Monthly Archives: July 2013

Syrian ‘Rebels’ wearing uniforms supplied by France, execute unarmed prisoner in cold blood

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EU to allow Syrian ‘rebels’ to sell oil to fund their violence, in contravention of international law

EU to allow Syrian ‘rebels’ to sell oil to fund their violence, in contravention of international law

Gearoid O’Colmain tells the truth about the western plan for control of Syrian oil

Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) force fed under standard Guantánamo Bay procedure

Video shows how some of the 140 detainees at Guantanamo are tortured (force fed)

‘Prince’ Harry witnessed unprovoked murder of Afghan goatherds by US forces

Amongst this PR piece for the Ginger Prince, is an interesting account of the random murder of some Afghan goatherds by US forces in Afghanistan

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362684/The-bloody-day-Harry-witness-horrific-war-crime-Prince-just-220yds-away-US-special-forces-troops-fired-machine-gun-Afghan-goat-herders.html

Prince Harry was no more than 220 yards away when a US trooper standing aboard an armoured vehicle cocked a .50 calibre machine gun and fired successive bursts at Afghan shepherds tending their goats, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The shocking incident, which was confirmed last night by the Ministry of Defence, triggered a war crimes investigation by US military police.
It took place on Harry’s first frontline tour of Afghanistan, which, until today, has been shrouded in secrecy.

At the time Harry’s squadron from the Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR) were mounting joint patrols in Helmand province with a US Special Forces unit codenamed ‘Task Force 32’.
According to a British eye- witness the three shepherds were peacefully minding their own business when they were engaged.
Given the force of the heavy machine gun rounds it is likely they suffered serious or fatal injuries, though their bodies were never recovered.

Harry’s colleague Sergeant Deane Smith, 40, was so enraged that he recorded his reaction on a video camera, saying: ‘The Americans are fifty-caling [machine-gunning] goat herders and it’s disgraceful!’

Sgt Smith then zoomed in on the armoured vehicle from where the US trooper had launched his attack.
Sgt Smith, a commando engineer, has given the first graphic account of Harry’s front-line experiences and how the Prince dodged repeated Taliban ambushes.
Harry’s first tour ended in February 2008 after an Australian magazine broke a media embargo over his presence in the war zone.
Subsequent reports suggested Harry was treated as a VIP rather than just another junior officer while he was there. In fact, as this newspaper has established, he was pitched into the thick of the fighting.

Sgt Smith has told The Mail on Sunday how the day before Task Force 32 opened fire on the shepherds, Harry witnessed the deaths of young children when a Taliban rocket intended to strike his vehicle missed its target and struck an Afghan family home.

Sgt Smith also described how Harry, then just 23, displayed a remarkable empathy for his soldiers, some of whom were overwhelmed by the horrors of war.
He said: ‘I’ll never forget the Yank opening up on the shepherds, which was a completely unjustified attack and sadly typical of how the campaign was conducted. But Harry had a way of reconciling everything he saw and keeping his emotions in check, often when more experienced soldiers were crying their eyes out.
‘On the day of the rocket attack on the family home, Harry was there, comforting a soldier as the charred remains of young children were removed.
‘He also arranged for the wounded to be transferred from the battlefield to a military hospital.
‘The dead were very young, their arms the width of two of my fingers. This was horrible to see.

‘In early 2008, I spent ten weeks in Helmand with Harry and he was fearless throughout, even when armoured cars were being blown up and he was being shot at.
‘Looking back, I can’t believe he was so keen to subject himself to such danger.’
Sgt Smith added that Harry’s disregard for his safety unsettled his soldiers, who would implore him to swap his favourite baseball cap for a protective helmet whenever enemy rounds were fizzing overhead.

Harry also came within a single stride of setting off a live IED (improvised explosive device), a brush with death he laughed off as he lit another from an endless chain of cigarettes.
Harry was apparently critical of British tactics and complained when his armoured column were ordered to retreat – at the time UK and US forces were involved in Operation Snakebite, the battle to recapture the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province from the Taliban.

