]l Qaeda and its allies - the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks - are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan. . . . [A]l Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. This almost certainly includes al Qaeda's leadership: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.”

Obama has appealed regularly to these intelligence estimates, which have invariably claimed that bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, somewhere along its border with Pakistan. This claim has been used to justify the extension of US military activity into Pakistan, with the result that people now speak of the “AfPak war.”

One way to argue against this war is to point out that, if these intelligence experts do not even know whether bin Laden is alive, they certainly cannot know where he is and what he is thinking.

There are, to be sure, other good arguments against the this war, and many critics are making these arguments. But to point out that bin Laden is almost certainly dead provides an argument that goes to the heart of the publically articulated rationale for this war.

Of course, another way to argue against this war would be to point out that bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11. But even though our own FBI has admitted that it “has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11,” a large part of the American population has been conditioned to reject all revisionism about 9/11 out of hand. As we saw recently with “the Van Jones affair,” people are considered unfit for public service if they once signed a document suggesting that the official account of 9/11 might not be fully true.

My little bin Laden book is primarily for people who, besides assuming that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, also believe that the AfPak war is justifiable because we need to prevent him from planning another attack. Many such people will turn against the war if they become aware of convincing evidence that bin Laden is almost certainly dead. There is considerable evidence for this conclusion.

This evidence is of two types: objective evidence and testimonies.

Objective Evidence that Bin Laden is Dead

The objective evidence includes the following facts:

First, up until mid-December 13, 2001, the CIA had regularly been intercepting messages between bin Laden and his people. At that time, however, the messages suddenly stopped, and the CIA has never again intercepted a message.

Second, on December 26, 2001, a leading Pakistani newspaper published a story reporting that bin Laden had died in mid-December, adding:

“A prominent official in the Afghan Taliban movement . . . stated . . . that he had himself attended the funeral of bin Laden and saw his face prior to burial.”

Third, bin Laden had kidney disease. He had been treated for it in the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001, at which time he reportedly ordered two dialysis machines to take home. If you have ever wondered what bin Laden was doing the night before the 9/11 attacks, CBS News reported that he was being given kidney dialysis treatment in a hospital in Pakistan. And in January of 2001, Dr. Sanjay Gupta said – based on a video of bin Laden that had been made in either late November or early December of 2001 – that he appeared to be in the last stages of kidney failure.

Fourth, In July of 2002, CNN reported that bin Laden’s bodyguards had been captured in February of that year, adding: “Sources believe that if the bodyguards were captured away from bin Laden, it is likely the most-wanted man in the world is dead.”

Fifth, the United States has since 2001 offered a $25 million reward for any information leading to the capture or killing of bin Laden. But this reward offer has produced no such information, even though Pakistan has many desperately poor people, only about half of whom have been supportive of bin Laden.

Testimonial Evidence that Bin Laden Is Dead

In addition to this objective evidence, we had considerable testimony in 2002, from people in position to know, that bin Laden was dead, or probably so. These people included:

• President Musharraf of Pakistan;

• Dale Watson, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism unit;

• Oliver North, who said: “I'm certain that Osama is dead. . . And so are all the other guys I stay in touch with”;

• President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan;

• Sources within Israeli intelligence, who said that any new messages from bin Laden were “probably fabrications”;

• Sources within Pakistani intelligence, who “confirmed the death of . . . Osama Bin Laden” and “attributed the reasons behind Washington's hiding news on the death of Osama Bin Laden to the desire of the hawks of the American administration to use the issue of al-Qaida and international terrorism to invade Iraq.”

For this reason, perhaps, the stories about the demise of bin Laden largely came to an end in the latter part of 2002, when the United States was gearing up for its attack on Iraq. From then until now, there have been few such stories.

Recently, however, two former intelligence officers have spoken out. In October 2008, former CIA case officer Robert Baer suggested in passing during an interview on National Public Radio that bin Laden was no longer among the living. When Baer was asked about this, he said: “Of course he’s dead.”
In March of 2009, former Foreign Service officer Angelo Codevilla published an essay in the American Spectator entitled “Osama bin Elvis.” Explaining his title, Codevilla wrote: “Seven years after Osama bin Laden's last verifiable appearance among the living, there is more evidence for Elvis's presence among us than for his.”

