Tag Archive: USA


George Galloway hosts RT Correspondent Max Keiser in Westminster talking about the Economy

Remembering Guantanamo

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As the majority of the western world glues itself to the television to get the latest updates on the US Presidential election, a group of British protesters gathered outside the US embassy today to remember those connected to an issue that the Obama administration long seems to have forgotten about.

Yesterday, The London Guantanamo Campaign hosted its event “Demo, Truth and Justice The American Way” which consisted of speakers and entertainers who highlighted the on going human rights abuses conducted by the US and UK governments in Guantanamo Bay.

The event was attended by people like Ilyas Townsend(Justice for Aafia Campaign) who talked about the history of colonialism and it’s contemporary manifestations, Chris Nineham(Stop the War Coalition) who talked about our need to oppose Guantanamo and the connection between Islamophobia and the war in terror and Joy Hurcombe(Save Shaker Aamer Campaign) who spoke of their fight to free Britains last remaining Guantanamo detainee.

But for me the most interesting speech was from Aviva Stahl(CagePrisoners) who highlighted the intrusive entrapment methods of the FBI responsible for radicalising Muslims. This was particularly relevant to my previous article which was an interview with documentary film maker Roshan Muhammad Salih and his investigations of MI5’s intelligence gathering operation of the Muslim community in the UK.

It was a very inspirational event to be involved in, seeing people stand up for the right of others but there is another thing that I learnt. Although it is important to resist the current war on terror, we have to understand that this is simply an evolution of the cold war. Therefore our response to the war on terror must also evolve if we are to take our activism to new powerful heights and ensure that our children and our children’s children have a fighting chance in stopping imperialism and racism in all of its forms.

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Here is the Speech by David Cameron yesterday, I’m going to do a critique on this.

This is a check against delivery version of the Prime Minister’s speech

“With me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

I will always stand by the Jewish people. And it is humbling to be here tonight and to be called a friend.

Here in this room, we have many of the people who are determined to build the strongest possible relationship between Britain and Israel.

The business leaders who have taken our trade to well over $8 billion a year and made Britain the second biggest export market for Israel in the world.

The scientists who are taking forward an ambitious programme of joint research as part of the UK-Israel Life Sciences Council, which includes no less than four Nobel Prize winners.

The leading academics who are helping to forge new partnerships between Manchester and the Weizmann Institute, Oxford and Ben Gurion, Cambridge and Tel Aviv.

The hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world.

And, of course, our two ambassadors – Matthew Gould and Daniel Taub who are doing so much to help build this partnership between our countries.

UJIA

Mick, Doug – you have made an inspirational contribution and I am sure that everyone will want to join me in paying tribute to your leadership and hard work over these past few years.

I am a big admirer of what the UJIA does both here in Britain and in Israel. Let me explain why.

First, the Jewish community in Britain is a role model for successful integration because you understand that as well as being part of a community with a common faith you are also part of a wider community – that of our country.

You epitomise the philanthropic spirit that is so central to Jewish teaching and which sees so many Jewish people give generously – not just to Jewish charities but to all charitable causes.

And through your support for Jewish youth movements and educational programmes for young people at both Jewish and mainstream schools and through your Summer Tours to Israel for 16 year olds and gap year students you continue to show each new generation that it is possible to be both a proud Jew steeped in the values of the Jewish people and a proud British citizen.

Yes, you can love this country, take pride in its history, celebrate its Olympics, even cry with its football fans every other year. There is no contradiction between being a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen.

In the past, governments allowed a flawed state multiculturalism that said we should encourage different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.

I don’t subscribe to that. And neither do you. I believe we have to end the passive tolerance of segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

Let’s be clear what that means. It means getting preachers of hate out of our country.
It means proscribing organisations that incite terrorism. And it means zero tolerance for any form of anti-Semitism, especially on our campuses.

And to those in Britain’s universities and trades unions who want to boycott Israel and consign it to an international ghetto, I say not only will this Government never allow you to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger but I also say this: we know what you are doing – trying to delegitimise the State of Israel – and we will not have it.

