Archive for March, 2011
What the Patriot Act Does For You
Posted By Philip Giraldi On March 30, 2011 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 18 Comments
Incessant warmaking overseas will someday end when the United States runs out of money or soldiers or both. But less well understood is the collateral damage here at home where the consequences of the global war on terror will linger on in the form of a shattered constitution. The Patriot Act is generally promoted as the principal legislative tool being used to fight international terrorism. It is, in reality, a devastating and poorly conceived bit of legislation originally approved just after 9/11. It will soon be up for an extension in the US Senate. President Barack Obama, who criticized it while he was a candidate but apparently has had a change of heart since that time, favors its renewal. Most members of Congress, few of whom have ever read the entire act, want it renewed. The mainstream media likes it because who can resist patriotism?
That is the bad news. But there is also some good news. Libertarians, traditional conservatives, progressives, and even some tea partiers are for the first time uniting to stop the extension. Senator Rand Paul led the charge in the Senate back in February, resulting in a temporary 90 day continuation of key provisions of the act that will expire in May. Before that happens, the Patriot Act will again be up for Senatorial approval but this time there will be an open debate in front of the full Senate and under the scrutiny of the media. It will be the first time that has happened since 2001. There will also be a roll call vote with each Senator having to come down for or against. It is an opportunity not to be missed to roll back the tide of government intrusion in the life of every citizen.
Americans should know what the Patriot Act has done to each and every one of us. Broadly speaking, the Patriot Act was designed to make it easier for law enforcement to investigate US citizens and permanent residents by easing legal restraints on records and activities that were hitherto considered private or required a judge’s order to access. The Act has enjoyed bipartisan support since 2001.
Title 2 of the Patriot Act, entitled “Enhanced Surveillance Procedures,” contains many of its most controversial aspects of the new law. Previously, obtaining information on foreigners residing in the United States was carefully regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court and the information generally had to be sought as part of an actual criminal investigation. Under the new law, it became possible to investigate any foreign suspect as part of a law enforcement effort to obtain foreign intelligence information even if there was no evidence that a crime had been committed. The difference is critical as the former procedure required actual evidence of a crime while the new procedure permitted investigation of just about anyone who could plausibly be linked to a foreign suspect to obtain information, allowing law enforcement to conduct wide ranging fishing expeditions. The new rules also lifted the requirement that law enforcement demonstrate that the target of a FISA approved investigation was a foreign national and a possible agent of a foreign government. Anyone linked to the inquiry, even a US citizen, could become a person of interest.
Title 2 also permitted any district court in the United States to issue surveillance orders and search warrants in connection with proposed terrorist investigations and the Act specifically included electronic communications and voicemail records as subject to the warrants. Using the warrants, the FBI is able to access from the internet service provider all records on a user, to include name, address, telephone billing records, session details, and payment information to include bank and credit card records.
Roving wiretaps are also authorized by the Patriot Act, permitting law enforcement to obtain warrants that allow them to switch from one communications medium to another if they believe that the target is changing his method of communication to make monitoring him more difficult. This means that the FBI is empowered to tap multiple phones or computer lines simultaneously based on one blanket warrant. Previously law enforcement had to show cause for the tap and it was limited to the telephone or computer line specified in the request. Under Title 2 the FBI was also permitted to obtain whatever tangible public records are available to assist in an investigation. This was the so-called library clause, where library borrowing records could be accessed by the police.
Title 4 and Title 8 of the Patriot Act deal with defining terrorism. The definition was broadened to include many criminal acts hitherto regarded as non-terrorism, to include mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, intimidation, coercion, and racketeering. It also includes activities “dangerous to human life.” The definition of terrorist support activity was also made extremely broad and elastic, meaning that even a letter to the editor defending a terrorist group or the inadvertent contribution to a charity that was somehow linked to a group that the State Department had defined as terrorist could lead to criminal prosecution. Under the new law, any alien, including legal residents, who is arrested on terrorist related charges can be detained indefinitely under orders from the Attorney General. The evidence used to determine that the accused had possible links to terrorist organizations can be withheld at the discretion of the Justice Department and cannot be challenged, which means that it can be based on suspicion or uncorroborated information. There is no guarantee of any kind of due process for those who are arrested.