This is an excellent article, with only one serious flaw. In 2007, Benazir Bhutto, being interviewed by David Frost, referred to Omar Sheikh as “the man who murdered Osama bin Laden.” Codevilla cited this statement as further evidence that bin Laden is dead. But Bhutto had simply misspoken: She had meant to say “the man who murdered Daniel Pearl,” which is the standard way of referring to Omar Sheikh. That she misspoke was shown the next day, when she told CNN: “I don’t think General Musharaf personally knows where Osama bin Laden is.” Ten days later, speaking to NPR, she reported having asked a policeman assigned to guard her house: “Shouldn’t you be looking for Osama bin Laden?” This flaw aside, Codevilla’s article provides good support for his claim that the widespread belief in bin Laden’s continued existence is not backed up by evidence.

What about the “Messages from Osama bin Laden”?

Many people, of course, assume that there is a lot of evidence that bin Laden is still alive, namely, the dozens of audio tape and video tape “messages from bin Laden” that have appeared since 2001. These tapes provide good evidence, however, only if they are authentic. The longest chapter of my book is devoted to this question.

I show, in the first place, that the technology for making fake audio and video tapes is now so advanced that even experts can be fooled. So although the press regularly tells us that intelligence agencies have authenticated the latest bin Laden tape, it is virtually impossible to prove a tape to be authentic.

It is sometimes possible, however, to prove a tape to be a fake. For example: If the person hired to play bin Laden writes with his right hand; if he is much heavier and darker than bin Laden was in a tape made about the same time; if he has fatter hands and shorter fingers; if his nose has a different shape. And if, in discussing the Twin Towers, he says that the fire melted the steel, whereas the real bin Laden would have known that a building fire cannot melt steel. I am speaking here of the video that was allegedly found by US troops in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in November 2001, which is widely known as the “bin Laden confession video.”

Also obviously fabricated was the “October Surprise” video, which appeared on October 29, 2004, just in time to help George W. Bush get reelected. One clue that it was a fake, aside from its timing, is provided by its language. Bin Laden’s own messages were saturated with references to Allah and the Prophet Mohammed. But in this October Surprise video, Allah was mentioned rarely and the only “Mohammad” mentioned was Mohamed Atta. Also, whereas undoubtedly authentic bin Laden messages portrayed worldly events as cause or at least permitted by Allah, the speaker on this October Surprise video gave a purely secular account of events, even telling the American people: “Your security is in your own hands.”

The most obviously faked video is one that, appearing in 2007, was identical to the October Surprise video of 2004, except that the bin Laden figure now had a completely black beard, leading me to call it the video from “Blackbeard the Terrorist.” Although pundits tried, with straight faces, to explain why bin Laden might have dyed his beard, or put on a fake one, this video was best treated with the respect it deserved by a YouTube video featuring a actor wearing a very long, very black, beard, and saying:

Hello, long time no see. It is me, Osama bin Laden. And no, this not to be confused with just-for-men hair color commercial. . . . I make this video to prove to world that me still alive and kicking.

This video is very funny. But there is, of course, nothing funny about the fact that obviously fake bin Laden videos have been used, and are still being used, to justify the AfPak war, which continues to kill dozens if not hundreds of innocent people each week, including women and children attending weddings and funerals.


If my little book, by showing that bin Laden has probably long been dead, can help shorten this war, it will have served its main purpose.

Its other main point, to which a separate chapter is devoted, is that these fake bin Laden tapes appear to be simply one part of an extensive propaganda operation, in which the US military intelligence is using tax dollars – illegally – to propagandize the American public, with the aim of furthering the militarization of America and its foreign policy.

I hope my little book will stimulate the 9/11 truth movement, along with the anti-war movement in general, to take on more fully the task of exposing this propaganda effort, to which a growing portion of our tax dollars is being devoted.

U.S. Story on Iran Nuke Facility Doesn't Add Up

by Gareth Porter

September 30, 2009 "IPS" -- WASHINGTON, Sep 29 (IPS) - The story line that dominated media coverage of the second Iranian uranium enrichment facility last week was the official assertion that U.S. intelligence had caught Iran trying to conceal a "secret" nuclear facility.

But an analysis of the transcript of that briefing by senior administration officials that was the sole basis for the news stories and other evidence reveals damaging admissions, conflicts with the facts and unanswered questions that undermine its credibility.

Iran's notification to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the second enrichment facility in a letter on Sep. 21 was buried deep in most of the news stories and explained as a response to being detected by U.S. intelligence. In reporting the story in that way, journalists were relying entirely on the testimony of "senior administration officials" who briefed them at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh Friday.

U.S. intelligence had "learned that the Iranians learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised", one of the officials said, according to the White House transcript. The Iranians had informed the IAEA, he asserted, because "they came to believe that the value of the facility as a secret facility was no longer valid..."

Later in the briefing, however, the official said "we believe", rather than "we learned", in referring to that claim, indicating that it is only an inference rather than being based on hard intelligence.

