Sanctions Are Crimes, Not Law Enforcement

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

The U.S. Senate has increased sanctions on the people of Iran and Russia, if the House and President go along. The Senate vote was 98-2, with Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voting no, the latter despite his support for the Russian half of the bill.

The bill is called “An act to provide congressional review and to counter Iranian and Russian governments’ aggression.”

“Aggression” is a term of art here meant to convey something like what it means for the U.S. military to accuse a Syrian airplane in Syria of aggression against U.S. forces before shooting it down. Legally, the aggressor is the United States in both situations (in the Syrian war and in the context of these sanctions), but practically speaking resistance to U.S. aggression is perceived in Washington, D.C., as unacceptable hostility.

A fairly honest assessment of the U.S. tactic of sanctions is found on Investopedia.com: “Military action isn’t the only option for countries that are in the midst of a political dispute. Instead, economic sanctions provide an immediate way for the U.S. to crack down on rogue countries without putting lives on the line.”

“Military action,” we should note, is a criminal activity under the U.N. Charter and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is not just “politics by other means,” but rather the quintessentially rogue action. When a rogue nation considers other possible crimes as alternatives to war and settles on sanctions, the result is less violent but not always less deadly. U.S. sanctions on Iraq prior to 2003 killed at least 1.7 million people, including at least 0.5 million children, according to the U.N. (something then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said was “worth it”). So, sanctions do “put lives on the line,” but they are the tools of a rogue, not of global justice “cracking down” on rogues.
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Trump Has Been Continuing Obama’s Syria-Policy

Eric Zuesse

U.S. President Donald Trump, who during the election-campaign ferociously condemned Barack Obama’s foreign policies, while asserting nothing concrete of his own, has, as the U.S. President, committed himself quite clearly to continuing Obama’s publicly stated policy on Syria, which policy was to place, as the first priority, the elimination of ISIS, and as the policy to follow that, the elimination and replacement of Syria’s government. I have previously indicated that on June 19th “Russia Announces No-Fly Zone in Syria — War Against U.S. There”, and that the early indications are that Trump has changed his Syria-policy to accommodate Russia’s demands there; but, prior to June 19th, Trump was actually following Obama’s publicly stated Syria-policy. As also will be shown here, Obama’s publicly stated policy — to destroy ISIS and then to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad — was actually less extreme than his real policy, which was to overthrow Assad and to use the jihadist forces in Syria (especially Al Qaeda in Syria) to achieve that objective. Trump, at least until 19 June 2017, has been adhering to Obama’s publicly stated policy. Russia’s warning was for him not to adopt and continue Obama’s actual policy (to overthrow Assad).

Here is the part, of the by-now-famous 12 August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysis of the intelligence regarding Iraq and Syria, that the press (despite its extensive reporting about the document) has not yet reported from the Judicial Watch FOIA disclosures (which had included that document and many others), but which part of it shows even more than the part that has been reported from the document, Obama’s having made an informed choice actually to protect Al Qaeda in Syria, so as to bring down and replace the Syrian government — Obama’s actual prioritization (contrary to his publicly stated one) of overthrowing Assad, even above defeating the jihadists in Syria; and this was clearly also a warning by the DIA to the Commander-in-Chief, that he can have either an overthrow of Assad, or else a non-jihadist-controlled Syria, but not both, and that any attempt to bring down Assad by means of using the jihadists as a proxy army against him, would ultimately fail:

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How and Why U.S. Honors and Aids Al Qaeda

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The Saker

This will present a typical example in which the U.S. promotes Al Qaeda and other jihadists, and then honors that promotion by calling this PR not “propaganda” as it really is, but instead outstanding “news reporting,” and then honors that “news reporting,” with prestigious ‘journalism’ awards from the Overseas Press Club, and The Peabody. Throughout, the jihadists in Syria are being referred to in these ‘news’-reports as ‘the rebels’ and they are backed by the U.S. government, and (obviously) also by the aristocracy that own (and advertise in) the ‘news’ media, and whose lobbies also apparently control the President, and the Congress. Deception of the American public, by the American press, is that blatant and that egregious, as will here be documented (but will continue to be suppressed by the ‘free press’ in this ‘democracy’ where the press never exposes its own systematic lying — as will here be shown). 

Documentation for everything here will consist of excerpts from the relevant news-reports themselves (so the story will be told by the evidence itself), and will close with excerpts from an AlterNet news report by Ben Norton, which was vastly more worthy of winning journalism awards than anything from CNN (or any of the others) has been, but is suppressed instead of pumped, by the U.S. press. I have added boldface in some places, in order to make easier a reader’s quickly noticing things which will become more important subsequently, in this presentation of excerpts. The excerpts are arranged so as to tell a narrative that makes sense and has continuity.

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NSA Uses Trick to Spy On Americans

The government is spying on most Americans through our computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through our credit cards and smart meters, televisions, dolls, and in many other ways.

Yesterday, ZDNet reported that the NSA uses a trick to get around the few flimsy American laws on spying … they shuttle internet traffic overseas so they can pretend they’re monitoring foreign communications:

A new analysis of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden details a highly classified technique that allows the National Security Agency to “deliberately divert” US internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.

According to the new analysis, the NSA has clandestine means of “diverting portions of the river of internet traffic that travels on global communications cables,” which allows it to bypass protections put into place by Congress to prevent domestic surveillance on Americans.

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One leaked top secret document from 2007 details a technique that allows the intelligence agency to exploit the global flow of internet data by tricking internet traffic into traveling through a set and specific route, such as undersea fiber cables that the agency actively monitors.


Leaked NSA document from 2007. (Image: source document)

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U.S. Participating In Torture Again … Because We Didn’t Learn Any Lessons from Iraq

We’ve pointed out for years that failing to prosecute torturers would ensure that the U.S. tortures again in the future.

Unfortunately, no one was prosecuted (except the guy who blew the whistle on torture; and the Department of Justice refused to even read the Senate’s report on torture), so now we’re involved in torture again. The Associated Press reports:

Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.

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Several U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the topic, told AP that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainees at locations in Yemen, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from Emirati allies. They said U.S. senior military leaders were aware of allegations of torture at the prisons in Yemen ….

None of the dozens of people interviewed by AP contended that American interrogators were involved in the actual abuses. Nevertheless, obtaining intelligence that may have been extracted by torture inflicted by another party would violate the International Convention Against Torture and could qualify as war crimes, said Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University who served as special counsel to the Defense Department until last year.
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Russia Hacking Allegations Driven By a Serial Liar

Today’s lengthy Washington Post’s story makes it clear that former CIA boss John Brennan is largely responsible for driving the claim that Russia hacked the election.

But Brennan is a proven, documented liar.  He was busted for lying to Congress and the American public by claiming  that the CIA wasn’t spying on the Congressional investigation into torture … when it was.

Indeed, the Washington Post called on Brennan to be fired for lying.

And Brennan lied when – as Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor – he said that in the past year there had not been a single collateral death from drone strikes. (He later changed that slightly to say there was no “credible evidence” of such deaths.)   But there was abundant and credible evidence of collateral deaths from drone strikes.  As just one example among many, a March 2011 CIA drone attack in Pakistan killed some 50 people, including tribal elders who were gathered for a tribal conclave.)

Trevor Timm pointed out at the Guardian:

Internal intelligence documents leaked to McClatchy later confirmed Brennan to have lied at the time ….

When Brennan was approved by the Senate, many of his friends told the media he wanted to get the CIA out of the drone business and hand operations over to the Pentagon, but of course once he assumed his office, he seems to have reversed course and kept the drone program under CIA control.
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How America Armed Terrorists in Syria

By Gareth Porter,  an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, who received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014). Originally published by The American Conservative. Republished with permission of author.

Free Syrian Army fighters in Saqba, a suburb of Damascus (Photo: Freedom House / CC-BY-2.0)

Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.
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