Sunday, February 25, 2007

*Gary Leupp: AIPAC Demands "Action" on Iran

Not much to add to this brilliant article which explains why there is little effective congressional opposition to Bush-Cheney's threatened Iran attack which could come as early as this spring. I'll make further comments below. First read Gary Leupp. --RB

February 24 / 25, 2007

"An American Strike on Iran is Essential for Our Existence"
AIPAC Demands "Action" on Iran

Former CIA counterterrorism specialist Philip Giraldi, comparing the propaganda campaign against Iran to that which preceded the war on Iraq, has recently declared, "It is absolutely parallel. They're using the same dance steps-demonize the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux." He's only one of many in his field (including Vincent Cannistraro, Ray McGovern, and Larry C. Johnson) doing their best to expose the Bush-Cheney neocon disinformation campaign according to which Iran is planning to produce nukes in order to commit genocide, while abetting terrorists in Iraq who are killing American troops.

Their efforts, and those of many others, are producing results. The mainstream corporate press is far more skeptical about administration claims pertaining to Iran than they ever were towards the equally specious claims made about Iraq on the eve of the 2003 invasion. The American people are now inclined to distrust claims made by nameless officials about Quds Force-provisioned IEDs and EFPs, etc., supposedly smuggled by "meddling" Iranians into Iraq. Unfortunately the Congress dominated by Democrats elected in a popular expression of antiwar sentiment has not taken a firm stance against an attack on Iran based on lies. Maybe given the nature of the power structure it simply can't.

Giraldi matter-of-factly sums up the unfortunate politics of situation.

"The recent formation of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus should. . . .be noted as well as AIPAC's highlighting of the threat from Iran at its 2006 convention in Washington, an event that featured Vice President Dick Cheney as keynote speaker. More recently, Senator Hillary Clinton addressed an AIPAC gathering in New York City. Neither was shy about threatening Iran. AIPAC's formulation that the option of force 'must remain on the table' when dealing with Iran has been repeated like a mantra by numerous politicians and government officials, not too surprisingly as AIPAC writes the briefings and position papers that many Congressmen unfortunately rely on."

In other words, the American Israel Political Action Committee is the main political force urging---indeed, demanding---U.S. action. That's the AIPAC already under scrutiny for receiving classified information about Iran from Lawrence Franklin, former Defense Department subordinate of Douglas Feith. (That's the neocon Feith who supervised the Office of Special Plans---headed by Abram Shulsky, the neocon specialist on Leo Strauss who currently heads up the Iran Directorate at the Pentagon---that shamelessly cherry-picked intelligence to support the Iraq attack. That's the Franklin who worked in the OSP, and was sentenced last month to 13 years in prison. Feith has not been indicted on any charge and continues to insist in defiance of reason and even a Pentagon internal investigation finding it "inappropriate" that his office's disinformation project was "good government." Small wonder Gen. Tommy Franks, formerly head of the U.S. Central Command, famously called Feith "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth." Congressional investigations are just now getting underway into Feith's role in facilitating the invasion of Iraq.)

That's the AIPAC embarrassed by the indictment of its policy director Steven Rosen and senior Iran analyst Keith Weissman for illegally conspiring to pass on classified national security information to Israel. Despite the already intimate ties between Israeli and U.S. intelligence (documented by Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski among others) it seems the Israelis felt obliged to spy on the Pentagon to learn just how inclined the Americans were to oblige them by attacking Iran.

Now, as Israeli calls for a U.S. attack on Iran become more shrill by the day, AIPAC recognizes that the American people profoundly distrust Vice President Cheney and the nest of neocon liars he has sheltered. The Bush-Cheney war machine has been pretty well exposed, and that must worry the warmongers within the group. Israeli Defense Force chief artillery officer Gen. Oded Tira has griped that "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran," adding that since "an American strike in Iran is essential for [Israel's] existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iran issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure." Tira urges the Lobby to turn to "potential presidential candidates. . . so that they support immediate action by Bush against Iran," while Uri Lubrani, senior advisor to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, tells the Jewish Agency's Board of Governors that the US "does not understand the threat and has not done enough," and therefore "must be shaken awake."

Many Americans would find such statements deeply offensive in their arrogance and condescension. President Bush has indeed been weakened by the "Iraq failure" Tira acknowledges, arising from a war that the Lobby once endorsed with enormous enthusiasm. (As Gen. Wesley Clark put it way back in August 2002, "Those who favor this attack now will tell you candidly, and privately, that it is probably true that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the United States. But they are afraid at some point he might decide if he had a nuclear weapon to use it against Israel." Recall that that weapon was imaginary.) So now, the Israeli war advocates aver, the U.S. president needs to be helped to do the right thing and attack Iran by lobbyists who will use their power to force the fools in the Democratic Party, especially presidential candidates. Because Americans don't understand and have to be shaken out of their current skeptical mode.

By who? By AIPAC, of course! The confidence expressed by these gentlemen (in the second most powerful political action committee in the country) is quite extraordinary. But alas, maybe it's warranted. Giraldi dispassionately concludes:

"Knowing that to cross the Lobby is perilous, Congressmen from both parties squirm and become uneasy when pressured by AIPAC to 'protect Israel,' even if it means yet another unwinnable war for the United States. The neocons know full well that if a war with Iran were to be started either inadvertently or by design, few within America's political system would be brave enough to stand up in opposition."

One should ask these spineless politicians how they suppose the people will remember their votes and positions within weeks of the "immediate action" Tira and his allies in the Bush administration (most notably Condi Rice's deputy Elliott Abrams, the most powerful neocon remaining in the team) are demanding. Will they not be blamed for the total collapse of cooperation between the U.S. occupation and Iraq's Shiite majority, the fall of the current client regime dominated by Iranian allies, the intensification of Shiite militia attacks on U.S. forces, the broadening of the current two-front war to enflame all of Southwest Asia?

One should ask those squirming manipulators blissfully ignorant of the Islamic world---clueless about the difference between Arabs and Persians or Sunnis and Shiites, coached almost entirely by State Department Zionists who don't bother to conceal their Islamophobia---to recognize that American Jewry is not generally pro-neocon nor united in support of an Iran attack. Indeed many American Jews are alarmed at Israeli/AIPAC efforts to push the U.S. into another crusader war on a Muslim nation. (A lot of them are in New York. Hillary might consult with them rather than suppose that her ticket to the presidency is the support of the Cheney-friendly Lobby. But I wouldn't hold my breath on that.)

One should ask the Lobbyists as well as the government of Israel that they think they serve (as well as the people of Israel, honestly divided in their opinions) how the security of the Jewish State will be abetted by a generalized war between Israel's great patron and the entire Muslim world.

When one plays this Islamophobic game of exploiting ignorance, fear, hatred and bigotry; when one conflates al-Qaeda with Iraq with Hamas with Hizbollah with Iran knowing that most Americans know little about the details and will be inclined to side (for now) with Israel against Muslims in general; when one lies (as the neocons do with such arrogance, supposing they will escape any consequences of the lies down the road)---then one invites a backlash. We live in a racist culture that easily slides into religious bigotry. Why use that culture (not so dissimilar to the German culture of the 1930s) so shamelessly---against Arabs and other Muslim peoples of the Middle East? One's disinformation with its murderous results in the Muslim world might just produce the ignorant conclusion that could sweep Middle America down the road: "The Jews made us do it." That's what the red-necks including a whole lot of today's brain-dead Christian Zionist fundamentalists will say as soon as everything goes wrong in the Middle East, Jesus doesn't come back and is nowhere in sight, and the three U.S. troops killed per day becomes six or ten for no good goddamned reason.

"They have the money, they control the media and the politicians. They made us attack Iran and now look what's happening." That's what the ignorant who can one day cry "Nuke 'em all!" referring to Muslims, and the next day swear "Fucking Christ-killers" will say. Is the Lobby's paranoia about Iran's uranium enrichment so severe as to risk that kind of assessment, that kind of blowback bigotry?

We are perhaps arriving at a critical point in the history of the powerful Lobby, including its capacity to intimidate honest, critically reasoning people who do not embrace its fears, prejudices and preoccupations. It's under unprecedented scrutiny following the carefully argued paper by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" and Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid both published last year, to which it's reacted with its wonted technique of character assassination. The political power of the Lobby would appear to be reaching its zenith; and while it used its hand subtly in the build-up for war on Iraq, it now uses it in crude, bullying fashion. Israeli officials weren't publicly calling for the simple-minded Christian-Zionist Bush to "smite" Iraq to defend Israel in 2003, but now they're nervously demanding that Bush destroy Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent a "genocide" worse that that accomplished by Hitler! Their boldness betrays a confidence that they can indeed continue to shape American political discourse about the Middle East (to the exclusion of any audible Arab or Muslim voice) and that to challenge them is indeed "perilous."

"Attack Iran! NOW! Or support GENOCIDE! and side with the new HITLER! Destroy Iran's nuclear facilities! NOW! Or reveal your thinly-disguised ANTI-SEMITISM!"

That's the hyper-message calculated to stimulate an assault, to which the calm counterterrorism analyst Giraldi draws our attention. One could respond to the message with a polite, firm, principled refusal:

No thanks this time, AIPAC. You're just not credible. Can't do it for you. My constituents aren't into more war, and they think this whole Iran thing's a lot of hype. I can't support nuking Iran, and frankly, I don't see how you can either. I don't think you speak for all or even most American Jews, and you can't scare me this time by accusations of anti-Semitism. I can't have an attack on Iran my conscience, sorry. I'd rather be defeated in the next election. Keep your money; I just can't do what you ask.

