By Robert C. Koehler: Cherry-Picking Evil!

"Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them." Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders? On Tuesday night, hallelujah, he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government's single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war. The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one's own behavior, and in ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in out determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil. A little over a decade ago, just after we launched our shock-and awe bombing campaign against Iraq, I wrote: "Pro-war logic ultimately undergoes a mysterious transformation, from a moral absolutism condemning Saddam to a moral relativism justifying the use of MOABs and daisy cutters and even first-strike nukes, if necessary, to get rid of him. Some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet have no problem with the slaughter of civilians." So Barrack Obama, in his role as president, belies both his own intelligence and that of, my guess, most of his constituents when he asks us to play along with the game. Yes, poison gas is a ghastly evil, though who actually used it in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta remains uncertain, but what ruse to muster all one's outrage over images of "men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk" and then use that outrage as the pretext to justify counter-actions on our part that are equally indiscriminate in their delivery of hell to the same people. Virtually every aspect of modern warfare fits the description Obama drew as a sort of "red line"of bad behavior: the use of weaponry that kills on a mass scale, making no distinction between soldier and infant. We are, after all, the nation that developed nuclear weapons and, over the next half century, spent some $5.5 trillion playing arms race with the Soviet Union and, ultimately with no one at all. We're still developing further generations of "tactical" nukes, bleeding more than $30 billion annually into this insanity. The point being, Mr. President, yes, yes, we feel the outrage of Syria's horrific civil war, and no, we're not content doing nothing about that or any other massacre taking place on the planet, whether perpetrated by ally or designated enemy. But we're sick of the inane "solutions" mouthed by tyrants and presidents
that do nothing about that or any other massacre taking place on the planet, whether perpetrated by ally or designated enemy. But we're sick of the inane "solutions" mouthed by tyrants and presidents that do nothing but perpetuate the hell of war and feed the hidden interests of its corporate profiteers. Your decision to step back from the brink of an intervention-lite in Syria is worth celebrating, but spare us the "God bless America" that's backed by Tomahawk missiles and, ultimately, nuclear weapons, and address the nation and the world with courage about how we'll take the lead to end war itself. 

By Tony Cartalucci: Continuity of Military Agenda: Syria Catastrophe Engineered Under Bush,

Executed Verbatim Under Obama. The rise of Al Qaeda in Syria and the predictable bloodbath that followed is the documented work of US, Israel, & Saudi Arabia. Tens of thousands of deaths, devastated cities, and the scattering of terrified Syrian minorities add up to a catastrophe that has unfolded in Syria over the last 2 years. International organizations including the UN call it the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century, and despite this, have put little effort into tracking down the actual genesis of the conflict, the key players perpetuating the violence, and in prescribing the obvious solutions to this conflict. With a recent initiative by Russia and Syria blunting the West's pro-war drive, Western propagandists have attempted to reassert their crumbling narrative regarding the conflict, past, present, and future. The Genesis of Syria's Conflict! We are told by Western politicians and Western media houses that the conflict in Syria began with a spontaneous "peaceful," "pro-democracy" uprising influenced by similar demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt. We are told that these peaceful protests were brutally crushed by the Syrian government and resulted in the militarization of the so-called "opposition." This is a verified lie. In an April 2011 AFP report. Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, admitted that emphasis added: "US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years starting in 2009 to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments. "The report went on to admit that the US "organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of  the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there." Posner would add, "They went back and there's a ripple effect." Not only were the protests in Syria planned, funded, and directed by the US State Department, years before the so-called "Arab Spring" began, but so where the alleged protests that "triggered" events in Syria, namely similarly the alleged protests that "triggered" events in Syria, namely similarly engineered protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and the violent US-led subversion carried out in Libya. What's more disturbing is that the US-engineered "protests" were not designed to overthrow targeted governments, but instead to serve as a smokescreen for similarly pre-planned armed subversion. As early as 2007, under then President George Bush, the arming, funding, and otherwise supporting of sectarian extremists across the Middle East to undermine Lebanon, Syria, and Iran was put into motion. Admissions by administration officials, intelligence agents, and the very groups the US was funding and otherwise supporting of sectarian extremists across the Middle East to undermine Lebanon, Syria, and Iran was put into motion. Admissions by administration officials, intelligence agents, and preparing for armed subversion in 2007 were documented in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's New Yorker extensive 9-page report.  

By Andy Worthington: It's Time to End the Injustice of Guantanamo and Bagram!

Yesterday, on September 11, as the world remembered the dreadful terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC 12 years ago, it is time also to remember that, in its response to those attacks, the US embarked on a dangerous flight from the law that led to the use of torture and indefinite detention without charge or trial. At Guantanamo and Bagram, these policies have, to this day, left hundreds of men stranded without access to justice. When the Bush administration responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan, a month after the attacks, one of the first victims of the "War on Terror" was the Geneva Conventions. Under Article 5 of the Geneva Conventions, if there is any doubt about the status of prisoners seized in wartime, whether they are combatants or civilians seized by mistake, for example - "competent tribunals" of military officers must be convened close to the time and place of capture, with the power to call witnesses to ascertain whether the prisoners are combatants or not. In the first Gulf War, in 1991, US soldiers captured 1,196 men of unknown provenance, held "competent tribunals" of military officers must be convened close to the time and place of capture, with the power to call witnesses to ascertain whether the prisoners are combatants or not. In the first Gulf War, in 1991, US soldiers captured 1,196 men of unknown provenance, held competent tribunals, and concluded that in 886 cases civilians had been seized by mistake, an error rate of 74 percent. Those men were then released, but after 9/11 the competent tribunals were abandoned. End of competent tribunals. The Bush administration arrogantly declared that all of those who ended up in US custody were that all of those who ended up in US custody were "unlawful enemy combatants", and, on February 7, 2002, President Bush issued a memorandum. "Humane Treatment of Taliban and al-Qaeda Detainees," in which he stated that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al-Qaeda or Taliban prisoners, although all prisoners would be "treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva". That was a rhetorical fig leaf, which failed to prevent the memorandum from opening the floodgates to the use of torture, a situation that prevailed until June 2006, when, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case challenging the legality of the Bush administration's military commission trial system, the Supreme Court reminded the president that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits torture and "humiliating and degrading treatment" applied to "all" prisoners. That ended the contortions used by the Bush administration to justify its use of torture, although no one has been held accountable for its use. But the Bush administration's disdain for the Geneva Conventions continues to poison the circumstances in which prisoners are held, both at Guantanamo and at Bagram, the main prison in Afghanistan, where Bush's innovations led to a situation in which the process of screening prisoners on capture disappeared.     


