The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. June 17, 2016: “We are controlled by giant lizards? This bit of psychotic nonsense is almost as funny as Ingo Swann’s ‘Out of Body’ garbage he sold the CIA on to the tune of millions of taxpayer’s dollars.
Swann is a Scientologist and they are all nutty as fruitcakes.
What will be next?
- Giant invisible pigeons pecking at semis on national highways?
- Robot geese on the lookout for fat women nude sunbathing on rooftops?
- Non-existing diseases created by unwholesome drug companies?
- Sumner Redstone actually a big hand-puppet controlled by the Skull and Bones Society?
- The Illuminati taking control of Starbucks?
- The Bank of America run by giant green frogs?
That decent MP in England was probably killed by a Giant Lizard because she advocated killing flies.
The Giant Lizards like to eat babies and with the overpopulation problems the way they are, perhaps the Giant Lizards have the right idea.”
|| Number of Americans believing
|JFK was killed by conspiracy
|Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs
|Global warming is a hoax
|New World Order
|A UFO crashed at Roswell
|Vaccines are linked to autism
|Medical industry invents diseases
|Obama is the Antichrist
|The government allowed 9/11
|Fluoride is dangerous
|The moon landing was faked
|Bin Laden is alive
|Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals
|Lizard people control politics
Is Mark Zuckerberg actually a lizard?
That’s the question the Facebook boss was asked last week – and given that George W Bush and Simon Cowell are reptilian aliens (allegedly), why shouldn’t he be?
June 16, 2016
by David Sutton
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a livestreamed Q&A earlier this week, he was probably expecting questions about emergent tech and online entrepreneurism rather than someone asking whether he was, in fact, a shape-shifting alien reptile.
“Mark, are the allegations true that you’re secretly a lizard?” Zuckerberg read aloud, before replying in the negative and declaring the question “very silly”. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?
Zuckerberg is hardly the first prominent public figure to be fingered as a reptilian alien: everyone from George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to Simon Cowell and Kris Kristofferson (!) have faced similar accusations in recent years. As unlikely as it seems, the whole “reptoid” thing has become something of a meme in the internet age. But where did it come from?
That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Aliens that combine human and animal forms have been a staple of pulp SF and comic books going back to at least the 1920s; as a staple of mythology, such hybrid figures can be traced back across millennia. And, yes, lizard-men have been spotted across the US from time to time, in places like Scape Ore Swamp, South Carolina, and Loveland, Ohio. What’s notable is their relatively late entry into UFO lore. There are a few isolated cases – the 1967 Seewalt close encounter in Canada, the 1978 Zanfretta abduction in Italy – featuring “lizard man”-type extra-terrestrials, but they are few and far between. Close encounter reports tend to focus initially on friendly Nordic “space brothers” and later on malevolent Greys: reptilians, along with weird robotic entities, shaggy giants and giant insectoids, remain outliers for much of the phenomenon’s history.
By the 1980s and 1990s, as the alien mythos darkened, there was some chatter about lizard-like ETs – some rescued from the Roswell saucer crash of 1947 – being kept at an underground military base at Dulce, New Mexico, and suggestions that these serpentine beings, not the spooky X-Files-style aliens, were the ones calling the shots. But the game-changer for scaly-skinned space beings appears to have emerged out of the pre-millennial tensions of the late-90s, when goalie turned sports commentator turned messiah David Icke published his book The Biggest Secret (1999).
Icke’s unlikely emergence as a key pundit of what might be called the Dark New Age rests on his bricolage-like methodology of pinching and recombining elements of all sorts of marginal discourses – occultism, UFOlogy, conspiracy theory, ancient astronaut lore, alternative history – into a tortuous grand narrative in which a sleepwalking, mind-controlled humanity is revealed to have fallen under the control of all-seeing evil overlords. On Planet Icke, these shadowy puppet-masters, usually known as the Illuminati, emerged as none other than shape-shifting reptoid aliens from another dimension with a taste for human flesh, preferably of the infant variety.
It’s unclear how much of this stuff Icke actually invented – or how much he copped from a viewing of 1980s TV show V – but he seems to have drawn on various (and variously unhinged) sources, including self-confessed Illuminati slaves and “mind control victims” like Cathy O’Brien and Arizona Wilder. It was the latter who famously revealed that Queen Elizabeth II was not, in fact, human: “I have seen her sacrifice people and eat their flesh and drink their blood … When she shape-shifts she has a long reptile face, almost like a beak, and she’s an off-white colour…” And it wasn’t just Her Majesty: the rest of the royals were in on the act too, including the late Queen Mother, aka “Chief Toad”. It was inevitable, as time went by, that all sorts of other establishment figures, from politicians to pop stars, would be revealed as part of the grand conspiracy whose tentacles were found to reach into every aspect of human experience – even (perhaps especially?) Facebook.
The UFO phenomenon was once a strangely comforting one: close encounters revealed there was someone out there wiser than us, with a message of hope for cold-war humanity and some friendly advice about nuclear weapons. If, as Jung suggested, the UFO experience is largely one in which human hopes and fears are projected outward and read in the skies, then we should all be worried by its millennial transformation. The tangled web of intersecting conspiracies embodied in the reptilian meme suggests that, these days, we see ourselves as powerless victims of exploitation and predation by a self-perpetuating elite whose main concern is protecting its alien bloodline and keeping the rest of us in line ready for the ultimate sacrifice.
Perhaps the only surprise is that the ‘leave campaign’ hasn’t spotted the perfect metaphor for the EU here.
Comment from Wikipedia:
According to British conspiracy theorist David Icke, tall, blood-drinking, shape-shifting reptilian humanoids from the Alpha Draconis star system, now hiding in underground bases, are the force behind a worldwide conspiracy against humanity.He contends that most of the world’s leaders are related to these reptilians, including George W. Bush, former President of the United States, and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.Icke’s conspiracy theories now have supporters in up to 47 countries and he has given lectures to crowds of up to 6,000. American writer Vicki Santillano included it in her list of the 10 most popular conspiracy theories, describing it as the “wackiest theory” she had encountered.
A poll of Americans in 2013 by Public Policy Polling indicated that 4% of registered voters (+/- 2.8%) believed in David Icke’s ideas
‘Something is Going On’ – And It’s Worse Than You Thought
Trump is right about Orlando – but not in the way you think
June 17, 2016
by Justin Raimondo
I used to wonder why in the heck right-wing commentators on Fox News kept repeating the same mantra over and over again: sitting through the Republican debates, my eyes glazed over when I heard each and every candidate denounce the Obama administration for refusing to say the Sacred Words: “radical Islamic terrorism.” What are these people talking about, I thought to myself: they’re obsessed!
