At approximately 0200 GMT the next day in NATO Headquarters in Brussels and 30 minutes later in its media center in Naples, staffers finished tabulating NATO’s 92nd day of aerial attacks on Libya and began to post the data on its website (www.nato.int).
Twenty four hours earlier an Atlantic Alliance command unit, located approximately 30 miles off the Libyan coast, in a direct line with Malta, and NATO’s targeting unit had signed off on 49 bombing missions for June 20th, the last day of spring and the last day of NATO’s original UN bombing mandate.
The authority for NATO’s bombing, which far exceeded earlier estimates ,killing or wounding of between 90,000-120,000 Libyans and foreigners, and the displacement of more than two million Libyans and foreign workers was claimed from the hastily adopted UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and UNSCR 1973. UN resolutions 1970 & 1973 gave NATO UN Chapter 7 authority to enforce a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace, initially for 90 days which ironically ended the day before its bombing at Sorman.
The two UN Security Council Resolutions were insisted upon by their main sponsors, France, the UK, Italy and the US who claimed that ”a limited no-fly zone would protect Libya’s civilian population from the wrath of the government of Libya’s leader, Muammar Kaddafi.” NATO requested and was granted two additional 90 days extensions to continue its Libyan mission which gave its air force until the end of 2011 to continue Operation Unified Protector.
It was early Monday morning, June 20, 2011.
Sorman Libya. A quiet and peaceful Libyan town, Sorman is located 45 miles west of Tripoli, near the Mediterranean coast, in the Zawiya District of the Tripolitania region in northwestern Libya. Many of the town’s children grew up exploring the 3rd Century truly magnificent Roman Ruins at nearby Sabratha. Some archaeologists consider Sabratha, located almost in direct line with Rome across the Mediterranean, and built on a high cliff above the sea, as the most complete extant Roman architecture with only a small part of this large Roman city having been excavated. This observer has visited Sabratha a few times since the mid-1980’s and each visit presents more awe. Families from Sorman and nearby villages regularly visit and picnic there.
In the early hours of June 20, 2011 it was dark in Sorman except for some muted half-moon light. A few dim street lights and some partially illumined homes provided some light asresidents began to rise and prepare for the Al Fajr (“Dawn”) prayers.
At the homestead of Khaled K. El-Hamedi, the 37 year old President of the International Organization for Peace, Care & Relief (IOPCR), one of Libya’s most active social service organizations everyone was asleep following a rambunctious birthday party for his three year old son. The Hamedi family members included Khaled’s three year old son Khweldi, five year old daughter Khaleda, his beautiful pregnant wife Safa, his aunt Najia, and his six year old niece Salam, among others.
At NATO’s Control and Command Center, the 49 bombing missions planned for early morning of June 20, included a target at Sorman, which would push the number of NATO reconnaissance sorties over Libya to 11,930. This number would become 26,500 by midnight on October 31, when NATO would end its air campaign. The days bombing sorties would also bring the tally of rocket and bombing targets to 4,521. This figure would increase to more than 11,781 by late fall, when NATO was instructed to end OUP (Operation Unified Protector).
NATO’s prepares to bomb Dorman’s “command and control center”
Before the bombs were fired at Khaled K. al-Hamedi compound, NATO staff conducted a six step process the first of which was surveillance using the MQ-9 Reaper UAV, which sometimes is also used to fire missiles. Also above Sorman was the Predator drone with full-motion video. During June 19 and the early hours of June 20, the drones locked on the Hamedi homestead target and relayed updated information to NATO’s command center.
The Hamedi home was not what NATO labels a “time-critical target” so there was plenty of time for its staff to transmit information about the site from unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to intelligence analysts. Almost certainly, according to a source at Jane’s Weekly, NATO UAV’s watched the Hamedi compound over a period of days and presumably observed part of the birthday party being held for three old Huweldi, the day before the order to bomb was issued.
NATO Rules of Engagement for Operation United Protector, constitute a set of classified documents which present specific and detailed instructions about what is a legitimate target and who can approve the target, whether pre-planned or “on the fly” when a pilot happens upon a target of opportunity.
The Sorman attack on the Hamedi home was planned as part of what NATO calls its “Joint Air Tasking Cycle (JATC). A target development team put the Hamedi home on the June20th daily list of targets. The team used a report from NATO intelligence analysts who determined that retired officer Khaled al Huweldi, Hamedi, one of the original members of the Gadhafi led 1969 coup against King Idris in 1969, and a former member of the Al Fatah Revolution’s Revolutionary Command Council was living on the property. His assassination had been ordered by NATO because they hoped to weaken the regime in some way even though the senior Hamedi was retired and had no decision making role in Libya.
On June 19, the day before the bombing attack on the Hamedi family at Sorman, NATO was obliged by its own regulations and by the international law of armed conflict to conduct a “potential for collateral damage review” of this mission.
There is no evidence that this was ever done.
A requested US Congressional NATO Liaison Office review of the Sorman bombing, initially requested from Libya on August 2, was completed in early September 2011 and found no documentary evidence or other indication that Bouchard or anyone in NATO’s Target Selection Unit, evaluated, discussed, or even considered the subject of potential civilian casualties at the Hamedi home in Sorman.
Following Bouchard’s green light to bomb the Hamedi home, the coordinates were fixed at32°45′24″N 12°34′18″E . Specific aim points on the Hamedi property were chosen and eight bombs and missiles were readied and attached to the strike aircraft.
At Sorman, NATO used a variety of bombs and missiles including the “bunker busting” BLU-109 (Bomb Live Unit) which is designed to penetrate 18 feet of concrete. NATO also used the American MK series of 500 lb, (MK 81) 1000 lb, (MK-82) and the 2000 lb (MK-84) that Israel used so widely during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon. The MK series and the BLU-109 are reportedly being stockpiled in Israel in preparation for both countries anticipated next war in this region.
Following the infernal at Sorman, NATO denied responsibility but the next day NATO admitted carrying out an air strike somewhere in Sorman but denied that there were civiliandeaths even as its drones filmed the scene close up. NATO’s media office in Naples issued a statement claiming “A precision air strike was launched against a high-level command and control node in the Sorman area without collateral damage.” NATO spokespersons also told Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that “the facility was a legitimate military target and that all necessary precautions were taken before conducting the strike which minimized any potential risk of causing unnecessary casualties”.
The official NATO record of its bombing of Libya for June 20, 2011 reads as follows and remains unchanged:
“Allied Joint Force Command NAPLES, SHAPE, NATO HQ.
Over the past 24 hours, NATO has conducted the following activities associated with Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR:
Air Operations Sorties conducted 20 JUNE: 149
Strike sorties conducted 20 JUNE: 52
20 JUNE: In the vicinity of Tripoli: 1 Command & Control Node, 8 Surface-To-Air Missile Launchers,
1 Surface-To-Air Missile Transport Vehicle. In the vicinity of Misratah: 3 Truck-Mounted Guns, 2 Self-
Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns, 1 Tank. In the vicinity of Tarhunah: 1 Military Equipment Storage Facility. In the vicinity of Al-Khums: 1 Military Vehicle Storage Facility. In the vicinity of Zintan: 1 Rocket Launcher.”
Oddly, NATO records for June 20th as well as subsequent reports of bombing attacks listed for June 20th and June 21st in its daily logs have never included the bombing attack onSorman or the attack on the Al-Hamedi residence which indisputably killed 15 civilians.
Just before the bombs hit, eye witnesses, reported seeing red specks in the sky and then flashes of intense light, immediately followed by thunderous ear splitting blasts as eight American bombs and rockets pulverized their neighbors homestead.
In an instant Khaled El-Hamedi’s family was dead. The children were crushed, blown apart or shredded into pieces, along with friends and extended family members who had slept overnight.
Khaled was working late, attending meetings with displaced Libyans driven from their homes and urgently in need of IOPCR help. As he returned home, Khaled saw from his car window the sky light up and heard exploding bombs. He was frozen in horror as entered his property and observed rescue workers frantically digging and futilely trying to move the thick concrete slabs of his home hoping against hope that they would miraculously find survivors.
Libyan government spokesman Mousa Ibrahim announced the death of 15 people, including three children, were killed at Sorman. He slammed the NATO bombing as a “cowardly terrorist act which cannot be justified.” Investigators, who visited Sabratha hospital 10 kilometers from Sorman, saw nine bodies, including three young children. They also saw body parts including a child’s head.
For those who visited the Al-Hamidi family compound back in June following the NATO bombings, as this observer did less than a week after the crime as part of an international delegation, the scene was one of total devastation.
Collapsed and blown apart concrete and tiled homes, small body parts, and bits of family belongings and memorabilia, trees, some blown over, others bending and nearly denuded of their foliage, dead, terrified and dying petting zoo animals, including exotic birds, Ostrich, Deer, small animals and large moose killed or left near death and most in a blind stupor staring blankly from what remained of their shelters while dying of wounds and from trauma.
Outside one of the bombed houses I noticed crushed cartons of spaghetti pasta and cans of tomato sauce, stockpiled for distribution to the needy as part of the work of IOPCR during the summer and in preparation for the coming Holy month of Ramadan observances whichincluded doing and performing charitable works and individual humanitarian acts.
Under growing pressure from the international community including NATO member states, NATO HQ claimed equipment malfunction, missed target, poor intelligence and pilot errors. Finally US Defense secretaries Gates and his replacement, Leon Panetta admitted that NATO lacked effective intelligence on the ground to identify military targets with certainty. Former Defense Secretary Gates, in criticizing NATO’s operation in Libya implied that NATO used a bomb first ask questions later paradigm in Libya. And this appears to have been the case. These excuses in no way absolve NATO and its 28 NATO member states of responsibility.
Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard insists to this day that only Libya’s military was targeted: “This important strike will greatly degrade Gadhafi regime forces’ ability to carry on their barbaric assault against the Libyan people,” he told the media from his office in Brussels. The civilian deaths at Sorman came just hours after NATO acknowledged that one of its missiles had gone astray early on Sunday, hitting a residential neighborhood of Tripoli.
At the request of Khaled al-Hamedi, himself being sought by Libya’s new government, and aware that I was going to return to Sorman, I felt honored as I made my way to his loved ones gravesites on the family homestead where he and I first met, in order to deliver a message from him to his loved ones.
Picking my way through debris in the dark, under the cold and suspicious eyes of a couple of local militiamen, I stood at the same spot, where on June 27th his family’s freshly dug graves bore witness to what Khaled was describing to our shocked delegation concerning the details of the horror and hellfire that NATO unleashed upon his family.
Back in June I had moved to the rear of our group as Khaled spoke to us about the loss of his babies, his beauties and his precious pregnant wife. I was embarrassed because for some reason, uncontrollable tears would not stop streaming down my face and, despite averting my eyes, I saw that Khaled noticed. I was touched when this young man, to whom I was a total stranger, came to me and put his arm around my shoulder in comfort. Clearly he understood that each of us can feel the pain of others, even of strangers, as well as connect them with our own losses of loved ones in life.
Later, as I learned more about Khaled’s family and saw their most expressive and revealing photos, I came to believe that with respect to the wanton criminal aggression that caused thousands of needless deaths of innocents over the period of nearly nine months against this simple, gentle society, that Najia, Safa, Salam, Khaleda, and Khweldi, and the others slaughtered at Sorman, are forever iconic representatives of all the innocent civilians who were slaughtered in Libya since March 2011.
During my recent visit to Sorman, I stood at the same location as last June. I surveyed the area and then approached the graves of Najia, Safa, Salam, Khaleda, and Khweldi. In the cold darkness, and the piles of rubble still in place,it was eerie
I knelt close, felt a strange source of warmth and looked over my shoulder.
I whispered in the silent night that I had a message from your loving Husband, Father, Uncle and Nephew that he asked me to deliver to you.
I read to them the message entrusted to me. And I left a copy in Arabic, pinned to a bouquet of flowers:
The message read:
“Please say a very big hello to them and tell them I am coming.
Please tell them “I won’t leave you alone
And I miss each of you so very much.”
And please write them each a note.
Najia, Safa, Salam, Khaleda, and Khweldi.
Franklin, Tell them, “You are my life.
You are my love.
I miss you very, very much.
Life without you is so painful, so hard and completely empty.
I won’t stay and live away from you. I promise.
I’ll return and be close to you. Baba will be back.
I love you.
As I made my way back to the main road in search of a taxi, a militiaman stopped me and interrogated me about why I was there, confiscated my camera and ordered me to leave the area at once.
I paused for a moment and looked back toward what had been a loving family home, a petting zoo and bird sanctuary that had delighted the children in this neighborhood.
A little boy and girl, perhaps siblings, maybe six or seven years old, approached me with their Ethiopian nanny and asked: “Wien, (where is) Khaleda? Wien Khweldi? mettayargeoun ila Al Bayt (when will they come home?)
“When will they come home?”
Unable to speak, I kissed and patted their sweet heads and continued on my way.
Khaled K. Al-Hamedi is strong, deeply religious, and fatalistic. He has pledged to family and friends around the world that he will continue his work with the International Organization for Peace, Care & Relief in spite of the life shattering loss of his loved ones.
An honorable family, a peaceful and welcoming town, a devastated country, and a shocked and angry international community demand justice from those who sent ‘Unified Protector’ and NATO’s no-fly zone to destroy Libya in order to “protect the civilian population.”
ICC Prosecutor’s Career Move Switches Horses and Legal Theories in Libya
Despite the claims of the National Transitional Council of Libya (NTC) that Saif al Islam Gadhafi, the apprehended subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant that ordered his transport to The Hague, is in a secure hidden location near Zintan, Libya, a town approximately 85 miles southwest of Tripoli, this is not the case.
Neither are the assurances by Steven Anderson, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who on 11/23/11 announced that Saif al-Islam’s injuries had been “taken care of,” nor his profuse assurances that Saif is in good health. In point of fact, following the ICRC assurances, the Ukrainian-born Doctor Andrei Murakhovsky who lives in Zintan reported that “Saif’s wound is covered with gangrenous tissue and necrotic tissue.” He added that “This wound is not in good condition and requires amputation. His index finger has been ripped off at the level of the middle phalange (finger bone), the bones are all shattered. It’s the same thing with the thumb of that hand.” Dr. Murakhovsky told the Reuters news service.
The morning of 11/24/11, Libyan NTC Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib still insisted that “Saif al-Islam is receiving the best possible treatment, but for now he is not in the hands of the provisional central government and we don’t know where he is.”
Regarding Saif al Islam’s “secure and hidden location”, most people in the village of Zintan know where he is being held, as does this observer who visited a motley group of B-western movie types who are currently guarding and “protecting” Saif.
Although armed with a Power of Attorney from one of Saif’s family members to visit him, the group refused my request to visit Saif with the excuse that they had to consult their commander who was not expected to return for a few days since he was now the new NTC Libyan Defense Minister.