SECURING ISRAEL’S FUTURE

I’m a fan of what you do in Israel too. The focus you have given to the Galilee has ensured that UJIA’s funding reaches those communities that most need it.

And the projects you’ve supported touch the lives, not just of those directly involved, but of all Israel. The medical school in Safad which teaches Jews and Arabs alike. Western Galilee College, where more than 30 per cent of the intake is Arab, and almost half of that Arab women. Or, of course, the high school in Shlomi. There in the shadow of the hills from which Hezbollah launched its missiles you brought an army of teachers and the hope of a new generation.

That is the vision, strength and courage on which our future depends. And that is what the UJIA is all about. Now, tonight I want to talk about three key steps to secure Israel’s future.

Standing up to Iran.

Seizing the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring and the spread of democracy in the wider region. And making the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

Let me take each in turn.

IRAN

First, Iran. Let’s be clear about the facts. Iran is flouting six United Nations resolutions. The Regime’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended purely for civilian purposes is not remotely credible.

And it has shown its violent agenda by exporting terror and violence to Iraq, to Syria, to Gaza, to Lebanon and to many peace-loving countries across the world.

Iran is not just a threat to Israel. It is a threat to the world. Now there are some who say nothing will work – and that we have to learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran.

I say we don’t and we shouldn’t.

But at the same time I also refuse to give in to those who say that the current policy is fatally flawed, and that we have no choice but military action. A negotiated settlement remains within Iran’s grasp.

But until they change course, we have a strategy of ever tougher sanctions. Just today, Britain has secured a further round of new sanctions through the EU Foreign Affairs Council. And these relentless sanctions are having an impact no-one expected a year ago.

They have slowed the nuclear programme. Iranian oil exports have fallen by 45 per cent. That’s 1 million fewer barrels a day and $8 billion in revenues lost every quarter.

The Rial has plummeted – losing around half its value between May and September.
Inflation is soaring – thought to be as much as 50 per cent. And the Iranian Regime has had to establish an economic austerity taskforce to manage the pressure they have brought on their own people.

Most significantly, there are signs that the Iranian people are beginning to question the Regime’s strategy with even pro-regime groups protesting at the actions of the Government.

It’s mind boggling that the leaders of a nation so rich in oil have succeeded in turning their country into a banana republic desperately trying to put rockets into space while their people suffer.

The Iranian regime is under unprecedented pressure and faces an acute dilemma. They are leading their people to global isolation and an economic collapse. And they know it.

They know too that there is a simple way to bring sanctions to an end. By giving the international community the confidence we need that they are not and will not develop a nuclear weapon.

I have said to Prime Minister Netanyahu that now is not the time for Israel to resort to military action. Beyond the unpredictable dangers inherent in any conflict, the other reason is this:

At the very moment when the Regime faces unprecedented pressure and the people are on the streets and when Iran’s only real ally in Syria is losing his grip on power a foreign military strike is exactly the chance the Regime would look for to unite his people against a foreign enemy.

We shouldn’t give them that chance. We need the courage to give these sanctions time to work. But let me also say this. In the long term, if Iran makes the wrong choice, nothing is off the table. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to Israel. And a threat to the world. And this country will work unwaveringly to prevent that from happening

Open societies

Let me turn to the changing events in the wider region. I have no illusions about the dangers that political transition can bring in the Arab spring countries.

And I understand why instability can be a great cause for concern. I understand how dark things were for Israel when surrounded by enemies on every border. And I understand how Israelis feel when gas masks are handed out to families; and car parks are converted into bomb shelters.

But I passionately believe that what we are seeing through the Arab Spring need not be a new threat to Israel’s security. Democracy and open societies are not the problem – they can be a big part of the solution.

Yes, there are those who believe that in a volatile region only an authoritarian strong man can maintain stability and security. But when brutal dictators suppress their people in the name of stability, the end result is a region is that more dangerous – not less.