In short, I wrote it off as Fox News boilerplate, until the other day when, in the wake of the Orlando massacre, Donald Trump said the following on Fox: “Something is going on. He doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other.” Reiterating this trope later on in the same show, he averred that the President “is not tough, not smart – or he’s got something else in mind.”
The Beltway crowd went ballistic. Lindsey Graham had a hissy fit, and other Republican lawmakers started edging away from the presumptive GOP nominee. The Washington Post ran a story with the headline: “Donald Trump Suggests President Obama Was Involved With Orlando Shooting.” Realizing that this level of bias was a bit too brazen, the editors changed it an hour or so later to: “Donald Trump Seems to Connect President Obama to Orlando Shooting.” Not much better, but then again we’re talking about a newspaper that has a team of thirty or so reporters bent on digging up dirt on Trump.
In any case, Trump responded as he usually does: by doubling down. And he did it, as he usually does, on Twitter, tweeting the following:
“Media fell all over themselves criticizing what Donald Trump ‘may have insinuated about @POTUS.’ But he’s right:”
The tweet included a link to this story that appeared on Breitbart: an account of a 2012 intelligence report from the Defense Intelligence Agency predicting the rise of the Islamic State in Syria – and showing how US policy deliberately ignored and even succored it. Secured by Judicial Watch thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the document says it’s very likely we’ll see the creation of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.” And this won’t just be a grassroots effort, but the result of a centrally coordinated plan: it will happen because “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” then engaged in a campaign to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor) adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar).”
This is precisely what happened, and, as we see, the Iraqi Army is now in the field – with US support – trying to retake Mosul and Anbar, with limited success. Yet it’s not like we didn’t know this was coming – and didn’t have a hand in creating the problem we are now spending billions of dollars and even some American lives trying to “solve.” Things are turning out exactly as the DIA report said they would:
“[T]here is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
And who, exactly, are these “supporting powers”? The anonymous author of the report points to “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.” Last I heard, the US is part of the West – although the way things are going, that may not be true for very much longer. And of course the US has had a policy of supporting the “moderate” Syrian Islamist “opposition,” which ended in massive defections from the so-called Free Syrian Army to openly jihadist outfits like al-Nusra and ISIS.
There was a split in the administration over this policy, with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then CIA director David Petraeus arguing for a full-scale effort to overthrow beleaguered Ba’athist strongman Bashar al-Assad with massive aid to a loosely-defined “opposition.” Petraeus even openly argued for arming al-Nusra – the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda – and there were indications that, before Hillary left Foggy Bottom, an arms pipeline was opened up between the Libyan jihadists we aided in overthrowing Ghaddafi and their Syrian brothers.
Obama was reluctant to get more involved, but Hillary and Petraeus were gung-ho, along with the usual “humanitarian” interventionists in the administration and the media, who were accusing the President of standing by while “genocide” was being carried out by Assad. In reality, the jihadists were chopping off heads and wreaking just as much devastation as the Syrian army, but these facts didn’t make it into the media narrative.
In any case, the administration split was finally resolved when the President announced he was going to intervene in Syria with air strikes. This provoked a huge backlash from flyover country, with congressional switchboards tied up and protests coming in fast and furious. Clearly, the American people didn’t want another war in the Middle East, and, one by one, members of Congress who had planned on voting yes began to back down. The President backtracked – happily, I imagine. Hillary, who had alreadyleft the administration, was handed her final rebuke. Yet the seeds planted by her Syria policy would soon sprout into flowers of evil.
War was avoided, at least for the moment – but the prediction of that anonymous DIA agent was coming true. As thousands of US-trained –and-equipped rebels joined ISIS, along with the arms and other goodies provided courtesy of the US taxpayers, their leader declared the “Caliphate” and expanded its operations into North Africa, Europe – and the US.
The long reach of the Islamic State has been felt in this country twice in recent months: first in San Bernardino, and now in Orlando. Both terrorists traveled to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly for religious purposes, where they may have received training – and instructions.
When Omar Mateen opened fire in that Orlando nightclub, killing fifty people and wounding nearly one-hundred, the monster we created came back to haunt us. It didn’t matter that he may not have had direct links to ISIS: inspired by them, he carried out his grisly mission as he swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph” of the Islamic State.
The Washington Post, in its mission to debunk every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth, ran an article by Glenn Kessler minimizing the DIA document, claiming that it was really nothing important and that we should all just move along because there’s nothing to see there. He cited all the usual Washington insiders to back up his thesis, but there was one glaring omission: Gen. Michael Flynn, who headed up the DIA when the document was produced and who was forced out by the interventionists in the administration. Here is what Flynn told Al-Jazeera in an extensive interview:
Al-Jazeera: “You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
Flynn: I think the administration.
Al-Jazeera: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
Al-Jazeera: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.”
Of course, Glenn Kessler and the Washington Post don’t want to talk about that. Neither do the Republicans in Congress, who supported aid to the Syrian rebels and wanted to give them much more than they got. They’re all complicit in this monstrous policy – and they all bear moral responsibility for its murderous consequences.
Gen. Flynn, by the way, is an official advisor to Trump, and is often mentioned as a possible pick for Vice President.
The idea that we could use Islamists to fight jihadists was always crazy, and yet that is what the foreign policy Establishment and the congressional warhawks in both parties have been pushing. The “Sunni turn,” initiated by the Bush administration, supported (and funded) by the Saudis, the Turks, and the Gulf states, and escalated by the Obama administration, has empowered our worst enemies and endangered the American people. And here is the ultimate irony: it was done in the name of “fighting terrorism.” This gives new meaning to the concept of “blowback,” CIA parlance for an action (often covert) that has the unintended consequence of blowing back in our faces.
It certainly blew back in the faces of those partygoers in Orlando – in a hail of bullets.
That Trump gets this is little short of amazing, and yet truth often comes to us in unexpected ways. He may be an imperfect vessel – and that is surely an understatement – but he is absolutely correct in this instance: this administration and this President either “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other.”