The Patriot Act also incorporates sections on money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Few would argue with the money laundering provisions, but the act also includes the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of October 17th, 2001, which permits the freezing of assets and investigation of individuals suspected of being financial or material supporters of terrorism. The definition of supporter is extremely elastic and could be construed as providing material assistance or even verbal or written support. The assets are frozen for as long as the government carries out the investigation and the government is under no obligation to proceed with any alacrity. Several cases involving Islamic charities in Northern Virginia have been dragging on since 9/11, with no resolution in sight. And “suspected” is the key word in terms of the standard of evidence, as there is no oversight or appeal to the process. The information used to make the case is secret and available only to the government.
Probably most disturbing to libertarians are the National Security Letters (NSL) authorized in Title 5 of the Act. The NSL has been described as an administrative subpoena that can be used by a number of government agencies that have investigative authority. This means in practice that they are mostly used by the FBI. The NSL is used to obtain documents and information relating to any individual or to organizations, to include employment, health, financial, and credit records. There is no requirement for probable cause and there is no judicial oversight of the process. The recipient of the NSL cannot reveal that he has received the letter to anyone and can be prosecuted if he violates that restriction. At FBI, the letters can be issued by any Special Agent in Charge of any field office, which means that the authority to approve a NSL is essentially local, is not reviewed at a higher level, and does not have to be linked to any actual terrorism case. Between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued 200,000 National Security Letters. As of 2005, the NSLs had been used to obtain more than one million personal records, including medical histories and credit reports. A Justice Department investigation determined that most had nothing to do with terrorism.
There have been some legal challenges to the National Security Letters but the FBI, Defense Department, and CIA continue to issue them in large numbers. The first challenge was a district court ruling in September 2004 that the national security letter statute was itself unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution, relating to freedom of speech and association and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. This prompted Congress to amend the law to allow a recipient to challenge the demand for records as well as the gag order. The second challenge was a December 2008 appeals court decision that ruled that the amended gag provisions violate the First Amendment. The FBI now must prove to a court that disclosure would harm national security when the recipient refused to comply with the gag order. The FBI claims that it has adopted both court rulings as policy, but it is not clear to what extent the gag rule remains in place. Because of adverse publicity, the ability of the FBI to use NSLs at public libraries was terminated.
It is undeniable that the Patriot Act infringes on constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, the right to habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property, but defenders of the Acts claim that the infringements are moderate, incremental, and necessary. Defenders of the Constitution would claim that any infringement is illegal and therefore unacceptable. There are also inconsistencies in terms of how the act operates. It is legal under the act to intercept and read an email communication or listen to a phone conversation but illegal to open a letter moving through the United States Postal Service. The part of the act criminalizing giving “expert advice and assistance” to a terrorist group is so broad that it would mean that someone advising the group to surrender to authorities could be arrested. A doctor offering advice on child rearing at an orphanage in Hamas governed Gaza might likewise be prosecuted upon returning to the United States.
With the Patriot Act, any objection to Washington’s foreign policy can be construed as an act of terrorism. We have empowered the police to read our private communications, place wiretaps into our homes and places of work, look into our finances and medical histories, and even search our houses without a warrant. We no longer have the right to associate freely and our property can be seized by the government while we are being investigated. The Patriot Act opens the door to fishing expeditions by the government that violate the rights of every American citizen. It is a law that is worthy only of a police state and everyone who cares about the constitution should unite to demand its repeal.
Read more by Philip Giraldi
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
Neoconomics: Conscription and War as Wealth
Posted By Grant Smith On March 27, 2011 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 15 Comments
Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle is a 2009 Council on Foreign Relations book brimming with anecdotes, assumptions, and advice. Dan Senor and Saul Singer explain Israel’s entrepreneurial successes as products of Israeli national character through pithy quotes, high-tech case studies, and selective histories. The pair recommends America become more entrepreneurial by replicating Israel’s conscription based national service model. But the authors’ foray into the economics of national entrepreneurship and innovation utterly ignores the demand side of this equation — Americans who increasingly view Israel more as a liability than asset — at their peril.
