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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Iraq: The ‘Liberation’ Neocons Would Rather Forget

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Iraq: The ‘Liberation’ Neocons Would Rather Forget.

Ronpaul Tst
Remember Fallujah? Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US military fired on unarmed protestors, killing as many as 20 and wounding dozens. In retaliation, local Iraqis attacked a convoy of US military contractors, killing four. The US then launched a full attack on Fallujah to regain control, which left perhaps 700 Iraqis dead and the city virtually destroyed.According to press reports last weekend, Fallujah is now under the control of al-Qaeda affiliates. The Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, is under siege by al-Qaeda. During the 2007 “surge,” more than 1,000 US troops were killed “pacifying” the Anbar province.  Although al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the US invasion, it is now conducting its own surge in Anbar.

For Iraq, the US “liberation” is proving far worse than the authoritarianism of Saddam Hussein, and it keeps getting worse. Last year was Iraq’s deadliest in five years. In 2013, fighting and bomb blasts claimed the lives of 7,818 civilians and 1,050 members of the security forces. In December alone nearly a thousand people were killed.

I remember sitting through many hearings in the House International Relations Committee praising the “surge,” which we were told secured a US victory in Iraq. They also praised the so-called “Awakening,” which was really an agreement by insurgents to stop fighting in exchange for US dollars. I always wondered what would happen when those dollars stopped coming.

Where are the surge and awakening cheerleaders now?

One of them, Richard Perle, was interviewed last year on NPR and asked whether the Iraq invasion that he pushed was worth it. He replied:

I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say, well, we shouldn’t have done that.

Many of us were saying all along that we shouldn’t have done that – before we did it. Unfortunately the Bush Administration took the advice of the neocons pushing for war and promising it would be a “cakewalk.” We continue to see the results of that terrible mistake, and it is only getting worse.

Last month the US shipped nearly a hundred air-to-ground missiles to the Iraqi air force to help combat the surging al-Qaeda. Ironically, the same al-Qaeda groups the US is helping the Iraqis combat are benefiting from the US covert and overt war to overthrow Assad next door in Syria. Why can’t the US government learn from its mistakes?

The neocons may be on the run from their earlier positions on Iraq, but that does not mean they have given up. They were the ones pushing for an attack on Syria this summer. Thankfully they were not successful. They are now making every effort to derail President Obama’s efforts to negotiate with the Iranians. Just last week William Kristol urged Israel to attack Iran with the hope we would then get involved. Neoconservative Senators from both parties recently introduced the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which would also bring us back on war-footing with Iran.

Next time the neocons tell us we must attack, just think “Iraq.”

Iraq government loses control of Fallujah – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Iraq government loses control of Fallujah – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki has vowed to eliminate “all terrorist groups” from Anbar province as a security source conceded the government had lost control of the town of Fallujah to al-Qaeda linked fighters.

Maliki, speaking on state television on Saturday, said his government would end “fitna”, or disunity, in the province and would “not back down until we end all terrorist groups and save our people in Anbar”.

His comments came after a senior Iraqi security official told the AFP news agency that the government had lost control of Fallujah to fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Videos showed ISIL fighters in control of the main Fallujah highway, and officials and witnesses inside the town told the Reuters news agency that ISIL was in control of nothern and northeastern parts of the town.

 

Imran Khan talks about Maliki’s options on Anbar violence.

The ISIL has been tightening its grip in the Sunni-dominated desert province, near the Syrian border, in recent months in its effort to create an Islamic state across the Iraqi-Syrian borders.

In Ramadi, the other main city in Anbar, local tribesmen and the Iraqi security forces have worked together to counter the ISIL.

But in Fallujah, the Iraqi army has been prevented from entering by local Sunni tribesmen who, despite not supporting al-Qaeda fighters, are opposed to the Shia dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Imran Khan, Al Jazeera’s Iraq correspondent, said: “The Iraqi army is on the outskirts of the town, negotiating with tribal leaders to go and fight the ISIL. They need cooperation from the leaders to go in and root out the militants.

“The military had a base just outside, from where they were shelling the city. They have withdrawn from that base and the tribal leaders have moved in, claiming a victory, but it isn’t clear yet from the army if it was rather a tactical withdrawal.”

Fierce fighting

More than 100 people were killed on Friday during fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi, one of the worst days since violence flared when Iraqi police broke up a Sunni protest camp in Anbar on Monday.

The escalating tension shows the civil war in Syria, where mostly Sunni rebels are battling President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Shia Iran, is spilling over to other countries such as Iraq, threatening delicate sectarian balances.

Dozens of Iraqi MPs quit over Anbar violence – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Dozens of Iraqi MPs quit over Anbar violence – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

Forty-four Iraqi MPs have announced their resignation over violence in Anbar province, just days after a deadly raid on the home of a Sunni lawmaker in the area.Fighting erupted when police broke up a Sunni Muslim protest camp on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said.

Four people died on Tuesday in clashes between Iraq’s security forces and gunmen in Ramadi, following the forced closure of the site.