The media and the Never Trumpers leaped on this statement and translated it into the old Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim trope, but that’s not what he was talking about. He was talking about the largely unknown history of our intervention in Syria, where Hillary Clinton was the jihadists’ best friend and benefactor. It was she who led the charge to “liberate” Syria, to arm the “moderate” head-choppers and do to that war-torn wreck of a country what she had done to Libya. Obama knows it: and so does the media. But their lips are sealed.
Fortunately, mine aren’t.
So we finally unlock the Great Mystery: why oh why does is this administration and the Clinton campaign so reluctant to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism”? Is it because of political correctness and a fear of inciting “Islamophobia”? Don’t flatter them: they’re not above that, when it serves their purposes. But it doesn’t serve their purposes this time.
What they’re afraid of is alienating their allies in the Middle East – not just the jihadists they’ve funded and succored in an effort to overthrow Assad, but primarily the Saudis, the Turks, and the Gulf sheikhs who are all in on the game and are playing it for all it’s worth. And of course there’s the Clinton Foundation, which has received millions in “donations” from the Saudi royals and their satellites.
The US policy goal in the region is to block the Iranians and their Shi’ite allies, including Syria’s Assad, from expanding their influence in the wake of the failed Iraq war. That war installed a Shi’ite regime in Baghdad, and in order to protect our vaunted ally Israel – which is set on regime change in Syria – we are backing and have been backing Sunni radicals, precisely those “radical Islamic terrorists” whose name will never pass Hillary Clinton’s lips.
Russia strikes U.S.-backed rebels in Syria: U.S. official
June 17, 2016
by Phil Stewart
Russian warplanes struck at rebels battling Islamic State militants, including forces backed by the United States, in southern Syria on Thursday, a senior U.S. defense official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, criticized the Russian air strikes near al-Tanf and said no Russia or Syrian ground forces were in the area at the time.
“Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions,” the official said.
“We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.”
British-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes had struck a meeting of U.S.-backed forces fighting against Islamic State in al-Tanf village, near the al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq, killing two fighters and wounding four others.
It said it was unclear whose planes had carried out the attack, however.
Washington has consistently refused to join forces with Russia in Syria against Islamic State ever since Moscow launched its campaign of air strikes in September last year, accusing it of acting solely to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States has called on Assad to step down.
Communication between the U.S. and Russian militaries on Syria has been limited to contacts aimed at avoiding an accidental clash as they carry out rival bombing campaigns and small numbers of U.S. forces operate on the ground.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Editing by Angus MacSwan)
The Müller Washington Journals 1948-1951
At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.
His name was Heinrich Müller.
Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.
This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.
When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.
Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.
The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.
Tuesday, 28 November 1950
Bradley called Truman early this morning and relayed messages from MacArthur, and Blair House called me at the club an hour and ten minutes later.
I spent most of the evening closeted with Viktor and later, on the phone, talked to Philby, who when he is not working for others, does work for the British. The British are terrified of the onset of an atomic war. They do not have any bombs, as much as they would like them, and are in easy range of Russian bombers. Also, the government there is very left wing and pro-Soviet so they do not want to see their friends turned into glowing coals.
I have kept to myself what Truman said to me: He has no intention of using the bomb while he is President unless the continental United States is attacked.
I represent to Viktor and through him, to his people, that Truman is determined not to fight with this weapon if Stalin keeps out of it. Of course, he will, but they are not sure of that here.
MacArthur will be blamed for his “recklessness” in moving on the Chinese border and also for approaching Soviet territory. I know, from my sources, that he was specifically ordered to chase the Chinese back into China and bomb them in that country if he needed to! Of course all of this will be denied here.
Stalin, I know, was badly alarmed over the contretemps in Persia when he felt that he might be bombed and he backed off then and will back off now.
I have found a way to help Viktor, whom I genuinely like, to get his wife and family to a place of safety. His wife has a relative in the Soviet diplomatic service who is now in Finland.
That is considered to be a safe area and we will try to permit her to make a family visit to see him. One has to be very careful of this because Stalin is paranoid these days, far worse than ever, but the reports that Viktor will send back via Canada will impress him. I will help Viktor write these because I know more about Stalin than he does.
Again, a great irony here and I greatly enjoy it!
She could also go to the Crimea for a vacation, taking the children, and escape by boat across the Black Sea to Turkey. I like the former but there has to be a reserve position whenever possible. The latter idea has another good feature, however. Suppose they went out for a little ride in a boat and it turned over? Of course everyone on board would drown and she might not be missed at all. If that were the case, Viktor could stay in place and we could all profit from this.
Very hectic times here, just like the old days! Not good for the system, my doctor tells me, but a bit of stress keeps things circulating much better.
Viktor finally beat me at a chess game but I won the next two.
Tomorrow, Truman will let out the information about the bomb at a press conference. The NSC met earlier today but since there is no way their deliberations could leak to Moscow before a week or so, the press conference is considered to be the best and most immediate way to get the information out.
There is nothing more I can do here for the time being so I am going back down to Virginia and wait for developments. It is too late now to drive down but I will go back the first thing in the morning. Then, the traffic is all going in the opposite direction.
I tried to explain this to McCarthy but he refuses to listen and finally said that he really did not care as long as he got the attention he wanted. It is not that I am pro-communist but if he keeps on the course he is now running, he will discredit legitimate attempts to weed out these wretches
Thursday, 30 November 1950
The military news from Korea is still disastrous and it is certain that the United States is suffering a major military defeat…at least for the time being. The stocks have been bought and they cannot go anywhere but up.
I was very tired after all the running around, conferences and so on, and I went to bed when I got back and slept until noon.
During a nice lunch (I am now watching my food. I had a glass of orange juice, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of toast and two eggs scrambled.). I got a call to tell me that Truman had finished his press conference and “accidentally” let out the bomb information. I will go back into town on Saturday to talk to Viktor (I do not trust the telephones at all) and see what is going on there.
Bunny suggests I bring him down here because she misses me when I am away from home and we will see.
Earl Browder, head of the communists here, has been indicted for refusing to talk to Congress. Not that it will do any good but it looks impressive in the press.
I understand the President’s conference was packed with reporters so the message certainly will be proclaimed throughout the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof!
Friday, 1 December 1950
We had Viktor down for the day and I understand that things have gone very well for all of us. We both enjoyed the sun and could relax in the library discussing fine art. We have decided on the Crimea gambit and he will put it into play. I will use the CIA connections to have a boat ready to pick up the family and tend to the other people on the Soviet boat. No bullet holes should be visible. From Turkey, we can fly them to Rome and then on to Canada.