To understand Start-up Nation‘s ideological framework, it is important to understand the biography of the book’s primary advocate and campus barnstormer Dan Senor. The former American Israel Public Affairs Committee intern has previously credited AIPAC in his career trajectory, “whether I was learning the ins and outs of Washington with my fellow interns or attending briefings on Capitol Hill, my internship at AIPAC prepared me for my work in politics.” In 2003 the Harvard Business School graduate worked as civilian spokesperson in CENTCOM HQ in Qatar and later for the Coalition Provisional Authority in occupied Baghdad. Senor co-founded a neoconservative think tank, the Foreign Policy Initiative with William Kristol and Robert Kagan “that promotes continued U.S. engagement — diplomatic, economic, and military — in the world and rejection of policies that would lead us down the path to isolationism; robust support for America’s democratic allies…” Perhaps tellingly, little of this biography appears on the book’s jacket, which trumpets Senor’s experience as an investment banker. Co-author Singer was an advisor to Congress before he moved to Israel.
Start-up Nation is peppered with accounts of how Israeli entrepreneurs leverage personal contacts made as battle tested conscripts in Israel’s army, navy and intelligence services. Top telecommunications service and equipment vendors spring all but fully formed from Israel’s elite intelligence services while Israel’s other armed services purportedly provide an experience “much better than college.” We learn that Israel was “largely a barren wasteland” before being transformed by the entrepreneurial vision of national CEO David Ben-Gurion. Palestinians, the Nakba, and Arabs in general don’t much figure in Start-up Nation except as “terrorist infiltrators” the nemesis of Israelis “kidnapped by terrorists” or to provide the menacing, isolating, encircling armed presence over which Israelis must constantly innovate to prevail. But Arabs are never a potential market — past, present, or future.
Central to Start-up Nation‘s explanation for entrepreneurialism is the effect of “chutzpah” described as an Israeli trait of questioning everything in a manner bordering on insolence and insubordination. The Israelis needed to improvise and operate creatively at the lowest ranks of the armed forces to beat Egypt and other adversaries in various armed conflicts, resulting in a smaller officer corps and ability of lower level conscripts to collectively throw out leadership that fails to perform. This, according to the book, has created a culture of harsh “debriefings,” irreverence, and intolerance for mediocrity that migrates into the private sector. Multinational corporate executives visiting subsidiaries or on tour in Israel are likely to face a corporate culture of unnerving questions such as “why are you the boss? How come I’m not your boss?”
However, Start-up Nation airbrushes one vital and enduring truth — when Israel faces sovereign barriers to foreign trade routes, weapons, or technology; it tends to break other country’s laws and steal what it thinks it needs. Ever sensitive to Israel’s righteousness, members of the massive Haganah arms theft and smuggling ring in the US in the book were merely David Ben-Gurion’s “emissaries” to America, not felons violating US arms export laws. Theft of French Mirage jetfighter plans stolen to build the Israeli Kfir were justified to correct Charles Degaulle’s arms embargo, a “betrayal by a close ally.” Al Schwimmer, a felon convicted for violating US arms export controls that went on to become a player in the Iran-Contra scandal, is a “swashbuckler” in Start-up Nation.
Curiously, the book abides by Israeli military censor protocols when discussing Israel’s nuclear arsenal, referring to a “nuclear capability” while coyly suggesting clandestine entrepreneurial funding and covert operations “has reportedly made Israel a nuclear power.” Start-up Nation hero Rafael Eitan’s role stealing highly enriched uranium from the US and Shimon Peres’ newly discovered (by another wing of the Council on Foreign Relations) offer to sell nuclear tipped Jericho missiles to apartheid South Africa go unmentioned in Start-up Nation, since they present unsavory (though representative) examples of entrepreneurial activity of the clandestine variety. The implications and benefits of Eitan’s Lakam economic and nuclear espionage network, operational over decades in the US with American alumni such as Jonathan Pollard and Ben-Ami Kadish, also brooks no deep introspection in Start-up Nation.
In public discussions of Start-up Nation, Dan Senor makes clear his core assumption is that “the West owes Israel” while focusing on how new Israeli businesses will cash in this chit by selling high value added exports into already competitive Western markets. The incredible boon of early, ongoing, and total access to the US military and consumer marketplace (which accounted for the leading share, up to 38%, of Israel’s total exports over the past five years) is a demand-side factor that goes entirely unmentioned (and unthanked) in Start-up Nation. The 1984 joint Israeli-AIPAC covert operation to purloin and leverage still-classified US industry secrets in order to win coveted market access is still an embarrassing secret unknown to most Americans. The resultant bilateral agreement is the subject of ongoing complaints by US exporters that can’t overcome Israeli non-tariff trade barriers and floating infant industry tariffs, after a quarter century of trying. Israel’s top exports to the US still more resemble those of pirates than innovators sailing winds of discovery into new markets.
