The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 26, 2012: “Instead of fulminations, I am going to set out a number of what I consider to be entirely fitting holiday poems for my readers to enjoy in the company of their children:
My children, never, never steal!
To know their offspring is a thief
Will often make a father feel
Annoyed and cause a mother grief;
So never steal, but, when you do,
Be sure there’s no one watching you.
Don’t tell a lie! Some men I’ve known
Commit the most appalling acts,
Because they happen to be prone
To an economy of facts;
And if to lie is bad, no doubt
’Tis even worse to get found out!
Down into the drinking-well
(Which the plumber built her)
Poor Aunt Eliza fell, –
We must buy a filter.
In the cistern our young Willie
Pushed his little sister Lily.
Father couldn’t save his daughter,
And now we sterilize our water.
Willie, I regret to state,
Cut his sister up for bait.
We miss her when it’s time to dine,
But Willie’s fish taste simply fine.
Weep not for little Leonie,
abducted by a French Marquis.
Though loss of honor was a wrench,
just think how it’s improved her French!
Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention
Advisers deployed with surface-to-air systems bolster President Assad’s defences and complicate outcome of any future strikes
December 23, 2012
Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria‘s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.
The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.
The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences.
Meanwhile, near-daily atrocities have kept western governments under pressure to act. A Syrian government air strike on a town near the central city of Hama on Sunday killed dozens of civilians queueing for bread, according to human rights activists.
Amateur footage from Halfaya showed mangled human remains strewn along a street where people had been blown off scooters and out of cars. One video showed a boy with his feet blown off. Piles of corpses could be seen beneath rubble outside a two-storey building the cameraman described as a bakery. It was unclear how many bodies were in the smoking ruins.
Human Rights Watch has previously accused the regime of targeting bakeries. The group warned the Assad regime that such targeted bombing of civilians represented war crimes. However, in the face of a Russian veto at the UN security council, the international criminal court has not had a mandate to investigate the atrocities committed by either side. The UN has put the death toll at more than 40,000 as the war continues to escalate.
Turkish officials, who accurately predicted the Syrian regime would use Scud missiles after several warplanes were shot down by rebels, also believe President Bashar al-Assad has twice come close to using chemical weapons including sarin, the nerve gas. First, after the bombing of the regime’s Damascus security headquarters in July, which killed the president’s brother in law, Assef Shawkat, and then last month, after opposition forces made significant gains.
The Turks and western officials say there are signs Assad sees chemical weapons as another step in the escalation of force, rather than a Rubicon-crossing gamble that could end his regime. The US, UK, France and Turkey have warned Syria that its use of such weapons would trigger military retribution. But any such a response would be fraught with difficulties.
Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months. In the interim, those western troops could easily become the target of Islamist groups fighting the government in Damascus.
Any air strikes against regime targets, in response to chemical weapon use, or any attempt to create a no-fly zone to stop further bombing of refugee camps, would require the suppression of Syria’s formidable defences. Those have been bolstered significantly since Israeli strikes on an alleged nuclear reactor site at al-Kibar in 2007 exposed holes, and again since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March 2011.
The upgrades were supplied by Moscow, which sees them as a bulwark against western-imposed regime change and protection of a longstanding investment in Syria. The country includes Russia‘s biggest electronic eavesdropping post outside its territory, in Latakia, and its toehold on the Mediterranean, a small naval base at Tartus.
Russian security and defence officials, who are notoriously loth to publicly comment on their operations abroad, have repeatedly denied providing explicit support for the Assad regime.
Over the weekend, the head of Russia’s ground forces air defence, Major General Alexander Leonov, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station: “Syria’s air-defence system is a no-nonsense force. As a result, no one has ever used serious air combat power against it.”
That “no-nonsense” force, the air defence command, comprises two divisions and an estimated 50,000 troops – twice the size of Muammar Gaddafi’s force – with thousands of anti-aircraft guns and more than 130 anti-aircraft missile batteries.
According to Jeremy Binnie, the editor of Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, recent Russian deliveries include Buk-M2 and Pantsyr-S1 (known to Nato as SA-22) mobile missile launch and radar systems. Reports of the shipment of the modern long-range S-300 have not been confirmed, and the Syrian armed forces did not show off any S-300 missiles in a military display this year. It is possible they have been delivered but are not yet operational.
Guy Ben-Ari, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: “They don’t just sell the equipment. They also help man the crews and train the crews. Sometimes there is just no domestic capacity to run these systems, and that is the case in Syria where Syrian crews are not capable of using the equipment to its full capacity.”
Sources familiar with the Moscow-Damascus defence relationship confirmed the presence of Russian air-defence crews inside Syria. Their deployment would be a consideration when western contingency plans for Syria were being considered, they said.
Such a dense, layered and overlapping air-defence system would require a huge air campaign, heavily reliant on thousands of precision-guided missiles. The UK, France and other American allies in Europe used up their stocks of such weapons in Libya and although details are classified there have been reports that they have not yet returned to pre-Libya levels.
“We know they pretty much ran out of them at the end of Libya. Given the budgetary constraints the Europeans are operating with, and in an era where every euro spent on defence is very heavily scrutinised, it is a hard sell to restock on this stuff,” Ben-Ari said. “And it would not be enough to be at Libya levels. You would need far more for Syria.”