More dangerous because these regimes abuse the Palestinian cause to smother their own people’s hopes and aspirations, dealing with frustration at home by whipping up anger against their neighbours, Israel and the West. And more dangerous too, because people denied a job and a voice are given no alternative but a dead end choice between dictatorship or extremism.

Now, of course, many fear that elections can open the door to Islamist parties whose values are incompatible with truly open societies. But the answer is not to oppose elections. The answer is to respect the outcome of elections. And then judge governments by what they do.

For example, there are big questions facing President Mursi in Egypt. We want to know if he will live up to his commitments to protect the rule of law for all citizens, defend the rights of minorities and allow women to play a full in society. And I challenged him personally on these points when I met him in New York last month.

But when he re-launches Operation Eagle to try and do something about the lawlessness in the Sinai, we should welcome that. And when he goes to Tehran and speaks the truth to that regime about its despicable actions in Syria in support of Assad, we should welcome that too.

But if the Islamists attempt to undermine the stability of other countries or encourage terrorism instead of peace and conflict instead of partnership then we must and will oppose them. And that is why we will not waver from our insistence that Hamas gives up violence and that the rockets from Gaza must stop. Hamas must not be allowed to dictate the way forwards for Israelis and Palestinians.

Of course, the Arab Spring presents huge challenges. But if we can show the strength and courage to engage with new democratic governments, their chance to establish the building blocks of democracy, fair economies and open societies offers the greatest opportunity for stability and peace in a generation.

MEPP

That brings me to the Palestinian Territories and the peace process. We can’t advocate democracy and open societies in one breath and then cite the need for stability as an excuse for why the Palestinians shouldn’t renew their democracy too.

It’s now seven years since Palestinians voted for a President and six since parliamentary elections. The Palestinian leadership needs to refresh its mandate and show it has the consent of its people, starting with municipal elections later this month. And it needs to resolve the situation in Gaza and restore to Palestinians a unified, leadership able to deliver peaceful resolution of the conflict with Israel.

So Palestinian reconciliation and Palestinian elections are key points on the path to peace – because without consent there can never be credible negotiation.

It will require great strength and courage to take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

And let me say this: I know it takes two to negotiate. So let me tell President Abbas something very clearly there is no path to statehood except through talks with Israel.

So if the Palestinian plan is simply posturing with the UN rather than negotiating with Israel, Britain will never support it.

And let me say this to the Palestinians too. Britain will never support anyone who sponsors a football tournament named after a suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate incitement to terrorism.

But in the search for peace both sides have to make hard choices. And just as President Abbas has followed through his commitment to non-violence with real progress on the West Bank so Israel needs a real drive to improve life for ordinary Palestinians.

That means more support for economic development in the West Bank, relaxing restrictions on Gaza, ending the demolition of Palestinian homes, and yes, it means meeting Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap and under international law to halt settlement building.

Britain’s position will not change. Settlements beyond the green line are illegal.

I know how hard the concessions needed for peace can be. But the truth is, time is running out for a two state solution – and with it Israel’s best chance to live in peace with its neighbours.

CONCLUSION

Brett, in your introduction you said that support for Israel was in the DNA of the political party I lead. It is. But I believe it is in the DNA of the country I lead too.

That is why Britain will always stand by Israel, protect Israel, and work with Israel on the path to peace.

I long for the day when I can come to a dinner like this and not have to talk about the threats to Israel. I long too for the day when making statements in support of Israel is as unnecessary as going to see President Obama and saying I support America’s right to exist.

For now, Israel will continue to face acute threats and a hard road to peace. But with strength and courage we can, together, stand up to Iran. We can, together, seize the opportunities presented by the spread of democracy in the wider region. And we can together take the hard choices needed to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

So let me conclude by wishing you all a slightly belated shana tova and let us hope that it will be a sweet year for the British Jewish community and the Jewish people in the State of Israel. And one which brings us closer to the peace and security for Israel that its people so richly deserve.”

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A 21 year old Bangladeshi man going by the name of Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis has been arrested on terrorism charges after attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank today

At first Nafis drove a van with what he thought was a 1000lb bomb near the building, then walked to a nearby hotel to record a martyrdom video and then phoned a mobile phone designed to detonate the bomb. It failed and Nafis was promptly arrested by the FBI in a sting operation.

Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI, said “Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure. The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. It is important to emphasise that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant’s ‘accomplices’ were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism.”

Although I am happy that this attempt failed and no innocent human being lost their lives, the points emboldened above expose some rather worrying facts.

According to some information released by the FBI Nafis came to the US intending to commit acts of terrorism, attempted to recruit for Al Qaida to assist in carrying out his ambitions in US soil. But one of his recruits tuned out to be a source working for the FBI and it was actually an FBI agent who sold Nafis the material needed to make his fake bomb.

It seems that the FBI, faaar from preventing acts of terror, are actually facilitating acts of terror in order to make arrests. Cases like these should make one question, how many of these ‘Extremist’ Muslims are actually working on behalf of the intelligence services? how many of these intelligence operatives have assisted in radicalising vulnerable Muslims in order to make arrests?

Now as I wrote before, I’m glad this plot failed but let’s not forget reason why the US government is one of the most hated governments in the world. In the past 50 years the US has bombed several countries, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, governs corrupt institutions like the IMF and World Bank, intervened in many elections throughout the world, supports terrorist states like Israel and also is the #1 arms dealer in the whole world.

If anyone wants to understand why the US is so hated, read William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the Worlds only Superpower

Excellent discussion on the Alonya show on the politics of Obama, Mitt Romney, Islamophobia and the US’s engagement with the Muslim World



I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you
I’m sorry for everything that you went through
At the beginning of it all
I know that you never thought that this war
Would literally kick down your door
Exposing the real world, a world where the innocent are framed
Is what Tony Blair probably meant
When he said the rules of the game have changed
A world where the truth is in her grave
And Lady Liberty is abused like a prisoner in Abu Ghraib
But I know you know what it feels like and I hate to say it
But I find solace in the darkness of my own solitude
When I’m reminded of what you’ve been through
And what your going through instils a strong sense of belief in me
Strongly disagreeing with Francis Fukiyama
this isn’t the end of history
The innocent wont continue to languish in prison
Which is what they’re putting you through for supporting terrorism
But Bush’s business talks with the Taliban
Was never mentioned through the Television
Or the radio yet still they never let you go
That’s the justice system not practicing what they preach
Whenever I think of your mother,
I picture her over tear flooded streams
when it is only heaven that should lay beneath her feet
Yet far from being frail and weak
Only men of honour are jailed for what they believe
Knowing the day will come where you walk free
Fills me with a strong sense of optimism
To continue fighting for the day
oppression is called out for extradition
And the innocent aren’t done for terrorism but until then
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be thrown off-shore
Probably Resulting in eyes flooded with so much tears you can’t see no more

Resulting in grief stricken pain so great you can’t grieve no more
I really respect you for saying you won’t cry,
You won’t show the world that your cracking up inside,
Know my brother
Freedom comes at a price
And you’ve paid the price
freedom will come to you in the form of paradise,
You’ve paid the price,
freedom will come to you in the form of paradise,
you’ve paid the price,
freedom will come to you in the form of paradise.
God willing

Extradition is a film that explores the injustices of the Extradition Act 2003 through the suffering of two individuals and their families. The act stipulates that any British Citizen can be extradited to the US without their government even providing prima facie evidence. Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan have been detained for eight and six years respectively, both without trial. In all this time they have had no charges levelled against them, seen none of the evidence or even been questioned by British or American police. Yet they remain imprisoned.

The documentary showcases the hypocrisy and one-sidedness of the Act but also shows the human suffering of the two men and their families.

The film, directed by Turab Shah, features interviews with Gareth Peirce, Talha’s Brother Hamja Ahsan, playwright Avaes Mohammad, the fathers of Babar and Talha, framed by Talha’s prison poetry.

Source

A federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado’s involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company.

CIA

It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. “The move was historic,” says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. “It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise.”