The camp has been an irritant to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government since protesters set it up a year ago to demonstrate against what they see as marginalisation of their sect.

Maliki has repeatedly vowed to remove the camp and accused protesters of stirring strife and sheltering fighters linked to al-Qaeda.

The MPs who stepped down after the latest bout of violence demanded “the withdrawal of the army… and the release of MP Ahmed al-Alwani,” a Sunni of the Iraqiya bloc who was arrested during a deadly raid on Saturday.

Prominent Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq called for all legislators from Iraqiya to withdraw from the political process, saying it had hit a “dead end”.

“Elections in this atmosphere would be settled in advance, therefore we should raise our voices high and say the political process cannot proceed in this way,” he told reporters.

Tension rising

Tensions have been rising over the past few weeks in Anbar, a province that makes up a third of Iraq’s territory and is populated mainly by Sunnis.

Police said the clashes on Monday broke out when armed men opened fire on police special forces trying to enter Ramadi, the city where the protest camp is located.
We hold the government of Nouri al-Maliki responsible for the bloodshed and the fighting.Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, tribal leader

Shooting and blasts were heard in parts of the city. The assailants destroyed four police vehicles and killed at least three policemen in the north of Ramadi, one police source said.

The bodies of 10 other people killed in the clashes were brought into Ramadi’s morgue, hospital and morgue sources told Reuters news agency.

Tribal leader Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, meanwhile, accused the army of firing on unarmed civilians.

“We hold the government of Nouri al-Maliki responsible for the bloodshed and the fighting,” he said.

The fighting spread to the nearby city of Fallujah, where police Captain Omar Oda said armed men burned military vehicles during clashes with security forces.

Maliki’s spokesman, Ali Mussawi, said military sources confirmed that tents at the protest site had been removed and the highway towards neighbouring Jordan and Syria reopened.

This was done “without any losses, after al-Qaeda and its members escaped from the camp to the city, and they are being pursued now,” Mussawi told AFP.

The sprawling protest site on the highway outside Ramadi, where the number of protesters ranged from hundreds to thousands, included a stage from which speakers could address crowds, a large roofed structure and dozens of tents.

Sunni politicians arrested

Protests broke out in Sunni Arab-majority areas of Iraq late last year after the arrest of guards of then-finance minister Rafa al-Essawi, an influential Sunni Arab, on terrorism charges.

The arrests were seen by Sunnis as yet another example of the Shia-led government targeting one of their leaders.

In December 2011, guards of vice president Tariq al-Hashemi, another prominent Sunni politician, were arrested and accused of terrorism. Hashemi fled abroad and has since been given multiple death sentences in absentia for charges including murder.

He had insisted he was still the legitimate vice president, but on Monday he announced his resignation and called on all Sunni members of parliament join him.

“Legally I was still the vice president of the republic. But today I add my voice to my people who have risen up in Anbar,” he told Al Jazeera.

“I stayed in this position until now because it was necessary to challenge and unite the Sunnis. They needed a rallying cause. But enough is enough.”

 

Judge Falls for The Big Lie About NSA Spying Washington’s Blog

Judge Falls for The Big Lie About NSA Spying Washington’s Blog.

Even Before 9/11, NSA Knew In Real-Time Which Countries Both Parties to Phone Calls Were In

In finding the NSA’s metadata collection program legal today, Judge William Pauley III ruled:

The September 11th terrorist attacks revealed, in the starkest terms, just how dangerous and interconnected the world is. While Americans depended on technology for the conveniences of modernity, al-Qaeda plotted in a seventh-century milieu to use that technology against us. It was a bold jujitsu. And it succeeded because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.

Prior to the September 11th attacks, the National Security Agency (“NSA”) intercepted seven calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was living in San Diego, California, to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number identifier. Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States. Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) of the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.

The Government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program—a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.

This blunt tool only works because it collects everything. Such a program, if unchecked, imperils the civil liberties of every citizen. Each time someone in the United States makes or receives a telephone call, the telecommunications provider makes a record of when, and to what telephone number the call was placed, and how long it lasted. The NSA collects that telephony metadata. If plumbed, such data can reveal a rich profile of every individual as well as a comprehensive record of people’s associations with one another.

Judge Pauley is uninformed … and he fell for the “big lie” behind NSA spying.

Bill Binney – the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, senior technical director within the agency who managed thousands of NSA employees, interviewed by CBSABCCNNNew York TimesUSA TodayFox NewsPBS and many others –  told Washington’s Blog:

[NSA chief Keith] Alexander wants you and everybody (including this clueless judge) to believe that caller ID does not work. First of all, all the calls that are made in the world are routed by machines. And, with machines, you have to tell them exactly what to do. Which means, the routing instructions calling nr and called nr have to be passed through the machines to route the call to get from point A to point B in the world.

So, he is feeding everyone a line of crap. If you buy into this, I have a bridge I would like to sell.