On the question of Saif’s health, there is increasing concern also because his guards claim they cannot take him to Zintan’s only hospital because someone would likely kill him in order to collect on the substantial rumored Qatar/NATO offered cash reward for whoever assassinates him thus presumably helping “the new Libya” and its allies avoid a messy trial.
Meanwhile, after what he claims in a change of heart, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, now professes that Libya, not The Hague, is the best place after all for Saif al Islam and his trial. Since its establishment by the United Nations in 2002, the ICC has had just one Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. To the reported expressed relief of many international defense lawyers, several ICC staff and ICC judges, plus legal commentators familiar with his prosecutorial work, the ICC will have his successor chosen next month in New York. This coming weekend in New York, the legal defense organization, Avocats Sans Frontiers (ASF, ie Lawyers Without Borders) will meet in order to try to agree on a successor to propose to the 18 ICC Judges who will decide.
Prosecutor Ocampo’s visit this week to Libya caused some raised eyebrows among the groups noted above when he suddenly announced that the ICC would not invoke its UN Security Council-granted power and proceed with Case # ICC 01/11. This case was opened at the ICC on March 3, 2011, having been assigned to the ICC by the UN Security Council following the preceding month’s uprising in Benghazi, Libya.
Speculation among some in The Hague, in Libya and from ASF lawyers is that knowing that he would not be re-elected for another term as ICC Prosecutor, due to among other reasons he has not won one case during his 9 year term, has repeatedly incurred the wrath of ICC judges for bringing cases which they ruled lacked sufficient evidence and his penchant for self-aggrandizing publicity and making inaccurate claims about cases and defendants that border on judicial misconduct, Ocampo decided to switch horses.
One egregious example of his making false representations is the current ICC case involving Saif al-Islam Gadhafi in which Ocampo made several inaccurate headline-grabbing statements over the past several weeks claiming to be negotiating “indirectly” with Saif al Islam to give himself up to the ICC. Saif has emphatically denied Ocampo’s grandstanding claims and presumably, were Ocampo to attempt to personally prosecute his case Saif’s legal team would immediately file a motion to replace Ocampo for cause, as provided by ICC rules.
Given these problems, Ocampo, according to someone who accompanied him during his visit this week to Libya, decided to accept a lucrative offer from the NTC to advise the oil-rich country on setting up a legal system to try Saif al Islam and others.
The assurances by Moreno-Ocampo, NATO officials and American UN Ambassador Susan Rice that Libya is currently fully capable of currently handling trials of former regime loyalists are nonsense. Rice exhibited ignorance and surprise here last weekend when she claimed not to know that Libya had the death penalty and would apply the death penalty in the ICC case if given the chance. The Libyan public’s apparent preference is for the death penalty by hanging in the two Libya ICC cases. This was the case with Rwanda, which is one reason the Ruanda Tribunal did not allow the government of Rwanda to conduct certain trials even though that government assured the UN it would not actually carry out a death penalty sentence. Libya has offered no such assurances to the ICC against the use of the death penalty nor has it submitted a legal challenge to ICC jurisdiction over the Saif al Islam or Abdullah Sanussi cases, as the Rome Statute requires.
Despite switching jobs, Ocampo has not lost interest in prosecuting the Saif al Islam case which he views as his best chance of finally winning at least an ICC related case, but not at The Hague where there is the possibility that Saif would not be convicted, given Court rules of procedure and ICC legal staff resources that would actually assist an accused in presenting his defense before the court. Ocampo is said to be betting on gaining a victory in Saif’s high profile case by working with the NATO-created NTC government in Libya and running the prosecution as a behind the scenes “consultant” and helping Libya’s NTC keep the UN and ICC at bay while allowing the NTC to try both Saif’s case and that of Abdullah Sanussi if and when the latter is proven to have been captured. Ocampo is said to relish the job of becoming the “Father of Libya’s new legal system.” Ocampo is now explaining that it was never his role “to tell Libyan officials how to hold a fair trial and the standard of the ICC is that it has to be a judicial process that is not organized to shield the suspect and I respect that it’s important for the cases to be tried in Libya.” He then added, “There are so many different traditions; it is difficult to say what is a fair trial.”
No sooner had the surprising news and Ocampo’s sudden vagueness about what constitutes a fair trial begun to ricochet around the Internet than this observer received an email from an international criminal lawyer whose office is two blocks from the Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, DC. The American lawyer was appalled: “Paying Ocampo as a consultant for the new Libyan government on criminal trial procedures is a ridiculous thought/idea. He has no idea of fair trial rights and has not achieved a conviction in his nearly 9 years at the ICC.”
Nor were the ICC judges thrilled at the perceived betrayal. The ICC quickly fired off a reminder to Ocampo, to the new Libyan government and the media that it is the ICC judges, and not the ICC Prosecutor, who will decide whether a case will be held in The Hague or in the country where the alleged crimes occurred and only they will decide if Libya has the ability to conduct a fair trial. The ICC is signaling that the Ocampo-generated international headlines to the contrary notwithstanding, the issue of trial venue in Libya has not settled in ICC case # 01/11.
Prosecutor Ocampo knows well that once the ICC decides to open an investigation of a case, national courts may not investigate that case and are relieved from their obligation to do so. In addition, since the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Libyan defendants, all states – including Libya – are obliged to cooperate fully with the Court. Following the public dressing down from The Hague, Ocampo has now retreated a bit and told CNN on 11/23/11 that: “ The only condition is the new Libyan government has to present their position to the International Criminal Court judges and the judges will decide if the case can be prosecuted in Libya. Libya will present evidence to ICC judges that the country can hold the trial, and the judges will decide if they are satisfied,” Ocampo explained.
The ICC, if it takes up the question as expected, should rule in the developing Saif al Islam case, precisely as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found in ruling against that country’s request for trial jurisdiction, although like Libya today, Rwanda claimed to have a “modern functioning court system.” The reason is that an initial review of Libya’s criminal judicial system and discussion with Libyan criminal defense lawyers as well as with international criminal defense lawyers with years of experience in international tribunals’ practice, shows that it is very clear that persons accused of serious crimes in Libya currently do not have even the most minimal judicial rights that are required by international norms. Today Libyan defendants do not benefit from adequate legal representation, financial support for indigent accused, travel and investigation support for defense teams, or security for defense teams. Libya’s central and local governments place impediments curtailing defense teams in the discharge of their functions.
An admittedly cursory inquiry in Libya among lawyers here also reveals nonexistent or inadequate accommodation and transport arrangements for witness, as well as a lack of arrangements for protection of witnesses before, during and after testifying in court. In addition, the NTC is engaging in a pattern of threatening potential witnesses preparing to testify against NATO in another case. Similarly the NTC is failing to provide safe and secure travel for Libyan witnesses living abroad, including in Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, and Egypt. Interviews with Libyan lawyers and officials as well as visits to detention facilities in Libya reveal that conditions are not in compliance with international standards and that there is widespread torture of prisoners in Libya and threats against the families of prisoners.
One could wish Luis Mareno-Ocampo good luck in his new career as would be “Father of the New Libya’s Legal system,” but the current ICC case # 01/11 is too critical for all involved to wait to learn whether his project gets completed and meets international standards.
An affable gentleman, “Mahmoud” ushered this observer into the Benghazi People’s Court (Mahkamat al-Sha’b) and showed me the freshly painted courtroom where on December 19, 2006, the current NTC leader and long term CIA favorite, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, twice upheld death sentences by firing squad against a Palestinian doctor, Ashraf al-Hujuj, and five Bulgarian nurses Kristiyana Valtcheva, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Snezhana Dimitrova. The death sentences were requested by the Libyan prosecutor in his opening statement four months earlier, in the final appeal in the fake HIV show trial case # 607/2003 held at the criminal court in Benghazi.
The appellate judge in the case was none other than the current head of the NATO-installed Libyan National Transition Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul Jalil, whose formal legal education consisted of sitting in on some Sharia law classes. Following his appellate decision in the case, and for other services rendered to the former regime, Jalil was rewarded with the post of Minister of Justice. He served loyally in that position until American associates encouraged the intensely ambitious Minister to resign on February 24, 2011, the day he joined the Benghazi based uprising, as “leader.”
In the Benghazi nurses case, “Judge” Jalil knew the defendants were innocent and had been regularly and severely tortured during years of incarceration and forced into making false confessions which they later recanted. He also knew that the families of the false government witnesses against the “Benghazi Six” had been threatened with death if their relative failed to testify that it was the defendants who injected 426 Libyan children with HIV at the al-Fateh hospital in Benghazi. Jalil was also fully aware that, as the Libyan and International medical community knew, unsanitary conditions at the hospital caused the spreading of the HIV virus which originated in Benghazi from African guest workers, well before the arrival of the Palestinian and Bulgarian humanitarian medical staff.
During his “judicial review”, Jalil ignored the most elementary rules of criminal trial procedure and did not appear to grasp the fact that without procedural rights no accused person possesses substantive rights.
From day one of the “Benghazi Six” proceedings, which spanned more than five years, it was a political exercise. The same appears certain to be the case from the moment of the the opening of any trial conducted in Libya of high profile ex-regime loyalists including Saif al Isam, Abdullah al-Senussi, Abu Zeid Dorda, former Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former vice foreign minister Khaled Kiam, and others. If their trial is held in Libya, it is not at all certain that these accused will still be alive when the courtroom proceedings begin. This is because of the current lawlessness and political jockeying among NTC power centers and a widespread thirst across Libya today for revenge which trump international notions favoring just trials.
Jalil who recently announced that men in Libya will be allowed four wives because the “New Libya” is going to strictly follow Sharia law and four wives is what the Koran allows, wants the trials held in Libya. He will try to convince the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo who is currently visiting Libya on behalf of the ICC that Libya should be the venue for Gadhafi regime trials and not The Hague. Perhaps Jalil will tell Ocampo not to worry about fair trials in Libya because one area in particular in which Libyan laws have been inconsistent with Sharia is in the penal law. Punishments under the Gadhafi regime were lighter than those mandated by traditional Islamic Hudud deterrent punishments, which Jalil is reported to favor but current Justice Ministry officials say current punishments, not Hudud will be applied.
Ocampo’s challenge will be to explain the legal steps to officials in Tripoli, and try to convince them that The Hague is the better option for the coming trials. Ultimately, it is up to the ICC judges backed by the UN whether to hand over the cases against Saif al Islam and Abdullah al Senussi to the NTC.
Jalil will have the White House and NATO backing him on this issue. Indeed, yesterday, 11/21/11, UN Ambassador Susan Rice beat Ocampo to the punch so to speak and showed up here in Libya to flamboyantly announce that the US will not pressure Libya to send Seif al Islam to the ICC at The Hague, an international criminal court whose jurisdiction the Obama Administration has refused to accept but which 119 countries have.
What the White House and NATO want is for former key Gadhafi loyalists like Seif al Islam to be silenced ( reminding one of Saddam, Osama and Muammar) before they can reveal criminal dealings by NATO country leaders. Chances are the jailed defendants will be killed unless the UN Security Council, which allowed the destruction of Libya via UNSC Resolution 1973, intervenes to uphold UN humanitarian principles.
Returning to the subject of my courtroom usher, who currently works in Benghazi as a NTC liaison officer with some of NATO’s still active special units, he showed me the large ornate Italian style courtroom window which, like the courtroom, was also freshly painted. Wiping an index finger on the window ledge to show me its dust free condition, he explained: “As you can see with our newly painted courtroom we are now ready to bring these dogs to justice and we don’t want any foreign interference in our country. We can take care of our own problems.” Speechless, I kept my thoughts to myself. But they included that had my guide’s new attitude about foreign interference and rivals in Libya settling their differences among themselves prevailed nine months ago, Libya would not have experienced the scores of thousands killed, wounded or whose lives were to varying degrees shattered, the latter affecting Libya’s total population.
The above events, the show trial and equating a painted courtroom with readiness to administer justice, ma
ke plain to this observer that Libya in not yet ready to conduct fair criminal trials, not for the 16,000 current detainees, (approximately 3000 still in prison from the previous regime, and close to 13,000 jailed by Libya’s claimed liberators). Libya currently lacks the capacity and perhaps agreement about what a fair trial would even be. It appears that currently a fair trial will not be conducted for high profile former regime loyalists.
Part of the reason is that today in Libya, the prevailing political, and legal dicta comes not from Gadhafi’s little Green book, volume I of which was published in 1976, or the engraved words outside UN HQ at Turtle Bay, New York, from Isaiah 2:4: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Rather today’s clarion in Libya trumpets a quotation from Mao Tse-Tung’s Little Red Book published in 1964, and it’s as true today as ever it was: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Despite sanctimonious NATO calls for the nearly four dozen militia, with more forming every month, to turn in their weapons, most of which NATO indirectly supplied, Libya’s armed gangs are rearming, increasing their rank and file numbers and expanding the scope and the variety of their “security parameters”, all designed for maximizing their political power in the continuing turbulent period which will likely witness serial new and weak governments rising and collapsing here.
Key militias groups like the Zintanis, who captured Seif, or the Misratans, who killed Muammar and the most organized groups, which are Islamist, have organizational networks that are supporting their demands for major posts in the new government. Todays expected announcement by interim Prime Minister Abdul Rahim al-Keib, of a new interim government, is considered a mere starting point by these stronger militias in the process of maneuvering themselves into essentially full control.
This absence of control over the militias is only too evident in the treatment of less than high profile captured former regime officials and towns. Reports of score settling are heard everywhere. Ignoring the claimed authority of the NTC, militias continue to ransack towns formally loyal to Gadhafi as they mete out bloody reprisals even on rival militia opposed to the former regime. Instead of handing over weapons from captured government arsenals to the authorities, militias are taking them back to their hometowns. So far the interim government has been unable to exert any significant authority over a country awash with weapons and armed men.
This observer was approached last week in the lobby of a five-star Tripoli hotel by an Israeli business man who was jokingly complaining, “Why don’t these people speak Hebrew? Maybe I should open a school.” Like many of his countrymen and hundreds from NATO countries, Israelis are having no trouble getting visas here. It is not the same for black Africans and Arabs who are being held in herds at the borders with Egypt or Tunisia, or in Cairo, Alexandria, or Tunis, until groups of hundreds can be assembled and processed by well-paid construction and domestic worker employment agents who will likely continue Lebanese and Saudi Arabian style “keep their passports and pay them pittance” slave labor practices. The droves arriving in Libya to do business, some of whom this observer has spoken with, will pretty much accept any kind of business if the bottom line is attractive. “God willing we can make this country into another Dubai”, one fellow opined as he asked if I knew any real estate agents who could help him buy up Mediterranean beach frontage cheap for a tourist resort.
On the lighter side, but to this observer’s chagrin, even my Chadian princess friends, who work with the traditional Saharan medicine specialist Dr. Fatma, and who more or less cured my leg in late August, and whose staff still administers my necessary outpatient physical therapies, are getting into the weapons business.