BBC correspondent in Afghanistan admits pro-army bias ‘Embedded in Iraq: ‘a tool in the military tool box, willingly or not’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogcollegeofjournalism/posts/Embedded-in-Iraq-a-tool-in-the-military-tool-box-willingly-or-not?postId=116764291#comment_116764291

Caroline Wyatt has covered the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq for the BBC. In the first instalment of a two-part blog to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, she describes the nature of the relationship between the media and the military in 2003 and what that meant for embedded journalists:

Caroline Wyatt reporting from Iraq
It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since we stood nervously by our vehicles on the Iraq border with Kuwait, scarves over our faces to protect us from the vicious sandstorm that whipped up in the region that long March day, waiting for our war to start.

For the dozens of journalists ‘embedded’ with British forces as they drove into Iraq that day, the war was threatening a rather belated beginning.

A Kuwaiti border guard was insisting that, even if we were part of a higgledy-piggledy column of British military and civilian vehicles, driving through long after the initial US tanks and Humvees, we didn’t have the right stamps in our passports to invade Iraq.

Thankfully, after much shouting and gesticulating through mouthfuls of sand, someone in British uniform persuaded the border guard that he really should let us through. We had a war to cover and it wasn’t going to wait for us.

It was almost worthy of Evelyn Waugh’s comic yet brilliantly accurate novel of war corresponding, Scoop. For a journalist, conflict provides some of the most vivid and powerful stories of humanity; of individual or collective acts of great courage; of good versus evil. But just as often we end up covering stories in shades less identifiable – where it can be hard to tell friend from foe, victory from stalemate, or when tragedy and comedy sit perilously close, and information is hard to come by – as it was in the early days of Iraq, a war that was, and remains, deeply controversial in the UK and elsewhere.

We often talk about the media and the military. But really there are no such things. I prefer to think of us first as individuals, and then as tribes, rather than homogenous blocks: the broadcasting tribe and the newspaper tribe within the media and the Army tribe and all its sub-units, and the RAF and Royal Navy and Royal Marine tribes that make up the military.

Just as any of those tribes can work together, and are part of a collective, each can also come into conflict with the other or within its own sub-tribes at any moment, and loyalties can be stretched in unexpected ways.

In 2003, we had to sign up to embed as official ‘war correspondents’, sign the Green Book with the MoD/military, and agree that all our copy and images would be screened by our military media minders.

We had to train to protect ourselves from chemical/biological/nuclear warfare with the NBC respirators and rubber suits that the MoD would provide us with that February. And agree to embed for up to a year if necessary – if the war lasted that long.

We agreed, and were issued with our smart blue ‘war correspondent’ armbands. I learned that I would be one of the BBC team embedding with British forces attached to the media ‘hub’, which began in a desert somewhere in Kuwait before we crossed into Iraq.

On day one in the desert, in the heat and the sand, we quickly realised where the power lay – and it wasn’t with us. We knew that as embedded journalists our lives were in the forces’ hands. British forces cooked our meals, dug our shelters, gave us information, and controlled where we could go – and that was an uncomfortable position for any journalist to be in.

That first day we were told to put our tents up while wearing our unwieldy and hot NBC kit. It wasn’t necessary, but it did show us that we were not in charge and didn’t make the rules here. We did have our own vehicle but we were told not to use it. So we were also relying on the British forces we were with for access to people and places, as well as information.

It also meant that we had chosen a side to report from, albeit as part of a wider BBC team that also had journalists and crews inside Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad, giving a different perspective and the other side to the war.

And all those embedding, wherever they were, knew that they had become a tool in the military toolbox, willingly or not, which the military and governments on both sides would seek to use to send messages to each other and to the wider watching public around the globe. It was hard not to feel an instinctive sympathy and indeed empathy with the troops looking after us. A benign form of ‘Stockholm syndrome’, if you like.

But at the same time embedding did not mean that we gave up the right to be analytical or indeed critical in the best sense when reporting on what we saw.

People often talk about the fog of war. In and around Basra in spring 2003, the fog and dust of war kept getting in the way. One day we were briefed that 80 Iraqi tanks were seen coming out of Basra. Two hours later it was down to just one or two tanks.

All the media that day – whether us, Sky, ITN or Channel 4 – in the ‘Press Information Unit’ had to go back on air to say, rather sheepishly, that the 80 tanks we’d been briefed about didn’t exist. Had never existed. Well, at least 79 of them hadn’t. And as for the other one – who knows?