A Syrian air campaign would also require stealth aircraft and a great amount of signals intelligence, satellite imagery and aerial reconnaissance, all of which are US specialities. For all those reasons, Washington would not be able to “lead from behind” as it did in Libya.
The Obama administration has so far been extremely wary of getting enmeshed in another Middle East war, particularly with the knowledge that the long-running Iranian nuclear crisis could trigger a conflict in the Gulf at any time. With the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus last month, the administration arguably lost its most powerful advocate of Syrian intervention.
John Kerry, the nominee for secretary of state, has advocated greater support for the rebels, but stopped short of calling for direct US or Nato involvement. With no new secretary of defence yet nominated, it could take several months for the new team to recalibrate its approach.
The robust Syrian defences, combined with Damascus’s hand-in-glove relationship with Moscow, and the fragmented nature of the opposition, help explain why a US-led intervention – predicted as imminent for more than a year by advocates and opponents alike – has so far failed to materialise, and why there is little appetite for such a move in Washington and most other western capitals, barring a major, verifiable use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
MOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Syrian armed forces have effective air-defense systems that can fend off massive airstrikes against the country, a senior Russian military official said on Saturday.
“Syria’s air-defense system is a no-nonsense force. As a result, no one has ever used serious air combat power against it,” Ground Forces Air Defense commander Maj. Gen. Alexander Leonov said in an interview with radio Ekho Moskvy.
Syria’s air defense systems are a primary target for the insurgents, he added.
Syria’s opposition coalition on Thursday reiterated its condemnation of the Russian government’s policy and position on political and military support for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but denied it has declared “open season” on Russian nationals.
Russia has staunchly opposed all international efforts to crack down on Assad, including in the UN Security Council, saying they are biased in favor of the Syrian opposition.
The UN has estimated that nearly 40,000 have died since the violence began in March 2011.
CIA’s Global Response Staff emerging from shadows after incidents in Libya and Pakistan
December 27, 2012
The Washington Post
The rapid collapse of a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya exposed the vulnerabilities of State Department facilities overseas. But the CIA’s ability to fend off a second attack that same night provided a glimpse of a key element in the agency’s defensive arsenal: a secret security force created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Two of the Americans killed in Libya were members of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, an innocuously named organization that has recruited hundreds of former U.S. Special Forces operatives to serve as armed guards for the agency’s spies.
The GRS, as it is known, is designed to stay in the shadows, training teams to work undercover and provide an unobtrusive layer of security for CIA officers in high-risk outposts.
But a series of deadly scrapes over the past four years has illuminated the GRS’s expanding role, as well as its emerging status as one of the CIA’s most dangerous assignments.
Of the 14 CIA employees killed since 2009, five worked for the GRS, all as contractors. They include two killed at Benghazi, as well as three others who were within the blast radius on Dec. 31, 2009, when a Jordanian double agent detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA compound in Khost, Afghanistan.
GRS contractors have also been involved in shootouts in which only foreign nationals were killed, including one that triggered a diplomatic crisis. While working for the CIA, Raymond Davis was jailed for weeks in Pakistan last year after killing two men in what he said was an armed robbery attempt in Lahore.
The increasingly conspicuous role of the GRS is part of a broader expansion of the CIA’s paramilitary capabilities over the past 10 years. Beyond hiring former U.S. military commandos, the agency has collaborated with U.S. Special Operations teams on missions including the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and has killed thousands of Islamist militants and civilians with its fleet of armed drones.
CIA veterans said that GRS teams have become a critical component of conventional espionage, providing protection for case officers whose counterterrorism assignments carry a level of risk that rarely accompanied the cloak-and-dagger encounters of the Cold War.
Spywork used to require slipping solo through cities in Eastern Europe. Now, “clandestine human intelligence involves showing up in a Land Cruiser with some [former] Deltas or SEALs, picking up an asset and then dumping him back there when you are through,” said a former CIA officer who worked closely with the security group overseas.
Bodyguard details have become so essential to espionage that the CIA has overhauled its training program at the Farm — its case officer academy in southern Virginia — to teach spies the basics of working with GRS teams.
The security apparatus relies heavily on contractors who are drawn by relatively high pay and flexible schedules that give them several months off each year. In turn, they agree to high-risk assignments in places such as Benghazi and are largely left on their own to take basic precautions, such as finding health and life insurance.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the GRS has about 125 employees working abroad at any given time, with at least that many rotating through cycles of training and off-time in the United States.
At least half are contractors, who often earn $140,000 or more a year and typically serve 90- or 120-day assignments abroad. Full-time GRS staff officers — those who are permanent CIA employees — earn slightly less but collect benefits and are typically put in supervisory roles.
The work is lucrative enough that recruiting is done largely by word of mouth, said one former U.S. intelligence official. Candidates tend to be members of U.S. Special Forces units who have recently retired, or veterans of police department SWAT teams.
Most GRS recruits arrive with skills in handling the weapons they will carry, including Glock handguns and M4 rifles. But they undergo additional training so they do not call attention to the presence or movements of the CIA officers they are in position to protect.
Although the agency created the GRS to protect officers in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, it has been expanded to protect secret drone bases as well as CIA facilities and officers in locations including Yemen, Lebanon and Djibouti.
