In memory of all the recent victims:
Let us imagine a different world.
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Posted by Charles II on November 16, 2015
In memory of all the recent victims:
Let us imagine a different world.
Posted by Charles II on November 13, 2015
(Image from IMDB)
Fourteen years ago, I wrote two pieces about the attacks of 9/11 and our response to them. They contained their errors, of course. But in the wake of the Paris terror attacks of today (not to mention the attack in Lebanon), I wish so very much that the most important message in them had been heard. I want to quote Stop the Spin once again:
The greatest failures, however, have been in the pig-headed approach by US (and Israeli) foreign policy in addressing the very real problems that fester in the Muslim world…. Republicans have committed evil deeds in preventing the resolution of the Palestinian crisis in Israel, perhaps the worst of which was George Bush advisor Richard Perle urging Israeli delegation to walk out during the 2000 presidential election for the . That act, so profoundly disloyal to the United States, was but one of many examples of collusion between the far right of this country and religiously intolerant, i.e., anti-Muslim elements in Israel. But the problem is far broader than the right-wing of this country. Both political parties have supported autocratic regimes, including Kuwait, rather than giving preference to nations willing to institute democratic reforms. If we are not a beacon of hope for the world, who will be? As CIA Analyst Raymond Close has said,
“What worries me most, in the final analysis, is that our attacks on the targets in Afghanistan and Sudan [in 1998] were reminiscent of what we call “vigilante justice” in American folklore. This kind of policy weakens our leadership position in the world and undermines the most effective defenses we will have against the terrorist threat: a commitment to the rule of law, dedication to fairness and evenhandedness in settling international disputes and a reputation as the most humanitarian nation in the world.” 
Finally, there is the question of whether a “war” will defeat terrorism. Major General Julian Thompson notes the obvious difficulties of the terrain . Legal analyst Jonathan Turley says, rightly, that war is something that states engage in and that declaring war on bin Laden merely magnifies him . A declaration of war does not facilitate anything except the usurpation of Congressional powers by the president. This effort — to undo Constitutional protections and strip the American people of legal safeguards to their rights — is well underway. By so doing, they have poured the blood of sacrifice of American patriots from Nathan Hale to Martin Luther King, on the ground. It is a sorry truth that our elected officials would probably rather turn this nation into an armed camp than admit that they made mistakes.
The defeat that the terrorists cannot endure is a defeat in the court of Muslim public opinion. Terrorists should be treated as criminals, albeit criminals with massive firepower. If possible, they should be captured and tried for crimes against humanity. The United States should take steps to redress massive injustices in Muslim lands, including the slaughter in Indonesia, which we facilitated . To reprise Raymond Close’s penetrating words: “[T]he most effective defenses we will have against the terrorist threat [are] a commitment to the rule of law, dedication to fairness and evenhandedness in settling international disputes and a reputation as the most humanitarian nation in the world.
See also Tangled Web, where I pointed out that the constant Republican attempt to undermine a Democratic president and undercut basic rights such as the right of assembly instead undermined our efforts to combat terrorism, and weakened us as a nation.
Now, 14 years later, we are still allied with regimes that support Al Qaeda and ISIS, notably Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as autocratic regimes that create the repressive conditions for Salafism to prosper, such as Egypt. We are undercutting our real allies against ISIS and al Qaeda, Iran, Russia and Syria. We have made no progress in stabilizing governments on the African continent, where wars rage in a dozen countries. We have yet to address any of the causes of grievance in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Indeed, we aggravate the grievances by keeping Guantanamo open and by subjecting Arabs and Muslims (not to mention random persons of color) to harassment.
Sure, the terrorist actions are a way of fighting back because Syria is getting pretty hot.
Groundhog Day only ends when we start thinking.
Posted by Charles II on November 4, 2015
James Carden, The Nation:
As it [foreign policy] has been carried out latterly, Turkey has gone from espousing a seemingly benign foreign policy to one which has been aimed at subverting the fight against Sunni radical extremism. Some [Sy Hersh] believe that Turkey was behind the horrific sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria, in August 2013, though this remains a matter of great public controversy. And only last week, The Washington Post reported that Turkey fired on the US-supported People’s Protection Units, the Kurdish forces leading the fight against ISIS on the ground.
I think there is zero chance the US will isolate Turkey, as Carden suggests should be done. If Obama is putting American Special Forces in among the Kurdish fighters, that should be a pretty strong signal.
