By Robert Parry: Chemical Weapons Attack: Treating Anti-Syria Charges as Flat Fact

With the blessing of the New York Times, the Obama administration has succeeded in cementing a dubious conventional wisdom about the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons last Aug, 21 without presenting a shred of actual evidence. In a front-page story, co-written by Michael R. R. Gordon, who also co-wrote the infamous "aluminum tube" article falsely accusing Iraq of building nuclear centrifuges in 2002, the Times included the U.S. allegations about Syria's chemical weapons use on October 23 that the State Department warned the White House  in June that Syrian government was also blaming on the Syrian government, as a "green light for continued CW use." The Times then wrote that the State Department's warning "proved to be prophetic. A devastating poison gas attack on Aug. 21 killed hundreds of civilians." The story continues in that vein, accepting as undisputable fact that the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 attack on a suburb of Damascus despite  significant doubts among independent analysts, UN inspectors and, I'm told, U.S. intelligence analysts, UN inspectors and, I'm told, U.S. intelligence analysts. Indeed, the reported lack of consensus in the U.S. intelligence community helps explain why a four-page U.S. "Government Assessment" of the incident was released on Aug. 30 not by the Director of National Intelligence but by the White House press office and was touted not by the DNI but Secretary of State  John Kerry. The U.S. government's white paper contained no evidence to support its assertions blaming the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Though the Aug. 21 incident brought the United States to the brink of another Middle East war, the Obama administration has refused over the past two months to release any proof that it claims to possess, such as communications intercepts, images of rocket launches or even the basis for its precise count, "1.429," of those supposedly killed by Sarin gas. The U.S. government has even denied U.S. congressman Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida access to the supposed evidence under-girding President Barack Obama's request for authorization to use force against Syria, a proposal that is now in abeyance pending Syia's compliance with a Russian plan for destroying Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. Grayson, who has publicly questioned why the administration insists on withholding evidence, was informed by the House Intelligence Committee that he would not be allowed to look at the intelligence because he gave an unrelated floor speech citing published charts about National Security Agency spying that were leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, also justified the denial, in part, because Obama's request to use force is not currently before the House. According to an article in Politico, Rogers said requests to review intelligence information are weighed against "the sensitivity to the national defense or the confidential conduct of the foreign relations of the United States defense or the confidential conduct of the foreign relations of the United States of the information sought, the likelihood of its being directly or indirectly disclosed and the jurisdictional interest of the members making the request."

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky: Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation!

Global Research's Online Interactive I-Book Reader brings together, in the form of chapters, a collection of Research feature articles and videos, including debate and analysis, on a broad theme or subject matter. In this Interactive Online I-Book we bring to the attention of our readers an important collection of articles, reports and video material on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and its impacts. The World is at a critical crossroads. The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation. The crisis in Japan has been described as "a nuclear war without a war". In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami: "This time no one dropped a bomb on us. We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lives." Nuclear radiation which threatens life on planet earth, is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities. While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, which resulted in almost one million deaths. New Book Concludes Chernobyl death toll: 985,000, mostly from cancer Global Research, September 10, 2010, See also Matthew Penney and Mark Selden The Severity of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster: Comparing Chernobyl and Fukushima, Global Research , May 25, 2011. Moreover, while all eyes riveted in the Fukushima Daichi plant, news coverage both in Japan and internationally failed to fully acknowledge the impacts of a second catastrophe at TEPCO's (Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc.) Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant. The shaky political consensus both in Japan, the U.S. and Western Europe is that the crisis at Fukushima has been contained. The realities, however, are otherwise. Fukushima 3 was leaking unconfirmed amounts of plutonium. According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, "one millionth of a gram of plutonium, if inhaled can cause cancer". An opinion poll in May 2011 confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the Japanese population do not believe the government's information regarding the nuclear crisis, (quoted in Sherwood Ross, Fukushima: Japan's Second Nuclear Disaster, Global Research, November 10, 2011). The Impacts in Japan: The Japanese government has been obliged to acknowledge that "the severity rating of its nuclear crisis matches that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster."In a bitter irony, however, this tacit admission by the Japanese authorities has proven to been part of the cover-up of a significantly larger catastrophe, resulting in a process of global nuclear radiation and contamination. "While Chernobyl was an enormous unprecedented disaster, it not only occurred at one reactor and rapidly melted down . Once cooled, it was able to be covered with a concrete sarcophagus that was constructed with 100,000 workers. There are a staggering 4400 tons of nuclear fuel rods at Fukushima, which greatly dwarfs the total size of radiation sources at Chernobyl." Worldwide Contamination! The dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential danger to a process of global radioactive contamination.

By Medea Benjamin: $40 million Allocated for Drone Victims Never Reaches Them:

Recent reports on US drone strikes by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN have heightened international awareness about civilian casualties and have resulted in new calls for redress.The Amnesty International drone report "Will I be next?" says the US government should ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members, have effective access to remedies, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. The Human Rights Watch report "Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda" calls on the US government to "implement a system of prompt and meaningful compensation for civilian loss of life, injury, and property damage from unlawful attack." Several human rights groups have approached lawmakers asking them to sponsor legislation calling for such a fund. But congress people have been reluctant to introduce what they consider a losing proposition. Even maverick Congressman Alan Grayson, who is hosting a congressional briefing for drone victims from Pakistan on October 29, turned down the idea. "There's no sympathy in this Congress for drone strike victims", he said. But unbeknownst to Grayson, the human rights groups and drone strike victims themselves, Congress already has such a fund. The peace group CODEPINK recently discovered that every year for the past four years, a pot of $10 million has been allocated for Pakistani drone strike victims. That would make a total of $40 million, quite a hefty sum to divide among a few hundred families. But it appears that none of this money has actually reached them. The Pakistan Civilian Assistance Fund was modeled after the ones that exist in Iraq and Afghanistan, where money was allocated to help alleviate the suffering of civilians harmed by US military operations as part of a strategy to "win hearts and minds." In the case of Pakistan, where the CIA operates its drones, the money is supposed to go directly to the families of innocent drone victims, or for needs like medical expenses or rebuilding homes. But Tim Reiser, the long-time staffer for Senator Patrick Leahy who has worked to get this Pakistani civilian assistance fund included in the yearly Foreign Operations budget, expressed his exasperation about the use of the funds. "It's been like hitting a brick wall every time we push the administration to use these funds for drone victims, since for years they wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of drone strikes, said Reiser. "I seriously doubt that any of this money has reached the victims it was intended to help." Instead, it appears that the Conflict Victims Support Fund gets farmed out to US-based non-governmental organizations like International Relief and Development that, after taking their cut, provide humanitarian assistance for Pakistanis who are not drone victims and are not even living in the tribal areas of Waziristan where the US is carrying out the strikes. Sarah Holewinski, the executive director of Civilians in Conflict, agrees with Rieser that the funds are being misused. "Sure, it's not easy to assess damage and compensate families in Pakistan  where there are no boots on the ground to do a military investigation and where the drone operations are covert," said Hollewinski. "But the State Department does have personnel in Pakistan, including AID staff, and they could work with communities to figure out what harm occurred, by whom, and then determine what the civilians need/want/expect in order to feel dignified and assisted."


By Normon Solomon: Why Snowden's Passport Matters.

When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden's passport four month ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn't stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world's Biggest Brother. Cancellation of the passport wasn't just an effort to prevent the whistle-blower from getting to a country that might grant political asylum. It was also a declaration that the U.S. government can nullify the right to travel just as surely as it can nullify the right to privacy. "Although I am convicted of nothing, " Snowden said in a July 1 statement after a week at a Moscow airport terminal, the U.S. government "has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me excercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum."Since 1948,, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has affirmed with clarity: "Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." The only other words of Article 14 specify an exception that clearly doesn't apply to Snowden: "This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts to the contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." The extent of the U.S. government's scorn for this principle can be gauged by the lenghts it has gone to prevent Snowden from gaining political asylum. It was a measure of desperation, and contempt for international law, that Washington got allied governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny airspace to the plane of Bolivar President Evo Morales in early July, forcing the aircraft to land for a search on the chance that it was carrying Snowden from Moscow to political asylum in Bolivia. Although Snowden was able to stay in Russia, revocation of his U.S passport has been a crucial weapon to prevent him from crossing an international border for any reason other than to come home to prison other than to come home to prison in the United States. Just as the decision to revoke Snowden's passport was entirely political, any remedy will be political. The law has nothing to do with it, other than giving the Secretary of State the power to revoke his passport. Unfortunately, that option was established in the case of Philip Agee, the CIA agent who revealed wrongdoing and became a CIA foe. He lost a legal fight to regain his revoked passport when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him in 1981. Thurgood Marshal was one of the dissenting justices in that 7-2 decision on Haig v. Agee. The other was William Brennan, who wrote that "just as the Constitution protects both popular and unpopular speech, it likewise protects both popular and unpopular travelers." Justice Brennan added: "And it is important to remember that this decision applies not only to Philip Agee, whose activities could be perceived as harming the national security, but also to other citizens who may merely disagree with Government foreign policy and express their views."Clearly winning the right to travel for "both popular and unpopular travelers" is a political battle ahead. A step in that direction has begun with an online petition, telling Secretary of State John Kerry to restore Snowden's passport. Thousands of signers have posted cogent, and often eloquent personal comments alongside their names.