Asylum for Snowden won’t stop journalist Greenwald from publishing more leaks

http://rt.com/news/asylum-nsa-leaks-greenwald-037/

Snowden leaks on US domestic surveillance programme – there is more to come

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has indicated that he is willing to halt his leakage of US secrets, a condition for gaining Russian asylum, though the journalist who first published information from those leaks intends to continue.

Glenn Greenwald, a journalist working with both the British Guardian newspaper and Brazil’s O Globo, had been in direct contact with the now fugitive Snowden and coordinated with the former intelligence contractor ahead of publishing information on secret online surveillance programs.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that asylum for Snowden would be offered only under the condition that he releases no further information that could prove damaging to the US. Greenwald, however, has indicated that he would consider the intelligence provided by Snowden already in his possession fair game.

“There are many more domestic stories coming, and big ones, and soon,” Greenwald wrote in an email to Politico on Friday.

“Given everything I know, I’d be very shocked if he ever asked me that,” Greenwald told Politico when asked if he would halt publishing any sensitive information if Snowden were to ask.

“I’d deal with that hypothetical only in the extremely unlikely event that it ever happened, but I can’t foresee anything that would or could stop me from further reporting on the NSA documents I have,” he added.

On Friday, Snowden said that he would remain in Russia until able to get safe passage to Latin America, where he has been offered political asylum by Venezuela as well as Honduras. Comments made during a meeting with human rights activists at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Friday also indicated that he intended to renew a petition for asylum from Russia.

“Snowden is serious about obtaining political asylum in the Russian Federation,” said Vyacheslav Nikonov, a lawmaker who attended the meeting at the Moscow airport, reports The Guardian.

Most recently, Greenwald in conjunction with several reporters with O Globo published further information showing the existence of a wide array of surveillance programs tracking citizens of South American countries.

O Globo cited documents this week indicating that from January to March of 2013, NSA agents carried out “spying actions” via the ‘Boundless Informant’ program, which collected telephone calls and Internet data. Agents also used PRISM from February 2 to 8 this year, O Globo said.

Essentially all of Latin America is reported to be targeted for surveillance, including Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and El Salvador. The most intense surveillance according to O Globo seems to have been directed at Colombia, a key US ally in the so-called War on Drugs, as well as Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico.

Comments by Greenwald to Politico on Friday suggest that the journalist already has a backlog of leaks to work with, and that any agreement Snowden were to make with a foreign government in regards to conditions of political asylum would be independent of Greenwald’s publication of that information.

Meanwhile, Snowden released a statement on Friday via WikiLeaks, which has orchestrated his legal defense as well as asylum petitions, to convey that he would accept all offers of political asylum made to him.

“I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future,” Snowden stated during his meeting with rights activists and lawyers at Sheremetyevo.

“I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted,” he told the meeting.

Frankie Boyle Owns Obama in hilarious retweet

Edward Snowden offered asylum by Venezuelan president

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/06/edward-snowden-venezuela-asylum

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.

“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a televised military parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.

WikiLeaks said on Friday that Snowden had applied to six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has asked for protection from US espionage charges.

Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a US spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the US “empire”.

“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said.

“Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president Bashar al-Assad?”

“Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”

Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Snowden’s stay in Moscow. Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum in that country and needed to choose a place to go.

Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

Earlier on Friday, Nicaragua said it had received an asylum request from Snowden and could accept the bid “if circumstances permit”, president Daniel Ortega said.

“We are an open country, respectful of the right of asylum, and it’s clear that if circumstances permit, we would gladly receive Snowden and give him asylum in Nicaragua,” Ortega said during a speech in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

Ortega, an ally of Venezuelan president Maduro, did not elaborate on the conditions that would allow him to offer asylum to Snowden, who has been at the eye of a diplomatic storm since leaking high-level US intelligence data last month.

Options have been narrowing for Snowden as he seeks a country to shelter him from US espionage charges.

A one-time cold war adversary of the United States, Ortega belongs to a bloc of leftist leaders in Latin America that have frequently taken up antagonistic positions with Washington.

Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has benefited greatly from financial support from Venezuela, and Ortega was a staunch ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.

