Russia Confronts US
US and Hu Rights Violations
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The Salafization of the Turkey
Rouhani's full speech.
'Iran's threat propaganda dangerous for world security' - Rouhani to UN Assembly 2013 (FULL SPEECH)
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Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world President Hassan Rouhani said in his address to the UN General Assembly. At the same time, militarism of "some players" and generalization of western values, he says, poses a true danger for the world securit
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House of Saud
CrossTalk: House of Saud
Published on Dec 2, 2013
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Saudi Arabia pt3
Why Would Saudi Arabia Support the 9/11Conspirators, Why Would the US Gov. Cover it Up? - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt3
On RAI with Paul Jay, Senator Bob Graham says the Saudis had a high certainty that the US government would not reveal their role and would take out its vengeance on some place else -PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. And welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself with Senator Bob Graham.
Senator Graham was the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was also the chair of the congressional joint committee into 9/11. And he held many other important positions on intelligence, and from 2010 to 2012 was on the CIA External Advisory Board.
Thanks for joining us again, Senator.
So we were talking off-camera. And I think we're going to just pick up where we were, and then we'll kind of get back to where I was headed in the interview.
But we were talking about the role of the media and how little and practically no discourse there is, debate, followup on issues raised by your commission and other books that have come out on the whole issue of the Saudi 9/11 commission. What do you make of that?
BOB GRAHAM, FMR U.S. SENATOR: It's an enigma to me as to why something that is so important, not just to be sure we have a historical record right, but that justice is done--. One of the side consequences of this coverup of the Saudis is the 3,000 families and survivors of the victims of 9/11 have been trying to get justice in a federal court for their losses. And in each instance, they have been turned away under the shield of sovereign immunity. You cannot sue Saudi Arabia. And the United States government has gone into the courthouse on the side of the Saudis, not on the side of the U.S. citizens who have lost so grievously.
So this is an issue that is contemporary and has real impact and significance today. And why major U.S. media has not seen this as an issue worthy of in-depth investigation and dogged followthrough is an enigma to me.
JAY: Now, when the Saudis are asked about this issue, the former head of Saudi intelligence Turki says that the Saudi intelligence actually tried to warn the Bush administration that an attack was coming. He said that they had been monitoring people in the United States and that they told the Bush administration that they had specific information that something was coming and they were ignored, that there seemed to be no interest on the part of the Bush administration in what they had to say.
GRAHAM: I've heard rumors of that. I have not personally confirmed that that is an accurate statement. But I wouldn't be surprised. There was just sort of a general disbelief--I think the 9/11 Commission called it a lack of imagination--that something of this scale could occur in the United States, and therefore when people sounded alarms that it might in fact be on the verge of happening, they were largely ignored.
JAY: So when you say the Saudi state is involved in this, it's somewhat contradictory if the head of intelligence is trying to warn the United States that it's coming. I mean, do you see this as something that's, you know, government policy, or individuals in the government were involved?
GRAHAM: It wouldn't be government policy in the sense that someone would stand up in the State of the Union address and announce that we are going to have a policy of not following leads that suggest the United States may be in some immediate peril.
JAY: No. Back up. I'm talking about the Saudi policy. When you look at the Saudi role--and we're certainly going to get to, actually, where you're headed there, in terms of what we think was the U.S. government consciousness at the highest level on all of this, but right now I just wanted to ask, when you say this is the Saudi government involved, so is this Saudi government at the highest levels making Saudi government policy? Or these are individuals involved in the government and royal family that are doing something sort of on their own?
GRAHAM: The reality is that the line between what is private and what is public in a monarchy of the length and pervasive influence of the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia is ephemeral. And, in fact, in these cases where Americans have tried to sue entities, some of which are governmental, some of which are what we would call private sector--some are even charitable--because of their alleged involvement in 9/11, the same shield of sovereign immunity has been raised by the Saudi government to protect everything that is of a Saudi origin. So they by their actions have accepted the fact that this is a fully integrated country, and it is legally possible to say that everything that happens is an action of the government.
JAY: Now, we're going to get into more detail later. And there's much, much more detail in Senator Graham's book Intelligence Matters about--you know, where his committee really traced the data points that connected Saudi government officials to the conspiracy. And we'll get into it a little bit later. But I still want to talk a little bit more big picture.
Why would they? Assuming you're right about the Saudis, what's in it for them?
GRAHAM: Well, I wrote a novel called Keys to the Kingdom out of frustration that much of what I knew had occurred had not been made available to the American people, because every time it was suggested, it was immediately classified and rendered out-of-bounds. It was mentioned to me by another former high-ranking government official that he, facing the same frustration, had overcome it by writing exactly what he would have written in a nonfiction book, but put the word "novel" on it, and it got by the censors.
So in the novel I suggest some answers to that, and I don't think they are farfetched or extreme. One of those is that we know that at the end of the first Gulf War, bin Laden was very angry at the royal family for having allowed U.S. troops, foreign troops of any nationality, to essentially occupy a portion of Saudi Arabia. He would--his anger was deepened by the fact that he had offered to become--come to the defense of the kingdom using several tens of thousands of war-hardened troops that had fought with him in Afghanistan against the Russians. That anger upset the royal family.
And so I project: what if bin Laden had said to the royal family, if you won't deal forcefully with the Americans, we will do it, but we need your help in terms of being able to assist, support, maintain our operatives who are going to be in the United States, and if you refuse to give us that support, then I'm going to launch civil unrest inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and your monarchy will be under the same threat that the former Shah of Iran was when he was toppled from power?
JAY: Well, we know the Saudis took this threat pretty seriously, 'cause they actually made the American base move to Qatar.
GRAHAM: Yeah. And so I'm suggesting that something like that may have been the motivation, the excuse, the rationale that the Saudis look to to say, alright, we will in fact provide assistance to the 19 hijackers, or at least significant numbers of them, in order to avoid this credible threat of civil unrest.
JAY: But the Saudis are no fools. They have to know, whatever bin Laden might be able to throw at them, it's nothing compared to what the United States could throw at Saudi Arabia if it came out that the Saudi were involved at a governmental level. It's almost like they have to have known going in that this wasn't going to happen.
GRAHAM: Well, would a country whose ambassador was so brazen as to go into the private quarters of the White House within hours after an attack in which 15 of his fellow countrymen had been in lead positions and almost demand that the president of the United States facilitate 144 additional Saudis being able to get out of the country, would a country that had that kind of attitude towards the willingness of the United States to stand up for its own interest and not be cowered into submission, would not they be likely to have had that attitude towards the United States and therefore felt it was a risk that they were prepared to take to--.
JAY: But doesn't it lead you to think that they have good reason to think that they're not going to be targeted? I mean, you know, instead of regime--being in Afghanistan, if this had come out, regime change would have been in Saudi Arabia.
GRAHAM: Their level of confidence in the fact the United States would not react or that the United States would not go to the extremes that in fact it has to cover up their involvement were sufficient to outweigh the reality that bin Laden had the capability and the will to topple the monarchy and--.
JAY: 'Cause bin Laden has been quoted, assuming all this really is from bin Laden, that the plan was to suck the United States into a war in Afghanistan and, kind of Russian style, wear the United States out. And I think bin Laden apparently was a little disappointed that in fact the emphasis got moved to Iraq, 'cause they were hoping to tie American troops down in much bigger numbers. And it kind of worked out in the long run, in a sense, what they wanted, but not at the scale they wanted. They wanted a major presentation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and to be there for decades and decades and bleed the American economy. The Saudis have to understand that's his logic.
GRAHAM: Well, you know, we talk a lot about the intelligence capabilities of al-Qaeda. That's one of the reasons that the NSA is engaged in a lot of its data mining and other high-tech intelligence gathering operations.
The fact is, I think that if bin Laden was operating from the premise that he could suck the United States into Afghanistan and, once there, they would be treated as the Russians had been treated, a war of attrition and finally submission, the fact is, if he thought that way, his intelligence wasn't very good. The United States almost immediately instituted the single most effective aerial bombardment in the history of mankind in Afghanistan against troops and military installations. We were using--this was pre-drone--we were using traditional military aircraft with laser bombs, smart bombs, bombs that were able to get into places that previously had thought to be impregnable, and just devastated the Taliban's military ability.
JAY: But let's assume his intelligence was wrong--and I think it was, if that's what he said afterwards. But if that's what the plan was and the Saudis are in on this, then they have to do their own kind of math about where does all this lead. If this leads to--I mean, Saudis have to know the United States isn't going to just sit there and do nothing. It's going to come after--somebody's going to pay for this. And if it isn't going to be them, and they have confidence that their role in this is going to be hidden and covered up (and the evidence is, whether they were confident because they were told to be confident or not, their role was hidden; that much is a fact), then they start doing the math. And what I mean by math is they have to work out what the next steps and the consequences of this are. And either they share the belief that it's going to be a tie-down in Afghanistan, or for some reason they're also understanding that the real target's going to be Iraq and they don't mind.
GRAHAM: And therefore that they are immune, that the United States is going to take its vengeance out someplace else.
JAY: More or less on Saddam Hussein, yeah.
GRAHAM: Yeah. Well, I think, first, they had a high and what has thus far turned out to be credible expectation that their role would not be exposed. Everything that the federal government has done since 9/11 has had as one of its outcomes, if not its objectives--and I believe it was both outcome and objective--that the Saudis' role has been covered. So they could be prepared to assess it was a greater risk that bin Laden would attack them than that the United States would attack them, and therefore they, the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, took actions that would avoid bin Laden with some sense of immunity from the possibility of the United States attacking them.