By Kevin Baron: Each U.S. Troop In Afganistan Now Costs 2.1 Million!

The average cost of each U.S. Troop in Afghanistan will nearly double in the last year of the war to $2.1 million. But the Pentagon's 2014 war budget would dramatically increase that figure. The added cost, argue Defense Department officials, is a reflection of the price of sending troops and equipment back home in the draw-down. Not so, says Center for strategic and Budgetary Analysis' Todd Harrison. He doesn't buy that excuse, and argued on Thursday that the U.S. has been moving far greater amounts of troops and equipment in those previous budget years. Instead, he said, as the number of U.S. troops decline, the overhead cost to support the war and the Afghan forces that the U.S. troops decline, the overhead cost to support the war and the Afghan forces that the U.S. continues to underwrite remains relatively stable. It was a bit of a shocker to me,"Harrison said. The budget analyst said costs like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, as well as the support structure for troop life remains high, compared to the total personnel number dip.   

by Philip Oltermann in Berlin: Germany summons US ambassador over claim NSA bugged Merkel's phone:

Allegations that US spying has reached highest level of government met with outrage and disappointment in Germany. Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, has called the US ambassador to a personal meeting to discuss allegations that US secret services bugged Angela Merkel's mobile phone. The decision to call in John B Emerson, who has only been the US representative in Berlin since mid-August, is an unusually drastic measure. During previous upheavals in relations, such as over the Syrian crisis, conversations have taken place betweeb diplomats. Allegations that the US government's spying had reached the highest level were met with outrage and disappointment in Germany on Thursday. The country's defence minister. Thomas de Maiziere, told ARD television it would be bad if the reports turned out to be true. Washington and Berlin could not return to business as usual, he said. Informed sources in Germany said Merkel was livid about the reports that the NSA had bugged her phone and was convinced, on the basis of German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated. The German news weekly, Der Spiegel, reported an investigation by German intelligence, prompted by research from the magazine, that produced plausible information that the chancellor's mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency. She found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification. The outrage in Berlin came days after the French president, Francois Hollande, called the White House to confront Barack Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people. While European leaders have generally been keen to play down the impact of whistle-blowing disclosures in recent months, events in the EU's two biggest countries this week threatened an increasing lack of trust in transatlantic relations. On Wednesday Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that the chancellor upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions about the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June. Merkel told Obama that "she unmistakably disapproves of and views as completely unacceptable such practices. if the indications are authenticated", Seifert said. "This would be a serious breach of confidence. Such practices have to be halted immediately."The sharpness of the German complaint direct to a US president strongly suggested that Berlin had no doubt about the grounds for protest. Seibert voiced irritation that Berlin had waited for months for proper answers from Washington on the NSA operations. On Thursday Sueddeutsche Zeitung conveyed a strong sense of the depth of disillusionment with the US president in Germany when it wrote that Barack Obama is not a Nobel peace prize winner, he is a troublemaker". In a comment piece in the German broadsheet, Robert Rossman wrote that during his last visit to Germany, "the American president had flamoyantly promised more trusting collaboration between the two countries. Even Merkel seems to have lost faith in the promise by now.

The New York Times: By Michael R. Gordon: Criticism of United States'Mideast Policy

Increasingly Comes From Allies. ROME, As the United States grapples with some of the most intractable problems in the Middle East, it has run into a buzz saw of criticism, not from traditional enemies but from two of its strongest allies. During stops in Paris and London this week, Secretary of State John Kerry found himself insisting that the United States was not facing a growing rift with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, whose emissaries have described strains over American policy on Egypt, Iran and Syria. And during a stop in Rome, Mr. Kerry sought to reassure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that the Obama administration would not drop its guard in the newly invigorated nuclear talks with Iran. Mr. Kerry's comments appeared to do little to persuade Mr. Netanyahu, whose demands that Iran dismantle its nuclear program are tougher than any compromise that the United States and other world powers seem prepared to explore as they seek a deal with Iran's new president. But the criticism by Saudi officials has been the most vehement, as they have waged a campaign against the United States' policy in the Middle East in private comments to diplomats and reporters, as well as in public remarks by a former intelligence official. Saudi officials have made it clearthey are frustrated with the Obama administration, not just for its reluctance to do more to aid the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and not just for its willingness to engage Iran in negotiations, but also for its refusal to endorse the Egyptian military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the crackdown on Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party. Beyond criticism, the Saudis have been working against American policy in Egypt by providing billions of dollars in assistance to the authorities in Cairo, which has more than made up for aid the United States has withheld after the Egyptian military deposed Mr. Morsi. Mr. Kerry and other American officials have insisted that the United States was right to work with Mr. Morsi after he took office as the duly elected president. In a speech on Tuesday at the annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference held by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Saudi Arabia's former spy chief and ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, also complained about the White House's decision to embrace an agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons instead of carrying out a cruise missile strike against Mr. Assad's forces. "The current charade of international control over Bashar's chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down but also to help Assad to butcher his people, said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and a former director of Saudi intelligence. Those comments followed Saudi Arabia's decision to protest the West's policy on Syria by rejecting a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Some Middle East experts said that the unease over American policy went beyond the details of the United States' position on Syria or a potential nuclear deal with Iran. It also fueled, they say, by the perception that the Obama administration's policy is grounded in the desire to avoid diplomatic and especially military confrontations in the Middle East.


By Harvey Wasserman: Thousands of Nuclear Regulators Sent Home During Shutdown!

The shutdown of the U.S. government has made our nation's nukes more dangerous than ever. All but 300 of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's 3,900 employees have been furloughed during the government shutdown. The NRC must monitor safety at the 100 reactors still licensed to operate in this country. That works out to about three staff per reactor, except that only half the 300 are resident inspectors. The nation's nukes may be flying all but blind. "Yes, I am worried," said Ed Lyman, senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, as the furloughs began. Among other things, Lyman complained that the cutbacks would delay the safety changes being made by the NRC in response to the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan. "But the most acute issue is assuring that the operating reactors" are safe. "You can only hope for the best that a situation doesn't occur during this time." The shenanigans by the Republicans in Washington have put the safety and health of our entire nation, and the world, at severe unthinkable risk," says Susan Shapiro, a New York organizer now circulating a petition demanding that all of the U.S. commercial reactors close down until the federal government
reopens at full strength. The commission has denied that there's been a problem. According to Mark Sartorius, executive director for operations, thanks to a carryover fund, the NRC was able to continue to keep its doors open a bit longer than the rest of the federal government. But, he said, most of the commission has been shut down due to the lapse in appropriations. Furlough notices were sent to all employees. At this time, only 300 of our 3,900 staff members are reporting to duty. That number includes the resident inspectors, who continue to do their job at the nuclear power plants in your communities." Has the safety of our reactor fleet been compromised? Hell yes. A disaster, whether caused by an earthquake, tsunami, equipment breakdown or human error, would find the regulators seriously shorthanded. The NRC's ability to deal with a nuclear crisis is dubious to begin with. But since Oct. 10, when the furlough hit, there's been virtually nobody home at all. Meanwhile, many of the red tape services the commission does for the industry have also been shut down. The paperwork the NRC routinely provides the industry has stopped flowing, further slowing the alleged renaissance of a technology powering its way into the dustbin of history. Hearings have been cancelled, licenses delayed and paperwork detoured. A proposed $8.5 billion loan guarantee for two reactors under construction in Georgia is still tied up at the Department of Energy despite having been endorsed by President Obama several years ago. All of this has hurt the nuclear industry. A long, drawn-out shutdown would have gone further, killing the relicensing process and and the endless flow of rubber-stamped regulatory exceptions on which the industry thrives. An unmanageable accident in the midst of this shorthanded mess would have been another chime in a chorus of death knells. The nuclear industry is already hurting in parts of the world that have stayed open for business. A proposed $10 billion double-reactor project in Ontario, Canada, has just been cancelled. "New nuclear will not be a part of the long-term energy plan, says Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelly.