Also, all calls going from one region of the world to another are preceded by 01 or 011 in region “1″ (US/Canada/some islands) or by “00″ in the rest of the world. And that goes both ways on any call.

The Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) numbering plan is how we could eliminate all US to US calls right up front and never take them in.

In other words, while Binney headed NSA’s global digital communications gathering efforts prior to 9/11, his team knew in real-time which countries calls were made from and received in.  The NSA is lying if it claims otherwise.

ProPublica notes:

There were plenty of opportunities without having to rely on this metadata system for the FBI and intelligence agencies to have located Mihdhar,” says former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who extensively investigated 9/11 aschairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee.

These missed opportunities are described in detail in the joint congressional reportproduced by Graham and his colleagues as well as in the 9/11 Commission report.

***

Mihdhar was on the intelligence community’s radar at least as early as 1999. That’s when the NSA had picked up communications from a “terrorist facility” in the Mideast suggesting that members of an “operational cadre” were planning to travel to Kuala Lumpur in January 2000, according to the commission report. The NSA picked up the first names of the members, including a “Khalid.” The CIA identified him as Khalid al Mihdhar.

The U.S. got photos of those attending the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia, including of Mihdhar, and the CIA also learned that his passport had a visa for travel to the U.S.

***

Using their true namesMihdhar and Hazmi for a time beginning in May 2000 even lived with an active FBI informant in San Diego.

***

Let’s turn to the comments of FBI Director Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

Mueller noted that intelligence agencies lost track of Mihdhar following the January 2000 Kuala Lumpur meeting but at the same time had identified an “Al Qaida safe house in Yemen.”

He continued: “They understood that that Al Qaida safe house had a telephone number but they could not know who was calling into that particular safe house. We came to find out afterwards that the person who had called into that safe house was al Mihdhar, who was in the United States in San Diego. If we had had this [metadata] program in place at the time we would have been able to identify that particular telephone number in San Diego.”

In turn, the number would have led to Mihdhar and potentially disrupted the plot, Mueller argued.

(Media accounts indicate that the “safe house” was actually the home of Mihdhar’s father-in-law, himself a longtime al Qaida figure, and that the NSA had been intercepting calls to the home for several years.)

The congressional 9/11 report sheds some further light on this episode, though in highly redacted form.

The NSA had in early 2000 analyzed communications between a person named “Khaled” and “a suspected terrorist facility in the Middle East,” according to this account. But, crucially, the intelligence community “did not determine the location from which they had been made.”

In other words, the report suggests, the NSA actually picked up the content of the communications between Mihdhar and the “Yemen safe house” but was not able to figure out who was calling or even the phone number he was calling from.

***

Theories about the metadata program aside, it’s not clear why the NSA couldn’t or didn’t track the originating number of calls to Yemen it was already listening to.

Intelligence historian Matthew Aid, who wrote the 2009 NSA history Secret Sentry, says that the agency would have had both the technical ability and legal authority to determine the San Diego number that Mihdhar was calling from.

Back in 2001 NSA was routinely tracking the identity of both sides of a telephone call,” [9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow] told ProPublica.

***

There’s another wrinkle in the Mihdhar case: In the years after 9/11, media reports also suggested that there were multiple calls that went in the other direction: from the house in Yemen to Mihdhar in San Diego. But the NSA apparently also failed to track where those calls were going.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Times quoted unnamed officials saying the NSA had well-established legal authority before 9/11 to track calls made from the Yemen number to the U.S. In that more targeted scenario, a metadata program vacumming the phone records of all Americans would appear to be unnecessary.

***

Richard Clarke, who was the White House counterterrorism czar beginning in 1998 and through 9/11, told ProPublica that the NSA had both the ability and legal authority to trace calls from Mihdhar to Yemen in 2000.

“….Since they had one end of the calls (the Yemen number), all they had to do was ask for any call connecting to it.”

And see this PBS special, and this ACLU comment.

Indeed, the NSA and other U.S. government agencies had been spying on Midhar for a long time before 9/11.

Initially, an FBI informant hosted and rented a room to Mihdhar and another 9/11 hijacker in 2000.

Investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.

As the New York Times notes:

Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.

Moreover, Wikipedia notes:

Mihdhar was placed on a CIA watchlist on August 21, 2001, and a note was sent on August 23 to the Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) suggesting that Mihdhar and Hazmi be added to their watchlists.

***

On August 23, the CIA informed the FBI that Mihdhar had obtained a U.S. visain JeddahThe FBI headquarters received a copy of the Visa Express application from the Jeddah embassy on August 24, showing the New YorkMarriott as Mihdhar’s destination.

On August 28, the FBI New York field office requested that a criminal case be opened to determine whether Mihdhar was still in the United States, but the request was refused. The FBI ended up treating Mihdhar as an intelligence case, which meant that the FBI’s criminal investigators could not work on the case, due to the barrier separating intelligence and criminal case operations. An agent in the New York office sent an e-mail to FBI headquarters saying, “Whatever has happened to this, someday someone will die, and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’” The reply from headquarters was, “we [at headquarters] are all frustrated with this issue … [t]hese are the rules. NSLU does not make them up.”