JAY: Is there a possibility they shared the objective of drawing the United States into a war, that it isn't just out of fear of bin Laden that they share the agenda?
GRAHAM: Well, I don't know what they would want to accomplish by encouraging the United States to go into a war other than a war against the place where the attack against the United States had been organized and emanating.
JAY: We know within days of the attack, even though there's talk of what to do to Afghanistan, President Bush is already issuing instructions to get ready for a war with Iraq. If Prince Bandar is so close to President Bush that he sits in the living room--and I think it's smoking cigars; I don't know if he drank scotch or not. I don't suppose he's supposed to. But would he be unaware of that's where this would all lead?
GRAHAM: You know, we are now--.
JAY: It's speculation.
GRAHAM: We're now into the outer ranges of speculation.
I believe what we do know or are capable of knowing is what was the full extent of the Saudi role. We know they were involved in San Diego, where, under people who were employees of the Saudi government, protection was given to two of the 19 hijackers.
There was a very suspicious case in Sarasota Florida where three of the pilots of the planes were doing their flight training and at the same time were closely connected to a family of Saudis, which in turn was close to the royal family. That has been another area that has been closely held and with--except the American people had been blocked from understanding what happened in that instance.
What we don't know is what was going on in other places, like Falls Church, Virginia, places in New Jersey, other places in Florida, where there were substantial numbers of hijackers. Was a full investigation done to determine if they were receiving external support? And if so, why has this not been made available?
JAY: And your main point is that these 19 guys can't do this without a support network, and you have evidence the support network was at least in part linked to the Saudi government.
GRAHAM: Yeah. And I might say, I have personally talked to the other cochair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry, a man who was a very distinguished congressman and, later, director of the CIA, I have talked to the two chairs of the citizens' 9/11 Commission, asking them, what do you think were the prospects of these 19 people being able to plan, practice, and execute the complicated plot that was 9/11 without any external support? All three of them used almost the same word, implausible, that it is implausible that that could have been the case. Yet that has now become the conventional wisdom to the aggressive exclusion of other alternatives.
JAY: In the next segment of our interview with Senator Graham, we're going to look at the role of the Bush administration after 9/11 and before. In his book Senator Graham calls the Bush administration's hindrance of 9/11investigation "disgraceful", he goes on to write: "... orchestrated by the White House to protect not only the agencies that failed but also America's relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
So please join us for the next segment of our interview with Senator Bob Graham.
Saudi 9/11 Connection
Investigating the Saudi Government 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disillusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt1
On RAI with Paul Jay, Bob Graham explains why he persists in making the case that facts directly connect the Saudi government with 9/11 conspirators -
Pathology of the Rich
The Pathology of the Rich - Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself pt1
On RAI with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges discusses the psychology of the super rich; their sense of entitlement, the dehumanization of workers, and mistaken belief that their wealth will insulate them from the coming storms -Bio
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig , spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
The 9/11 Conspiracy
The 9/11 Conspiracy: Did Bush/Cheney Create a Culture of Not Wanting to Know? - Sen. Bob Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt4
On RAI with Paul Jay, Senator Bob Graham says there was a pervasive pattern in police and intelligence agencies: "You don't have everybody moving in the same direction without there being a head coach somewhere who was giving them instructions as to where he wants them to move" -
Daniel Robert "Bob" Graham (born November 9, 1936) is an American politician and author. He was the 38th Governor of Florida from 1979 to 1987 and a United States Senator from that state from 1987 to 2005.
Graham tried unsuccessfully to run for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out of the race on October 6, 2003. He announced his retirement from the Senate on November 3 of that year.
Graham is now concentrating his efforts on the newly established Bob Graham Center for Public Service at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Florida. He served as Chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism. Through the WMD policy center he advocates for the recommendations in the Commission report, World at Risk.
Graham also served as co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling and a member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the CIA External Advisory Board.
In 2011, Graham published his first novel, the thriller The Keys to the Kingdom. Graham has written three non-fiction books. Workdays-Finding Florida on the Job; Intelligence Matters and America: The Owners Manual.
The 9/11 Conspiracy: Did Bush/Cheney Create a Culture of Not Wanting to Know? - Sen. Bob Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt4PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to To Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. And welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself with Senator Bob Graham.
Senator Graham's biography is below. If you haven't watched the previous segments of this interview, you really should, because I'm not going to introduce Senator Graham again. We're going to get right to it.
Thanks for joining us.
BOB GRAHAM, FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Good. Thank you.
JAY: There's a lot of discussion and debate about what happened prior to 9/11 and why more wasn't done. In your book, you suggest--I think it's a dozen points where if the intelligence agencies and the White House had worked better or more effectively, that this whole conspiracy might not have been successful.
You also write about something which I think's rather important, which is the presidential daily brief. Can you explain why--the brief that became very well known during the 9/11 committee hearings. Why is that so significant?
GRAHAM: During August 2001, the president was doing what is standard for presidents and was for him, to take a vacation, in this case to his farm in Texas. But he continued to be briefed as to issues that would require his attention. And in one of those briefings--it's called the presidential daily brief--he was told that intelligence was sensing that there was something serious occurring which could have dramatically adverse effects against the United States, and that they thought that it could involve the use of airplanes in some attack.
JAY: The title of the brief is bin Laden plans to attack the United States.
GRAHAM: Yes. So it was a fairly stark and specific call. The president, from all evidence, basically ignored that warning and no steps were taken to try to dig deeper or to disrupt the plot that the intelligence agency--.
JAY: And Condoleezza Rice sees the same memo and apparently also--briefing, and apparently also does nothing. And you make--in your book, you lay out several things they could have done. For example?
GRAHAM: Well, they could have asked the intelligence agencies--we are very concerned about this; let's make this the absolute number-one priority for the next period. They could have alerted the federal aviation agency that we have these suggestions that aviation may be used in an attack against the United States; upgrade your security standards. The hijackers who got on the four planes had no more obstruction to them getting on the plane on September 11 than they would have had on June or July or August. They could have alerted the military that it may be necessary to scramble aircraft to intercept commercial planes that we have reason are being used for a terrorist attack. Those were some of the examples of what might have been done had this been taken seriously.
JAY: Now, at the 9/11 hearings, Condoleezza Rice is asked about this presidential briefing, and she says, we didn't think it had anything to do with anything specific; it seemed to be just some general thing that we already knew, that bin Laden had some plans to attack the United States; and we didn't consider it all that significant. But you point out something in the book I thought was quite interesting I personally hadn't seen before, which is in something called the SEIB, the senior executive intelligence brief, which is essentially, normally, if I understand correctly, more or less what's in the presidential brief, but it goes to many more people. That whole memo on bin Laden has been taken out. Well, if they'd consider it not of any great significance one way or the other, why on earth would they take it out?
GRAHAM: One explanation would be that they didn't want there to be a broadcast of the possibility that we might be under specific threat of terrorists using airplanes, part of the broader strategy of reducing the people of the United States' knowledge and anxiety about what might be occurring. Or it could have just been a judgment by the people who convert the presidential daily briefing, which goes to a very small group, and to the executive briefing, which goes to several hundred if not thousand people, that this was not an appropriate item to make as broadly available.
JAY: It seems to me--I know you can't or may not agree with what I'm saying, but there seems to be a pattern of a culture being created to stop inquiry into possible terrorist attacks. So, Senator Graham, there was a documentary made about Richard Clarke, and we did a story about this, where Clarke says that information about the two al-Qaeda operatives that are living in this house that you talked about earlier, with the Saudi elderly man, who was apparently an FBI informant, Clarke said he didn't know anything about this at the time, and he should have, because both the FBI knew and the CIA knew and nobody told him. And here's a little clip in this documentary of him saying that.
RICHARD CLARKE, FMR. CHIEF COUNTER-TERRORISM ADVISER ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: You have to intentionally stop it. You have to intervene and say, no, I don't want that report to go. And I never got a report to that effect.
If there was a decision made to stop normal distribution with regard to this case, then people like Tom Wilshire would have known that.
JAY: So, Senator Graham, that's kind of an alarming thing for Richard Clarke to say. The counterterrorism czar is saying that critical information, it was deliberately kept from him.
GRAHAM: Well, he wasn't the only one it was kept from. The first thing that we did when we started our congressional investigation in late 2000, 2001 was to ask all the agencies to hold any information materials they had relevant to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attack and that we would be asking for that as appropriate. We assumed that the agencies had complied with that.
It wasn't until the summer of 2002, more than halfway through our investigation, that we discovered that there was information in the office of the San Diego FBI about the two hijackers. These are the two men who started in January 2000 in Kuala Lumpur, where some of the basic planning for what became 9/11 was undertaken. They came into the United States undisturbed. Approximately a week later, they have a meeting, at which it just happens that they are sitting in a restaurant close enough to hear each other talk with a Saudi agent who has been dispatched to that restaurant by a Saudi consular official who was the consul of Saudi Arabia in Los Angeles. He, the Saudi agent, overhearing these men speaking Arabic in a Saudi accent, sits with them, engages them, and then invites them to come to San Diego.
Now, the FBI says all of that is just coincidence, that it just happened that out of the over 100 Middle Eastern restaurants in Los Angeles, they both ended up, on the same day, the same hour, in the same section of the restaurant. I find that to be incredible. And these two men end up accepting the offer, come to San Diego. And that's where they begin the process of preparing for 9/11.