In some cases, elite GRS units provide security for personnel from other agencies, including National Security Agency teams deploying sensors or eavesdropping equipment in conflict zones, a former special operator said. The most skilled security operators are informally known as “scorpions.”
“They don’t learn languages, they’re not meeting foreign nationals and they’re not writing up intelligence reports,” a former U.S. intelligence official said. Their main tasks are to map escape routes from meeting places, pat down informants and provide an “envelope” of security, the former official said, all while knowing that “if push comes to shove, you’re going to have to shoot.”
The consequences in such cases can be severe. Former CIA officials who worked with the GRS still wince at the fallout from Davis’s inability to avoid capture as well as his decision to open fire in the middle of a busy street in Pakistan. The former security contractor, who did not respond to requests for comment, said he was doing basic “area familiarization” work, meaning learning his surroundings and possibly mapping routes of escape, when he was confronted by two Pakistanis traveling by motorcycle.
Davis became trapped at the scene, and his arrest provoked a diplomatic standoff between two tense allies in the fight against terrorism.
The CIA took heavy criticism for the clumsiness of the Davis episode, temporarily suspending the drone campaign in Pakistan before U.S. payments to the families of the men Davis had killed helped secure his release.
By contrast, the CIA and its security units were praised — albeit indirectly — in a report released last week that was otherwise sharply critical of the State Department security failures that contributed to the deaths of four Americans in Libya three months ago.
In Benghazi, a GRS team rushed to a burning State Department compound in an attempt to rescue U.S. diplomats, then evacuated survivors to a nearby CIA site that also came under attack. Two GRS contractors who had taken positions on the roof of the site were killed by mortar strikes.
Among those killed was Glen Doherty, a GRS contractor on his second CIA assignment in Libya who had served in about 10 other places, including Mexico City, according to his sister, Kathleen Quigley.
“Was he aware of the risks? Absolutely,” Quigley said in an interview, although she noted that “he wasn’t there to protect an embassy. He was there to recover RPGs,” meaning he was providing security for CIA teams tracking Libyan stockpiles of rocket-propelled grenades.
Doherty took the CIA job for the pay and abundant time off, as well as the chance to continue serving the U.S. government abroad, Quigley said.
When Doherty died, he left debts that included loans on two houses in California, Quigley said. He had no life insurance. CIA officials told Doherty’s family that they had recommended companies willing to underwrite such policies, but that agency coverage was not available for contractors.
Quigley did not criticize the agency, but added: “It’s so sad for a guy like that to go out and have nothing to show for it, except, frankly, a lot of debt.”
The CIA declined to comment.
Quigley said her family has started a foundation in Doherty’s name to help other families of current and former U.S. Special Operations troops who have been killed. A separate organization performs a similar function for families of slain CIA officers.
The CIA Memorial Foundation pays college costs for children of CIA officers who were killed and recently began providing payments of about $5,000 to families to help pay for funeral-related costs.
The organization is paying tuition and other costs for 28 dependents of slain agency employees, and an additional 77 will be eligible when they reach college age, said Jerry Komisar, a CIA veteran who is president of the foundation.
The organization’s obligations have grown in recent months, a stretch that ranks as among the deadliest for the CIA since the attack on Khost. After Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed in Benghazi, three other CIA officers — all staff employees — were killed in Afghanistan.
The foundation covers contractors who work for the GRS. “I often wonder why people take those kinds of risks,” Komisar said. “It’s got to be an opportunity for them to bring in more cash. But the downside is, you put yourself at great risk. My heart goes out to them.”
When Prophecy Fails
December 24, 2012
by Paul Krugman
Back in the 1950s three social psychologists joined a cult that was predicting the imminent end of the world. Their purpose was to observe the cultists’ response when the world did not, in fact, end on schedule. What they discovered, and described in their classic book, “When Prophecy Fails,” is that the irrefutable failure of a prophecy does not cause true believers — people who have committed themselves to a belief both emotionally and by their life choices — to reconsider. On the contrary, they become even more fervent, and proselytize even harder.
This insight seems highly relevant as 2012 draws to a close. After all, a lot of people came to believe that we were on the brink of catastrophe — and these views were given extraordinary reach by the mass media. As it turned out, of course, the predicted catastrophe failed to materialize. But we can be sure that the cultists won’t admit to having been wrong. No, the people who told us that a fiscal crisis was imminent will just keep at it, more convinced than ever.
Oh, wait a second — did you think I was talking about the Mayan calendar thing?
Seriously, at every stage of our ongoing economic crisis — and in particular, every time anyone has suggested actually trying to do something about mass unemployment — a chorus of voices has warned that unless we bring down budget deficits now now now, financial markets will turn on America, driving interest rates sky-high. And these prophecies of doom have had a powerful effect on our economic discourse.
Thus, back in May 2009 the Wall Street Journal editorial page seized on an uptick in long-term interest rates to declare that the “bond vigilantes,” the “disciplinarians of U.S. policy makers,” had arrived, and would push rates inexorably higher if big budget deficits continued. As it happened, rates soon went back down. But that didn’t stop The Journal’s news section from rolling out the same story the next time rates rose: “Debt fears send rates up,” blared a headline in March 2010; the debt continued to grow, but the rates went down again.
At this point the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond is less than half what it was when that 2009 editorial was published. But don’t expect any rethinking on The Journal’s part.