By Prof Michel Chossudovsky: What Happened to the "Global War on Terrorism"?

The U.S. is "Fighting for Al Qaeda" in Syria. Americans have been repeatedly told that Al Qaeda under the helm of the late Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Formulated in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. and its allies launched a "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT) directed against the numerous "jihadist" Al Qaeda affiliated terror formations in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and South East Asia. The first stage of the "Global War on Terrorism" was the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan. In the wake of 9/11, the "Global War on Terrorism" served to obfuscate the real economic and strategic objectives behind the US-led wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Patriot legislation was implemented. The national security doctrine stated unequivocally that the American Homeland was to be protected against "Islamic terrorists". For the last 13 years, war on terrorism rhetoric has permeated political discourse at all levels of government. Al Qaeda related threats and occurrences are explained by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks, under a single blanket "bad guys" heading, in which Al Qaeda "the outside enemy of America" is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as the cause" of numerous terror events around the World. But somehow, in the last few months, this "al Qaeda, the outside enemy of America" is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as "the cause" of numerous terror events around the World. But somehow, in the last few months, this "Al Qaeda paradigm" has shifted. The American public has become increasingly skeptical regarding the validity of the "Global War on Terrorism". In recent months, with the unfolding events in Syria, something rather unusual has occurred, which has had a profound impact on the public's perception and understanding of Obama's "Global War on Terrorism." The US government is actively and openly supporting Syria's Al Nusra, the main fighting force affiliated to al Qaeda, largely composed of foreign mercenaries. Tax dollars are relentlessly channeled to the "rebels". In turn, Secretary of State John Kerry meets with rebel commanders who oversee the Al Qaeda affiliated entity. Is this part of a "new normal": the unity of opposites whereby "terrorism" and "counter-terrorism"are merged into a single foreign policy focus? Is it "politically correct"for a US Senator to mingle with leaders of a terrorist organization, while at the same time paying lip service to the "Global War on Terrorism"? While this may be "business as usual" for the US Secretary of State, American servicemen and women are now "refusing to fight" a war in favor of terrorism under the emblem of the "Global War on Terrorism". Channeling money and weapons to Al Qaeda in Syria is carried out "in the open", via the US State Department and the Pentagon rather than in the context of a covert CIA operation. John McCain enters Syria illegally and poses for photo ops with Al Qaeda leaders. The Movement within the US Armed Forces. Needless to say, this mingling of politicians and terrorists strikes at the very foundations of the "Global War on Terrorism".

By Vladimir V. Putin: A Plea for Caution From Russia!

Moscow, Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies. Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization, the United Nation, was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again. The United Nation's founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America's consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades. No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization. The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria's borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance. Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world. Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all. From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today's complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression. No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria.

Source: McclatchyDC: Intercepts caught Assad rejecting requests to use chemical weapons, German paper says!

Berlin - Syrian President Bashar Assad has repeatedly rejected requests from his field commanders for approval to use chemical weapons, according to a report this weekend in a German newspaper. The report in Bild am Sonntag, which is a widely read and influential national Sunday newspaper, reported that the head of the German Foreign Intelligence agency, Gerhard Shindler, last week told a select group of German lawmakers that intercepted communications had convinced German Foreign Intelligence agency, Gerhard Schindler, last week told a select group of German lawmakers that intercepted communications had convinced German intelligence officials that Assad did not order or approve what is believed to be a sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people in Damascus's eastern suburbs. The Obama administration has blamed the attack on Assad. The evidence against Assad was described over the weekend as common sense by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on CNN's "State of the Union." "The material was used in the eastern suburbs of Damascus that have been controlled by the opposition for some time," he said. "It was delivered by rockets, rockets that we know the Assad regime has, and we have no indication that the opposition has." Russia has questioned that logic, announcing last week that in July it filed a 100-page long "technical and scientific" report on an alleged March 19 chemical weapons attack on a suburb of Aleppo that it says implicates rebel fighters. A U.N. team dispatched to Syria to investigate the March 19 attack was sent to the scene of the Aug. 21 incident. The samples it collected are currently being analyzed in Europe at labs certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that monitors compliance with chemical weapons bans. The German intelligence briefing to lawmakers described by Bild am Sonntag fits neither narrative precisely. The newspaper's article said that on numerous occasions in recent months, the German intelligence ship named Oker, which off the Syrian coast, has intercepted communications indicating that field officers have contacted the Syrian presidential palace seeking permission to use chemical weapons and have been turned down. The article added that German intelligence does not believe Assad sanctioned the alleged attack on August 21. Last week, the German news-magazine Der Spiegel, also citing a briefing for German legislators, said that the Oker had intercepted a phone call between a commander from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and an official at an unidentified Iranian embassy saying that Assad had ordered the Aug. 21 chemical attack out of anger. The Hezbollah commander called the attack a "huge mistake," Der Spiegel said. It was not clear if the two news accounts were based on the same or different briefings. Assad told American journalist Charlie Rose in an interview to be broadcast in its entirety Monday night on PBS that "there has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people."


By David Swanson: John Kerry Couldn't Sell A Used Car!

After Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that President Bashar al-Assad avoid a war by handing over any chemical weapons his government possesses, Russia quickly seconded the motion, and Assad agreed to it. Just as quickly, apparently panicked by the possible delay or prevention of missile strikes, Kerry's staff put out this statement: "Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used. His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment." Could Assad be lying? Could he hope to stash away a hidden weapons stockpile? Yes, and then at least a U.S. attack would have been delayed and more time gained to work on preventing it. But that's not likely. Inspectors are very good. That's why President George W. Bush wanted them pulled out of Iraq, where they had done a stellar job and the weaponry been eliminated. That could conceivably also be why President Obama wanted them kept away from the site of the August 21st attack and wanted to send missiles into Syria before the inspectors reached any results. So, to all appearances, Assad has immediately done what Kerry just declared impossible. How reliable, then, are other assertions of which Kerry professes to be certain? Is it really an important international norm that one nation should bomb another in support of fanatical terrorists and on the stated basis that people had been killed with the wrong variety of weapons? Is it really true that this war will be both unbelievably small and a significant blow to the Syrian government? Kerry is trying to sell the same used car to people who want an ambulance and other people who want a tank. Nobody's buying. It's not entirely Kerry's fault that he had come on stage after Colin Powell's performance, but it is his fault that he's flubbed all of his lines. If Obama withdraws his demand for Congressional authorization of war, it will not be because he and John Kerry played 12-dimensional chess and secretly hope to bring peace to the earth. It will be because they played duck-duck-goose with such incompetence that they managed to knock each other unconscious in the process. If a war is prevented here, and it's way too early to say that, it will be the result of public opinion in the United States and the world, the courage of Parliament in Britain, and the glimmerings of actual representation beginning to sparkle through the muck and slime on Capitol Hill. If celebrating Obama and Kerry's super brave and strong heroism in stumbling into a Russian barrier to their madness gives them the "credibility" to put their gins back in their pants, then by all means celebrate that fiction. But if we get this crisis behind us, we should understand that Parliament acted against war for the first time in centuries, and the public stopped Congress for the first time ever. If President Obama doesn't ask for authorization, it will be because it is not going to pass. Even if he didn't expect to use it right away, he would want it passed if possible. 

By Dean Baker: The Financial Crisis and the Second Great Depression Myth!

All knowledgeable D.C. types know that the TARP and Fed bailout of Wall Street banks five years ago saved us from a second Great Depression. Like most things known by knowledgeable Washington types, this is not true. Just to remind folks, the Wall Street banks were on life support at that time. Bear Stearns, one of the five major investment banks, would have collapsed in March of 2008 if the Fed had not been able to arrange a rescue by offering guarantees on almost $30 billion in assets to J.P. Morgan. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both went belly up in September. The next week Lehman, another of the five major investment banks did go under. AIG, the country's largest insurer was about to follow suit when the Fed and Treasury jury-rigged a rescue. Without massive government assistance , it was a virtual certainty that the remaining three investment banks, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch, were toast. Bank of America and Citigroup also were headed rapidly for the dustbin of history. It is certainly possible, if not likely, that the other two giant banks, Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan, would have been sucked down in the maelstrom. In short, if we allowed the magic of the market to do its work, we would have seen an end to Wall Street as we know it. The major banks would be in receivership. Instead of proffering economic advice to the president, the top executives of these banks would be left walking the streets and dodging indictments and lawsuits. This was when they turned socialist on us. We got the TARP and infinite money and guarantees from the Fed, FDIC, and Treasury to keep the Wall Street crew in their expensive suits. All the politicians told us how painful it was for them to hand out this money to the wealthy, but the alternative was a Second Great Depression. It's not clear what these people think they mean, but let's work it through. Suppose that we did see a full meltdown. The commercial banks that handle checking and saving accounts and are responsible for most personal and business transactions would then be under the control of the FDIC. The FDIC takes banks over all the time. This would be more roadkill than it was accustomed to, but there is little reason to think that after a few days most of us would not be able to get to most of the money in our accounts and carry through normal transactions.
Credit conditions would likely be uncertain for business loans for some time, as in fact was the case even with the bailouts. Mortgage credit would have been provided by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, as has been the case since September of 2008. One item deserving special attention in this respect is the commercial paper market. This is the market that most major businesses rely upon to meet regular payments like payroll and electric bills. When he was lobbying Congress for the TARP, Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke said that this market was shutting down, which would in fact be disastrous for the economy. What Bernanke neglected to mention was that he unilaterally had the ability to support the commercial paper market through the Fed. In fact he announced a special lending facility for exactly this purpose, the weekend after Congress approved the TARP.

By Robert Scheer: Obama Remembers He's Not George W. Bush!

It may come to naught, calls for peace so rarely still the drums of war, but there was a moment Monday when the odds for sanity seemed to finally stand a chance of prevailing. It came when President Obama acknowledged the Russian proposal for Syria to avert war by agreeing to destroy its chemical weapons stock as "a potential positive development." It was quintessentially an un-Bush moment when suddenly this presidential "decider" seemed possessed of a brain capable of reversing his disastrous course. It helped that a majority of the public, and even many of its representatives in Congress, had expressed strong opposition to entering into a civil war without a plausible positive outcome. According to The New York Times/CBS News poll conducted over the weekend, "nearly 9 in 10 Americans are concerned that the United States military action in Syria will become a long and costly mission" and would lead to "a more widespread war in the Middle East." Imperial hubris has been soundly rejected by a properly chastened war-weary public, and nation building, particularly in that part of the world, is now most often treated as an exception that is indelibly cursed. The bipartisan rejection of the inevitability of a military response has been stunning in its geographic reach, as Peggy Noonan, a leading Republican intellectual as well as a former top speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, observed in her Wall Street Journal column Saturday: "The American people do not support military action. Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward." Although underscoring the need to "rebuke those who used the weapons, condemn their use, and shun the users, a military strike is not the way, and not the way for America," she wrote. She is right. The use of chemical weapons cannot be ignored, even though the U.S. did just that decades ago when then-Mideast special envoy Donald Rumsfeld embraced Saddam Hussein after he deployed those heinous weapons on his own people and in his war with Iran. A strong response to the use of those weapons is in order, but instead of more violence that would inevitably kill innocent people, why not give peace a chance? At the very least, even if the Syrian government continues to deny responsibility for the chemical attacks, it must abandon its arsenal of these weapons that are inherently inhuman. The foreign minister of Russia came up with exactly that proposal. Speaking with the authority of Syria's sole significant arms supplier, Sergey V. Lavrov seized upon Secretary of State John Kerry's purely rhetorical point that Syria could abandon its chemical weapons supply and asked, why not? It was a serious plan, given that it had been previewed in a phone conversation between Lavrov and Kerry and that Syria's foreign minister, who was in Moscow at the time, welcomed the sentiment. Walid al-Moallem, who is also Syria's deputy prime minister, endorsed Lavrov's proposal because of "the concern of the Russian leadership about the life of our citizens and the security of our country." Obama Remembers He's Not George W. Bush he told reporters Monday in Moscow. Moallem, at least, took it as a lifeline to the Assad government that just might be grabbed, and suddenly the peacemakers had their talking point. Better to explore the possibility of peaceful disarmament than to plunge into the "unbelievably small" war that Kerry was prattling about and that Obama reminded would not be a "pinprick."