The official refused to explain how U.S. analysts had arrived at that conclusion, but an analysis by the defence intelligence consulting firm IHS Jane's of a satellite photo of the site taken Saturday said there is a surface-to-air missile system located at the site.

Since surface-to-air missiles protect many Iranian military sites, however, their presence at the Qom site doesn't necessarily mean that Iran believed that Washington had just discovered the enrichment plant.

The official said the administration had organised an intelligence briefing on the facility for the IAEA during the summer on the assumption that the Iranians might "choose to disclose the facility themselves". But he offered no explanation for the fact that there had been no briefing given to the IAEA or anyone else until Sep. 24 - three days after the Iranians disclosed the existence of the facility.

A major question surrounding the official story is why the Barack Obama administration had not done anything – and apparently had no plans to do anything - with its intelligence on the Iranian facility at Qom prior to the Iranian letter to the IAEA. When asked whether the administration had intended to keep the information in its intelligence briefing secret even after the meeting with the Iranians on Oct. 1, the senior official answered obliquely but revealingly, "I think it's impossible to turn back the clock and say what might have been otherwise."

In effect, the answer was no, there had been no plan for briefing the IAEA or anyone.

News media played up the statement by the senior administration official that U.S. intelligence had been "aware of this facility for years".

But what was not reported was that he meant only that the U.S. was aware of a possible nuclear site, not one whose function was known.

The official in question acknowledged that analysts had not been able to identify it as an enrichment facility for a long time. In the "very early stage of construction," said the official, "a facility like this could have multiple uses." Intelligence analysts had to "wait until the facility had reached the stage of construction where it was undeniably intended for use as a centrifuge facility," he explained.

The fact that the administration had made no move to brief the IAEA or other governments on the site before Iran revealed its existence suggests that site had not yet reached that stage where the evidence was unambiguous.

A former U.S. official who has seen the summary of the administration's intelligence used to brief foreign governments told IPS he doubts the intelligence community had hard evidence that the Qom site was an enrichment plant. "I think they didn't have the goods on them," he said.

Also misleading was the official briefing's characterisation of the intelligence assessment on the purpose of the enrichment plant. The briefing concluded that the Qom facility must be for production of weapons-grade enriched uranium, because it will accommodate only 3,000 centrifuges, which would be too few to provide fuel for a nuclear power plant.

According to the former U.S. official who has read the briefing paper on the intelligence assessment, however, the paper says explicitly that the Qom facility is "a possible military facility". That language indicates that intelligence analysts have suggested that the facility may be for making low-enriched rather than for high-enriched, bomb-grade uranium.

It also implies that the senior administration official briefing the press was deliberately portraying the new enrichment facility in more menacing terms than the actual intelligence assessment.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's offer the day after the denunciation of the site by U.S., British and French leaders to allow IAEA monitoring of the plant will make it far more difficult to argue that it was meant to serve military purposes.

The circumstantial evidence suggests that Iran never intended to keep the Qom facility secret from the IAEA but was waiting to make it public at a moment that served its political-diplomatic objectives.

The Iranian government is well aware of U.S. capabilities for monitoring from satellite photographs any site in Iran that exhibits certain characteristics.

Iran obviously wanted to make the existence of the Qom site public before construction on the site would clearly indicate an enrichment purpose. But it gave the IAEA no details in its initial announcement, evidently hoping to find out whether and how much the United States already knew about it.

The specific timing of the Iranian letter, however, appears to be related to the upcoming talks between Iran and the P5+1 - China, France, Britain, Russia, the United States and Germany - and an emerging Iranian strategy of smaller back-up nuclear facilities that would assure continuity if Natanz were attacked.

The Iranian announcement of that decision on Sep. 14 coincided with a statement by the head of Iran's atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, warning against preemptive strikes against the country's nuclear facilities.

The day after the United States, Britain and France denounced the Qom facility as part of a deception, Salehi said, "Considering the threats, our organisation decided to do what is necessary to preserve and continue our nuclear activities. So we decided to build new installations which will guarantee the continuation of our nuclear activities which will never stop at any cost."

As satellite photos of the site show, the enrichment facility at Qom is being built into the side of a mountain, making it less vulnerable to destruction, even with the latest bunker-busting U.S. bombs.

The pro-administration newspaper Kayhan quoted an "informed official" as saying that Iran had told the IAEA in 2004 that it had to do something about the threat of attack on its nuclear facilities "repeatedly posed by the western countries".

The government newspaper called the existence of the second uranium enrichment plan "a winning card" that would increase Iran's bargaining power in the talks. That presumably referred to neutralising the ultimate coercive threat against Iran by the United States.