The FBI contacted Marriott on August 30, requesting that they check guest records, and on September 5, they reported that no Marriott hotels had any record of Mihdhar checking in. The day before the attacks, the New York office requested that the Los Angeles FBI office check all local Sheraton Hotels, as well as Lufthansa and United Airlines bookings, because those were the two airlines Mihdhar had used to enter the country. Neither the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network nor the FBI’s Financial Review Group, which have access to credit card and other private financial records, were notified about Mihdhar prior to September 11.

***

Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Congressman Curt Weldon alleged in 2005 that the Defense Department data mining project Able Danger identified Mihdhar and 3 other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell in early 2000.

We reported in 2008:

As leading NSA expert James Bamford – the Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings for almost a decade, winner of a number of journalism awards for coverage national security issues, whose articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including cover stories for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and the only author to write any books (he wrote 3) on the NSA – reportsthe NSA was also tapping the hijackers’ phone calls inside the U.S.

Specifically, hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi lived in San Diego, California, for 2 years before 9/11. Numerous phone calls between al-Mihdharand Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego and a high-level Al Qaeda operations base in Yemen were made in those 2 years.

The NSA had been tapping and eavesdropping on all calls made from that Yemen phone for years. So NSA recorded all of these phone calls.

Indeed, the CIA knew as far back as 1999 that al-Mihdhar was coming to the U.S. Specifically, in 1999, CIA operatives tailing al-Mihdhar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, obtained a copy of his passport. It contained visas for both Malaysia and the U.S., so they knew it was likely he would go from Kuala Lumpur to America.

NSA veteran Bill Binney previously told Washington’s Blog:

Of course they could have and did have data on hijackers before 9/11. And, Prism did not start until 2007. But they could get the data from the “Upstream” collection. This is the Mark Klein documentation of Narus equipment in the NSA room in San Francisco and probably other places in the lower 48. They did not need Prism to discover that. Prism only suplemented the “Upstream” material starting in 2007 according to the slide.

Details here and here.

Another high-level NSA whistleblower – Thomas Drake – testified in a declaration last year that an NSA pilot program he and Binney directed:

Revealed the extent of the connections that the NSA had within its data prior to the [9/11] attacks. The NSA found the array of potential connections among the data that it already possessed to be potentially embarrassing. To avoid that embarrassment, the NSA suppressed the results of the pilot program. I had been told that the NSA had chosen not to pursue [the program] as one of its methods for combatting terrorism. Instead, the NSA had previously chosen to delegate the development of a new program, named “Trailblazer” to a group of outside contractors.

Moreover, widespread spying on Americans began before 9/11 (confirmed herehereherehere andhere.

And U.S. and allied intelligence heard the 9/11 hijackers plans from their own mouths:

  • The National Security Agency and the FBI were each independently listening in on the phone calls between the supposed mastermind of the attacks and the lead hijacker. Indeed, the FBI built its own antenna in Madagascar specifically to listen in on the mastermind’s phone calls
  • According to various sources, on the day before 9/11, the mastermind told the lead hijacker “tomorrow is zero hour” and gave final approval for the attacks. The NSA intercepted the message that day and the FBI was likely also monitoring the mastermind’s phone calls
  • According to the Sunday Herald, two days before 9/11, Bin Laden called his stepmother and told her “In two days, you’re going to hear big news and you’re not going to hear from me for a while.” U.S. officials later told CNN that “in recent years they’ve been able to monitor some of bin Laden’s telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded.” Indeed, before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother.
  • And according to CBS News, at 9:53 a.m on 9/11, just 15 minutes after the hijacked plane had hit the Pentagon, “the National Security Agency, which monitors communications worldwide, intercepted a phone call from one of Osama bin Laden’s operatives in Afghanistan to a phone number in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia”, and secretary of Defense Rumsfeld learned about the intercepted phone call in real-time (if the NSA monitored and transcribed phone calls in real-timeon 9/11, that implies that it did so in the months leading up to 9/11 as well)

But even with all of that spying, the government didn’t stop the hijackers … even though 9/11 wasentirely foreseeable.  Moreover, the entire “lone wolf” theory for mass surveillance is false.  In reality, 9/11 was state-backed terror.

As such, blaming 9/11 on a lack of ability of the NSA to spy is wholly false.

As TechDirt notes:

The [court’s] footnote refers to the 9/11 Commission Report whose findings directly contradict this narrative. The problem was not that the information wasn’t there. It was that it wasn’t shared. It was the fact that the CIA lost al-Mihdhar, but rather than issue an alert or place him on a watch list, it chose to do nothing. Many things went wrong, but not having the intel wasn’t the issue.