By Eric Margolis: Carrots Or Sticks For Iran?

NEW YORK: The United States has the Iranian tiger by the tail. Washington doesn't know whether to hold on or let the big beast go. The Mideast diplomatic thaw begun by Russia's clever Vladimir Putin, and Iran's democratic change of presidents, opened the diplomatic path to progress over Syria, Iran's democratic path to progress over Syria, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and, lest we forget, the question of Palestine. For the first time since 1979, senior US and Iranian officials are holding talks in Geneva. Joining them are nuclear negotiators from Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China. Ironically, the only two nations in this group that are not in violation of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are Iran and Germany. The other members have never fulfilled their pledge to rapidly eliminate all nuclear weapons. Five decades later, they still hold 22,000 nuclear warheads. And that total does not include arsenals of Israel, Pakistan and India. Washington now faces a very difficult problem. It has waged economic and political warfare against the Islamic Republic of Iran since its 1979 revolution. Iran has been badly damaged by sanctions. But like that other disobedient bad boy, Cuba, Iran has been badly damaged by sanctions. But like other disobedient bad boy, Cuba, Iran has been badly damaged by sanctions. But like that other disobedient bad boy, Cuba, Iran has managed to hold out. But what will happen if punishing US-engineered sanctions against Iran are erased? Oil-rich Iran will rebuild its ravaged economy and infrastructure, and quietly enhance its military power. A key priority for Tehran will be modernizing its decrepit civilian air fleet that routinely crashes from mechanical problems or pilot error. Good news for Boeing and Airbus, as well as US energy companies. If Iran regains its former role as a major Mideast power, this important development will head-on into current US strategy to keep it weak and isolated until a pro-US government comes to power in Tehran. A strengthening Iran will generate fear and anxiety in Saudi Arabia and some of the less flexible Gulf States, and increase Tehran's influence over Iraq. An Iran with the capability of producing a few nuclear weapons within a year also deeply alarms Washington, its Arab allies, and Israel. An Iran with even a few nukes, like North Korea, would sharply limit US Mideast power and its ability to use military forces against Iran. Israel knows that Iran has no intention of launchinga nuclear attack on the Jewish state, which is a major world nuclear power with an invulnerable triad of land, sea and air-launched nuclear weapons. But Israel's constant alarms about Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons. But Israel's constant alarms about Iran's so far non-existent nuclear weapons serves to distract attention from its rapid absorption of the West Bank and Golan, and generate potent political and financial support from its North American partisans. Or maybe Israel's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu has actually come to believe his own Jeremiads about Tehran's supposed suicidal "mad mullahs". Today, Israel has no serious enemies in the Arab World: Egypt has been bought off, Iran and Syria destroyed. Saudi Arabia is in secret alliance with Israel. The only nation that can hope to challenge Israel's increasingly dominant role in Mideast is Iran. That puts Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia in a three-way competition for regional hegemony.

By Chris Floyd: From Dissident Gold to Imperial Dross: The Neutering of the NSA Archives!

Clancy Lives! Take Heart, you fans of slam-bang super-bang adventure stories! Tom Clancy is not dead, he lives on on the pages of the Washington Post, channeled through the pages of the Washington Post, channeled through the airport-thriller prose of Barton Gellman, one of the small coterie of media custodians doling out dollops from the huge archive of state-ordered murder: a rousing tale of secret ops in exotic lands, awesome high-tech spy gear, flying missiles, deadly explosions, and dogged agents doing the grim but noble work of keeping us safe. No doubt Hollywood is already on the horn: it's boffo box office! The story describes how the NSA's determined leg-work helped Barack Obama shred the sovereignty of a US ally in order to kill a man, in the usual cowardly fashion, by long distance, remote-control missile, without the slightest pretense of judicial process. It's really cool!Just watch our boys in action: In the search for targets, the NSA has draped a surveillance blanket ove dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan. In Ghul's case, the agency deployed an arsenal of cyber-espionage tools, secretly seizing control of laptops, siphoning audio files and other messages, and tracking radio transmissions to determine where Ghul might "bed down."NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA," said a former U.S. intelligence official with experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the region in northwest Pakistan where al-Qaeda's leadership is based. Surveillance operations that required placing a device or sensor near an al-Qaeda compound were handled by the CIA's Information Operations Center, which specializes in high-tech devices and "close-in" surveillance work. "But if you wanted huge coverage of the FATA, NSA had 10 times the manpower, 20 times the budget and 100 times the brainpower, the former intelligence official said. I mean, get a load of these guys: 100 times the brainpower of ordinary mortals! Didn't I say they were super-spies? The target was Hassan Ghul, an al-Qaeda operative who was once in American custody but was released after giving his captors the tip that eventually led them to Osama bin Laden. He was also tortured after giving the information, because, hey, why not? Even super-powerful brains need to let off steam off once ina while, right? Returned to his native Pakistan, Ghul evidently became a bad Injun again in eyes of the imperium, so, after snooping on his wife, they found out where he was and ordered some joystick with his butt parked in a comfy chair somewhere to push a buttonand kill him. There is not a single word in the entire story to suggest, even remotely, that there is anything wrong with the government of the United States running high-tech death sqads and blanketing the globe with a level of invasive surveillance far beyond the dreams of Stalin or the Stasi. There is not even a single comment from some token 'serious' person objecting to the policy on realpolitik grounds: i.e., that such actions create more terrorists as the Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafi told Obama to his face, engender hatred for the US, destabilize volatile regionsm, etc. etc. There is not a shred of even this very tepid, 'loyal opposition' type of tidbit that usually crops up in the 15th or 25th paragraph of such stories.  


By Carla Stea: America's War on Syria, With or Without the Authorization

of the U. N. Security Council? According to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey: "Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid. A decision to use force is no less than an act of war, and we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control." In a letter to Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Dempsey warns that the price of military involvement in Syria would be enormous, ultimately costing well over 1 billion dollars per month. For sixteen days this month, from October 1 through October 16, the United States government was paralyzed by a shutdown of its dysfunctional system, imperiling the world economy, shattering global confidence in the United States, which was crippled amidst a fierce dispute about budget expenditures. At stake are expenditures for medical care, social security and other social services which provide the mere basic necessities of life for the majority of the United States taxpayers, a dispute over billions of dollars for care of American citizens. It is staggering to recall that little more than one month ago, the Wall Street Journal headlined: "US Makes Case for Strike as Military Builds in Mideast," despite the alarming assessment by the US military's chief expert, General Dempsey, explicitly advising against the dire risks and exorbitant cost of US military action against the Syrian Government. Nowhere is the irrational, indeed suicidal character of the capitalist system revealed more blatantly than in this glaring disconnect between the warning of the disastrous cost and consequences of military action, by the foremost military expert in the United States, General Dempsey, and the decision to ignore his expertise, and reckless embark on that most profitable of oligarch capitalist enterprises, war. This decision was announced on the front page of the Wall Street Journal merely one month after Dempsey clearly opposed such wanton, reckless military action. President Obama, a professor of Constitutional Law, had decided to attack the government of Syria, a sovereign nation which had not attacked the government of Syria, a sovereign nation which had not attacked the United States, without authorization by the United Nations Security Council, "without the international consensus he championed during his rise to power. Britain wouldn't be a partner, neither would the Arab League. No other multilateral institution had authorized the use of military force against Syria." Perhaps to avoid the risk of impeachment, perhaps restrained by a rational reluctance to further bankrupt the already failing United States economy, and possibly ignited a world war, Obama decided to leave the decision to a Congressional vote, with bleak prospects for support there. In one of history's great ironies, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov who rescued the Obama Administration from the self-destructive military adventure it had embarked upon, and provided the practical, face-saving solution to Obama's dilemma of appearing either week or outrageously irresponsible. Russia offered Obama a solution by advising the removal and destruction of chemical weapons from Syria instead of military strikes, thereby throwing a lifeline to the American President, sparing him the ignominy and insanity of another military involvement.

By Pam Baily and Medea Benjamin: It's Time to Put an End to Israel's "Don't ask-don't Tell" Nuclear Policy!