The three of us had an excellent supper and went out and inspected the horses. The old church is being rehabilitated and I spent some of the day examining the work. It looks satisfactory and once everything is back in shape, I will have it properly consecrated and we can go on from there. I told Viktor that if he converted, we would let him come and stay with us once in a while. Of course this place is so huge that he and his entire family could live in the main house and we would never meet except for breakfast.
Thursday, 7 December 1950
Spent most of the day in the office working up an appraisal of the Soviet attitudes towards the war in Korea. I am not a foreign affairs specialist but have gained that reputation recently. The superiors here (I am only a contract worker) do not know what to make of me, but because my skills are in high favor now, are very polite, only suggesting to me what their line is and hoping that I will not go counter to it.
At the present time, we are more or less in the same arena. They want to show Korea as the beginning of serious Soviet military threats to this country (hence bigger budgets for them) that I view as nonsense but it is in my own interest to press this matter.
The Army wants 50,000 more men drafted within the next month and they already have over 300,000 brought in since the war broke out. This removes consumers from the market but not serious consumers. Most of them are just youth and looking at the damage reports, very many of them will die there. The Army is grossly incompetent at this point in time. Only the Marine units do well, are well supplied and know how to fight. They remind me of our Waffen-SS in this way.
On the other hand, the Army is ill supplied with everything from guns to winter clothing. Ammunition and rations simply do not get to their front lines, which are always undermanned. The Marines, on the other hand, are well stocked from Navy ships, have larger units and their fighting spirit is unimpaired. The Army should learn from their rivals.
I note that the services are actually lowering their entrance requirements so as to be able to attract more volunteers. My, then they can go to the jails or the asylums and recruit there as well.
This is the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and when I was at the Pentagon this morning, it was a subject under discussion. I have never met a high-ranking officer of the Navy and very few from the Army who do not agree (but in strict privacy) that Roosevelt tricked the Japanese into attacking this country and knew about the attack days before it happened. Of course Marshall was involved in this foreknowledge and it is strictly forbidden to ever discuss it openly.
This will emerge eventually but not for decades.
Governments never make mistakes, the Democrats are still in power and terrible indeed are the requirements of party loyalty.
Hiss is still screaming his innocence but there is absolutely no question that he, and his brother who is still untouched, is absolutely guilty of being a spy. People like Service and Lattimore are not spies but suffer because they were able to see through the terrible corruption of Chiang and warned against trusting him. As the alternatives were the communists, the extreme right has drawn what to them is the logical conclusion that the pair (and others as well) are active communist spies!
From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 51
June 16, 2016
RED TEAMS NEEDED TO CRITIQUE MILITARY OPERATIONS
U.S. military commanders would do well to make use of “red teams” composed of independent experts to evaluate and critique U.S. military operations as they are being planned, according to a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Red teams can “help commanders and staffs think critically and creatively; challenge assumptions; mitigate groupthink; reduce risks by serving as a check against complacency and surprise; and increase opportunities by helping the staff see situations, problems, and potential solutions from alternative perspectives.” See Command Red Team, Joint Doctrine Note 1-16, 16 May 2016.
This may seem like a common sense approach, and it’s not hard to think of current or past military operations that would have benefited from “alternative perspectives.” But deliberately soliciting a critical evaluation of one’s own efforts is not very common at all, inside or outside of military organizations.
A prerequisite to a successful red team effort is the independence of the red team from the primary planners and from the intelligence staff, said the non-binding Joint Doctrine Note.
“Red teams should be organizationally, physically, and intellectually separate from the intelligence function in order to ensure that products are not shaped by the same institutional factors that influence the output of the intelligence analysts. Even when the red team and the intelligence staff examine the same problem set, their products should be reviewed and approved through different product approval chains,” the Note said.
The theory and practice of red teams were explored last year in the book Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy by Micah Zenko.
Other noteworthy new military doctrinal publications include:
Implementation of, and Compliance with, the Treaty on Open Skies, Air Force Instruction 16-604, updated 31 May 2016
Implementation of, and Compliance with, the New START Treaty, Air Force Instruction 16-608, updated 31 May 2016
ISLAMIC STATE ACOLYTES, AND MORE FROM CRS
Domestic supporters of the Islamic State “have accounted for 67 homegrown violent jihadist plots between 2014 and early June 2016” involving more than 100 individuals, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service.
“In November 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reportedly had more than 900 investigations of IS suspects in the United States.” See The Islamic State’s Acolytes and the Challenges They Pose to U.S. Law Enforcement, June 13, 2016.
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
Sifting Domestic Terrorism from Hate Crime and Homegrown Violent Extremism, CRS Insight, updated June 13, 2016
The Islamic State and U.S. Policy, updated June 14, 2016
When Are Violent Crimes Federal Hate Crimes?, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 14, 2016
Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated June 14, 2016
A Patent/Innovation Box as a Tax Incentive for Domestic Research and Development, June 13, 2016
Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics and Programs, updated June 13, 2016
Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons, updated June 14, 2016
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status, updated June 13, 2016
Switzerland withdraws longstanding application to join EU
June 16, 2016
The upper house of the Swiss parliament on Wednesday voted to invalidate its 1992 application to join the European Union, backing an earlier decision by the lower house. The vote comes just a week before Britain decides whether to leave the EU in a referendum.
Twenty-seven members of the upper house, the Council of States, voted to cancel Switzerland’s longstanding EU application, versus just 13 senators against. Two abstained.
In the aftermath of the vote, Switzerland will give formal notice to the EU to consider its application withdrawn, the country’s foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter, was quoted as saying by Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
The original motion was introduced by the conservative Swiss People’s Party MP, Lukas Reimann. It had already received overwhelming support from legislators in the lower house of parliament in March, with 126 National Council deputies voting in favor, and 46 against.
Thomas Minder, counsellor for the state of Schaffhausen and an active promoter of the concept of “Swissness,” said he was eager to “close the topic fast and painlessly” as only “a few lunatics” may want to join the EU now, he told the newspaper.
Hannes Germann, also representing Schaffhausen, highlighted the symbolic importance of the vote, comparing it to Iceland’s decision to drop its membership bid in 2015.
“Iceland had the courage and withdrew the application for membership, so no volcano erupted,” he said, jokingly.
Switzerland’s longstanding application to join the EU has not had a significant impact on the country’s politics for more than 20 years, as its accession negotiations have been suspended since 1992 in the wake of a referendum to join the European Economic Area, when the Swiss voted down the idea of closer ties with the EU.