In 2010 Israel’s second largest export (at $5.3 billion) to the US after gem diamonds, cut stones, and other baubles ($7.7 billion) was pharmaceuticals. US drug makers have been long incensed over Israeli theft of patent medicine clinical dossiers submitted as a requirement to enter Israel’s market. The Ministry of Health passed them on for use in “at risk” Israeli manufactured generic drug launches in the US and Israeli copycat drugs made for export to world markets. Buttressed by an army of lawyers, Israeli generics producers can capture “80% of [US] innovators market…through patent challenges” according to industry analysts. Israel, for years placed on a punitive US Trade Representative “Special 301 Watch List” for patent violations is since 2010 on probation (PDF), promising to pass laws in sync with developed country intellectual property norms and to stop undermining US industry innovations.
Perhaps the major error of omission in Start-up Nation is that Israel has long benefited from demand subsidies created by “memorandums of understanding” quietly negotiated and signed with the Pentagon for Israel to provide services and equipment to US armed forces, gain access to the US military procurement system, and weapons purchase “offsets” and joint development agreements passed by Congress that create jobs in Israel rather than America. None of this demand would exist absent a vast network of legal and illegal bribery*campaign contributions, favors to politicians, foreign policy conducted outside the purview of elected government, election law violations, embedded propaganda infrastructure, and unlawful activities for which Israel’s US lobby is almost never held accountable.
What makes the neoconservative economics of Start-up Nation so galling is the authors’ refusal to account for these massive non-market subsidies and distortions. Adding insult to injury, the book recommends that the US now implement its own conscript-based “national service” in order to replicate the camaraderie, social networks, and national sense of purpose that allegedly propel Israel’s innovation society. With the US unable to commit further troops to conflicts erupting across the Middle East, it’s highly suspect — though not surprising — that leading neoconservative advocates are subtly calling for the return of conscription, but would it truly be good for America?
As a major and well-publicized work, Start-up Nation has no less damage potential than such previous neocon manifestos as A Clean Break or Rebuilding America’s Defenses. Unlike its ideological forebears, the dangerous assumptions behind Start-up Nation have not yet wreaked havoc on America’s social fabric, armed services, and treasury. Start-up Nation‘s single redeeming quality is its loud and persistent call for irreverence and chutzpah. This is an arm that concerned US taxpayer and stakeholders in Middle East peace should immediately take up against flawed “neoconomics.”
The drive to normalize Israel’s state of perpetual conflict into a “comparative advantage” deserves a broad and contemptuous challenge. “Why should America follow Israel’s conscript-based model, because there aren’t enough Americans already in uniform deployed in the Middle East?” “Do gun sights really provide market insights that international internships and business development that respect rule of law cannot?” “After years on the dole, doesn’t Israel now owe the West something, such as a bona fide effort to make peace with its neighbors and the return of captured territories?”
American thought leaders should also ask hard questions. If the US continues to subsidize this particular start-up nation, is it only exchanging venture capital for guaranteed perpetual conflict?
Read more by Grant Smith
Article printed from Antiwar.com Original: http://original.antiwar.com
Thirteen Members of Congress Join Board of Advisors as The Israel Project (TIP) Expands on Capitol Hill
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Thirteen Members of Congress Join Board of Advisors as TIP Expands on Capitol Hill
Tip Board of Directors Welcomes Robert “Bobby” Copeland and Randall Levitt Washington, D.C. Mar. 28 – The Israel Project has added 13 distinguished American legislators to its new Board of Advisors and two accomplished businessmen to its Board of Directors, expanding the organization’s reach and strengthening its efforts to educate the press, policy makers and the public with facts about Israel and the Middle East.
“I appreciate the commitment to Israel and to TIP by all our new members of the Board Directors and the Board of Advisors and welcome them to our expanding organization,” TIP Founder and President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said in a statement. “It is gratifying to see that both Republicans and Democrats, both Representatives and Senators, as well as distinguish community leaders support TIP’s work and commitment to Israel and truth. We look forward to working with each and every one our Board of Directors and the members of Congress.”
NEW MEMBERS OF THE TIP BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Randall James Levitt is the president of the Nellis Corporation, a commercial real estate investment company based in Rockville, Md. He currently serves on the governing boards of Capitol Bank, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and the United Jewish Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. He is a graduate of Yale Law.
