Syria: Upping the Stakes

Stephen Lendman

Things appear heading closer toward full-scale US intervention. The fullness of time will have final say.

On April 28, The New York Times headlined "Lawmakers Call for Stronger US Action in Syria," saying: Republicans "took President Obama to task Sunday for what they characterized as dangerous inaction in Syria…." Senators John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham are Armed Services Committee members. They "warn(ed) that failure to intervene in Syria would embolden nations like Iran and North Korea." "If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action toward Syria, kind of not knowing what we’re going to do next, we’re going to start a war with Iran because Iran’s going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program," said Graham. Michigan Republican Representative Mike Rogers claims Assad's been using chemical weapons for the past two years. Obama's "red line" can't be a "dotted line," he said.

The New York Times and terrorism

Joseph Kishore

Syrian state TV reported that PM Wael al-Halqi had escaped
an assassination bid in Damascus. (Syria TV)

In its article yesterday on the failed assassination attempt against Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi in Damascus, the New York Times includes a remarkable, and revealing, passage. After noting that several had been injured (in fact, at least six were reportedly killed) in a blast that left “a car reduced to a charred skeleton and, nearby, a bus with its windows shattered,” the Times goes on to write:

“State television in Syria called the attack a ‘terrorist explosion’ that was ‘an attempt to target the convoy of the prime minister.’ Terrorist is the word used by the authorities to depict their armed adversaries.”

The Syrian government, the Times suggests, is manipulating the word “terrorism” in an effort to tar its US-backed opponents.

What unbridled cynicism! It is precisely the American government and its subservient media that have perfected the use of the term “terrorism” and invented the “war on terror” to justify Washington’s wars abroad. Any armed opposition to these wars—including attacks on US and allied occupying forces—is denounced as “terrorist” by the American government and news media.

From a Chinese Point of View: Human rights record of the United States in 2012

China Daily

Kimani Gray Protest on Church Ave between E55th st Nostrand Ave, and
in Brooklyn, NY on March 13. In response to the shooting of a 16-year-old
boy by police, protesters in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn have been
holding nightly vigils and marches and there have been frequent clashes
with NYPD.
(Stephanie Keith / Polaris)

Editor's note: The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China published a report titled "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012" on Sunday. [The] following is the full text:

Foreword: The State Department of the United States recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as "the world judge of human rights" again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China.

However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it. Facts show that there are serious human rights problems in the U.S. which incur extensive criticism in the world. The Human Rights Record of the U.S. in 2012 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the U.S. to people across the world by simply laying down some facts.

America: The World’s Number One Sponsor Of Terrorism

Garikai Chengu

Just as there are good dictators and bad dictators in Washington’s eyes, there are also good terrorists and bad terrorists: Al Qaeda in Iraq, bad. Al Qaeda in Syria, good. Al Qaeda in Mali, bad. Al Qaeda in Libya, good, now bad. This hypocrisy manifests itself most acutely in how western media reports on the victims of terror. On the same day as the recent Boston bombings, at least 75 people were killed in Iraq and more than 250 injured by a series of car bombs.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the car bombings and within minutes of the bombings in Boston, western media outlets, politicians and security experts all hastily concluded that Islamic terror was to blame. This is despite the fact that according to the FBI only 6% of terror attacks on US soil are by Muslims. In fact, Jewish extremists committed more terror attacks in the US than Muslims over the last three decades. Yet notice the disparity in media coverage between the two.

Muslims constitute 1% of the US population, but they are 13 percent of the victims of religious-based hate crimes. Clearly, Muslims at home and abroad are disproportionately the victims of terrorism. Yet in the media there is an outpouring of rage and condemnation whenever western citizens are killed, while reports of more frequent Muslim deaths are muted. In the western media there would appear to be a distinct Hierarchy of Human Life.

New questions on Boston bombing suspects’ ties to US intelligence

Andrea Peters

The Neocons' war against Russia: CIA-supported Chechen jihadist

Information continues to come to light raising questions about the relationship between American intelligence agencies and the Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected of carrying out the April 15 bombing at the Boston marathon.

The brothers’ parents continue to insist that their sons are innocent, with the mother claiming they were set up by the American state and “controlled” by the FBI.