Some politicians even argued that the vote was an unnecessary formal procedure that didn’t make much sense as Switzerland is no longer regarded by the EU as an official candidate to join the bloc.
Filippo Lombardi, from the Christian Democratic People’s Party, said that it was “not very clever to discuss it once again,” calling the debate about Switzerland’s accession at this stage “a bit ridiculous,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.
Switzerland, never a member of EU, shares free trade with the union and free movement of people as part of the Schengen zone.
The timing of Switzerland’s reassurance of its sovereignty and independence from the EU institutions, if accidental, may come in handy for campaigners in the UK advocating a British exit from the EU. Polls show the UK’s referendum on EU membership, to be held in a week on June 23, as being extremely close, with Leave slightly in the lead.
Polls show Britain’s EU ‘Out’ campaign pulls ahead as referendum nears
June 16, 2016
by Freya Berry and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON-British support for leaving the European Union has surged, according to two telephone opinion surveys published a week before the June 23 referendum, with one pollster putting support for “Leave” at a more than three-year high.
The Ipsos MORI poll of 1,257 adults across Britain from June 11-14 showed 51 percent of all voters wanted to leave the bloc and 49 percent wanted to stay.
But, when filtered for those likely and registered to vote, the poll showed 53 percent would vote to leave and 47 to remain – the highest support for the ‘Leave’ campaign recorded by the pollster in more than three years.
A separate phone poll by Survation showed ‘Leave’ ahead on 45 percent, up 7 percentage points from its last poll on May 25 and ahead for the first time since the poll began in February. Support for “Remain” dipped 2 percentage points to 42 percent with 13 percent undecided. The poll surveyed 1,104 people.
Of the seven most recently published polls this week, six showed the Leave campaign in the lead, a trend pollsters said showed that the opponents of Britain’s 43-year-old EU membership had dominated the campaign in recent weeks.
“With a week to go, Leave have outgunned Remain with a series of arguments on immigration and money that are often believed despite being flatly denied by the other side,” Ipsos MORI Chief Executive Ben Page told Reuters.
“Polls don’t predict but pollsters sometimes do: personally I think that as in Scotland the status quo may triumph at the last minute. But it looks very close,” Page said.
Britain’s sterling currency fell to it lowest of the day of $1.4100, down 0.7 percent on the day, just after the Survation poll was published. The probability of an In vote fell 5 percentage points to 60 percent, according to betting odds supplied by Betfair.
The polling also marks a major turnaround since a May survey by Ipsos MORI, which at that time found 37 percent wanted to leave against 55 percent who wanted to stay.
Its latest June figures were also filtered by those actually registered to vote, and weighted according to a voter’s educational background, Ipsos MORI said.
A vote to take Britain out of the world’s biggest trade bloc would spook investors by undermining post-World War Two attempts at European integration and placing a question mark over the future of the United Kingdom and its $2.9 trillion economy.
Such is the concern over Brexit that the U.S. Federal Reserve cited it as a reason it delayed an interest rate rise this week. Sterling has also tumbled, British government bond yields have been pushed to record lows and billions of dollars have been wiped off global stocks.
IMMIGRATION TRUMPS ECONOMY
The free movement of EU citizens into Britain, which Out campaigners have cited as the most serious problem with EU membership, has eclipsed concerns about the negative economic impact from Brexit, which In campaigners regard as their top argument, according to the poll.
“On immigration there is a problem, and there is a solution (presented by the Leave camp),” said John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. “On the economy, there is a warning but no optimism. And that is potentially a strategic weakness.”
The poll underscored the mistrust of politicians on both sides of the campaign but especially strong scepticism toward the assertions made by Cameron and finance minister George Osborne, the Evening Standard said.
Osborne, who has warned of an emergency austerity budget if Britain votes to leave, was due to speak about the risks of quitting the 28-nation EU in a speech on Thursday night.
The Bank of England escalated its warnings about the fallout from a Brexit, saying it could harm the global economy and that sterling looked increasingly likely to fall further after an “Out” decision.
But just 17 percent of people believed Osborne’s statement that households would lose 4,300 pounds ($6,079) and be permanently poorer after a Brexit. Some 70 percent consider it a falsehood, according to the Evening Standard.
Almost half believe leading Out campaigner Boris Johnson is telling the truth when he says that Britain sends 350 million pounds a week to the EU – even though it has been criticized as misleading by pro-Remain lawmakers and by independent experts.
Page said the Out campaign had made an end to unlimited EU immigration its main plank over the past month, eclipsing the In campaign’s warnings about the economic consequences of a Brexit.
“Immigration has become the argument, with the economy, Remain’s strongest card, becoming less relevant in the last month. Twenty percent of voters may change their minds, giving hope to both sides, although often undecided (traditionally) don’t bother to vote,” he said.
Pro-Remain campaigners, including ex-prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major, have warned that an exit may also trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote if England effectively pulled Scotland out of the EU. Scots are seen as strongly pro-EU.
Members of the Out campaign say such warnings are overblown and that Britain would prosper if it broke free from what they say is a doomed German-dominated EU that punches way below its weight beside rivals such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite a series of forecasts that the euro zone would collapse during the Greek debt crisis, it has endured.
(Additional reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary in Edinburgh; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and William James; Editing by Michael Holden and Mark Heinrich)
The Pentagon’s Real $trategy
Keeping the Money Flowing
by Andrew Cockburn
These days, lamenting the apparently aimless character of Washington’s military operations in the Greater Middle East has become conventional wisdom among administration critics of every sort. Senator John McCain thunders that “this president has no strategy to successfully reverse the tide of slaughter and mayhem” in that region. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies bemoans the “lack of a viable and public strategy.” Andrew Bacevich suggests that “there is no strategy. None. Zilch.”
After 15 years of grinding war with no obvious end in sight, U.S. military operations certainly deserve such obloquy. But the pundit outrage may be misplaced. Focusing on Washington rather than on distant war zones, it becomes clear that the military establishment does indeed have a strategy, a highly successful one, which is to protect and enhance its own prosperity.
Given this focus, creating and maintaining an effective fighting force becomes a secondary consideration, reflecting a relative disinterest — remarkable to outsiders — in the actual business of war, as opposed to the business of raking in dollars for the Pentagon and its industrial and political partners. A key element of the strategy involves seeding the military budget with “development” projects that require little initial outlay but which, down the line, grow irreversibly into massive, immensely profitable production contracts for our weapons-making cartels.