Today the picture of Libya is that of a country split into deadly rival factions. Cambridge University’s Tarak Barkawi, accurately describes Libya as a country “shot through with rivalries, jealousies and blood debts.” The NTC is itself is a disparate collection of defected regime elements, Islamists, secular expatriates and Berbers, many deeply suspicious of NTC leader Jalil who has never adequately explained his role in the July assassination of his rival, former Interior Minister General Younis after the latter joined the rebels.
An international legal team is working on a brief for the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and the Libya National Transitional Council, laying out arguments to be used on behalf of former Gadhafi regime loyalists in an effort to convince these bodies that the facts and law of this case warrant moving their trials from Libya to The Hague.
The brief is expected to be made available publicly on December 15, 2011. Meanwhile the UN Security Council must support the ICC and assure that Libyan show trials for former regime loyalist that have been indicted are avoided by conducting their trials in The Hague.
“The Shen Beet, you know, like your FBI and the Mossad, like your CIA.” – Mordechai Vanunu
Last October and just before the publication of BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010 a supporter of Vanunu’s who had become a friend of mine three years prior told me about another dissident Israeli and former military officer who had also converted to Christianity and been involved in high-level scientific programs.
A major difference between Vanunu and Roy Tov is that Tov left Israel for South East Asia and wrote his insights of the Zionist state in The Cross of Bethlehem
A major similarity is that, to this very day, both brothers remain in the cross hairs of the Mossad.
Tov added, “but most readers would probably not be aware I had been formally recognized by Bolivia as a political refugee in 2005. This would put things in a clearer perspective, especially the Bolivian treason against me. They accepted me and then sold me out to my persecutors.”
The latest in Vanunu’s saga is that for the second time, on 13 November, the Israeli Supreme Court failed again to meet the announced deadline to respond to Vanunu’s appeal to revoke his citizenship. Follow that story at Vanunu’s You Tube Channel:
The only way I can bear the waiting for Vanunu’s freedom from Israel is by imagining the delay is because SECURITY [Shen Beet and Mossad] are searching for a graceful way out of the wall they backed themselves up against by failing to imagine a little muckraker like me would expose their Vendetta against Vanunu and send it to them:
I just ordered my copy of The Cross of Bethlehem and a book review will follow, but this begins what I hope and intend will be a series of Internet conversations with Tov.
It begins with Tov’s response to my inquiry for an Internet interview:
“Eileen, my fierce urgency is for real. I can’t tell you if I’ll be able to breath tomorrow. I can’t tell you if another criminal Bolivian hired by Israel will attack me again this night.”
Roy also wrote:
“Seldom do I publish day after day, but yesterday something happened. After I published Rabbinical Fake: 6000 Differences I was attacked, as it often happens after I write on religious items condemning Judaism. It’s not the first time it happens or that I report it on this website, but this time it was a viciously hard hit.
“My food was poisoned and I barely managed to arrive at the guesthouse where I was staying. After several aspirins and coffees, I was able to reach the nearest internet kiosk and send a few update emails including one to a leading American human rights lawyer who is trying to help in my case.
“Back in the guesthouse I collapsed.
“Today I decided to make this public, despite the negative impact (literally so) it may have on me. I fear another violent attack by the Bolivian authorities. Let me be clear: the attack was organized and performed by Bolivian authorities and funded by Israel.
“In The Cross of Bethlehem I describe a Bolivian intelligence officer who admitted openly that Israel asked to ‘keep an eye on me.’
“That was in March 2007. Since then I have no peace. A wide variety of harassment methods are routinely used against me; from time to time I describe them in the website. I was forced to move out of the church. I was forced to live in cheap guesthouses, all the time in the move.
“At the Internet kiosks my memory cards are a favorite target. I am harassed while eating and while walking. Israel cannot logically answer me, thus it physically attacks me.
“In July 2009 I was savagely attacked by a Bolivian – Israeli team, which was performed with the help of the local police (to say the very minimum). I was left with nothing. Copies of my documents mysteriously disappeared at the same time from the refugees’ agency and from the immigrations authorities. No explanation was ever offered for this last event. As a result, I have been illegitimately made into a prisoner of the Bolivian state, unable to leave the country that gave me refuge in order to sell me out to my persecutors.
“Since then, my throat – badly hurt during the coward attack – keeps deteriorating. I can’t neither teach nor preach. Interviews are impossible; after speaking for a while I fold in pain.-Bolivian Refugee 461/2005 Betrayed by those who gave refuge 
Roy explains that “as of now I barely speak, have difficulties eating and constantly suffer from pain” in his throat.
Previously he wrote:
“On the morning of July 23, 2009, I was forced to leave the church building where I was living very early, a few minutes before 7 AM. The noise was impossible and I knew that complaining to the brothers would be useless; I’d tried that too many times. I left the building and headed downwards, towards La Paz downtown…twice in my way down suspicious 4×4 trucks crossed my way. They advanced too slowly, as if in a reconnaissance mission, and were out of place. At that hour I never met even one. I chose to advance faster and eventually reached the Santa Cruz and Illampu corner a few minutes later; this is where “El Lobo” – an Israeli owned restaurant which apparently doubles as a Mossad substation.
“Somewhat down that street, four Israeli men were waiting. Probably following their expectations, I moved away from them as fast as possible, meaning I entered the Linares Alley. This is the center of the backpackers’ area in La Paz, featuring many souvenir stores half hidden in a maze of narrow alleys. Fearing they would follow me, I immediately turned left and began descending a steep and unnamed alley leading to Murillo Street and to what I thought would be safety. Halfway down, I heard some muffled steps behind me. I turned around exactly when a small, stocky Bolivian man reached me, bypassed me, and stopped about a yard ahead of me, blocking my escape route. “Roy” he said.
“That was impossible; I use a Spanish name with Bolivians. Feeling what was going on, I turned backward just in time to see one of the Israelis that I had seen instants before on the Santa Cruz Street. Another man was out of sight, and jumped on me from behind; his arm wrapped my throat. He had a solid piece of metal on the inner part of his elbow; he pressed it on the lower part of my neck. He pulled backwards and I fell, another man picked up my feet at that moment and pushed them away from me. That increased the pressure on my neck. I felt the neck making a funny noise and everything turned black.
“I was awake. Nobody was near me. My backpack and all my documents have been taken away. I stood up. Nothing seemed broken, tough my neck felt funny. I headed down to Murillo Street. Unsurprisingly, there were two policemen waiting there. Crime in Bolivia pays dividends to the police; seldom a crime is committed without the police knowing or even helping it. This is not secret; it’s all over the Bolivian media. I approached them and shouted “I’ve been attacked.” Standing next to me, the policemen barely herd the weak whisper that came out of my broken throat. I repeated that and pointed at the alley…afterwards I was at the emergency room of a Catholic hospital, which cooperates with the refugees’ office.
“I had no intentions of letting them perform intrusive tests or to let them inject we with drugs. Local hospitals are famous for causing infections that demand additional treatments (and create bonus incomes for the hospital). After a physician examined my throat, he wanted to give me cortisone to avoid the inflammation. I refused. They refused to let me go. “You’ll suffocate to death otherwise,” a nurse told me.
“They brought a new syringe and show me the cortisone ampoule. Eventually, after some thirty minutes, I began experiencing difficulties in my breathing and agreed to the injection.
“In the early afternoon, I returned for the forensic examination. While waiting in the large inner yard of the building, R.G. appeared. He is the Bolivian intelligence officer described in The Cross of Bethlehem. In March 2007 he admitted ‘Israel asked to put an eye on you.’
“His son is one of the Bolivians working in a joint false-missionaries program with the CIA; Bolivian missionaries can enter where Americans cannot. I ignored him. Then, the physician told me my throat had been badly crashed. Later that year permanent damage to my throat was diagnosed; since then it is slowly and steadily deteriorating. I won’t describe here the subsequent contacts with official bodies here, but nobody doubts the Israelis and the local police carried out a joint crime; apparently the Bolivian intelligence had also had a profitable role. Thirty coins of tin for a Bolivian Judas…..Meir Dagan slept well that night.” 
Meir Dagan stepped down as the head of Mossad in early 2010 and went “on the offensive in a series of briefings with journalists and public appearances because he feels that Israel’s security is being mismanaged by Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister.” 
Dagan said, “I decided to speak because when I was in office, Diskin [the head of Sin Bet/internal security agency], Ashkenazi [the head of the army] and I could block any dangerous adventure. Now I am afraid that there is no one to stop Bibi [Netanyahu] and Barak” who have all been replaced by men chosen by the current government. [Ibid]
Dagan has publicly warned against Israel attacking Iran to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons stating “if Israel attacks Iran, it will find itself at the centre of a regional war that would endanger the state’s existence. Dagan’s intervention is dangerous for Netanyahu because it comes from the right wing of Israeli opinion rather than the left, where the prime minister would expect criticism.” [Ibid]
Dagan had once been in charge of aggressive Israeli actions abroad and in recent years his ‘accomplishments’ included connections to assassinations in Lebanon, Syria, Dubai and an air attack on a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria.
Ben Caspit of the Maariv newspaper wrote: “He is one of the most rightwing militant people ever born here…who ate Arabs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When this man says that the leadership has no vision and is irresponsible, we should stop sleeping soundly at night.” [Ibid]
The best and only way I know to disturb the sleep of willfully ignorant hypocrites in high places is to give voice to the voiceless and those at risk of loosing theirs- as Tov literally is!
If all goes as planned this article is the first in a series of Internet conversations with Tov whose expose can be ordered here:
The Cross of Bethlehem | The Memoirs of a Refugee
Benghazi — The “new Libya” has entered its own “Terror” which is spreading inexorably, aided by NATO member states including American, French and British SAS units known locally as “disappearance squads”. This is one of the rapidly developing consequences of the UN’s rush to “protect Libya’s civilian population” last spring.
And it is why human rights investigators are arriving in Benghazi, Libya this week.
“Approximately 1,085.92082238 kilometers or roughly 600 miles from Cairo to Benghazi” is what the lovely travel agent who works a couple of doors down from the Swedish Café off Tahir Sq reported as she wanted this observer to take a fancy high rise double decker luxury bus to Benghazi where I was headed from Cairo. In the end I settled for sharing a dump truck at one-third the cost across the Egyptian and Libyan desert to the Courthouse in Benghazi. It didn’t seem such a bad idea following meetings in nearby countries, especially considering alternative routes which would have involved flying to Tunis, then another flight to Jerba and then the six hours jammed service ride to Tripoli. I had been there and done that more than once and needed to leave right away to meet some people who were being held in one of Benghazi’s teeming jails.
Until the NTC announced changes yesterday, anyone bearing an American passport did not need a visa to enter Libya, so grateful has been the NTC for all the financial help that American taxpayers, largely unknowingly, have supplied to NTC officials in addition to presenting them with a country with vast oil reserves and zero national debt.
One of the fortunate language usages in this part of the world is the liberal transliteration tolerances applied to Arabic which helps those challenged by the language. As is widely known there are many ways to write Arabic words in roman characters and most are accepted. But one has to listen carefully in Libya these days to grasp the important distinction between certain English words when referring to the fate of increasing numbers of supporters of the Gadhafi regime. In the current atmosphere one often hears that someone “has disappeared” which, depending on one’s political views is usually good news and it means the person is in hiding or left the area or fled the country to safety. Alternatively, it might be said that a person “is disappeared” meaning that she or he was caught by the new regime and is gone, probably, forever without a trace for loved ones to pursue.
Following meetings with Libyan evacuees (disappeared) from NATO’s nine months of bombing who are now present in nearby countries and from meetings inside Libya with incarcerated former officials and some of their family members as well as fugitive opponents of the new “government” it is clear that the current period is cascading into paroxysmal revenge attacks and political cleansing.
Those increasingly being targeted by “disappearance squads” are family members and associates, even former domestic employees such as gardeners, handymen, and household staff of former regime affiliates. Homes, cars, furniture, of former regime affiliates are being systematically confiscated. Torture has become the normal means to elicit information regarding the whereabouts of individuals thought to still be supporting the former regime. The reason, according to one former Libyan official who barely escaped one of the French squads and who now resides in Egypt, “is the same reason drones are so popular with your US military, torture works. Not 100% but it’s better than the other options.”
There appears to be a Tell Tale Heart paranoia settling in among some NTC elements who believe that if there is one Gadhafi supporter left in Libya it might mean the return of his ideas for Libya’s role via a vis the West and its re-colonization of Africa plans, control of Libya’s natural resources and its relations with the rapidly changing Middle East.
Even Libya’s NATO-managed NTC members are worried that they may be investigated by the International Criminal Court after its prosecutor said allegations of crimes committed by NATO in Libya would be examined “impartially and independently.” Some western lawyers currently in Libya who are here to help victims of NATO crimes are oddly being approached by members of the new regime for discussions relating to the possibility that the ICC may come after them. This is also one of the reasons why rumors that Saif al Islam is about to surrender to the ICC are false. Saif is being advised to wait and rest because the ICC case will collapse as more facts of NATO crimes surface. Former Libyan officials in hiding are also well advised to stay safe if possible as time may be on their side.
Government officials of countries bordering Libya are being advised to allow sanctuary for supporters of the former Libyan government and to refuse extradition requests because activity currently taking place in The Hague may well pre-empt a war crimes investigation.
Tunisia is today under great pressure from NATO not to change its mind and not to decline the NTC extradition request for Libya’s former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi. NATO is concerned because American lawyers recommended last month that Baghdadi apply for U.N. political refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to try to prevent his extradition from Tunisia. On 11/11/11 the UN acknowledged receipt of Dr. Baghdadi’s petition.
Other reasons the NTC and NATO are concerned is that there is currently being undertaken in the Hague an encompassing internal legal review of all incidents in which NATO bombing or other NATO or NTC actions caused civilian casualties. An American led team is nearing completion of its six month investigation which is expected to be forwarded to the ICC and made public soon
A main reason former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril resigned recently, and others will, is the pressure he has been under from Islamists and many others who remember his record as the former regime’s Minister of Justice and Jibril’s concern that he may be investigated himself by the ICC for many decisions he has made over the past eight months that are now coming to light. Following his statement about how Muammalr Gadhafi was killed after he was taken into custody alive, which constituted a clear war crime, Jibril is now claiming that it was not him who gave the order to assassinate Gadhafi or even his former friend, General Younnis, but rather as he explained at a news conference yesterday, amid snickers from assembled journalists, that “a third party maybe a State, or a President or leader in any way who wanted Gaddafi killed, so as not to reveal the many secrets that only Gaddafi could have known.” Jibril did not have to mention that Gadhafi knew many secrets about himself and other NTC officials and he is not alone among NATO and NTC officials in fearing an ICC investigation.
It is this atmosphere that is significantly fueling the Terror across Libya.
It does not take a genius to gather that the Israeli aggression towards Iran would endanger every living species on this planet. Devastatingly enough, our Western governments do nothing to stop the Jewish State. That should not take us by surprise: our politicians are largely funded and vetted by Israeli lobbies that openly support attack on Iran.