US authorities have acknowledged that the Tsarnaev brothers were investigated by the FBI and CIA. However, they claim that at most the intelligence and security agencies are guilty of a “failure to communicate” what they knew about the two.

This is an echo of the “failure to connect the dots” explanation that was given for the failure of the CIA and FBI to prevent the 9/11 attacks, even though many of the perpetrators were known to these agencies and were being tracked. Despite the staggering security lapses that were acknowledged in the aftermath of 9/11, no high-level officials were fired. Robert Mueller, who headed the FBI in 2001, remains the head of the top federal police agency.

Details continue to emerge over the close surveillance by state intelligence agencies of the Tsarnaevs and their associates. In March 2011, the Russian federal security services (FSB) intercepted a call between Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, and his mother, in which they “vaguely discussed jihad.”

What Israel is really after in Syria

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich)

Let there be no mistake - Syria today is in turmoil in order to promote Israel’s grand strategy - even as the perpetrator - Israel, plays the victim and warns of chemical weapons use by Assad’s regime, demanding intervention.

For some time now, the predominant narrative about Syria has been that the unrest has been fueled in order to weaken Iran. This prevalent account is common to neoconservatives and liberals alike.

While the New York Times trumpeted Israeli-firsters Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham message that “rebel fighters deserved to be armed and that helping them take on the Syrian government would aid Washington’s effort to weaken Iran,” moderate and independent outlets such as Truthout, Counterpunch, and numerous others reported this same objective, except for that it decried the plan. Even Iran’s state-run media shares this account.

This is sheer misdirection - deliberate or otherwise. Undisputedly, Syria and Iran have been staunch allies since the Iranian Revolution in their joint cause to protect the Palestinian rights and to stand up to Israel and America; and any change in Syria may adversely affect Iran (as it would Russia). But this is a secondary consideration. The generally accepted narrative takes the focus away from the primary reason for the current assault on Syria - Israel.

Washington fabricates chemical weapons pretext for war against Syria

Bill Van Auken

In an attempt to pave the way for a direct military intervention aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Washington, its NATO allies, Israel and Qatar have all in recent days broadcast trumped-up charges that Syria has used chemical weapons.

In a letter to members of Congress Thursday, the White House declared, “The US intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria.”

In the midst of a Middle East tour dedicated to arranging a $10 billion deal to provide Israel and the right-wing Arab monarchies with advanced weaponry directed against Iran, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel denounced the chemical weapons use, saying it “violates every convention of warfare.” He went on to acknowledge, “We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but [they]...very likely have originated with the Assad regime.”

Similarly, British Prime Minister David Cameron charged Syria with a “war crime,” stating: “It’s limited evidence, but there’s growing evidence that we have seen too of the use of chemical weapons, probably by the regime.”

Creating a Pretext for War on Syria

Stephen Lendman

What's ongoing now bears eerie resemblance to events preceding Bush's Iraq war. Obama's replicating a familiar scenario. Waging war requires a pretext to do so. When none exists, it's invented. It's easy. Lies substitute for truth. Claims about Syria using chemical weapons don't wash. Repetition gets people to believe them.

We've seen it all before. Colin Power's infamous February 5, 2003 Security Council speech led to war. It was shameless deception. Later he admitted WMD claims were false. It was too late to matter. Plans were set. The die was cast. Weeks later, America bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq. The cradle of civilization was destroyed. No WMDs existed. It was well-known but ignored. More on that below.

Powell lied claiming them. US media scoundrels repeated what demanded renunciation. A New York Times editorial headlined "The Case Against Iraq," saying:

"Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have."

A (no longer available online) Washington Post editorial headlined "Irrefutable," saying:

"….it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."

Months later, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report titled "WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications" said the Bush administration "systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq’s WMD and ballistic missile programs."

FBI Responsibility for US Terror Plots

Stephen Lendman

FBI organizes almost all terror plots in the US. The FBI
has provided at least 150 people with bombs, transpor-
tation and other means of carrying out terrorist plots.

Innocence is no defense. Lies substitute for truth. Imperial priorities matter most. America's war on terror shows no mercy. It's institutionalized. Everyone's harmed. Freedom is fast disappearing. America's war on humanity continues. Full-blown tyranny looms.

