Qatar conference opens new stage in Syrian war

James Cogan

This is what the real friends of Syria look like.

The “Friends of Syria” meeting in Qatar on June 22 ended with a communiqué announcing that Washington and its allies will “take all necessary practical measures” to arm the right-wing Sunni-based opposition forces, which have served as their proxies in a two-year civil war to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The announcement opens up a new stage in the war, and heightens the dangers of a regional sectarian conflagration.

The communiqué of the “Friends of Syria”—the Orwellian name given to the coalition of the US, its NATO allies, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Turkey, and the Sunni states of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—can only be described as a criminal and reckless document. It proposes to supply sufficient weapons and supplies to the anti-Assad opposition to enable it to counter the Syrian military ahead of “peace talks” in Geneva. The document also hints at US and NATO military operations along Syria’s borders to prevent Shiite fighters from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran assisting the pro-government forces—even as imperialist aid pours in for the so-called “rebels.”

Once again, the imperialist instigators of the civil war assert that Assad and his close supporters have “no role” in Syria’s future. This is a transparent attempt to foment dissent among pro-Assad forces and trigger the collapse of the government.

Plumbing the depths of hypocrisy, the communiqué expresses “strong concern” over “increasing presence and growing radicalism in the conflict” and “terrorist elements in Syria”. The “terrorists” are Sunni extremist groups, linked to Al Qaeda, that have played the leading role in the fighting against the Assad regime and have been one of the beneficiaries of the weapons sent to Syria by US allies in the region. The stepped-up flow of arms now underway will further aid their sectarian attacks on Syria’s Alawite Shiite minority.

Washington v. Edward Snowden Update

Stephen Lendman

He's arguably the most important whistleblower of our time. Perhaps ever.

Events are fast-moving. On June 23, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's (HKSAR) press release said:

"Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel." "The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden." "Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions." "As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong." "The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr. Snowden's departure." "Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies." "The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong."

General Wesley Clark: Whistleblower, Warrior

Stephen Lendman

He calls war the road to peace. What else would a four-star warrior say?

One a warrior, always one. Clark hasn't forgotten. His credentials are notorious. He's a war criminal. He's also a whistleblower.

He formerly commanded NATO. From March 24 - June 19, 1999, he led naked aggression against Yugoslavia. For 78 days, hundreds of warplanes attacked mercilessly. About 3,000 sorties were flown. Thousands of tons of ordnance were dropped. Hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles were used.

Nearly everything was struck. Massive destruction and disruption followed. An estimated $100 billion in damage was caused. A humanitarian disaster resulted. Environmental contamination was extensive. Many thousands were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost livelihoods. Homes and communities were destroyed. Lawless aggression was called humanitarian intervention. It was prelude for worse to come.

An avenue to Eurasia was opened. A permanent US military presence was established. America's imperium claimed another trophy. It had many others in mind.

It did so at the expense of mass killing and destruction. Clark's a retired four-star general. He's a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. He received numerous other awards. They include honorary knighthoods. America and complicit allies honor their worst.

Sanity is Not Statistical...But it is Uncommon

Eric Peters

Sanity still exists, it’s just not consistently applied.

For instance, consider marriage. It is generally agreed that it ought to be voluntary – that both parties should be mutually consenting. And not just to the initial union, either – but to the union on an ongoing basis. If at any point the union is no longer satisfactory, the couple’s right to part from one another is rarely questioned. This is sane. The idea that they should be forced at gunpoint to stay together is (rightly) regarded by most people as insane.

Yet the same principle is rarely translated over to the realm of politics. We are told as children by our teachers about the “consent of the governed.” But when that consent is withdrawn, why is it that most people recoil from the idea of peaceful separation? Why do most people celebrate the forcible “union” of unwilling partners? How is it different to be told you must accept being lorded over by a certain form of government – or else – vs. being told you must stay with your husband or wife – or else? Is it a function of numbers? That is, because more than just two people are involved, it becomes ok to force some to be bound by others? Is it because of “process”? What makes that any different from a husband declaring he has a piece of paper in his hand that entitles him to “perpetual union” with his unwilling wife? Society, after all, is just intellectual shorthand for all the people in a given area. “Society” does not consent to anything because society does not exist. Only individual people exist – and do – or do not consent.