Here in Britain Defence Secretary Liam Fox had to resign two weeks ago when it became clear that he was ‘breaching ministerial laws’. The British press went out of its way to reduce the issue of his resignation into just another ‘gay-ish mini scandal’. But we actually have strong reason to believe that Fox was working intensively for Israel. He was enthusiastically advocating Israeli interests such as an attack on Iran. Together with his ‘best friend’ Adam Werritty, he was also funded by the Israeli lobby. We know also that Fox and his ‘flat mate’ Werritty were in direct contact with Mossad, and were even warned by MI6about it.
But Fox was not alone: with 80% of our leading party’s MP’s being Conservative Friends Of Israel’s (CFI) members, we have good reason to believe that treachery is now institutional amongst UK elected politicians.
As we brace ourselves while learning from the Israeli press about the IAF’s final preparations ahead for an attack on Iran’s nuclear plants, I would like to share with you a short passage from The Wandering Who.
In the following extract, I explore the exact genocidal scenario that Israeli pilots are now training to accomplish, in these very days. As much as it is clear that our treacherous elected puppets will fail to restrain Israel, it is equally and tragically obvious that Israel lacks the means to restrain its own madness.
“…I will try to elucidate this idea through a simple and hypothetical yet horrifying war scenario. We, for instance, can envisage a horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called ‘pre-emptive’ attack on Iran escalates into a disastrous nuclear war, in which tens of millions of people perish. I guess that amongst the survivors of such a nightmare scenario, some may be bold enough to argue that ‘Hitler might had been right after all.’
The above is obviously a fictional scenario, and by no means a wishful one, yet such a vision of a ‘possible’ horrific development should restrain Israeli or Zionist aggression towards Iran. As we know, Israeli officials threaten to flatten Iran rather too often. In practice, pre-TSD Israelis make this devastating scenario into a possible reality.
Seemingly, Israelis and Zionist politicians fail to see their own actions in the light of history. They fail to look at their actions in terms of their consequences. From an ethical perspective, the above ‘imaginary’ scenario is there to prevent Israel from attacking Iran. Yet, as we all know, Israel and its lobbies are desperate to dismantle the so-called ‘Iranian threat’. My explanation is simple. The Jewish state and the Jewish discourse in general are completely foreign to the notion of temporality. Israel is blinded to the consequences of its actions, it only thinks of its actions in terms of short-term pragmatism. Instead of temporality, Israel thinks in terms of an extended present.” (The Wandering Whopg. 179)
The Jewish State and its lobbies are the greatest threat to world peace. If we want to save ourselves, there is no other way of doing so than looking closely into Jewish, Israeli and Zionist culture, identity and ideology. There is no other way of doing so than scrutinising Israel’s unique and relentless attitude towards lobbying.
The issues we are dealing with here are not solely political they are actually deeply philosophical, psychological and sociological — and it is also about life and death.
Dispatch From Tripoli, Libya…
On July 30, the day before this 97.5 per cent Muslim country began the holy month of Ramadan, NATO spokesperson Roland Lavoie has been lamely attempting to explain to the press at the Rixos Hotel and internationally, why NATO was forced to bomb three Tripoli TV towers at the Libyan Broadcasting Authority, killing three journalists/technicians and wounding 15 others. Like most people currently in central Tripoli, this observer was awakened at 1:50 a.m. by the first of a series of nine blasts, three of which I watched from my balcony as they happened, and which seemed to be about 800 yards away as I saw one TV tower being blown apart. On the four lanes’ divided highway adjacent to my hotel and below my balcony, that runs along the sea front, I could see two cars frantically swerving left and right as they sped along, presumably trying to avoid a NATO rocket, fearing they themselves might be targeted.
According to NATO spokesperson Lavoie, allowing Libya’s population to watch government TV, and by implication, to hear terrorist public service announcements concerning subjects such as gasoline availability, food distribution for Ramadan, updates on areas to be avoided due to recent NATO bombing, prayers and lectures by Sheiks on moral and religious subjects during Ramadan or see the Prayer Times chart posted on government TV, during this month of fasting, plus children’s programs and normal programming, had to stop immediately.
The reason to bomb Libyan government TV, according to NATO is that Libyan leader Ghaddafi has been giving interviews and speeches following repeated NATO bombings which recently have included hospitals, Ramadan food storage warehouses, the nation’s main water distribution infrastructure, private homes, and more than 1,600 other civilian sites. NATO believes that preventing Qaddafi’s use of Libya’s public airwaves by bombing transmission towers is within UN resolutions 1970 and 1973, the scope of which are being expanded beyond all recognition from their original intent. NATO spokesperson Lavoie claims that Libya’s leadership is using TV broadcast facilities to thwart NATO’s “humanitarian mission” and, yet again are, “putting civilian lives at risk.”
Government officials admit using the media for communication with the population, including to urge tribal unity, to dialogue with those based in Benghazi referred to here as “NATO rebels”, to argue for an immediate ceasefire and yes, even to call for all Libyans to resist what many here, including Colonel Ghaddafi, call “the NATO crusader aggressors.”
In western Libya, and even among many in the east, according to recent rebel defectors who daily arrive on the western side, NATO has lost the respect of this country, Africa, the Middle East and increasingly the international community. The reasons are well known here and include the serial false premises and descriptions of what happened in February in Benghazi and Misrata areas.
In addition, NATO daily bombing strikes have increased approximately 20 per cent since July 25 and will continue to increase according to French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet who, along with UK Defense Minister Liam Fox, while publicly saying NATO must continue the bombing, is privately expressing his frustration with the killing of rebel military commander Abdul Fatah Younnis. This assassination, according to Libyan officials was very likely carried out by Younnis’ rebel leaders or Al Qaeda. Both are said to feel that the rebel leadership in Benghazi is collapsing. So do many NATO leaders and the Obama Administration.
A former senior member of Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party, Sir Menzies Campbell has just urged the UK government to rethink its involvement in the war on Libya. Campbell said Britain must undertake a “wholesale re-examination and review” of its involvement in the NATO conflict in Libya after the murder of the opposition figure and Britain “must think about the end-game of the conflict in Libya.
One Libyan government supporter, who just arrived here in Tripoli, claims he spent the past two months on the ground in Benghazi “undercover” as a liaison between the rebels and NAT0. He told his rapt audience at a Tripoli hotel this week many details of what he claims is NATO’s frustration with the deterioration, the corruption and incompetence of their “team” in the east and the CIA view that “Al Qaeda will eat Mahmoud Jibril and the entire rebel leadership for Iftar during one of the Ramadan feasts during August. They are just waiting for the right opportunity to make a dramatic move and take control.”
Only the zealots of “humanitarian intervention” could seriously have contemplated the kind of protracted, bloody land war in Libya that would have been necessary to win. So, the bet on an alliance with NATO now appears to have been doomed from the start, even on its own terms.
The force that is rapidly entering into this conflict is the leadership of Libya’s more than 2000 tribes. In a series of meetings in Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere, the Tribal Council is speaking out forcefully and forging a political block that is demanding an end to Libyans killing Libyans.
Generally considered Libya’s largest tribe, are the Obeidis to which the Younnis family belongs. Some of the tribal leaders and members have vowed revenge against rebel leaders and as they carried the coffins of Abdul Fatah and his two companions they chanted, under the gaze of security forces, “the blood of martyrs will not go in vain.”
Libya’s Tribal Council has issued a manifesto which makes clear that it intends to end this conflict, help expel “the NATO crusaders”, achieve reforms while supporting the Gaddafi, Tripoli based government. Before Ramadan is over, it intends to end Libya’s crisis even if it needs to rally its hundreds of thousands of active members to march on Benghazi.
NATO, according to various academics at Al Nasser and Al Fatah University, and Libya’s Tribal leadership, appear surprisingly ignorant and even contemptuous of this country’s tribes and their historic roles during times of crises and foreign aggression and occupation. One tribal leader well known to Italy was Omar Muktar.
As NATO and its backers contemplate their End Game they may want to consider some excerpts from the Libyan Tribal Council’s manifesto issued on July 26. Speaking for Libya’s 2000 tribes, the Council issued a Proclamation signed by scores of tribal leaders from eastern Libya.
“By this letter to the extraordinary African Summit, convening in Addis Ababa, the notables of the Eastern tribes of the Great Jamahiriya confirm their complete rejection of what is called the Transitional Council in Benghazi which hasn’t been nominated nor elected by Tribal representatives but rather imposed by NATO.”
“What is called the Transitional Council in Benghazi was imposed by NATO on us and we completely reject it. Is it democracy to impose people with armed power on the people of Benghazi, many of whose leaders are not even Libyan or from Libyan tribes but come from Tunisia and other countries.”
“The Trial Council assures its continuing cooperation with the African Union in its suggestions aimed at helping to prevent the aggression on the Libyan people”.…
“The Tribal Council condemns the crusader aggression on the Great Jamahiriya executed by the NATO and the Arabic regressive forces which is a grave threat to Libyan civilians as it continues to kill them as NATO bombs civilian targets.”…
“We do not and will not accept any authority other than the authority that we chose with our free will which is the People’s Congress and Peoples Committees, and the popular social leadership, and will oppose with all available means, the NATO rebels and their slaughter, violence and maiming of cadavers. We intend to oppose with all the means available to us the NATO crusader aggressors and their appointed lackeys”.
According to one representative of the Libyan Supreme Tribal Council, “The tribes of Libya have until today not fully joined in repelling the NATO aggressors. As we do, we serve notice to NATO that we shall not desist until they have left our country and we will ensure that they never return.”
As Tripoli’s Palestinian Refugees awakened the morning of 7/17/11, like the rest of us here, they saw in the western sky over the Mediterranean a vast swatch of black stratocumulus clouds of acrid smoke from last night’s NATO bombing.
This latest attack, in the Ain Zara and Tajoura districts in the eastern suburbs of Tripoli killed 3 more civilians increasing the more than 1,100 total civilian deaths by NATO, according to Libyan Ministry of Health statistics. This latest attack is believed to have employed four US MK-83, 1000 lb. guided bombs and four US hell fire missiles.
Two weeks ago, on 6/23/11 the Abdullah Muhammad Ash-Shihab Palestinian refugee family of four which included Abdullah, his wife Karime and his six-month-old twins Khalid and Juanah were among civilians killed in a NATO bombing attack. The family had lived in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, Syria but came here seeking Libya’s well known security and quiet life.
Tripoli’s humid air is still pungent with the smell of cordite. Many Palestinians, like the increasingly defiant population of Western Libya, view the bombing and killing of yet more civilians as NATO’s answer to “Baba” (father) Qaddafi’s resistance broadcast Friday night on state-run Libyan TV, just three hours after the decisions made by the 30 member Contact Group at Istanbul were announced.
The Istanbul assembly, claiming authority from UNSC resolutions 1979 and 1973, to “protect the civilian population” granted additional diplomatic recognition and funds to the anti-Qaddafi National Transition Council (NTC). Five months ago, when the events of February 17, 2011 erupted in Benghazi near the eastern shore of the Gulf of Sidra, this country’s nearly 75,000 Palestinian refugees who are dispersed all over the country, were as shocked as most Libyans and foreigners here. Virtually every Palestinian interviewed for this report mentioned that they saw no advance signs that the normal domestic tranquility would be suddenly shattered.
Some of the thousands of Palestinians who came here from Lebanon to escape the civil war, the post Sabra-Shatila Massacre reign of terror with which they were targeted from the US and Israel supported Amin Gemayel government, and it’s the Deuxieme Bureau (Lebanese Army Intelligence Force), asked the Beirut new Lebanese-Palestinian Coordination Commission to urgently intervene with the Lebanese government to let them depart Libya aboard ships and return to Lebanon.They received no assistance or even a reply.
When the violence continued and then started to spread rapidly,Palestinians from Lebanese camps appealed to president Michel Suleiman and the Palestine Embassy in Tripoli, Libya (there is no Lebanese Embassy in Libya because of the August 31,1978 “disappearance” of the Lebanese Shia leader, Imam Musa Sadr) to help them leave this country. Nearly one million others quickly departed, including thousands of foreign workers, among them 20,000 of the 30,000 Chinese based here who have been busy in Libya in all manner of commercial ventures.
This, to the growing consternation of some of the NATO countries and certainly the French who withdrew from NATO in 1966 on the initiative of President Charles De Gaulle, only to have President Nickolas Sarkozy return France with full membership in the military alliance. France is angry because they blame Qaddafi first and China second for their loss of most of their commercial relations in Africa even among their former colonies. President Sarkozy has made plain that France intends to benefit with oil contracts once NATO succeeds and a new more friendly government is installed.
The published Palestinian refugee appeal read:
“We the Palestinians living in Libya, some for more than 35 years have come from Lebanon to flee (civil) war and resided among our brothers in Libya where we got married and worked. However, after the 17 February insurrection and the worsening security situation, we are trying to leave the country via its ports but were not allowed because of inadequate travel documents. We are now stranded and sell our belongings to eat; we do not have work or shelter and do not know what to do or where to go.”
Not even a reply to this request has been received five month later. This silence comes as no surprise given Lebanon’s deeply ingrained hostility toward its remaining 270.000 Palestinians, roughly half of whom remain trapped in 12 squalid camps, and not one of whom is granted even the basic internationally mandated right to work or to own a home.
Umm Mohammed, a 70-year-old woman, who is from the Maghazi area in central Gaza Strip spent days sitting in front of her tent near the border crossing at Salloum at the Libyan-Egyptian border, hoping to return to Gaza after she fled fighting between security battalions loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and the Libyan rebels in the Albayda’a area. She commented, ‘‘I do not know how to express displacement and disaster I and my family have experienced for the past sixty years”.
Rami Diab, a 67-year-old Palestinian refugee who was born in the Zionist occupied city of Ashkelon, also hopes to return to the Gaza Strip to save his family from war raging in Libya. “I left my family home in Benghazi and headed to the crossing of Salloum to try to take refuge in the Gaza Strip. But we did not have permission to enter Egypt.”
Entry Denied to Egypt
Approximately 3000 Palestinians have tried to cross into Egypt since Monday 7 March, 2011, but the Egyptian military had received instructions to not let Palestinians refugees in. Many Palestinians who had travelled to the border returned home, to the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Tobruk and adjacent areas. On Tuesday March 8, 2011, 15 Palestinians were still in Salloum demanding to cross, while hundreds of other Palestinians refusing to go back to their homes, had chosen to wait in the homes of Libyan host families in a village near the crossing. It has been reported that Palestinians without national identity cards or valid residency in Egypt were not allowed to cross, whereas even Asian laborers without papers managed to get into the country.
The Palestinian Authority has tried to coordinate the evacuation of the Palestinian community in Libya and indeed Israel offered to allow 300 into the occupied territories as a “humanitarian gesture”. The first flow of Palestinian refugees that was evacuated followed unverified NTC reports of pro-Gaddafi’s forces detaining a group of 43 Palestinian students in Misurata after they reportedly refused to join the pro-regime forces. By the end of February 2011, a total of 104 Palestinian students had left Libya.