Edward Snowden’s nightmare comes true

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/edward-snowden-nsa-93742.html?fb_action_ids=10151761440457658&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.Udc_r-hzq9Q.like&fb_source=ticker&action_object_map=%7B%2210151761440457658%22%3A358649504260749%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151761440457658%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%7B%2210151761440457658%22%3A%22.Udc_r-hzq9Q.like%22

Edward Snowden’s nightmare may be coming true.
Not exile; not the danger of imprisonment or prosecution; and not his newfound association with dictators, lawyers and impresarios.

Snowden’s worst fear, by his own account, was that “nothing will change.”
“People will see in the media all these disclosures, they’ll know the lengths the government is going to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society,” he told The Guardian last month after he’d asked it to identify him as its source. “But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

One month after The Guardian’s first story, which revealed an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the National Security Agency to collect the phone records of every Verizon customer, there has been no public movement in Washington to stop the court from issuing another such order. Congress has no intelligence reform bill that would rein in the phone tracking, or Internet monitoring, or cyberattack planning, or any of the other secret government workings that Snowden’s disclosures have revealed.
There is no modern day Sen. Frank Church ready to convene historic hearings about the intelligence community, like the ones Church ran in the 1970s, proceedings that radically transformed the U.S. intelligence services. Far from having been surprised by Snowden’s disclosures, today’s intelligence committee leaders stepped right up to defend the NSA’s surveillance programs. From Republicans, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, to Democrats, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, they’ve been nearly unanimous in their support.
“I feel I have an obligation to do everything I can to keep this country safe,” Feinstein told The New York Times. “So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/edward-snowden-nsa-93742.html#ixzz2YGIXyIUG

The Media Silence on massacre of civilians in Iraq

When a U.S. taxpayer-funded massacre takes place in Iraq and results in the deaths of at least 10 Iraqi civilians, it barely makes a blip on the news media radar – yet, when a gunman walks into an American movie theater or an American school and mows down around the same number of people, the big news networks are filled with coverage and speculation fills the airwaves for days.

There should be little doubt that a random shooting in a movie theater is tragic, but at least U.S. taxpayers aren’t training the shooter and providing him with weapons to carry out the crime. The same can’t be said when a U.S. taxpayer-funded bomb is dropped on a wedding in Afghanistan, or when a U.S. taxpayer-funded drone wipes out a group of children in Pakistan, or when a whole city suffers from birth defects thanks to U.S. taxpayer-funded radioactive waste in Iraq. These types of atrocities should be reported on in detail by the media primarily because every act of violence is funded by, and carried out in the name of the taxpayer, and yet, the opposite is true: the random act of violence is given far more attention than the act of violence actually funded by most of the network’s audience.

This kind of lopsided behavior from American cable news shouldn’t be all too surprising to anyone who has been paying attention over the last decade. It was CNN, FOX, and MSNBC who ultimately helped sell the Iraq War to the U.S. public – a war with a death toll far surpassing the 100,000 mark for civilian casualties. It was CNN, FOX, and MSNBC who helped sell the U.S.-backed bombing of oil-rich Libya in 2011. And today, it is CNN, FOX, and MSNBC currently helping the U.S. government set the stage for gradual intervention in Syria, and soon, in Iran.

Most people understand by now that U.S. government officials spend more time lying over the course of a single day than they spend actually representing the taxpayer, yet those in the American news media nonetheless continue to regurgitate government talking points. If these networks actually gave a damn about their viewers, they would devote more energy to fact-checking and questioning claims made by the untrustworthy goons in government through the utilization of a now largely-retired practice once known as “journalism”. Instead, networks act against the public interest by spreading government distortions and emphasizing tragedies against Americans while largely neglecting atrocities perpetuated by them.

But imagine for a moment if the headlines looked a bit different. For instance, what if, “Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head, U.N. says”, as reported by McClatchy on 8/31/2011, instead read: “American children in Iraqi raid shot in head, U.N. says”? Or what if, “U.S. Drone Strikes Have Killed 176 Children in Pakistan”, as reported by PolicyMic in late 2012, instead read: “Pakistani Drone Strikes Have Killed 176 Children in the U.S.”? Or instead of “U.S. bomb kills 30 at Afghan wedding”, as reported back in 2002, the headline instead read, “Afghan bomb kills 30 at U.S. wedding”? Would the networks spend more time reporting on these crimes if they were carried out against their audience instead of by their audience?