JAY: We know now that the NSA's been listening to a lot of conversations for many years. I guess what's new with the Snowden revelations is how much they've been listening to Americans' conversations. But I think it's pretty well known the NSA's been listening to foreign conversations for a long time. And given that bin Laden was number one on the FBI's most wanted list, given that al-Qaeda had already attacked the embassy and the USS Cole, I mean, you've got to assume the NSA was doing everything they could to listen to anything to do with bin Laden, which would include the Saudis. Did you have any access to NSA? And did you try to get access to NSA logs or regulations for someone to come tell you what they might have heard?
GRAHAM: Yes. What we found out was that immediately after the two bombings in Africa, there was a person who'd been involved that had survived who was interrogated, and he tipped off the CIA that there was a listening station in Yemen which was sort of the hub of communications for the al-Qaeda network. We immediately started listening to that station. That's how we found out that there was this meeting of terrorists in Kuala Lumpur. This is how we found out that al-Qaeda was going to attack a U.S. naval ship in the port of Aden. We learned a lot, in fact. We apparently did not learn about the big plot that became 9/11. Maybe bin Laden had a back channel form of communication and didn't use his main hub to discuss that particular case.
JAY: Did you ask to see records of conversations by Saudis that might have been involved in this?
GRAHAM: To my knowledge, no.
JAY: Would that not be something one would want to see?
GRAHAM: The answer is: I don't know what the evidence was that would have indicated there were conversations that were relevant to what our inquiry was trying to answer.
JAY: Well, if the Saudis were involved, they might be talking about it.
GRAHAM: Well, I don't think--at that point I don't know if there was an issue of whether prior to 9/11, in whatever communications had to take place in the planning and execution of the plot, whether there was a Saudi involvement in that communication network or not.
JAY: And also just to find out just how much was known about this prior to 9/11. I mean, the NSA--I mean, did you or would you have had access to whatever you asked for from the NSA? Did the NSA ever turn you down?
GRAHAM: No, the only agency to my knowledge that withheld information was the FBI.
JAY: So you didn't ask to see everything they had.
GRAHAM: We asked them to hold everything. And we had--our staff was organized around the major intelligence agencies. And we had a group that was the NSA group, made up of people who had had current or previous experience with NSA. So without being able to say precisely what they asked for, I feel comfortable that had they found something that would have been relevant to the question of the plot and who was involved and were there external forces, that we would have known about it.
JAY: You're not concerned this same culture of protecting the Saudis might have acted like a filter there as well. I mean, if the NSA did have anything that implicated the Saudis, if there was a culture had been created not to implicate the Saudis, then maybe they wouldn't have been so forthcoming.
GRAHAM: In a way, that question causes me to wish that we could turn the clock back to 2001 and 2002 and go into that issue. Assumedly, the NSA has maintained the records from that time period. And maybe even 12 years after the fact, there would still be the opportunity to find out what was known through intercepts about the plot.
JAY: So that leads me to something you've said several times, that you think this should all be reopened, there needs to be another inquiry. So, I mean, if there was another inquiry, what are a few of the most pressing questions or lines of inquiry that should be followed?
GRAHAM: I think the basic questions are: was there one or more entities that were assisting the 19 hijackers? Or were they in fact acting alone? Since most of the questions about support have focused on the Saudis--specifically, what do we know or can we learn about the extent of Saudi involvement? Was it limited to San Diego? Or was it more broadcast in terms of its impact? And then why would the Saudis have taken this action? We discussed earlier some of the possible reasons. And then finally, why did the United States go to such lengths to disguise, to conceal the Saudi involvement or the involvement of any other outside force to assist the 19 hijackers? What was the U.S. interest in withholding this from the American people?
JAY: And if one takes the logic of what you're saying, I think then one would think that someone at the level of Prince Bandar might well have known about this. It's going on in the United States. It's on his watch. He's the ambassador here. Do you have any evidence that links Bandar to all of this?
GRAHAM: Some of that evidence I can't talk about.
JAY: This is in the redacted pages.
GRAHAM: But the fact that he had and exercised as aggressively as he did his special entrée at the White House raises questions about why was he using that special entrée, for instance, to get people who were persons of interest to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement out of the country before they could be interviewed.
JAY: So I'm going to say something which I think all you can do is say, I can't comment on, but I'm going to say it. If you're right--and I'm going to take what you said even a little further, which--if you are right that Bandar knew this was going on, then he's sitting meeting with his friend President Bush regularly in the days leading up to 9/11 and either not saying anything or somehow does. I mean, I know you know there's a lot of theory--and, I think, a lot of evidence that would at least require an inquiry--that there's a deliberate attempt not to know. It's not just lack of--just incompetency and--. I mean, to believe that it's just incompetency, then you have to think it's like the Keystone Cops of intelligence agencies: they're just tripping all over each other. But that seems hard to believe.
GRAHAM: Well, and also the fact that it was so pervasive that virtually all of the agencies of the federal government were moving in the same direction, from a customs agent at an airport in Orlando who was chastised when he denied entry into the United States to a Saudi, to the president of the United States authorizing large numbers of Saudis to leave the country, possibly denying us forever important insights and information on what happened. You don't have everybody moving in the same direction without there being a head coach somewhere who was giving them instructions as to where he wants them to move.
JAY: So that includes before and after the events.
GRAHAM: Primarily before the event. After the event, it shifts from being an action that supports the activities of the Saudis to actions that cover up the results of that permission given to the Saudis to act.
JAY: So I'll put you a little bit on the spot here. Would it be--in this new commission that we hope comes, would it be a legitimate line of inquiry into whether President Bush and/or Vice President Cheney knew something might be coming and didn't do anything about it, in fact may have actually taken action in the sense of creating a culture of not wanting to know?
GRAHAM: Well, without by giving this answer inferring that I believe that they did in fact have reason to believe that this attack was about to occur and made a conscious decision to suppress that information, if there were any evidence--and to my knowledge there is none--of course that would be a line of inquiry that would be central to answering the question of what was the Saudis' role and why did the United States cover it up.
JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Senator Graham.
GRAHAM: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about some issues that, although it's been more than a decade ago when this horrific event occurred, I think have real consequences to U.S. actions today.
JAY: There is so much detail to all of this, and particularly a lot of detail in Senator Graham's book. So I urge you to get the book. It's Intelligence Matters. And you'll see a lot of the things we couldn't explore in this interview in the book.
Thanks very much for joining us on Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network.
'Dead Last' In Education
The Truthseeker: America 'Dead Last' In Education (E29)
Published on Dec 1, 2013
Extensive skills study from the OECD finds young Americans are 'dead last', leaked lesson plans from corporate-controlled schools, expulsion and arrest offences under child 'zero tolerance' policies, teen mental patient screening questions, and hundreds of thousands of US college students being forced into prostitution.
Seek truth from facts with The Untold History of the United States co-author Prof. Peter Kuznick, Associate Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Josh Golin, studentdebtcrisis.org co-founder Robert Applebaum, Storyleak editor Anthony Gucciardi, and filmmaker Michael Moore
: US and Hu Rights Violations
: Russia Confronts US
: Russia United state
Seymour H:Obama Didn’t Tell The Whole Story on Syrian
Seymour Hersh: Obama Didn’t Tell The Whole Story on Syrian Chemical Attack – Knew Rebels Had Access To Sarin GasDecember, 8, 2013 — nicedeb In an interview with the Guardian, two
months ago, legendary journalist, Seymour Hersh blasted the “pathetic”
US media for its failure to challenge the Obama administration, which he
asserted, “lies systematically.” Now, he’s making waves with a long and
exhaustive report in which he questions the case made by the
administration that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical
weapons attack near Damascus on August 21, charging that Obama “did not
tell the whole story” about the attack to the extreme frustration
of officials inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy, who were
reportedly “throwing their hands in the air and saying, “how can we
help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House
make up the intelligence as they go along?”’ (Not surprising for a
regime that makes up and applies health care laws as they go along.)
Regular readers of this blog are already familiar with many of the
points made in this report which compliments Walid Shoebat’s findings
- Evidence: Syrian Rebels used Chemical Weapons (not Assad.) And
it sides with what Putin and Assad have maintained all along: the
Syrian Regime did not release the gas in the attack that killed anywhere
from 1,429 people, (according to the Obama administration), to 281
known fatalities, (according to a French report.) Hersh writes that the
“strikingly precise US total was later reported by the Wall Street Journal to
have been based not on an actual body count, but on an extrapolation by
CIA analysts, who scanned more than a hundred YouTube videos from
Eastern Ghouta into a computer system and looked for images of the dead.
In other words, it was little more than a guess.”
What the US intelligence community did know, was that “the
Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access
to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing
responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack.”
In the months before the attack, the American
intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports,
culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that
precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a
jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of
creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the
attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the
administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against
In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10
September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the
rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and
made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings
that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s
government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know
the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful
deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests
of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical
weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to
back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure
who did what in the early morning of 21 August.
He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s
culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that
Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area
where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops.
Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11
neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of
opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis
McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.
But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’.
The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A
former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama
administration had altered the available information – in terms of its
timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make
intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been
picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The
distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident,
when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National
Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North
Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy:
‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we
help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House
make up the intelligence as they go along?”’