Mohammad Hammad, director of cultural affairs at the Palestinian consulate in Alexandria, arrived at the Salloum crossing on the Egypt-Libya border in early March to provide assistance to fleeing Palestinians. Currently, more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees live in Egypt, most of whom were expelled following Israel’s 1967 invasion and occupation of the Gaza Strip.
According to Mr. Hammad, most Palestinians arriving in Egypt were sent back to Libya by the authorities.According to Egyptian officials, Egyptian law requires Palestinians who enter Egypt to have a visa from the host country’s embassy first. For this reason, the Palestinian Authority ambassador in Cairo tried to obtain this permission from the Egyptian government in order to allow them to go to the Gaza Strip via Egypt. Hammad reported that the Palestinian consulate in Cairo was providing refugees with essential supplies. The situation is critical, he said, with “families living outdoors without anything. Many of them do not even have money and turned to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for emergency help.
UNHCR does not usually deal with Palestinians in the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) area of operations, which is mainly the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, but following the February 17 eruption, it did provide some Palestinians with help during February-April. This is a welcomed exception to UNHCR practice and it recognizes that all of Libya’s Palestinians are refugees and hence UNHCR has the humanitarian obligation to protect them, especially since Egypt and Libya are not included in the UNRWA area of operations.
The current chain of misfortunes started for the refugees pictured with the U.N. blockade of Libya in 1992. This was followed by Libya’s attempt to expand employment opportunities for its own nationals. This was accompanied by a widening gulf of distrust between the Libyan government and the PLO, especially after the signing of the Oslo accords.
In September 1995, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announced that all Palestinians in Libya, estimated at 30,000, would be expelled. It was a partial bluff which he meant to be a blow to the newly formed Palestinian Authority. His message to the Yasser Arafat was, “If you do not have sovereignty, do not claim to be in control. If you cannot provide shelter for your citizens, do not pretend to be their governor.”
As the expulsions began, Palestinians were put on ships without a destination. Lebanon and Syria accepted a fraction that had lived there previously. Egypt allowed Palestinian expellees with valid travel documents to pass through its land, but none were allowed to stay for more than 24 hours. Thirty-six Palestinians were stranded for several weeks at the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza, waiting for permission from the Israeli authorities to enter Gaza. However, the majority of those expelled had no place to go. The next month, in October 1995, Qaddafi redefined the order to allow the luckless Palestinians to return to Libya until their “government” finds a better place for them.
There have been some fears expressed by Hamas and others that the Qaddafi regime may take revenge on Libya’s Palestinian community because of rumors than some Palestinians are involved with the Muslim Brotherhood in Benghazi and even with some of the Salafist groups comprising part of the National Transition Council. In addition, anti-Qaddafi protests and graffiti and burning of Qaddafi poster in Gaza fueled these fears by Hamas and the refugee community here.
However, this observer has been repeatedly assured by Libyan officials in Tripoli that Palestinians in Libya are welcomed, will retain all their civil rights (please refer to Part II) and will in no way be discriminated against or pressured due to some Palestinians presumably favoring the NTC. (on this subject and the current legal and social status of Palestinian refugees in Libya please refer to Part II)
Gaddafi Can Stay “in Another Room of the Palace”
One of the jokes heard at this week’s massive pro-government Friday post prayer rally at Green Square (in most of the other Arab countries Fridays are days of rage against the government du jour but in Libya Friday prayers are followed by massive pro-Qadaffi rallies, attended two weeks ago by close to 65% of Tripoli’s population) is about how each morning Libya’s leader, following early morning Fajr prayers dons his formal uniform, complete with those huge epaulets, and salutes the small NATO flag he tapes to his bathroom mirror as he moves from place to place dodging NATO drones and assassins. “Our leader does this”, one young lady informed me first with a wide smile and then growing serious, “because the NATO bombing of Libyan civilians, which the US/NATO axis claims Qaddafi is doing, has caused his popularity to skyrocket among our proud and nationalist tribal people. I am one example of this. Yes, of course we can use some new blood and long overdue reform in our government. Which country cannot? But first we must defeat the NATO invaders and then we can sort out our problems among our tribes including the so-called “NATO Rebels.”
Since the beginning of the NATO operation (3/31/11) the alliance has conducted nearly 15,000 sorties, including close to 6000 bombing missions according to NATO’s media office in Naples, Italy (email@example.com). The most recent attacks reported on 7/9/11 included 112 sorties and 48 bomb/missile attacks, and that is about average.
The two most active Embassies’ in Libya these days are the Russian and the Chinese. On 2/25/11, according to the Bulgarian Embassy staff, which was falsely rumored to be currently handling US consular services whereas it appears no one is doing here in Libya), the US Embassy essentially ordered all EU and NATO Embassies to pack up and join their chartered plane and boats. Libyan officials tell visitors that they were shocked by the fast exodus. “They did not even say goodbye. Suddenly they were on their way to the airport,” one Foreign Ministry advised during a meeting last week.
The Russian and Chinese leadership has grown increasingly critical of NATO’s actions in Libya and are now firmly demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Some cynics here are pointing out that these countries, unlike NATO, know exactly what they are doing and it includes the realization that they have an excellent chance to obtain many billions of dollars in lucrative contracts, which every official interviewed here has sworn, not one Libyan Dinar of which will ever again go to any NATO country, when its aggression is finally repelled. It is partly this realization that it’s “all or nothing” that keeps the US and its potent military asset, NATO, focused on assassinating Colonel Qaddafi and breaking his civilian support base. If Qaddafi lives, NATO loses and so do the current major oil industry contractors who are reportedly becoming depressed seeing reports of all the Russian and Chinese businessmen arriving in Libya.
NATO, Diplomatic, and Congressional sources confirm that the Obama Administration erred badly in thinking that Libya’s regime would collapse “in a few days, not weeks” as Obama assured the American public who has to pony up the estimated $ 5 billion thru July 31, 2011 costs. Obama’s egregious miscalculation may cost him his presidency if the economy does not.
As one student at Tripoli’s Al Fatah University commented, “What your American government has done in the region to destroy yourselves since 9/11 is amazing to Libyans. Now you are going to fight us? Why? You already had all our oil you wanted at a bargain prices, we stupidly put our sovereign funds in US banks and we did not even bother Israel much. Every day that NATO bombs it kills more Libyan civilians. We sacrificed nearly 1/3 of our population or more than one million of our brothers and sisters expelling the Italians 70 years ago. Doesn’t anyone in your government study history? We are not Bahrainis or Syrians. We are armed and will use our weapons. Among the errors our leadership has made, one of the worst is that it believed the US agreements we made in 2004. The Iranians and North Koreans laugh at us for trusting you and giving up our nuclear and biological weapons programs. Believe me dear, if Qadaffi leaves power you will miss him because the Libyan people will be tougher against your projects than he has been.”
On Sunday 7/10/11 France seemingly allied itself with Russia and China in calling on NATO to immediately stop its counterproductive and counterintuitive bombing, as more countries witness public demonstrations against NATO’s actions in Libya. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said in Paris that it was time for Qaddafi loyalists, which France acknowledges have been rapidly increasing in number, and Libyan rebels “to sit around a table to reach a political compromise” because, he said, “there was no solution with force.”
NATO and the Obama administration can have no part of a dialogue because they will be the major losers if peace comes to Libya without Qadaffi leaving power.
No sooner had the French Defense Minister spoken on 7/12/11, reflecting also the views of the British and Italian military, than the US State Department issued a statement insisting that “the United States will continue efforts as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coalition to enforce a U.N. Security Council-authorized no-fly zone in Libya designed to protect civilians under threat of attack, the State Department said. The spokesman did not mention that the no-fly zone was achieved back in March in 48 hours and that no Libyan aircraft have flown since. Mission accomplished 100 days ago.
Hilary Clinton repeated her earlier words, “Our efforts in Libya will take time, but let there be no mistake that the political, military, and economic pressure on Qaddafi continues to grow. The allies will continue to increase pressure until the Libyan people are safe, their humanitarian needs met, and a transition of power is fully under way.”
And so it goes. On 9 July 2011, NATO claimed its aircraft carried out another “precision strike on a pro-Qaddafi missile firing position near Tawurgha, south of Misrata. According to its media office, “NATO intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance were conducted over a period of time to ascertain the military use of the site. It was confirmed as being used to launch indiscriminate attacks on Libyan civilians in the area and a staging area by pro-Qaddafi villagers, including planning attacks on rebel forces near the port and city of Misrata.” The next morning, 7/10/11, local inhabitants denied that the farm had any military activity on the property and an examination of the farm buildings failed to discover any.
NATO is getting hammered by critics, including during its press conferences, especially by reporters from such groups as Jane’s Defense Weekly who know a thing or two about weapons and war. Last week Jane’s ridiculed the NATO commander who claimed that seeing satellite dishes on roofs were evidence of a particular site being a “Command and Control Center.” Jane’s found that assertion silly.
Congressional sources have been demanding answers from NATO, including the following incidences of civilian deaths caused by NATO’s bombs and rockets (70% of which are US supplied, raising serious legal and political questions under the 1976 US Arms Export Control Act) and which were forwarded by a Congressional NATO liaison staffer for comment. The exact cases sent to NATO from the US Congressional included the following with a demand for an explanation:
1. On May 13, 2011, a peace delegation of Muslim religious leaders having arrived in Brega to seek dialogue with fellow Sheikhs from the east of Libya, was bombed at 1 a.m. in their guesthouse by two US MK 82 bombs. Eleven of the Sheikhs were killed instantly and 14 were seriously injured. NATO claimed the building housed a “Command and Control Center.” All witnesses and the hotel owner have vehemently denied this claim.
2. During the early morning of June 20, 2011, 8 US missiles and bombs supplied to NATO targeted the home of Khaled Al-Hamedi and his parents and family. Fifteen family members and friends were killed, including Khaled’s pregnant wife, his sister and three of his children. NATO said it bombed the home because it was a military installation. Witnesses, neighbors and independent observers deny there was ever any military installation or troop presence on the property.
3. In late June, 2011 on the main road west of Tripoli, a public bus with 12 passengers was hit by a TOW missile killing all the passengers. NATO claimed that public buses are being used to transport military personnel. Foreign observers, including this one, unanimously aver that they have not seen military personnel in Tripoli, including tanks; APC’s or even military equipment.
4. On June 6, 2011, at 2:30 a.m. the central administrative complex of the Higher Committee for Children in central Tripoli, two blocks from this observer’s hotel, was bombed with a total of 12 bombs/rockets. The complex housed the National Downs Syndrome center including its records and vital statistics office, the Crippled Women’s Foundation, the Crippled Children Center, and the National Diabetic Research Center.
5. On June 16, 2011 at 5 a.m. NATO bombed a private hotel in central Tripoli, killing three people and destroying a restaurant and Shisha smoking bar.
NATO response was to thank the Congressional office for the “interesting” information and then to explain, as NATO has been doing ad nausea recently, that, “By using civilian sites for military purposes, the Qadhafi regime has once again shows complete disregard for the welfare of Libyan civilians.”
NATO’s response continued, “Clearly, the main issue for NATO are allegations of civilian casualties, but it’s important that we put those allegations in context of the NATO mission. Each and every civilian death is a tragedy. Obviously, more than we would like to see, sometimes, due to a technical failure, one of our weapons does not strike the intended military target. We deeply regret these tragic accidents and we always convey NATO condolences to the families of all those who may have been involved.”
NATO’S response continued: “When NATO believes we have caused civilian casualties we will say so and we will do it as swiftly as we can establish the facts. If you look at our track record after nearly 15,000 sorties and nearly 5,000 strike sorties you can see we have taken utmost care to avoid civilian casualties and will continue to do so. Finally let me assure your Office that our mission fully complies with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and our mandate remains to use all necessary means to prevent attacks and the threat of attack against civilians and civilian populated areas.
As international pressure builds on the White House to call off the NATO bombing campaign, several proposals are being discussed within the African Union, the Russian and Chinese Embassy’s, and even between the “NATO rebels” and representatives of the Libya government in Tripoli.
One possible scenario might be for Libya to offer Obama and NATO a fig leaf which would include Colonel Qadaffi “retiring to his tent to write and reflect” while dialogue takes places among the Libyan people, including the tribes and 600 plus Peoples Congresses which of course should have been allowed to take place as Congressman Dennis Kucinich and others insisted back in February, 2011 before NATO invaded.
The 6/27/11 International Criminal Courts (ICC) arrest warrants issued for Muammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Libya intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi, however pleasing to the “rebels” and NATO, probably won’t have much effect on negotiating a settlement between the two camps and certainly the warrants will not facilitate a voluntary regime change. Quite likely, the warrants effects will tend toward the obverse, with the Libyan government ignoring, but ridiculing the much criticized ICC and pointing out its historical pattern of targeting African leaders. At Tripoli’s Rixos Nasser Hotel, just a few hours after the arrest warrants were announced, Libya’s Justice Minister and a high ranking Foreign Affairs official did just that and then refused to take any questions from the large gathering of western journalists of whom Libya is distrustful of, given a spate of recent false main stream media reports that have been exposed as hoaxes.
Colonel Qaddafi and his supporters, in a series of what this observer refers to as “Hezbollah style free give and take dialogue sessions” are making it very plain that they will prevail in re-unifying Libya and probably before Ramadan which begins, this year, in early August. They argue that the “rebels” are increasingly fighting among themselves and are losing popular support. It’s an argument similar to the one the “rebels” are using to explain how their victory is all but assured, also by the end of Ramadan.
A subsequent report will also detail NATO terrorism and crimes against the civilian population that have included the 2/17 /11 to 6/27/11 bombing of 294 civilian targets, killing and wounding a total of 6,232 according to the Libyan Red Crescent Society statistics. These civilian targets include the Libyan Down’s Syndrome Society, a school that provided speech therapy, handicrafts and sports sessions for disabled children, as well as Tripoli’s Nassar University, homes, schools, medical facilities and food storage warehouses, bombing these sites are all outlawed by the Geneva Conventions and constitute NATO war crimes. An additional massive documentation project by international organizations is expected to be completed by July 30, 2011.
Once entering Libya from Tunisia, the roughly 115 mile drive to Tripoli currently provides a fascinating if unsettling introduction to the current situation in Tripoli. By the time I arrived at the hotel, my mouth tasted like I had sipped kerosene and my clothes reeked of the same. The reason is that the acute petroleum products shortage has meant that Tunisians and others are transporting for quick cash, whatever they can get to Tripoli to supply thousands of cars that are stranded along the roadside without fuel in their tanks. Just about every opened car trunk I observed being inspected randomly at more than 50 check points between Jerba, Tunisia and Tripoli, Libya, were jammed with full plastic fuel containers. Many apparently leak and over the past three months have left a heavy pall and stench for nearly one hundred miles. Some trucks, loaded with perhaps close to 1000 55 gallon drums of gasoline seemed quite ready to topple over from being seriously top-heavy with the center of gravity being at tire level. Bread, children’s toys as well as dry and canned goods also fill many cars.