Stasi In The White House

Paul Craig Roberts

Strange, isn’t it, that freedom was gained in East Germany and lost in America.

On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing National Security Agency (NSA) spy scandals, sought to associate himself with two iconic speeches made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy pledged: “Ich bin ein Berliner”. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Obama’s speech was delivered to a relatively small, specially selected audience of invitees. Even so, Obama spoke from behind bullet proof glass.

Obama’s speech will go down in history as the most hypocritical of all time. Little wonder that the audience was there by invitation only. A real audience would have hooted Obama out of Berlin.

Perhaps the most hypocritical of all of Obama’s statements was his proposal that the US and Russia reduce their nuclear weapons by one-third. The entire world, and certainly the Russians, saw through this ploy. The US is currently surrounding Russia with anti-ballistic missiles on Russia’s borders and hopes to leverage this advantage by talking Russia into reducing its weapons, thereby making it easier for Washington to target them. Obama’s proposal is clearly intended to weaken Russia’s nuclear deterrent and ability to resist US hegemony.

The Chimerica Dream

Pepe Escobar

The film Shanghai starring Gong Li and John Cusack was
a successful collaboration between China and Hollywood.
But now, China wants to do more than just provide the
pretty faces.
(Provided to China Daily)

Sun Tzu, the ancient author of The Art of War, must be throwing a rice wine party in his heavenly tomb in the wake of the shirtsleeves California love-in between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping. "Know your enemy" was, it seems, the theme of the meeting. Beijing was very much aware of - and had furiously protested - Washington's deep plunge into China's computer networks over the past 15 years via a secretive unit of the National Security Agency, the Office of Tailored Access Operations (with the apt acronym TAO). Yet Xi merrily allowed Obama to pontificate on hacking and cyber-theft as if China were alone on such a stage.

Enter - with perfect timing - Edward Snowden, the spy who came in from Hawaii and who has been holed up in Hong Kong since May 20. And cut to the wickedly straight-faced, no-commentary-needed take on Obama's hacker army by Xinhua, the Chinese Communist Party's official press service. With America's dark-side-of-the-moon surveillance programs like Prism suddenly in the global spotlight, the Chinese, long blistered by Washington's charges about hacking American corporate and military websites, were polite enough. They didn't even bother to mention that Prism was just another node in the Pentagon's Joint Vision 2020 dream of "full spectrum dominance".

Obama's Berlin Moment

Stephen Lendman

Obama was unwelcome in Berlin. He wasn't wanted. Many Berliners aren't pleased he came. His rhetoric fell short. Doublespeak duplicity is hollow. It doesn't sell well.

On July 29, 2008, 200,000 Germans cheered him. They did so in central Berlin's Tiergarten. They hoped he'd change Bush/Cheney policies. He promised. He lied. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors.

On June 19, Obama chose the Brandenburg Gate. It was hermetically sealed off to protect him. He spoke behind thick bullet-proof glass. About 4,000 got to attend. They were handpicked to avoid embarrassment.

It wasn't an "Ich bin ein Berliner" moment. Kennedy's visit was eagerly awaited. Around 120,000 massed to hear him. They did so on June 26, 1963. They cheered him in front of Rathaus Schöneberg (City Hall).

NSA monitoring US communications without a warrant, documents show

Thomas Gaist

This is a blueprint for universal accumulation and indefinite retention of all communications of everyone in the world.

Classified top secret documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by US Attorney General Eric Holder, published by The Guardian on Thursday, show that US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) judges have approved sweeping general orders authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor US communications data without individual warrants.

According to the Guardian, the documents—presumably obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—“show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.”

In their defense of the NSA surveillance programs, Obama administration officials—including Obama himself—have frequently and insistently declared that no communications of people in the US are monitored without a warrant. The documents released by The Guardian reveal these claims to be outright lies.

