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Posted on 04/30/2012 by Juan
Not only are high officials and former officials of the Israeli security establishment pushing hard back against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s seeming rush to war with Iran, they appear actually to be attempting to unseat him, as it becomes possible that Israel may go to early elections in September.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has become the latest former high-ranking figure to savage Netanyahu and his defense minister Ehud Barak, for their threats to attack Iran unilaterally and soon.
In contrast to Netanyahu’s circles, who have threatened a unilateral Israeli strike this summer, Olmert said categorically in a television interview that this is “definitely not to initiate an Israeli military strike.” Olmert, no dove, had himself launched the 2006 Lebanon and the 2008-9 Gaza Wars. But neither went well for Israel, and Olmert may have learned something from that.
On Friday, the former head of Israeli domestic intelligence, Yuval Diskin, warned that attacking Iran would likely impel it to begin a nuclear weapons program, which Israeli and US intelligence believe it does not now have.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Mon Apr 30, 2012, 05:21 PM (3 replies)
Jonathan Chait has an excellent piece on Paul Ryan, which shows not just that he’s a fake deficit hawk now, but that he always was — he was an enthusiastic supporter of all of Bush’s budget-busters, spending as well as taxes.
Yet, as Chait also says, Ryan is still — still — beloved by “centrists”, who get very annoyed when someone (i.e., me) points out the fraudulence. How can this be?
Chait’s main answer is that reporters don’t know policy, so they’re easily taken in by image. But I don’t buy that. For one thing, they do generally love the “gotcha” style of journalism — you say A, but you used to say B — and as Chait has just demonstrated, you can have a field day doing that on Ryan.
Also, what about the Very Serious deficit-hawk groups that gave Ryan an award for fiscal responsibility? They can crunch numbers; they can surely see as clearly as I can that Ryan’s plans are fake, that when you strip out the implausible and unspecified they amount to a deficit-increasing plan to take from the poor and give to the rich.
in full: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/
The Legendary Paul Ryan
By Jonathan Chai
Posted by Jefferson23 | Mon Apr 30, 2012, 02:52 PM (0 replies)
New York Times columnist and Nobel prize winner: criticism of Israel silenced by accusations of anti-Semitism.
New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman believes that the policies of the current “narrow minded” Israeli government “are basically a gradual long-run form of national suicide.”
Writing in his New York Times blog “Conscience of a Liberal” about Peter Beinart’s controversial book “The Crisis of Zionism”, Krugman writes, “Like many liberal American Jews I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide – and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world.”
Krugman’s unusually harsh critique of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is sure to elicit howls of protest from Israeli spokespersons and American Jewish organizations – more so, perhaps, as they come on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day. It is also sure to further inflame the continuously deteriorating relationship between the Israeli government and the New York Times, considered by many to be the most important newspaper in the world. Last December, Netanyahu declined an offer by the Times’ to pen an article for the paper’s opinion pages, citing the newspaper’s alleged anti-Israel bias.
Krugman, probably the world’s leading economic columnist, won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences (informally the Nobel Prize in Economics) in 2008 for his contributions to the theories of free trade. Born to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Krugman, 59,has written only rarely about Israel. At an economic conference in Tel Aviv in 2009 he had only high praise for Israel’s economic performance.
in full: http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/paul-krugman-israeli-government-policies-are-a-form-of-national-suicide-1.426387
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:11 PM (59 replies)
Take off your hat. Taps is playing. Almost four decades late, the Vietnam War and its post-war spawn, the Vietnam Syndrome, are finally heading for their American grave. It may qualify as the longest attempted burial in history. Last words - both eulogies and curses - have been offered too many times to mention, and yet no American administration found the silver bullet that would put that war away for keeps.
President Richard Nixon tried to get rid of it while it was still going on by "Vietnamizing" it. Seven years after it ended in 1975, Ronald Reagan tried to praise it into the dustbin of history, hailing it as "a noble cause". Instead, it morphed from a defeat in the imperium into a "syndrome", an unhealthy aversion to war-making believed to afflict the American people to their core.