by Michael Thomas: Nobel Committee Obligated to Strip Obama of Peace Prize!

It was quite suspicious when Barack Obama was nominated fir the Nobel Peace Prize less than two weeks before his first inauguration in 2009. It was even more suspicious when he actually won the prize based on no merit whatsoever. Nada, nothing, zilch, zero. No accomplishment to speak of in the arena of peace-making, especially world peace-making. Only on the basis of a quixotic "Hope and Change: campaign jingle was he awarded the highest accolade for peace on the planet. Obama Has Made Total Mockery of the Nobel Peace Prize. In light of recent outright war-mongering in Syria, as well as many other bellicose initiatives throughout the world, this president has succeeded in making a mockery of the Nobel Peace Prize. Such a travesty, in fact, that the Norwegian Nobel Committee is obligated to strip him of the award post haste. That is, of course, if their illustrious award is to retain any meaning or credibility in the future. Where are you Norwegian Nobel Committee (NNC) during this moment of dire need and urgently required intervention? Wouldn't it be appropriate to re-visit such a disastrous decision. You my remember that it was Obama who ordered up 300,000 more troops to Afghanistan just days after accepting the reward. Fast forward to September of 2013 and here Obama is again beating the war drums. Britain has voted down any involvement in Syria. Germany has said no to war and says it has "No Plans to Join Syria Military Action". Italy has asserted that it will take no part in any strikes against Syria. The United Nations has declared Obama's proposed military aggression to be illegal. The European Union has strongly counseled for a diplomatic solution. The BRICS nations urged that Obama should "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution". Even the Pope has weighed in as he "urges G-20 leaders to avoid military action in Syria." Time For Nobel Committee to Strip Obama of the Peace Prize. So how is it that a Nobel Peace Prize winner has to be goaded into pursuing the path of peace in Syria, rather than the road to war? Something is very wrong with this picture. So wrong that the only alternative is for the NNC is take back the Nobel Peace Prize at this critical juncture. In this way the message sent to the world will be that war will no longer be tolerated by the community of nations unless it is absolutely necessary and there are no other alternatives. And only then should such life and death decisions be taken with the unanimous consensus of the entire community of nations, less the aggressor. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have made a farce of the entire UN Security Council process. Their "our way or the highway" approach has served to profoundly undermine the only international body that has teeth and legitimacy to address such weighty and consequential matters. In so doing they have imperiled the entire global community and made it subject to a highly perverted and twisted form of American justice. Some remark that Pax Americana can only be delivered at the barrel of a gun just like Yankee gunboat diplomacy. There is perhaps no more effective way to short-circuit this unlawful and scandalous rush to war with Syria than to strip Barack Obama of his ill-gotten peace prize. Clearly he never earned it. He has since nothing to instill confidence that he can act as an ombudsman for peace around the world.     

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian UK.: Significant New NSA Stories to Be Published Imminently!

The implications of the prior week's reporting of NSA stories continue to grow. I'am currently working on what I believe are several significant new NSA stories, to be published imminently here, as well as one very consequential story about NSA spying in Brazil that will first be broadcast Sunday night on the Brazilian television program Fantastico, because the report has worldwide implications, far beyond Brazil, it will be translated into English and then quickly published on the internet. Until then, I'm posting below the video of the 30-minute interview I did yesterday on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez about our NSA encryption story and ongoing US/UK attacks on press freedom, the transcript of that interview is here. There has been some excellent commentary on the implications of the NSA/GCHQ encryption story we published this week. The LA Times' Jim Healey says the story is "the most frightening" yet, and explains why he thinks that. The Bloomberg technology columnist David Meyer's analysis of what this all means is worth reading in its entirety. In the Guardian, security expert Bruce Schneier, who has worked with us on a couple of soon-to-be published stories, identifies 5 ways to maintain the privacy of your internet communications notwithstanding the efforts of the NSA and GCHQ to induce companies to build vulnerabilities into certain types of encryption. As for Brazil, the fallout continues from our report last week on Fantastico revealing the NSA's very personal and specific surveillance targeting of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff and then-leading-candidate, now Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, the NSA documents we published about those activities are here. In an interview this week with The Hindu's Shobhan Saxena, Brazil's highly popular ex-president Lula vehemently condemned NSA spying abuses and said Obama should "personally apologize to the world". The New York Times' Simon Romero has a good article from yesterday on the thus-far-unsuccessful attempts by Obama to placate the anger in the region from this report. As for the new report coming Sunday night in Brazil, please take note of this adamant statement last week from the NSA, as reported coming Sunday night in Brazil, please take note of this adamant statement last week from the NSA, as reported by the Washington Post: "US intelligence services are making a routine use around the world of government-built malware that differs little in function from the 'advanced persistent threats' that US officials attribute to China. The principal difference, US officials told The Post, is that China steals US corporate secrets for financial gain. The Department of Defense does engage' in computer network exploitation, according to an e-mailed statement from an NSA spokesman, whose agency is part of the Defense Department. 'The department does not engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber." In Europe this week, President Obama has been making similar claims when asked about NSA spying, repeatedly assuring people that NSA surveillance is overwhelmingly devoted to stopping terrorism threats.       