In both its public and private briefings after 21 August, the
administration disregarded the available intelligence about al-Nusra’s
potential access to sarin and continued to claim that the Assad
government was in sole possession of chemical weapons. This was the
message conveyed in the various secret briefings that members of
Congress received in the days after the attack, when Obama was seeking
support for his planned missile offensive against Syrian military
installations. One legislator with more than two decades of experience
in military affairs told me that he came away from one such briefing
persuaded that ‘only the Assad government had sarin and the rebels did
not.’ Similarly, following the release of the UN report on 16 September
confirming that sarin was used on 21 August, Samantha Power, the US
ambassador to the UN, told a press conference: ‘It’s very important to
note that only the [Assad] regime possesses sarin, and we have no
evidence that the opposition possesses sarin.’
It is not known whether the highly classified reporting on al-Nusra
was made available to Power’s office, but her comment was a reflection
of the attitude that swept through the administration. ‘The immediate
assumption was that Assad had done it,’ the former senior intelligence
official told me. ‘The new director of the CIA, [John] Brennan, jumped
to that conclusion … drives to the White House and says: “Look at what
I’ve got!” It was all verbal; they just waved the bloody shirt. There
was a lot of political pressure to bring Obama to the table to help the
rebels, and there was wishful thinking that this [tying Assad to the
sarin attack] would force Obama’s hand: “This is the Zimmermann telegram
of the Syrian rebellion and now Obama can react.” Wishful thinking by
the Samantha Power wing within the administration. Unfortunately, some
members of the Joint Chiefs who were alerted that he was going to attack
weren’t so sure it was a good thing.’
The proposed American missile attack on Syria never won public
support and Obama turned quickly to the UN and the Russian proposal for
dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare complex. Any possibility of
military action was definitively averted on 26 September when the
administration joined Russia in approving a draft UN resolution calling
on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. Obama’s
retreat brought relief to many senior military officers. (One high-level
special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American
missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as
initially envisaged by the White House, would have been ‘like providing
close air support for al-Nusra’.)
The administration’s distortion of the facts surrounding the sarin
attack raises an unavoidable question: do we have the whole story of
Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb
Syria? He had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to
take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to
relinquish his chemical weapons. It appears possible that at some point
he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence
strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the
criticism sure to come from Republicans.
Over 124 million of Europeans face poverty
Quarter of Europeans face poverty – EurostatOver 124 million people in the European Union – or almost a quarter
of its entire population - live under the threat of poverty or social
exclusion, a report by EU’s statistical office has revealed.
Last year, 124.5 million people, or 24.8 percent of Europe’s
population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared
to 24.3 percent in 2011 and 23.7 percent in 2008, the Eurostat said in a document published earlier
in the week.
The data included people who were falling within at least one of
the three categories: at-risk-of-poverty, severely materially
deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.
Bulgaria (49 percent), Romania (42 percent) and Latvia (37
percent) top the list, followed by Greece, Lithuania and Hungary.
In comparison, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (both 15
percent), Finland (17 percent), Sweden and Luxemburg (both 18
percent) can boast the lowest number of people at risk of
However, even founding EU countries like Italy are struggling
more than ever. Some 18.2 million -Italians are facing poverty –
that is the highest number in the EU, even though proportionally
(29.2 % of the population) the country seems to be doing not too
With the Italian economy going through its longest recession
since the World War II, over 12 percent of adults are unemployed,
while four out of ten young people don't have a job. There are no
official figures on the homeless, RT’s Egor Piskunov reports.
Marco, 46, used to work as a pizzaiolo (pizza maker) - many
Italians used to call it ‘the golden skill’ which would always
get you work in Rome. However, it did not hold true for Marco,
who was sacked one day and has not been hired since. He has been
living on the street for about four years now and says he sees
little chance of fixing his life.
“When you live on the street, survival is what takes up most
of your time. Simply getting a shower is a challenge. It takes so
much time to take care of yourself as a normal person. You reach
the end of the day and you’re exhausted and depressed,” he
With the number of those in need increasing, more Italians are
beginning to turn to charity and humanitarian aid for help.
Pietro Zezza is a volunteer at Caritas Food Emporium in Rome – a
place where people can get food for free.
“Two years ago we had about 55 percent of foreigners and 45
percent of Italians coming here,” he said. “Today we
have about 65 percent of Italians and 35 percent of foreigners.
So the figures are reversing.”
Groceries from the shelves of this “shop” are given in exchange
for points allocated to low income families by the global charity
network Caritas. Most of the food is near its expiration date,
except for food specially labeled aid.
Caritas is raising the alarm, stressing that around one third of
all Italian children are now at risk of poverty and are lacking
basic essentials such as protein-rich foods, heating and clothes.
Watch more in Egor Piskunov's report.
Bibi and Bandar Badger Obama
Bibi and Bandar Badger ObamaBy Franklin Lamb The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—along with certain Arab League countries, plus Turkey and Israel, have this past week reportedly committed themselves to raising nearly $6 billion to “beef up” the just-hatched Islamic Front (IF) in Syria. These “best friends of America” want the Obama administration to sign onto a scheme to oust the Syrian government by funding, arming, training, facilitating and generally choreographing the movement of fighters of this new front, a front formed out of an alliance of seven putatively “moderate” rebel factions.Representatives of Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan reportedly told staff members on Capitol Hill that committing several billions to defeat the Assad regime by supporting the IF makes fiscal sense and will cost much less than the six trillion dollar figure tallied by the recent study by Brown University as part of its Costs of War project. According to the 2013 update of the definitive Brown study, which examined costs of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the total amount for all three topped six trillion dollars. This never before released figure includes costs of direct and indirect Congressional appropriations, lost equipment, US military and foreign contractors fraud, and the cost of caring for wounded American servicemen and their families.Among the Islamist militia joining the new GCC-backed coalition are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force, Liwa al-Tawhid (Tawhid Brigade), the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Sham, al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham and the Islamic Army, which is centered around Damascus. The Kurdish Islamic Front also reportedly joined the alliance.IF’s declared aim is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whatever the human and material cost it may require, and replace it with an “Islamic state.” Abu Firas, the new coalition’s spokesman, declared that “we now have the complete merger of the major military factions fighting in Syria.”Formally announced on 11/22/13, the IF includes groups from three prior umbrella organizations: the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF), and the Kurdish Islamic Front (KIF). From the SIF, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (HASI), Kataib Ansar al-Sham, and Liwa al-Haqq all joined, as did the KIF as a whole, and former SILF brigades Suqur al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, and Jaish al-Islam. None of these groups have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US, and therefore, as an Israeli official argued in a meeting with AIPAC and Congress this week, nothing stands in the way of US funding and support for them. The Israeli official in question is the country’s new national security advisor, Yossie Cohen, who assures key congressional leaders that the tens of thousands of rebels making up the IF will all support “one policy and one military command.” Cohen also pledges that the new group is not as “insane” as other Muslim militia—Daash or al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for instance—that comprise the IF’s chief rivals. Cohen and AIPAC are further telling Congress members and congressional staffers that the emergence of the IF is one of the war’s most important developments, and he vows that the new organization in effect brings seven organizations into a combined force that will fight under one command, a force estimated by the CIA to number at around 75,000 fighters. Reportedly the objective will link the fight in the north with that in the south in a manner that will stretch loyalist forces, and the Saudi-Israel team is also asking the Obama Administration to more than double the monthly “graduation class” of CIA-trained rebels in Turkey, Syria and Jordan—from its current level of 200 per month, up to 500 a month.What the GCC/Arab League/Israeli team is asking of its western allies (meaning of course mainly the US) is to immediately fund the IF to the tune of $ 5.5 billion. This, Israeli security officials argue, is pocket change compared to the $6 trillion spent in US terrorist wars of the past decade. Plus it will have the presumed “benefit” of toppling the Assad regime and truncating Iran’s growing influence. The plan has reportedly been dismissed by some in the Obama administration as “risible and pathetic.” Nonetheless, Tel Aviv, the US Congressional Zionist lobby, and to a lesser extent Ankara, are pressing ahead under the assumption that linking with the IF now makes sense and that they can take their chances will al-Qaeda later. Ironically these are some of the same voices from AIPAC’s Congressional Team who four years ago were claiming that al-Qaeda was “on the ropes and will soon collapse.” Yet they are optimistic that if Assad goes, “we can deal with the terrorists and it won’t cost six trillion dollars.”One House member who strongly agrees with AIPAC is Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who recently declared that “in my heart I am a Tea Party guy.” A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter believes the US should use nuclear weapons against Tehran. In a Fox TV interview this week he declared his opposition to any talks with Iran, insisting that US policy should include a “massive aerial bombardment campaign” utilizing “tactical nuclear devices” to set Iran “back a decade or two or three.”According to sources in Aleppo and Damascus, the IF's top leadership positions have been parceled out among five of the seven groups. This at least is as of 12/5/13. Four days after the IF was announced, the organization released an official charter. In terms of its basic architecture, the document is similar to that put out by the SIF in January, but the new version is filled with more generalities than other militia proclamations, and seems designed to accommodate differing ideas among member groups. The charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law, though it does not define exactly what this means. The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. The charter states that the group will secure minority rights in post-Assad Syria based on sharia, which could mean the dhimma ("protected peoples") system, or de facto second-class citizenship for Christians and other minorities. According to Saudi officials in Lebanon, the IF seeks to unify other rebel groups so long as they agree