It should make little difference what nation innocent people originate from when they are needlessly murdered in horrible ways – yet to some Americans, and to nearly all of the big names in the fetid landscape of corporate news, it’s unfortunately the only thing that really matters.”

http://tinyurl.com/mxewton

“The most propagandistic aspect of the US War on Terror has been, and remains, that its victims are rendered invisible and voiceless. They are almost never named by newspapers. They and their surviving family members are virtually never heard from on television. The Bush and Obama DOJs have collaborated with federal judges to ensure that even those who everyone admits are completely innocent have no access to American courts and thus no means of having their stories heard or their rights vindicated. Radical secrecy theories and escalating attacks on whistleblowers push these victims further into the dark.

It is the ultimate tactic of Othering: concealing their humanity, enabling their dehumanization, by simply relegating them to nonexistence. As Ashleigh Banfield put it her 2003 speech denouncing US media coverage of the Iraq war just months before she was demoted and then fired by MSNBC: US media reports systematically exclude both the perspectives of “the other side” and the victims of American violence. Media outlets in predominantly Muslim countries certainly report on their plight, but US media outlets simply do not, which is one major reason for the disparity in worldviews between the two populations. They know what the US does in their part of the world, but Americans are kept deliberately ignorant of it.”

“The son of the slain Afghan police commander (who is the husband of one of the killed pregnant woman and brother of the other) says that villagers refer to US Special Forces as the “American Taliban” and that he refrained from putting on a suicide belt and attacking US soldiers with it only because of the pleas of his grieving siblings. An influential Southern Yemeni cleric explains that he never heard of al-Qaida sympathizers in his country until that 2009 cruise missile attack and subsequent drone killings, including the one that ended the life of Abdulrahman (a claim supported by all sorts of data). The brutal Somali warlord explains that the Americans are the “masters of war” who taught him everything he knows and who fuel ongoing conflict. Anwar Awlaki’s transformation from moderate and peace-preaching American cleric to angry critic of the US is shown to have begun with the US attack on Iraq and then rapidly intensifying with Obama’s drone attacks and kill lists. Meanwhile, US military officials and officers interviewed by Scahill exhibit a sociopathic indifference to their victims, while Awlaki’s increasingly angry sermons in defense of jihad are juxtaposed with the very similar-sounding justifications of endless war from Obama.

The evidence has long been compelling that the primary fuel of what the US calls terrorism are the very policies of aggression justified in the name of stopping terrorism. The vast bulk of those who have been caught in recent years attempting attacks on the US have emphatically cited US militarism and drone killings in their part of the world as their motive. Evidence is overwhelming that what has radicalized huge numbers of previously peaceful and moderate Muslims is growing rage at seeing a continuous stream of innocent victims, including children, at the hands of the seemingly endless US commitment to violence.

The only way this clear truth is concealed is by preventing Americans from knowing about, let alone hearing from, the victims of US aggression. That concealment is what caused huge numbers of Americans to wander around in a daze after 9/11 innocently and bewilderingly wondering “why do they hate us”? – despite decades of continuous US interference, aggression, and violence-enabling in that part of the world. And it’s this concealment of these victims that causes Americans now to react to endless stories of the killing of innocent Muslims with the excuse that “we have to do something about the Terrorists” or “it’s better than a ground invasion” – without realizing that they’re affirming what Chris Hayes aptly describes as a false choice, and worse, without realizing that the very policies they’re cheering are not stopping the Terrorists at all but doing the opposite: helping the existing Terrorists and creating new ones.

To be fair, it’s not difficult to induce a population to avert its eyes from the victims of the violence they support: we all like to believe that we’re Good and peaceful people, and we particularly like to believe this about the leaders we elect, cheer and admire. Moreover, what the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole recently described as “the empathy gap” – the failure to imagine how others will react to situations that would cause us (and have caused us) to be driven by rage and violence – means that the US government need not work all that hard to silence its victims: there is a pervasive desire to keep them out of sight.

Nonetheless, if Americans are going to support or even tolerate endless militarism, as they have been doing, then they should at least have to be confronted with their victims – if not on moral grounds then on pragmatic ones, to understand the effects of these policies. Based on the out-of-sight-out-of-mind reality, the US government and media have been incredibly successful in rendering those victims silent and invisible.”

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