By Robert Parry: Congress Denied Syrian Facts, Too

A U.S. congressman who has read the Obama administration's classified version of intelligence on the alleged Syrian poison gas attack says the report is only 12 pages, just three times longer than the sketchy unclassified public version, and is supported by no additional hard evidence. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also had to make a formal request to the administration for "the underlying intelligence reports" and he is unaware if those details have been forthcoming, suggesting that the classified report like the unclassified version is more a set of assertions than a presentation of evidence. "We have reached the point where the classified information system prevents even trusted members of Congress, who have security clearances, from learning essential facts, and then inhibits them from discussing and debating what they do know," Grayson wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times on Saturday. "And this extends to matters of war and peace, money and blood. The 'security state' is drowning in its own phlegm. My position is simple: if the administration wants me to vote for war, on this occasion or any other, then I need to know all the facts. And I'm not the only one who feels that way." As I wrote a week ago, after examining the four-page unclassified summary, there was not a single fact that led the United States into the Iraq War. The only difference was that the Bush administration actually provided more checkable information than the Obama administration did, although much of the Bush data ultimately didn't check out. It appears that the chief lesson learned by the Obama administration was to release even less information about Syria's alleged chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 than the Bush administration did about Iraq's alleged WMD. The case against Syria has relied almost exclusively on assertions, such as the bellowing from Secretary of State John Kerry that the Syrian government sure did commit the crime, just trust us. The Obama administration's limited-hangout strategy seems to have worked pretty well at least inside the Establishment, but it's floundering elsewhere around the United States. It appears that many Americans share the skepticism of Rep. Grayson and a few other members of Congress who have bothered to descend into the intelligence committee vaults to read the 12-page summary for themselves. Rallying the Establishment. Despite the sketchy intelligence, many senators and congressmen have adopted the politically safe position of joining in denunciations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad where's the downside of that, and the mainstream U.S. media has largely taken to writing down the administration's disputed claims about Syria as "flat fact." For instance, the New York Times editorial on Saturday accepts without caveat that there was "a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad's regime that killed more than 1,400 people last month," yet those supposed "facts" are all in dispute, including the total number who apparently died from chemical exposure. It was the U.S. white paper that presented the claim of "1,429" people killed without explaining the provenance of that strangely precise number.    


By Ira Chernus: Will the Global Policeman Hang Up His Badge?

"I didn't set a red line", Barack Obama now insists. "The world set a red line." It's a nice effort by the White House spinnmeisters. But I think the president was far more honest about his motives back on August 31, when he told the world: "We are the United States of America, Out of the ashes of world war, we built am international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning. This nation more than any other has been willing to meet those responsibilities. Now is the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments." The message was coded, bit easy enough to enforce the rules of the international order, because we built that order. The rules we made are the red line. Syria crossed them. Now Syria must pay, if only to prove that the U.S. is a credible enforcer, that, as Obama concluded, "We do what we say." Obama's reference to the ashes of World War II is the key to the code, and to his hawkish Syria policy. Back in 1942, when the fires of the war were still burning white hot, Franklin D. Roosevelt was telling people quite privately about his utopian vision for lasting peace on earth. The story was quite simple: Nations go to war only if they have the weapons to do it. Take away their weapons, and presto! no more war. Eternal peace would let the United States go on freely trading with, and profiting from, every nation on earth forever. Of course someone had to be strong enough to take away all those weapons and make sure no one else could obtain new ones. So four nations would be exempt from the command to disarm. The U.S., Britain, Russia, and China would be the world's "four policemen," as FDR called them, each enforcing the rules in their own part of the world. However "by 1944 Roosevelt's musings about the four world policemen had faded into the background," as Martin Sherwin wrote in A World Destroyed, his classic history of how the atomic bomb reshaped world diplomacy in the 1940s. FDR was getting encouraging reports from the Manhattan Project and growing optimistic that the United States would have soon an atomic bomb. The fateful decision he made was to share the bomb and knowledge of how to make it only with Britain and not with any other nation, including, most importantly, Russia. FDR was misled into thinking that the U.S. and Britain could keep an atomic monopoly for two decades or more. So, he assumed, there would actually be only two policemen. "The underlying idea" of his original plan, as Sherwin wrote, "the concept of guaranteeing world peace by amassing of overwhelming military power, remained a prominent feature of his postwar plans." After Roosevelt's death, the Truman administration made that concept the most prominent feature of America's postwar plan, the international order that, as Obama said, the U.S. built out of the ashes of world war. Harry Truman came increasingly under the sway of cold war hawks, who turned back all efforts to cooperate with the Soviets o anything related to the bomb. Our national commitment, the responsibility we awarded ourselves in 1945, was to enforce the new world order and keep the peace by brandishing the bomb, or as Truman called it "the hammer." Its seemingly infinite power, wielded by an infinitely self-righteous nation, made it all too easy to feel like America could, and should, play the role of God in world affairs.

By William Boardman: America's Empire Has No Clothes!

"All governments lie" I.F. Stone, American writer, c. 1967. Assume for a moment that I.F. Stone knew what he was talking about. Then consider the reality that there are at least 12 governments directly engaged in support of one of the sides in the Syrian civil war. These governments include the United States, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Iran, as well as the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian rebels who should probably count as two or more "governments". If all governments lie, what are the chances of anyone figuring out the truth or even anything close to the truth about twelve governments? One might be just as well off using a dartboard or a Ouija board to sort through the levels of deceit in play. But Stone didn't just say "all governments lie," true as it may be. The full quote goes like this: All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out. In a Time of Torment: 1961-1967, p. 317. As we watch our public figures wrestle publicly with their "agonizing" decisions about American actions for or against Syria, it's increasingly hard to know who, if anyone, actually believes the words they speak. On August 20, 2012, President Obama told a news conference: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my equation. We're monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans. On September 4, 2013, the president told a news conference: First of all, I didn't set a red line. That wasn't a thing I just kinda made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air. There's a reason for it. That's point number one. Pint number two: my credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line, and America and Congress's credibility's on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important. The president could have said most of that in the first place in 2012. He could have framed the issue in terms of international treaties and the "international community: or at least the United Nations then. So why didn't he, since it was all just as true a year ago as it is now? The question is not whether Obama knows he's lying, but why is he lying? Well, it was also just as false in 2012. When the president says "we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important," he glosses over the reality that no government's response to the use of chemical weapons in recent decades has involved much moral outrage. (In 2001, the U.S. withdrew from the first round of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, effectively scuttling the international community's effort to control biological weapons. When Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran during their eight-year war (1980-1988), the "international community" was largely silent. The U.N. Security Council issued a statement that "chemical weapons had been used," but didn't say who used them and didn't suggest doing anything about it. The United States was the lone vote against this statement.