The negotiations this week in Geneva between Iran and the "P5+1"the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, offer a promising vehicle for avoiding another destructive war. The talks came on the heels of virtual uprising by the American people that stopped President Obama's plan to attack Syria, clearly demonstrating their desire to solve conflicts at the negotiation table rather than at the point of a gun. However, Israel and its allies in the U.S. Congress continue to lobby against a deal that would meet Iran in the middle, insisting on a "zero-enrichment"policy that is a deal-breaker for Iran. The Israeli cabinet said in a statement Tuesday that "Israel does not oppose Iran having a peaceful nuclear energy program. But as has been demonstrated in many countries, from Canada to Indonesia, peaceful programs do not require uranium enrichment or plutonium production. Iran's nuclear weapons program does."The 'elephant in the room': Israel and the bomb. The Israeli cabinet's statement is more than ironic, in light of Israel's own nuclear-weapons program, often called the world's "worst-kept secret" because of the taboo surrounding any public discussion pf its existence. The Washington Post's Walter Pincus is one of the few journalists openly questioning this obvious hypocrisy. He writes, "When the Israeli prime minister asked at the UN, Why would such a country build hidden underground enrichment facilities?' I thought Dimona." Israel's nuclear facility at Dimona, a city in the Negev desert, reportedly has six underground floors dedicated to activities such as plutonium extraction, production of lithium-6, for use in nuclear weapons. Whereas Iran signed the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), giving the international community the right to demand inspections and controls, Israel has not, and is therefore not subject to external oversight. According to Avner Cohen, author of "Israel's Bargain with the Bomb, " David Ben-Gurion began planning how to arm Israel with a nuclear shield even before the creation of the Jewish state, soon after the United States dropped its own atomic payload on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The first president of Israel took action to initiate a nuclear-development project by the end of its 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The U.S. government got wind of the project and objected strenuously. But when the Israelis brought it to fruition regardless and refused to give up their new arsenal, a covert agreement was struck between Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Richard Nixon, rather like the old U.S. policy of "don't ask, don't tell"for gays in the military. The Israelis agreed to keep their new-found strength under wraps, and the Americans pledged to pretend it didn't exist. Cohen uses the Hebrew term amimut (opacity) to describe the taboo that developed within Israel around any sort of public acknowledgement of its nuclear arsenal, which estimates peg at up to 200 warheads. To this day,there is a total censorship within Israel of any mention that the weapons exist, and the United States actively plays along. Edward Snowden's predecessor. In fact, there is an eerie similarity between the stories of Israeli whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician whore revealed details of Israeal's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986, and Edward Snowden.


By Dylan Murphy: Money Laundering and the Drug Trade: The Role of the Banks.

Mexico is in the grip of a murderous drug war that has killed over 150,000 people since 2006. It is one of the most violent countries on earth. This drug war is a product of the transnational drug trade which is worth up to $400 billion a year and accounts for about 8% of all international trade. The American government maintains that there is no alternative but to vigorously prosecute their zero tolerance policy of arresting drug users and their dealers. This has led to the incarceration of over 500,000 Americans. Meanwhile the flood of illegal drugs into America continues unabated. One thing the American has not done is to prosecute the largest banks in the world for supporting the drug cartels by washing billions of dollars of their blood stained money. As Narco sphere journalist Bill Conroy has observed banks are "where the money is" in the global drug war. HSBC, Western Union, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Wachovia among many others have allegedly failed to comply with American anti-money laundering (AML) laws. The Mexican drug cartels have caught the headlines again and again due to their murderous activities. The war between the different drug cartels and the war between the cartels and government security forces has spilled the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people. The drug cartels would find it much harder to profit from their murderous activity if they didn't have too big to fail banks willing to wash their dirty money. In March 2010 Wachovia cut a deal with the US government which involved the bank being given fines of $160 million under a "deferred prosecution" agreement. This was due to Wachovia's heavy involvement in money laundering moving up to $378.4 billion over several years. Not one banker was prosecuted for illegal involvement in the drug trade. Meanwhile small time drug dealers and users go to prison. If any member of the public is caught in possession of a few grams of coke or heroin, you can bet your bottom dollar they will be going down to serve some hard time. However. if you are a banker caught laundering billions of dollars for some of the most murderous people on the planet you get off with a slap on the wrist in the form of some puny fine and a deferred prosecution deal. Charles A. Intriago, president of the Miami-based Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists has observed, "If you're an individual, and get caught, you get hammered. "But if you're a big bank, and you're caught moving money for a terrorist or drug dealer, you don't have to worry. You just fork over a monetary penalty, and then raise your fees to make up for it. "Until we see bankers walking off in handcuffs to face charges in these cases, nothing is going to change," Intriago adds. "These monetary penalties are just a cost of doing business to them, like paying for a new corporate jet." This failure on the behalf of the US government to really crack down on the finances of the drug cartels extends to British banks as well. In July 2012 the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs issued a 339 page report detailing an amazing catalogue of "criminal" behavior by London based HSBC.  

By Felicity Arbuthnot: Another Nobel Peace Prize, Another Farce?

The Nobel Peace Prize brings another surprise or farce, depending on your view. In relatively recent history, there has been Henry Kissinger (1973) architect supreme of murderous assaults on sovereign nations: the United Nations (2001) whose active warmongering or passive, silent holocausts, think UN embargoes make shameful mockery of the aspirational founding words. In 2002 it was Jimmy Carter, whose poisonous "Carter Doctrine"of 1980 included declaring the aim of American control of the Persian Gulf as a "US vital interest", justified "by any means necessary." 2005 saw the the Award go to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes nuclear energy, creating the most lethal pollutants to which the planet and its population has ever been subjected. The nuclear waste from the industry the IAEA promotes, is now turned in to "conventional", but never the less, nuclear and chemical weapons, by a sleight of hand of astonishing historical proportions. Barack Obama (2009) has since declare himself executioner, by assassination in any form, any time, any place, anywhere, of anyone deemed by him not judge or jury connected to that now catch all phrase "terrorism" half a world away. The Guantanamo concentration camp to which he unequivocally committed closing (17th November 2008, "60 Minutes") asserting: "I have said repeatedly that I will close Guantanamo and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America does not torture, those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world."Gulag Guantanemo remains with its prisoners, pathetic, desperate untried, or those ordered released, languishing year after year. America's "moral stature" has plummeted lower than the Nixon years, Libya lies in ruins, Syria barely survives, with the terrorists' backers aided via Washington's myriad back doors, and in global outposts, US Backed or instigated torture thrives. 2012's Nobel lauded the European Union, which, since its inception, has crippled smaller trading economies, put barriers, unattainable conditions, or indeed, near extortion on trade with poorer countries, often former colonies. EU Member States have also enjoined punitive embargoes against the most helpless nations and enthusiastically embraced the latest nation target to be reduced to a pre-industrial age (correction: be freed to embrace democracy and the delights of rule by imposed despots, or a long, murderous, unaccountable foreign occupation and asset seizure. Eminent International Law Expert Francis Boyle, called the EU Award: "A sick joke and a demented fraud." This year's Peace Prize awarded, on Friday, 11th October, went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) the Netherlands based organization, founded only in 1997, unheard of by most charged with ridding the world of chemical weapons. The Award came ten days after an OPCW team arrived in Syria to eliminate the country's chemical weapons stock. A brief visit in August had them scuttling out, an apparent courage free entity, within days. President Assad  had requested their investigations back in March, after it was claimed terrorist factions had used chemical weapons, insurgents now believed to be from some eighty three countries, backed primarily by the US, UK, Quatar and Saudi Arabia.      

By Washington's Blog: Forecast: War, Economic Depression and Social Unrest!