Big Brother Writ Large in America

Stephen Lendman

Spying on its citizenry reflects one of the most defining police state characteristics. Post-9/11, America crossed the line. Unconstitutional mass surveillance became official US policy.

Bush began it. Obama accelerated it. He did so straightaway as president. He promised otherwise. He pledged transparency and openness. He promised no more Bush/Cheney lawlessness. He lied. He exceeded the worst of his predecessors. Free societies don't tolerate these practices. Obama authorized them secretly. He subverted constitutional law. He violated the public trust. He broke a key campaign pledge. He declared war on freedom. It's more illusion than reality. It's fast disappearing. It may entirely vanish on Obama's watch.

Big Brother is real. It's no longer fiction. Privacy no longer exists. Web site visits are tracked. Cell phones log our movements. Emails and social network communications are monitored and stored. Sweeping warrantless spying is policy. Government is shrouded in secrecy. Constitutional protections don't matter. Police states operate this way. America's by far the worst. Everyone's suspect unless proved otherwise. Guilt by accusation is policy.

Fast-Tracking Toward War on Syria

Stephen Lendman

What's a 'no-fly zone'? - Remember Libya? Ah, well...Try this:
"'No-fly zone' for compleat idiots." That should do the trick.

At issue is lots more than Syria. It's New World Order harshness. It's state-sponsored terrorism writ large. It's globalized central control.

America's run by sociopaths. They're out-of-control criminals. They're traitors. They menace humanity. They violate their sacred oaths of office.

Presidents "do solemnly swear [or affirm to] faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of [their] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Congressional members "do solemnly swear [or affirm to] support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; [to] bear true faith and allegiance to the same; [to] this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and [to] well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which [they are] about to enter: So help [them] God."

Straightaway in office they spurn them. Presidents do most of all. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. It shows in how they govern.

Obama in Berlin

Barry Grey

Obama is the representative of a ruling class that will stop at nothing to defend its wealth and power against the working class — a ruling class, moreover, that presides over a system in mortal crisis.

In his speech in Berlin on Wednesday, President Barack Obama made much of the fact that he was the first American president to speak from the eastern side of the Brandenburg Gate, in what was once Stalinist-controlled East Berlin. This was meant to symbolize the triumph of what Obama called “open societies that respect the sanctity of the individual” over oppressive political systems.

He felt obliged, however, to include an explicit defense of the newly exposed surveillance network over which he presides, whose massive and illegal operations dwarf the spying apparatus of the old Stasi secret police.

Obama once again resorted to outright lies, declaring that National Security Agency (NSA) programs that seize the phone records of all Americans and tap into the electronic communications of people all over the world are “bound by the rule of law” and do not target “the communications of ordinary persons.”

This was among the most glaring contradictions in a speech riddled with banalities and lies. Obama invoked the ideals of “peace” and “tolerance,” having just approved the direct arming of Islamist militias that are carrying out sectarian atrocities in Syria. He spoke of “justice” in one breath and his drone assassination program in the next.

Obama's weapons-for-peace program

Pepe Escobar

They looked like two dejected schoolboys in front of the headmaster by the end of the two-hour Putin-Obama summit at the sidelines of the Group of Eight meeting in Northern Ireland. But as astonishing as the sound of silence was the fact that, on Syria, the former KGB guy was trying to save the "leading from behind" dude from himself.

President Barack Obama coined the monster euphemism that they had "different perspectives" on Syria. He said, deceptively, "We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible, so we will instruct our teams to continue to work on the potential of a Geneva follow-up."

If Obama was really trying to solve Syria "through political means" he would not have pre-emptively bombed the Geneva II talks with his "weapons-for-peace" program, as in weaponizing only the "good" Syrian "rebels" and only with a few "non-lethal" toys (that's the bottom line of Washington's spin). "If possible" in this case does translate into "impossible". As for the Geneva II talks, they don't rate anything better than "potential" because Obama knows the myriad, squabbling factions of the Syrian opposition will boycott it.