Indeed, the Boston Bombing proves that mass surveillance isn’t what’s needed.  Even though the allegedBoston bombers’ phones were tapped – and NBC News reports, “under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the U.S.” – mass surveillance did not stop the other terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

In reality – despite the government continually grasping at straws to justify its massive spying program – top security experts say that mass surveillance of Americans . Indeed, they say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts (more here and here).

 

Egyptian military injured in bomb attack – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Egyptian military injured in bomb attack – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

A car laden with 20kg of explosives was detonated remotely near the entrance to the military building [Reuters]
At least four people have been injured in an explosion near the military intelligence building in Sharqiya, in Egypt’s Nile Delta, the third bombing on the mainland in less than a week.Three men left a car laden with 20kg of explosives by the entrance to the building on Sunday morning, and detonated it from a distance with a remote control, according to an Egyptian army spokesperson. The military is conducting a search of the the area for the assailants.

Colonel Ahmed Ali, a spokesman for the army, said the intelligence building was partly damaged by the blast. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Attacks on police and military installations have become a regular occurrence in Egypt.

On Tuesday, a powerful car bomb exploded near a police station in Mansoura, another city in the Delta, killing 14 people and injuring more than 150 others. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based group, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted online.

But the army-backed interim cabinet nonetheless blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, and the next day designated the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organisation.”

Hundreds of members have been arrested over the past few days for staging protests, and there were reports in local newspapers on Sunday that some of the group’s remaining leadership had fled the country.

On Thursday, a homemade bomb exploded near a bus in Cairo, injuring five passengers. Police said they defused two other bombs planted in the same area. It was one of the first attacks in Cairo that targeted civilians.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has staged hundreds of attacks against police and soldiers on the Sinai peninsula, but it has recently carried out several high-profile bombings on the mainland.

The group claimed credit for a September assassination attempt on the interior minister in Cairo.

 

U.N. Asks U.S. To Justify Latest “Cruel, Inhuman” Drone Attack That Killed 15 Yemen Civilians In A Wedding | Zero Hedge

U.N. Asks U.S. To Justify Latest “Cruel, Inhuman” Drone Attack That Killed 15 Yemen Civilians In A Wedding | Zero Hedge.

Imagine, if you will, that you and your 15 closest unarmed, civilian friends are celebrating a young couple who has just started their lives together, and are on your way to their wedding party, when all of a sudden a remote-controlled US killing machine drops several air-to-surface tactical missiles on your group and kills you before you have a chance to blink. Macabre as it sounds, this is precisely what happened in the conflict-torn (courtesy of the CIA) republic of Yemen last month when a US drone mistakenly killed 15 people.

The US justification: the 15 civilians were mistaken for an Al Qaeda convoy (good thing this was not in Syria, where such an Al Qaeda convoy would have received US arms and funding), and in keeping with the US “superpower” walkthrough, the missiles were launched first, and questions would be asked later if ever. And while this happens daily around the globe (remember: they hate America for its freedoms, not because it rains hellfire on civilians without reason), this time the United Nations human rights watch actually had the temerity of calling out the US on its latest act of mass murder.

Reuters has the full story:

United Nations human rights experts told the United States and Yemen on Thursday to saywhether they were complicit in drone attacks that mistakenly killed civilians in wedding processions this month.

The independent experts questioned the legitimacy of drone attacks under international law and said the governments should reveal what targeting procedures were used.

Local security officials said on December 12 that 15 people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy. The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

Stressing the need for accountability and payment to victims’ families, the U.N. statement issued in Geneva said that two attacks, on two separate wedding processions, killed 16 and wounded at least 10 people.

If armed drones are to be used, states must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting,” said Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Poor Yemen, unclear that others’ sovereignty does not matter to the US, voiced a feeble protest: “Yemen cannot consent to violations of the right to life of people in its territory,” he added.” Good luck with non-consenting.

However, it was the UN that surprised onlookers with one of the harshest condemnations of what is essentially unaccountable murder by an American remote-control plane, controlled from thousands of miles away:

Juan Mendez, U.N. special rapporteur on torture, voiced concern about the legitimacy of the airstrikes. Each state was obliged to undertake due investigation into the reported incidents, including their effect on civilians, he said.

A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims,” Mendez said.

Wait, so cruel, inhuman and degra…. oh look, another all time high for the S&P! Quick BTFATH, and ignore all this irrelevant “stuff.”

 

Egypt bombing at police station kills 12 – World – CBC News

Egypt bombing at police station kills 12 – World – CBC News.

The interim govenrment blamed the explosion in Egypt's Nile Delta town of Dakahlyia on the Muslim Brotherhood, but the Brotherhood condemned the attack.The interim govenrment blamed the explosion in Egypt’s Nile Delta town of Dakahlyia on the Muslim Brotherhood, but the Brotherhood condemned the attack. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
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A powerful explosion believed to be caused by a car bomb ripped through a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city north of Cairo early on Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding more than 100, leaving scores buried under the rubble.

The country’s interim government accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack, branding it a “terrorist organization.” But the Islamist group condemned the bombing, describing it in a statement as a “direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people” and demanding that the perpetrators be found and brought to justice.