Now, you could say that The Journal’s editors didn’t give a specific date for the fiscal apocalypse, although I doubt that any of their readers imagined that they were talking about an event at least three years and seven months in the future.
In any case, some of the most prominent deficit scolds have indeed been willing to talk about dates, or at least time horizons. In early 2011 Erskine Bowles confidently declared that we would face a fiscal crisis within around two years unless something like the Bowles-Simpson deficit plan was enacted, and Alan Simpson chimed in to say that it would be less than two years. I guess he has about 10 weeks left. But again, don’t expect either Mr. Simpson or Mr. Bowles to admit that there might have been something fundamentally wrong with their analysis.
No, very few of the prophets of fiscal doom have acknowledged the failure of their prophecies to come true so far. And those who have admitted surprise seem more annoyed than chastened. For example, back in 2010 Alan Greenspan — who is, for some reason, still treated as an authority figure — conceded that despite large budget deficits, “inflation and long-term interest rates, the typical symptoms of fiscal excess, have remained remarkably subdued.” But he went on to declare, “This is regrettable, because it is fostering a sense of complacency.” How dare reality not validate my fears!
Regular readers know that I and other economists argued from the beginning that these dire warnings of fiscal catastrophe were all wrong, that budget deficits won’t cause soaring interest rates as long as the economy is depressed — and that the biggest risk to the economy is that we might try to slash the deficit too soon. And surely that point of view has been strongly validated by events.
The key thing we need to understand, however, is that the prophets of fiscal disaster, no matter how respectable they may seem, are at this point effectively members of a doomsday cult. They are emotionally and professionally committed to the belief that fiscal crisis lurks just around the corner, and they will hold to their belief no matter how many corners we turn without encountering that crisis.
So we cannot and will not persuade these people to reconsider their views in the light of the evidence. All we can do is stop paying attention. It’s going to be difficult, because many members of the deficit cult seem highly respectable. But they’ve been hugely, absurdly wrong for years on end, and it’s time to stop taking them seriously.
Blessed Prozac Moments!
Here is a wonderful story, typical of the brighter side of the Internet and an advertisement for mental health needs. Author Stew Webb ought to run for Congress on the Tea Party Ticket or even better, the border on a slow bus. Mr. Bulov, who posted this weird fiction on his website, will want to ride shotgun while sniffing glue and fondling a very dead chicken.
Mr. Webb is also associated with the brilliant Webster G. Tarpley, Tom Heneghan, Eric Jon Phelps, and Ralph Schoenman.
Can “Sorcha Faal’(David Brooks) be far behnd?
The Internet is a wonderful source of information but at the same time, it is a nesting ground for a gaggle of the ripest lunatics since L. Ron Hubbard got tossed off the back of a sardine boat.
Here is a typical headline found on one of the howlingly funny ‘conspiracy’ sites; NORTH KOREA TORPEDOED THE GULF OF MEXICO OIL RIG, U.S. HAS ORDERED NEWS MEDIA BLACK-OUT!
Another earlier headline informed us that the ‘Tesla Energy Rays’ actually caused both the 9/11 attack and various major hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy..
Also, Kennedy was actually shot with “sabot shells’ under the direction of the long-gone Illuminati and that various aircraft crashes were due to secret missiles, fired from gigantic Israeli- or Muslim-crewed submarines, huge earthquakes were caused by atomic torpedoes and a thick blanket of mind-controlling drugs carpets downtown Wichita, Kansas, dropped from the notorious ChemTrail Club’s secret air fleet.
This attached story sounds like it came straight from the back wards of some clown house.
And it probably did.
Stew Webb is reporting that just like this past Summer, the top 12 Illuminati Banksters will be meeting for their disgusting child sacrifice right in downtown Denver Colorado in the basement levels of the “The Navarre” museum which used to be an old whorehouse and casino but now sits basically abandoned and not open to the public.
The Satanists will be meeting on the evening of the 21st with the sacrifice happening in the early morning hours of the 22nd.
Stew says that they will steal a baby in the area and sacrifice it and then drink their blood to please Satan.
Before you laugh about this and think it’s not true, please be sure to fully investigate all the details for yourself.
This is the evil Council of 13 that so many have written about throughout the years. They run the world behind the scenes with their banking cartel. It is the top 12 Illuminati Banksters with the 13th spot for the Devil!
These men have been meeting in secret to do their evil on the Summer and Winter solstices for a very long time according to Stew Webb’s information. Stew’s sources in the secret service confirm that H.W. Bush was there during the last sacrifice on June 21st and will be there again this year along with Henry Kissinger, Leonard Millman, Larry Mizel and others.
Stew Webb will be doing radio broadcasts about this event also up until the date and really needs everybody’s help spreading the information around the Internet so he can get people on the ground protesting and observing the event. He wants people to knock on the door of the Navarre and ask the big security guards about the party!
Stew Webb has all the information on who will be attending, where the meeting will be including secondary locations, and much more on this page.
Please share the following page with as many people as you can through facebook and all other social media and websites. With your help we can put the light of God on these men that think we are all their slaves and that they have the right to sacrifice newborn infants to Satan!
