US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”
In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.
To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.
That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.
The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.
Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.
So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.
Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.
Now is the Time to Realize More Than Ever, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is is Not Just for Our Liberty, But Our Very Survival
From Lone Star Watchdog
Posted by realman2020
The American people are not looking for a fight with the government at all. But for years we have seen the erosion of our liberties ever since September 11, 2001. The government now has taken their focus off the Muslims in the middle east now turning the barrel on the American people. With a the Passage of the Patriot Act in the fall of 2001 that shreds our bill of rights. The Federal government is now more of a threat to the safety and security of its own citizens more than the phony radical Islamic terrorist.
We have the Department of Homeland Security that seeks to grab more power daily away from States and local governments. We have the TSA groping a 98 year old grandmother in a Wheelchair to keep us safe. We have Police acting like thugs beating up protesters because they are asserting their right to free speech. We have US Senators voting on the US Military arresting Americans with no trial or due process. Sen Joe Lieberman is asking Google to censor the bloggers. The Congress and the President want to silence free speech as much as possible because they know their time is short to impose their will on us. If they cannot do it, they all face jail time or the gallows for treason.
They are calling for censorship of the internet and invasion of our privacy, restrictions on our travel because their power is waning thanks on the internet. The Alternative press and citizen journalist have been the news source people are looking to for information. The old media is dying and the new media I am part of is becoming mainstream in the thought of many people. Thanks to the internet, we have exposed the puppets looking right straight at the real power. A central banking cartel waiting to loot the wealth of this nation. There is one thing that stands in the way that scares them right now. This tradition has been a part of our culture for 234 years. This right preceded the Constitution, without this right. We would still be subjects to the British crown.
We had the unfortunate lessons from other countries like China, Cambodia, and Russia when people are left helpless and cannot defend themselves. We see what happens when the government has a monopoly on force, many innocent people were killed along with the dissidents. A brutal police state was set up to keep the dictator in place while the people had no means of force to remove and abolish a form of government that threatens their very lives. Why did this happen? It is because the people surrendered their firearms to the government for a false sense of security thinking the government will protect them. In reality the government murdered people to protect itself from an uprising. If we surrendered our guns like the other nations did in the past. There would be mass graves here also and FEMA camps filled to capacity with political prisoners.
If there was a time for the right to keep and bear arms is more essential as a deterrence against full blown tyranny than it is now. We have to be stubborn or they will run over us. We have an Israeli duel citizen Senator Joe Lieberman moving to silence the opposition trying to quell free speech by censoring the internet by asking Google to put on terrorist button on the blogs. John McCain passing a bill for the US Military to arrest Americans and detain them without charge as political prisoners. The Police power of the state is being used to infringe on economic liberty shutting down Lemonade stands and Farmers markets having guns drawn for non violent activity that is not even criminal. We have the government seizing property without due process of law. Police beating and tazering people to death without provocation. Even though they are passing all these draconian laws that are unconstitutional and criminal. The people retaining their right to keep and bear arms might be a difference between living in a free state or a dictatorship without firing a shot.
Ever since Obama was elected President, firearms sales have rose to new levels as never before. Private sales at gun shows are at a greater number. Ammunition sales are on the rise. Gun Control has lost its credibility and people see why the goverment wants our guns. No matter how much the President and the bureaucracy tries to use administrative measures to keep guns out of the hands of veterans. A veteran will find a way to be armed. The system is moving fast to clamp down on the people with laws after laws. How much they can enforce depends on us because we retain our right to keep and bear arms no matter what the government says. Is up to us. The right to self defense against a tyrannical goverment is our God given right no despot can take away unless we give it away. The only difference between us living in darkness in a reign of terror or having a chance to stop the tyrants in their tracks so we can push back without firing a shot is our right to keep and bear arms.
We have a right to life, liberty and the pursue happiness. When a government becomes a threat to our safety and security infringing on our rights by force and fraud. It our right to alter, abolish and institute a form of goverment to safeguard of freedoms. Having an armed population now is the difference between freedom or tyranny and even life and death. What happened in tyrannical countries must not happen here. We cannot trust Washington anymore to defend our rights. It is ours to defend if we are going to survive. An armed society is not only a polite society, it is also inhabited by a free people.