Posted by Charles II on November 2, 2015
From a diary by Leslie Salzillo, DK:
Last week Anonymous released a press release stating they would be revealing the identities of 1,000 Ku Klux Klan/KKK members, and the news lit up social media within minutes. The Daily Kos article which has also appeared on Anonymous Twitter pages reached over a million people and garnered over 80,000 Facebook likes/shares in a matter of days. Dislodging and unraveling the KKK is something the public has been craving for decades.
I don’t know how they’re going to pick those names or where they got them from, but to the extent that they include members of the military, of police forces, of the Legislature, or of the Judiciary–or anyone who holds a position of public trust–the release of names of extremists is reasonable. We don’t want a left-wing version of McCarthyism, but neither do we want people who have falsely sworn an oath of allegiance to the United States serving in positions of trust.
Posted by Charles II on November 1, 2015
An increasingly authoritarian figure, who has supported ISIS, in charge of a NATO country hosting nuclear weapons.
What could go wrong?
Jon Henley, Kareem Shaheen, and Constanze Letsch, The Guardian:
Turkey’s strongman president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, tightened his grip on power decisively on Sunday as his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) swept back to single-party government with an unexpectedly convincing win in national elections.
The high-stakes vote, Turkey’s second in five months, took place in a climate of mounting tension and violence ….
The result could exacerbate divisions in a country deeply polarised along both ethnic and sectarian lines….
With 97.4% of votes counted, the AKP had won 49.4%, the state broadcaster TRT reported, giving the AKP at least 315 seats in the 550-member parliament, more than enough to form a government on its own.
This is the environment in which that election occurred.
In Turkey, police have raided and shut down the offices of television channels and newspapers ahead of Sunday’s national election. Police fired pepper spray and water cannons at protesters outside. Turkish journalist Mustafa Kilic, who works for one of the raided newspapers, spoke out.
Mustafa Kilic: “We came to work feeling as if we are criminals. We prepared today’s newspaper under police blockade. We have mentioned it in our stories. We are under police blockade. Psychologically, we cannot work, and that is how we prepared this newspaper for print. As for tomorrow’s newspaper, today the trustees came and talked to us and said, ‘Go away if that’s how you think.’”
The US has so far not protested this blatant manipulation of the election. Although, one must say that US positioning of its troops among Kurdish fighters is one of the boldest steps the Obama Administration has taken, one that sets us squarely athwart Erdogan’s seemingly genocidal strategy against the Kurds.
Added. Kareem Shaheen, Guardian:
International observers of Turkey’s parliamentary elections have criticised the climate of violence and fear that preceded the vote, saying the security environment, arrests of opposition activists and stifling of press freedoms combined to make the campaign unfair.
Posted by Charles II on October 14, 2015
AMY GOODMAN: As many as 128 people died in Ankara, Turkey, on Saturday when nearly simultaneous explosions ripped through a peace rally in the capital. More than 245 people were injured. The bombs went off just as a large group of Kurdish groups, trade unions and leftist organizations were preparing to begin a march protesting the resumption of fighting between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants. Video from the rally shows activists peacefully chanting and holding signs in the moments before the explosions. It’s the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the Turkish Republic. Eyewitnesses described the horrific aftermath of the bombings.
AMY GOODMAN: Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the opposition HDP, or Peoples’ Democratic Party, which organized the march, described—blamed the government for failing to stop the attack.
SELAHATTIN DEMIRTAS: [translated] It is Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Even if a bird flies in the air, the state knows about it. “A bird!” This is the intelligence agency’s stronghold. There’s a rally of 100,000 people, yet there is not a single security measure—not in alleyways, not in major streets. There is not even one security measure. Let’s take a look at their rallies. Security measures start taking place from 10 streets away. Today, it’s as if they purposely let two suicide bombers inside the crowd, who wanted peace—no checking, no security. There was nothing, not enough. The suicide bomber exploded himself. There were wounded people on the ground, 500 people almost. They are not in a position to breathe. The police was given orders to throw gas bombs. The wounded are close to death. They had to fight against tear gas, too. Those who carried the wounded struggled with tear gas. They fought against the pressurized water thrown from police tactical units. One hundred dead, 500 wounded on the ground, and people had to struggle with tear gas and water. Is this your understanding of justice?
Graham E. Fuller (formerly with CIA), Consortium News:
even if Erdoğan’s intimate circle had nothing directly to do with this bombing, there is little doubt that the president has worked to create an atmosphere of xenophobia, fear, instability and anti-Kurdish sentiment that has created an ugly and violent political atmosphere not seen in decades. I worry that he might now even be tempted to create armed confrontation with Russia over Syria as a further distraction — an exceptionally dangerous move.
James Carden, The Nation:
Still worse, Erdogan, unlike Putin, is acting as a defender of the radical Islamist forces that attacked lower Manhattan on 9/11, while Russia, which our political establishment insists on seeing as enemy number one, is fighting them.