to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. Given this ‘moderate’ wording, the expectation of some is that that the southern-based Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-Sham will join the IF.According to the Netanyahu government, the IF’s leading foreign cheerleader, this new coalition gives substance to that which states who have been wanting regime change in Syria have been calling for. One analyst on the Syrian conflict, Aron Lund, believes a grouping of mainstream and hardline Islamists, excluding any al-Qaeda factions, is significant. “It’s something that could be very important if it holds up," he explained. “The Islamic Front's formation was a response to both regime advances and the ‘aggressive posture’ of jihadists against other rebels, plus a good deal of foreign involvement, not least of which is Saudi and GCC pushing to unify the rebels.”Contrary to reports out of Occupied Palestine that the Netanyahu regime is not worried about or much interested in the crisis in Syria, a measure of delight seems to be felt in Tel Aviv that Muslims and Arabs are once more killing each other, along with smugness over Hezbollah’s loss of key mujahedeen as it faces, along with Iran, its own “Vietnam experience.” Yet all this notwithstanding, near panic is reported to have been felt in Israeli government circles over Hezbollah’s achievements in Syria. Truth told, Tel Aviv knows that despite manpower losses by Hezbollah, the dominant Lebanese political party is bringing about major enhancements of its forces. It also knows that there is no substitute for urban battlefield experience with regard to effecting such force regeneration, and Israeli officials have also stated their belief that the Resistance is organizing non-Hezbollah brigades that share one goal in common despite disparate beliefs. That sacred goal is liberating Al Quds by any and all means.A US Congressional source summarized the Obama administration’s take on this week’s assassination of a key Hezbollah commander as part of a major new Netanyahu government project to weaken Hezbollah. Hassan Houlo Lakkis’ assassination on the night of December 3-4 is deemed in Washington to be particularly significant since Lakkis was in charge of strategic files related to Israel and the Palestinians and also oversaw a number of key operations. The Resistance commander was deeply involved in the development of drones for Hezbollah, as well as smuggling weapons to Gaza via Egypt. He also had good relationships with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. Lakkis was known by Washington to be a highly important cadre and a second rank Hezbollah official. According to one analyst “Israel appeared as if it was telling Hezbollah, come and fight me. Israel is upset over the Western-Iranian agreement. It is also upset over the new position that the West has concerning Hezbollah whereby the West is now viewing the party as a force that opposes the Takfiris. Thus, Israel’s objective behind the assassination is to lure the party into a confrontation thus allowing Tel Aviv to tell the West: Hezbollah is still a terrorist organization.”According to sources on the US Foreign Relations Committee, the White House is being heavily pressured by the US Zionist lobby and the Netanyahu government to take “remedial measures” for the “catastrophic historic mistake” it made in defusing the Iranian nuclear issue and refusing to bomb Damascus. The measures being pushed for, of course, are funding and support for the IF, though doubts persist in Washington as to how “remedial” they will in fact be. The $5.5 billion “investment” is to be paid in large part by GCC/Arab League countries, with US and Zionist contributions. Cash from the latter two sources will come directly and indirectly out of the pockets of American taxpayers—with Israel paying nothing.Some Washington officials and analysts are wondering if US participation would help unify notoriously hostile rebel ranks and curtail the growing power of al-Qaeda in Syria, or whether it is simply another zany Bander bin Sultan-concocted project, the latest of many—in this case to create a hierarchical revolutionary army with the aim of fighting the Syrian regime essentially alongside al-Qaeda? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed his personal suspicions this week that “the Israel-Saudi team is trying to drag the US back into a potentially deepening morass,” alluding to what apparently is an effort to head off any plans the Obama administration may have of living with the Assad government until such time as Geneva II happens, that is if it happens, according to one congressional staffer.Many among the American public also have doubts because they have been told that their government was ‘winding down’ its Middle East wars in favor of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, roads, health care and education systems, all of which, especially the latter, appear to be suffering dramatically. According to the most recent international survey, released this week, the average Chinese student, aged fifteen in Shanghai, is two full years ahead of America’s best students surveyed in Massachusetts. Recent top scores among secondary school youngsters, particularly in math, reading and science, were considerably lower than those achieved by students in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan. The US is far down the list and declining, and the survey suggests that the gap is widening.It’s too early to say whether this latest Saudi-Israel-Arab League collaboration will fail as others have recently, but given the continuing Obama administration efforts at taking back US Middle East policy from Tel Aviv, plus the perceptible movement away from support for the Netanyahu government along with growing angst among American taxpayers over funding the occupation of Palestine, it just might collapse.
Chomsky: US, Israel two 'rogue' actors in Middle East
Chomsky: US, Israel two 'rogue' actors operating in Middle East By presstvProminent American academic Noam Chomsky criticizes the United States and Israel as the two “rogue” players operating in the Middle East.“There are in fact two rogue states operating in the region, resorting to aggression and terror and violating international law at will: the United States and its Israeli client,” Chomsky wrote in a recent article.Chomsky lashed out at a decade of the United States’ aggressive policies toward Iran over its nuclear energy program.“Ten years ago Iran offered to resolve its differences with the United States over nuclear programs,” he said, “along with all other issues. The Bush administration rejected the offer angrily and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who conveyed it.”He also mentioned a proposal made by Turkey and Brazil in 2010 under which Iran would ship its enriched uranium abroad for storage. In return, the West would provide fuel for Iran's medical research reactors.Chomsky explained how the US undermined the proposal. “President Obama furiously denounced Brazil and Turkey for breaking ranks, and quickly imposed harsher sanctions. Irritated, Brazil released a letter from Obama in which he had proposed this arrangement, presumably assuming that Iran would reject it. The incident quickly disappeared from view.”The renowned academic also said the Obama administration was violating the NPT by keeping the threat of military option on the table.“The United States is the only country directly violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (and more severely, the United Nations Charter) by maintaining its threat of force against Iran,” Chomsky wrote. “The United States could also insist that its Israeli client refrain from this severe violation of international law - which is just one of many.”Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany announced an interim agreement over the nation’s nuclear energy program last month in Geneva. The accord will provide a six-month period for substantive talks to reach a long-term agreement.Iran’s right to enrich uranium had been a key sticking point in negotiations. After the agreement was announced, Iranian officials stated that the document included Iran’s right for enrichment. US officials, on the other hand, said that the deal did not grant Tehran such a right.Addressing the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum on Saturday, President Barack Obama also said that the interim deal did not give Iran the “right to enrich" uranium.
Today's News Headlines by RT(Dec 8,2013)
Today's News Headlines by RT(Dec 8,2013)Car bomb kills one, wounds five at funeral in Libya
One person has been killed and five injured in Libya’s second largest
city of Benghazi as a car bomb went off during the funeral of an
assassinated army officer, Reuters reports. Colonel Kamal Bazaza was
fatally wounded when a device planted under his car exploded as he was
driving across the center of the city on Saturday. He died in hospital
on Sunday morning. Later in the day, when his friends and relatives
gathered for his funeral ceremony, a car bomb exploded in the crowd,
according to security and medical sources.
German president to boycott Sochi Olympics 2014
German President Joachim Gauck has become the first major political
figure to announce he is boycotting the Sochi Winter Olympics in
February 2014. Gauck informed the Kremlin of his decision last week,
according to German weekly Der Spiegel. Since coming to office almost
two years ago, Gauck has declined any official visits to Russia, citing
alleged “rights violations.”
Russia’s Proton-M rocket blasts off with British satellite
A rocket Proton-M with the British telecommunications satellite
Inmarsat-5F1 was successfully launched from Russia’s Baikonur in
Kazakhstan on Sunday, Khrunichev State Space Research-and-Production
Center announced. Inmarsat-5F1 is expected to settle into its orbit
Monday after detaching from the Briz-M upper booster at 3:43 GMT.
Israel’s President says ready to meet Iranian leader
Israeli President Shimon Peres has declared that he is ready to meet
his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani. Peres was asked about the
possibility at an economic forum and replied that he “didn’t have enemies,” and added that “it's not a question of personalities but of policies.” The aim, Peres said, was to “transform enemies into friends.” The Israeli leader, however, indicated that it’s important to focus “efforts on making sure Iran does not become a nuclear danger for the rest of the world.”
Almost 400 killed in Central African Republic capital in last 3 days
Almost 400 people have been killed in fighting in the Central African
Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui, according to French officials and the
Red Cross, AFP reports. France is deploying 1,600 soldiers to the
troubled African nation alongside a larger African Union force of 2,500
troops. Since the CAR president, Francois Bozize, was overthrown by
rebel groups in March, violence among different ethnic factions has
begun to take on a sectarian tone with Muslims and Christians pitted
against each other. The French government has said its mission is aimed
at creating stability to enable humanitarian aid to be brought in. Ten
percent of CAR’s 4.6 million people have already fled their homes and
more than 1 million need food aid, according to the UN.
Two senior Yemeni officers killed by gunmen
Unidentified attackers have shot dead two senior Yemeni officers in
separate ambushes on their cars Sunday, according to security sources,
Reuters reports. The head of security at the presidential palace,
Brigadier General Saddam Hussein al-Dhahri, was shot by attackers in a
car as he left work in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz. In a separate
incident, Police Colonel Abdullah Gaithallah was shot dead by gunmen who
ambushed his car in the southern province of al-Baida. No one has
claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Yemeni officials have blamed
a string of similar killings on Islamist militants affiliated with
Al-Qaeda. An Al-Qaeda linked group claimed responsibility for an attack
on the Yemeni Defense Ministry Thursday, which killed 56 people and
wounded at least 200, in the country’s worst military assault for 18
UN nuclear watchdog begins visit to Iranian nuclear facilities
UN inspectors began a visit to a heavy-water production plant as part
of an agreement to grant the international community greater access to
Tehran’s nuclear program. It is the first time in two years that the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been granted access to
Iran’s Arak nuclear power plant. Last month Tehran agreed to more
transparency for its nuclear program in a bid to allay fears it is
developing nuclear weapons.