It was the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, spreading the carnage that has marked Egypt’s turmoil over the past months to a new area and bringing it closer to Cairo. Previous deadly violence has mostly taken place in the volatile Sinai Peninsula and in Suez Canal-area cities east of the Egyptian capital.

The blast at 1:10 a.m. local time struck at the security headquarters in the city of Mansoura, 110 kilometres north of Cairo in the Nile Delta province of Daqahliya, collapsing an entire section and side wall of the five-floor building, incinerating dozens of cars outside and damaging several nearby buildings.

8 police officers killed

The state news agency MENA said 12 people were killed, including eight police officers, and that 134 were wounded, among them the city’s security chief and his assistant. Most of the victims were policemen, many of whom were buried beneath the debris.

Associated Press video from the scene showed bulldozers clearing the rubble outside the security headquarters, as charred and wrecked cars littered the street.

Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim toured the scene of the explosion at daybreak, pledging that the police will “continue their battle against the dark terrorist forces that tried to tamper with the country’s security,” then went to hospital to visit the wounded.

MENA quoted Cabinet spokesman Sherif Shawki as saying that the Brotherhood showed its “ugly face as a terrorist organization, shedding blood and messing with Egypt’s security.”

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi described the attack as a “terrorist incident,” expressed condolences to the families of the victims and vowed that the perpetrators “will not escape justice.”

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the preliminary investigation indicated a car bomb caused the explosion, which also damaged a nearby bank and a theatre.

Security forces cordoned off the whole area around the bombing site, closed major entrances and exits to Mansoura and set up checkpoints to search for perpetrators. State TV called on residents to rush to hospitals to donate blood.

No one claims responsibility

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which came a day after an al-Qaeda-inspired group called on police and army personnel to desert or face death at the hands of its fighters.

The militant group based in Sinai and several others have claimed responsibility for a surge of attacks on security forces since a popularly-backed coup in July toppled the country’s former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.

In response, Egypt’s armed forces launched an offensive against militants in the northern part of Sinai in August. Coupled with the offensive and with Morsi ousted and imprisoned, Egyptian investigators have moved to put him on trial for links to militants, accusing him and the Brotherhood of being behind the wave of violence in Sinai.

Tuesday’s bombing was not the first time that the security headquarters in Mansoura was targeted. Weeks ago, an explosion went off in front of the building but caused no casualties. Since the summer coup that ousted Morsi, militant Islamists have attacked several security headquarters with car bombs or by suicide bombers.

The Mansoura attack came shortly after the Islamic militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, threatened more attacks on the military and police, saying it considers Egyptian troops to be infidels because they answer to the secular-leaning military-backed government.

‘Repent’

The group — which gained notoriety after expanding its operations outside of the restive northern Sinai province — has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide car bombings and deadly attacks, including a failed assassination attempt on Egypt’s Interior Minister in September. The minister escaped unharmed.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is believed to have ties with Palestinian militants in the neighbouring Gaza Strip, and officials have said other foreign militants have found refuge in Sinai during the ongoing turmoil.

In its message, which appeared on militant websites Monday, the group said it “will be more determined to fight” the military and police if its warning is ignored. It urged them to “repent” from participating in “this infidel bastion that is at war with God and his Prophet, and stop serving in its ranks.”

But MENA quoted Shawki, the Cabinet spokesman as saying that “such terrorist operations will not prevent us from moving forward with the road map.”

He was referring to the upcoming referendum on a draft constitution Jan. 14-15, a key step in a military-backed transition plan aimed at holding presidential and parliamentarian elections later next year.

 

U.S. Cover-up of Saudi 9/11 Ties Probed, JW Has Secret Flight Docs | Judicial Watch

U.S. Cover-up of Saudi 9/11 Ties Probed, JW Has Secret Flight Docs | Judicial Watch.

The U.S. government’s cover-up of a Saudi connection in the 9/11 terrorist attacks is receiving new attention because a pair of legislators—one Republican, one Democrat—recently viewed a redacted chunk of a congressional report that confirms foreign state involvement in the plot.

Americans have been told that Al Qaeda acted alone on September 11, 2001 and that there were no state sponsors. In fact, the George W. Bush administration blacked out dozens of pages of a congressional investigative report on 9/11 that dealt with specific sources of foreign support for the 19 hijackers, most of whom were Saudi nationals.

Judicial Watch quickly launched an investigation and in 2005 obtained shocking documents from the FBI detailing how well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, left the U.S. on specially chartered flights while most air traffic was still grounded. In all, 160 subjects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including but not limited to members of the House of Saud and/or members of the bin Laden family fled the U.S. between September 11, 2001 and September 15, 2001.

The records uncovered by JW show that two prominent Saudi families that fled the U.S. following 9/11 got personal airport escorts from the FBI and that authorities let other Saudis leave the country without first interviewing them. The secret Saudi flights left from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities. An unidentified prince in Las Vegas even thanked the FBI for its assistance, according to one internal report obtained by JW. Incredibly, the FBI returned to the Las Vegas hotels with subpoenas days after the Saudi flights departed to gather information on the royal guests, the records show. Read more about this in JW’s New York Times Best Seller “Corruption Chronicles.”