Las Vegas, NV 89173 702 362-9567
Euroscepticism growing among voters, Guardian/ICM poll finds
More than half of respondents say they would vote to take UK out of EU if a referendum took place tomorrow
December 26, 2012
by Tom Clark
The public mood of Euroscepticism is hardening, according to an exclusive Guardian/ICM poll that finds 51% of respondents would vote to take Britain out of the EU, against just 40% who say they would vote to stay in.
The news comes as the prime minister prepares to give a widely anticipated speech on Britain’s relationship with the EU in the new year.
The last time ICM asked the same question, in autumn 2011, opinion was already leaning in the anti-European direction, by 49% against 40%, but a slight hardening of opinion since that time means that anti-EU feeling is now just in the majority.
This marks a turnaround from similar polls conducted in the earliest years of this century. When ICM asked a slightly differently worded question in May 2001, the public indicated that it wanted Britain to remain a member of Europe by 68% to 19%.
Revealed: NSA targeting domestic computer systems in secret test
The National Security Agency’s Perfect Citizen program hunts for vulnerabilities in “large-scale” utilities, including power grid and gas pipeline controllers, new documents from EPIC show.
December 23, 2012
Newly released files show a secret National Security Agency program is targeting the computerized systems that control utilities to discover security vulnerabilities, which can be used to defend the United States or disrupt the infrastructure of other nations.
The NSA’s so-called Perfect Citizen program conducts “vulnerability exploration and research” against the computerized controllers that control “large-scale” utilities including power grids and natural gas pipelines, the documents show. The program is scheduled to continue through at least September 2014.
The Perfect Citizen files obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and provided to CNET shed more light on how the agency aims to defend — and attack — embedded controllers. The NSA is reported to have developed Stuxnet, which President Obama secretly ordered to be used against Iran’s nuclear program, with the help of Israel.
U.S. officials have warned for years, privately and publicly, about the vulnerability of the electrical grid to cyberattacks. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a congressional committee in February: “I know what we [the U.S.] can do and therefore I am extraordinarily concerned about the cyber capabilities of other nations.” If a nation gave such software to a fringe group, Dempsey said, “the next thing you know could be into our electrical grid.”
Discussions about offensive weapons in the U.S. government’s electronic arsenal have gradually become more public. One NSA employment posting for a Control System Network Vulnerability Analyst says the job involves “building proof-of concept exploits,” and an Air Force announcement in August called for papers discussing “Cyberspace Warfare Attack” capabilities. The Washington Post reported last month that Obama secretly signed a directive in October outlining the rules for offensive “cyber-operations.”
“Sabotage or disruption of these industries can have wide-ranging negative effects including loss of life, economic damage, property destruction, or environmental pollution,” the NSA concluded in a public report (PDF) discussing industrial control systems and their vulnerabilities.
The 190 pages of the NSA’s Perfect Citizen files, which EPIC obtained through the Freedom of Information Act last week, are heavily redacted. At least 98 pages were completely deleted for a number of reasons, including that portions are “classified top secret,” and could “cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security” if released, according to an accompanying letter from Pamela Phillips, chief of the NSA’s FOIA office.
But the portions that were released show that Raytheon received a contract worth up to $91 million to establish Perfect Citizen, which “enables the government to protect the systems,” especially “large-scale distributed utilities,” operated by the private sector.
The focus is “sensitive control systems,” or SCS, which “provide automation of infrastructure processes.” Raytheon is allowed to hire up to 28 hardware and software engineers who are supposed to “investigate and document the results of vulnerability exploration and research against specific SCS and devices.”
One job description, for a senior penetration tester, says the position will “identify and demonstrate vulnerabilities,” and requires experience using security-related utilities such as Nmap, Tenable’s Nessus, Libnet, and Netcat. Raytheon is required not to disclose that this work is being done for the NSA.
The Wall Street Journal disclosed the existence of Perfect Citizen in a 2010 article, which reported the NSA’s “surveillance” of such systems relies “on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack.”
An NSA spokeswoman responded to CNET at the time by saying that Perfect Citizen is “purely a vulnerabilities assessment and capabilities development contract” that “does not involve the monitoring of communications or the placement of sensors on utility company systems.”
Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, said that the newly declassified documents “may help disprove” the NSA’s argument that Perfect Citizen doesn’t involve monitoring private networks.
The FOIA’d documents say that because the U.S. government relies on commercial utilities for electricity, telecommunications, and other infrastructure requirements, “understanding the technologies utilized in the infrastructure nodes to interoperate on the commercial backbone enables the government to protect the systems.”
Neither the NSA nor Raytheon immediately responded to requests to comment from CNET this morning. We’ll update this story if we receive a response.
Former Israeli chief rabbi indicted for fraud
December 24, 2012
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli authorities have indicted a former chief rabbi of the country on charges of fraud and breach of trust.
Eliahu Bakshi-Doron was charged Monday as part of what has become known as the “rabbis’ file” affair. Bakshi-Doron and others are accused of falsifying rabbinical certificates for more than 1,000 soldiers and police officers so they could be eligible for salary increases.
The indictment says that as a result, hundreds of millions of shekels were fraudulently awarded from the state without any justification.
The 71-year-old Bakshi-Doron served as one of Israel’s two chief rabbis between 1998-2003.
The chief rabbinate oversees many elements of Jewish religious life in Israel.
The religious equality group Hiddush called the indictment “further proof that the institution of the chief rabbinate is unnecessary.”