Endangered lawmakers move to back bill banning congressional insider trading
Posted by poorrichard at Poor Richard’s Blog
By Peter Sullivan
Politically vulnerable lawmakers are lining up as co-sponsors of legislation that would ban congressional insider trading.
A “60 minutes” report earlier this month indicated that members of Congress have been trading stocks based on knowledge gained from their positions, a practice that does not violate the law.
Before the report, a House bill that would outlaw the practice only had nine co-sponsors. In the week following the “60 Minutes” segment, that number jumped to 92. Of the 83 additions, 19 are facing competitive reelection races as defined by the Cook Political Report.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who is seeking reelection in blue Massachusetts and will likely face Elizabeth Warren, a champion of Wall Street reform, introduced a version in the upper chamber two days after the report aired. Two of the four co-sponsors, Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), are facing challenging reelection battles in 2012.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a third version three days later. She and four of the seven co-sponsors are up for reelection in 2012. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who both face races rated as toss-ups, are among those that have signed on.
The House bill, titled the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, was first introduced in 2006 by then-Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). The measure was reintroduced it in each Congress since then, but the bill never got out of committee and never received more than 14 co-sponsors until the “60 minutes” piece aired.
Now, both the House Financial Services and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees have scheduled hearings on the legislation next week.
Politically vulnerable House members who have cosponsored the measure this month include Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Charles Bass (R-N.H.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa.).
Baird is not cynical about the sudden support for his bill after it languished for so long.
“I’m just happy that it’s getting attention now,” Baird told The Hill. “I don’t want to pass judgment on the past. Let’s move forward and get it passed.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lashed out at the “60 Minutes” report, which focused on the two House leaders, among others. Neither Pelosi nor Boehner is a co-sponsor.
Andrew Eggers, a lecturer in government at the London School of Economics, and Jens Hainmueller, assistant professor of political science at MIT, co-authored a study in June of this year finding that congressional stock portfolios actually underperformed the market index by 2-3 percent between 2004 and 2008. This result runs counter to a study by Georgia State University professor Alan Ziobrowski, cited by Brown in his hearing request, which found that in the 1990s, senators beat the market by 12 percent and representatives beat it by 6 percent on average annually.
In playing down the substantive importance of the STOCK Act, Eggers and Hainmueller also point to the fact that congressional ethics rules already prohibit the practice. The House Ethics Manual states that “all government employees, including officeholders” should “never use information received confidentially in the performance of governmental duties for making private profit.”
But they told The Hill the bill does have political value.
“I think the value is sort of symbolic,” Hainmueller said. “It probably will help salvage whatever credibility Congress has left.”
“If I’m a member of Congress, I want to be on the side of whatever reform is being proposed, especially if I’m facing reelection,” Eggers said.
The “60 minutes” report alleged that Boehner and Pelosi have traded stocks based on information gained from their positions.
The CBS News show reported that Boehner bought stock in private health insurance companies in 2009 while helping kill the public option. Boehner responded by saying he is not involved in his day-to-day trading. In addition, a House GOP aide said, “The idea that the Republican Leader in the House opposed the ‘public option’ — policy favored by the left of the left — for personal profit is, frankly, stupid.”
The report also alleged that while Pelosi was Speaker in 2008 she bought stock in Visa while not bringing to the floor a bill that would have limited fees credit card companies could charge. A Pelosi spokesman, Drew Hammill, likewise fired back by pointing out that the bill in question was only reported out of committee on the last day of the session before the election and while the House was busy considering the TARP financial rescue.
The STOCK Act would bar members and their employees from using or sharing information they gain from their positions in financial trades. It requires firms that specialize in obtaining information that could be financially useful to register like lobbying firms. The measure also mandates members and their employees to report financial trades in excess of $1,000 within 90 days.
Baird hopes that this reporting requirement will be tightened to within 48 hours of the trade, which is the way he originally wrote it. In the bill’s struggles before its sudden popularity, this provision changed. “I was convinced to change it to 90 days in the hope of getting more co-sponsors,” Baird said. “Obviously that didn’t work out.”
Other members who have co-sponsored the bill and are not in competitive reelection races include Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.).
Is Britain Plotting With Israel to Attack Iran?
Ex-Ambassador Exposes Government Cover-Up
by JONATHAN COOK
Last February Britain’s then defense minister Liam Fox attended a dinner in Tel Aviv with a group described as senior Israelis. Alongside him sat Adam Werritty, a lobbyist whose “improper relations” with the minister would lead eight months later to Fox’s hurried resignation.
According to several reports in the British media the Israelis in attendance at the dinner were representatives of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, while Fox and Werritty were accompanied by Matthew Gould, Britain’s ambassador to Israel. A former British diplomat has now claimed that the topic of discussion that evening was a secret plot to attack Iran.
The official inquiry castigating the UK’s former defence secretary for what has come to be known as a “cash-for-access” scandal appears to have only scratched the surface of what Fox and accomplice Adam Werritty may have been up to when they met for dinner in Tel Aviv.
Little was made of the dinner in the 10-page inquiry report published last month by Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet’s top civil servant.
Instead O’Donnell concentrated on other aspects of Werritty’s behaviour: the 33-year-old friend of Fox’s had presented himself as the minister’s official adviser and jetted around the world with him arranging meetings with businessmen.
The former minister’s allies, seeking to dismiss the gravity of the case against him, have described Werritty as a harmless dreamer. Following his resignation, Fox himself claimed O’Donnell’s report had exonerated him of putting national security at risk.
However, a spate of new concerns raised in the wake of the inquiry challenge both of these assumptions. These include questions about the transparency of the O’Donnell investigation, the extent of Fox and Werritty’s ties to Israel and the unexplained role of Gould.
Craig Murray, Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan until 2004, when he turned whistle blower on British and US collusion on torture, said senior British government officials were profoundly disturbed by the O’Donnell inquiry, seeing it as a “white wash.”
Murray himself accused O’Donnell of being “at the most charitable interpretation, economical with the truth.”
Two well-placed contacts alerted Murray to Gould’s central – though largely ignored – role in the Fox-Werritty relationship, he said.
Murray has pieced together evidence that Fox, Werritty and Gould met on at least six occasions over the past two years or so, despite the O’Donnell inquiry claiming they had met only twice. Gould is the only ambassador Fox and Werritty are known to have met together.
In an inexplicable break with British diplomatic and governmental protocol, officials were not present at a single one of the six meetings between the three men. No record was taken of any of the discussions.
Murray, who first made public his concerns on his personal blog, said a source familiar with the O’Donnell inquiry told him the parameters of the investigation were designed to divert attention away from the more damaging aspects of Fox and Werritty’s behaviour.
Subsequently, the foreign office has refused to respond to questions, including from an MP, about the Tel Aviv dinner. Officials will not say who the Israelis were, what was discussed or even who paid for the evening, though under Whitehall rules all hospitality should be declared.
Also unexplained is why Fox rejected requests by his own staff to attend the dinner, and why Werritty was privy to such a high-level meeting when he had no security clearance.
Nonetheless, O’Donnell appeared inadvertently to confirm that Mossad representatives were present at the dinner during questioning from an MP at a meeting of the House of Commons’ Public Administration Committee this week.
Responding to a question about the dinner from opposition MP Paul Flynn, O’Donnell said: “The important point here was that, when the Secretary of State [Fox] had that meeting, he had an official with him—namely, in this case, the ambassador [Gould]. That is very important, and I should stress that I would expect our ambassador in Israel to have contact with Mossad. That will be part of his job.”
The real concern among government officials, Murray said, is that Fox, Werritty and Gould were conspiring in a “rogue” foreign policy – opposed to the British government’s stated aims – that was authored by Mossad and Israel’s neoconservative allies in Washington.
This suspicion was partially confirmed by a report in the Guardian last month, as O’Donnell was carrying out his investigation. It cited unnamed government officials saying they were worried that Fox and Werritty had been pursuing what was termed an “alternative” government policy.
Murray said the Tel Aviv dinner was especially significant. His contact with access to O’Donnell’s investigations had told him that the discussion that night focused on ways to ensure Britain assisted in creating favourable diplomatic conditions for an attack on Iran.
Israel is widely believed to favor a military strike on Iran, in an attempt to set back its nuclear program. Israel claims Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon under cover of a civilian nuclear energy project.
Israel has its own large but undeclared nuclear arsenal and is known to be fearful of losing its nuclear monopoly in the region.
Britain, like many in the international community, including the US government, officially favors imposing sanctions on Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions.
The episode of the Tel Aviv dinner, Murray said, raises “vital concerns about a secret agenda for war at the core of government, comparable to [former British prime minister Tony] Blair’s determination to drive through a war on Iraq.”
The Guardian revealed this month that the defense ministry under Fox had drawn up detailed plans for British assistance in the event of a US military strike on Iran, including allowing the Americans to use Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian ocean, as a base from which to launch an attack.
The O’Donnell inquiry has done little to allay many officials’ concerns about the series of strange meetings involving Fox, Werritty and Gould.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, has so far refused opposition demands to hold a full public inquiry into Fox and Werritty’s relationship. And the three men at the centre of the saga have refused to discuss the nature of their ties.
This month revelations surfaced that Werritty had had dealings with other government ministers.
“It is deeply inadequate of the prime minister to continue to refuse to probe this issue further,” said shadow defense spokesman Kevan Jones, in response to the new information.
The British media have cautiously raised the issue of apparent Israeli links to Fox and Werritty.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the pair secretly met the head of the Mossad – possibly at the Tel Aviv dinner, though the paper has not specified where or when the meeting took place.
Last month the Independent on Sunday claimed that Werritty had close ties to the Mossad as well as to “US-backed neocons” plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime. The Mossad were reported to have assumed Werritty was Fox’s “chief of staff.”
In addition, the O’Donnell report revealed that Werritty’s many trips overseas alongside Fox had been funded by at least six donors, three of whom were leading members of the pro-Israel lobby in Britain.
The donations were made to two organisations, Atlantic Bridge and Pargav, that Werritty helped to establish. Werritty apparently used the organizations as a way to gain access to Conservative government ministers, including three in the defense ministry.
The advisory board of Atlantic Bridge, which Werritty founded with Fox, included William Hague, the current foreign minister, Michael Gove, the education minister, and George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Despite Werritty’s apparently well-established connections to the ruling Conservative party, the media coverage has implied at most that he was a lone “rogue operator,” hoping to use his contacts with Fox and other ministers to manipulate British government policy.
Murray, however, raises the more troubling question of whether Werritty was actually given access, through Fox and Gould, to the heart of the British government. Were all three secretly trying to pursue a policy on Iran favored by Israel and its ideological allies in the US?
The answer, according to Murray, may lie in a series of meetings between the three that have slowly come to light since O’Donnell published his findings.
According to the 2,700-word report, Werritty joined Fox on 18 of his official trips overseas, and the pair met another 22 times at the defense ministry, with almost none of their discussions recorded by officials. The Guardian has also reported that Fox’s staff repeatedly warned him off his relationship with Werritty but were overruled.
Despite the serious concerns raised about Werritty by defense ministry staff, Gould, one of the country’s most senior diplomats, appears nonetheless to have cultivated a close relationship with Werritty as well as Fox.
According to Murray’s sources, Gould and Werritty “had been meeting and communicating for years.” The foreign office has refused to answer questions about whether the two had any contacts.
When Murray sent an email request late at night this week for “all communications” between Gould and Werritty, he received a response from the foreign office in less than 90 minutes stating that providing an answer was “likely to exceed the cost limit”.
As well as noting that the answer should have been straightforward unless Gould and Werritty had had a protracted correspondence, Murray wrote on his blog: “The Freedom of Information team in the FCO is not a 24 hour unit. Plainly not only are they hiding the Gould/Werritty correspondence, they are primed and on alert for this cover-up operation.”
O’Donnell’s report mentions a second meeting between the three men, in September 2010. On that occasion, Gould met Fox in what a foreign office spokesman has described as a “pre-posting briefing call” – a sort of high-level induction for ambassadors to acquaint themselves with their new posting.
Werritty was also present, according to O’Donnell, “as an individual with some experience in…the security situation in the Middle East.” His participation at the meeting was “not appropriate,” O’Donnell concluded.
However, Murray said such briefings would never be conducted at ministerial level, and certainly not by the defense minister himself.
He added that a senior official in the defense ministry had alerted him to two other peculiar aspects of the meeting: no officials were present to take notes, as would be expected; and their conversation took place in the ministry’s dining room, not in Fox’s office.
“As someone who worked for many years as a diplomat, I know how these things should work,” Murray said. “So much of this affair simply smells wrong.”
Murray’s queries to the foreign office about this meeting have gone unanswered but have revealed other unexpected details not included in the O’Donnell report.
In a statement in late October, after the report’s publication, a foreign office spokesman said Gould had met Fox and Werritty earlier than previously known – before Gould was appointed ambassador to Israel and when Fox was in opposition as shadow defense minister.
The foreign office has refused to answer questions about this meeting too – including when it occurred and why – or to respond to a parliamentary question on the matter tabled by MP Jeremy Corbyn. All that is known is that it must have taken place before May 2010, when Fox was appointed defense minister.
In replying to Corbyn’s questions, William Hague, the foreign minister, acknowledged yet another meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould – at a private social engagement in the summer of 2010.
Again, the foreign office has refused to answer further questions, including one from Corbyn about who else attended the social engagement.
The trio were also together shortly before the Tel Aviv dinner, when Fox made a speech at the hawkish Herzliya security conference in a session on the strategic threat posed by Iran.
And a sixth meeting has come to light. Fox and Gould were photographed together at a “We believe in Israel” conference in London in May 2011. Werritty was again present.
“That furtive meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould in the MOD dining room [in September 2010], deliberately held away from Fox’s office where it should have taken place, and away from the MOD officials who should have been there, now looks less like briefing and more like plotting,” Murray wrote on his blog about the Ministry of Defense meeting.
Murray said he believed more meetings will surface. During questioning at the Commons’ Public Administration Committee this week, O’Donnell made two references to “meetings” between Gould and Fox before the general election and Fox’s appointment to the post of defence secretary.
Until now, only one such meeting had been admitted by the foreign office.
Murray noted: “A senior British diplomat cannot just hold a series of meetings with the opposition shadow Defence Secretary and a paid zionist lobbyist. What on earth was happening?”
Both Werritty and Gould are considered to have an expertise on Iran.
Gould was the deputy head of mission at the British embassy in Iran from 2003 to 2005, a role in which he was responsible for coordinating on US policy towards Iran. Next he was moved to the British embassy in Washington at a time when the neoconservatives still held sway in the White House.
Werritty, meanwhile, has travelled frequently to Iran where he has teamed up with opposition groups seeking the overthrow of the Iranian regime. On his return from one trip to Iran he was called in by Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service for a debriefing, according to the Independent on Sunday.
Werritty also arranged for Fox to travel with him to Iran in summer 2007, when Fox was shadow defense minister. And he organised a meeting in May 2009 at the British parliament between Fox and an Iranian lobbyist with links to the current regime in Tehran.
The murky dealings between Fox, Werritty and Gould, and the government’s refusal to clarify what took place between them, is evidence, said Murray, that a serious matter is being hidden. His fear, and that of his contacts inside the senior civil service, is that “a neo-con cell of senior [British] ministers and officials” were secretly setting policy in coordination with Israel and the US.
Gould’s unexamined role is of particular concern, as he is still in place in his post in Israel.
Murray has noted that, in appointing Gould, a British Jew, to the ambassadorship in Israel in September last year, the foreign office broke with long-standing policy. No Jewish diplomat has held the post before because of concerns that it might lead to a conflict of interest, or at the very least create the impression of dual loyalty. Similar restrictions have been in place to avoid Catholics holding the post of ambassador to the Vatican.
Given these traditional concerns, Gould was a strange choice. He is a self-declared Zionist who has cultivated an image that led the Forward, the most prominent Jewish newspaper in the US, to describe him recently as “not
just an ambassador who’s Jewish, but a Jewish ambassador.”
Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
A version of this story was first published in Al-Akhbar English, Beirut: http://english.al-akhbar.com
Moment Of Reckoning For Pakistan
FROM VETERANS TODAY
Former Fox News analyst Mansoor Ijaz at center of Pakistani firestorm
The popular anger and outrage that the Memogate has provoked should be channelized to build a new, truly free Pakistan.
by Aijaz Zaka Syed / Arab News
Here is a rare opportunity for Islamabad to chart a new course of action
Anything is possible in Pakistan, the land of infinite possibilities. The Pakistanis have gotten so used to the setbacks and betrayals over the past six decades or so that nothing seems to shock or surprise them anymore. The tsunami unleashed by the Memogate, however, is proving to be an exception.
Even as a stunned nation tries to make sense of the claim by Pakistani American Mansoor Ijaz that he delivered President Zardari’s SOS to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, in May seeking help against his own Army, it’s increasingly worried about its future.
The now infamous memo, purportedly put together on behalf of Zardari by Pakistan’s US ambassador Husain Haqqani, who has been booted out since, sought the US help in preempting a military takeover in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing. As Ijaz, a powerbroker and fixer with ties to the CIA, explains in his FT piece, “he (Zardari) needed an American fist on his army chief’s desk to end any misguided notions of a coup – and fast.”
In return, Washington was promised total cooperation and an upside down transformation of the land of the pure in the image of the master. Suggesting the complicity of the Army in the sheltering of Bin Laden and other top Al Qaeda and Taleban leaders and much else, the authors of the memo apparently offered to take out the top guns of the Army and bring about what academic eggheads love to call a ‘paradigm shift’ in Pakistan’s political and security priorities and goals.
The new strategic shift, if it had been successfully engineered, would have given a carte blanche to Uncle Sam to do what he pleased, including carry out more Abottabad-style assassinations, perpetuate drone terror and even land American boots on Pakistani soil.
More interestingly, the memo offered to place “national security officials with trusted advisers that include ex-military and civilian leaders favorably viewed by Washington” at its beck and call and wherever it wanted them placed.
The icing and cherry on the cake of course was the offer to bring Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear weapons under a “more verifiable, and transparent regime.” In other words, turning over the control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets to the coalition of the willing. This is again something that was sure to gladden Washington as US hawks and Western pundits have long obsessed over the ‘danger’ of Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of terrorists.
No wonder then the Memogate has outraged the Pakistanis almost as much as the discovery of Sheikh Osama in the idyllic Abottabad did. The anti-American sentiment in the country is already high. And for all their protestations of innocence and attempts at passing the buck by the protagonists, it seems such an offer was indeed made to Washington.
Ijaz has since issued a pile of ‘evidence’ in support of his claim including transcripts of telephone conversations, BlackBerry messages and correspondence with Haqqani. Remaining doubts have been cleared with Admiral Mullen himself confirming he did receive such a memo. The government finds itself in a jam worse than the one it found itself over Abottabad. Zardari has egg all over his face.
This is an extraordinary crisis in Pakistan’s less than ordinary history. It’s unlikely to resolve itself with the departure of the man who had been always seen as America’s man in Washington, rather than someone representing Pakistan.
What is fascinating to distant observers like me though is the fact that the whole debate on the issue has been focused on the question of authorship of the memo and why someone like Ijaz was used to seek the US help when direct communication lines were open with Washington. What are his motives in blowing the whistle now after acting as the go-between in this whole saga? If he is his master’s voice, what’s it his masters hope to achieve with these disclosures? These questions will haunt Pakistan for some time to come.
But more important than these questions, methinks, is the content of the memo. In a classic case of missing the forest for the trees, the whole emphasis has been on the medium, in this case Haqqani and Ijaz, rather than the message they carried. There has been little discussion about the damning contents of the memo and the absurdity of an elected government plotting against the state and offering national sovereignty on a platter to a foreign power.
Haqqani’s departure was imminent. No tears will be shed for the man who has changed his political stripes faster than you could say the Memogate. Let’s not forget though he was only a messenger, or stenographer as someone aptly put it. What about those who dictated the message? Would such betrayal of national interest and honor be thinkable elsewhere? Given the mess Pakistan is already in, the Army and opposition may not like to upset the applecart just yet. But would the people forgive and forget the perfidy of the political class? Only time will tell considering the ephemeral nature of public memory.
Be that as it may, this is a moment of reckoning for Pakistan and its irrepressible people. The key to Pakistan’s continuing political instability and bankruptcy of its institutions is its overdependence and slavish reliance on foreign masters and allies. The Pakistanis have in much of their history lived with the two A’s – the overambitious Army and an overbearing America. Imran Khan may be oversimplifying the issue when he blame the US aid to be the root cause of Pakistan’s ills. But there’s something indeed there in the argument of the leader everyone seems to be eagerly awaiting.
As Allama Iqbal, the ideological father of Pakistan according to some, would warn: “Aye tair-e-lahoti uss rizq se maut achi/jis rizq se aati hai parwaz mein kotahi.” (O bird soaring in the sky, death is better than feeding on the prey that fetters your flight!)
Isn’t it an irony that a nation imagined and inspired by Iqbal should end up as a client state of a corrupt and crumbling empire? Isn’t it about time Pakistan set itself free and made a fresh start in a new direction? If Pakistan is to rediscover itself as a proud nation respected by the world, it will have to stop living on borrowed glory. Only those who stand on their own feet without any crutches earn respect for themselves. It’s true of both individuals and nations.
Pakistan needs to rediscover its independence of spirit. Only a self respecting nation can confront crimes and aggression against its people. US drones kill innocent people on a daily basis but you don’t hear a whimper from those in power.
With its potential and resources — and its people more than half of whom are young are its most precious asset — Pakistan deserves better than the current lot of self-serving politicians. Imran Khan looks like a ray of hope but one man–however sincere–cannot change the system. The change will have to be all-embracing and universal. Pakistan needs more of such leaders and they must emerge from within, not foisted from outside. The popular anger and outrage that the Memogate has provoked should be channelized to build a new, truly free Pakistan.
Source: Arab News
Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor and Middle East commentator. He comments on world affairs from a Middle Eastern and Arab-Muslim perspective. His work is featured widely in Print and online publications. He received the European Union’s prestigious Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize in 2007 for his writings on the Darfur conflict. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologizing for State-Sponsored Violence
This article contains excerpts from the forthcoming book Alchemy Of The Modern Renaissance
As America makes its incremental march towards militarizing the nation’s police force and centralizing control, we are seeing more and more physical altercations between police and non-violent protesters. This situation is fairly typical during times of war, economic depression and civil rights struggles, and right now we happen to be caught up in all three at the same time.
The clashes that have taken place between protesters and police thus far have sparked endless discussion on the Web and in the media about whether the actions of the police are ethical. Since this has been such a controversial topic, it is first necessary for us to establish a set of universal ethical guidelines, so we can justly determine what code of conduct would be appropriate for these situations.
Luckily for us, libertarian scholars have been developing such a system of ethics for quite some time now, so it won’t be very difficult to make sense of all this.
I am of course talking about “The Non-Aggression Principle”, which has also been known as “The Golden Rule” in previous generations.
The Common Law Institute describes the non-aggression principle as “do not initiate force or fraud”, or “if it harms none, do what you will”, or “treat others as you’d like to be treated”, or “live and let live”.
In more detail, “Do not initiate force or fraud against anyone else’s person or property.”
In other words, except for self-defense, don’t harm others, don’t harm or steal their property, don’t break your word, and don’t try to coerce anyone by threatening to do any of these things, and don’t delegate or encourage anyone to do any of these things.
Don’t hurt anyone, be honest and don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you — this sounds like an incredible ethical guideline to me! In reality, this is all common sense to most average people, and the good majority of the world’s population would prefer to live their lives according to these principles. These standards are also generally accepted by most religions and social groups. Some people will even argue that our society is already functioning according to these principles, and for the most part they would be right. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule that have thrown our world into chaos; that being authority figures who claim the privilege to initiate force without consequence or legitimate claim of defense.
By this standard we can say that “if you initiate the use of force and harm another person, or you violate their property you are acting immorally.” This rule applies to every human being regardless of what title they happen to have or costume they happen to be wearing. This is a moral standard that aims to protect the individual rights and personal property of every human being, regardless of class or social position.
This standard would be recognized as fair, and only customs that are seen as fair will actually be respected by society, which is why subjective and inconsistent standards are never fully respected and thus encourage chaos. These guidelines are universal (apply to each human being equally) so are therefore more honest than other moral codes in the past that have been subjective and centered on force, obedience or sacrifice. Subjective ethical standards are seen as optional by most people, so they fail to create any kind of social order, which is apparently what they are intended to do.
No one wants to be a victim of violence, theft or fraud; it is these fears that are responsible for the development of law and morality in philosophy to begin with. Unfortunately, neither law nor morality is currently achieving this goal, because their honest intention is not to protect people but to fleece and control them. Only a subjective law can be used by one to control another. A universal law, on the other hand, is a common understanding that encourages honest and peaceful interactions. When someone steps outside of these guidelines for any reason and initiates the use of force or fraud they can then be held accountable for their aggressions, even if they come from a position of authority.
The Non-Aggression Principle doesn’t only protect us from harm and fraud but also encourages honesty and integrity because it holds everyone to the same standard. People cannot be honest with one another in the face of a double standard because in order to accept that double standard in the first place they must already be lying to themselves. Morality has continued to be a messy, confusing and divisive topic because it has remained subjective and oppressive.
What does all this have to do with our discussion about police brutality? Everything! If people had a proper understanding of the Non-Aggression Principle, it would be blatantly obvious that the police are the ones in the wrong, since it is them, not the protesters, who are initiating the use of force.
The main arguments that we have seen in defense of police brutality is that, “the police are just doing their job”, or “since the protesters were participating in civil disobedience they should have expected whatever was thrown at them”. Both of these arguments are invalid because they are resting upon the assumption that police have a right to initiate the use of force on non-violent people. In other words, these viewpoints are not holding all parties involved to the same standard, and are thus perpetuating the misconception that disobedience is a justifiable reason to bring force upon a non-violent person.
To illustrate this fact, let’s take a look back at the late 1960s. Civil rights protesters where peacefully gathering in the streets to raise awareness about the injustice that they were suffering at the hands of the State. These protesters were met with what the police at the time considered to be “non-lethal force”, which included attack dogs, batons and fire hoses. At the time this use of force was praised in the media, while the activists who staged boycotts and sit-ins were labeled as extremists and criminals.
Fast forward over 40 years and we see history repeating itself. Sadly, the media and mainstream population is continuing to apologize for State-sponsored violence against Americans, despite the fact that most people now recognize the heroism of the protesters in the streets and the brutality of law enforcement during the uprisings of the 1960s.
This is largely due to the fact that our generation (and many before it) has been trained to completely ignore the causal factors of social problems. Many Americans are focusing on what is happening when these protesters meet with police, rather than the fact that people are in the streets for quite legitimate reasons.
J.G. Vibes – is an author, and artist – with an established record label. In addition to featuring a wide variety of activist information, his website – Good Vibes Promotions hosts electronic dance music events. You can keep up with him and his forthcoming book Alchemy Of the Modern Renaissance, at his Facebook page.
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