By Nicolas J.S. Davies: 9 Ways America Has Fueled the Bloody Civil War in Syria

President Obama's threats against Syria are framed by the carefully crafted image of a responsible superpower reluctantly drawn into a horrific conflict caused by others. But the reality is very different. For more than two years, U.S. policy has quietly fueled the escalation of the conflict in Syria and undermined every effort to bring the Syrian people the ceasefire and peaceful political transition they need and want. Whoever is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths in the latest chemical weapons incident, the critical covert and diplomatic role the United States has played in a war that has killed at least 100,000 people means that their blood is also on our hands. As Haytham Manna, a leader of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change (NCB) in Syria recently told Le Vif, the largest French language news magazine in Belgium, "The Americans have cheated. Two or three times they have withdrawn at the very moment that an agreement was in the works. Everything is possible but that will depend mainly on the Americans. The French are content to follow. A political solution is the only one that could save Syria." So, if Manna is correct, we Americans have played a decisive role at the critical moments for war or peace in Syria, including the one we are now confronting. If it comes as a surprise to you as an American that you are responsible for the horrific nightmare taking place in Syria, please review the well-documented record of what has been done in the name, albeit secretly and without your knowledge in many cases: 1) As protests spread throughout the Arab world in 2011, the mostly leftist groups who organized the Arab Spring protests and resistance to government repression. They agreed, and they still agree, on three basic principles: non-violence, non-sectarianism, and no foreign military intervention. But the U.S. and its allies marginalized the NCB, formed an unrepresentative "Syrian National Council" in Turkey as a government-in-exile and recruited, armed and trained violent armed groups to pursue regime change in Syria. 2) The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar began flying in fighters, weapons and equipment to turn the Syrian Spring into a bloody civil war. Once they had overthrown the government of Libya, at the cost of 25,000 to 50,000 lives, they began adapting the same strategy to Syria, despite knowing full well that this would be a much more drawn-out, destructive and bloody war. 3) Even as a Qatari-funded YouGov poll in December 2011 found that 55% of Syrians still supported their government, unmarked NATO planes were flying fighters and weapons from Libya to the "Free Syrian Army" base at Iskanderum in Turkey. British and French special forces were training FSA recruits, while the CIA and US special forces provided communications equipment and intelligence, as in Libya. Retired CIA officer Philip Giraldi concluded, "Syrian government claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained and financed by foreign governments are more true than false."           


By Ralph Nader: Stopping Barry O'Bomber's Rush to War!

Dear President Obama: Little did your school boy chums in Hawaii, watching you race up ad down the basketball court, know how prescient they were when they nicknamed you "Barry O'Bomber." Little did your fellow Harvard Law Review editors, who elected you to lead that venerable journal, ever imagine that your fellow Harvard Law Review editors, who elected you to lead that venerable journal ever imagine that you could be a president who chronically violates the Constitution, federal statues, international treaties and the separation of power at depths equal to or beyond the George W. Bush regime. Nor would many of the voters who elected you in 2008 have conceived that your foreign policy would rely so much on brute military force at the expense of systemically waging peace. Certainly, voters who knew your background as a child of third world countries, a community organizer, a scholar of constitutional law and a critic of the Bush/Cheney years, never would have expected you to favor the giant warfare state so pleasing to the military industrial complex. Now, as if having learned nothing from the devastating and costly aftermaths of the military invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, you're beating the combustible drums to attack Syria, a country that is no threat to the U.S. and is embroiled in complex civil wars under a brutal regime. This time, however, you may have pushed for too many acts of war. Public opinion and sizable numbers of members of both parties in Congress are opposed. These lawmakers oppose bombing Syria in spite of your corralling the cowardly leaders of both parties in the Congress. Thus far, your chief achievement on the Syrian front has been support for your opposition from al-Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria, the pro-Israeli government lobby, AIPAC, your chief nemesis in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner, and Dick Cheney. This is quite a gathering and a telling commentary on your ecumenical talents. Assuming the veracity of your declarations regarding the regime's resort to chemical warfare first introduced into the Middle East by Winston Churchill's Royal Air Force's plastering of Iraqi tribesmen in the nineteen twenties, your motley support group is oblivious to the uncontrollable consequences that might stem from bombing Syria. One domestic consequence may be that Speaker Boehner expects to exact concessions from you on domestic issues before Congress in return for giving you such high visibility bipartisan cover. Your argument for shelling Syria is to maintain "international credibility" in drawing that "red line" regardless, it seems, of the loss of innocent Syrian civilian life, causalities to our foreign service and armed forces in that wider region, and retaliation against the fearful Christian population in Syria, one in seven Syrians are Christian. But the more fundamental credibilities are to our Constitution, to the neglected necessities of the American people, and to the red line of observing international law and the UN Charter which prohibit unilateral bombing in this situation. There is another burgeoning cost, that the militarization of the State Department whose original charter invests it with the responsibility of diplomacy. Instead, Mr. Obama you have shaped the State Department into a belligerent "force projector" first under Generalissima Clinton and now under Generalissimo Kerry.     