Kyle Bass, Larry Edelson, Charles Nenner, James Dines, Nouriel Roubini, Jim Rickards and Martin Armstrong Warn or War. We're already at war in numerous countries all over the world. But top economic advisers warn that economic factors could lead to a new world war. Kyle Bass writes: Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation. Larry Edelson wrote am email to subscribers entitled "What the "Cycles of War" are saying for 2013", which states: Since the 1980s, I've been studying the so-called "cycles of war", the natural rhythms that predispose societies to descend into chaos, into hatred, into civil and even international war. I'm certainly not the first person to examine these very distinctive patterns in history. There have been many before me, notably, Raymond Wheeler, who published the most authoritative chronicle of war ever, covering a period of 2,600 years of data. However, there are very few people who are willing to even discuss the issue right now. And based on what I'm seeing, the implications could be absolutely huge in 2013. Former Goldman Sachs technical analyst Charles Nenner, who has made some big accurate calls, and counts major hedge funds, banks, brokerage houses, and high net worth individuals as clients, says there will be a "major war starting at the end of 2012 to 2013", which will drive the Dow to 5,000. Veteran investor adviser James Dines forecast a war is epochal as World Wars I and II, starting in the Middle East. Nouriel Roubini has warned of war with Iran. And when Roubini was asked: Where does this all lead us? The risk in your view is another Great Depression. But even respectable European politicians are taking not just an economic depression but possibly even worse consequences over the next decade or so. Bearing European history in mind, where does this take us? He responded: In the 1930s, because we made a major policy mistake, we went through financial instability, defaults, currency devaluations, printing money, capital controls, trade wars, populism, a bunch of radical, populist, aggressive regimes coming to power from Germany to Italy to Spain to Japan, and then we ended up with World War II. Now not predicting World War III, but seriously, if there was a global financial crisis after the first one, then we go into depression: the political and social instability in Europe and other advanced economies is going to become extremely severe. And that's something we have to worry about. Billionaire investor Jim Rogers notes: A continuation of bailouts in Europe could ultimately spark another world war, says international investor Jim Rogers.


Ways WikiLeaks Cables About a Tiny Country Like Iceland Expose the Dark Depths of American Empire

As Chelsea Manning serves a 35-year sentence for the heinous crime of informing Americans about their government, an obscure milestone in her journey passes this autumn—the fifth anniversary of Iceland's financial collapse. In early 2010 —with 251,287 diplomatic cables, records from Guantanamo Bay, and reams of raw intelligence from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—Manning reached out to WikiLeaks, having been spurned by the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Because Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg had traveled to Iceland, where they were lauded for publishing a loan portfolio detailing sketchy loans made by the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, Manning took an interest in the country. She learned about the so-called Icesave dispute between Iceland and Britain and the Netherlands in a WikiLeaks chatroom, and, as she later told a military court, decided to leak a cable describing the conflict, with Icelandic diplomats begging the U.S. to stop “bullying” them.
“Iceland was out of viable options and was coming to the US for assistance. Despite the quiet request for assistance, it did not appear that we were going to do anything,” she said. “I felt that I would be able to right a wrong by having [WikiLeaks] publish this document.”
It was published in February 2010. The deluge came after.
But the so-called Reykjavik 13 cable isn't the only globally noteworthy cable to emerge from WikiLeaks' Icelandic treasure trove. I read through every cable sent from America's northernmost embassy and discovered eight tasty tidbits that you might want to know about.
1. The U.S. organized a trip for foreign journalists to promote war.
According to a March 28, 2007 cable [3] written by Ambassador Carol von Voorst, the U.S. Embassy was fretting that Iceland was losing interest in maintaining its small (but proportional) contributions toward the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. She bemoaned the Icelandic government's plans “to withdraw its Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) from Chaghcharan, northern Afghanistan in late April, where it has played an essential part in the region's humanitarian missions since 2004,” attributing the move to Icelandic officials being “greatly influenced by public opinion, especially in the run-up to national elections this May."
Von Voorst wrote that the Embassy “believes it is imperative at this time to shore up Iceland's support of NATO's ongoing mission in Afghanistan” and, therefore “is nominating one of the country's most influential broadcasters to participate in the upcoming USNATO opinion-maker tour in Brussels and Washington, D.C. to help explain the importance of NATO's reconstruction and security assistance mission to Afghanistan.” This was a veteran radio journalist working for the state broadcaster by the name of Jon Gudni Kristjansson.
Von Voorst characterized him as the optimal choice for the “US government-sponsored travel.” He was described by the ambassador as someone who “would appreciate the opportunity to participate in the USNATO tour to receive first-hand information about the US and NATO missions in Afghanistan”:
Mr. Kristjansson believes the USNATO trip would deepen his understanding of the complex situation in Afghanistan, and would give him the opportunity to obtain on-the-record comments from US and NATO officials, which he would use in developing stories to send back to Iceland during his trip.
Like most ambitions of an imperial nature, this did not exactly go as planned. In an email, Kristjansson, who confirmed that he went on the trip and said that it was paid for by the U.S. government, stressed that it was “next to useless” from a journalist's point of view. He said U.S. and NATO officials put forth “the message that everything was going fine in Afghanistan, but the 'information' was too one sided.” He, therefore, didn't use the trip to produce any sort of reports on Afghanistan.
“We used the opportunity to ask about other things, especially the then-planned missile shield in Poland and Chechnya, a hot topic at the time.”

Kristjansson also refuted the information about his interest in trip, as written by von Voorst (highlighting the fact that, while useful, the cables themselves need fact-checking):
“The invitation came to the newsroom at RUV ( Icelandic National Broadcasting Service) and was not directed at any employee there personally. It was decided to accept the offer and I was asked to go. I never expressed any special interest in going, nor did I express to anyone that I thought this a good opportunity to learn about the situation in Afghanistan.”
“What is written in the cable you are citing about me is like some kind of a spin,” he added. “Maybe the ambassador had to write something nice to make me acceptable.”
He also remarked that he wasn't sure how the invitation came to RUV, but said that he was joined by “people from Finland, Latvia, Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey, and New Zealand.”