If this seems like a startling proposition, consider, for instance, the Air Force’s determined and unyielding efforts to jettison the A-10 Thunderbolt, widely viewed as the most effective means for supporting troops on the ground, while ardently championing the sluggish, vastly overpriced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, among myriad other deficiencies, cannot fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm. No less telling is the Navy’s ongoing affection for budget-busting programs such as aircraft carriers, while maintaining its traditional disdain for the unglamorous and money-poor mission of minesweeping, though the mere threat of enemy mines in the 1991 Gulf War (as in the Korean War decades earlier) stymied plans for major amphibious operations. Examples abound across all the services.
Meanwhile, ongoing and dramatic programs to invest vast sums in meaningless, useless, or superfluous weapons systems are the norm. There is no more striking example of this than current plans to rebuild the entire American arsenal of nuclear weapons in the coming decades, Obama’s staggering bequest to the budgets of his successors.
Taking Nuclear Weapons to the Bank
These nuclear initiatives have received far less attention than they deserve, perhaps because observers are generally loath to acknowledge that the Cold War and its attendant nuclear terrors, supposedly consigned to the ashcan of history a quarter-century ago, are being revived on a significant scale. The U.S. is currently in the process of planning for the construction of a new fleet of nuclear submarines loaded with new intercontinental nuclear missiles, while simultaneously creating a new land-based intercontinental missile, a new strategic nuclear bomber, a new land-and-sea-based tactical nuclear fighter plane, a new long-range nuclear cruise missile (which, as recently as 2010, the Obama administration explicitly promised not to develop), at least three nuclear warheads that are essentially new designs, and new fuses for existing warheads. In addition, new nuclear command-and-control systems are under development for a fleet of satellites (costing up to $1 billion each) designed to make the business of fighting a nuclear war more practical and manageable.
This massive nuclear buildup, routinely promoted under the comforting rubric of “modernization,” stands in contrast to the president’s lofty public ruminations on the topic of nuclear weapons. The most recent of these was delivered during his visit — the first by an American president — to Hiroshima last month. There, he urged “nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles” to “have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”
In reality, that “logic of fear” suggests that there is no way to “fight” a nuclear war, given the unforeseeable but horrific effects of these immensely destructive weapons. They serve no useful purpose beyond deterring putative opponents from using them, for which an extremely limited number would suffice. During the Berlin crisis of 1961, for example, when the Soviets possessed precisely four intercontinental nuclear missiles, White House planners seriously contemplated launching an overwhelming nuclear strike on the USSR. It was, they claimed, guaranteed to achieve “victory.” As Fred Kaplan recounts in his book Wizards of Armageddon, the plan’s advocates conceded that the Soviets might, in fact, be capable of managing a limited form of retaliation with their few missiles and bombers in which as many as three million Americans could be killed, whereupon the plan was summarily rejected.
In other words, in the Cold War as today, the idea of “nuclear war-fighting” could not survive scrutiny in a real-world context. Despite this self-evident truth, the U.S. military has long been the pioneer in devising rationales for fighting such a war via ever more “modernized” weapons systems. Thus, when first introduced in the early 1960s, the Navy’s invulnerable Polaris-submarine-launched intercontinental missiles — entirely sufficient in themselves as a deterrent force against any potential nuclear enemy — were seen within the military as an attack on Air Force operations and budgets. The Air Force responded by conceiving and successfully selling the need for a full-scale, land-based missile force as well, one that could more precisely target enemy missiles in what was termed a “counterforce” strategy.
The drive to develop and build such systems on the irrational pretense that nuclear war fighting is a practical proposition persists today. One component of the current “modernization” plan is the proposed development of a new “dial-a-yield” version of the venerable B-61 nuclear bomb. Supposedly capable of delivering explosions of varying strength according to demand, this device will, at least theoretically, be guidable to its target with high degrees of accuracy and will also be able to burrow deep into the earth to destroy buried bunkers. The estimated bill — $11 billion — is a welcome boost for the fortunes of the Sandia and Los Alamos weapons laboratories that are developing it.
The ultimate cost of this new nuclear arsenal in its entirety is essentially un-knowable. The only official estimate we have so far came from the Congressional Budget Office, which last year projected a total of $350 billion. That figure, however, takes the “modernization” program only to 2024 — before, that is, most of the new systems move from development to actual production and the real bills for all of this start thudding onto taxpayers’ doormats. This year, for instance, the Navy is spending a billion and a half dollars in research and development funds on its new missile submarine, known only as the SSBN(X). Between 2025 and 2035, however, annual costs for that program are projected to run at $10 billion a year. Similar escalations are in store for the other items on the military’s impressive nuclear shopping list.
Assiduously tabulating these projections, experts at the Monterey Center for Nonproliferation Studies peg the price of the total program at a trillion dollars. In reality, though, the true bill that will come due over the next few decades will almost certainly be multiples of that. For example, the Air Force has claimed that its new B-21 strategic bombers will each cost more than $564 million (in 2010 dollars), yet resolutely refuses to release its secret internal estimates for the ultimate cost of the program.
To offer a point of comparison, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the tactical nuclear bomber previously mentioned, was originally touted as costing no more than $35 million per plane. In fact, it will actually enter service with a sticker price well in excess of $200 million.
Nor does that trillion-dollar figure take into account the inevitable growth of America’s nuclear “shield.” Nowadays, the excitement and debate once generated by President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme to build a defense system of anti-missile missiles and other devices against a nuclear attack is long gone. (The idea for such a defense, in fact, dates back to the 1950s, but Reagan boosted it to prominence.) Nevertheless, missile defense still routinely soaks up some $10 billion of our money annually, even though it is known to have no utility whatsoever.
“We have nothing to show for it,” Tom Christie, the former director of the Pentagon’s testing office, told me recently. “None of the interceptors we currently have in silos waiting to shoot down enemy missiles have ever worked in tests.” Even so, the U.S. is busy constructing more anti-missile bases across Eastern Europe. As our offensive nuclear programs are built up in the years to come, almost certainly eliciting a response from Russia and China, the pressure for a costly expansion of our nuclear “defenses” will surely follow.