Will the Congress targeted by the Lobby be able to say that? If it doesn't, all the belated, posturing moves to limit Bush's power, withdraw troops and end the imperialist war in Iraq will mean nothing. An attack on Iran will unleash the gates of hell. The attackers will argue that a new situation makes all prewar debate irrelevant (or even if encouraging doubt about the "existential" cause, downright treasonous). The fascistic proclivities of the administration will blossom immediately. The legal basis has been laid for the repression of the dissent an Iran attack will naturally inspire. Prison camps, suspension of habeas corpus. The proponents of the war are comfortable with these things, and the waters have already been tested.

O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter'd,
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again?

Can the American people allow this unelected unpopular administration, headed by a manifestly stupid sadistic fool, to continue to provoke international contempt and fear, while planning more carnage?

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at:


Great article. Leupp unfortunately weakens it at the end by calling Bush stupid. Bush is sadistic, ignorant, inarticulate, vicious, ruthless -- yes, but not stupid. He knows exactly what he's doing. He's pursuing his agenda of permanent war which entails permanent destruction. Without an attack on Iran, the Iraq war would inevitably wind down since it's exposed as the destructive force that it is -- for Iraqis, for the US, for the Middle East, for everyone. The only way Bush-Cheney can continue the Iraq war is to widen it.

Along the same lines, I wonder why people say that Cheney is in denial when he says that the US has done wonderful things in Iraq. It's not as if Cheney is stupid or doesn't know what's going on. By such statements, Cheney is exposing his hold on US policy. If he says that we're doing well in Iraq, than that's the only reality that he will permit -- for all practical and Congressional purposes. And Leupp's article shows in part how and why Cheney and Bush can get away with it: because they have behind them the power of the Israel lobby, since 2001, exposed as the most destructive element in US politics. Without their help the Bush-Cheney agenda of endless war, could not have succeeded.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Democracy Now: Col Sam Gardiner on plans to attack Iran: 3,000 centrifuges is the red line

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
As Nuclear Deadline Passes, US and Iran Trade Accusations of Bombing Involvement

The White House has dismissed a suggestion from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran would close its nuclear facilities as long as Western nations did the same. His comments came as a deadline set by the UN for Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment program expires today. Meanwhile Iran has accused the US of backing a bomb attack that killed 11 Revolutionary Guards, just one week after the US accused Iran of supplying bombs targeting US troops in Iraq. We speak with retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner. [includes rush transcript] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran would close its nuclear facilities as long as Western nations did the same. His offer comes as a deadline set by the UN for Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment program expires today. Iran has maintained it is not seeking nuclear weapons, saying its program is for purely peaceful ends.

Ahmadinejad's comments come amid steadily increasing tension between Washington and Tehran. The US military has increased its presence in the region deploying a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. The White House has repeatedly denied any intention of attacking Iran but, according to a Monday night report by the BBC, the US military has drawn up contingency plans for massive air strikes against Iran. The plans call for attacks on Iran's nuclear sites, air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centers.

The U.S. government has already determined the two circumstances which would trigger just such an attack: One is evidence that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon and the second is a “high-casualty” attack against American forces in Iraq that could be traced directly to the leadership in Tehran. The Bush administration recently accused the top levels of the Iranian government of supplying sophisticated bombs to anti-U.S. forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government is accusing the United States and Britain of being involved in an attack last week that killed 11 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

* Sam Gardiner. Retired Air Force Colonel. He has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College.


This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: Sam Gardiner is a retired Air Force colonel. He has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, at the Air War College, at the Naval War College, joining me now on the phone from his home in Virginia. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Colonel Gardiner.

COL. SAM GARDINER: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about these latest revelations of plans?

COL. SAM GARDINER: Sure. Actually, I find the BBC article to be completely credible. Let me take the two points that they make and explain why I think they are. The first thing is they talk about the trigger of a high casualty event in Iraq. That is totally consistent with the plans that were drawn up before the invasion of Iraq. We now know from the released plans, which at that time were classified “Top Secret, Polo Step,” that there was a series of triggers, that if they were to be pulled, the United States would go ahead of its plan in the invasion of Iraq. So, having a trigger is both in the way that the Pentagon does planning, and also it makes sense in the argument that the administration is making about what needs to be done with Iran.

The second thing about identifying a nuclear program is even more concerning and probably the one we ought to worry about. We have to remember that the President has said Iran can't be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. But he has always -- or not always -- mostly adds a phrase beyond that, which says, “or the knowledge to produce nuclear weapons.” That's a very important follow-on statement, consistent with what Israel has said. The way that is generally interpreted is that if Iran can put together 3,000 centrifuges for enrichment, they then will have the capability or the knowledge to produce a nuclear weapon. That event, according to the head of the IAEA yesterday, could occur within the next six months, so that if you take the President at his word, and if you take the estimate from the International Atomic Energy Agency, we will cross the US red line within the next six months, and presumably we can't stand that. And when we say that, that means we conduct a military operation against the Iranians.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Gardiner, you have been writing about these attacks inside Iran. You say if you haven't been reading the foreign press, you might have missed two explosions this past week, one of them -- and this was in Iran -- killing eleven and injuring thirty-one members of the Revolutionary Guard. The other was near a school. Talk about these attacks.

COL. SAM GARDINER: The Iranians have said that those two attacks, which occurred in the Baluchestan area, which is sort of, if you think of Iran, where the Afghan border, the Pakistani border and Iran come together, down in the far southeastern part. This has been an area of unrest for actually quite some time. It has been an area in which we have been reading from good journalists that the United States has been supporting operations to cause problems in that area. Sy Hersh has written about it. I think you have talked to him about it. Other reporters have written about the United States supporting the group called the MEK in that area.

Well, this is not the first time there have been explosions. What's significant about the more recent ones is that the Iranians have chosen to make a big deal about it. They had a press conference and showed examples of weapons, just like the press conference that the United States held in Baghdad. There are pictures on the web of weapons that were captured. I have to say they look fake, but that almost doesn't make any difference. The more important point is that the Iranians have upped the ante on the rhetoric, so that the situation now after this event is now beginning to take a two-side. I think the administration had hoped that by pressuring the Iranians, they would somehow back down, back away from their program, not be so aggressive. But, in fact, it seems to be having the opposite effect.

[Here's where Gardiner and most others go wrong. The Bush-Cheney intention has ALWAYS been to provoke hostilities, tensions, causus belli. --RB]

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the 21,000 extra troops, what the President calls the “surge,” could actually be targeted at Iran as much as Iraq?

COL. SAM GARDINER: Well, let me modify that a little bit. We learned over the weekend that there is a surge within the surge. It is not 21,000 anymore. It's gone above that. It was announced on maybe Friday evening or Saturday that an additional headquarters is going to Iraq, consisting of about a thousand additional people. Now, what's fascinating about that is it was on the same day that the commander in Baghdad said, "I don't need any more headquarters." My interpretation of that is that this provides the capability, if the United States were to put some of these new forces into the border area with Iran, to take control of that. This is not meant, I don't think, to invade Iran. I think that this is preparing for the possibility that if a strike is conducted against Iran, that these units could block any sort of an incursion into Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Sam Gardiner, we're going to have to leave it there.


AMY GOODMAN: I thank you very much for being with us, retired Air Force colonel, teaching strategy at the various military colleges.
End of DN text.

It's really annoying (shall we say) that Amy allowed such a tiny portion of her show to this high priority topic, cutting off such an expert just as he was warming up. RB

Friday, February 23, 2007

WSWS: Prodi pushes Italy to pro American Right

World Socialist Web Site

WSWS : News & Analysis : Europe : Italy
Italian prime minister resigns after losing foreign policy vote
By Stefan Steinberg and Barry Grey
23 February 2007

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi tendered his resignation Wednesday night after losing a Senate vote on his center-left coalition government’s foreign policy. The collapse of the nine-month-old Unione government came amidst growing popular opposition to its right-wing policies, both domestic and foreign.

Just four days before the Senate vote and Prodi’s subsequent resignation, more than 100,000 demonstrated in the northern Italian city of Vincenza to protest Prodi’s support for the expansion of a US military base there and plans to increase the deployment of Italian troops as part of the NATO-led occupation of Afghanistan. Demonstrators also denounced the war in Iraq and demanded that the government end its collaboration with the Bush administration’s militarist policies.

Prodi and Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, a leader of the ex-Stalinist Democratic Left Party and a former prime minister, had called for the vote in order to obtain a public show of unity behind the government’s imperialist and pro-US foreign policy from the nine parties that comprised the governing coalition, targeting, in particular, Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation), a Stalinist remnant of the old Italian Communist Party that postures as a socialist and anti-imperialist party.

The main speaker on behalf of the government in the Senate debate was D’Alema, who articulated the duplicity of the official Italian left by asserting in one breath that the Unione coalition “have not supported the neo-conservative politics of the American administration and we have not sent soldiers to Iraq,” and in the next defending Italian military deployments in Afghanistan and Lebanon and declaring that to oppose US plans to expand its base at Vincenza “would be a hostile act against the United States.”