A Right Derived From Might
The Real Story of How Israel Was Created
by ALISON WEIR
To better understand the Palestinian bid for membership in the United Nations, it is important to understand the original 1947 UN action on Israel-Palestine.
The common representation of Israel’s birth is that the UN created Israel, that the world was in favor of this move, and that the US governmental establishment supported it. All these assumptions are demonstrably incorrect.
In reality, while the UN General Assembly recommended the creation of a Jewish state in part of Palestine, that recommendation was non-binding and never implemented by the Security Council.
Second, the General Assembly passed that recommendation only after Israel proponents threatened and bribed numerous countries in order to gain a required two-thirds of votes.
Third, the US administration supported the recommendation out of domestic electoral considerations, and took this position over the strenuous objections of the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon.
The passage of the General Assembly recommendation sparked increased violence in the region. Over the following months the armed wing of the pro-Israel movement, which had long been preparing for war, perpetrated a series of massacres and expulsions throughout Palestine, implementing a plan to clear the way for a majority-Jewish state.
It was this armed aggression, and the ethnic cleansing of at least three-quarters of a million indigenous Palestinians, that created the Jewish state on land that had been 95 per cent non-Jewish prior to Zionist immigration and that even after years of immigration remained 70 per cent non-Jewish. And despite the shallow patina of legality its partisans extracted from the General Assembly, Israel was born over the opposition of American experts and of governments around the world, who opposed it on both pragmatic and moral grounds.
Let us look at the specifics.
Background of the UN partition recommendation
In 1947 the UN took up the question of Palestine, a territory that was then administered by the British.
Approximately 50 years before, a movement called political Zionism had begun in Europe. Its intention was to create a Jewish state in Palestine through pushing out the Christian and Muslim inhabitants who made up over 95 per cent of its population and replacing them with Jewish immigrants.
As this colonial project grew through subsequent years, the indigenous Palestinians reacted with occasional bouts of violence; Zionists had anticipated this since people usually resist being expelled from their land. In various written documents cited by numerous Palestinian and Israeli historians, they discussed their strategy: they would buy up the land until all the previous inhabitants had emigrated, or, failing this, use violence to force them out.
When the buy-out effort was able to obtain only a few per cent of the land, Zionists created a number of terrorist groups to fight against both the Palestinians and the British. Terrorist and future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin later bragged that Zionists had brought terrorism both to the Middle East and to the world at large.
Finally, in 1947 the British announced that they would be ending their control of Palestine, which had been created through the League of Nations following World War One, and turned the question of Palestine over to the United Nations.
At this time, the Zionist immigration and buyout project had increased the Jewish population of Palestine to 30 per cent and land ownership from 1 per cent to approximately 6 per cent.
Since a founding principle of the UN was “self-determination of peoples,” one would have expected to the UN to support fair, democratic elections in which inhabitants could create their own independent country.
Instead, Zionists pushed for a General Assembly resolution in which they would be given a disproportionate 55 per cent of Palestine. (While they rarely announced this publicly, their stated plan was to later take the rest of Palestine.)
U.S. Officials Oppose Partition Plan
The U.S. State Department opposed this partition plan strenuously, considering Zionism contrary to both fundamental American principles and US interests.
Author Donald Neff reports that Loy Henderson, Director of the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, wrote a memo to the Secretary of State warning:
“….support by the Government of the United States of a policy favoring the setting up of a Jewish State in Palestine would be contrary to the wishes of a large majority of the local inhabitants with respect to their form of government. Furthermore, it would have a strongly adverse effect upon American interests throughout the Near and Middle East…”
Henderson went on to emphasize:
“At the present time the United States has a moral prestige in the Near and Middle East unequaled by that of any other great power. We would lose that prestige and would be likely for many years to be considered as a betrayer of the high principles which we ourselves have enunciated during the period of the war.”
When Zionists began pushing for a partition plan through the UN, Henderson recommended strongly against supporting their proposal. He warned that such a partition would have to be implemented by force and emphasized that it was “not based on any principle.” He went on to write:
“…partition would guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future…”
Henderson went on to emphasize:
….proposals for partition are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the UN Charter as well as to principles on which American concepts of Government are based. These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state and even go so far in several instances as to discriminate on grounds of religion and race…”
Henderson was far from alone in making his recommendations. He wrote that his views were not only those of the entire Near East Division but were shared by “nearly every member of the Foreign Service or of the Department who has worked to any appreciable extent on Near Eastern problems.”
Henderson wasn’t exaggerating. Official after official and agency after agency opposed Zionism.
In 1947 the CIA reported that Zionist leadership was pursuing objectives that would endanger both Jews and “the strategic interests of the Western powers in the Near and Middle East.”
Truman Accedes to Pro-Israel Lobby
President Harry Truman, however, ignored this advice. Truman’s political advisor, Clark Clifford, believed that the Jewish vote and contributions were essential to winning the upcoming presidential election, and that supporting the partition plan would garner that support. (Truman’s opponent, Dewey, took similar stands for similar reasons.)
Truman’s Secretary of State George Marshall, the renowned World War II General and author of the Marshall Plan, was furious to see electoral considerations taking precedence over policies based on national interest. He condemned what he called a “transparent dodge to win a few votes,” which would cause “the great dignity of the office of President to be seriously diminished.”