The quote is from his e-book How to Get Away With Murder in America, which goes on to note that “in the past, the CIA was subject to oversight, however tenuous, from the president and Congress,” but that “President Bush’s 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself — and all elected authority — from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency’s most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater’s self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” None of this is new information, though I imagine that many people reading this item are hearing about it for the first time.

Isn’t that bizarre?

The bulk of Wright’s e-book (full disclosure: I help edit the website of Byliner, publisher of the e-book) tells the story of Enrique Prado, a high-ranking CIA-officer-turned-Blackwater-employee who oversaw assassination units for both the CIA and the contractor. To whom was this awesome responsibility entrusted? According to Wright’s investigation, a federal organized crime squad run out of the Miami-Dade Police Department produced an investigation allegedly tying Prado to seven murders carried out while he worked as a bodyguard for a narco crime boss. At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried.

There’s a lot more to the story — Wright’s e-book is almost 50 pages long — but this bit is of particular note:
The reporting on Prado’s activities at Blackwater produced no evidence that the firm’s employees had ever killed anyone on behalf of the CIA. But I spoke to Blackwater employees who insisted that they had. Two Blackwater contractors told me that their firm began conducting assassinations in Afghanistan as early as 2008. They claimed to have participated in such operations — one in a support role, the other as a “trigger puller.” The contractors, to whom I spoke in 2009 and 2010, were both ex-Special Forces soldiers who were not particularly bothered by assassination work, although they did question the legality of Blackwater’s involvement in it.

According to the “trigger puller,” he and a partner were selected for one such operation because they were Mexican Americans, whose darker skin enabled them to blend in as Afghan civilians. The first mission he described took place in 2008. He and his partner spent three weeks training outside Kabul, becoming accustomed to walking barefoot like Afghans while toting weapons underneath their jackets. Their mission centered on walking into a market and killing the occupant of a pickup truck, whose identity a CIA case worker had provided to them. They succeeded in their mission, he told me, and moved on to another. This contractor’s story didn’t completely fit with other accounts about Prado’s unit at Blackwater. The e-mail written by Prado and later obtained by the Times seemed to indicate that the unit wouldn’t use Americans to carry out actual assassinations. Moreover, two CIA sources insisted that the contractors I spoke to were lying. As one put it, “These guys are security guards who want to look like Rambo.”

When I asked Ed O’Connell, a former Air Force colonel and RAND analyst with robust intelligence experience in Afghanistan, to evaluate these contractors’ claims, he first told me they were almost certainly a “fantastical crock of shit.” But a year later, in 2011, after a research trip in Afghanistan for his firm Alternative Strategies Institute, O’Connell had changed his assessment. He told me, “Your sources seem to have been correct. Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA.”
So there you have it: A former Air Force lieutenant colonel, speaking on the record and using the present tense, said in 2011 that “private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA.”

Says Wright:

While Blackwater’s covert unit began as a Bush administration story, President Obama now owns it. In 2010, his administration intervened on behalf of the Blackwater executives indicted for weapons trafficking, filing motions to suppress evidence on the grounds that it could compromise national security. The administration then awarded Blackwater (which is now called Academi) a $250 million contract to perform unspecified services for the CIA. At the same time, Obama has publicly taken responsibility for some lethal operations — the Navy SEALs’ sniper attack on Somali pirates, the raid on bin Laden. His aides have also said that he reviews target lists for drone strikes. The president’s actions give him the appearance of a man who wants the best of both worlds. He appears as a tough, resolute leader when he announces his role in killings that will likely be popular — a pirate, a terrorist. But the apparatus for less accountable killings grinds on.
Needless to say, this ought to spark an investigation, but more than that, it should cause Americans to step back and reflect on how vulnerable we’ve made ourselves to bad actors in the post-9/11 era. We’re giving C.I.A. agents and even private security contractors the sort of power no individual should wield. And apparently our screening apparatus turns out to be lacking.

Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC Member of Parliament, the founder of Corruption Watch and author of a new book on the arms trade discussed the inner workings of both the formal and illicit trade in weapons — as well as the links between the two