A decade later, after the US military smashed Saddam Hussein's army in Kuwait in the first Gulf War, George H W Bush exulted that the country had finally "kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all". As it turned out, despite the organization of massive "victory parades" at home to prove that this hadn't been Vietnam redux, that war kicked back. Another decade passed and there were H W's son W and his advisors planning the invasion of Iraq through a haze of Vietnam-constrained obsessions.
W's top officials and the Pentagon would actually organize the public relations aspect of that invasion and the occupation that followed as a Vietnam opposite's game - no "body counts" to turn off the public, plenty of embedded reporters so that journalists couldn't roam free and (as in Vietnam) harm the war effort, and so on.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Apr 21, 2012, 08:00 AM (1 replies)
Apr 14 2012, 8:00 AM ET Comment
A shadowy organization uses corporate contributions to sell prepackaged conservative bills -- such as Florida's Stand Your Ground statute -- to legislatures across the country.
The recent blowing up of the Invisible Children viral video might have some of us thinking that Malcolm Gladwell was onto something with his biting critique of online politics, the so-called "slacktivism" debate. But the attention to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and, even more so, the connected debate over Stand Your Ground gun laws and the distancing of some of the country's biggest companies from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, shows how online organizing actually can work. And that, reasonably, seems to be causing palpitations in the hearts of everyone from Coca-Cola to the Koch brothers.
That's why even if, as Politico reports, the gun debate isn't happening in Washington, the N.R.A. shouldn't be unconcerned.
To itself, ALEC is an organization dedicated to the advancement of free market and limited government principles through a unique "public-private partnership" between state legislators and the corporate sector. To its critics, it's a shadowy back-room arrangement where corporations pay good money to get friendly legislators to introduce pre-packaged bills in state houses across the country. Started in the mid-1970s, ALEC's existence has been long known but its practices largely not; the group hasn't been eager to tie its bills in Wisconsin to those in Ohio to those in North Carolina.
Nine months ago, though, a website called ALEC Exposed went live, showcasing more than 800 so-called model bills contributed by, say the site's creators, a still-anonymous whistleblower. Beyond the bills themselves, the group built out wide-ranging, sometimes confusing wiki aimed a documenting which legislators take part in the group, which corporations support it, and where the bills go once they leave ALEC.
in full: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/exposing-alec-how-conservative-backed-state-laws-are-all-connected/255869/
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Apr 14, 2012, 03:21 PM (0 replies)
April 14, 2012
By Juan Cole
Introduction by Tom Engelhardt: Negotiators for Iran, the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany - the P5+1 or "Iran Six" - meet in Istanbul, Turkey this weekend, face to face, for the first time in more than a year. There are small signs of possible future compromise on both sides when it comes to Iran's nuclear program (and a semi-public demand from Washington that could be an instant deal-breaker). Looking at the big picture, though, there's a remarkable amount we simply don't know about Washington's highly militarized policy toward Iran. Juan Cole does a remarkable job of offering us a full-scale picture of the complex economic underpinnings of the present Iran-US-Israeli crisis and the unnerving dangers involved.
It's a policy fierce enough to cause great suffering among Iranians - and possibly in the long run among Americans, too. It might, in the end, even deeply harm the global economy and yet, history tells us, it will fail on its own. Economic war led by Washington (and encouraged by Israel) will not take down the Iranian government or bring it to the bargaining table on its knees ready to surrender its nuclear program. It might, however, lead to actual armed conflict with incalculable consequences.
The United States is already effectively embroiled in an economic war against Iran. The Barack Obama administration has subjected the Islamic Republic to the most crippling economic sanctions applied to any country since Iraq was reduced to fourth-world status in the 1990s. And worse is on the horizon. A financial blockade is being imposed that seeks to prevent Tehran from selling petroleum, its most valuable commodity, as a way of dissuading the regime from pursuing its nuclear enrichment program.