Sometimes it sounded like Putin wanted to put Obama out of his misery (as in "Assad must go" but I have no clue how to make him obey me). He was visibly trying to impress to Obama that expanding the proxy war in Syria would make the current - horrible - status quo look like a walk in the park.

Obama didn't seem to know what Putin knows. Putin - and Russian intelligence - know very well that the "chemical weapons" fairytale unveiled by White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes is utter nonsense.

Congress, intelligence officials, join in attacking NSA whistleblower Snowden

Eric London

Alexander and company are given center stage not to “let the public know the true facts,” but rather to peddle a series of lies in an attempt to quell widespread opposition to the international programs of government surveillance.

Government and intelligence officials appeared before Congress yesterday as part of the cover-up of the Obama administration’s massive international surveillance programs. The meeting was convened as a joint effort to attack whistleblower Edward Snowden and downplay the assault on democratic rights that he has made public.

The title of House Intelligence Committee hearing — “How Disclosed National Security Agency Programs Protect Americans, and Why Disclosure Aids Our Adversaries” — made clear its anti-democratic purpose and content.

The committee meeting came one day after Snowden issued a defiant response to the government threats, saying in an Q&A on the Guardian website that more revelations are in store, and that the “[t]ruth is coming and it cannot be stopped.”

Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rodgers responded by saying in his opening remarks: “It is at times like these when our enemies within become almost as damaging as the enemies outside.”

The testimonies provided by NSA head General Keith Alexander, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis, General Counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert Litt, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole followed a similar script, consisting of unsubstantiated tales of thwarted terrorist attacks mixed with threats of future attacks.

Putin Alone at G8

Stephen Lendman

Vladimir Putin wasn’t the odd man out over Syria at the G8 summit.
In fact, his view prevailed. When Stephen Harper told reporters that
Vladimir Putin had made concessions to other leaders, he was wrong.
The reverse seems to be true, writes Thomas Walkom.
(The Star)

On June 17, G8 leaders began two days of talks in Northern Ireland. Seven nations want escalated war on Syria. Putin's alone. He's an outlier for peaceful conflict resolution.

Obama's hands are bloodrenched. He bears full responsibility for ravaging Syria. It's been ongoing since early 2011. It was planned many years earlier. On Monday, Obama lied saying:

"We're not taking sides in a religious war. Really, what we're trying to do is take sides against extremists of all sorts and in favor of people who are in favor of moderation, tolerance, representative government, and over the long-term, stability and prosperity for the people of Syria." "We share an interest in reducing the violence, securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they are neither used nor are they subject to proliferation." "We want to try to resolve the issue through political means if possible, so we will instruct our teams to continue to work on the potential of a Geneva follow-up."

Since conflict began, America's been arming, training, funding and directing death squad fighters in Syria. They're imported from dozens of regional and other countries.

The Deeper Meaning of Mass Spying in America

James Petras

The vast expansion of the police state apparatus is not a response to the terror attack of 9/11. - Why has such a massive police-state apparatus and universal spying become so central to the ruling regime?

Introduction: The exposure of the Obama regime’s use of the National Security Agency to secretly spy on the communications of hundreds of millions of US and overseas citizens has provoked world-wide denunciations.

In the United States, despite widespread mass media coverage and the opposition of civil liberties organizations, there has not been any mass protest. Congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as top judges, approved of the unprecedented domestic spy program.. Even worse, when the pervasive spy operations were revealed, top Senate and Congressional leaders repeated their endorsement of each and every intrusion into all electronic and written communication involving American citizens. President Obama and his Attorney General Holder openly and forcefully defended the NSA’s the universal spy operations.

The issues raised by this vast secret police apparatus and its penetration into and control over civil society, infringing on the citizens freedom of expression, go far beyond mere ‘violations of privacy’, as raised by many legal experts. Most civil libertarians focus on the violations of individual rights, constitutional guarantees and the citizen’s privacy rights.

These are important legal issues and the critics are right in raising them. However, these constitutional–legal critiques do not go far enough; they fail to raise even more fundamental issues; they avoid basic political questions.

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