2. US: War is the solution to Iceland's financial crisis.
When the crisis was unfolding, U.S. diplomats were privately baffled that Icelandic officials didn't do more to ask for help.
“We are at a loss to explain why the Icelanders have not picked up the phone to discuss what they need and what we might be able to help them with,” wrote Deputy Chief of Mission Neil Klopfenstein on October 8, 2008 [4], as the last of Iceland's big three banks clung to life (it would fall the next day).
“Without pressure from this Embassy,” wrote Ambassador von Voorst on October 20 [5], “the Finance Minister [Árni Mathiesen] would not even have asked to meet with Treasury officials during his recent visit to Washington.”
But after a change in government spurred by a widespread protest movement led to a more active and humble leadership, Washington declined direct aid. Head of the junior coalition member Left-Green Party and newly appointed Finance Minister Steingrímur Sigfússon told van Voorst on April 7, 2009 [6] that he wanted to obtain bilateral loans from the U.S. (and Canada), saying he was “never a proponent of an IMF loan.”
The Ambassador brushed off the appeal, saying there was a “lack of a mechanism or legislative authority in the U.S. for such loans to advanced nations.” (An audit of the Fed showed that it loaned up to $16 trillion [7] to banks in the U.S. and abroad after the financial collapse—Iceland's rescue package from the IMF was worth about $6 billion.)
The very next day [8], however, van Voorst suggested to Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the newly elected Prime Minister and head of the center-left Social Democratic Alliance, that Iceland could seek to improve its post-collapse image by stepping up its involvement in one of America's imperial jaunts:
[Icelandic] officials took the opportunity to reaffirm Iceland's commitment to Afghanistan, but made no new pledges of support.... Ambassador made the case that Iceland's international reputation has taken a beating due to the country's economic difficulties. In these times, being seen as an active contributor to international reconstruction and stabilization efforts may be one of the most effective means to help displace 'economic collapse' as the first association foreign observers have when thinking about Iceland. The Prime Minister sidestepped a direct commitment but made it clear that Ambassador's points were taken on board.
It wasn't the only time van Voorst linked defense issues to Iceland's recovery. On February 27, 2009 [9], in a conversation with then interim Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson, she pleaded with Iceland to resist the urge to slash its defense budget, with Keynesian justifications:
She urged the FM to support defense funding and pressed the FM hard to counter the oft-heard notion that funding for defense is not money spent in Iceland. Every krona the IDA [Iceland Defense Agency] gets for air policing purchases goods or services from Icelandic vendors, and deployed [NATO] forces [in Iceland for exercises] purchase fuel and spend money at tourism venues during their off-duty hours.
If it sounds like the U.S. solution to everything is militarism, these are only two examples. But von Voorst also told the State Department in April 2008 [10] that it should manipulate then Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir by playing on her feminist leanings to push Iceland to step up its support for the war in Afghanistan:
“We should push the Icelanders to greatly step up their support for police training, which may also allow them to blend in elements relating to the status of women (a heartfelt personal concern of Gisladottir's).”
According to the Afghan Interior Ministry's own statistics [11], the U.S.-backed Karzai government was keeping 600 women in prison for “moral crimes” in May 2013, an increase of 50 percent since October 2011. The crimes they had committed, according to Human Rights Watch [11], include “being victims of forced marriage, domestic violence, and rape.”
3. NATO allies helped set up sectarian torture squads in Iraq.
In March 2006 [12], just prior to the fulcrum of turmoil during the U.S. occupation of Iraq [13], the head of Iceland's Foreign Affairs Security and Disarmament Division told Ambassador van Voorst that “his government had a day earlier decided to donate approximately EUR 150,000 to the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I).” The gift came, the dispatch noted, on the heels of an equal size donation that had been doled out in February 2005.
Why this is more than just illustrative of a tiny state paying imperial tribute is that it implicates Iceland—along with every NATO member, unknowingly or not—in the financing of sectarian torture squads in Iraq.
According to a DOD report to Congress [14], the first donation occurred after a NATO meeting in February 2005, in which all member states pledged to give money or material support to the training of Iraqi security forces. In that meeting, the report noted, NATO “declared that the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) has reached initial operating capability.”
The same report stated (directly after the reference to the Iceland-supported NTM-I) that the “ultimate goal of the transitional security process is for the Iraqis to take ownership of their own security,” detailing, among other Coalition progress measures, “Transition Readiness Assessments (TRAs)...conducted through Multinational Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) Coalition Military Transition Teams embedded at the battalion, brigade, and division level units for the Iraqi Army; Special Police Transition Teams (SPTTs) with MOI’s [Ministry of the Interior's] Special Police Commando battalions and Civil Intervention Forces.” Thus, the NTM-I is intertwined with these institutions—its members “embedded.”
Cut through the technocratic self-important military jargon and the bureaucratic alphabet soup, and it shows coordination between NATO members and the U.S. in setting up the Special Police Commando battalions, revealed by the Guardian and the BBC [15], in March, to have “conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation.” James Coffman, a retired colonel who worked under James Steele, another retired colonel and the man deputized by Donald Rumsfeld to organize these paramilitary forces, reported directly to then commander of the NATO training mission, Gen. David Petraeus. In a 2005 press conference [16], Petraeus singled out one Special Police Commando leader for praise, saying that “I call [him] personally every night before I go to bed, just to get energy from him, and to cross-level our bubbles, if you will, share information and so forth, because he's just so much into the operations and really, again, very much getting after it.”
In 2005 and 2006, every man, woman, and child in Iceland effectively gave him a euro to aid his “getting after it” – activities, which according to the BBC and the Guardian, likely included brutal forms of cruel and unusual punishment without any sort of due process.
Whether aware of Petraeus' paramilitaries or not, it wouldn't stretch belief to theorize that Icelandic diplomats weren't overly perturbed by the prospect of U.S.-backed torture. According to a July 13, 2007 [17] cable written by Deputy Chief of Mission Neil Klopfenstein, when U.S. diplomats approached their Icelandic counterparts after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it was launching an inquiry into CIA extraordinary renditions that passed through Iceland, the Icelanders “tried to minimize the inquiry's significance...describing it as 'an exercise in transparency' and an attempt to take the issue away from the opposition”:
MFA Defense Department Counselor Fridrik Jonsson, also present at the meeting, was quick to add that the announcement was mostly for domestic consumption as a move to 'clip the wings' of LG [Left-Green] Chair [Steingrimur] Sigfusson before he had an opportunity to create further problems for the Minister. [MFA Counselor Finnur Thor] Birgisson agreed, saying the inquiry is the Ministry's effort to be seen as transparent on the matter. Questions may eventually be directed to the USG, but for now 'the important part is to be seen as doing something.'
In another meeting described in the same cable, an unnamed Icelandic official told the Americans that the investigation was essentially a foregone conclusion without judicial bite:
The MFA's Counselor for Human Rights reiterated this message in a meeting with PolOff [DEFINE TK] on July 3...She drew PolOff's attention to the specific language in the press release ('examination' vice 'investigation'), underscoring that the MFA had no plans nor authority to conduct a formal investigation in a legal sense.
4. We don't trust the French.
When Edward Snowden revealed details about NSA surveillance of European allies' telecommunications, French President Francois Hollande demanded that the United States “immediately stop.” The demand was the subjection of much laughter, as FRANCE 24 [18] explained, due to France's own history of espionage:
“Colourful stories about the lengths the French secret services would go to emerged in the early 1990s, such as the bugging of seats on Air France planes to eavesdrop on American business leaders.
At the time, then-CIA director Stansfield Turner qualified French intelligence as “the most predatory service in the world, now that the old Soviet Union is gone."
The Americans are not the only country to have complained about French espionage. In a 2009 US diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks, an unnamed German CEO of a satellite manufacturer was quoted calling France “the evil empire, stealing technology, and Germany knows this,” adding that French industrial spying was doing as much damage as anything coming from Russia or China.”
Another secret cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik demonstrated that the State Department has a policy of being wary of French intelligence activities. That December 24, 2009 dispatch [19], describing a Counter Intelligence Working Group (CIWG) meeting, revealed that the embassy's Regional Security Officer (RSO—the head security attache for the embassy), citing the Security Environment Threat List (SETL—a State Department metric used to rate security threats at embassies), told diplomats that the U.S. government classifies France as a notch below some spooks' favorite boogeymen:
“RSO began the meeting by discussing Post's current ratings on the Security Environment Threat List (SETL)...RSO advised that the current CRITICAL threat countries represented in Iceland are Russia and China and the HIGH threat country is France. In addition to the countries noted above, accredited diplomatic missions in Iceland include Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Poland, Japan, Finland, Canada and the United Kingdom.” 
According to Peter van Buren, a former State Department foreign service employee turned whistleblower and author, the classification isn't particularly noteworthy.
“As we have seen, the NSA spies on all of America's allies, so we assume they spy on us,” he wrote in an email. “It happens all the time and is not in my experience overly remarkable. It's naughty and nasty, but not remarkable.”
5. Cables from a small embassy are a window to the world.
Of perhaps more interest in the realm of espionage, the aforementioned 2009 intelligence estimate [19] suggested that the Russians could be more keen on spying on the Chinese in Reykjavik, while the Chinese could be more interested in spying on the U.S., and Icelandic corporate activities:
 "It is believed that the Chinese are continuing to utilize their TECHNICAL and HUMINT [Human Intelligence] capabilities to conduct industrial espionage. It is also believed that the Russians are monitoring the Chinese actions. The current Russian DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission]in Iceland is considered to be a China expert. The current Chinese AMB [Ambassador] to Iceland is a known U.S. expert. It is unknown if there is any targeting of the mission or any of its employees by the Russians or Chinese." 
In another secret cable containing February 2009 responses to the so-called Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) [20], U.S. diplomats expand on suspected Chinese industrial espionage, describing it as “in the areas of DNA decoding and medical research in Iceland."
6. Lazy prejudice creeps into the State Department's analysis.
When it comes to crude bigotry informing U.S. policy, it's more often than not vessels of brute force guilty of stereotyping: the FBI, with training manuals that taught agents “mainstream” Muslims are “violent” and “radical” (scrapped after being exposed [21] by Spencer Ackerman [22]); JSOC and the CIA, with their “signature strikes,” targeted assassinations of “suspicious” figures in militant-controlled regions of Pakistan (and possibly Yemen), loosely bound by a broad definition of suspicious, in which any military-aged male killed by aerial bombardment is considered a terrorist, unless proven otherwise posthumously [23]. With NYPD chief Raymond Kelly rumored to be President Obama's top choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security [24] after having overseen “stop and frisk” and the infiltration and surveillance of peaceful Muslim groups, it seems that the militarized arms of the U.S. government actually reward racism.
But the previously mentioned February 2009 SEPQ cable [20] also showed that foreign services officers, often thought of as thoughtful intellectual types, can also display prejudicial attitudes. According to American diplomats in Reykjavik who filled out the questionnaire, Muslims in Iceland should be viewed with suspicion, despite essentially admitting that there is zero evidence of their involvement in any nefarious plotting.
The cable describes Iceland's Islamic contingent as “a religious community of Muslims, some of whom might harbor anti-American sentiments.” But in the same paragraph it notes that no members of the 800-strong group, “comprised mostly of European Muslims” have led any “known anti-American demonstrations.” It also noted that “within the Muslim community and others outside the Muslim community, there might be a small number that support theactions of terrorism groups against the US.”
The response to the questionnaire conceded,“the numbers or make-up of possible supporters are not known.” The cable made no note of any U.S. efforts to reach out to Iceland's Muslim community.
 7. Iranian detente seems legit.
With the recent overtures of newly elected moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and the subsequent reciprocation by President Obama, Americans who see Iran as a threat to America's imperial ambitions are looking for any clues that could reveal just what Tehran is thinking. Is it serious about rapprochement? Or are the Iranians just looking for sanctions to be lifted? One cable from Reykjavik suggests that Iran is, more or less, accepting of the regional pre-sanctions status quo. In additional the cable suggests that unfettering it from sanctions will almost certainly not be akin to some sort of second Holocaust, as neocons are warning.
In a 2009 sit-down between U.S. Charge D'Affaires Sam Watson and “newly arrived” Danish Ambassador Soren Haslund [25], the latter, having just come from a three-year stint as Denmark's ambassador to Iran, described an Islamic Republic neither as radical as stated under Ahmadinejad, nor as open as the West might hope under a reformist regime:
“There is, Haslund warned, a tendency by the West to attribute huge differences to those in power and those in the opposition when, in fact, they are all part of the same small group.  There is no true opposition faction in Iran, he opined, really only 'nuances of black' exist.” 
But he opined that Iran has only aligned itself with certain governments (like the Assad regime) out of convenience,and said that two of America's best friends in the region could end up on friendly terms with the Iranian government:
"According to Haslund, Iranians consider themselves religiously, linguistically and ethnically superior to their neighbors. This Persian arrogance, he argued, plays a large role in Iran's foreign policy. Iran tends to use proxies and money to accomplish its regional goals, he said, and would prefer not to interact with its neighbors face-to-face. Syria, he had heard, was receiving one billion dollars to act as just such a proxy for Iran in what he termed a marriage of convenience between the two countries. Haslund suggested that Turkey, as a secular country, might potentially serve as a regional ally for Iran. Somewhat surprisingly, he also suggested that Israel could eventually become a regional ally.  The Iranians, he said, have no particular hatred for Israel and the approximately 30,000 Jews that live in the country are treated well." 
Haslund (who did not whitewash Iran's human rights abuses, describing them, in Watson's words, as “deplorable”) also suggested that —in spite of the Iranian Revolution and past U.S. support for the hated Shah Reza Pahlavi—Iran would welcome detente with the Great Satan, and that recent American military adventurism in the region hasn't exactly been unwelcome in Tehran:
“...most of the Iranians he met viewed America as the most natural candidate to become a long-term global ally. For historical reasons, he suggested, Iran has a deep mistrust of the British and Russians. America, however, is viewed in a different light. The Iranians, he joke, have noticed who is responsible for deposing of Sadam [sic] Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It does not hurt the United States' reputation in Iran, he said, to be responsible for having removed two of the country's greatest enemies."
8. U.S. diplomats are nationalized lobbyists.
Finally, the cables from Reykjavik reinforce previously reported stories about  U.S. Embassies acting as lobbyists for American corporations. It's something we had already learned from cables revealing diplomatic advocacy on behalf of companies that grow genetically modified crops [26]; Chevron, while fighting an $18 billion environmental damage lawsuit in Ecuador [27]; and Mastercard and Visa, who were seeking favorable legislation in Russia [28].
In Iceland, embassy lobbying was on behalf of aluminum companies, which take advantage of Iceland's extremely cheap geothermal energy and hydropower, and consume about three-quarters of the country's electrical output. Just over a year after the crisis, in November 2009 [29], as the center-left government prepared an austerity budget, a proposal that would have seen energy rates increase by one Icelandic krona (eight-tenths of a cent, in U.S. dollars) per kilowatt-hour saw aluminum executives seethe with rage. They took their complaints to the U.S. Embassy's Charge D'Affaires [29], Sam Watson:
"Executives from the two American-owned aluminum smelters, Alcoa and Century Aluminum, expressed concern to CDA that such action could violate their existing investment agreements and significantly reduce the companies' profitability. They estimate the tax at one ISK per kWh would create an additional expense of 13.2 billion ISK ($106 million) per year.”
Equally troubling, said aluminum representatives, is that they first learned about the proposed tax in the newspaper. Communication with the government, they complained, has been virtually non-existent since the new government...took control earlier this year."
Watson noted in the same cable, however, that “over the past few weeks,” he had reached out to representatives of the new government who had “in fact, walked back the proposed energy tax and is engaging industry leaders in the process”:
GOI officials across the board, including the Minister of Environment Svandis Svavarsdottir, have told CDA that they do not want the aluminum companies to leave Iceland....Their size and importance is one reason the aluminum industry should not be excluded from rebuilding the country, said Minister of Industry Katrin Juliusdottir. Minister of Finance, Steingrímur Sigfusson, also acknowledged that it would be healthy for some aluminum projects to go forward as they would create additional jobs and revenue for the state.
Katrín Júlíusdóttir assured Watson that the proposal “had merely been an example.” And on November 9, the government revised its proposal down by a factor of almost nine: to 0.12 ISK (12 aurar) per kWh. As Watson pointed out, this was, more or less, due entirely to aluminum lobby efforts, greased by the U.S. State Department:
...aluminum representatives, who earlier approached the Embassy in frustration after being kept out of the discussions, recently thanked the Embassy for getting them a seat at the table and nudging the government away from the initial tax proposal. The reduction...resulted from consultative talks between the GOI and the Association of Icelandic Employers, of which the aluminum companies are the largest members.
Finally, on a cable sent two days before Christmas [30], Watson noted that the bill passed, with the 0.12 ISK/kWh rate increase acceptable to the aluminum lobby. Meanwhile, as Watson noted, everyone else in Iceland (population: 320,000) could expect to collectively pay $343.2 million more in taxes in 2010.