The Bow-Wave Strategy
It’s easy enough to find hypocrisy in President Obama’s mellifluous orations on abolishing nuclear weapons given the trillion-dollar-plus nuclear legacy he will leave in his wake. The record suggests, however, that faced with the undeviating strategic thinking of the military establishment and its power to turn desires into policy, he has simply proven as incapable of altering the Washington system as his predecessors in the Oval Office were or as his successors are likely to be.
Inside the Pentagon, budget planners and weapons-buyers talk of the “bow wave,” referring to the process by which current research and development initiatives, initially relatively modest in cost, invariably lock in commitments to massive spending down the road. Traditionally, such waves start to form at times when the military is threatened with possible spending cutbacks due to the end of a war or some other budgetary crisis.
Former Pentagon analyst Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, who spent years observing and chronicling the phenomenon from the inside, recalls an early 1970s bow wave at a time when withdrawal from Vietnam appeared to promise a future of reduced defense spending. The military duly put in place an ambitious “modernization” program for new planes, ships, tanks, satellites, and missiles. Inevitably, when it came time to actually buy all those fancy new systems, there was insufficient money in the defense budget.
Accordingly, the high command cut back on spending for “readiness”; that is, for maintaining existing weapons in working order, training troops, and similar mundane activities. This had the desired effect — at least from the point of view of Pentagon — of generating a raft of media and congressional horror stories about the shocking lack of preparedness of our fighting forces and the urgent need to boost its budget. In this way, the hapless Jimmy Carter, elected to the presidency on a promise to rein in defense spending, found himself, in Spinney’s phrase, “mousetrapped,” and eventually unable to resist calls for bigger military budgets.
This pattern would recur at the beginning of the 1990s when the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War superpower military confrontation seemed at an end. The result was the germination of ultimately budget-busting weapons systems like the Air Force’s F-35 and F-22 fighters. It happened again when pullbacks from Iraq and Afghanistan in Obama’s first term led to mild military spending cuts. As Spinney points out, each successive bow wave crests at a higher level, while military budget cuts due to wars ending and the like become progressively more modest.
The latest nuclear buildup is only the most glaring and egregious example of the present bow wave that is guaranteed to grow to monumental proportions long after Obama has retired to full-time speechmaking. The cost of the first of the Navy’s new Ford Class aircraft carriers, for example, has already grown by 20% to $13 billion with more undoubtedly to come. The “Third Offset Strategy,” a fantasy-laden shopping list of robot drones and “centaur” (half-man, half-machine) weapons systems, assiduously touted by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, is similarly guaranteed to expand stunningly beyond the $3.6 billion allotted to its development next year.
Faced with such boundlessly ambitious raids on the public purse, no one should claim a “lack of strategy” as a failing among our real policymakers, even if all that planning has little or nothing to do with distant war zones where Washington’s conflicts smolder relentlessly on.
Snowden Disclosure Prompts Backlash in Scotland
June 15 2016
by Ryan Gallagher
Top government officials in Scotland are under pressure to explain their knowledge of a secretive police surveillance unit that was exposed in documents leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
On Tuesday, cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson was grilled in the country’s parliament about the so-called Scottish Recording Centre and its previously undisclosed involvement in covert surveillance operations.
As The Intercept revealed last week, the Recording Centre is one of several domestic organizations within the United Kingdom involved in a top-secret program named MILKWHITE, which has provided law enforcement agencies with access to “bulk” internet data intercepted by the British eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Prior to the disclosure, few in Scotland knew the Recording Centre even existed — much less that it has been tapping into GCHQ’s troves of data.
In recent days, several Scottish media outlets have picked up the issue, increasing pressure on the government. Questioned about the revelations on Tuesday, Matheson told the Scottish parliament that the government “takes the protection of our citizens’ civil liberties extremely seriously and we are clear that investigatory powers should only be used when it is necessary and proportionate to do so. But we must always balance those fundamental civil liberties with the need to ensure our law enforcement bodies have effective powers to investigate and deal with serious organized crime.”
He declined to comment on any relationship with GCHQ and stated that police must obtain a warrant signed off by a government minister to intercept communications. However, documents about the MILKWHITE program show that it stores metadata about emails, instant messenger chats, and social media activity, meaning it contains information that could reveal the sender and recipient of an email or message, but not the written content. And police agencies in the U.K. do not require a warrant to access this kind of information. They only require a warrant when they want to monitor the content of a communication — for instance, the audio of a call or the body of an email.
Matheson’s response, perhaps unsurprisingly, did not satisfy opposition politicians. John Finnie, a member of the Scottish parliament representing the Green party, said in a statement: “The Cabinet Secretary today attempted to give the impression that all policing activities in Scotland are proportional and that interceptions are independently approved but as we know that is not always the case. There is clearly a culture of bulk collection of data that needs [to be] reined in. I will continue to challenge such over-reaching activities.”
The revelation about the Recording Centre, the first from the Snowden archive to implicate Scotland’s authorities, has put the ruling Scottish National Party in an awkward spot.
Just last week, the party’s leadership took a strong stand against the U.K. government’s push to obtain more surveillance powers through the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the “Snoopers’ Charter” by critics. Joanna Cherry, the Scottish National Party’s spokesperson on justice and home affairs, had raised concerns about the proposed new powers for “bulk” surveillance, which she blasted as “extremely intrusive.”
However, the Snowden documents about MILKWHITE indicate that Scotland’s police forces — through the Recording Centre — have been accessing bulk data for years, presumably with sanction from top Scottish government ministers.
Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat member of parliament, was quick to point out this inconsistency — and has pledged to take up the issues surrounding the Recording Centre and the MILKWHITE program with the British government’s Home Office in an attempt to obtain more information.
“In the House of Commons last week, [former Scottish first minister] Alex Salmond voted with the Liberal Democrats against Tory moves that would see our internet histories recorded and made available to the intelligence services,” Carmichael said. “Now it seems that a centre established when he was First Minister was at the heart of the mass surveillance of our personal information.”If it turns out that the Scottish government claims it was not in fact aware of the MILKWHITE program, Carmichael said, it would raise “big questions over the role of the U.K. intelligence services.” And if it were aware and yet “did nothing to raise the alarm, then we need to be told why they were happy for Scots to be left in the dark,” he added.
Scottish police and GCHQ have declined to answer questions about MILKWHITE, citing policy not to comment on “intelligence matters.” The Home Office has also refused to comment, claiming that it never discusses anything derived from leaked documents.
A defeated sanctions vote in the US should worry Israel
Mainstream US civil society institutions now routinely debate Israeli oppressive policies towards Palestine.