UN criticizes Afghanistan’s failure to protect women from violence
Afghanistan is failing to use the rule of law to protect women from
domestic violence, the UN has said. The UN’s human rights office in
Afghanistan reported that violence against women had risen by 28 percent
over the last year, while prosecutions had only increased by 2 percent.
The organization also raised fears that violence could increase after
the US forces’ scheduled pullout at the end of next year.
Wave of Baghdad bombings kills at least 28
Several bomb blasts in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad have killed at
least 28 people and injured dozens, Iraqi police said. The deadliest of
the explosions targeted the Shiite district of Bayaa killing 14.
Witnesses told Reuters the bomb was detonated in a parked vehicle near a
Chevron resumes shale gas exploration in Romania amid protest
US oil giant Chevron is continuing shale gas exploration of a site in
eastern Romania after mass protests against fracking suspended
activities. On Saturday 300 riot police were deployed in Pungesti after
protesters broke into Chevron’s site and damaged equipment. Over the
last few months, thousands of people across Romania have voiced their
opposition to the exploitation of shale gas reserves, claiming it will
have disastrous consequences for the environment.
Obama, Bush, Clinton to attend Mandela’s funeral
President Obama will fly to South Africa to attend the memorial
service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, the White House announced
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will join the Obama
family. Former President Bill Clinton will also attend the service
along with his wife and children.
Greek lawmakers approve 2014 budget with minor growth and further cuts
The Greek parliament has passed the government’s budget for 2014, which
for the first time in six years forecasts GDP growth of 0.6 percent.
The document includes further spending cuts of 3.1 billion euros over
the next year. The coalition government which controls a majority in the
parliament has pushed the budget forward without waiting for approval
from the troika group, although the document is consistent with
international creditors’ demands. The opposition has sharply criticized
the budget, calling it a “new act of the tragedy of the Greek people” and that the debts will be paid by the future generations until at least 2057.
Oman says opposes union of Persian Gulf states
Oman says opposes union of Persian Gulf states By presstvOman has announced its opposition to a proposal by Saudi Arabia for upgrading the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) into a union with a common military force.“We are against a union,” said Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue forum in Bahrain on Saturday.Oman says it will leave the council if the proposal, which is on the agenda of the next [P]GCC summit in Kuwait City on Tuesday, is approved. “We will not prevent a union, but if it happens we will not be part of it,” Alawi stated. “We will simply withdraw.”Saudi Arabia offered the proposal in 2011 following popular uprisings in countries such as Bahrain, which was an early supporter of the idea.The United Arab Emirates has expressed reservations on the proposal. Kuwait and Qatar, however, support the union proposal.The 9th annual forum of the [P]GCC on security is attended by world officials including UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.The council includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
US-Japanese Militarism and China’s Air-Defense
US-Japanese Militarism and China’s Air-Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over Disputed Islets. Pretext for Another Pacific War?By Yoichi ShimatsuThe White House refusal to recognize China’s new air-defense identification zone (ADIZ)
is a knee-jerk reaction that reveals an astounding ignorance of
historical, legal and geopolitical issues in Asia and the Pacific. The
US-Japan Security Treaty, as a defense agreement to protect the Japanese
homeland against foreign invasion, was never intended for settling
boundary conflicts, as in the current cases of the Senkaku-Diaoyu islets
dispute with China, the Tokishima-Tokdo tussle with South Korea and the
Northern Territories-South Kurile claim against Russia. Washington
should not poke its long nose into these bilateral matters of limited
local concern, just as Japan should never militarily intervene in the
U.S. border problems with Mexico.
If anything should cause Washington to
desist from war-mongering, it is the Japanese claim that there exists no
islets dispute whatsoever. Tokyo maintains the pretense that the
Senkaku-Diaoyu issue is just being exploited by Beijng for
energy-exploration domination of the seabed and that the controversy
will soon blow over like a summer squall. This diplomatic posture is, in
reality, contradicted by the dispatch of battle-ready Japanese warships
and fighter aircraft to the surrounding waters and airspace.
Japan has drawn its own ADIZ, modeling it after the 1945 airspace map drawn up by the U.S. occupation force. The
Japanese claim includes not just those barren rocks but also a vast
swath of far inside the continental shelf, which is claimed by China and
South Korea. In 2011, Beijing and Seoul filed a joint position paper
and complaint with the United Nations against Japanese encroachment
across the continental shelf.
Rejecting the World Court
quickest resolution to the Senkaku-Diaoyu quarrel, along with the
overlapping air-defense zones, is to bring a territorial case to the
International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world court that handles
international boundary disputes at The Hague. The ICJ requires sovereign
parties involved in the dispute to accept the court’s jurisdiction and
abide by its ruling. Japan’s rejection of an ICJ case therefore
indicates serious weaknesses in its territorial claims under existing
The U.S. is thus backing a sure loser under the UN Law of the Sea,
rendering its support for Japanese control over the Senkaku an untenable
and probably illegal act of maritime aggression and territorial
expansionism. For a nation that from its very inception has supported
freedom of navigation and national sovereignty, Washington’s bias toward
the Japanese claim runs counter to America’s traditional standards of
proceeding, as someone born on Japanese soil it is difficult not to be
arguing instead in Japan’s defense against hostile neighboring
countries. Protection of one’s native land is paramount, especially when
considering the fact that Japan has so little acreage compared with its
gigantic neighbors. By the same token, for its national honor, Japan
should relinquish any territory that might still be illegally held as a
vestige of the colonialist policies of the past 120 years. The seizure
and renaming of those tiny islets was a disgraceful act of international
deception, which harms Japan’s postwar policy of legitimate
self-defense under international law.
Logic of Air Defense Zones
China’s recent move to declare an
air-defense zone is not precedent-setting, since the U.S., Japan and
South Korea have already imposed their own arbitrary ADIZ boundaries in
the East China Sea. Under ADIZ rules, which by the way are not regulated
by any international treaty, civilian aircraft are required to notify
the relevant national air-traffic authority of its flight plan and
These security measures are especially needed over disputed maritime
areas to avert the shoot-down of a civilian aircraft mistaken as a
military intruder. The potential for the deliberated downing of a
passenger jet was highlighted in the missile that struck KAL007 in 1983,
when a Korean Airline jet was flown on a CIA espionage mission over a
Soviet air-defense base on the Kamchatka Peninsula, just north of Japan.
An air-defense zone is therefore sometimes necessary to ensure the
safety of civil aviation and to discourage harmful incidents by
intelligence agencies or terrorist hijackers.
There is a darker side to this airspace dispute, which none of the
parties are willing to admit. Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara,
during his last year in office, led an ultranationalist team of civil
engineers to plan the construction of a helipad, capable of landing
light aircraft, on the largest islet Uotsuri. Donations for Tokyo’s
Olympic bid were allegedly misappropriated in 2012 for the
quasi-military project, according the city press.
Ishihara’s intervention in the Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute was initiated much earlier, back in
1996 with the construction of a lighthouse on the islets, intended to
enable boat landings, by the Japan Youth Federation. This rightist
organization was created by a Ginza-based yakuza group whose members are
“zai-nichi” or ethnic Koreans, specifically descendants of
collaborators with the Japanese colonialist occupation of the Korean
Peninsula from 1895 to 1945. The ethnic gangster group provided campaign
funds for Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Ishihara in spite of his racist
agitation against third-world immigrants from Korea, China and the
worrisome perhaps from the Chinese historical perspective is the
potential for covert sabotage of one of Japan’s own passenger jets. A
violent plane crash, blamed on Beijing, could rally international
support for invoking the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty to launch a
counterstrike against Beijing. Then notorious precedent for false-flag
attacks was set in the 1931 Mukden Incident, when Imperial Army officers
bombed the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railroad (Mantetsu). The
clandestine operation provided the pretext for an outright military
invasion of northeast China . Soon after the plot was exposed in the
world press, Japanese Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, former head of
the Mantetsu, led the 1933 walk-out from League of Nations, which marked
the actual start of World War II.
The legacy of the Manchurian covert operation is also a major
chapter in the family history of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose
grandfather Nobusuke Kishi became the finance and economy minister of
the puppet state of Manchukuo as a direct beneficiary of that false-flag
attack. Inside Manchuria , Kishi sponsored the infamous bioweapons Unit
731, which launched mass-murder attacks on populous cities with bubonic
plague and Hanta virus. Simultaneously, Kishi served as wartime head of
the Munitions Ministry, which developed an atomic bomb program on Konan
( Hungnam Island ) in northern Korea and inside Fukushima Prefecture .
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is an unrepentant admirer of his
grandfather Kishi, often quoting his forebear on the necessity of
nuclear weapons for Japan . The naval standoff around the Senkaku-Diaoyu
islets, as a provocation campaign, is connected with the continuing
nuclear armaments program centered in Fukushima Prefecture, where the
military ran uranium and thorium mines in the late 1930s, under a secret
project codenamed BUND-1.
The pall of secrecy is being reinforced by the Liberal Democratic
Party, which has just rammed through a state secrets law aimed at
suppressing whistleblowers and journalists on grounds of national
security in foreign affairs. While the Senkaku-Diaoyu clash serves as a
news diversion from the massive radioactive releases from the destroyed
Fukushima nuclear plant, the maritime conflict also serves as a rallying
point for Abe’s calls for “nuclear capability”.