This week investigative journalist Paul Sperry reveals that two federal lawmakers— North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones and Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch—finally got a hold of the suspiciously redacted pages of Congress’s 9/11 report. Federal law prohibits them from disclosing the details, but both legislators said they were “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign involvement in the 9/11 attacks. There’s little doubt they’re referring to the Saudi connection.

To make the information public, the lawmakers have proposed that Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama, who has promised to run the most transparent administration in history, to declassify the entire 2002 report. It certainly appears that the U.S. government is protecting the Saudis. In fact, federal agents told Sperry, a veteran reporter and columnist, that they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.

Besides the secret Saudi flights, Judicial Watch has ongoing investigations related to the sophisticated 9/11 plot. Earlier this year JW obtained documents from the FBI that show strong ties between Anwar al Aulaqi, the U.S.-born terrorist assassinated in 2011 by a U.S. drone in Yemen, and two of the 9/11 hijackers who attacked the Pentagon. In the documents the FBI describes al Aulaqi as “The Spiritual Leader of the Hijackers.”

 

Israeli Generals Preparing For “Short, Sharp” War Against Hezbollah | Zero Hedge

Israeli Generals Preparing For “Short, Sharp” War Against Hezbollah | Zero Hedge.

While a military campaign against Syria (and Iran) on the usual grounds has been postponed indefinitely, two nations in the Middle East have been seething: Saudi Arabia and, of course, Israel. Yet while Saudi Arabia rarely if ever gets its own hands dirty, instead executing its geopolitcal strategy through puppet states in need of its oil, Israel has never had a problem with engaging in offensive wars. And now that the threat of an imminent war, one which would have been largely carried out on the back of the US military, is gone Israel is preparing to do just that.

According to UPI, “Israeli generals are preparing for a decisive — and probably brief — war against Hezbollah, one of Israel’s most implacable foes, with plans to smash the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement’s military power, a study says. The Israelis’ primary objective will be to eradicate Hezbollah’s reputedly massive arsenal of missiles and rockets “for years to come,” the report by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv said.”

In other words, Syrian script, rinse repeat – spook with stories of massive weapon arsenals, propose a permanent resolution that involves invading – “briefly” although it never really works out that way – and then leak a few false flag videos “proving” just how evil the nation that is about to be invaded is.

Full story from UPI

Israel gets ready for ‘short, sharp war’ against Hezbollah

Israeli military intelligence estimates Hezbollah has 80,000 missiles and rockets of all calibers, ranging from ballistic missiles with warheads packing 700 pounds of high explosives, to short-range rockets, many of them aimed at cities including Tel Aviv. Some estimates go as high as 100,000.

The weapons that give Israelis nightmares are the long-range missiles with which Hezbollah can pound the Jewish state’s population centers and strategic installations without let-up for at least a month.

Israel’s military, which failed to crush Hezbollah in a 34-day war in 2006, “has prepared for a combined air and large-scale ground operation, driven by new intelligence and precision-firepower capabilities, to deliver a knockout blow and eliminate Hezbollah as a fighting force for years to come,” observed the report’s author, Yaakov Lappin, the Jerusalem Post’s military analyst.

Knocking out Hezbollah’s missile storage bunkers and launch sites will be the air force’s main mission, as it was in 2006, when Hezbollah only had about 20,000 missiles, 4,000 of which hit northern Israel.

Lappin said Israel will use “unprecedented capabilities” and a combat fleet that could destroy hundreds of targets a day.

In the last year, Israelis have been bombarded with government warnings to brace themselves for weeks of unprecedented missile bombardment if war comes — although the media have sought to reassure the public the armed forces will protect them with new weapons, tactics and all manner of electronic wizardry.

A key protection system will be the much-vaunted, four-tier missile defense shield known as Homa, The Wall in Hebrew. This includes the long-range Arrow 3 system, designed to destroy Iranian ballistic missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere, down to the Iron Dome, which has by official count shot down 84.6 percent of the short-range Palestinian rockets it has engaged in the last two years.

Even so, whatever the dimensions and capabilities of the generals’ plan, another report poured cold water on Israeli expectations of survival in the next war, which will — for the first time since the state was founded in 1948, a half dozen wars ago — target the home front.

Nathan Faber of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, warned in an article on the website of the Magen Laoref, or Homefront Shield, foundation, that the Homa could crumble due to technological, operational and financial reasons in a multifront war with Hezbollah, Iran and others.

Faber, formerly chief scientist in the military’s missile division, said at least one-third of all missiles fired at Israel will in all probability get through.

He calculates Israel could be threatened by 800 Iranian Shehab-3b and more advanced Sejjil-2 ballistic missiles, and 400 Soviet-era Scud ballistic missiles held by Syria, some of which may be used in its 33-month-old civil war.