And so, Russia’s air war over Syria has, among other things, helped to make clear the continuing absurdity of our policy in the Middle East, in which Erdogan is our “ally” and Putin is our “enemy.”
President Erdogan is more and more looking like the nail sticking up, someone so focused on retaining power that he can’t see that defeating one’s enemy is sometimes less important than not destroying one’s nation.
I hope the Turks vote him out.
Posted by Charles II on October 7, 2015
One step closer to outright war between US and Russia. Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian:
The row threatens to further escalate tensions over Moscow’s airstrikes to support the regime of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said his country could not endure Russian violations of its airspace in its campaign in Syria and said Russia risked “losing” Turkey.
“Nato has issued a stern ultimatum,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying ….
Nato’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, had said earlier on Tuesday that the Russian incursions into Turkish airspace did not appear to be an accident, because the incursions had happened twice and lasted for a long time.
If Turkey shoots at Russia and Russia shoots back, Turkey can invoke the NATO mutual defense clause.
Meanwhile, ISIS is trying to score the components of a dirty bomb. Maybe they already have. Adam Johnson of FAIR analyzes the AP report and points out that the FBI states that there is no known connection to ISIS. AP just headlined it that way to sell newspapers at the expense of honesty. Jerks.
Posted by Charles II on October 1, 2015
OK. Parry is on the story:
The key sentence in The New York Times’ lead article about Russian airstrikes against Syrian rebel targets fell to the bottom of the story, five paragraphs from the end, where the Times noted in passing that the area north of Homs where the attacks occurred had been the site of an offensive by a coalition “including Nusra Front.”
What the Times didn’t say in that context was that Nusra Front is Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, an omission perhaps explained because this additional information would disrupt the righteous tone of the article, accusing Russia of bad faith in attacking rebel groups other than the Islamic State.
Where was I when this country became an al Qaeda ally?
Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2015
Elise Potaka and Luke McMahon, Sidney Morning Herald:
A young Jewish American man has been charged with pretending to be an Australian-based Islamic State jihadist after a FBI joint investigation with the Australian Federal Police based on information provided by Fairfax Media. Joshua Ryne Goldberg, a 20-year old living at his parents’ house in US state of Florida, is accused of posing online as “Australi Witness,” an IS supporter who publicly called for a series of attacks against individuals and events in western countries:
Early on Friday, Australian time, Goldberg, who is non-Muslim and has no real-world links with extremism, was arrested at his home by Florida police for “distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction”.
This was not all he was involved in.
Katie Zavadski, Daily Beast:
Goldberg had several online personas: an Islamic radical who was popular in ISIS social media; a white supremacist on hate site Daily Stormer; a feminist on Daily Kos; a radical free-speech advocate on Q&A site Ask.fm, and a sympathizer with GamerGate. Goldberg is also accused of being behind a Times of Israel blog post that called Palestinians “subhuman.”
Goldberg, who comes from a Jewish family, had Australi Witness spout a special kind of rage when discussing Jews.
“The Jews are the worst enemies of Allah (SWT). When Islam conquers Australia, every single Jew will be slaughtered like the filthy cockroaches that they are,” he wrote on JustPaste.it.
Goldberg as Australi Witness also threatened attacks on synagogues in Melbourne and Los Angeles on JustPaste.it and on 8Chan’s Islamic State page.
He also had recurring obsessions with certain people and ideas, attacking them with one persona while praising them with another.
Posing as “Michael Slay” on white supremacist site Daily Stormer, he viciously attacked an Australian Muslim activist Mariam Veiszadeh, calling her a “Moslem pig.” Yet Goldberg praised Veiszadeh as Australi Witness, calling her his “biggest inspiration.” Yet another alleged online identity, MoonMetropolis, cheered grotesque caricatures of Veiszadeh.
Goldberg also had another alter ego, Tanya Cohen, whom he attacked using Michael Slay on the Daily Stormer. Cohen was evidently a parody of far-left social justice activists. Slay called her “a Jew bitch who specializes in writing about how the US needs to ban ‘hate speech’ and any other speech that goes against the Jewish cultural Marxist agenda.” An email in Tanya Cohen’s name was linked to Goldberg’s IP address, and articles in her name appeared on Thought Catalog, Daily Kos, and feminist website Feministing.
On Twitter, Goldberg frequently posted about Gamer Gate, a controversy about sexism in gaming that resulted in personal attacks on feminist activists. While Goldberg doesn’t appear to have posted any threats on social media, his tweets used the hashtag #gamergate to mock people he had previously derided as “social justice warriors.”