The postwar “peace” Constitution, forbidding Japan from war as an
instrument of state policy, was drafted with assistance from Americans
aiming to prevent a repeat of the wartime horrors. However, a by-now
forgotten point that needs reminding is that the United States was a de
facto ally of Japanese militarist aggression in Manchuria, where U.S.
Army observers and railway engineers with the Harriman-owned Union
Pacific Railway were stationed until just before the Pearl Harbor
Statements by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in support of Tokyo’s
claims on the islets reveal a deep-seated split between the Pentagon’s
global military agenda and the State Department’s traditional support
for democracy and sovereignty.
Deceptions in History
Tokyo’s claim to the Senkaku group is based on the principle of
“terra nullis”, a Latin term that means the site was uninhabited and
unclaimed until discovery by Japan. On historical record, however, the
Diaoyu group was registered as part of Toucheng Township in northeast
Taiwan, the closest land mass to those islets (140 kilometers versus 170
km distance from Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture).
“discovery” of the islets in January 1895 happened to coincide with the
seven-month-long First Sino-Japanese War. That conflict ended in April
of that same year with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, under
which diplomats of the defeated Qing Dynasty ceded the Korean Peninsula
and Taiwan to Japanese rule.
While that treaty, drafted and signed under coercion, did not
specifically mention the Diaoyu group, those islets formed the critical
flank for subsequent Japanese naval operations, which began in June
against resistance from the newly declared Republic of Formosa. Japanese
cruisers and troop carriers had to cruise past the Senkaku isets to
attack the offshore Pescadore Islands in the Taiwan Strait and then
proceed to the southernmost tip of Taiwan. In short, capture of the
Daioyu was an integral step in Japan’s first war against China and in
preparation for its military takeover of Taiwan.
Roots of American-Japanese militarism
Taiwan was the victim of aggression from the first joint U.S.-Japan
military operations decades prior to the Nine-Power intervention against
the Boxer Rebellion, which destroyed Beijing and Tianjin at the turn of
the century. The punitive Taiwan Expedition of 1874 was organized by
American Civil War veteran Gen. Charles Le Gendre, while the Japanese
invasion forces were led by Saigo Tsugumori. These real-life figures
inspired the fictional characters for the film “The Last Samurai” with
Tom Cruise in the role of Capt. Nathan Algren (modeled after Le Gendre)
and Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto (Saigo Takamori, Tsugumori’s elder
In contrast to the romantic Orientalism of that Hollywood version of
events, the actual historical figures were not traditionalist
practitioners of the warrior code known as “bushido.” In fact, Le Gendre
and the Saigo brothers were military modernizers and aggressive
imperialists responsible for the slaughter of Taiwanese aboriginal
people who established the guidelines for Japanese expansionism into
Korea and China.
Since the 1879 visit to Japan of retired President and Civil War hero
Ulysses Grant and as continued by Theodore Roosevelt during the 1904-05
Russo-Japanese War, the United States was firmly allied with its fellow
republic, Meiji Japan , against a “backward” East Asia . The American
view of republican Japan conveniently ignored the “deep-state” power of a
coterie of militarist aristocrats and war industrialists who stood
above the law from the 1868 Restoration until the 1945 defeat. The Cold
War and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam led to the revival of the
military-industrial complex known as the “zaibatsu”, which is now, at
this very moment, proceeding to eliminate the democratic rights of a
cowed Japanese public.
The Pacific War of 1941-45 was therefore
a rare rupture i the historical cooperation between the hegemonic
powers of West and East. The rise of China now threatens to upset this
longstanding alliance between Washington and Tokyo, and so their joint
military forces are mobilizing at the “strategic pivot” to roll back
unwanted challenger. The fulcrum of the pivot, around which the entire
Western Pacific now turns, is the Senkaku islets, where American and
Japanese naval and air forces have a formidable strategic and tactical
advantage over the People’s Liberation Army.
Meiji Japan’s spectacular victories over the navies of Qing-dynasty
China and tsarist Russia, along with the capture and colonization of
Taiwan and Korea, were made possible by top-of-the-line battleships
built at Scottish shipyards with loans from J.P. Morgan bank and with
gunnery training from British and American officers. Ever since those
days of gunpowder and glory, the domination of continental Asia remains a
vital part of the globalist agenda of the financial and political
elites in New York, Tokyo and London. The threat of another world war
arises from these global centers, and certainly not from a defensive
Beijing, Pyongyang or Moscow.
Maritime Resource Rivalry
In its policy paper on the Senkaku non-dispute, Japan’s Foreign
Ministry claimed that China never claimed sovereignty over the islets
until oil resources were discovered in the vicinity in the late 1970s.
The credibility of this claim, however, was overturned by a 2012
revelation from LDP veteran Hiromi Nonaka, an expert on security
affairs, in his recollection of the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka’s
unexpected query to Chinese Premier Zhou En-lai in September 1972.
from the Foreign Ministry were reportedly taken aback by Tanaka’s
off-the-cuff question to Premier Zhou about China’s position on the
islets dispute. Given the urgency to normalize relations with the US and
Japan, while negotiating for an end to the Vietnam War, the Chinese
statesman suggested a deferral of the Senkaku negotiations until the
unspecified future, according to Nonaka, who was present at that
historic summit. Foreign Ministry spokesmen have since claimed that the
diplomatic archives contain no record of this exchange, which is
certainly not the first or last time that the historical record
disappears in Tokyo.
Taiwan left out
Even among diehard supporters of Taiwan
independence, Beijing and not Taipei has been recognized as sovereignty
holder in the bilateral dispute. As a former LDP parliamentarian,
Shintaro Ishihara organized the Blue Wave club of Diet members who
supported Taiwan independence. In wake of the Tokyo subway gassing,
however, Ishihara resigned from the Liberal Democrats due to media
disclosures of his role in founding the Russo-Japan College, which was
run by the subway sect Aum Shinrikyo as a front for smuggling weapons of
mass destruction from a collapsing Russian economy. His close partner
in creating the doomsday sect was the late Foreign Minister Shintaro
Abe, father of the present prime minister.
Despite his verbal support for an
independent Taiwan, Ishihara never acknowledged that the Senkaku islets
or disputed Yonaguni Island were part of Taiwan, and instead focused on
opposing mainland China as the sovereign power and sworn enemy.
Ishihara’s bluster and antics on the islets have united the Chinese
worldwide as never before, a backlash with negative ramifications for
Japan’s economy as well as its diplomacy. The landing by
Hong Kong activists on the islets lends even more support for a united
Chinese claim on the Diaoyu as a part of Taiwan Province.
A note in passing: Yonaguni, famed for its mysterious underwater
“pyramid”, is the southernmost island of the Ryukyu chain, and was
traditionally controlled by Taipei. In the 1970s, then President Chiang
Ching-kuo sent Taiwanese jet fighters on flyovers to assert Taipei’s
territorial claim over that small inhabited island
Today, the barren outcrops are far more important as markers for 200
nautical mile maritime economic zones, under the UN Law of the Sea, than
for their land value. The countries of East Asia are vying for fishery
resources and more importantly the mineral and petroleum deposits below
and Korean claims to the East Asian continental shelf add up to about 1
million square kilometers of maritime area, excluding the Paracel and
Spratley archipelagos, which are disputed by Southeast Asian nations.
In contrast, Japan’s ever-expanding
Exclusive Economic Zone comprises 4.5 million square kilometers, a dozen
times larger than Japan’s landmass. While fixating the news media on
the Senkaku-Diaoyu confrontation, Tokyo has quietly laid claim to more
than 30 islands and atolls on the far ends of the North Pacific, along
with the 200-mile oceanic zone around every reef and outcrop.
The Senkaku islands comprise only about 9 hectares of steep rock
jutting out of rough seas. In comparison, the land area lost to the
Fukushima nuclear disaster within the exclusion zone amounts to some
3,000 square kilometers. More than 33,000 Senkaku archipelagos could fit
inside the radioactive dead zone.
A die-hard supporter of nuclear power, Prime Minister Abe is willing
to throw away millions of dollars “defending” a remote fringe of the
East China Sea while failing to provide compensation and living
expenses, much less alternative land and homes, to 160,000 evacuees from
radioactive areas of Fukushima in the Honshu heartland. The current
emphasis on national security and nuclear capability are completely out
of kilter with the increasingly harsh conditions faced by the Japanese
Winners and Losers
islets conflict has also permanently harmed Japan’s chances of ever
recovering from Russia two of the four disputed islands of the South
Kurile chain, which are lush with vegetation and once inhabited by
Japanese fisher folk, who have lived in exile on Hokkaido since the
war’s end. Provoking China and South Korea, while alienating Russia,
have wrecked any hopes for regaining the Northern Territories.
The only winner in the islets dispute is
the Chinese navy, which by now has overwhelming and unquestioning
domestic support for naval modernization and fleet expansion. Tokyo’s
confrontational attitude has resurrected painful memories of past
atrocities and imperialist arrogance during the two modern wars against
China. It is just a matter time before an aging and less agile Japan
slips badly, and the Chinese forces move in – hopefully for no more than
those tiny outcrops.