The decision to put the government’s foreign policy up for a vote expressed its view that backing for the expanded US military base and Italy’s military role in Afghanistan were crucial issues upon which it would not compromise, regardless the growing opposition of the Italian people. In taking this stand, it was acting under pressure both from the United States and the most powerful forces within the Italian ruling elite.

In effect, Prodi and D’Alema were delivering a political ultimatum to the Rifondazione leadership to rein in dissident factions that have sought to appease growing opposition among the party’s voters and supporters to its participation in a government committed to economic austerity at home and expanding military interventions abroad.

Rifondazione Comunista had indicated it would back the government in the Senate vote and all but one of its senators followed the party line. However, the abstention of one Rifondazione senator, Franco Turigliatto, together with the abstentions of a Green Party senator and Senator-for-Life Giulio Andreotti, a former Christian Democratic prime minister and long-time power broker in Italian politics, caused the government to fall short by two votes of the 160 it needed to prevail.

Although the motion was not presented as a vote of confidence in the government, Prodi quickly made the decision to tender his resignation, precipitating a full-scale political crisis and upping the pressure on Rifondazione Comunista to discipline its own ranks.

After tendering his resignation, Prodi declared he was prepared to continue as head of government only under conditions where he had a “rock solid majority” and “more room to manoeuvre.” Prodi aides have declared that he is “ready to carry on as prime minister if, and only if, he is guaranteed the full support of all the parties in the majority from now on.”

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano accepted Prodi’s resignation but asked him to continue the affairs of government and participate in negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the crisis. The two principal available options are new elections or a re-jigging of the Prodi cabinet to achieve some sort of sustainable majority. In either case, the inevitable result will be a government of an even more right-wing cast.

Prodi has declared his readiness to talk with conservative Christian Democrats who have broken away from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s umbrella organization Forza Italia. The presence of more conservatives would increase Prodi’s leverage over the nominal left in a refashioned center-left coalition.

Although senators from the parties of the official right—principally Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Gianfranco Fini’s National Alliance—called for a new election following the Senate vote, to this point Berlusconi has not issued such a demand. Berlusconi was voted out of office last May as a result of popular opposition combined with disaffection within major sections of the ruling elite itself over his performance as prime minister.

The London-based Financial Times indicated the general preference of international finance capital in an editorial posted Thursday on its web site, entitled “Prodding Italy’s Centre Towards a Coalition.” The newspaper praised Prodi for acting “to reduce the budget deficit” and said his government’s “agenda of reform” had “done much to boost confidence.”

It denounced Berlusconi’s government for having “lacked fiscal discipline and failed to make reforms to the Italian economy,” and urged “Italy’s centrist parties” to “try to form some kind of coalition.”

This vote of confidence in Prodi from the international bourgeoisie was echoed by the supposedly anti-capitalist Rifondazione Comunista. In 1998, the party withdrew its parliamentary support for a center-left coalition headed by Prodi, precipitating the fall of the government. This time around Rifondazione was eager to assure Prodi of its continued support.

According to La Republica, party secretary Franco Giordano declared, “The government must survive,” adding that it “will have the full support und the unconditional confidence of Rifondazione Comunista”.

The Rifondazione web site posted a prominent statement declaring its loyalty to the Prodi government. In the same statement, the party attacked the stance taken in the Senate debate by the defector Turigliatto as “undemocratic.” Turigliatto has in the meantime announced that he is yielding up his post as senator.

The Democratic Left likewise pledged its support for a new edition of the Prodi government. Marina Sereni demanded that “all members of Unione not only vote ‘Yes,’ but also undertake to support future actions by the government such as the deployment of Italian troops to Afghanistan.”

At this point it is not possible to predict the immediate outcome of the collapse of the center-left government. However, its record as an instrument of Italian big business in attacking working class living standards at home while pursuing imperialist policies abroad is a further demonstration of the bankruptcy of the so-called parties of the left: the Democratic Left and Rifondazione Comunista. Neither of these organizations has any genuine independence from the bourgeoisie. Both function to throttle popular discontent and maintain the political subordination of the working masses to Italian capital.

Their participation in Prodi’s right-wing regime and their efforts to resuscitate it following its ignominious collapse demonstrate conclusively that the struggle against war and social reaction requires a break with these parties and the building of a genuinely independent and socialist political movement of the working class.
End of article.

I could do without the last ideological paragraph. But nowhere else I've seen shows how determined Prodi is to push Italy to as pro Bush policy as possible. There are hints in the article that there are domestic pressures on Prodi forcing him to act in concert with the US. And one can imagine the pressures from the US.

WSWS: Rice bullies Palestinians to ensure more Israeli Opression

WSWS : News & Analysis : Middle East
Rice’s Middle East visit: Bullying and intimidation dressed up as diplomacy
By Jean Shaoul
22 February 2007

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s much trumpeted meeting on Monday, February 19 with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas was a calculated public humiliation of the Palestinian president.

Far from being a new diplomatic initiative designed to bring about a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rice used the occasion to dictate Washington and Jerusalem’s terms for any future Palestinian government.

Following separate talks with Olmert and Abbas, the three met, without aides other than Rice’s Arabic translator, in a West Jerusalem hotel before adjourning to Rice’s suite.

Rice told the Palestinians in no uncertain terms that Abbas’s proposals for a new Palestinian government did not meet with her approval, the concessions offered by Hamas were totally inadequate and until the Hamas government completely renounced its programme, no Palestinian state was on offer. She made clear that the only terms acceptable to the Bush administration were the total suppression of all opposition to Israel’s plans for a Greater Israel, based on the permanent retention of its settlements in the West Bank.

The talks lasted a mere two hours and ended with a terse 90-second statement from Rice. Abbas confirmed his position as a US puppet by dutifully lining up alongside Olmert to endorse her remarks.

Rice said that the three had discussed the changed political circumstances arising from the proposal for a Hamas-Fatah government; the meeting had been “useful and productive,” and she would be back in Jerusalem “soon.” She left without taking any questions from reporters and there were no announcements from either the Israeli or Palestinian leaders.

A Hamas spokesman set the record straight. Ismail Radwan said the meeting was a failure and that its purpose was to put pressure on Abbas to pull out of the proposed National Unity government and take on Hamas. “Rice did not succeed in pressuring President Abbas to withdraw from the unity government. We call on the US administration to respect the Palestinian people’s will and recognise the [Hamas-led] government and open a dialogue,” he said.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of an agreement brokered by Saudi King Abdullah in Mecca between Hamas, led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and Fatah led by President Mahmoud Abbas, that were on the point of outright civil war, to form a National Unity government.

The electoral victory of Hamas in January 2006 had led, on the insistence of the US and Israel, to an economic boycott and isolation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Quartet, the US, European Union, Russia and the United Nations, cut off all direct aid to the PA, bringing the Palestinian economy to a halt and its people to the brink of starvation, while Israel illegally withheld the tax and customs it collects on behalf of the PA.

Israel’s demands on Abbas to suppress all Palestinian resistance to its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and its all-out war on Gaza last summer only served to increase the tensions between the rival parties.

The Mecca agreement, which Abbas announced on February 9 after two days of talks, was widely welcomed within Palestine. It follows his failed attempt to mount a political coup at Washington’s behest last December, when he said he would dissolve the Hamas government and call new presidential and parliamentary elections. That unconstitutional move threatened a civil war and was unlikely to lead to an election victory for Fatah.

While this latest arrangement is a reflection of Abbas’s unwillingness to take on Hamas with either guns or at the polls, it achieves the same ends: the unseating of an elected government. The Hamas government has now resigned and Haniyeh has five weeks to form a new National Unity government, which he will head, as set out under the agreement.

The aim is to end the factional fighting between the two parties, terminate any militant resistance to Israel and secure the international recognition that will restore economic aid to the PA. The Saudi Kingdom has pledged $1 billion to counter Iranian and Shiite influence and restore its own position in the region.

Hamas will cede six cabinet posts to Fatah and four to so-called independents, including the most powerful portfolios and the only ones with any real power: interior, finance and foreign relations.

It made major concessions to Fatah and Israel’s key demands: the acceptance of Israel’s right to exist, the renunciation of violence, the acceptance of previous agreements between Israel and the PA—a reference to the Oslo Accords that make a future Palestinian state dependent upon negotiations rather than the Israeli withdrawal from land seized in the 1967 war. Specifically it agreed to recognise Israel as a “reality” and respect or honour previous agreements, having dropped its previous insistence that any agreements be “in the higher interests of the Palestinian people.”

The new government would adopt the so-called prisoners’ charter, drawn up by both Fatah and Hamas last year calling for a Palestinian state within the land captured by Israel in 1967 with its capital in Jerusalem. It further called for Hamas to work towards joining the PLO, the umbrella group dominated by Fatah which has recognised Israel and would be responsible for negotiating future agreements with Israel.

Even Mohammad Dahlan, Fatah official and warlord, a fierce opponent of Hamas and an Israeli favourite to assume the interior ministry, said that with such an agreement in place Israel could no longer use the excuse that there was no Palestinian “partner for peace.” He pointed to the change in government, a long period without much militant opposition to Israel and the Mecca agreement between Abbas and Haniyah.

Hamas’s leader in exile in Syria, Khalid Masha’al, one of the participants in the Mecca talks, used the Guardian to publicly renounce Hamas’s long held call for a Palestinian state on the whole of Mandate Palestine (Israel and Palestine). He offered a resolution of the conflict based on a Palestinian state within its 1967 borders of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza.

This was rejected by Zvi Heifetz, Israel’s ambassador in London, writing in a comment piece in the Guardian headlined, “Hamas has not delivered.”

Washington and Jerusalem do not want negotiations with Hamas, but total surrender and the suppression of all opposition to Israel’s expansionist agenda. To this end, the Olmert government has sanctioned the transfer of arms to Abbas and the White House has sought financial resources from Congress for military aid to Abbas to suppress Hamas, to be channelled via Israel and Egypt.

Israel used the run-up to the meeting with Rice to pile the pressure on Abbas. While Fatah officials and Palestinian commentators acknowledge that Hamas has shifted its position, an Israeli official said, “The fact is Hamas moved a little bit, which is positive. But we don’t think it moved far enough. Mahmoud Abbas moved towards Hamas, which we don’t like.”

Tzahi Hanegbi, the head of the foreign affairs committee of Israel’s parliament, went further. He said that Mr. Abbas had awarded “a significant victory to Hamas.”

On Friday before the talks, Olmert announced that President George W. Bush had assured him that the US would continue to boycott any new Palestinian government that failed to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept agreements. It signifies that the US will accept only a Palestinian state whose sole function is to police the Palestinian people and prevent any opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
End of article.

It's worse than that. The US (read Eliot Abrams) is cooperating with Olmert to proceed with the 21st century expulsion of the Palestinians from the little of Palestine they still live on. --Ronald

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Torturing Jose: US Describes itself

By many accounts Jose Padilla is not someone I would go out of my way to choose for a dinner companion. But precisely becasue in some ways he doesn't necessarily cut the most admirable of figures, the pathos and empathy we can give him simply by reading a bare bones account of the symptoms of the treatment he has suffered, may help us to reflect on the people under whose administration Americans and citizens of the world are now living.

From Laura Rozen's, 2.17.07


Officials of a Navy brig where suspected al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla was held have been ordered to testify at a hearing next week to determine whether his treatment there has left him unfit to stand trial.

It will be the first time Defense Department officials with direct knowledge will speak publicly about Padilla's 3 1/2 years of confinement _ which defense experts say has caused him irreparable mental harm and made it impossible for his lawyers to adequately prepare for trial.

Federal prosecutors fought to keep the officials out of Thursday's competency hearing, arguing that the sole issue to be decided is Padilla's mental state now. ...

But in her ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke sided with defense lawyers, who argued that a Bureau of Prisons mental expert had interviewed the brig officials for his own report which concluded that Padilla is competent. That report has not yet been publicly released. ...

Prosecutors fear that defense lawyers will use the officials' testimony as an excuse to pursue their claims that Padilla, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen originally arrested in May 2002, was tortured during interrogation at the brig. ...

[Padilla] told a psychologist that at the brig that he sometimes begged his guards not to put him in "the cage," but he would not say what went on there. The conditions of his incarceration have rendered him unable to assist in his own defense, his attorneys said.

"When approached by his attorneys, he begs them, 'Please, please, please' not to have to discuss his case," according to psychiatrist Angela Hegarty, who interviewed him for 22 hours. ...

Noami Klein has just written an article on the same subject for the Guardian.
Search "The US psychological torture system is finally on trial"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chris Hedges: on DN: Religious Right, Iran attack, more

Chris Hedges's new book examines how Christian dominionists are seeking absolute power and a Christian state. According to Hedges, the movement bears a strong resemblance to the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s. Hedges is the former New York Times Middle East bureau chief and author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning." [includes rush transcript] A new book by Chris Hedges called “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America” investigates the highly organized and well-funded "dominionist movement." The book investigates their agenda, examines the movement's origins and motivations and uncovers its ideological underpinnings. “American Fascists” argues that dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. According to Hedges, the movement bears a strong resemblance to the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s.

Chris Hedges was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times for many years where he won a Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" and "Losing Moses on the Freeway." Chris has a Master's degree in theology from Harvard University and is the son of a Presbyterian minister. He is currently a senior fellow at the Nation Institute - and he is here with me now in the studio.

* Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times who has reported from more than 50 countries over the last 20 years. Chris is currently a senior fellow at the Nation Institute. He is author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" and "Losing Moses on the Freeway." Chris has a master's degree in theology from Harvard University and is the son of a Presbyterian minister. His new book is "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America."


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the religious right and the rise of it in this country. A new book by Chris Hedges is called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. It investigates the highly organized and well-funded dominionist movement. The book looks at their agenda, examines the movement’s origins and motivations and uncovers its ideological underpinnings. American Fascists argues that dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. According to Hedges, the movement bears a strong resemblance to the young fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and ’30s.

Chris Hedges was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times for many years, where he won a Pulitzer Prize. He’s also the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Losing Moses on the Freeway. Chris Hedges has a Master's degree in theology from Harvard University and is the son of a Presbyterian minister. He is currently a senior fellow at the Nation Institute and joins me in studio now. Welcome to Democracy Now!

CHRIS HEDGES: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Why did you write this book?

CHRIS HEDGES: Anger. I mean, I grew up in the Church and, of course, as you mentioned, graduated from seminary, and I think these people have completely perverted and distorted and manipulated the Christian message into something that is the very antithesis of certainly what Jesus preached in the Gospels.

AMY GOODMAN: Who are “these people”?

CHRIS HEDGES: These are -- you know, they’re not -- we use terms like “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” to describe them, and I think that those are incorrect terms. Traditional fundamentalists always called on believers to remove themselves from the contaminants of secular society, shun involvement in politics. Evangelical leaders like Billy Graham's always warned followers to keep their distance from political power. He, of course, was burned by Richard Nixon, came to Nixon’s defense and then when it publicly came out that Nixon lied, it taught a lesson to Graham.

This is a new movement, as embodied by people like James Dobson or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, who call for the creation of a Christian state, who talk about attaining secular power. And they are more properly called dominionists or Christian reconstructionists, although it’s not a widespread term, but they're certainly not traditional fundamentalists and not traditional evangelicals. They fused the language and iconography of the Christian religion with the worst forms of American nationalism and then created this sort of radical mutation, which has built alliances with powerful rightwing interests, including corporate interests, and made tremendous inroads over the last two decades into the corridors of power.

AMY GOODMAN: Why the term “dominionist”?

CHRIS HEDGES: It come out of Genesis, you know, where God gives humankind dominion over creation. It’s articulated by ideologues, such as Rousas Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer and others, and essentially is a new concept within the radical Christian right, and it’s used sparingly. And some dominionists don’t like the term, but I think it denotes or is probably a better term for denoting those people who want to take political power.

AMY GOODMAN: On the back of your book, Chris, is a quote from your professor at Harvard, Dr. James Luther Adams, who said that in a few decades we would all be fighting “Christian fascists.” Who was he, and why did he think this?

CHRIS HEDGES: James Luther Adams was my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School. He had spent the years 1935 and 1936 in Germany working with Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Confessing Church or anti-Nazi church and eventually was picked up by the Gestapo and told to leave the country. He came back -- and this was in the early 1980s, when I was in seminary -- and saw the articulation of this new political religion, this religion that talked about seizing control of mainstream denominations, as well as institutions, creating a parallel media empire through Christian radio and broadcasting, and ultimately taking control of the government itself.

And he understood, in a visceral way, how when countries fall into despair -- of course, this began -- it was the time that began the assault on the American working class, which has been accelerated and essentially left tens of millions of people within our own country dispossessed -- he understood how demagogues use that despair. And I think we can say there, in many ways, has been a kind of Weimarization of the American working class. And he saw what we were doing through globalization, what we were doing to our working class and our middle class, coupled with the rise of these so-called Christian demagogues, as a frightening and toxic combination, which, if left unchecked, would destroy our democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you begin with Umberto Eco? And explain who he is.

CHRIS HEDGES: Umberto Eco is the great Italian writer -- I mean, he wrote that very popular book, The Name of the Rose, and he had a nice little book of essays called Five Moral Pieces, and in it he writes about the salient qualities of what he calls “Ur-Fascism,” or eternal fascism. And I wanted to list those -- I thought it was probably as good a list as I’d ever seen compiled on what the main tenets of fascism are -- to begin the book, because my argument is that this is not a religious movement. Although it certainly depends on the support of many earnest, well-meaning, decent people who are religious, I would argue that they are manipulated not only, of course, to be fleeced for their own money, but essentially to give up moral choice and surrender to the authoritarian demands of these leaders to march forward and essentially dismantle our democratic state. And I think that when we look closely at what it is that this Christian right movement espouses, it does bear many similarities to, you know, the main pillars of fascist movements: the cult of masculinity, the war against --

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “the cult of masculinity”?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, the fact that, you know, they elevate male figures within the megachurches, who cannot be questioned, who speak directly for God. Any kind of questioning or self-criticism becomes essentially battling the forces of Satan. That power structure is to be replicated in the family. Much of this movement is about the disempowerment of women. Children have to be obedient. And so, that power structure of the family with the dominant male and everyone else submissive is replicated in the megachurches, which oftentimes -- and I’ve been in many over the last two years -- revolve around cults of personality.

When we look at the sort of empires that people like Pat Robertson run, you know, this man is worth hundreds of millions, some people say up to $1 billion, surrounded by bodyguards, flying around on private jets, investing in blood diamonds in Sierra Leone. He has rock star status. I mean, if you’ve ever been to an event where he appears, people are weeping and want to be touched by him. There is no question. He essentially runs a despotic little fiefdom.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the blood diamonds part.

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, he uses the money, which he takes from, really, people who live on the fringes of American society and should not be mailing him their checks, in all sorts of very dirty investments in Africa. And one of them was essentially getting involved in the trade of diamonds essentially for weapons that rend Sierra Leone.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Chris Hedges. He’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, went to seminary and has written a number of books. His latest is called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. We’ll be back with him in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Chris Hedges. His latest book called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. We were just talking about Pat Robertson. I wanted to go back to that famous quote of his. This had to do with foreign policy and the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

PAT ROBERTSON: You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don’t think any oil shipments will stop, but this man is a terrific danger. This is in our sphere of influence, so we can’t let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine. We have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

AMY GOODMAN: Pat Robertson. Your response, Chris Hedges?

CHRIS HEDGES: That’s a deeply Christian message, calling for assassination. You know, I covered the war in Central America, and Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell came down to support the murderous rampages of Rios Montt in Guatemala, the military dictatorship that were running death squads that were killing 800 to 1,000 people a month in El Salvador, and, of course, the Contras, whose main contribution in Nicaragua was walking into towns drunk out of their mind, raping the women and killing the men and burning the villages. And they describe these battles as essentially a war against Satan, against Satanic forces, godless communism that had to be defeated. There are no international boundaries in Satan’s kingdom, if you look at it from their ideology. I think that the kinds of the wholehearted support for genocidal killers in Central America, which Pat Robertson was one of the stalwarts, is a tip-off as to, you know, without legal restraints, what they would like to do within our own borders.

And I think that the quote or the clip that you just played is a perfect illustration of how dark the intentions of this movement is and how, if we don’t begin to stand up and fight back, if we believe that these people can be domesticated and brought into the political arena where they will act responsibly, we’re very, very naive. And we should all sit down, and as unpalatable as it is, and listen to Christian -- so-called Christian radio and television to see the kinds of messages of hate and exclusion that they are spewing out over the airwaves.

AMY GOODMAN: The quote of Jerry Falwell right after September 11th that became quite famous: “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’” He was speaking on September 13, 2001, on Pat Robertson's 700 Club program.

CHRIS HEDGES: That’s right. And, you know, this is -- I mean, essentially, when you follow the logical conclusion of the ideology they preach, there really are only two options for people who do not submit to their authority. And it’s about submission, because these people claim to speak for God and not only understand the will of God, but be able to carry it out. Either you convert, or you’re exterminated. That’s what the obsession with the End Times with the Rapture, which, by the way, is not in the Bible, is about. It is about instilling -- it’s, of course, a fear-based movement, and it’s about saying, ultimately, if you do not give up control to us, you will be physically eradicated by a vengeful God. And that lust for violence, I think that sort of -- you know, the notion, that final aesthetic being violence is very common to totalitarian movements, the belief that massive catastrophic violence can be used as a cleansing agent to purge the world. And that’s, you know, something that this movement bears in common with other despotic and frightening radical movements that we’ve seen over the past -- throughout the past century.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about some of the meetings you attended, from the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation to the Evangelism Explosion that was a seminar taught by Dr. D. James Kennedy?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, the Evangelism Explosion was a one-week seminar taught by Kennedy, was about certifying people to be able to go out and teach this conversion technique. And what was fascinating about it is how manipulative and dishonest it was. You know, what they do is essentially they cook the testimonies. They promise people that if they commit themselves to Christ, they can get rid of the deepest existential dreads of human existence: the fear of mortality, you know, grief, one of the -- we were supposed to read testimonies. We would turn them into the teachers, and they would send them back. And it was always about, you know, I have 100% certainty that I know that if I die tomorrow, I will go to heaven. Or, I lost my son -- one of the examples was -- in the war in Vietnam, but I don’t grieve, because I know I’m going to meet him in heaven.

And they talked about targeting people who are vulnerable. They used a technique very common to cults. It’s called love-bombing -- it’s a term taken from Margaret Singer -- where you -- three or four people go and you sort of focus intently on the person and are fascinated by everything that they say. You build false friendships. And eventually, of course, the goal is to draw them into these megachurches.

This movement talks about family, but it is the great destroyer of family. And I would stand up in these -- or I would be in these meetings and see people stand up weeping, and they would be weeping for unsaved spouses or children, because once you get sucked into these organizations, your leisure time, your religious worship time, you end up becoming involved in groups, you’re essentially removed from your old community and placed into this authoritarian community, where there is no questioning of those above you. You’re often assigned -- you’re called a baby Christian when you first come, and you’re assigned spiritual guides to teach you to think and act in the appropriate manner.

When I went to the National Religious Broadcasters Association in California, the most interesting thing about it was how these radical dominionists, these people who have built an alliance around the drive to create a Christian state, have taken over virtually all Christian radio and television stations. And there are traditional evangelicals who would like to step back from this political agenda, and they have been very ruthlessly brushed aside.

You saw it in the purging of the Southern Baptist Convention, when essentially dominionists like Richard Land took it over in 1980. There were many ministers who were very conservative and thought abortion was murder, were no friends to sort of gays and lesbians, but they didn’t buy into that political agenda, which of course has been fused with rapacious capitalism.

I mean, this movement talks about acculturating the society with a Christian religion. In fact, it’s the inverse. What they’ve done is acculturate the Christian religion with the worst aspects of American imperialism and American capitalism. And there’s that kind of uneasy alliance with many of these corporate interests. But it serves their turn. I mean, when you’re creating the corporate state, it’s very convenient to have an ideology that says, “Don’t worry. You don’t need health insurance, because if you have enough faith, Jesus will cure you. It doesn’t matter if all of your jobs are outsourced and there are no labor unions, because, you know, God takes care of his own. And not only that, but God will make you materially wealthy.” This is, you know, the gospel of prosperity. So, essentially, what we’ve seen is that fusion between those who want to build a corporate state and this ideological movement that thrusts believers who come out of deep despair into a world of magic and miracles and angels.

AMY GOODMAN: And what are the corporations that are part of this?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, DeVos, a guy who founded Amway; Target; Sam's Club. You know, they bring in -- a lot of these corporations like Wal-Mart and Sam's Club and others bring in these sort of dominionist or evangelical ministers into the plants as a way to mollify workers. Subscribing to this belief system is essentially about disempowerment.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Chris Hedges. He has written the book, American Fascists. How does this fit into the race for president in 2008?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, certainly this movement has tremendous reach within the Republican Party, Amy, and I think we could argue it all but controls the Republican Party at this point. We see it with John McCain, who in 2000 called Falwell and Robertson “agents of intolerance” and is now sort of falling all over himself to court this movement.

I think it’s a mistake to think that George Bush somehow embodies the movement. I think there’s a great deal of frustration with Bush, remember, on the issue of immigration, and there is a tension, an uneasy alliance between these corporate interests and this radical movement, and I think, you know, we should also say, as Robert Paxton points out in his book, Anatomy of Fascism, that fascist movements always build alliances with conservative or industrial interests, and oftentimes these alliances are not seamless. But on the issue of immigration, Bush sided with the corporations, who want illegal immigrants for cheap labor. There’s a huge nativist element, a huge hostility towards immigrants within the movement, and that angered the Christian right.

I think they’re going to go searching for another candidate -- maybe Brownback, I don't know -- who they feel -- I mean, it boils down to the fact that they feel Bush was not radical enough. And they’re going to go searching for a candidate that is going to swing further right, further towards the radical agenda that they have at their core. And this clip from Robertson, I think, is a public display of -- you know, unleashed how far they would like to go.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges, Iran. Let's talk about Iraq, Iran, war, and what you call the American fascists.

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s a really important point, because none of these movements can take power unless there is a period of prolonged instability or a crisis. They can make creeping gains, and they have made tremendous gains, including taking hundreds of millions of dollars of American taxpayer money through the faith-based initiative program. But I think, as weak as our democracy is, we can hold them off, unless we enter a period of instability.

From my reading of the Bush White House, I think there's a very strong possibility that before the end of the Bush administration, they will make a strike against Iran. I think that what they’ve done is -- or what Karl Rove has done is essentially adopt a corruption of Leon Trotsky's notion of a permanent revolution -- only, it’s permanent war. Now, you know, the military-industrial complex, which is making huge profits off the war in Iraq, let's not forget, is essentially driving this administration. I think these people live in an alternate reality. I think they really do believe that they dropping cruise missiles and bunker busters and making conventional air strikes against supposed sites that they’ve targeted in Iran -- 700 to 1000, according to Sy Hersh -- will bring the Iranian regime down. Having spent seven years in the Middle East, a lot of that time in Iran and Iraq, I’m quite certain that they will have no more success in Iran than the Israelis had in Lebanon.

The problem with striking Iran is that it has the potential to create a regional conflict. I mean, we’re already fighting a proxy war with Iran through Hezbollah in Iraq -- there’s no question that the Iraqi Shiites are getting assistance from Iran and always have been -- and to a certain extent with the conflict with Hamas, which probably gets some help from Iran, as well. But a strike against Iran would be, in the eyes of Shiites throughout the Middle East, a strike against Shiism. You have two million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, many of whom work in the oil sector, Bahraini Shia, huge Shia minority in Pakistan, and, of course, most of Iraq is Shia. And I think that that kind of a hit would -- has the potential to unleash a regional conflict.

I think we should remember that Iran does not have the conventional capacity to do anything to the United States, but they could very well strike Israel, especially. Of course, there’s talk of Israeli involvement in some kinds of air strikes. That would provoke a retaliation. Hezbollah would not sit by quietly. I think that in sort of unconventional weapons -- I don’t know what those would be -- I mean, you know, Iran, it’s an unprovoked attack. I mean, under international law, Iran has a right to strike back, and I think that they would. And that could really create a spiral, a kind of death spiral that frightens me deeply. And I think what really frightens me is that no one in the Democratic Party is speaking up, with the exception of Kucinich. Nobody has spoken out against hitting Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this latest headline that we read today. You have, what came out in the last few weeks, reporters in Baghdad getting this unusual briefing where there weren’t allowed to name names or even take in their video cameras, being told that Iran was supplying -- what was it? -- highest levels of the Iranian government sending sophisticated roadside bombs to Iraq that have killed 170 coalition troops since 2004. I wanted to ask about Michael Gordon, your former colleague at the New York Times, the person who was so-called breaking the story, who was deeply involved with the weapons of mass destruction myths also in his writings with Judith Miller, and now this latest today, the Iranian government accusing the US and Britain of being involved in an attack last week that killed eleven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Start with Michael Gordon.

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s probably the best reason to watch Democracy Now!, rather than read the New York Times, about the war in Iraq. It’s almost -- one’s left sort of speechless. I guess it’s proof that some people never learn anything. I mean, I was on the investigative team and got briefly sort of tarnished with that dirt. I was based in Paris covering al-Qaeda but did get sucked into one of these sort of sham Chalabi stories.

AMY GOODMAN: Which one?

CHRIS HEDGES: It was the one where they supposedly had a defector in Lebanon. It wasn’t my story, but, I mean, it ended up -- you tend on investigative units to work as teams. It was Lowell Bergman’s story, which was broadcast on Frontline, but he could not fly to Beirut to interview the guy, so I did. But, I mean, it was my body. I was there. And --

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who he was, the person you interviewed?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, he was an impostor. Supposedly, he was a general, and he was talking about training camps that were being run in Iraq for al-Qaeda. I think it’s been pretty well discredited. So I find it -- I mean, I find the tactics -- and we see it, you know, ratcheting up with the rhetoric with Iran. I mean, we see that they're familiar tactics and familiar lies. And it’s just stunning that people as bright as Michael Gordon buy into it. I don’t get it.

AMY GOODMAN: Of course, it’s not just Michael Gordon. He writes the piece, and then the institution of the Times, well, they put it on the front page --


AMY GOODMAN: -- and they’re the ones that make it the big exclusive story based on unnamed sources. And it beats this drum for war.


AMY GOODMAN: What will you do if the US attacks Iran?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I’m not going to pay my income taxes. I just am in such despair over the consequences of that war and the fact that there just really is no -- seems to be no organized opposition. And I think that I have a kind of moral responsibility as someone who comes out of the Middle East and has, I mean, directly, you know, friends throughout the years that I spent there who would suffer tremendously from that. And I sort of -- it may not change anything, and it may be sort of futile, but I think that at least when it’s over, I’ll have earned the right to ask for their forgiveness.

AMY GOODMAN: Christian Zionist Movement, how does it fit into this?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, the relationship between this radical movement and the radical right in Israel is one that really brings together Messianic Jews and Messianic Christians who believe that they have been given a divine or a moral right to control one-fifth of the world's population who are Muslim. It’s a really repugnant ideology. The radical Christian right in this country is deeply anti-Semitic. I mean, look at what they -- you know, when the end times come, except for this 144,000 Jews who flee to Petra and are converted -- I think this was a creation of Tim LaHaye -- Jews will be destroyed, along with all other nonbelievers, including people like myself who are nominal Christians, in their eyes. You know, there is no respect for Judaism in and of itself. It’s an abstraction. It’s, you know, Jews have to control Israel, because that is one more step towards Armageddon. And I find that alliance strange and very shortsighted on the part of many rightwing Israelis and rightwing Jews in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: This latest story, the Anti-Defamation League calling on Georgia State Rep. Ben Bridges to apologize for a memo distributed under his name that says the teaching of evolution should be banned in public schools, because it is a religious deception stemming from an ancient Jewish sect. The memo calls on lawmakers to introduce legislation that would end the teaching of evolution in public schools, because it's “a deception that is causing incalculable harm to every student and every truth-loving citizen.”

CHRIS HEDGES: And there’s a bill now in the Texas state legislature that will abolish all mention of evolution in school textbooks and make Bible study mandatory in public schools. And the role of creationism is extremely important in this movement. It’s not just wacky pseudoscience. It is really a war against truth. It is not about presenting an alternative. It’s about saying facts are interchangeable with opinions, that lies are true, that we can believe whatever we want. And once they successfully elevate creationism, which, of course, is a myth -- I mean, teaching creation out of the Book of Genesis is an absurdity. The writers of the Book of Genesis thought the earth was flat with rivers of above and below us. But what it does is destroy the possibility or sanctity of honest, dispassionate, intellectual and scientific inquiry. And when they do that, they have made a huge step towards creating a totalitarian state.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Chris Hedges is the Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, currently a senior fellow at the Nation Institute. His latest book is called American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Thanks for joining us.

CHRIS HEDGES: Thanks, Amy.

Adam Gopnik: Darwin on the two speeds of time


Charles Darwin, natural novelist.
Issue of 2006-10-23
Posted 2006-10-16


Darwin was not especially preoccupied by the problems that move some Darwinians today: he readily saw through the puzzle of ostensibly intelligent design. (An eye that works well evolved from eyes that worked less well.) And, because he didn’t know about genes, the great hole at the center of his argument—how did inheritance happen—was one that he never solved. But he was obsessed with the problem of time: How old was Earth? Had there been enough time for evolution to happen? As men dug up the bones that showed just how ancient life really was, what lessons could you learn? How could you imagine time in a way that seemed to make sense of our own lives and emotions?

In Darwin’s work, time moves at two speeds: there is the vast abyss of time in which generations change and animals mutate and evolve; and then there is the gnat’s-breath, hummingbird-heart time of creaturely existence, where our children are born and grow and, sometimes, die before us. He wrote one of the founding documents of developmental psychology, a series of detailed notes on his son’s first twelve months. The space between the tiny but heartfelt time of human life and the limitless time of Nature became Darwin’s implicit subject. Religion had always reconciled quick time and deep time by pretending that the one was in some way a prelude to the other—a prelude or a prologue or a trial or a treatment. Artists of the Romantic period, in an increasingly secularized age, thought that through some vague kind of transcendence they could bridge the gap. They couldn’t. Nothing could. The tragedy of life is not that there is no God but that the generations through which it progresses are too tiny to count very much. There isn’t a special providence in the fall of a sparrow, but try telling that to the sparrows. The human challenge that Darwin felt, and that his work still presents, is to see both times truly—not to attempt to humanize deep time, or to dismiss quick time, but to make enough of both without overlooking either.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Trish Schuh: Beirut: Israeli Mossad's playpen, or, Who killed Hariri -- and many others?

Using the Salvador Option in Beirut

By: Trish Schuh

"The only prospect that holds hope for us is the carving up of Syria... It
is our task to prepare for that prospect. All else is a purposeless waste of
time." Zionist militant Zeév Jabotinsky, From "We and Turkey," in "Di
Tribune," November 30, 1915

"We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon,
Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Muslim regime is
artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian
state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan,
and Syria will fall to us." -David Ben-Gurion, From "Ben-Gurion, A
Biography," by Michael Ben-Zohar, May 1948

"It is obvious that the above military assumptions, and the whole plan too,
depend also on the Arabs continuing to be even more divided than they are
now, and on the lack of any truly mass movement among them... Every kind of
inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten
the way to the more important aim of breaking Iraq up into denominations as
in Syria and Lebanon... Syria will fall apart." -Oded Yinon, 1982. From "The
Zionist Plan for the Middle East."

"Regime change is, of course, our goal both in Lebanon and Syria. We wrote
long ago that there are three ways to achieve it - the dictator chooses to
change; he falls before his own unhappy people; or if he poses a threat to
the outside, the outside takes him out..." -Jewish Institute for National
Security Affairs (JINSA), from strategy paper #474: "Priorities in Lebanon &
Syria", March 2, 2005

From mission statement to mission accomplished, the slam dunk cakewalks
continue. But from Baghdad to Beirut, the forgery looks the same. Unlike
Iraq, there is no 'weapons of mass destruction threat' to facilitate
toppling the Syrian regime. This time a United Nations tribunal could
provide the means, deploying Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's murder
as the weapon. But like the U.S. show-trial to convict Saddam Hussein, the
show-trial to convict Syria for Hariri's murder, built by the United
Nation's International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), has a
history of problems.