June 15, 2016
by Rami G Khouri
Sometimes a slim defeat is also a step on the road to victory. This may be the case with the razor-thin defeat last week of an American Anthropological Association motion to sanction and boycott Israeli academic institutions that subjugate or exploit Palestinians.
While the motion to boycott complicit Israeli institutions lost by a vote of 2,423 to 2,384, in the larger struggle for Palestinian rights this probably marks a turning point, according to discussions I have held in the United States this week with some AAA members.
The AAA vote and the three-year process that preceded it included a detailed study by an appointed task force of its members that concluded: “We find that the policies and practices of the Israeli government place significant limitations on academic freedom and have led to substantial deprivations in the health and welfare of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as within Israel itself.”
It recommended a range of possible actions, including sanctions, reflecting the continuing historic shift in global responses to Israel’s occupation policies.
The single biggest change is that mainstream American civil society institutions now routinely and publicly debate Israeli oppressive policies towards Palestine, and discuss motions to sanction Israel for those policies, while aiming to promote justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Central to today’s activism is the decade-old Palestinian civil society initiative called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel that seeks its compliance with international law and Palestinian rights.
Hardline Israelis rightly worry that such moves increasingly echo the 1980s anti-apartheid movement that challenged white supremacy in South Africa.
More troubling for Israel are the political demographics that were so evident in this AAA vote and others like it among mainstream US churches, unions, and academic associations: the younger, more ethnically diverse, and more active and progressive members mostly support sanctioning Israel for its subjugation of Palestinians, while pro-Israeli support increasingly is confined largely to older, predominantly white Americans who tend to follow Israel’s lead on such issues.
Time is with justice for the Palestinians and equal rights for both peoples. A majority of Americans, polls confirm, share this desire for their government to be even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A dozen mainstream American churches, unions, and academic associations in the past four years have voted for boycotts and sanctions of Israeli institutions that subjugate Palestinians. In the previous half-century, even discussing the Palestine rights issue in public was virtually impossible.
“The pattern has become clear,” one university professor who is active in BDS initiatives told me on Monday. “At first an organisation’s members refuse even to discuss Israeli policies and their impact on Palestinians. Then the matter is discussed by the membership, but voted down. And after two or three years of more public discussion by all sides, it is voted on again, and approved. We expect the same thing to happen with the AAA vote and other academic associations that raise this issue.”
Seven American academic associations have supported BDS actions, and others are debating the matter. The lesson, activists say, is that Israel ultimately loses when the public debates the facts about Palestine-Israel.
That public debate now occurs regularly, mainly because during the past 68 years the world has seen the facts of Israeli statehood and settler-colonisation, and Palestinian disenfranchisement, exile, or occupation.
Israel’s days of expecting automatic mass support for its position in the US seem to be coming to an end. Israeli policies today are openly debated, mainstream organisations support BDS, and even a serious presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has called for a more even-handed US policy on Israel-Palestine.
The AAA and other associations use boycotts to express their opposition to unethical or illegal behaviour by corporations (Coca Cola) or even states (Arizona, Illinois, Georgia).
The US government and individual states sanction and boycott other nations (Russia, Iran, Cuba, Sudan) for their political behaviour.
So people increasingly ask why Israel should be exempt from public discussion of its behaviour towards the Palestinians.
Ironically, even some politicians who wholeheartedly support Israel may see their decisions backfire on them, and promote greater, rather than less, debate about Israeli policies. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last week saying the state would boycott any institution that boycotted Israel.
Seven states have already legislated laws prohibiting a boycott of Israel, and others are considering such moves. Cuomo’s decision sparked widespread media debate about whether it violated the constitutional guarantee of free speech, including a New York Times op-ed by a Jewish American who opposed Cuomo’s move as being hypocritical, constitutionally suspect and inappropriate.
The United Church of Christ also quickly criticised Cuomo’s move for infringing the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech, noting that it and other churches have often “actively supported human rights campaigns, sometimes through consumer boycotts and even divestment of companies that have profited from injustice …”
Last summer, the United Church of Christ called for divestment and boycott of firms that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
Like the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s, the struggle to counter Israeli subjugation of Palestinians through boycotts and sanctions is steadily picking up steam, and has moved from the fringes towards the mainstream of American public politics. If I were Israeli, I would be worried, too.
Hundreds arrested in Venezuela after latest unrest over food
June 15, 2016
Venezuelan security forces have arrested at least 400 people after the latest bout of looting and food riots in the crisis-hit OPEC member country, local officials said on Wednesday.
Another death was also reported in the state of Merida from unrest which is breaking out sporadically across the South American OPEC nation.
On Tuesday, violence engulfed the eastern Caribbean coastal town of Cumana as looters swarmed through dozens of shops and security forces struggled to maintain control.
There were unconfirmed reports on social media of several deaths in Cumana, which is the capital of Sucre state. But regional governor Luis Acuna from the ruling Socialist Party said those reported deaths were unrelated to the looting.
“There were only 400 people arrested and the deaths were not linked to the looting,” he told a local TV station, calling the looters vandals encouraged by right-wing politicians.
“I have no doubt they paid them, this was planned.”
Nelson Moreno, governor of Anzoategui state, which neighbors Sucre, said eight people were also arrested on Tuesday in “irregular” situations, a term that usually refers to looting.
With desperate crowds of people chanting “We want food!,” protests and melees at shops have spread across Venezuela in recent weeks, fueled by severe shortages.
Three people were shot dead in separate incidents last week, with a policeman and a soldier arrested in two cases. [L1N19600W]
The Merida state prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday it was investigating the death of a 17-year-old youth, shot late on Tuesday during an “irregular” situation in the western Andean state. Local media reported food protests and an attack on a Socialist Party office there.
According to a local monitoring group, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, more than 10 incidents of looting are occurring daily across the nation of 30 million people that is suffering a brutal recession and the world’s highest rate of inflation.
Venezuela’s political opposition says President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez are to blame for failed socialist economic policies. The opposition is pursuing a recall referendum this year in an effort to remove him from office.
But Maduro, 53, says his foes are waging an “economic war” against him and seeking to foment a coup. Government officials say there is not enough time this year to organize a referendum.
Should there be such a vote in 2017 and Maduro loses, his vice president would take over – rather than a new presidential election being held – meaning the ruling “Chavismo” movement would still be in power.
(Reporting by Diego Ore, writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Sarah Dagher; Editing by G Crosse and Andrew Hay)