By Noam Chomsky: For Almost 70 Years the U.S. Has Been the World Leader, in Spreading

Destruction and Misery Across the Planet! The recent Obama-Putin tiff over American exceptionalism reignited an ongoing debate over the Obama Doctrine: Is the president veering toward isolationism? Or will he proudly carry the banner of exceptionalism? The debate is narrower than it may seem. There is considerable common ground between the two positions, as was expressed clearly by Hans Morgenthau, the founder of the now dominant now dominant no-sentimentality "realist" school of international relations. Throughout his work, Morgenthau described America as unique among all powers past and present in that it has a "transcendent purpose" that it "must defend and promote throughout the world: "the establishment of equality in freedom." The competing concepts "exceptionalism" and "isolationism" both accept this doctrine and its various elaborations but differ with regard to its application. One extreme was vigorously defended by President Obama in his Sept.10 address to the nation: "What makes America different," he declared, "what makes us exceptional," is that we are dedicated to act, "with humility, but with resolve," when we detect violations somewhere. "For nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security", a role that "has meant more than forging international agreements: it has meant enforcing them." The competing doctrine, isolationism, holds that we can no longer afford to carry out the noble mission of racing to put out the fires lit by others. It takes seriously a cautionary note sounded 20 years ago by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that "granting idealism a near exclusive hold on our foreign policy" may lead us to neglect our own interests in our devotion to the needs of others. Between these extremes, the debate over foreign policy rages. At the fringes, some observers reject the shared assumptions, bringing up the historical record: for example, the fact that "for nearly seven decades" the United States has led the world in aggression and subversion, overthrowing elected governments and imposing vicious dictatorships, supporting horrendous crimes, undermining international agreements and leaving trails of blood, destruction and misery. To these misguided creatures, Morgenthau provided an answer. A serious scholar, he recognized that America has consistently violated its "transcendent purpose." But to bring up this objection, he explains, is to commit" the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds." It is the transcendent purpose of America that is "reality", the actual historical record is merely "the abuse of reality." In short, American exceptionalism" and "isolationism" are generally understood to be tactical
variants of a secular religion, with a grip that is quite extraordinary, going beyond normal religious orthodoxy in that it can barely even be perceived. Since no alternative is thinkable, this faith is adopted reflexively. Others express the doctrine more crudely. One of President Reagan's U.N. ambassadors, Jeane Kirkpatrick, devised a new method to deflect criticism of state crimes. Those unwilling to dismiss them as mere "blunders" or "innocent naivety" can be charged with "moral equivalence, of claiming that the U.S. is no different from Nazi Germany, or whoever the current demon may be.

By Global Research News: Russian Air Force General Visits Iran for talks with Iranian Commanders!