The main attitude one encounters on the streets of the old city such as Avenue Omar Muktar, and along the cornice is defiance and strong nationalist support for Libya’s Revolution.
“It’s our country. What choice do we have but to defend it? “is a commonly expressed sentiment. One woman asked me, “Shall I take off my white Hijab and wave it to surrender when the NATO troops come to my neighborhood or shall I wear my green scarf and fire my weapons. For sure my choice is the second!”
A Libyan businessman, who admits he has lots of free time these days, and who was educated at George Washington University, commented: “UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya to supposedly protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi. The reality is that we need NATO to just declare ‘mission accomplished’ and then stop slaughtering our “protected” people?”
This morning during a long and exhilarating discussion with an official at the Libya People’s Congress HQ in Tripoli, the General=Secretary told me that more than two million of the 3.5 million Libyans over 18 years have been armed and are training to fight NATO when/if they arrive on the ground.
Virtually everyone who is asked gives assurances that “Baba (Father) Qaddafi” will not flee but will, if necessary, die defending his country. They believe he will survive even more NATO assassination attempts. More than once officials confidently stated that Qaddafi will be here after US President Obama is rejected by the American people in the 2012 election.
Support for this idea is found in the seemingly widespread support Qaddafi appears to enjoy and also certain “benefits” resulting from a certain Libyan pride in five million citizens still full of resistance after 100 days of facing 27 countries. The bombs have united the people, forced the sometimes too comfortable population to face the future even one without Baba Gaddafi; learned that the media strikes with false stories is stronger than the military assault in some respects, the exposure of several in the government who were ready to quickly sell out, with one million young people injected new blood into the 42 year old revolution, relearning that the “Arab system” i.e. Arab League is worthless, that it’s the poor people of Libya who truly believe in the Revolution and are remaining loyal to it, and not to those with foreign bank accounts who NATO and the US were able to quickly threaten and pressure to defect. The confidence that the peoples arms and their self-confidence will ultimately win this attempted occupation, the “rebels” have exposed the Muslim Brotherhood as a US partner and also has shown the true nature of the Jihadists, Al Qaeda and NATO itself; that the African Union has a key function to perform, that Libya is not divisible because of its social and economic interdependency; the realization that Libya must reform and reject the IMF system and learn from its mistakes in trusting the US and certain countries in 2002 when it gave up certain weapons systems and placed billions of dollars in American banks; a return to peoples capitalism, not government capitalism, and the need to become more self-reliant. In addition, due to the crisis, Women have stepped forward and are surprising many by “taking charge” of many governmental functions and encouraging the population to defend their country. The youth of the country are following many much like themselves across the Middle East and are getting involved not just in defending their country but also in working on reforms, including the drafting of a Constitution in a convention being held in Tripoli next week. Libyans are saying that they have to rejuvenate their revolution and rely on themselves. Nearly everyone is claiming that Libya was deceived in the 2004 negotiations and agreement with the US and Western countries. They admit that they have paid a big price in terms of lives lost and infrastructure damage.
Libya also intends to continue their gold based currency project and continue improving relations with African countries. Libya’s squeezing the former French colonial power out of most of Africa is one motive of that country to seek regime change.
President Obama is likely to be defeated in 2012 according to former Bush advisor, Karl Rove and a swelling number of US political pundits. The US economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a significant recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups are rejecting Obama partly because of his war of choice in Libya which is seen as a bad strategic decision with NATO’s actions increasingly becoming a deadly farce with his justification increasingly ridiculed and the cost now more than 500 billion USD.
In addition, the unemployment is approaching 10% with close to 14 million Americans out of work with half of them having been without work for more than six months. They remember that Obama promised much better, declaring that his February 2009 stimulus would cause unemployment to peak at 8% by the end of summer 2009 and drop to roughly 6.8% today.
Gallup has reported Obama’s job approval rating this week at 45%, down from 67% at his inaugural. Among the groups showing a larger-than-average decline since 2009 are whites (down 25 points); older voters (down 24); independents and college graduates (both down 23), those with a high-school education or less, men, and Southerners (all down 22); women (down 21 points); married couples and those making $2,000-$4,000 a month (down 20). This all points to severe trouble in suburbs and mid-sized cities in states likes Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
Moreover, approval among younger voters has dropped 22 points, and it’s dropped 20 points among Latinos. Even African-American voters are less excited about Mr. Obama than they were and many deeply oppose his policies, and he tends to be weakest on issues voters consider most important. In the June 13 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 56% disapprove of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy. Fifty-nine percent in the Economist/YouGov poll of June 14 disapprove of how he’s dealt with the deficit.
The White House is reportedly becoming reconciled to the fact that Qaddafi may remain in the Libyan leadership.
Whether Obama will be re-elected is increasingly uncertain.
Gaddafi has survived assaults of various types from US Presidents’ Ford, Carter, Reagan, George Bush 1, Clinton, George Bush 2, and Obama. Vegas book makers are giving odds he’ll be the leader of Libya’s Fatah Revolution after the voters retire Obama, whose broken promises included telling them that the US would be involved in Libya for days, not months.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Libya.
As the first candidate of the Citizen of CONSCIENCE for House of Representatives 2012 , IF I am elected, my first act of Congress will be to issue an Invitation all of the USS Liberty survivors to speak on the Congressional Record about what they saw on that day in infamy: 8 June 1967, when the US Government Failed to Support the Troops, during the Six Day War.
The attack on the USS Liberty remains “the only incident of damage to a major US ship since the sinking of the USS MAINE in Havana Harbour in 1898, prior to the Spanish-American War, that has not been investigated by the US Congress.”
“The attack was the easy part; the aftermath in not being able to get our government to address this cover up has been the bastard.”-Gary Brummett, USS LIBERTY survivor.
Jeff Gates is an author, educator, attorney and adviser on financial policy who served seven years as counsel to the U.S. Committee on Finance. In “GUILT BY ASSOCIATION: How DECEPTION and SELF-DECEIT Took America to WAR” he exposes the ‘passionate attachment’ of LBJ and Mathilde Krim, who was twenty years his junior, blonde Italian and a Irgun operative.
The Irgun were the Zionist terrorist network led by Menachem Begin who emerged as Likud Party Prime Minister in 1977.
With and without her husband, Mathilde Krim was a frequent guest at the LBJ Ranch as well as the White House.
Lady Bird Johnson, Arthur, Mathilde and Daphna Krim, and President LBJ:
In The U.S.-Israeli Train Wreck, Jeff Gates wrote: On the night that the Six-Day Land Grab began, Mathilde was enjoying a sleepover in the Johnson White House. But for that Zionist aggression, would Israel have been able to live peacefully with its neighbors? Israel and its supporters staged an elaborate charade to recast this provocation as defensive. That ruse included the cover-up of an Israeli assault on the U.S.S. Liberty that killed 34 Americans and left 175 wounded.”
The USS LIBERTY After the Israeli attack upon it:
On a typically steamy evening in Florida in May 2010, this reporter attended a talk sponsored by a Tampa United Church of Christ to spend an evening with Ernest A. Gallo, Chairman and Liberty Foundation President of the USS liberty Veterans Association. Ernie began with a warning:
“My intent is to tell you the truth and if I do a good job, you will leave here tonight with heart burn.
“Some of the Liberty survivors think the Lord wants us to tell this story. My focus is on our government, who abandoned the crew when Israel targeted the USS Liberty and murdered 34 servicemen and injured 174 on June 8, 1967. Ever since, we have been chastised and dishonored by our government.”
The fire in the belly of Congressman Paul Findley, a moderate Republican was ignited decades ago.
On 8 June 2007, I attended the 27th annual American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Washington, D.C. Conference and heard him say:
“I was here for the first convention 27 years ago and I still have a fire in my belly for the civil and human rights of Arabs. It is time to speak openly and honestly about Israel. But, in American politics, that is still forbidden.
“Pity that we cannot seem to shed our fear of Israel! We are afraid to speak out on Capitol Hill, for fear of losing the next election. They are more like trained poodles jumping through hoops than leaders!
“Why this fear? How did we get here?
“Forty years ago to this day, June 8, 1967 the change occurred, the floodgates opened and money poured into Israel as never before. When President Johnson heard about the U.S.S. Liberty being attacked by Israel he ordered the rescue fighter planes to return to the deck. The rescue mission was aborted and the survivors have said they heard LBJ’s voice tell Admiral Giess, ‘Get those planes back on deck. I don’t care if the ship sinks, I will not embarrass Israel.’
“LBJ also threatened to court martial anyone who reported what had happened. Johnson accepted Israel’s false claim of “mistaken identity” and he knew it was a lie. That is when the change began and Israel learned they could get away with murdering U.S.A. soldiers.”
The attack on the USS Liberty remains “the only incident of damage to a major US ship since the sinking of the USS MAINE in Havana Harbour in 1898, prior to the Spanish-American War, that has not been investigated by the US Congress.” 
The fire in my belly for the USS Liberty crew was ignited on 13 October 2007, when I met my first USS Liberty survivor. When Petty Officer Phil Tourney spoke at a conference in California, and said: “It was God that kept us afloat” I knew I had to do more than just listen to him.
Phil connected me to a few of the Liberty veterans and on 2 November 2007, I spoke on the phone with Ernie Gallo for the first time.
In 1967, Ernie was a Petty Officer and Communication Technician aboard the USS Liberty and was now living in Florida. We shared our frustrations in seeking justice for the Liberty vets while dealing with our congressional representatives.
Ernie quipped, “I met with Senator Martinez’s legal council and let me tell you that Congress will not lift a finger to help us. AIPAC would crucify them! Our government is lock stepped not to say anything about the LIBERTY.”
On 29 October 2007, as a concerned citizen, I attended a Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Town Hall Q+A with the former Republican Senator from Florida, Mel Martinez, who had accepted $10,000 from Pro-Israel PAC Funds for the 2005-2006-election cycle.
After fielding softball questions and basking in the praises of the Republicans in the audience, the Senator finally picked on me to speak. I rose up and stated:
“I thank God for this opportunity to speak to you Senator Martinez, for I have been to your D.C. office twice this year. I spoke with your assistant John Goetchius both times regarding the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land which has reduced our sisters and brothers in Christ’s numbers from 20% to less than 1.3% since 1948 in the land where Jesus promised the Peacemakers are the children of God. I have been to Israel Palestine five times since June 2005 [seven as of this writing] to bear witness and report on this Christian crisis!
“I also thank God for this opportunity to raise awareness of my FAX of October 21 to you requesting JUSTICE for the survivors of the USS LIBERTY.”
I then turned to the audience but kept my eyes transfixed upon the slack jawed media that were filming the event:
“In case you don’t know, the USS LIBERTY, was an unarmed spy ship sailing in international waters flying the American flag, on June 8, 1967, when it was attacked by Israel. Thirty-four American sailors were killed, 174 wounded and all the survivors have been scarred, traumatized and let down by the American Government who ordered them to shut up or be court-martialed or worse if they spoke out!
“All the Veterans of the USS LIBERTY have been asking for is an open independent investigation with Congressional oversight and a declassification of all records.”
I then turned to the politician and inquired, “Will you Senator Martinez take the lead and deliver JUSTICE by seeking the TRUTH for the veterans of the USS LIBERTY before this Veterans Day?”
With a slick smile, Senator Martinez retorted, “Veterans Day is next week.”
Martinez thanked me for my passion and then claimed it is Hezbollah that is the cause of the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land. Not being one who will be silenced in the face of ignorance or hypocrisy, I interrupted him, “It is the forty years of military occupation that is the cause of the problem! It is Hamas and Fatah in Palestine, not Hezbollah! But what about the LIBERTY?”
Senator Martinez kept his professional cool and replied, “I hear you.”
He then turned away and called on a supporter in the audience to rescue him from the fire in my belly that had erupted out of my mouth.
On 6 July 2009, I finally received a letter from Senator Bill Nelson after many attempts to reach him regarding the USS Liberty veterans ongoing request for an open congressional investigation of that day in infamy when our government crucified the truth and gagged the survivors.
Assuming I was an idiot, in the third paragraph of Senator Bill Nelson’s letter to me he wrote:
“There have been numerous investigations of the USS liberty case by both the executive and legislative branches of the government. Immediately following the incident, the U.S. Navy and Deportment of Defense conducted their own separate investigations of the incident. In its oversight role, Congress also investigated…both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Investigations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee conducted separate investigations, which were completed to the satisfaction of the Congress.”
The Liberty veterans still can get no satisfaction!
And it was not until 1979, that the LIBERTY vets began to defy the gag order the American Government had put them under.
That break through happened with the publication of USS Liberty survivor, James M. Ennes, Jr.’s book, ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American intelligence Ship.
That book reunited the USS Liberty crew and led to the founding of the non-profit Liberty Veterans Association. The servicemen began petitioning Congress for an open independent panel to investigate the horrific and unprovoked attack upon them. But, these servicemen have only received pro-forma letters from White House staffers claiming that the attack had already been investigated.
On 2 October 2007, the Chicago Tribune reported:
“The declassification of government documents and the recollections of former military personnel… showed [that] the Israelis knew they were attacking an American naval vessel. The documents also suggest that the U.S. government, anxious to spare Israel’s reputation and preserve its alliance with the U.S., closed the case with what even some of its participants now say was a hasty and seriously flawed investigation.” 
J.Q. ‘Tony’ Hart, then a chief petty officer assigned to a U.S. Navy relay station in Morocco that handled communications between Washington and the 6th Fleet, remembered listening as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in Washington, ordered Rear Adm. Lawrence Geis, commander of the America’s carrier battle group, to bring the jets home. When Geis protested that the Liberty was under attack and needed help, Hart said, McNamara retorted that”President [Lyndon] Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.” [Ibid]
“The Johnson administration did not publicly dispute Israel’s claim that the attack had been nothing more than a disastrous mistake. But internal White House documents obtained from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library show that the Israelis’ explanation of how the mistake had occurred was not believed. Except for McNamara, most senior administration officials from Secretary of State Dean Rusk on down privately agreed with Johnson’s intelligence adviser, Clark Clifford, who was quoted in minutes of a National Security Council staff meeting as saying it was ‘inconceivable’ that the attack had been a case of mistaken identity. The attack ‘couldn’t be anything else but deliberate’ the NSA’s director, Lt. Gen. Marshall Carter, later told Congress.” [IBID]
Ernie Gallo had been above the water line when the torpedo hit the USS Liberty and informed this reporter:
“It was a beautiful clear sunny day and all morning Israeli reconnaissance planes were flying over us, I counted twelve over flights and one came so close I could see the pilots face; we waved and he dipped his wing as he went by. We were all very comfortable because they were our allies. That morning Captain McGonagle called a general quarter’s drill. That’s a created special kind of emergency –I can’t remember what the mock drill was about-but it was to test our skills and the Captain was well pleased. Because we were in dangerous ground he kept the gunners manning the machine guns-two guys on each ‘nest’ –this was unusual for them to stay in flack jackets and heavy helmets after the drill, but we knew we were in hostile territories. But we were all comfortable; guys were sunbathing and we were all happy because we saw our friends, the Israelis in the sky. We were all so very relaxed because of their over flights; it was like a scene out of McCales Navy.