Historical memory has never been an American strong point and few today remember that a global embargo on Iranian petroleum is hardly a new tactic in Western geopolitics; nor do many recall that the last time it was applied with such stringency, in the 1950s, it led to the overthrow of the government with disastrous long-term blowback on the United States. The tactic is just as dangerous today.
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:47 AM (5 replies)
By Scott Horton
Just how serious is Washington about battling terrorism? The airwaves fill regularly with sanctimonious declamations about terrorist threats and with vows to pursue the war against them to its ultimate conclusion—a war without territorial limits, and with ill-defined opponents and no clear time horizon. A forever war. But to insiders, it is evidently a laughing matter. Developments the past week suggest that for some prominent Washington figures, rubbing elbows with a scheduled terrorist organization and taking money from its front groups is a no-brainer. It may be that they know something most of us don’t about the intelligence community’s dealings with these terrorists.
The State Department scheduled the Mujahideen-e Khalq, or People’s Mujahideen of Iran (MEK) as a terrorist organization in 1997. Regularly described as a cult, the group mixes Shia Islam, Marxism, and rituals venerating its charismatic leaders. While these leaders claim to have renounced terrorist violence, they have a history of advocating violence to accomplish religious and political objectives. The MEK earned its place on the State Department’s list based largely on an assassination campaign that targeted American military personnel in Iran in the mid-Seventies. Three military officers and three defense contractors were murdered in MEK-linked attacks: Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lee Hawkins (USA), Colonel Paul Shaffer (USAF) and Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner (USAF), as well as William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard, who were in Iran working with Rockwell International on the NSA’s Ibex System.
It is unlawful to accept funds from the MEK or to support the group materially, yet its supporters managed to stage a conference in Washington this past week. Among those appearing were Mitchell Reiss, a senior adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and former attorney general Michael Mukasey. Both Reiss and Mukasey openly joked that they were potentially committing a criminal offense by aiding a scheduled terrorist group.
Why would Washington political figures publicly associate themselves with a terrorist organization? It might be because they know that the United States itself shelters, arms, trains, and supports the same group—and that prosecutors would therefore face a quandary in going after them. The covert relationship between the MEK and the U.S. military and intelligence communities has not been very covert. The official U.S. account is that following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the MEK was disarmed and confined to a former Iraqi military base, Camp Ashraf.
in full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2012/04/hbc-90008551
Posted by Jefferson23 | Thu Apr 12, 2012, 04:36 PM (0 replies)
Training Terrorists in Nevada: Seymour Hersh on U.S. Aid to Iranian Group Tied to Scientist Killings
April 10, 2012
Journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Hersh reports the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been listed as a foreign terrorist groups since 1997 and is linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens in the 1970s to the recent wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists. Hersh also discusses the role of Israeli intelligence and notes the Obama administration knew about the training, "because they have access to what was going on in the previous administration in this area in terms of the MEK, in terms of operations inside Iran." His new report for The New Yorker blog, "Our Men in Iran?," comes as nuclear talks are set to resume this week between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Guest: Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter for The New Yorker magazine. His latest piece for their website’s "News Desk" blog is titled "Our Men in Iran?"
snip* AMY GOODMAN: In what appears to be a first for U.S. foreign policy, new revelations have emerged that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group despite its inclusion on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Writing for The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been included on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups since 1997. It’s been linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens in the ’70s to the recent wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.
Although the revelation that the U.S. government directly trained the MEK comes as a surprise, it’s no secret the group has prominent backers across the political spectrum. Despite it’s designation as a "terrorist" organization by the State Department for 15 years, a number of prominent former U.S. officials have been paid to speak in support of the MEK. The bipartisan list includes two former CIA directors, James Woolsey and Porter Goss; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Vermont Governor Howard Dean; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton; and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
snip* AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll focus on the wiser part. Tell us what you have learned. Who are, as you call it, "our men in Iran"?