Marshall wrote that the counsel offered by Clifford “was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem which confronted us was international. I said bluntly that if the President were to follow Mr. Clifford’s advice and if in the elections I were to vote, I would vote against the President…”
Henry F. Grady, who has been called “America’s top diplomatic soldier for a critical period of the Cold War,” headed a 1946 commission aimed at coming up with a solution for Palestine. Grady later wrote about the Zionist lobby and its damaging effect on US national interests.
Grady argued that without Zionist pressure, the U.S. would not have had “the ill-will with the Arab states, which are of such strategic importance in our ‘cold war’ with the soviets.” He also described the decisive power of the lobby:
“I have had a good deal of experience with lobbies but this group started where those of my experience had ended….. I have headed a number of government missions but in no other have I ever experienced so much disloyalty”…… “in the United States, since there is no political force to counterbalance Zionism, its campaigns are apt to be decisive.”
Former Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson also opposed Zionism. Acheson’s biographer writes that Acheson “worried that the West would pay a high price for Israel.” Another Author, John Mulhall, records Acheson’s warning:
“…to transform Palestine into a Jewish State capable of receiving a million or more immigrants would vastly exacerbate the political problem and imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.”
Secretary of Defense James Forrestal also tried, unsuccessfully, to oppose the Zionists. He was outraged that Truman’s Mideast policy was based on what he called “squalid political purposes,” asserting that “United States policy should be based on United States national interests and not on domestic political considerations.”
Forrestal represented the general Pentagon view when he said that “no group in this country should be permitted to influence our policy to the point where it could endanger our national security.”
A report by the National Security Council warned that the Palestine turmoil was acutely endangering the security of the United States. A CIA report stressed the strategic importance of the Middle East and its oil resources.
Similarly, George F. Kennan, the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning, issued a top-secret document on January 19, 1947 that outlined the enormous damage done to the US by the partition plan (“Report by the Policy Planning Staff on Position of the United States with Respect to Palestine”).
Kennan cautioned that “important U.S. oil concessions and air base rights” could be lost through US support for partition and warned that the USSR stood to gain by the partition plan.
Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s nephew and a legendary intelligence agent, was another who was deeply disturbed by events, noting:
“The process by which Zionist Jews have been able to promote American support for the partition of Palestine demonstrates the vital need of a foreign policy based on national rather than partisan interests… Only when the national interests of the United States, in their highest terms, take precedence over all other considerations, can a logical, farseeing foreign policy be evolved. No American political leader has the right to compromise American interests to gain partisan votes…”
He went on:
“The present course of world crisis will increasingly force upon Americans the realization that their national interests and those of the proposed Jewish state in Palestine are going to conflict. It is to be hoped that American Zionists and non-Zionists alike will come to grips with the realities of the problem.”
The head of the State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Gordon P. Merriam, warned against the partition plan on moral grounds:
“U.S. support for partition of Palestine as a solution to that problem can be justified only on the basis of Arab and Jewish consent. Otherwise we should violate the principle of self-determination which has been written into the Atlantic Charter, the declaration of the United Nations, and the United Nations Charter–a principle that is deeply embedded in our foreign policy. Even a United Nations determination in favor of partition would be, in the absence of such consent, a stultification and violation of UN’s own charter.”
Merriam added that without consent, “bloodshed and chaos” would follow, a tragically accurate prediction.
An internal State Department memorandum accurately predicted how Israel would be born through armed aggression masked as defense:
“…the Jews will be the actual aggressors against the Arabs. However, the Jews will claim that they are merely defending the boundaries of a state which were traced by the UN…In the event of such Arab outside aid the Jews will come running to the Security Council with the claim that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside which is the cause of Arab counter-attack.”
And American Vice Consul William J. Porter foresaw another outcome of the partition plan: that no Arab State would actually ever come to be in Palestine.
Pro-Israel Pressure on General Assembly Members
When it was clear that the Partition recommendation did not have the required two-thirds of the UN General Assembly to pass, Zionists pushed through a delay in the vote. They then used this period to pressure numerous nations into voting for the recommendation. A number of people later described this campaign.
Robert Nathan, a Zionist who had worked for the US government and who was particularly active in the Jewish Agency, wrote afterward, “We used any tools at hand,” such as telling certain delegations that the Zionists would use their influence to block economic aid to any countries that did not vote the right way.
Another Zionist proudly stated:
“Every clue was meticulously checked and pursued. Not the smallest or the remotest of nations, but was contacted and wooed. Nothing was left to chance.”
Financier and longtime presidential advisor Bernard Baruch told France it would lose U.S. aid if it voted against partition. Top White House executive assistant David Niles organized pressure on Liberia; rubber magnate Harvey Firestone pressured Liberia.
Latin American delegates were told that the Pan-American highway construction project would be more likely if they voted yes. Delegates’ wives received mink coats (the wife of the Cuban delegate returned hers); Costa Rica’s President Jose Figueres reportedly received a blank checkbook. Haiti was promised economic aid if it would change its original vote opposing partition.
Longtime Zionist Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, along with ten senators and Truman domestic advisor Clark Clifford, threatened the Philippines (seven bills were pending on the Philippines in Congress).
Before the vote on the plan, the Philippine delegate had given a passionate speech against partition, defending the inviolable “primordial rights of a people to determine their political future and to preserve the territorial integrity of their native land…”
He went on to say that he could not believe that the General Assembly would sanction a move that would place the world “back on the road to the dangerous principles of racial exclusiveness and to the archaic documents of theocratic governments.”