Commander of Iran's Khatam ol-Angia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeel and Russian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Victor Bondarev in a meeting in Tehran on Sunday discussed mutual cooperation in defense fields. During the meeting in Tehran today, Brigadier General Bondarev also discussed exchange of information, air defense techniques, electronic and radar as well as missile systems. Lieutenant General Bondarev also discussed exchange of information, air defense techniques, electronic and radar as well as missile systems. Lieutenant General Bondarev arrived in the Iranian capital at the head of a military delegation on Sunday. Eaerlier today, Iranian Air Force Commander Brigadier General Esmayeeli and Lieutenant General Bondarev also discussed exchange of information, air defense techniques, electronic and radar as well as missile systems. Lieutenant General Bondarev arrived in the Iranian capital at the head of a military delegation on Sunday. Earlier today, Iranian Air Force Commander Brigadier General Hassan Shah Safi and his Russian counterpart discussed mutual cooperation and regional developments. The two top air force commanders underlined the need for the further expansion of bilateral and mutual cooperation. Lieutenant General Bondarev is also scheduled to meet Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadeer General Amir Ali Hajizadeh in Tehran later today. In 2007, Iran signed a contract worth $800min to buy five Russian S300 missile defense systems. But the deal was scrapped in 2010 by the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was unilaterally expanding on sanctions against Iran imposed by the UN Security Council. Iran filed a $4 bin lawsuit against Russia in the international arbitration court in Geneva, which is currently pending review. Moscow has struggled to have the lawsuit dropped, including by offering the Tor anti-aircraft systems as replacement, media reported in August, adding that the offer was rejected by Tehran. The Antei-2500, however, may be a better solution. The system does not formally fall under the existing sanctions against Iran while still being useful for the Middle-Eastern country. While the S-300 was developed for the use by missile defense forces, the Antei-2500 was specifically tailored for the needs of ground forces, which could also be an advantage for Iran, known for its large land force. The S-300 is a series of Russian long range surface-to-air missile systems produced by NPO Almaz, all based on the initial S-300P version. The S-300 system was developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles for the Soviet Air Defense Forces. Subsequent variations were developed to intercept ballistic missiles. The S-300 system was first developed by the Soviet Union in 1979, designed for the air defense of large industrial and administrative facilities, military bases, and control of airspace against enemy strike aircraft.


By Thomas Gaist: Global Drone Warfare, Targeted Assassinations Supported by NSA Surveillance!

The Post's report, "Documents reveal NSA's extensive involvement in targeted killing program," testifies to the integration of the surveillance apparatus exposed in recent months into US imperialism's global military operations. Officials cited by the Post said that the NSA has deployed analysts to work along side Central Intelligence Agency personnel at the CIA Counterterrorism Center and at "every major US embassy or military base overseas." The report further documents the NSA's systematic attempts to overcome encryption, including the extraction of PGP encryption keys from targets. The agency reportedly was able to capture 16 keys from a single electronic raid on a suspected Al Qaeda computer. According to the report, the NSA's "Tailored Access Operations," a cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering program, conducts surveillance of targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and throughout Africa. TAO runs programs such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR, which launch cyber attacks using "software implants" to grab sensitive data such as keystroke logs and audio files. ArsTechnica reported in August that advanced software used by TAO enables operatives to tap directly into hardware such as "routers, switches and firewalls," and that TAO's activities are integrated into data systems such as XKeyscore.Information gathered by the NSA has been used in particular in the course of the CIA's drone war in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. As summarized by the Post, the NSA has draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan." One US intelligence official told the Post, "NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA." To date, at least 3,000 people have been killed as a result of US drone operations in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians. Both the NSA surveillance and the policy of drone war that it facilitates are criminal operations, carried out in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of the Bill of Rights. Among those killed have been US citizens including Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen. A full accounting of the Pakistanis murdered by US drones may never be completed. However, a study published by Stanford University earlier this year showed that large sections of the population living in the FATA suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the buzzing of drones overhead and the never-ending barrage of ordnance raining down on the area. UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson wrote in March of this year, "As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty." 

The Daily Star: Lebanon U.S. to sell $10.B in missiles, bombs to Saudi Arabia, UAE!

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said Thursday it planned to sell Washington's Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates $10. billion worth of missiles and munitions, including "bunker-buster" bombs. The move follows a series of U.S. weapons deals in recent years that have bolstered the air power and missile arsenals of Gulf states, which view Iran as a menacing rival with nuclear ambitions. The pending sale comes as the United States and five other majors powers pursue high-stakes diplomacy on Iran's disputed nuclear program, with talks this week portrayed as positive by both sides. Officials said the Defense Department notified Congress this week of the planned deal that will provide a thousand bunker-buster GBU-39 bombs to the Saudis and 5,000 to the UAE. The sale will also include sophisticated air-launched cruise missiles that can hit targets from a long distance. The weapons are designed for use with U.S. -made F-15 and F-16 fighter jets previously purchased by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to a statement made by Defense Security Cooperation Agency. In 2010, Israel bought the same bunker-buster "precision-guided glide bombs," fueling speculation that it was preparing for potential pre-emptive airstrikes against underground nuclear sites in Iran. The proposed sales "will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States" by improving the security of friendly countries that remain forces for "stability," the DSCA said. Under the arms package, the Saudis were due to receive approximately $6.8 billion in weapons, parts, training and logistical support. The Saudis and the UAE will purchase hundreds of Standoff Land Attack missiles, or SLAM-ERs and Joint Standoff Weapons. These advanced missiles will enable their warplanes to hit radar installations and other targets from beyond the range of air defense systems. The Saudis will purchase 650 of the Boeing-manufactured SLAM-ERs and 973 Joint Standoff Weapons, made by Raytheon, in addition to other missiles. The United Arab Emirates is due to purchase $4 billion worth of weaponry, including the bunker-buster bombs, 300 SLAM-ERs and 1,200 JSOW missiles. "The UAE continues host-nation support of vital role in supporting U.S. regional interests, the DSCA said. This proposed sale will improve the UAE's military readiness and capabilities to meet current and future regional threats , reduce the dependence on U.S. From page 1 forces in the region, and enhance any coalition operations the U.S. may undertake. "Saudi Arabia Thursday won a U.N. Security Council seat for the first time in a new show of determination to make its voice heard, joining Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria in taking places on the key body. Saudi Arabia, despite its oil power and standing in the Arab world, has never competed for a place on the United Nations' most powerful body, which has a key role pronouncing on conflicts, such as that in Syria. Congress has 30 days to block the sale, but most lawmakers have endorsed previous weapons deals with the Gulf countries.

By Bill Gertz: Insidethe Ring: Russia to tesst new Missile:

Russia will test launch a controversial missile over the next several weeks that the U.S. officials say is raising new concerns about Moscow's growing strategic nuclear arsenal and Russia's potential violations of arms treaties. The RS-26 missile is expected to be deployed with multiple supersonic, maneuvering warheads designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses in Europe, U.S. officials told inside the Ring. A House defense aide said the new missile appears to violate the 1987 intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, based on recent tests and Russian statements that it is designed to thwart U.S. defenses. The treaty bans missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles. "The Russians are advertising this as a system capable of defeating U.S. missile defenses in Europe,"the aide said. "At the same time, the State Department is accepting Russia's claim that this is an ICBM and doesn't violate INF. It can't be both." The Air Force National Space and Missile Intelligence Center reported recently that Russia's June 6 test of an RS-26 was a test-firing of an intermediate-range missile disguised as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Russian officials have denied that the RS-26 violates
the INF Treaty, claiming it has a range greater than the INF Treaty, claiming it has a range greater than the treaty threshold of 3,410 miles. However, Moscow officials have denied that the RS-26 violates the INF Treaty, claiming it has a range greater than the treaty threshold of 3,410 miles. However, Moscow officials in recent months have said the INF Treaty must be altered or scrapped to balance China's growing arsenal of intermediate-range missiles. The Russians also have been quoted in state-controlled press reports as saying the new missile will be used to defeat and destroy U.S. and NATO missile defenses in Europe. The Obama administration is deploying land-and sea-based defenses in and around Europe to counter Iranian long-range missiles. Officials familiar with intelligence reports said the next test-firing of the RS-26 is expected in December. In June, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmittry Rogozin described it as a "missile defense killer" after a successful test flight with dummy warheads. The new missile will be equipped with three multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. What is new is that the warheads are super-high-speed vehicles capable of maneuvering from missile interceptors. The maneuvering warheads are considered advanced technology that will increase the precision targeting that will increase the precision targeting of the missile system.. The missile also reportedly will be equipped with high- performance fuel that boosts acceleration shortly after launch, a feature useful for avoiding anti-missile interceptors. The U.S. officials commented on the missile development after Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported Oct.3 that the next RS-26 test will be conducted before the end of the year from the Kapustin Yar test range. The new missile is raising questions under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The treaty does not prohibit modernizing strategic weapons but allows each side "to question" whether a new type of strategic arm is being developed. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damienn Pickert declined to comment on the RS-26, citing a policy of not discussing intelligence matters.