By Michael Snyder, Guest Post: Who Is Going To Buy Our Debt If This War Causes China,

Russia And The Rest Of The World to Turn On Us? Can the U.S. really afford to greatly anger the rest of the world when they are the ones that are paying our bills? What is going to happen if China, Russia and many other large nations stop buying our debt and start rapidly dumping U.S. debt and start rapidly dumping U.S. debt that they already own? If the United States is not very careful, it is going to pay a tremendous economic price for taking military action in Syria. At this point, survey after survey has shown that the American people are overwhelmingly against an attack on Syria, people around the globe are overwhelmingly against an attack on Syria, and it looks like the U.S. Congress is even going to reject it. But Barack Obama is not backing down. In fact, ABC News is reporting that plans are now being made for a "significantly larger" strike on Syria than most experts had expected. If Obama insists on going forward with this, it will be the greatest foreign policy disaster in modern American history. Right now, both Russia and China are strongly warning Obama not to attack Syria. And Russia is not just warning Obama with words. According to Bloomberg, Russia has sent quite a collection of warships in the region. Russia is sending three more ships to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster its fleet there as a U.S. Senate panel will consider President Obama's request for authority to conduct a military strike on Syria. Russia is sending two destroyers, including the Nastoichivy, the flagship of the Baltic Fleet, and the Moskva missile cruiser to the region, Interfax reported today, citing an unidentified Navy official. That follows last week's dispatch of a reconnaissance ship to the eastern Mediterranian, four days after the deployment of an ant-submarine ship to the eastern Mediterraean, four days after the deployment of an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the area, which were reported by Interfax. Syria hosts Russia's only military facility outside the former Soviet Union, at the port of Tartus. China is also letting it be known that they absolutely do not want Obama to hit Syria. On Friday, China issued a warning about what military conflict in the Middle East could do to "the global economy". "Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the global economy, especially on the oil price, it will cause a hike in the oil price." And according to Debka, China has also deployed "a number of warships" to the region. Western naval sources reported Friday that a Chinese landing craft, the Jinggangshan, with a 1,000-strong marine battalion had reached the Red Sea en route for the Mediterranian off Syria. According to DEBKA file, Beijing has already deployed a number of warships opposite Syria in secret. If the latest report is confirmed, this will be the largest Chinese deployment in the Middle East in its naval history. If the U.S. attacks Syria, Russia and China probably will not take immediate military action against us. But they could choose to hit us where it really hurts. According to the U.S. Treasury, foreigners now hold approximately 5.6 trillion dollars of our debt, and Russia owns approximately 138 billion dollars of our debt.

By Nora Eisenberg: Inside America's Dark History of Chemical Warfare

As the Obama administration presses ahead with its mission to punish the Syrian government for its alleged gassing of civilians in suburban Damascus, the particulars of the attack remain unclear. All too clear, though, is the role of the United States as a supplier, supporter and even employer of a wide
range of weapons of mass destruction, including sarin gas, resulting in the death and illness of not only those considered our enemies, but our "heroes" too. The 1960s and 1970s. Agent Orange. The US military's widespread and long-term use of the defoliant Agent Orange to destroy Vietnamese jungles is among the best known and most anguishing chapters in modern chemical warfare. Published articles had demonstrated the health and environmental dangers of the chemical components of Agent Orange, so called for the orange striped barrels in which it was shipped for a full decade preceding the war. In 1952, Monsanto which along with Dow Chemicals was the principle manufacturer informed the government of the dangerous byproduct resulting from heating the chemical mix, namely dioxin. Yet we proceeded to employ Agent Orange, denying for decades the death and illness inflicted on Vietnamese and Americans alike. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by AP photographer Nick Ut documented, we used the incendiaries napalm and white phosphorus in Vietnam. As Seymour Hersh revealed in his groundbreaking 1968 reporting, we provided the South Vietnamese with the lethal arsenic-containing gas DM, claiming it was a "tear" gas for riot control, though the Field Manual clearly stated "not approved in any operations where deaths are not acceptable." Throughout the war, Hersh and others continued to document the US use of gases, incendiaries and Agent Orange and other herbicides to destroy not only Vietnam's jungles but its food supply, a crime against humanity and nature. Project SHAD Totally unknown till 35 years after the Vietnam War was the DoD's Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), a highly classified program, which from 1962 to 1971 tested whether US warships and their troops could withstand attacks from chemical and biological weapons. From overhead planes and nearby aircraft carriers, the military aimed lethal gases at ships carrying mostly unsuspecting sailors and marines. In the 1990s, veterans stationed on SHAD boats reported respiratory conditions and cancers only to be told by VA that nothing called Project SHAD had ever existed. Finally, after CBS broke the story in May 2001, the Department of Defense admitted to SHAD's existence and its almost decade-long program  of toxic testing. Project Tailwind. In 1998, a CNN two-part Sunday night news report revealed that a special commando unit in 1970 used sarin gas in Laos to kill American defectors. The story about "Operation Tailwind" was researched, written and produced by seasoned journalists April Oliver and Jack Smith, with help from Pulitzer Prize-winning Peter Arnett, who narrated the broadcast. Under pressure from Henry Kissinger and others, many claim, CNN retracted the story, and fired Oliver and Smith, and Arnett soon after. Newsroom's Aaron Sorkin recently explained on the Daily Show that he used "Operation Tailwind" as the basis of the second season's centerpiece, Operation Genoa, a secret mission set in Pakistan, in which the US supposedly used sarin against civilians. 


By Dennis Kucinch, Reader Supported News: Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria!