There will also be 500-1,000 medium-range tactical missiles — like Iran’s Fajr or Fateh weapons, which Hezbollah already has — and more than 100,000 short-range rockets held by Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas group in Gaza.

Faber reckons about one-third of the missiles fired at Israel will be intercepted by the air force, another third will malfunction and one third will get through defensive screens, including about 400 of the 1,200 ballistic systems.

Regarding tactical missiles, Faber noted that “since these are very precise missiles the great majority of them will hit their target” after evading the anti-missile defenses.

He calculates Iron Dome — which he assesses has a kill rate of only 66 percent — will have to deal with 30,000 rockets.

The cost will be awesome — and possibly prohibitive.

By Faber’s tally, Iron Dome operations will cost $6 billion, countering 400 ballistic missiles another $3 billion, while mid-range interceptions will total as much as $2 billion.

 

US-Backed Syrian “Rebel” Commander Chased Out Of Country By Al Qaeda | Zero Hedge

US-Backed Syrian “Rebel” Commander Chased Out Of Country By Al Qaeda | Zero Hedge.

US-Backed Syrian “Rebel” Commander Chased Out Of Country By Al Qaeda

Syria may be old news as any escalation has been put on hold at least until next summer, but the hilarity resulting from the bungled US foreign policy intervention in the country lingers. The latest chapter in John Kerry’s book of “Diplomacy for Idiots” is the case of General Salim Adris, a so-called moderate the top Western-backed commander of the Free Syrian Army, who was literally run out of the country by the more extremist, Al Qaeda based factions among the Syrian CIA armed and Qatar funded “rebel” forces.

As the WSJ eloquently puts it, “Islamist fighters ran the top Western-backed rebel commander in Syria out of his headquarters, and he fled the country, U.S. officials said Wednesday.” Any references to brave Sir Robin are purely accidental. It got better when the same Al Qaeda fighters “took over key warehouses holding U.S. military gear for moderate fighters in northern Syria over the weekend.” In other words, as we repeatedly forecast over the summer, the US is now once again arming Al Qaeda fighters with weapons that sooner or later will be used against the US, at a time of the CIA’s choosing.

As for the details of “patriotic” Gen. Idris’ humiliating departure from Syria, and the even more humiliating raid of US military gear, we read on from the WSJ:

Gen. Idris flew to the Qatari capital of Doha on Sunday after fleeing to Turkey, U.S. officials said Wednesday. “He fled as a result of the Islamic Front taking over his headquarters,” a senior U.S. official said.

An Islamic Front spokesman also said Gen. Idris had fled to Turkey.

The Front took over the warehouses and offices controlled by the Supreme Military Council, the moderate opposition umbrella group that includes the FSA and coordinates U.S. aid distribution, officials said. They also seized the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, near the warehouses in the town of Atmeh.

Another bang up job by the State Department:

The growing strength of the Islamic Front prompted the U.S. and its allies to recently hold direct talks with Islamic Front representatives. The goal, according to Western officials, was to persuade some Islamists to support a Syria peace conference set for Geneva on Jan. 22 for fear that a lasting accord won’t be possible without their backing. The SMC already agreed to participate in the peace talks.

A quick primer on how brave the US “loyalists” in Syria are to both the cause, and to US equipment:

U.S. officials say there was no battle for control of the facilities between the SMC and the Islamic Front. One senior U.S. official said the takeover amounted to “an internal coup.” But other U.S. officials disputed that characterization.

U.S. officials said the Islamic Front offered to help protect the headquarters and two warehouse facilities from harder line groups. Then, when the Islamic Front came in and helped secure the sites, “they asserted themselves and said: ‘All right, we’re taking over,’ ” a senior U.S. official said.

In other words, one rebel faction essentially handed over US weapons to another rebel faction. Just add spin. Not surprisingly, the CIA had no comment:

The Central Intelligence Agency has been providing small amounts of arms to handpicked moderate rebels. A CIA spokesperson declined to comment on whether American weapons were in the warehouses that were seized by the Islamic Front. Gen. Idris also receives weapons from other countries, including Saudi Arabia.

The warehouses also housed nonlethal military gear, including American-supplied trucks and communications equipment.

Bottom line: the US, which nearly launched World War III over a few fabricated Youtube clips in order to help Qatar build a natgas pipeline to Europe support the much lauded freedom fighters, has just cut off aid to the very same group:

The U.S. decision to suspend the delivery of nonlethal aid to rebels in northern Syria is another blow to American efforts to strengthen and unify insurgents fighting Bashar al-Assad, analysts say.

The State Department said Wednesday it made the decision after Islamist groups within the opposition captured a warehouse and headquarters of the mainstream opposition alliance backed United States.

The decision reflects the challenge the United States has in supporting a fractured opposition where extremist groups are gaining an edge over moderates.

“There is simply no way to separate the two,” said Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

Somewhere Putin is laughing his ass off.

 

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