Twenty-four hours later, after intense Zionist pressure, the delegate voted in favor of partition.
The U.S. delegation to the U.N. was so outraged when Truman insisted that they support partition that the State Department director of U.N. Affairs was sent to New York to prevent the delegates from resigning en masse.
On Nov 29, 1947 the partition resolution, 181, passed. While this resolution is frequently cited, it was of limited (if any) legal impact. General Assembly resolutions, unlike Security Council resolutions, are not binding on member states. For this reason, the resolution requested that “the Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation,” which the Security Council never did. Legally, the General Assembly Resolution was a “recommendation” and did not create any states.
What it did do, however, was increase the fighting in Palestine. Within months (and before Israel dates the beginning of its founding war) the Zionists had forced out 413,794 people. Zionist military units had stealthily been preparing for war before the UN vote and had acquired massive weaponry, some of it through a widespread network of illicit gunrunning operations in the US under a number of front groups.
The UN eventually managed to create a temporary and very partial ceasefire. A Swedish UN mediator who had previously rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis was dispatched to negotiate an end to the violence. Israeli assassins killed him and Israel continued what it was to call its “war of independence.”
At the end of this war, through a larger military force than that of its adversaries and the ruthless implementation of plans to push out as many non-Jews as possible, Israel came into existence on 78 per cent of Palestine.
At least 33 massacres of Palestinian civilians were perpetrated, half of them before a single Arab army had entered the conflict, hundreds of villages were depopulated and razed, and a team of cartographers was sent out to give every town, village, river, and hillock a new, Hebrew name. All vestiges of Palestinian habitation, history, and culture were to be erased from history, an effort that almost succeeded.
Israel, which claims to be the “only democracy in the Middle East,’ decided not to declare official borders or to write a constitution, a situation which continues to this day. In 1967 it took still more Palestinian and Syrian land, which is now illegally occupied territory, since the annexation of land through military conquest is outlawed by modern international law. It has continued this campaign of growth through armed acquisition and illegal confiscation of land ever since.
Individual Israelis, like Palestinians and all people, are legally and morally entitled to an array of human rights.
On the other hand, the state of Israel’s vaunted “right to exist” is based on an alleged “right” derived from might, an outmoded concept that international legal conventions do not recognize, and in fact specifically prohibit.
December 24, 2012 by Common Dreams
‘Ominous’ New Research: Earth’s Coldest Regions Warming Fastest
Latest research adds to litany that puts climate crisis in stark perspective
– Lauren McCauley, staff writer
The litany of extreme weather events this year and the mounting discoveries supplied by climate scientists have made 2012 a year in which the realities of a warmer planet make ignoring the impacts of human caused climate change no longer possible.
Nearly routine record-breaking heat waves; historic droughts and massive flooding destroyed croplands; fierce storms fueled ‘surges’ that destroyed homes and lives throughout North America; a late season typhoon wracked an island nation, killing nearly 1500; and the list goes on.
Even as author and activist Rebecca Solnit writes that 2012 has already “put the [climate] crisis in perspective,” the news keeps coming with just published research showing that the very coldest corners of our planet are the regions that are heating up the quickest, with dramatic consequences for sea-level rise.
A study released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that average annual temperatures in West Antarctica have risen 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1950s, one of the fastest gains on the planet.
The readings, taken at the Byrd research station in a remote region of Antarctica found that temperatures rising roughly twice as fast as scientists previously predicted for this region and three times the worldwide global warming average, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth.
“The surprises keep coming,” said Andrew J. Monaghan, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who took part in the study. “When you see this type of warming, I think it’s alarming.”
The report examined statistically significant warming during the austral summer, particularly during peak melting months December and January. It found that a continual rise in summer temperatures could lead to “more frequent and extensive episodes of surface melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”
A potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is one of the long-term hazards that have led experts to worry about global warming. The base of the ice sheet sits below sea level, in a configuration that makes it especially vulnerable. Scientists say a breakup of the ice sheet, over a period that would presumably last at least several hundred years, could raise global sea levels by 10 feet, possibly more.
Adding to the study, Reuters reports:
Several ice shelves – thick ice floating on the ocean and linked to land – have collapsed around the Antarctic Peninsula [which snakes up towards South America] in recent years. Once ice shelves break up, glaciers pent up behind them can slide faster into the sea, raising water levels.
“The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous West Antarctic ice sheet glaciers,” said Andrew Monaghan, a co-author at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Climate experts predict that sea levels will rise by between 7 and 24 inches this century, with significant increases if the thawing of Greenland and Antarctica accelerates. West Antarctica now contributes about 0.3 mm a year to sea level rise.
Low-lying and island nations are especially vulnerable to sea level rise, as are coastal cities such as New York, which we saw tested during this fall’s Superstorm Sandy.
According to a poll in the Associated Press, “Four out of every five Americans said climate change will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it.”
And Rebecca Solnit, tying the climates events to the response generated among the public, suggests that people may be finally be coming around to this new reality.
“That widespread belief suggests that potentially broad support now exists and may be growing for a movement that makes climate change — the broiling of the Earth — central, urgent, and everybody’s business.”