Boston's marathon bombings leave disturbing questions unanswered. Official accounts lack credibility. Mounting evidence suggests FBI responsibility. It doesn't surprise.

Project Censored's fourth top 2013 censored story headlined "FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States." More on that below.

Post-9/11, George Bush declared war on terrorism. It continues under Obama. America needs enemies. When none exist, they're invented. Muslims are America's target of choice. Numerous innocent victims are entrapped. It occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed.

Project Censored discussed Russia Today's report. It headlined "FBI organizes almost all terror plots in the US."

Mother Jones covered the same issue. Its article titled "The Informant" said "(T)he FBI has built a massive network of spies (allegedly) to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots - or leading them?"

Orwell does America

Pepe Escobar

Welcome to the sweet abyss of an Orwellian vortex! 2013 increasingly looks like 1984. In two previous articles, for RT and for Asia Times Online [AWIP] I have looked into the superimposed levels of blowback implied by the Boston bombing.

With still so many unanswered questions regarding what took place on the ground in Boston after the bombing, it's time to look at an extra, possible Top Ten list of lingering absurdities. And this without sidestepping other unanswered crucial questions, such as why a bomb drill - organized by Craft - was going on during the marathon at which the bombing took place; and why it was vehemently denied that a bomb drill was going on. For this current set of questions, I'm grateful for the help of Asia Times Online's Bostonian readers.

Pick your Mercedes

1. Will the FBI come clean and admit they knew everything there is to know about Tamerlan Tsarnaev - after five years of monitoring/controlling him - and still lied to public opinion by swearing they knew nothing about his and his brother's identity, posting their photos and asking for the public to act ''as eyes and ears'' to identify those ''suspects''?

2. Since 9/11, the preferred FBI modus operandi is to use informants to lure ''potential'' terra-rists to act. See for example the Fast and Furious-style Iran cum Mexican cartel plot. There's a strong possibility the Tsarnaev brothers were set up. In this case, is there anyone anywhere among the vast US intel apparatus investigating the FBI investigators?

3. Will the FBI explain a tsunami of false reports by the usual, anonymous ''US officials'' of explosions or ''unexploded bombs'' - at two Boston hotels, a court house, and at the JFK library?

The Bush Legacy

Stephen Lendman

George W. Bush has said he has no regrets with his presidency,
declaring that he is "comfortable" with his legacy...

Throughout his tenure, media scoundrels were largely supportive. They ignored his 2000 electoral theft. In 2004, they did so again. They backed his imperial wars. They turned a blind eye to police state injustice. They ignored torture on a global scale. They mischaracterized the measure of the man.

Early on, the New York Times praised his "new gravitas." It was days after he attacked Afghanistan. It was premeditated lawless aggression. It was two weeks before he signed the Patriot Act.

Times editors called him "confident" and "determined." He showed "statesmanship." "It was heartening to hear him say" America will fight in Afghanistan "as long as it takes."

They ignored an imperial war planned long before 9/11. They called him "a leader whom the nation could follow in these difficult times." They're comfortable with his legacy. Two recent articles feature his new presidential library and museum. More on them below.

The Boston lockdown and the Bill of Rights

Tom Carter

SWAT team doing house-to-house searches in the Boston area

The “exigent circumstances” exception more and more resembles the “state of exception” doctrine propounded by Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, pursuant to which a “national emergency” may override all existing democratic legal protections.

With the implementation of a state of military siege against the population of Boston last week, the American ruling class has crossed a historical, legal and political Rubicon. The die is cast and the sun is setting on the democratic forms of rule that have existed in the United States for the past two centuries.

What history will remember as most significant about the events in Boston will not be the bombing near the marathon’s finish line or the perpetrators or their motives. What will be remembered instead will be the unprecedented military lockdown of an entire major American city, with military vehicles in the streets and heavily armed soldiers going house to house—tromping through living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens, staring down their assault rifles at terrified, barefoot families in their pajamas.

The Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791 in the wake of the American Revolution, has provided the basic framework for bourgeois democracy as it has developed in the United States over the past 200 years. A simple comparison of the words of the Bill of Rights with the recent events in Boston—the cradle of the American Revolution—underscores the advanced stage of the historical process that is shattering centuries-old democratic forms of rule.

Free Lynne Stewart Now!

Stephen Lendman

Lynne's wrongfully imprisoned. She's one of America's best. For 30 years, she defended its poor, underprivileged, unwanted, and forgotten. Without advocates like her, they're denied due process and judicial fairness. She was targeted for representing clients prosecutors want convicted. A previous article said Obama wants her dead. She's gravely ill. She's a breast cancer survivor. It reemerged. It's spreading. She's denied proper treatment. More on her below.

America's gulag prison system shames the nation. It's a crime against humanity. It's by far the world's largest. It's one of the worst. Many in it shouldn't be there. Blacks and Latinos comprise two-thirds of its population. They're society's most vulnerable. Around half imprisoned are for nonviolent offenses. Many are elicit drug related. They're captives under cruel and inhumane conditions. Mandatory minimum sentences exacerbate things. So do racist and other deplorable policies. They include pervasive judicial unfairness, three strikes and you're out, get tough on crime harshness, and a guilty unless proved innocent mentality.

In his book "Race to Incarcerate," Marc Mauer discussed America's obsession with imprisonment, punishment, the commodification of prisoners, and rage to fill prison beds. Countless numbers of political prisoners fill them.

Congress Exploits Our Fears to Take Our Liberty

Ron Paul

"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither." ~ B. Franklin

This week, as Americans were horrified by the attacks in Boston, both houses of Congress considered legislation undermining our liberty in the name of “safety.” Gun control continued to be the focus of the Senate, where an amendment expanding federal “background checks” to gun show sales and other private transfers dominated the debate. While the background check amendment failed to pass, proponents of gun control have made it clear they will continue their efforts to enact new restrictions on gun ownership into law.

While it did not receive nearly as much attention as the debate on gun control, the House of Representatives passed legislation with significant implications for individual liberty: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA proponents claim that the legislation is necessary to protect Americans from foreign “cyber terrorists,” but the real effect of this bill will be to further erode Americans’ online privacy.

Under CISPA, Internet corporations are authorized to hand over the private information of American citizens to federal agents, as long as they can justify the violation of your privacy in the name of protecting “cyber security”. Among the items that may be shared are your e-mails, browsing history, and online transactions.

Like the PATRIOT Act, CISPA violates the fourth amendment by allowing federal agencies to obtain private information without first seeking a warrant from a federal judge.

The law also allows federal agencies to pass your information along to other federal bureaucrats — again without obtaining a warrant. And the bill provides private companies with immunity from lawsuits regardless of the damage done to anyone whose personal information is shared with the government.

Many Bostonians Love And Worship The Militarized Police State

Lee Rogers

[Bob Altemeyer: "The Authoritarians" (.pdf) - Ed.]

The video and images depicting the havoc caused in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing were undoubtedly a disturbing sight. Even more disturbing were the sights and sounds of Bostonians celebrating and cheering the capture of suspect number two following the implementation of a full blown militarized police state in and around Boston. These mindless sheep were cheering the suspect’s capture despite the fact that the FBI and local police forces have still failed to produce any concrete evidence proving that either of the two suspects planted the bombs. Even worse was how many of these mindless zombies were cheering the militarized police forces that put the city under a state of martial law in the name of capturing a single 19 year old young man.

It is a documented fact that these militarized police forces conducted warrantless unconstitutional door to door searches and restricted travel for no justifiable reason. These types of warrantless searches are a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. The actions taken by Governor Deval Patrick and the militarized police goons were unlawful according to the supreme law of the land and a misuse of government resources. Even after conducting these unlawful searches for hours on end the storm troopers still failed to find the suspect that they were looking for. Once the so-called lock down was lifted the suspect was found minutes later by a man who saw something suspicious near his boat after he was allowed to leave his home. If these idiots didn’t roll out full blown martial law throughout the area and simply asked for the public’s help in locating this person, the suspect would have been found much sooner. This is just one reason why it is disgusting to see how so many brainwashed robots were cheering the police forces who conducted these illegal operations.

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