The strategic pivot policy promises only costly military spending and
humiliating setbacks ahead. Japanese policymakers should accept a world
court judgment, if only to prevent future losses of legitimate national
territory, which is more vulnerable than any military strategist is
ready to admit in public. The long-term interests of Japan and the US
are better served by a maritime security treaty and resource partnership
with China and Russia, not a self-defeating rivalry against these East
If a strategic retreat is not implemented sooner than later, the
Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute could rapidly escalate into the last battle of
the Pacific War and the first shots fired in World War III. Diplomacy,
as the art of compromise, is needed more than ever to prevent the
Yoichi Shimatsu, a Hong Kong-based journalist, is former editor of the Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo .
Assange marks three years of UK detention
No charges ever pressed: Assange marks three years of UK detentionBy RTWikiLeaks founder and journalist, Julian Assange, has marked the third year spent in detention in UK under constant threat of extradition to Sweden.On December 7, 2010 Assange was taken into custody after voluntarily attending a British police station. He spent 10 days behind bars, before being released on bail with a residence requirement at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England.The journalist is wanted for questioning in Sweden in relation to a sexual misconduct investigation, which he labeled as politically motivated. Swedish authorities’ repeatedly refused to question Assange via video conference or personally in London, pressing for an extradition to Sweden.After the British Supreme Court upheld the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition warrant in June 2012, he found asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he remains in a five square-meter room.The move sparked a standoff between Ecuador and the UK authorities, who even mulled raiding the embassy to arrest Assange, but the threat was never fulfilled.“It’s now totally up to Britain, Sweden and Europe to resolve the situation. Britain is quite capable of granting a safe passage from the country to Assange, just the way it should do,” Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, said during his visit to Russia in October.The UK authorities made it clear that once the journalist leaves the embassy he would be handcuffed and handed over to Sweden, which, Assange believes will in its turn extradite him to the US.The WikiLeaks founder fears he may face death sentence on espionage charges in America for releasing thousands of classified US diplomatic documents, including files about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, obtained from private, Chelsea Manning, in early 2010.
Unnamed US officials, who were cited in the Washington Post
article in October, claimed there was no sealed indictment
against Assange over publishing top-secrets American documents,
but speculated he might face computer fraud charges.
But WikiLeaks remains “skeptical” about the report,
which the group says was based on the words of “anonymous
officials of unknown proximity to the case with unknown
While remaining on house arrest in 2012, Assange hosted a
show, which was broadcast on RT.
In March 2013, the 42-year-old has launched the WikiLeaks Party
in Australia and announced his plans to run for the Senate in
his home country. But the election turned out a disappointment
for Assange as he only garnered 8,016 ballots or 0.24 percent
of the Australian vote.
of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stand outside Ecuador's embassy in
central London June 16, 2013. (Reuters/Chris Helgren)
In his latest interview with RT this October, the
WikiLeaks founder said he saw positive signs that his
confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy may be over in the near
“It's a political, diplomatic, legal mix. I think in a
reasonably short time frame – year, year-and-a-half actually,
there are some good signs that there will be a resolution. That
time is on my side in this situation, because as times goes by,
more of the facts of the situation are coming out. We've been
filing criminal cases in Sweden, in Germany, in relation to
intelligence activity against the organization there,”
“So I think the position of the some of the players
involved is becoming aggressively more untenable as time goes
by. And we have seen even the Conservative Lord Mayor of London
Boris Johnson denounce the expenditure of the police outside
this embassy spying on me. He said that now this money amount
to $10 million and should be spent on frontline policing, what
police are meant to do, not ringing this embassy,” he
Sweden and industrial espionage against Russia
Sweden engaged in industrial espionage against Russia - reportBy RTSweden's intelligence agency has not only spied on Russian
leadership, sharing intelligence with the NSA, but also apparently
engaged in industrial espionage against business targets such as
Russia’s energy companies, Sveriges Television reports.
According to a wire, obtained by Swedish TV program ‘Mission:
Investigate’, Sweden's National Defense Radio Establishment
(FRA) shared intelligence on Russia with Washington.
“Thank Sweden for its continued work on the Russian target,
and underscore the primary role that FRA plays as a leading
partner to work the Russian Target, including Russian leadership,
ENERGY, … and … counterintelligence,” NSA wire said, as
cited by SVT.
The earlier omitted part of the quote reveals that Sweden was
tapping on civilian targets as well. One source told the
documentary there was “a very obvious interest in looking at
the Russian companies” confirming it was “a part of the
When asked if FRA spied on such companies as the Russian energy
giant Gazprom, the source said “Gazprom is one possible”
adding that there are “many other, smaller players.”
In an interview with SVT, journalist Glenn Greenwald said
“the NSA seems impressed by how much money and how much
technological sophistication the Swedish have been able to
assemble when building their own surveillance system.”
Commenting for the documentary on the intelligence gathering
cooperation between the US and Sweden,
Greenwald said they “work together when they perceive
that their interests are mutually aligned and share information
readily about a whole variety of topics, again having nothing to
do with national security, including the energy sector in
The latest leak has nothing to do with national security and is
“very conclusive about the fact that part of what they are
doing is spying on energy companies, obviously for economic
advantage,” Greenwald added.
AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards
The West is very hypocritical about industrial espionage, in
particular constantly accusing China of breaking the
international laws by spying on Western companies, Greenwald told
“And yet here you find the United States and its closest
allies in the espionage world, including Sweden, doing exactly
that which they have long vehemently accused China of doing and
have rigorously condemned over and over,” Greenwald said.
So far there have been no further details on the spying apart
from the documents provided by Edward Snowden, Nils Hanson, chief
editor of “Mission: Investigate,” told RT.
“The documents mention ‘unique’ intelligence, ‘classic’
intelligence and cables,” Hanson said.
A spokesman for the FRA said, “We cannot comment on these
kinds of allegations,” but he nevertheless confirmed that
the FRA is a “leading partner” of the NSA, adding that this was a
Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who brought to light
the close relationship between Sweden’s FRA and the NSA, told RT
that with Sweden's strategic location in the Baltic, the country
has always been the envy of America's intelligence services.
“Sweden always had a rather covert intelligence relationship
with the west, during the years of the Cold War. They’ve been
tempted secretly to the club of the ‘big spies,’ in which they
offered goodies to the [Swedish] Prime Minister in return for
betraying the privacy and security of all of their neighbors and
many of their own citizens,” Campbell said.
“Sweden was their largest collaborator in Europe with the
internet tapping program run by the Five Eyes group of
English-speaking countries, and it does so because of the direct
access to cables in the Baltic. It is no surprise that GCHQ and
the NSA would want that, as well as everything else that they can
take from Sweden,” he said.
Originally, the scandal hit the news on
Thursday when Swedish television aired the program, revealing
that Sweden spied on Russian officials, through the information
obtained from Glenn Greenwald, the journalist responsible for
Earlier in the week, Sweden's defense minister, Karin Enstrom,
told TT news agency that Sweden needs to protect its national
“We need to conduct intelligence operations to protect Sweden
against external threats,” said Enstrom, Sv riges Radio
reported. “We have an operation that takes place within the
framework of the FRA, with clear legislation, strict control and
parliamentary oversight. But how it is done, and with whom Sweden
cooperates, is not public information.”
In September, Metro’s daily investigative journalist Duncan
Campbell disclosed information about Sweden’s ties to the NSA
during a hearing of a committee in the European Parliament.
Campbell revealed that the Swedish National Defence FRA provided
the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters
(GCHQ) access to Baltic underwater cables. He added that Sweden
was the third major partner in surveillance cooperation.
Last month Brazil and Germany introduced
a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly calling for the
creation of internationally recognized rights to privacy in the
wake of the snowballing NSA spying scandal. Since Snowden’s leaks
surfaced in June, protests demanding more privacy protection have
engulfed countries around the globe.
Anti-Syria foreign militants use Turkey ‘safe houses’
Anti-Syria foreign militants use Turkey ‘safe houses’By presstvA report has revealed that al-Qaeda-linked groups are using “safe houses” in southern Turkey to send foreign militants to neighboring Syria to take part in the war against its government.In a report published on Saturday, the state-run BBC said there have been many militants from European and Western countries who used such refuges to cross into Syria.A man running one of the houses near the border town of Reyhanli said that "more than 150 people” stayed at a house in the past three months. "Between 15 and 20 were British. It's all done through invitations from friends," he said.He went on to say that the militants usually "stay for a day or two before crossing into Syria and stay on the way back when they are waiting for flights back to their home countries."The report confirmed that Turkey is now becoming an increasingly organized supply route for al-Qaeda-linked foreign militants fighting in Syria.The report also quoted a French militant as saying that "there are thousands of us, literally from every corner of the world."“We are all al-Qaeda," the French militant said, adding that he had joined a brigade which had 8,000 men in Syria.He added that the brigade had recently pledged allegiance to other terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).Over the past year, thousands of foreign militants have poured into Syria to fight government forces.Analysts from an arm of the British defense consultant IHS Jane’s and from a nonprofit think tank in London estimate that over 15,000 foreign militants, including Americans and Europeans, are fighting in Syria.In recent days, Western diplomats have warned that the issue of more than a thousand terrorists who have come from Europe to fight in Syria has turned into "a serious concern" for the countries they come from.Last month, US Senator Thomas Carper confirmed during a Senate homeland security committee hearing that “American citizens as well as Canadian and European nationals have taken up arms in Syria, in Yemen and in Somalia.”“The threat that these individuals could return home to carry out attacks is real and troubling,” he warned.The US and some of its allies, including Saudi Arabia, openly support the militancy in Syria.More than 100,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in March 2011.The prolonged militancy has also forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes.