Military tribunals and assassination

Tom Carter

In a speech Monday at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Attorney General Eric Holder painted a chilling picture of the future of the United States as envisioned by the Obama administration, in which military tribunals and extrajudicial assassinations are permanent, codified features of the American judicial landscape.

Holder’s speech included a sweeping assertion of quasi-dictatorial presidential powers, including the power of the president to secretly sign death warrants for any person, including US citizens, without any form of judicial review. Holder also defended the power of the president to order the abduction and imprisonment of any person, anywhere in the world, and to try that person before a military tribunal.

The speech was a response to pressure for the administration to provide a legal rationale for the killing last fall of three US citizens by American drone missile strikes in Yemen. On September 30 of last year, the Obama administration assassinated US citizen and alleged Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen after placing him on a secret “kill list.” (See: “The legal implications of the al-Awlaki assassination.”) Other US citizens killed by US missile strikes include Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar Al-Awlaki.

The political and media establishment responded to Holder’s speech with complete indifference. Articles on the speech were relegated to the inside pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and none of the network evening news programs commented on it. No politician or public figure, Republican or Democrat, emerged to denounce the speech, and no reporters asked about it Tuesday at Obama’s first press conference of the year.

This response confirms the absence of any commitment to core democratic rights within the American ruling class.

EU Austerity Madness

Stephen Lendman

European/American austerity assures a wealth grab of the 1% at the expense of all others. Prioritizing banker payments causes debt bondage, human misery, economic wreckage, and eventual collapse. What can't go on forever, won't. It's not rocket science. It's fact.

Economies thrive on productive economic growth. It includes public sector infrastructure investment in transportation, research and development, roads and bridges, education, healthcare, and other vital areas. Sacrificing it for bankers and other vulture investors causes Greek-type crises.

Financialization highlights "the great problem of our time," says Michael Hudson. He defines is as "capitalizing every form of surplus income and pledging it for bank loans at the going interest rate, personal income over and above basic expenditures, corporate income over and above cash flow....and whatever government can collect in taxes over and above its outlay."

Banker nirvana depends on securing all economic surplus as interest, says Hudson, or in hard times as bailouts. However, doing it "leaves nothing over for living standards and what (18th and 19th century) economists (called) human capital formation (training and education) required for labor productivity to rise." Economies need it to thrive.

There's also "no cash left over for corporations to invest in new tangible capital formation, and no government spending for infrastructure or other social and economic needs."

Hudson talks about a financialization-caused economic/political "Dark Age," "a form of neo-feudalism." Industrial capitalism and people suffer to enrich financial oligarchs. Austerity becomes policy. Debt peonage and hard times follow. Jobs are cut, wages slashed, and living standards shrink. Prioritized banker demands sacrifice fundamental human needs.

Obama, AIPAC And The Rest of US

Gilad Atzmon

Yesterday at AIPAC annual conference, the American president had to go out of his way to appease his Jewish crowd. He used every trick in the book, he even peppered his talk with some sporadic Yiddish words and he did it all just to justify his decision not to launch a World War (as yet).

One should ask, how come a lobby of a small state that practices the most appalling racist expansionist politics and practices has managed to gain so much political power in the USA.

As it happens, more and more academics and political commentators indeed ask themselves the exact question – they wonder what is it in American culture and political system that allowed it to happen? I am also interested in a very similar quest. I actually try to identify the different elements within Jewish culture and identity politics that have led to the rise of AIAPC into the dominant force within American politics and foreign policy.

In my latest book, The Wandering Who?, a book that both Zionist and Jewish Anti Zionist Zionists (JAZZ) are desperate to stop, I explore those themes. I for instance, elaborate on the significant role of the ‘Book of Esther’, in shaping Jewish Lobbing in the West and beyond. The 'Book of Ester' is an Old Testament text that preaches lobby culture and tribal infiltration into foreign administrations.

I also explore the Exilic nature of Judaism. I maintain that Judaism, as we know it, was founded in Babylon in conditions that, from Jewish perspectives, were very similar to 19th century Europe and the birth moment of Zionism. In both cases it was the fear of assimilation that led towards the invention of an isolationist and separatist cult.

Seemingly the exilic nature of Judaism transcended itself into Jewish secular and nationalist politics- rather than being concerned with the ‘here and now’, the Diaspora Zionist Jew explores his or her aspiration towards a different place and different time i.e. Zion. Unlike other migrant lobbies in the West that are engaged in issues to do with the interests of their respective migrant communities (in terms of social rights, religious freedom, education and so on), the Jewish Lobby is actually solely concerned with the interest of a remote state and a remote community. This fact alone, explains the uniqueness of AIPAC. It also means that it is unlikely that any other political lobby would ever compete successfully with AIPAC except another Jewish Lobby.

Please Stop: Your 'Deep Concern' has Gotten us Nowhere

Joharah Baker

Two Jewish presidents: One for America and
the other for Israel...

We know for a fact that US President Barack Obama can utter extremely strong words. We know it because he heard him yesterday being as assertive and as firm as any leader can possibly be. Practically groveling for Jewish votes, Obama put on his “I heart Israel” face and let out all the stops.

“…when one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them. When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to delegitimize the state of Israel, my administration has opposed them. So there should not be a shred of doubt by now - when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.” You sure do, Mr. Obama. Without a doubt.

So,anyone can understand why we Palestinians just don’t want to hear it when Obama or any of his mouthpieces in the government express their “deep concern” for Israel’s gross violations against the Palestinians. It is not even “concern” in most cases but a nonchalance at best. When in December 2011, 14 Security Council members including some of the United States’ closest allies issued a statement condemning Israel’s continued settlement construction and settler violence, the US bailed. "We declined to join that statement for all of the usual reasons. It doesn’t change the fact that our longstanding policy remains that we don’t recognize the legitimacy of the continued Israeli settlements, but we don’t think statements in the UNSC are the way to pursue the goal of getting these parties back to the table," State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

And when 930 settlement units were approved for construction in the East Jerusalem settlement of HarHoma, the US said it was “deeply concerned” at the unilateral move. It did not however, put its concern into concrete steps to counter it.

While Europe is also in love with the term “concerned” when it comes to Israel and its measures against the Palestinians, its tone is not nearly as condescending as the Americans. Listening to Obama yesterday speaking before AIPAC, it was very hard not to turn the television (or computer) off.

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