In articles published under the Moon Metropolis alias and under Goldberg’s own name on Thought Catalog, he expresses the opinions of a free-speech fundamentalist.
“Nothing that anyone could possibly say could ever be worse than a law preventing them from saying it,” he wrote. “If you expressed the opinion that I should be killed, I would still defend your right to say that.”
On Thought Catalog, Goldberg wrote “that neo-Nazis tend to look positively civil and rational when compared to SJWs [social justice warriors].”
And it appears that may have been Breitbart.com’s “source” for claiming that Shaun King, an activist who posts regularly on Daily Kos regarding Black Lives Matter issues, is not partly African American. Anomaly on FreakOut Nation posted evidence from social media to that effect. While I haven’t seen evidence beyond the BlazingCatFur post, the evidence persuades me that this is likely so. It has been denied by “Nero” aka Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart writer.
The charge that a terrorist troll had anything to do with our reporting is a crackpot internet conspiracy theory. http://t.co/8YJTfMUwvX
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) September 12, 2015
But this is in Google cache:
So I would guess that “Nero” is just fiddling for time.
The kind of hate we see in Goldberg’s multiple personas–not to mention “Nero’s Twitter feed–is remarkable, even in the hateful age in which we live in.
Posted by Charles II on June 20, 2015
Heather Gies, UpsideDown World:
After the 2009 military coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president said in an exclusive interview with Democracy Now! that Battalion 316 was “already operating” in Honduras under a different name and using “torture to create fear.”
“There was a tremendous resurgence (after the coup) of death squad activity and assassinations of human rights defenders, trade unionists, campesinos, activists of the resistance of all sorts including journalists, lawyers,” Dana Frank, professor of History at the University of California Santa Cruz, told teleSUR. “It was very rare in the 20 years before the coup for these kinds of assassinations to happen … but it shot up dramatically after the coup.”
The post-coup links to Battalion 316 terror were palpable, both in the vast increase in human rights abuses, including torture, assassinations, and forced disappearances, as well as the direct connections of Battalion 316 personnel offering their expertise to the coup regime.
Former head of the Battalion 316, School of the Americas graduate Billy Joya, became a prominent coup regime spokesperson, advisor, and aide to de facto president Roberto Micheletti. According to COFADEH, many other retired Battalion 316 agents also became government advisors.
[Professor Adrienne] Pine, author of “Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras,” said that the numbers of state-sponsored disappearances, tortures, and extrajudicial killings since the coup have far exceeded those of the 1980s.
With striking similarity to the fear campaign of the 1980s, COFADEH documented in 2010, along with dozens of other death threats and assassinations, that a former Battalion 316 agent publicly threatened resistance activist Candelario Reyes with forced disappearance and death, saying that killing such a “communist dog” would make the “best example” for other resistance activists.
“You can see the continuity with some of these individuals including the references to the 80s that are conscious references,” said Frank. “It’s terror, it’s deliberately spreading terror.”
Harkening back to 1980s terror was a deliberate strategy to instil fear in perceived political threats. In 2012, COFADEH human rights defender Dina Meza received a series of threats of death and sexual violence by text message signed with the initials CAM, standing for Comando Alvarez Martinez, early 1980s head of Battalion 316 responsible for grave human rights abuses. According to Amnesty International, CAM was used as a pseudonym in numerous death threats against journalists and activists in the wake of the coup.
According to Frank, an expert on human rights and U.S. foreign policy in Honduras, the clearest and most alarming examples of post-coup strategies that follow the model of Battalion 316 are the TIGRES special units of the police force and FUSINA inter-agency task forces that bring together military, police, military police, prosecutors, and other government officials under military control.
FUSINA was initially headed by School of the Americas graduate Colonel German Alfaro, former commander of Battalion 15, the military unit in the Aguan Valley region implicated in dozens of post-coup murders of campesino activists. Trained by the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Marines, FUSINA is not only troubling for its conglomeration of agency functions under a military mandate, but also for its U.S.-enhanced intelligence capacities.
COFADEH denounced TIGRES as a “crude resurrection” of Battalion 316’s political disappearances, murder, and “criminal behaviour.”
These new constellations of state and military power, designed and deployed to create fear and contain political dissent, have again had a deep social and political impact in Honduras.
“A combination of the ‘soft power’ of USAID and NED-funded (so-called pro-democracy) programs on the one hand, and death squads within the police, the military, and now the military police have succeeded in destroying the post-coup resistance movement,” explained Pine. “This is what makes possible the neoliberal plunder of the country currently underway.”
Courtesy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.