Robert O. Copeland is the managing director of RST Development, a real estate development and management company. He is on the Board of Visitors for Old Dominion University. He currently serves as vice chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee and as a member of the Administration & Finance Committee. He is extremely active in his local Jewish Federation where he is a major leader.
NEW MEMBERS OF THE TIP BOARD OF ADVISORS
Sen. John Barasso, M.D.
Senator John Barrasso, M.D. (WY, R)
Senator John Barrasso was sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 2007. He serves on the Republican leadership team as vice-chairman of the Senate Republican Conference as well as on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where he is on the Subcommittee for Energy. He is also on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where he is the ranking member on the Subcommittee for European Affairs. www.barrasso.senate.gov
Sen. Robert Casey (PA, D)
Senator Robert Casey (PA, D) Sworn into the U.S. Senate in 2007, Senator Robert Casey is on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, which has jurisdiction over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Middle East. He is a leader in promoting nuclear security and combating the threat posed by terrorists obtaining nuclear material. Sen. Casey introduced the bipartisan Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which authorizes the divestment of public pension money from companies doing business in Iran’s oil and natural gas sector, and cosponsored the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act to strengthen the president’s ability to impose sanctions on companies that help Iran import or develop refined petroleum. Both measures are now law. www.casey.senate.gov
Rep. Gary Ackerman
Rep. Gary Ackerman (NY-5, D)
Now serving his fifteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Gary Ackerman is on the House Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees. He helped craft the new, tough Iran sanctions law. He also authored a measure, invoked by President Bush, to impose sanctions against the Palestinian Authority for non-compliance with signed peace agreements. www.ackerman.house.gov
Rep. Howard Berman
Rep. Howard Berman (CA-28, D)
Elected to Congress in 1982, Rep. Howard Berman is on the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees. He was appointed chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2008 and currently serves as the ranking member. Together with the late Republican Henry Hyde, Rep. Berman wrote a law authorizing embargoes on nations that support terrorism. www.berman.house.gov
Rep. Russ Carnahan
Rep. Russ Carnahan (MO-3, D)
Serving on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Russ Carnahan has emphasized the importance of building strong relationships and promoting international cooperation as a way to further our national interests. He was sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 and is currently the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. www.carnahan.house.gov
Rep. Michael Coffman
Rep. Michael Coffman (CO-6, R)
Now serving on the House Committee on Armed Services, Rep. Michael Coffman previously served in the U.S. Marines and was deployed to Iraq twice. He is on the Armed Services Subcommittees on Military Personnel; and Oversight and Investigations. He was first elected to Congress in 2008. www.coffman.house.gov
Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-19, D)
Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-19, D)
A freshman representative and a lifelong activist in the pro-Israel community, Rep. Ted Deutch is on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is an expert on divestment from Iran’s energy sector. Rep. Deutch introduced the Iran Transparency and Accountability Act in the 112th Congress, with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY, R) and Mark Kirk (IL, R) sponsoring the companion bill in the U.S. Senate, and Rep. Dan Burton (IN-5, R) cosponsoring it in the House. www.deutch.house.gov
Rep. Robert Dold (IL-10, R)
Rep. Robert Dold (IL-10, R)
Rep. Robert Dold was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and serves on the House Committee on Financial Services, which has jurisdiction over international finance, international monetary organizations and efforts to combat terrorist financing. He traveled to Israel last year and, in his first floor speech, declared Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons as a great threat and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship as the best counterforce. www.dold.house.gov
Rep. Michael McCaul
Rep Michael McCaul (TX-10, R)
A member of the House Committees on Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs, Rep. Michael McCaul is also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional High Technology Caucus, Green Schools Caucus, Congressional Cyber Security Caucus, Sudan Caucus and the Childhood Cancer Caucus. First elected to Congress in 2004, Rep. McCaul previously served as chief of counter terrorism and national security in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas, led the state-wide Joint Terrorism Task Force charged with detecting, deterring and preventing terrorist activity and served as Texas Deputy Attorney General under current U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. www.mccaul.house.gov
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5, R)
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5, R)
First elected to the U.S House of Representatives in 2004, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has served as a member of the Republican leadership team since 2009. She focused on expanding and improving the use of new media. She is now vice chair of the House Republican Conference. She also serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she champions a comprehensive energy independence strategy encompassing conservation and innovation while utilizing and expanding domestic energy sources. www.mcmorrisrodgers.house.gov/
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
First elected to Congress in 2002, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter serves on the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees. McCotter was elected by his colleagues in November 2006 to serve as chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, a leadership position which he chaired through 2010. He frequently writes articles about the Middle East and Iran. www.mccotter.house.gov
Rep. Devin Nunes
Rep. Devin Nunes (CA-21, R)
Rep. Devin Nunes was first elected to Congress in 2002 and serves on the Intelligence and Ways and Means Committees. A leader in the Republican Conference, Nunes currently serves as an Assistant Republican Whip. Nunes, whose family is of Portuguese descent, is in dialogue with officials from Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Angola about the establishment of democratic institutions, free trade and more open government. The American Made Energy Freedom Act, a Nunes bill, proposes the largest investment in clean renewable energy in history. www.nunes.house.gov
Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-29, D)
Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-29, D)
First elected to Congress in 2000, Rep. Adam Schiff serves on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees. In 2007, Schiff became a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittees – the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee and the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee. Prior to working on the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Schiff served for six years on the House Committee on International Relations. He is now the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee’s Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, which oversees the technical aspects of intelligence gathering, as well as cyber security. www.schiff.house.gov
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Palin goes to Israel (must watch MSNBC ‘Hardball’ segment):
Trips to Israel are not junkets. They are described as “educational seminars”
WILLIAM A. COOK : What Does It Profit a Congressman to Retain His Office but Suffer the Loss of His Soul?
|AIPAC’s newest strategy|
French President Nicolas Sarkozy not only took the lead in bringing about the military attack on Libya but now has stated that all rulers face Libya-style intervention if they violently suppress anti-government protesters. He focused on Arab rulers but did not exclude others.
This is in line with neoconservative view that the war on Libya will reignite their Middle East War agenda—with their fundamental target being Iran, Israel’s primary target at this time. http://tinyurl.com/vetsiranlibya
It should be added that Sarkozy, who is of partially Jewish ancestry, is the most Israel-friendly president of France since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Moreover, he is close to the influential French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy (known as BHL), who happens to be Jewish, very pro-Zionist, and an ardent “humanitarian” interventionist. Levy visited Benghazi and then advised Sarkozy to take a strong interventionist stance. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-gardels/behind-the-scenes-of-the_b_840946.html
In Levy’s pro-Zionist view: “Israel is a miracle because since its inception it has been in a constant state of war, yet it never gave up on the democratic values at its core.” Moreover, despite his alleged secularist universalism, Levy views the Talmud as the basis for democracy. He states: “The Talmud is democracy in practice. The Jewish nation invented the notion that the truth lies in the most heated argument.” http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896375,00.html
Sarkozy could also spark military intervention in Iran. With France advocating such intervention, which could also attract some of Iran’s enemies in the Arab League, it might be difficult for Obama to resist, given the precedent set in Libya, and especially since the neocons and some liberal interventionists will be pushing him in that direction.
Neocon Foreign Policy
Posted By Philip Giraldi On March 23, 2011 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 24 Comments
One of the enduring mysteries is why neoconservative foreign policy continues to dominate the Republican Party and also large parts of the Democratic Party even though that policy has been disastrous for the United States. No one – not even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – is willing to call the two land wars currently underway in Asia successful and the hemorrhage of more than $12 billion a month to support the conflicts does nothing whatsoever for a struggling US economy unless one is a defense contractor. Yet the view that the United States must use its waning power to remake much of the globe prevails. The policy is in some circles underwritten by the myth that the United States is a special nation that makes it somehow immune to the history of the decline and fall of past empires. The catch phrase “American exceptionalism” persists in the minds of presidential wannabes like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, both of whom conflate the country’s genuinely unique national qualities with a divine right to intervene militarily anywhere and at any time, a continuation in perpetuity of the nearly forgotten Bush Doctrine.
The neocon wordspinners are always ready with a glib turn of phrase to mask reality. America is not poised to intervene or invade in their minds. It is instead pursuing a “freedom agenda” and who can criticize freedom? Tunisia, Egypt, and now even Libya are being welcomed as democracies in the making, though with the usual caveats lest democracy proceed too fast and in the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton has made it clear that the Obama administration wants to see the proper kind of democratic development even as she privately moves to reassure remaining friendly despots in the Persian Gulf that the United States is not eager to embrace any more regime changes after Gadhafi goes.
As the situation in the Middle East stabilizes, the new enemy that is surfacing is the same old enemy: Iran. Iran has not helped its own case by cracking down hard on protesters at a time when the region might be moving towards what amounts to a populist revolt against authoritarian governments. But Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen have also opted for the iron fist, indicating that at least some rulers in the region will not hesitate to shoot their own subjects in order to survive. Iran is, of course, a special case in the neocon mind because it potentially poses a threat to Israel, which is not the case in Manama, Riyadh, and Sanaa.
Republican presidential hopefuls have been making the rounds to polish their foreign policy credentials and there is no promise of peace in our times. Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, and Mitt Romney were all recently in Israel where they pledged undying affection for Bibi Netanyahu and all his political progeny while Sarah Palin is doing the same this week. Comments about facing down the Iranian nuclear threat are obligatory. Netanyahu himself recently upped the ante regarding Iran by declaring that military action will have to be taken against the country if sanctions do not end its nuclear program. As sanctions are unlikely to accomplish that, it amounted to a demand that war should be the next phase. Netanyahu even expressed a preference for who should do the attacking: the United States. He also stated his belief that Iran has enough nuclear material to make three bombs and expressed concern that Tehran is seeking to assume control over the oil fields in Saudi Arabia through a takeover of Bahrain, which has a Shi’ite majority.
So, per the Israeli government, Iran is not only seeking a nuclear weapon, it is also out to take control of a large chunk of the world’s oil supplies. Of course, both assumptions could be challenged and there is considerable evidence, including the most recent US National Intelligence Estimate or NIE on Iran, that indicates that there continues to be no solid evidence that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapon and is in no position economically or militarily to establish any kind of dominance over the Persian Gulf region. But the problem is that the narrative being promoted by the mainstream media emphasizes the threat posed by Iran and does not attempt to provide information to the contrary so the American public unfortunately believes what it hears and sees.
Prominent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz even outdoes Israel’s prime minister in his assessment of the Iranian threat on a recent Huffington Post submission “Israel Has the Right to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors Now.” Iran’s alleged attempt to ship weapons “designed to kill Israeli civilians” to Hamas in Gaza is, for Dershowitz, an act of war justifying an armed Israeli response. Dershowitz also claims, without citing any evidence whatsoever, that Iran might deliberately develop a dirty nuclear weapon that could be sent on a ship into Israeli waters and detonated. He also cites the recent killing of an Israeli settler family in the illegal settlement of Itamar as evidence of how “weapons are used by Israel’s enemies against civilians in violation of the laws of war.” He describes the Iranian regime as suicidal, willing to suffer great damage if it is able to enter into a nuclear exchange with Israel that it knows it will survive and Israel will not. Dershowitz admittedly is completely shameless and will either invent or use any argument no matter how weak to justify any action taken by the Israelis, but as he is advocating military action that would inevitably draw the United States into yet another war, someone should perhaps challenge his scatterbrained assumptions about reasonable grounds for initiating a conflict.
As Dershowitz demonstrates, the sole immutable principle of neocon foreign policy is that it should benefit Israel. Neoconservatives initially supported Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak because of his peace agreement with Tel Aviv, but they have now shifted away from that position and are urging the Obama Administration to liberate the Arabs. They have been pressuring the White House to adopt a more aggressive policy in general, particularly vis-à-vis Libya. They have generally viewed the Libyan situation as mechanism to revive their agenda to remake the Middle East following the model of the Bush “freedom agenda,” which combined the threat of military force with gentler forms of persuasion. A successful armed intervention in Libya would vindicate the military option and could mean that using force will definitely be on the table for settling other disputes, including the long simmering problem posed by Iran. President Obama has been understandably reluctant to get on board, but he finally agreed to take the initiative knowing that a successful Libyan action would be attractive, casting him as a successful wartime president and taking the heat off his own misadventures in Afghanistan. But it would also put him under pressure from the blue dogs in his own party who join with the Republicans in demanding a more robust foreign policy across the board, which would include seriously threatening Iran.
There is also a seldom remarked upon secondary agenda for the neoconservatives as related to freedom for the Arab world. As in the case of Iraq, many neocons would prefer to see democratic Arab nations that are divided by internal divisions and therefore not strong enough to challenge Israel rather than headed by dictators like Saddam Hussein who are hostile. Developments in Eastern Europe over the past twenty years have revealed clearly that democracy does not necessarily bring with it unity of purpose or political cohesion, quite the contrary. Small, weak, divided Arab states encumbered by a number of squabbling political parties work well for Israel and for its neocon friends.
Needless to say, the dominant neocon crafted foreign policy that still drives the Republican Party and that is all too popular elsewhere in Washington should be challenged by every American who believes more armed conflict in the Middle East could bring disaster. What did not work in 2003 in Iraq will not work in 2011 in Iran and if there are no demands for change there will be another war, one that could easily have catastrophic consequences. Using military force as the first option to change governments that Washington disapproves of is a concept that must be addressed directly and discredited. If the notion persists that one more war can be fought and might have a good result, it could be the final straw that breaks the back of the American experiment in republican government.
Read more by Philip Giraldi
Congressman Ron Paul on Obama’s ‘No-Fly Zone:
Neocons’ Goal: Iran by Way of Libya (see the comments section at bottom as well):
The foreign-policy debate is going where Ron Paul already was (neocons mentioned as well):
Ron Paul on the Federal and Inflation
Our Enemy, the Fed
The following was also sent to me by General (Ret) James David who is mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Republican Congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book about the power/influence of the pro-Israel (AIPAC and similar) on the US political system and media:
From: General (Ret) James David
Sent: 3/23/2011 2:41:03 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Israeli military fire misses target in Gaza, kills 3 Palestinian children
Israeli military fire misses target in Gaza, kills 3 Palestinian children and their uncle
By Associated Press, Tuesday, March 22, 3:49 PM
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli military shelling aimed at Palestinian militants missed its target Tuesday, killing three children and their uncle and wounding 13 other family members as they played soccer in their backyard in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.
The attack, which Israel said was a mortar strike, was launched in response to repeated rocket fire toward Israel. It dramatically escalated a recent round of simmering violence with Palestinian militants and threatened to set off the first heavy fighting in more than two years. Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group have largely observed a cease-fire since an Israeli military offensive ended early 2009.
The Israeli military acknowledged civilians were killed but said it was aiming at Palestinian militants who had launched seven mortar shells against Israel earlier Tuesday. They exploded in open areas causing no injuries. “Regrettably noncombatants were hurt, this is because the Hamas attacks from civilian areas,” it said.
Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, said the army did not know that civilians were in the area at the time of the strike and stressed that Israel had no desire to raise tensions and hoped that Hamas also didn’t have that intention. “We never operate when civilians are identified,” she said.
On Tuesday evening, an Israeli airstrike also targeted a group of militants about to launch mortar shells. Islamic Jihad said three of its militants were killed and another was injured.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said three of the dead from the earlier attack and most of the wounded were under the age of 16. He said the fourth family member killed was 50 years old.
TV footage showed flesh on the walls of the house and body parts and shrapnel scattered about. Hamas said Israeli tank fire had hit the house. It was the deadliest Israeli attack against Gaza in months.
The 2009 offensive inflicted heavy damage on Hamas — an Iranian-backed militant group that rejects peace with the Jewish state.
But Israeli military officials say Hamas has recovered, both restocking its arsenal with powerful rockets and receiving military training from foreign experts. Last week, Israel intercepted a cargo ship that it said was loaded with weapons, including sophisticated anti-ship missiles, sent by Iran for Gaza militants.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issue a statement expressing regret that civilians were hurt and condemning Hamas for using civilian areas to launch mortar shells at Israel.
Hamas threatened to retaliate for the deaths of the four Gazans.
“The brutal crime of today will not pass without a response by the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan told The Associated Press. “Israel is escalating against our people and the whole world should show their responsibility to stop this escalation.”
While smaller militant groups have tested the cease-fire, only recently has Hamas started to carry out attacks against Israel. The Israelis have responded with airstrikes and other reprisals.
Earlier Tuesday, Israel hit a series of Palestinian militant targets in Gaza, damaging smuggling tunnels and suspected weapons sites. Palestinian officials said 19 people were wounded in those attacks.
Israel said the airstrikes were a response to dozens of mortars fired Saturday in the largest barrage in years. The mortar shells fired Saturday were the same type as those intercepted last week on the cargo ship, it said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The following has been reported on Press TV but pro-Israel biased US media hasn’t mentioned it once as it only keeps mentioning the bus bombing in Jerusalem which more than likely was a tragic result of the following (so most Americans haven’t a clue!):