#014 – “Moderate Rebels?”

The “Moderated Rebels” in Syria

“This is a war on Syria, with terrorists from over 100 nations, waging their wicked and distorted version of Jihad in Syria, or just acting as paid and drugged out mercenaries.” Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett.

East Aleppo has been occupied by a number of groups backed by the United States, NATO and their allies in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia, and Israel. “And we’re going to learn a lot more about the “rebels” whom we in the West – the US, Britain and our head-chopping mates in the Gulf – have been supporting.” Robert Fisk – The Independent

We know that the ‘rebels’ of eastern Aleppo have executed their enemies and have slit the throats of their prisoners. We know that the “rebels” include al-Qaeda (alias Jabhat al-Nusra, alias Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), the “folk” – as George W Bush called them – who committed the crimes against humanity in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11th 2001. Remember the War on Terror. Remember the “pure evil” of al-Qaeda.

“Does McCain Have Any Shred of Honor Left?”- The Atlantic

However, in Washington, we hear “How could the US stand by watching and not do anything?” The audacity of these interventionist, neocons and their mainstream media sock puppets. Hello! We did do something! We helped to created Aleppo and the Syrian tragedy because we did not stand by and watch. The US picked “sides” in the Syrian civil war. Our side is the side of the ‘moderate rebels” and a push for regime change in a sovereign country.

Remember when then Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama both called for regime change. Does that catch phase “Assad must go” ring a bell? Remember when war hawk Senator McCain was begging for funds and military support for any and all rebels groups fighting for “freedom” in Syria. We chose to support some of those rebels.

So who are these freedom loving rebels that want to spread democracy? In 2013, McCain entered Syria, probably illegally, to meet with the “moderate rebels”. It was a great photo opportunity to send pictures back home to the gang. There is nothing like a photo of some old war hawk hanging out with the rebels to get the blood flowing. It just like Viagra for the neocons.

Showing up in those “photo ops” were ISIS members, Al Qaeda and members of the Free Syria Army. In the McCain photos there were many high profile “rebel” commanders, including the leader of ISIS himself, Al Baghdadi. It was a virtual who’s who of murders.

McCain’s tweet describing the gallery was “Important visit with brave fighters in #Syria who are risking their lives for freedom and need our help” How can anyone even look at this buffoon let alone listen to him. He has no credibility but he continues to bang that drum. Earlier this month Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was joined by (maybe a bigger buffoon) Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to criticize the Obama administration for “inaction” on Syria.

As president Bashar Assad’s forces are reclaiming Aleppo from McCain’s rebel buddies, maybe the mainstream media should shine more light on the rebel groups. Under further scrutiny the rebels may be exposed as a group not quite living up to McCain’s billing as freedom fighters.

Aleppo

The battle of east Aleppo has been brutal. The Syrian military admits that it has killed civilians. But the civilian casualties of artillery shells on western Aleppo fired by the ‘rebels’ has been, until recently, almost totally ignored.

Civilians in the government-held area of western Aleppo describe these groups as “terrorists,” Most Syrians make no differentiation between any specific group. According to the Syrian civilians, these groups are made up of criminals, mercenaries and terrorists.

Canadian Eva Bartlett is one of the few independent Western journalists covering the horrific conflict in Syria has traveled to Syria six times in the last two years and three times in the last six months. She is currently touring the US with a coalition called Hands Off Syria.

Her full interview can be read at Consortium News:
https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/20/extracting-aleppo-from-the-propaganda/

In the interview Eva describes the activities that the “moderate rebels” perpetrating on the Syrian people in Aleppo. “Terrorists that are in many ways backed by the West and Gulf nations, financially and otherwise, were, on a daily basis, firing a variety of bombs on the civilian areas of Aleppo, which we never hear about in the corporate media.”

In a first hand account of her stay in Aleppo she describes the damage that the US backed “moderate rebels” inflicted. “In May of this year the al-Dabit Maternity Hospital was destroyed by a terrorist’s fired rocket. And when it was destroyed, three women inside were killed, and many more were injured. This was not, to my knowledge, reported in the corporate media, although the media’s always talking about alleged (Russian/Syrian) strikes on hospitals in Aleppo.”

Ms. Bartlett refers the rebel groups as terrorist not moderate rebels. “I do mean terrorists from those groups and also from the so-called Free Syrian Army. The Free Syrian Army has been as heinous and as gruesome as ISIS and as al-Nusra.” The same rebel groups that Sen McCain’s had his picture taken with just a few years ago.