Several of the UNIIIC's prime witnesses have admitted to perjury, accusing
the U.S./Israeli-backed Lebanese government of bribery and foul play.
Witness Hussam Taher Hussam claimed Future Movement MP Saad Hariri (son of
the former Prime Minister) offered him $1.3 million to incriminate top
Syrian officials. Witness Ibrahim Michel Jarjoura said he was assaulted and
forced to lie by Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade. Star
witness Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, who had accused Lebanese President
Emile Lahoud and Syrian President Bashar Assad of ordering Hariri's murder,
bragged of earning millions by falsely testifying to the U.N. Commission.
Though much of their discredited testimony is still included as evidence,
both UNIIIC prosecutors Brammertz and Mehlis said that the use of lie
detector tests was not an option.

In his country, Mehlis has been rebuked for unethical and unprofessional
practices. According to Germany's "Junge Welt" magazine, the former U.N.
investigator received a $10 million slush fund to rig the UNIIIC outcome
against Syria. An inquiry by German public TV Zweites Deutsche Fernsehen
found that Mehlis had relied on CIA, MI6 and Mossad intelligence in prior
investigations, namely the Berlin Disco bombing of the 1980s where Mehlis
knowingly used testimony supplied by Arab Mossad agent Mohammad Al Amayra in
his case against Libya. Mehlis also relied on NSA intercepts of fake
telephone calls that former Mossad officer Victor Ostrovsky revealed were
made by Mossad agents, posing as Arab terrorists. The phone calls proved
Libyan guilt and justified America's bombing of Libya.

In the Hariri case, German critics claimed "the choice of Mehlis was done
because of his links to the German, American, French and Israeli
intelligence agencies." Lebanese news source and "Le Figaro"
confirmed that the British MI6 and Mossad have been supplying much of the
U.N. Commission's intelligence.

When Mehlis resigned in disgrace, the U.N. hired Belgian prosecutor Serge
Brammertz at Mehlis' recommendation. But Brammertz could also be vulnerable
to U.S. pressure if he assembles a verdict not to America's liking. Under
Belgium's Universal Competence Law, Belgian legislators charged U.S. Centcom
General Tommy Franks, President George W Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Secretary
of State Colin Powell with war crimes in Iraq. In 2003, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld threatened to pull NATO headquarters out of Belgium if the
prosecutions commenced. Shortly after, the Universal Competence Law was
dropped. At the U.N., Brammertz told me questions about similar U.S.
retaliation against his country regarding an unapproved Hariri outcome were
not relevant and were "unhelpful."

But much of the questionable case built by Mehlis has been retained by
Brammertz. Though Brammertz's secretive style preempts most outside
debunking of questionable evidence, it is clear that fundamental issues
remain unresolved. Brammertz's latest U.N. report estimates that TNT and RDX
explosives were used. But military experts and vehicle manufacturers claimed
that blast damage to Hariri's heavily armored Mercedes had the distinctive
'melting signature' incurred by high density DU munitions. Israel's recent
attack on Lebanon destroyed that evidence, by contaminating the crime scene
with American DU-tipped GBU-28 bunker buster bomb residue.

It is also not certain where the explosion that killed Hariri was detonated.
French experts assessed it was underground because the blast had cracked the
foundations of adjacent buildings, manhole covers on the street had blown
off, and asphalt was propelled onto nearby rooftops. After it was found that
an underground explosion would not implicate Syria — but rather the
pro-U.S./Israeli figures in the Lebanese government who had supervised road
work in the days before Hariri died — the focus shifted to an above-ground
blast via suicide bomber.

Then in a psyops set-up reminiscent of the Pentagon's Al Qaeda cutout Abu
Musab Al Zarqawi, (who terrorized the length and breadth of Iraq with a
wooden leg), several U.N. reports feature a 'Zarqawi-inspired' suicide car
bomber, Ahmed Abu Adass, as the killer. 'Martyr' Adass's video confession
debuted on Al Jazeera Bin Laden-style, with all the requisite hoopla. But
according to Reuters and ABC News, the "Syrian-coerced" car bomber had never
learned how to drive. (3/4/05)

America's United Nations Ambassador at the time, John Bolton, who usually
criticized the United Nations as "irrelevant," praised Mehlis, Brammertz and
the UNIIIC investigation's "great work," saying "the substantial evidence
speaks for itself."

But the irrelevant evidence Brammertz refuses to speak of could prove far
more substantial. Last June, the Lebanese Army discovered several networks
of Arab mercenaries sponsored by Israel's Mossad conducting terrorist
attacks and car bombings connected to the Hariri assassination.

Israel National News' "Arutz Sheva" reported that Lebanese Foreign Minister
Fawzi Salloukh was ignored when he protested to the U.N. about the
discoveries. (6/25/06) The U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, who
helped manufacture the Cedar Revolution through the American Embassy in
Beirut, then threatened Lebanon with very "grave consequences" and a boycott
of foreign aid if Salloukh filed a formal U.N. complaint about the findings.

Despite Feltman's ultimatums, Lebanese Military Investigating Magistrate
Adnan Bolbol was to begin questioning witnesses over the Mossad
assassinations in mid-July. On July 11, the Lebanese opposition publicized
its demand for a United Nations Security Council Resolution against Israel,
as well as a full inquiry into the Mossad's Arab-camouflaged spy killings.
Responding within hours on July 12, Israel hastily retaliated with a full
scale attack on Lebanon using the Hizbullah border kidnapping as pretext.

Did the war on Lebanon cover up exposure of a "Salvador-style" slaying of
Rafiq Hariri and the other assassinations blamed on Syria?

Using the Salvador Option against Syria had first been raised by "Newsweek"
and the "London Times" in January, 2005. After Hariri's death on February
14, Hariri's long-time personal advisor Mustafa Al Naser said: "the
assassination of Hariri is the Israeli Mossad's job, aimed at creating
political tension in Lebanon." ("Asia Times" 2/17/05) The "Sunday Herald" of
Scotland hinted at a U.S. role. "With controversial diplomat John Negroponte
installed as the all-powerful Director of National Intelligence, is the U.S.
about to switch from invasions to covert operations and dirty tricks? The
assassination of the former Lebanese PM has aroused suspicions." ("Sunday
Herald," 2/20/05)

Fred Burton, vice president of counter-terrorism at Stratfor, was also
suspicious. Burton, who spent over 20 years as a counter-terrorism expert at
the U.S. State Department and the Secret Service, has investigated most
terror attacks against U.S. embassies abroad, as well as the first World
Trade Center bombing, and the murder of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin. Stratfor's
Burton also specialized in Syrian terror operations and methods. He rejected
both Syria and Hizbullah as the perpetrators behind the Hariri killing.
"Syria lacks the finesse," and the "complex nature" of the remote-control
technology needed to implement "the surgical nature of the charge" are
beyond their capacity, he insisted. "This is not their style... and
Hizbullah would not have this capability." (UPI 6/27/05)

According to United Press International, Stratfor's report on the Hariri
crime concluded that the Lebanese assassinations were "so sophisticated that
few in the world could have done it." Burton told UPI that only five nations
had such advanced resources — Israel, the U.S., Britain, France and Russia.
"This type of technology is only available to government agencies." Burton
then asked: "Suppose that these bombings were 'merely collateral'? That the
true target in the plot is the Syrian regime itself? If Damascus were being
framed, who then would be the likely suspect?"

"Israeli intelligence is standing behind this crime," claimed German
criminologist Juergen Cain Kuelbel. In his book "Hariri's Assassination:
Hiding Evidence in Lebanon" he wrote: "Syria is innocent and has nothing to
do with that crime or the other assassinations." Kuelbel discovered that the
jamming system used to disable the Hariri convoy's electronic shield was
manufactured by Netline Technologies Ltd of Tel Aviv, an Israeli company
co-developed with the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli law enforcement
agencies, and sold through European outlets. The UNIIIC dismissed Kuelbel's
findings as "ridiculous" and irrelevant.

But two months after the Hariri convoy was destroyed, Israeli-manufactured
weapons began to appear near the homes and neighborhoods of politicians in
Lebanon. On April 14, 2005 UPI reported that Lebanese security forces had
discovered six Hebrew-inscribed mortar shells manufactured by Israel on a
deserted beach near the the southern Lebanese village of Ghaziyeh.

Similar missiles and dynamite were also found along a road frequented by
Hizbullah officials, and on December 10, 2005 four anti-tank rockets
attached to wires ready for detonation were found planted on the road
leading to MP Walid Jumblatt's Muktara Palace.

In February, 2006 Lebanon's "Daily Star" and "An Nahar" reported that
Hebrew-marked 55mm, 60mm and 81mm rockets were discovered close to MP Saad
Hariri's Qoreitem estate. Similar rockets had also been uncovered near the
Majdelyoun home of Saad's aunt, legislator Bahia Hariri near Sidon.

While the pro-U.S./Israeli 'March 14' government automatically blamed Syria
for the findings, one of several Israeli spy rings was captured trying to
assassinate Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. AFP cited nine
"well-trained, professional" paramilitaries who were intercepted with an
arsenal of B-7 rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles, pump action shotguns,
hand grenades, AK 47 rifles, revolvers, silencers, computers and CDs.