**Simply, they’re just the Khalq, the MEK. We began to—I learned about this many years ago. It’s just one of those things that it never quite occurred to me how important it was. And what is important about also the—they did stop, there’s no question, this sort of training that was going on. It was going on at a place called the Nevada Nuclear Security or National Security Test Site. It’s a former site for World War—post-World War II nuclear testing of weapons, testing of nuclear weapons. And it’s off-limits to people. And it’s—there’s an air base there. God knows what went on there. My own guess is rendition flights also flew into that air base in '02, ’03. There's some evidence for it. But certainly, the groups of MEK were flown in secretly by, I presume, the Joint Special Operations Command. This is this new high-powered group that’s been doing all the night raids in Afghanistan, that also came up in your news broadcast.
in full: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/10/training_terrorists_in_nevada_seymour_hersh
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Apr 10, 2012, 08:37 PM (0 replies)
Millions refuse to lie down and see their lives smashed for the benefit of a few bankers, says Escobar.
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2012 09:55
The longing for rest and peace must itself
be thrust aside; it coincides with the acceptance
of iniquity. Those who weep for the happy periods
they encountered in history acknowledge what
they want: not the alleviation but the silencing
Albert Camus, The Rebel, 1951
Zaragoza, Spain - Make no mistake; the future of the euro is being played in Spain. The euro may win - but at a price; millions of Spaniards as "collateral damage".
It took less than 100 days in power for the right-wing Popular Party (PP) government led by Mariano Rajoy to face its first general strike, on March 29.
The strike was mostly called by minority unions; the major ones, the opportunistic and bureaucratic CCOO and UGT, have been in bed with the powers that be for years.
The strike was a response to Rajoy's EU-imposed labour market reforms that, according to Antonio Carretero from the CGT union, are "a counter-reformation that erases with a single stroke many labour and union rights acquired by the working class in decades and generations". That includes extremely harsh cuts in health, education and social services.
in full: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/20124712153186201.html
Posted by Jefferson23 | Tue Apr 10, 2012, 08:22 AM (4 replies)
Yesterday the Obama Administration, after a delay of several years, released an important document relating to the Bush Administration’s torture policies: a memorandum by Philip Zelikow, a high-ranking State Department lawyer and confidant of Condoleezza Rice, which aggressively refuted Justice Department memoranda that sought to authorize the use of thirteen “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA. Zelikow’s memo concluded that the use of these techniques would constitute prosecutable felonies—war crimes. As Zelikow explained in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2009, his memo, when it was circulated in February 2006, caused senior figures in the Bush White House to go ballistic—they actually sought to collect and destroy all the copies.
The memo is not only a significant historical document, it may also provide important evidence in future criminal prosecutions arising out of the Bush-era torture programs. Indeed, the Bush White House fully appreciated this possible consequence, which explains why they tried so hard to make the memo disappear and why Bush-era officials apparently pressed their successors to withhold the memo, delaying its release for three years.
Conservative defenders of the Bush torture team argue that even if the techniques used constituted torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading (CID) conduct, they were entitled to rely on advice from Justice Department lawyers that said the opposite. In order for a prosecution to succeed, a prosecutor would have to show that the accused understood that what he was doing was a crime. In United States v. Altstoetter, a case in which government lawyers were prosecuted for their role in, among other things, providing a legal pretext for the torture and mistreatment of prisoners, the court fashioned a similar rule, saying that the law requires “proof before conviction that the accused knew or should have known that in matters of international concern he was guilty of participation in a nationally organized system of injustice and persecution shocking to the moral sense of mankind, and that he knew or should have known that he would be subject to punishment if caught.”
The Zelikow memo satisfies both of these elements—it makes clear that the techniques the Justice Department endorsed constituted criminal conduct, and it applied the “shock the conscience” test of American constitutional law to help reach that conclusion. It could therefore be introduced as Exhibit A by prosecutors bringing future charges.
in full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2012/04/hbc-90008548
Posted by Jefferson23 | Sat Apr 7, 2012, 11:39 PM (5 replies)