“It was about an hour and a half after lunch when the unmarked planes attacked us and they knew exactly where to hit: the communication antennas! They knew the machine guns weren’t a threat, those pilots were very careful to take out the antennas. Then they dropped two napalm bombs on us, miraculously the fires all stayed on the outside, and even though the fire hoses were bullet ridden, like a garden hose and every CO2 canister on board was used, that fire easily could have gone inside the ship, but the firefighters kept their cool and it didn’t. A Signalman constantly watched that our flag was raised, the first one burnt up in the fire but in a few minutes he raised the holiday flag and our ship was well marked with USS LIBERTY on it.
“It wasn’t until the torpedo boats came at us that the Star of David could be seen again. But the Israelis claim mistaken identity, they mistook us for the El-Quseir an Egyptian transport ship that only carried horses [and is also a third of the size of the USS LIBERTY] and had been tied up and out of use for a year. The LIBERTY had at least forty antennas- yet Israel claims they made a mistake in identifying us-if this were ever heard in a Court of Law; it would be beyond belief!
“I was a ‘spook’ an interceptor, a CT; Communication Technician. Back then; the NSA had security groups in all the branches of Military Service. Normal operations were that for four months at a time, up and down the African Coast, anything within the ambient atmosphere; the airwaves were monitored. The CT’s had a multitude of talents; Administrators, Linguists, Morse Code Operators, Communicators and Electronics specialists-that’s what I did-kept all the equipment working.
“We all worked behind closed locked doors; none of the rest of the crew ever knew what we were doing. Our whole purpose in life was to intercept messages; RF, UHF, VHF, long and short wave. There were two gigantic Christmas tree antennas on the LIBERTY. Mid-ship there was a pedestal; with a sixteen foot dish pointed sky wards. How they could mistake us for a horse carrying ship is beyond belief.
“You know that when the North Koreans attacked the Pueblo, they wanted to capture it? The North Koreans gave repeated opportunities to surrender. The Israelis never gave us one! Any of the Israeli torpedo boats could have approached and asked us to surrender or follow them, but that never occurred.
“The LIBERTY was built in 1944, it was a converted cargo ship and the mechanics of that ship should have broken up and sunk! One foot more or less from where that torpedo hit and we would have sunk! But that torpedo hit a brace; and that brace absorbed the energy and kept us from blowing up! I honestly believe the Lord saved the LIBERTY for a reason and for this time in the world.”
In 1967, John Hrankowski, was a nineteen year old on his third cruise on the USS Liberty. In a 2007 telephone conversation he told me:
“I worked in the engineering department, responsible for the air conditioning, electricity, water and steam. I was topside when out of nowhere the blasting of shrapnel knocked me down. I returned to my general quarters space in the boiler room when the call came, ‘this is not a drill; we are under attack.’
“Fifteen feet in front of me the torpedo hit and knocked the ship out of the water! If that torpedo had hit the boiler the steam pressure of 750 degrees mixed with cold water would have been like an atomic bomb exploding!
“The lights went out, the generator was knocked out, shrapnel flew around me like fire flies; it was dangerous but somehow beautiful. I worked with a lantern to keep the steam under control. If that boiler blew the ship would have blown up too!”
Another Liberty survivor who had been below the water line when the torpedo hit was Ron Kukal, who became the Chaplain for the USS LIBERTY Vets Association. In an email from 22 October 2007, Ron wrote:
“On June 8, 1967 during the Vietnam War, I was aboard a Navy vessel called the USS LIBERTY. This unarmed ship was sailing the waters off the coast of Israel during the Six Day War.
“It may be possible that the only reason God saved the LIBERTY was so that we could tell our story.
“The ship was sailing 15 miles off the coast in international waters when the Israeli Defense Force attacked her. She was subjected to torpedoes, 50 caliber machine gun fire, napalm, and rocket fire. There was over 800 holes in the LIBERTY after the attack, she was listing about 10 degrees to the starboard, and was on fire in many places. Thirty-four men were killed and close to 70% of the crew were wounded, of which I was one.
“For what seemed like an eternity… many miracles occurred during, and after the attack. The only armament we had were 50 caliber machine guns, and they were like peashooters against the French built Mirage jets that attacked the LIBERTY…we were not ready for any kind of attack whatsoever. The element of surprise was theirs.
“I survived the attack by the planes, but the worst was yet to come, as five torpedo boats were bearing down on us, with one thing in mind, and that was to put us to the bottom! Only one found its mark. This was the second miracle that I was exposed to that day, the first being the surviving of the onslaught by the jet aircraft.
“The torpedo hit the Liberty almost amidships on the starboard side, and I was approximately thirty feet from the explosion. There were a couple of bulkheads between the explosion, and myself but they were like paper to the several tons of TNT that tore up the bowels of the Liberty. What had been several compartments were turned into one big room in a very short time. I was immediately immersed in sea water, and it was rising fast to the point where it would be above my head in a short time, and even though I could swim, the compartment would soon become completely full, and there would be no place to go. The hatch to the above deck was closed, and dogged down, and so my life again depended completely on what God would do. Just before the compartment became fully flooded the hatch above me was opened to let as many of us as possible out of there before we became a part of a watery grave. This was the third miracle that I saw that day, but there was even more to come. I ran to get to the main deck; I was slipping and sliding because of the water, and blood was awash within each passageway.
“The fourth miracle occurred when I was exposed to the machine gun fire on the main deck, and still remained alive, and still there was more to come. Every antenna we had was shot to pieces except one, and it had never worked very well. One of the radiomen told me that he tried several times to call for help, and finally when he realized that all the antenna were shot, he switched to the one that had always given him trouble, and when it was needed, it worked! We were able to call the Sixth Fleet, and notify them of our predicament through an antenna that had hardly ever worked. The fifth miracle had just occurred.
“The attack had gone on for two hours, or more, but it seemed like only a few minutes. The captain told us that we had lost our steering control, and that we would have to go aft, and steer the ship manually. We were able to make headway, and in time were headed for the island of Malta, and to dry dock. This was almost one thousand miles away, and here we were with a ship that had a forty by forty-foot hole in her side, on fire, and riddled with holes.
“The Liberty could go down at any minute, but we did sail the thousand miles without incident, and this had to be the sixth miracle of the day. I was one of the crew that went down below to identify the deceased and I know that God gave me the strength to go and do what was expected of me. Let it suffice to say that, under the conditions, only men that were strengthened, and held up by God himself would be able to enter the dark area down below.”
On 8 June 1967, Gary Brummett was a twenty-year-old Third Class Petty Officer assigned to the Boiler Room aboard the LIBERTY. In 2007, he told me:
“After more than two hours of unremitting assault, the Israelis finally halted their attack. One of the torpedo boats approached the Liberty. This same torpedo boat crew had been circling the ship, machine-gunning anyone who stuck his head above decks, as well as the lifeboats the crew had put over the side. A torpedo boat officer asked in English over a bullhorn: ‘Do you need any help?’
“The wounded commander of the Liberty, Captain William McGonagle, instructed the quartermaster to respond emphatically: ‘Fuck you.'” 
Brummett had been on the bottom most level all during the attack, “For thirty-five years I kept this devil bottled up. I felt like I had it under control, but it all became so real again, after I retired from the Post Office and joined the Board of the LIBERTY Vet’s Association. I was the Vice President for two years and President and three years.
“The attack was the easy part; the aftermath in not being able to get our government to address this cover up has been the bastard. I’ve had forty years thinking about this crap and all the presidents and Congressmen and Senators since LBJ are guilty for not addressing this issue that has been set before them. The few congressional representatives who have tried to address this have been silenced by the Israel Lobby, AIPAC and the JDL.
“The apologists for Israel like A.J. Cristol in his book of half truths and errors claimed there have been investigations. In checking the Congressional Record you will see the only investigation was the original Naval Court of Inquiry. The Liberty Veterans Association has offered $10,000 reward to anyone who can prove there were a Congressional investigation and so far, no takers!
“The Naval Court of Inquiry was done by two officers under the command of Admiral John McCain, Sr. and it was concluded in six days! After Admiral Kidd delivered it to Washington, parts of it were altered, stuff was excised out, and it was falsified with intent!
“When the attack occurred, I was in the engineering spaces, and we called it the Dungeon. I was there, twelve to fifteen feet below the water line when the torpedo hit and I remember it as vividly now as when it happened. My back was to the boiler heater, I was looking at the starboard [right] bulkhead [wall] when the torpedo hit. I was beyond fear of death, but that feeling didn’t last too long. The torpedo hit about fifteen feet forward of the space I was in. It felt like it lifted the LIBERTY out of the water and we rolled to port [left] side and I thought we would capsize.
“The hole measured twenty-two by thirty-nine feet and it was like the destruction of a three story building. The entire space flooded in a matter of moments and it was a nightmare scenario.
“The day before, I and another third class boiler tech, J.P. Newell, had worked for over twenty-two hours and been awake for over thirty because of the boilers. If the water gets too low in a boiler it will over heat and rupture. Everything on that ship ran on steam power; the electricity, the fire hoses, cooking, laundry, commodes and the turbines that turned the shaft and moved the ship!
“We had been working on the Coffin Pump, an auxiliary feed pump that supplies water to the boilers. It’s a good thing we did get it fixed, because during the attack we needed that Coffin Pump because both main feed pumps seized on us about half way through the seventy-five minute attack.
“I had gotten burnt from the super heated water in the early morning on the day of the attack and after going to sickbay J.P. and I had coffee on the mess deck. J.P. then went back to finish the work on the Coffin Pump and I took a shower and went to sleep until 10 AM and then I went back to the Dungeon.
“On the PA System I could hear the Officer of the Deck call five or six times for the duty photographer team to go up to the bridge between ten and one that day. Ten to twenty minutes after a routine general quarters drill the attack started, about 2 PM. I smelled gunpowder and things got hot and heavy and more furious from that point on.
“We were trained incessantly like Pavlov’s dogs; so, you don’t think you just react. That torpedo hit the engineering spaces that were all ready dark because the turbo generators had been knocked off line. The missiles had destroyed our back up emergency generators and the only light available was hand battle lanterns.
“Israel said they stopped attacking us after the torpedo hit, but that’s a big lie! I think they stopped shooting at us because they ran out of ammunition!
“When we got to Malta, I was one of five two men teams that counted the direct hits and while the official record states 821 direct hits plus the torpedo there were thousands of rounds of ammo that hit us and no way could they all be counted!
“It wasn’t until June 9th just after midnight that I went to the mess deck and saw bodies all over the place; on the floor, the tables and blood was everywhere. Men were crying for their mother’s! It was an emotional mix master, unreal, surreal. I was a twenty-year-old kid and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I even knew something was very wrong with what had happened to us.
“The dead had been in storage lockers for a few days before we even had time to move them into the freezers. Out of a crew of 294, 34 were killed, over 170 injured so that didn’t leave many of us to do everything.
“When we got to Malta two Navy Officers informed my group of about a dozen crewmen that National Security was involved and we were all ordered not to talk, ordered to keep our mouths shut, no talking to reporters, no details to family.
“The closest safe harbor was Crete, a day an a half away, but we were sent to Malta, a six day trip with bulkheads so contorted we could have sunk in waters that went down 17,000 feet! We still don’t have submersibles that go that deep!
“I think they sent us to Malta so that D.C. could have four more days to get their story straight and they hoped we would all sink!
“I was baptized a Christian when I was thirty-eight years old and while I believe it was God that kept the LIBERTY afloat I also think that my life was spared for another purpose and reason and LIBERTY means FREEDOM!”
When Gary said that, I immediately recalled the words President George W. Bush promised in his Second Inaugural Address:
“In the long run, there is no JUSTICE without FREEDOM. There can be no human rights without LIBERTY. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for LIBERTY, we stand with you.”
On 8 June 1967, Lieutenant Richard Kiepfer, was the lone medical doctor on board the spy ship, the USS LIBERTY, who “with complete disregard for his own personal safety, exposed himself to overwhelmingly accurate rocket and machine gun fire…administered first aid…treated [171 wounded] men for pain, shock…[and] conducted a major surgical operation.” 
Six weeks after boarding the LIBERTY and fifteen minutes into the attack, while operating on a sailor to control his bleeding, Dr. Kiepfer received eleven shrapnel wounds into his abdomen, and shortly thereafter, a gun shot to his leg, burns and a broken kneecap. He remained on his feet and caring for the crew for the next twenty-eight hours and their spirits ever since.
In 2007, I visited with the then 70 year old Dr. Richard F. Kiepfer, a Catholic born and bred in Brooklyn, in his Texas home where the deer ignore the corn put out by his neighbors, for Dr. Kiepfer provides prime feed in his front yard. Obese raccoons dined on a daily feast of dog food and the neighborhood cats eat better than mine, in his back yard. Friends, who check on the doctor daily, set the food out, for Dr. Kiepfer can no longer do what he once did.
A Master Bridge player while still in his teens, Dr. Kiepfer continues to play the cards he has been dealt in life with aplomb and grace. In 1973 he nearly died in a plane crash after parachuting atop of Georgia pecan trees that ended his surgical career and the use of his right hand and arm. The other night in Tampa, Ernie told me that Doc Kiepfer has now lost his right arm.
In 2007, Doc told me, “The pilot landed a mile away from me, and was impaled on a forest of pine trees. As I laid there and looked at my arm and failed every test to move it, I knew then I would never operate again and began to think about what I could do in life to continue to be useful, and decided on nuclear medicine.”
After twenty years in nuclear medicine he retired after suffering a heart attack and since then has suffered the loss of two wives, but not his sense of humor, which borders on the ribald. My weekend visit with Dr. Kiepfer in his home adorned with icons of St. Francis occurred only a week after his discharge from a rehabilitation center. He had spent the previous six months recuperating from a below the knee amputation.
In an email from retired Commander David Ed Lewis, the officer in charge of 195 men out of the total crew of 294 on the US LIBERTY, he wrote: “I know Doc has suffered more and complained less than anyone I know. Job didn’t have much on Doc…He has always dedicated his life to others and has never asked anything in return from them.”
The book of Job is a critique about injustice, the suffering of innocent people and the struggle to find meaning and value in pain, and playing the cards one has been dealt with in life without blaming God.
Being a retired nurse, I had many questions for Dr. Kiepfer, and utmost was what was left out of the Court of Inquiry: such as how could the deck log which documents the hours during the attack be so neatly written and list all the dead and wounded in alphabetical order within the hours of noon to 4 PM but make no mention of the many Israeli over flights that occurred during the morning before the attack.
Dr. Kiepfer explained, “The deck log was not written during the attack. Captain McGonagle signed off on the Log and that makes it legal, but not authentic. McGonagle was concerned that he would be blamed for the LIBERTY being in troubled waters. I told him, ‘Over my dead fucking body!’