Then in June 2006, Mahmoud Rafea, a mercenary from the South Lebanon Army,
(created by Israel during the civil war with $10,000 bonuses), was caught on
camera after car bombing two members of Islamic Jihad, the Majzoub brothers.
Israel's reported that Rafea confessed to committing the Majzoub
slayings for Israel's Mossad, as well as to a number of other high level

Israeli website DEBKAfiles said that Rafea had assisted "two Israeli agents
[who] flew into Beirut International Airport aboard a commercial flight on
false passports three days before the Majzoub brothers were assassinated."
They "replaced a door of the brothers' car with a booby-trapped facsimile"
and left the country after an Israeli airplane "detonated the planted
explosives with an electronic beam." ("Daily Star," 6/20/06)

Mahmoud Rafea, who was trained in Israel, also confessed to distributing
bombs and ordnance to various locations around Lebanon to destabilize the
country. A raid of Rafea's home yielded high-tech Israeli surveillance gear,
fake passports, IDs, and appliances and baggage with secret compartments,
and detailed maps of Lebanon.

But Rafea's network was only one among several. Lebanese Internal Security
Forces are still searching for a different spy ring led by another Arab
Mossad agent, Hussein Khattab. The "Times of London" wrote: "In a bizarre
twist, Hussein Khattab, a Palestinian member of the spy ring, who is still
at large, is the brother of Sheikh Jamal Khattab, an Islamic cleric who
allegedly recruited Arab fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq". (6/15/06)

Equally strange, Hussein Khattab's brother Jamal and his colleague Sheikh
Obeida (mentioned in the UNIIIC report as head of Al Qaeda's Jund Al Sham)
frequently met with the Zarqawi-inspired Hariri suicide car bomber Ahmed Abu
Adass in the Ein Hilweh refugee camp of Lebanon. (Like Israel and the U.S.,
Zarqawi had demanded that Hizbullah be disarmed.) "Arutz Sheva" (12/10/06)
later wrote that "the U.S. has been talking with Al Qaeda-sponsored
terrorist groups in Syria in an all-out effort to topple the regime of
President Bashar Assad".

In early January 2007, AP and the UK "Telegraph" reported that the CIA had
begun covert operations in Lebanon using Arab proxies. During the riots in
Beirut on January 20-22, a U.S. proxy, the Progressive Socialist Party,
distributed U.S. weapons to fighters dressed as opposition Hizbullah/Amal
supporters. The riots were then blamed on the opposition.

Comparing the Hariri car bombing to the mysterious car bombings in Iraq,
"Asia Times" said: "What remains is the evidence of Baghdad in Beirut... The
iron-clad certainty, on both sides [Sunni and Shi'a resistance in Iraq], is
that these have been perpetrated not by "terrorists" as the U.S. claims, but
rather by Israeli black ops or CIA-connected American mercenaries, with the
intent of fueling tensions and advancing the prospect of civil war. Now if
only someone would come up with a Beirut smoking gun."

"The Gun" — as Meir Dagan is nicknamed — could be it.

The Israeli website DEBKAfiles wrote that the above-named South Lebanon Army
mercenary Mahmoud Rafea, had been assassinating/spying in Lebanon for Israel
since 1989 when he was recruited by current Mossad director Meir Dagan.

In 2002, Meir Dagan was reappointed by Ariel Sharon to reprise the Mossad's
covert operations in Lebanon, notably targeted killings abroad. Coinciding
with Dagan's appointment, official Israeli policy was expanded to allow
assassinations in friendly ally nations (including the U.S.) using Kidon
death squads from the Metsada Division. It was a job for which Dagan had
ample experience. ("The Australian," 9/24/04 & UPI 1/15/03)

Under Ariel Sharon in 1970, Dagan commanded a secret assassination unit of
the Israeli Security Agency called Sayaret Rimon that eliminated over 750
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In 1982, he helped command Israel's invasion
of Lebanon. His main assignment was to manage undercover infiltrators and to
train Lebanese collaborators for the pro-Israel South Lebanon Army.

Dagan commanded the Lebanon Liaison Unit (Yakal or Yaagal Border Unit) which
was notorious for its cross-border raids into Lebanon to kidnap opponents,
as well as its secret prison Camp 1391, where detainees were tortured and
disappeared. "Haaretz" alleged Camp 1391 was the prototype for America's
Guantanamo facility.

Dagan also operated the IDF Military Intelligence Unit 504, whose expertise
was assassination, sabotage and spy running in Lebanon. The Israel Defense
Forces call such spy saboteurs "mista'aravim"— "soldiers disguised as
Arabs." Used for clandestine reconnaissance and to frame enemies in false
flag operations, these IDF soldiers impersonating Arabs and their proxies
are "trained to act and think like Arabs", and to blend in to the target
population with appropriate manners and language. (In 2002, this writer
encountered at least one such Israeli 'student' who claimed to be in Beirut
"learning to think like 'the enemy'".)

One mista'aravim specialty is the donning of Arab garb. In 1973, Israel's
"Spring of Youth Operation" conducted by the IDF Sayaret Matkal in Beirut
included future Prime Minister Ehud Barak dressed as an Arab woman while
conducting death squad hits. Mista'aravim provocateurs camouflaged as
Palestinians are still used in the West Bank and Iraq. "Jane's Foreign
Report" said Mossad's Dagan had advised U.S. officials in September 2002 on
how Israeli special ops could help the U.S. war effort in Iraq. Mista'aravim
methods were exemplified in Basra where British SAS troops dressed as Arabs
in a vehicle loaded with explosives were seized before detonating a car
bomb. According to Israeli intelligence expert Ephraim Kahana, Sayaret
Matkal is modeled on Britain's SAS.

Mista'aravim also specialize in close quarter urban combat using micro-Uzis,
short-barreled M-16s and sniper rifles. Due to fluid street and residential
changes, these teams rely on satellite photos and real-time drone imaging —
like the complex technique used in the killing of the Majzoub brothers,
where overhead drones monitored ground activity via cameras mounted on
nearby objects — a level of capability not possessed by Syria.

Concerning the 2006 Lebanon War, DEBKAfiles boasted of other Israeli
mista'aravim successes: "two spy rings of Lebanese agents which the Israeli
Mossad" operated had "planted bugs and surveillance equipment at Hizbullah
command posts before and during the war. They also sprinkled special
phosphorus powder outside buildings housing Hizbullah's war commands and
rocket launchers as markers for air strikes. Well before the war, the Beirut
ring had penetrated the inner circles of Hizbullah and was reporting on
their activities and movements to Israeli controllers... Run by veterans of
the South Lebanese Army (the force Israel created during its occupation),
its job was to "paint" targets for the Israeli Air Force and artillery.."
DEBKAfiles claimed that Lebanon was "heavily penetrated by agents working
for Israel intelligence."

One Lebanese in particular, General Adnan Daoud, even appeared on Israeli
television smiling and drinking tea with IDF soldiers while taking them on a
four hour tour of his military base in Marjayoun. An hour after the Israeli
soldiers' departure, IDF bombed the Marjayoun site. (AP/"Jerusalem Post,"

Regarding yet other Mossad agents DEBKAfiles wrote: "Hizbullah's security
officials detained two non-Lebanese Arabs wandering around the ruined Dahya
district, taking photos and drawing maps. Several forged passports were in
their possession..."

All factions concerned with the Hariri killing — the UNIIIC, Stratfor,
Hizbullah, Syria, the U.S., Israel and the Lebanese 'March 14' movement,
agree on one thing — the Hariri perpetrator also carried out the other 22
assassinations, and possibly more. Lebanon's "Daily Star" quoted the FBI:
"the same explosive was used in Hawi, Kassir and Hamade crimes" as that used
against Hariri. On May 27, 2006 the "Daily Star" revealed that the killers
of Hariri and the Majzoub brothers could be the same: "Internal Security
Forces, forensics experts, judiciary police and members of Hizbullah's
security apparatus inspected the blast site shortly after the bomb
detonated. The shrapnel and iron balls found extensively around the
explosion indicate the bomb was a specialized mine to assassinate
individuals, and it is similar to Hawi and Kassir's explosives."

Sources in Lebanon and at the UNIIIC in New York concluded that the same
party responsible for Hariri's death and the other Lebanese assassinations
also committed the Majzoub killings. In June, Mossad agent Mahmoud Rafea
admitted killing the Majzoub brothers for Israel.

But such "irrelevant" evidence has been deliberately ignored by the U.N.
International Independent Investigation Commission. At the United Nations,
this writer questioned various officials over a period of months about a
possible U.S.-Israeli role in Hariri's murder, and if it was being
investigated by the UNIIIC. Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stated that because
the issue wasn't raised by the U.S./Israeli-backed Lebanese government, that
line of enquiry would not be pursued. It seems only facts supporting a
guilty verdict against Syria will be considered.

"As far as Israel is concerned, it would be difficult to imagine a more
convenient scenario. Its stubborn enemies, Iran and Syria, are now being
accused by the international community, one for its nuclear program, the
other for its behavior in Lebanon. Israel has hoped for this outcome since
the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States in 2001. Immediately after the
collapse of the Twin Towers, Israeli officials began to speak about the
anticipated change, and expressed a hope that the United States would bring
order to the region, and would deal with Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and not
only Iraq." —Aluf Benn, "Haaretz," October 25, 2005

From Baghdad to Beirut, the democracy dominoes keep falling. After Syria, an
Iranian "Shah and Awe" forgery is the next imminent threat.

Trish Schuh is a co-founder of the Military Families Support Network and is
a member of Military Reporters and Editors. She has lived and studied in
Lebanon and Syria.