In the lead-up to the Iraq War, I researched, wrote and circulated a document to members of Congress which explored unanswered questions and refuted President Bush's claim for a cause for war. The document detailed how there was no proof Iraq was connected to 9/11 or tied to al Qaeda's role in 9/11, that Iran neither had WMDs nor was it a threat to the U.S., lacking intention and capability to attack. Unfortunately, not enough members of Congress performed due diligence before they approved the war. Here are some key questions which President Obama has yet to answer in the call for congressional approval for war against Syria. This article is a call for independent thinking and congressional oversight, which rises above partisan considerations. The questions the Obama administration needs to answer before Congress can even consider voting on Syria: Claim # 1. The administration claims a chemical weapon was used. The UN inspectors are still completing their independent evaluation. Who provided the physiological samples of sarin gas on which your evaluation is based? Further reading: Brown Claim #2: The administration claims the opposition has not used chemical weapons. Which opposition? Are you speaking of a specific group, or all groups working in Syria to overthrow President Assad and his government? Has your administration independently and categorically dismissed the reports of rebel use of chemical weapons which have come from such disparate sources as Russia, the United Nations, and the Turkish state newspaper? Have you investigated the rumors that the Saudis may have supplied the rebels with chemicals that could be weaponized? Has the administration considered the ramifications of inadvertently supporting al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian rebels? Was any intelligence received in the last year by the the U.S. government indicating that sarin gas was brought into Syria by rebel factions, with or without help of foreign government or intelligence agents? Further reading: Global Research report: Wall Street Journal article: Reuters story, Zaman story in Turkish, see Google translate from Turkish to English, Atlanta Sentinel story: AP story. Claim #3: the administration claims chemical weapons were used because the regime's conventional weapons were insufficient. Who is responsible for the conjecture that the reason chemical weapons were used against the Damascus suburbs is that Assad's conventional weapons were insufficient to secure "large portions of Damascus"? Claim #4: The administration claims to have intelligence relating to the mixing of chemical weapons by regime elements. Who saw the chemical weapons being mixed from August 18th on? Was any warning afforded to the Syria opposition and if not, why not? If, on August 21st a "regime element" was preparing for a chemical weapons attack, has an assessment been made which could definitely determine whether such preparation using gas masks, was for purpose of defense, and not offense? Claim #5: The administration claims intelligence that Assad's brother ordered the attack? What is the type of and source of intelligence which alleges that Assad's brother personally ordered the attack?  Who made the determination that Assad's brother ordered the attack, based on which intelligence, from what source?

AlterNet By Noam Chomsky: Chomsky: Why the Israel-Palestine 'Negotiations' Are a Complete Farce!

The Israeli-Palestine negotiations currently underway in Jerusalem coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords. A look at the character of the accords and their fate may help explain the prevailing skepticism about the current exercise. In September 1993, President Clinton presided over a handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, the climax of a "day of awe", as the press described it. The occasion was the announcement of the Declaration of Principles for political settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which resulted from secret meetings in Oslo that were sponsored by the Norwegian government. Public negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians had opened in Madrid in November 1991, initiated by Washington in the triumphal glow after the first Iraq war. They were stalemated because the Palestinian delegation, led by the respected nationalist consensus. In May 1989 Israel responded, declaring that there can be  no "additional Palestinian state" between Jordan and Israel, Jordan being a Palestinian state by Israeli dictate, and that further negotiations will be "in accordance with the basic guidelines of the Israeli Government," The Bush I administration endorsed this plan without qualifications, then initiated the Madrid negotiations as the "honest broker." Then in 1993, the DOP was quite explicit about satisfying Israel's demands but silent on Palestinian rights, apart from the vague reference to a "just settlement of the refugee problem." In the "peace process" unfolded as the DOP clearly stated, Palestinians could kiss goodbye their hopes for some limited degree of national rights in the Land of Israel. Other DOP articles stipulate that the Palestinian authority extends over "West Bank and Gaza Strip territory, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, military locations and Israelis", that is, except for every issue of significance. Furthermore, "Israel will continue to be responsible for external security, and for internal security, and public order of settlements and Israelis. Israeli military forces and civilians may continue to use roads freely within the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area," the two areas from which Israel was pledged to withdraw-eventually. In short, there would be no meaningful changes. The DOP also did not include a word about the settlement programs at the heart of the conflict: Even before the Oslo process, the settlements were undermining realistic prospects of achieving any meaningful Palestinian self-determination. Only by succumbing to what is sometimes called "international ignorance" could one believe that the Oslo process was a path to peace. Nevertheless, this became virtual dogma among Western commentators. As the Madrid negotiations opened, Danny Rubinstein, one of Israel's best-informed analyst, predicted that Israel and the United States would agree to some form of Palestinian "autonomy as in a POW camp, where the prisoners are 'autonomous' to cook their meals without interference and to organize cultural events." Rubenstein turned out to be correct.

By Yossef Bodansky: Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?

There is a growing volume of new evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its sponsors and supporters which makes a very strong case, based on solid circumstantial evidence, that the August 21, 2013, chemical strike in the suburbs was indeed a pre-meditated provocation by the Syrian opposition. The extent of US foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation because available data puts the horror of the Barack Obama White House in a different and disturbing light. On August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence Mukhagarat Amriki took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Instanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to a war-changing development which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria. The opposition forces had to quickly prepare their forces for exploiting the US-led bombing in order to march on Damascus and topple the Bashar al-Assad Government, the senior commanders explained. The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. Indeed, unprecedented weapons distribution started in all opposition camps in Hatay Province on August 21-23, 2013. In the Reyhanli area alone, opposition forces received well excess of 400 tons of weapons, mainly anti-aircraft weaponry from shoulder-fired missiles to ammunition for light-guns and machineguns. The weapons were distributed from store-houses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of US intelligence. These weapons were loaded on more than 20 trailer-trucks which crossed into northern Syria and distributed the weapons to several despots. Follow-up weapon shipments, also several hundred tons, took place over the weekend of August 24-25, 2013, and included mainly sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles and rockets. Opposition officials in Hatay said that these weapon shipments were the biggest they had received since the beginning of the turmoil more than two years ago. The deliveries from Hatay went to all the rebel forces operating in the Idlib-to-Aleppo area, including the al-Qaida affiliated jihadists who constitute the largest rebel forces in the area. Several senior officials from both the Syrian opposition and sponsoring Arab states stressed that these weapon deliveries were specifically in anticipation for exploiting the impact of imminent bombing of Syria by the US and the Western allies. The latest strategy formulation and coordination meetings took place on August 26, 2013. The political coordination meeting took place in Istanbul and was attended by US Ambassador Robert Ford.