The “lackey corporate media”

Ms Bartlett talked about the tactic that the U.S. administration and their “lackey corporate media” use to whitewash the crimes of the terrorists as they vilify the (Syrian) government. They report the allegations but ignore the findings. The example she gives is in reference to the alleged gassing of Syrian citizens by the Assad government.

“The myths we’ve heard about Syria, over the years, the Syrian government has been accused of so many things, chemical weapons, they’ve been accused of massacring civilians. And every time there has been an investigation, all fingers have pointed to the rebels. Even Carla Del Ponte, who’s of the U.N. investigative team in a 2013 chemical attacks accusations, said, “No, it was the terrorists/rebels that had sarin.”

When asked what’s missing from the U.S. corporate media’s picture?  She responded, “what we’re not hearing, now, from the corporate media: The scenes, the voices of the people who have been liberated, saying “Thank you” to the (Syrian) army. The army, by the way are not Assad’s forces. The army, the Syrian army is actually made up of Syrian people. And it’s not simply Alawite. It’s Sunni, it’s Alawite, it’s Christian and the people in Aleppo… you will find footage of people praising the army. And people who have been terrorized for years by these terrorists that the West calls “moderates”.

Asked, “what would your advice be to U.S. officials dealing at this point? What would you want to see happen?” Ms Bartlett’s solution is to “stop arming the terrorists, stop whitewashing their crimes. Stop allowing Turkey to keep its borders open and terrorists to flood in and out through Turkey’s borders. Stop supporting the regimes of Saudi Arabia, which are in turn arming terrorists, which are brainwashing terrorists. Stop interfering in a sovereign nation.”

“Economic Terrorism”

Is the Syrian conflict just another NATO intervention, a dirty war being inflicted upon a sovereign nation, with the objective of “regime change”? Regardless of the why, the cost of this war is the bloodshed and devastating costs incurred by the Syrian people.

In March 2015, a member of the Syrian parliament, Maria Saadeh, addressed the United Nations Human Rights Commission wrote “In 2011 the UN and its member states started to impose “economic sanctions” against the Syrian regime. These sanctions imposed have been a punitive action against the Syrian people”

In the document entitled ‘Economic Terrorism’ compared the results of terrorist organizations in Syria with the effects of coercive measures taken under the label of ‘economic sanctions.’ These sanctions violate international law in the same way as terrorism does. Their results and effects are the same; they attack Syrian society and violate human rights, especially the right to life.

As a result of the sanctions, unemployment has risen from 8.6% in 2010 to 50% in 2014; poverty reached 75% in 2013 where it was 9% in 2010; the number of children in primary education has fallen to 50%; the same number of hospitals and factories have closed as a result of the sanctions as a result of terrorism.

Ms. Eva Bartlett concludes, “So, you know, if U.S. officials, with all their crocodile tears, actually care about human rights in Syria, stop supporting the terrorists who are destroying the country.”  She went on to say, “nobody is saying the government (Syria) is perfect. Because no government is perfect.”  Not even the US Government.

#013 Part 2 Yemen – “America is killing the Yemeni people.”

Part 2 “America is killing the Yemeni people.”

Graffiti on walls across the Yemen capital of Sana reads: “America is killing the Yemeni people.” Why is the US being singled out? Could this be a cry of desperation? If it is the world is choosing not to listen. The graffiti is directed at the major supplier of the military arms to Saudi Arabia. There is no mistaken the United States is embroiled in another protracted War, this time in Yemen.

The United Nations human rights office reports that that air strikes by the Saudis coalition are responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the deaths in Yemen. A UN panel in January found 119 air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition potentially breached human rights law. Both the UN and human rights groups have discussed the possibility that the Saudi offensive constitutes war crimes.

To further exacerbating the growing humanitarian crisis, the Saudis coalition blockade of Yemen’s ports has prevented food and fuel aid into Yemen putting 80% of the country’s civilian population in need of humanitarian aid.

Publicly, the United States has kept its distance from the war, but its decades-old alliance with Saudi Arabia, underpinned by billions of dollars in weapons sales, has left American fingerprints on the air campaign.

Although U.S. forces are not “directly” involved in the fighting in Yemen, the U.S. has supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is the weapons that have made the Saudi bombing campaign possible. The United States has been providing the Saudis with bombs, intelligence, and aerial refueling for its jets. The US Military advisers are often present in the Saudi-led campaign’s control room.

Since spring 2015, U.S. planes have flown more than 1,000 refueling sorties and offloaded tens of millions of pounds of fuel to Saudi aircraft. US officials have also provided advice on target development and training for the Saudi pilots.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest importer of arms. They spent $9.3 billion in 2015. Saudi Arabia in the past year has purchased Eurofighter Typhoon jets, F-15 warplanes and Apache helicopters, as well as precision-guided weapons, drones and surveillance equipment.

U.S. is the world’s top arms exporter.  The U.S. is the supplier of approximately one third of all the arms on this planet. In 2015 the US exported almost $23 billion worth of arms. Saudi Arabia is arguable it’s best customers. The business of producing and selling arms is solid.

One example of the world’s increasing demand for arms is Lockheed Martin. The company has recently signed several multi-billion deals with Saudi Arabia. The company’s sales revenue was $46.1 billion in 2015, up by around $500 million on 2014 sales.

The United States’ Department of Defense deals with Saudi Arabia since March of 2015.

  • May 2015 MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters — $1.900 billion,
  • July 2015 Ammunition RSLF $0.500 billion
  • July 2015 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missiles — $5.400 billion,
  • October 2015 Black Hawk Helicopters RSLF Aviation Command $0.495 billion
  • October 2015 Multi-Mission Surface Combatant Ships $11.250 billion
  • November 2015 Air-to-Ground Munitions RSAF $1.290 billion
  • February 2016 MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems $0.154 billion
  • February 2016 USMTM Technical Assistance Field Teams Support $0.200 billion
  • August 2016 M1A2S Tanks and Related Equipment $1.150 billion
  • 8, 2016 Chinook Cargo Helicopters and related equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.51 billion.

Marine General Smedley Butler published a book in the 1930’s called “War is a Racket”. In his book, General Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient, discussed how warfare provided profiteering opportunities to business.

Another prominent US General, President Dwight Eisenhower, in his 1961 farewell warned the US citizens about the “unwarranted influence”, of the business, that he called the “military industrial complex”.

U.S. in Violation of International Law?

A report by Amnesty International identifies three of the bomb types in the U.S. arms sale as having been used in Saudi Arabia’s unlawful airstrikes. Yemenis often find the remains of American-made munitions, as they did in the ruins after a strike that killed more than 100 mourners at a funeral earlier this year. Remember the graffiti?

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was the first global treaty to regulate the conventional military arms trade. As of 1 July 2016, eighty-six (86) States had ratified or acceded to the ATT including the US. The ATT declares that “states are not allowed to sell weapons to a party engaged in armed conflict, if it knows the arms could be used “in attacks directed against civilians or other war crimes as defined by international law.”

In January 2016 the ATT concluded that some signatory States are in direct violation of the legally binding Treaty obligations when they supply arms to Saudi Arabia. The ATT concluded that there is clear risk that the arms sold to Saudi Arabia will be used in breach of international law in Yemen.

The UN Security Council on Yemen identified 119 coalition air sorties relating to violations of *International humanitarian law (IHL). The report states that airstrikes have targeted civilians and civilian objects, including residential areas, markets, schools, mosques, factories and food warehouses, and gatherings such as weddings. reports and stress to need for urgent action and the immediate halt of arms transfers to the Saudi-led coalition.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have produced evidence that US and UK munitions have been used in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against several residential neighborhoods in Yemen.

In spite of this information the current administration has offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training. The agreements included everything from small arms and ammunition to tanks, attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships. Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces.

Just maybe President-elect Trump should make General Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket” and President (General) Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address required readings for the Generals he has nominated for positions in his cabinet.

 

* This is the law that regulates “Conduct of War”.  It seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities, the civilians and children.

#012 Part 1 Oh Yemen- Man It’s Hard Just to Live

Oh Yemen! – Man It’s Hard Just to Live

There is a war going on in Yemen, just as brutal as the war in Syria. Yet, it has received very little media attention.

“Yemen is a media blackout,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the top U.N. humanitarian official in the country. “It’s not getting the attention it deserves. It’s not Aleppo. We don’t have drones flying over it showing the destruction. We don’t have a Mosul, which has BBC cameras 24-7 on it.”

In order to understand the real tragedy in Yemen, one must turn away from the US mainstream media’s “real news” and seek alternative “fake” media sources. A good start would be the powerful documentary by the BBC “Starving Yemen”, produced by Nawal Al-Maghafi.  (www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37423263) This documentary exposes the real causalities of war, the civilian, especially the children.

The chief executive of Oxfam, Mark Golding, stated: “Yemen is being slowly starved to death. First there were restrictions on imports including much need food. When this was partially eased, the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges. This is not by accident. It is systematic.”

Before, the current civil war began, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East, it still is. Yemen’s food and medicine has to be imported. More than 90 percent of it’s supplies must be imported and come into the country’s by way of it’s ports and airports.

The Yemen civil war can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011. Since then Yemen has reeled from one political shock to another. The Arab Spring resulted in it’s authoritarian leader President Saleh being ousted and “agreeing” to a power-transition deal he signed in 2011.

Saleh actually backed out of signing the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) power-transition deal three times. However, after a June 3, 2011 bomb attack on his presidential palace, which killed 14 bodyguards and government officials, he reconsidered.

From Saudi Arabia Saleh issued a decree, authorizing Hadi, who he had appointed as vice-president in 1994, to assume the role of acting president. Hadi would negotiate with the opposition to sign the GCC-brokered power transition deal.

The deal called for forming a national unity government from the Yemeni ruling party GPC and the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), each accounting for 50 percent representation and a presidential election to be held.

This deal made Yemen the first Arab Spring nation where an uprising led to a negotiated settlement brokered by a foreign coalition, the GCC. The Gulf Co-operation Council is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This deal was also backed by Washington DC, the European Union and the United Nations.

The “open and free” democratic election that followed was a bit suspect. Hadi was the only candidate on the ballot. Two of the most popular factions in Yemen, the Houthis in northern Yemen and the southern Ansar al-Sharia (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), both called for a boycott of the election. To cast an even larger shadow over the results, Yemeni police reports indicate that they arrested “hardliners” that alleged sought to forcefully prevent people from voting.

Then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the 2012 Presidential election in Yemen and promised continuous support to the Arab nation as it confronts challenges ahead. She extended her congratulations to the Yemeni people on the “successful” presidential vote, and called the election “another important step forward” in Yemen’s democratic transition process.

Secretary of State Clinton, in a written statement, concluded that, “Today’s election sends a clear message that the people of Yemen are looking forward to a brighter democratic future.” Probable the same message the Secretary sent to Trump after the results of the 2016 US Presidential Election were learned.

Hadi was elected president but he had a country beset by a host of problems. Separatists and rebels rejecting the brokered GCC deal and not acknowledging the legitimacy of the single candidate election.

Reactions soon turned violent. The Houthis movement in the north and a growing threat from al-Qaeda in the south escalated.  In September of 2014, the Houthi rebels took power in Yemen and on  January 22, 2015, under Houthi arrest, Yemen President Hadi resigned from his office but is was not over.

Ex-president Hadi, escaped the Houthis’ house arrest and fled to Arden. In February 0f 2015, he  retracted his January resignation as president and reestablished himself as the President of Yemen.

By March 2015, with the Houthis advancing to the outskirts of Aden, Hadi left Yemen and took refuge in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Today Hadi’s provisional government resides in Saudi Arabia.  The GCC countries, the United Nations, the European Union and the US continued to back Hadi as the legitimate leader of Yemen.

By the end of March 2015, a coalition of Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States began an aggressive campaign, known as Operation Decisive Storm, aimed at restoring the Hadi government.

So as of March 2015, the civil war became multi-national when Saudi Arabia took sides in the Yemeni civil war in behalf of “Hadi’s legitimate government.” The results of their intervention has devastated the Yemeni people. The country has imploded even further as the Saudi-led coalition entered the fray with it’s blockades and bombings.

The Saudi’s  bombing campaign have laid waste to Yemen’s infrastructure. Their bombs have destroyed bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, water wells and reports indicate that farms and orchards have all been targeted. Saudi Arabian and its coalition partners have also established a naval blockade around Yemen.

The result of Saudi’s actions has shut down imports into Yemen. Thus the 90 percent of food and medicine required by the Yemeni has virtually disappeared. The United Nations estimates that more than 80 percent of Yemen’s population of 23 million are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.

Why is Hadi government considered the “legitimate government”? Is it because he was “democratically” elected? Or is it because the Gulf Co-operation Council made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates says so? Or is it a way for Saudi Arabia to fight a proxy war against Iran? Or is it just a good market for the Industrial Military Complex?

How ever the legitimacy is rationalized none are addressing the popular sovereignty of the Yemeni people nor their welfare. Two final question about the legitimacy of Hadi’s leadership should be answered.

  1. What kind of leader would allow a foreign coalition to devastate his country, kill his innocent civilians, starve his defenseless children and deny the Yemeni any medical supplies? 
  2. Do we really think that Hadi could go back to Yemen and gain the support of the Yemeni people?

Oh Yemen! – Man It’s Hard Just to Live.

 

#11 What Would James Otis Jr. Do?

Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure is Amended

We have been taught in school that, “no taxation without representation” were the Colonists first cry for liberty. However, the first screams for liberty began when James Otis Jr. took action against illegal search and seizure.

John Adams sought to make sure that invasive searches and seizures were never carried out again when drafting the Fourth Amendment. In it, he wrote “a warrant must specify the “persons or objects of search, arrest, or seizure.”

An amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure took effect on December 1st. It now reads:  “A magistrate judge with authority in any district where activities related to a crime may have occurred has authority to issue a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information located within or outside that district if: (A) the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means; or (B) in an investigation of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030, the media are protected computers that have been damaged without authorization and are located in five or more districts.”

The amendment is a game changer for the FBI’s regulation over search and seizure. This change will allow federal agencies to obtain a warrant for “remote-access” searches and seizures of digital materials. I would argue that it is a returned to the days when America was ruled by the King of England and the British Parliament.

To give some historical context, we need to go back in history to the the 1760s. British authorities were allowed to carry out searches of anyone at anytime, regardless of whether or not they were suspected of a crime.

The reason John Adams was so vehemently opposed to unwarranted searches and seizures was because he watched as James Otis Jr, a Boston attorney, challenge the British hierarchy on the legality of the searches and seizures afforded to the British officials and custom agents under the writ of assistance issued

A writ of assistance is a written order (a writ) issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official, such as a sheriff or a tax collector, to perform a certain task.

In the England, writs of assistance were first authorized by an act of the English Parliament in 1660 to help customs officials search for smuggled goods. These writs called upon sheriffs, other officials, and loyal subjects to “assist” the customs official in carrying out his duties.

The writs of assistance for the customs officials served as general search warrants. The writs were permanent and even transferable; the holder of a writ could assign it to another official. Any place could be searched at the whim of the holder, and searchers were not responsible for any damage they caused. In practice, this put anyone who had such a writ above the laws.

These writs of assistance were being used in an effort to curtail the “smuggling” by the merchants of Boston. The authority of the writ was used in an attempt to capture the taxes and gain control on the illegal goods being “smuggled” into Boston.

Colonists protested that the writs violated their rights as British subjects. The writs were challenged by a group of 63 Boston merchants represented by Attorney James Otis, Jr. Otis technically lost his challenge to the authority of the King and Parliament writs but made a strong impression on both Samuel Adams and John Adams as the watched the trials with great interest.

In a pamphlet published in 1765, Otis expanded his argument that the general writs violated the British unwritten constitution. The constitution opposed any law in violation of the Magna Carta or “natural law” was void.

Natural Law protects natural rights. *Natural rights are addressed in our Declaration of independence. They are called inalienable rights “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 Otis’ next challenge came in September of 1766 when customs officials in Boston, with the help of a deputy sheriff, searched merchant Daniel Malcom‘s home. His home was also his place of business. They claimed the authority to do so by a writ of assistance issued to a British customs agent. The writ was issued based upon the information of a confidential informant.

Malcom allowed the agent and deputy sheriff to search, but denied them access to a locked cellar, arguing that they did not have the legal authority to break it open. Malcom threatened to use force to prevent them from opening the door. Malcom claimed that his threat was specific to his resisting an unlawful forced entry.

The officials left and returned with a specific search warrant, only to find that Malcom had locked his house. A crowd of Malcom supports had gathered around the house and were hostile to the customs officers when they returned.

The British officials described Malcom as acting in defiance of the law. His lawyer, James Otis Jr, argued that Malcom’s actions were lawful. Otis’ push against the validity of writs of assistance produced more challengers. In 1768, John Hancock, a wealthy Boston merchant, would resisted a search in a similar manner when customs officials attempted to search his ship Lydia.

Although no violence occurred during these defiant acts the British Governor of Massachusetts reports back to England created the impression that riots had taken place. These incidents furthered Boston’s reputation in Britain as a lawless town controlled by “mobs”.

This reputation would contribute to Parliament issuing a series of acts called the 1767 Townshend Acts. The Townshend Acts were met with further resistance in the colonies, prompting the occupation of Boston by British troops in 1768, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

Today law enforcement officials and proponents, of the amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal, claim that this is just a necessary alteration which fits the digital age. It is not. It is a concession of another one of our “natural rights”. For the American citizens it is a loss of privacy.

In the 1760’s the enforcement of the writs of assistance for the custom officials’ illegal searches and seizures became the catalyst that prompted our founding father quest for liberty and independence. Today it is just a footnote.