“Israel did identify the ship six hours before the attack. Israel did know that the ship was American and admitted to our government that they knew the ship was American; Israel claims only that the attacking forces failed to get the word.
“Modern diplomacy simply does not permit one to embarrass a ‘friendly’ nation, even when that nation is caught red-handed with its torpedo in one’s ship.
“McGonagle was tormented by the idea that he was somehow responsible for the agony his ship and crew suffered. One top level theory holds that someone in the Israeli armed forces ordered the LIBERTY sunk because he suspected that it had taken down messages showing that Israel started the fighting [during the Six Day War].”
James Ennes wrote:
“Typical of Israel’s casual attitude toward the episode, an attitude which suggested from the beginning that it was really our fault for being there [in international waters] in the first place. Messages from Israel directly charged that a share of the blame was McGonagle’s…the Shreveport Times suggested…that our government was involved in a cover-up…and that the attack itself may have been conducted to prevent the ship [and the United States] from detecting the pending invasion of Syria which was scheduled for June 8th but implemented on June 9, 1967.” 
Dr. Kiepfer also informed me, “McGonagle may have misremembered or may have not reported the over a dozen Israeli over flights that morning because he may have thought he should have abandoned our mission-which was to listen in on all communications. My opinion as a civilian is that the Court of Inquiry-which was to determine if the Navy was at fault- would have inquired why he didn’t get the LIBERTY out of the area since we could see the smoke from Al Arish, in Gaza.
“I was the only Medical Corp officer to be appointed Officer of the Deck-that means I was in charge of everything on the ship when the Captain was off duty. I stood mid watch from midnight to 4 AM the night before the attack of June 8, 1967 and all was quiet. I always slept until 7:29 because breakfast ended at 7:30. Beginning at sunrise to 8 AM, the bridge reported a couple of propeller driven aircraft overhead and by noon several more. At lunch people were talking about all the Israeli over flights, but nobody was worried; they were our friends. Afterwards, as usual I went to the wardroom for coffee while the Corpsmen began the start of sick call and off duty officers pursued the national sport of sunbathing on the quarterdeck.
“Lieutenant George Golden and I were together when the attack began and we thought a steam line had ruptured when we heard the first explosion. We both headed off to our general quarter’s stations as the announcement sounded that we were under attack. I assumed it was perpetrated by the Arabs or Russians. Understand that nobody could identify Mirage fighter-bombers that travel at MACH One. Imagine as I say these words to you that the jets are a mile away, now they are overhead and now they are a mile away from us. That is how fast they travel.
“Fifteen minutes into the attack, while I was operating on a sailor and trying to control his bleeding, I was hit with eleven pieces of shrapnel into my abdomen. A rocket struck above the ceiling of sick bay and the light over my head and the operating table protected me; both acted as a life saver for me, otherwise I would have gotten hit in my shoulders, side and back. I was knocked against a wall and waves of red and white pain throbbed through me.
“I knew I had to finish with the guy on the table-if I walked away, I wouldn’t have returned. All I could think about was keeping limbs attached to sailors. From the moment the attack began, I felt a greater presence within me that was physically holding me up. I thought it was the spirit of all the navy docs who had gone before me. I felt physically held up by my invisible assistants and with all that adrenalin coursing through me and with some carefully titrated morphine that I self injected, I was able to do what I did.
“It was not until I finished that operation did I even examine myself. The fragments that penetrated me were so hot they cauterized my wounds. The pain was intense, but after applying surgical dressings to my wounds and putting on a life vest to control the bleeding I gave myself a shot of morphine and remained on my feet and working for the next twenty-eight hours.
“Just before the torpedo struck, I was summoned to the bridge and went through the mess decks from sick bay, where a number of wounded sailors were. Captain McGonagle was the only man still functioning there, the lookouts were dead, the helmsman-the guy at the steering wheel was dead and I saw the blown apart remains of our Navigator, Mr. Toth, two decks below me. All I could do was administer morphine to the still living and get them onto stretchers to evacuate them. I had two Corpsmen working with me and knew I needed more surrogates, for the wounded were shoulder to shoulder the full circumference of the passageway.
“While I was on the deck, I got hit by a fifty caliber machine gun bullet to my leg that came from the torpedo boats. I was bleeding into my shoes and not until the next day when I was able to lie down did the bleeding slow down. You know the story of the Incredible Hulk and mother’s who lift cars off of their kids? When you are angry and hurt you can do amazing things.
“If you got one hundred people into my skin that day, probably all of them would have thrown up from the hell that erupted on the LIBERTY. Men were groaning and crying for their mothers, but it was just background noise for me. I was slip sliding as I crossed the bloody deck to get to the Captain who had been hit. McGonagle was leaning back in the Captain’s chair, bleeding from many orifices; some natural and some new ones. I applied battle dressings, started an IV, gave him some morphine and sent an enlisted man to find as many officers as possible to come up to the Bridge and assist him and to watch him for shock. The Captain said, ‘If I sit up, I pass out, but as long as I stay in this position, I am OK.’
“People I had eaten lunch with were dismembered all around me, burned, dead. To this day, every time I have a phone conversation with Phil Tourney, who held the light while, I was operating on Blanchard he tells me he can still see the look in my eyes.
“Everyone in the Navy hierarchy knew we were scapegoats and the Navy would have done anything to exact retribution, but the Navy never got the chance.
“In LBJ’s mind we were just an average day’s losses in Vietnam. I doubt Israel would have attacked without the knowledge or complicity of our State Departments willingness to sacrifice a few hundred sailors to have a ‘stabilized’ Middle East and all that oil.
“Our State Department’s morality and ethics are just slightly below those of a Madame in a house of ill repute or a large scale drug dealer.
“June 8, 1967 was like July 4th in hell without the ice cream.
“And yes, I agree that it was God that kept us afloat.”
In a 2008 email from USS LIBERTY survivor, Donald W Pageler, a Seaman E-3 Communications Technician who had Top Secret Crypto clearance wrote:
“I was once in email contact with an ordained rabbi who was a professor in an Eastern University. He said he was of the belief that there could be no peace in the Middle East until Israel owned its own atrocities.”
In a phone call interview with Don on December 31, 2007, I inquired who that rabbi was and Pageler responded, “I can’t remember his name, but after Jim Bamford’s, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, was released [in 2001] I read a review about it on Amazon.com by a rabbi. He included his email address so I wrote him to thank him and that was his reply.”
When I checked Amazon’s site, there were 141 customer reviews for that book, but missing was one from Yomin Postelnik, dated May 22, 2001.
LIBERTY supporter Richard Schmucker, was once known as LIBERTY CENTRAL because he had obtained hundreds of pounds of documentation about that day in infamy when the USA Government failed to support our troops, Congress went limp and the MSM went MIA.
Schmucker had the foresight to copy and save the following review from Yomin Postelnik, who wrote:
“I am a religious Jew with rabbinical ordination. I have always felt that one must be fair in one’s position towards Israel, not defending the indefensible. The Israeli military attack against the USS Liberty has irrevocably been proven to have been deliberate and was completely unjustified, it being against Israel’s long-standing ally. The Israelis didn’t want information the ship had picked up concerning its plan to advance the war, [of 1967] pushing the Arab armies out of the West bank, Golan, etc., to reach the United States, as President Johnson had already warned Israel against such moves. That they bombed this ship, poured napalm on it, shot at and torpedoed it is reprehensible and gruesome to say the least. Even John Loftus, a man very sympathetic towards Israel, has written the attack was deliberate. He cites that Israel tried to spare as many lives as possible, but the act itself was nothing short of treacherous. Many refuse to believe anything bad of Israel and this book has therefore been subject to unfair criticism by those who know nothing of the incident, nor have they cared to find out. All American Jews should pressure Congress to reopen the investigation, which President Johnson agreed to suppress when Israel apologized for the incident. Our loyalties must be to our country, not Israel.”
Pageler was not sure if that was the review he had replied to, but stated, “It sure was written at the right time and sure sounds like it. But whom I really blame more than anybody is the Media for failing to do its job by not investigating what happened to the LIBERTY on June 8, 1967.
“My grandparents were from Germany and the LIBERTY issue has made me even more sensitive to anti-Semitism. It’s not the Jewish people or Judaism that is the problem, it’s the governments of America and Israel that wanted to sweep this incident under the rug and cover it up that has caused the survivors and families much suffering.
“What June 8, 1967 did to me was a nightmare that I repressed for years and have suffered greatly from. As a kid I always kept things in; like my father I am quiet and reserved. I always internalized things and thought stuff was my fault, even though logically I knew that wasn’t rational. Emotionally I felt responsible somehow about what happened on June 8, 1967 in the Mediterranean and since nobody was taking responsibility for what happened to the LIBERTY; not our government, not Israel and the media failed at their mandate to investigate, I felt responsible but I also suppressed it, because when I was debriefed after the attack I was told to never talk about it.”
The spy ship named the USS LIBERTY was not built or trained for combat. She was armed with only .50 caliber machine guns, which were totally inadequate against the brutal barrage of missile fire and napalm that engulfed her and she became a flaming inferno. It was not until the following day that the Sixth Fleet -which had been stationed 15 minutes away-arrived with helicopters to transfer the most severely wounded.
At 11:30 AM on that day, Israel invaded Syria. Records reveal that the Israeli attack on Syria was scheduled for 11:30 AM on June 8, 1967, but the spy ship, the USS LIBERTY had arrived less than three hours before that scheduled assault on the Syrian Heights. Quite obvious to anyone with a brain is that Israel postponed their invasion of Syria and instead cold bloodily attacked American servicemen instead.
James Ennes wrote:
“Word of the attack reached President Johnson in the White House about two hours after it all began. Pentagon officials had apparently been aware of the situation for nearly forty minutes when NSA Advisor Walt Rostow telephoned the President to tell him that a U.S. Navy ship was in trouble…ready aircraft, which normally carry nuclear weapons, were launched toward Liberty, and the Pentagon reacted to the launch with anger bordering on hysteria.
“Help is on the way!” [COMSIXTHFLT message 081305Z]…was received by a Liberty radioman and quickly passed to every man aboard.
“Navy radio operators at the Naval Communications Center in Morocco worked to establish communications for the emergency…they could hear USS Liberty, her operators still pleading for help, and in the background the exploding rockets.
“Through the Morocco communications relay station, destined for the Pentagon, State Department and the White House…every man recognized the voice [of] Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, and he spoke with authority: ‘Tell the Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately,’ he barked.
“A few minutes later the Chief of Naval Operations himself came on the air. The circuit was patched to the Sixth Fleet flagship and Admiral David L. McDonald bellowed:
“You get those fucking airplanes back on deck, and you get them back now!” 
On 25 July 2001, James Bamford wrote a response to the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, inBody of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency:
“The time for secrecy has long passed on the USS LIBERTY incident, in both Israel and the United States…there is more than enough probable cause to conduct a serious investigation into what really happened-and why.”
Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, Director National Security Agency/NSA from 1965-1969 wrote: “There was no other answer than it was deliberate.”
Dr. Louis Tordella, Deputy Director of NSA from 1958 -1974, scrawled across the top page of the formal Israel ‘mistake’ report: “A nice whitewash.” He also said, “I believed the attack might have been ordered by some senior commander on the Sinai Peninsula who wrongly suspected that the LIBERTY was monitoring his activities.”
Major General John Morrison, NSA Deputy Director of Operations, 1963-1967 affirmed:
“Nobody believes the [Israeli] explanation. The only conjecture that we ever made that made any sense is that the Israelis did not want us to intercept their communications at that time.”
In 1967, David G. Nes, the deputy head of the American mission in Cairo said: “I don’t think that there’s any doubt that it was deliberate… [It is] one of the greatest cover-ups of our military history.”
George Ball, Under Secretary of State from 1961-1966, is on the record that, “American leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel for the blatant murder of its citizens.”
Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff stated:
“I never believed that the attack on the USS Liberty was a case of mistaken identity. That is ridiculous. I have flown over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of hours searching for ships and identifying all types of ships at sea. The Liberty was the ugliest, strangest-looking ship in the US Navy. As a communications intelligence ship, it was sprouting every kind of antenna. It looked like a lobster with all those projections moving every which way. Israel knew perfectly well that the ship was American.”- 
During a phone interview on 3 November 2007, with Lt. Commander Dave Ed Lewis [the officer in charge of 195 men out of the total crew of 294 on the US LIBERTY] he informed me:
“Rear Admiral Lawrence Geiss was in charge of the USS Saratoga and USS America. He swore me to secrecy until his death, which happened about nineteen years later. What he told me I kept secret until I learned of his death at the first reunion and twenty year anniversary of the veterans of the USS LIBERTY.
“He told me that as soon as he got the word of our distress he launched aircraft and notified D.C. Immediately he heard from McNamara to recall the aircraft. He said he assumed it was because some idiots in Washington thought that he was launching nuclear weaponry. He reconfigured and then re-launched aircraft without nuclear capabilities. Admiral Geiss notified Washington of this and once again the immediate response that came from McNamara was the order to recall the aircraft. Admiral Geiss challenged the order and pleaded that people are dieing!
“LBJ was heard to say, ‘I don’t give a damn! I won’t embarrass an ally.”
Journalist and son of a Liberty survivor, James Scott wrote:
“More than twenty minutes before the fatal torpedo strike killed twenty-five sailors; Israel’s chief air controller conclusively identified the Liberty as an American ship.” 
Many years after the attack, Lieutenant Colonel Shmuel Kislev, the chief air controller at general headquarters in Tel Aviv, confessed that he knew the U.S.S. LIBERTY was an American ship as soon as an Israeli pilot radioed in its hull numbers.
Two months before the sailor’s mass burial at Arlington Cemetery, Navy analysis also uncovered that the Israeli torpedo boat gunners had targeted the spy ship with 40-mm tracer rounds made in the United States.
In 1967, the Republican representative from Iowa, H.R. Gross rose up in The House and asked:
“Is this Government now, directly or indirectly, subsidizing Israel in the payment of full compensation for the lives that were destroyed, the suffering of the wounded, and the damage from this wanton attack? It can well be asked whether these Americans were the victims of bombs, machine gun bullets and torpedoes manufactured in the United States and dished out as military assistance under foreign aid.” 
By November 1967, lawmakers were willing to spend six million USA tax dollars to build schools in Israel but during the debate, Representative Gross spoke with the voice of conscience and introduced an amendment that “not one dollar of U.S. credit or aid of any kind [should] go to Israel until there is a firm settlement with regard to the attack and full reparations have been made [and Israel] provides full and complete reparations for the killing and wounding of more than 100 United States citizens in the wanton, unprovoked attack.
“I wonder how you would feel if you were the father of one of the boys who was killed in that connection-or perhaps you do not have any feelings with respect to these young men who were killed, wounded and maimed, or their families.” 
Gross’s amendment failed and justice remains delayed for the USS LIBERTY veterans who have been asking for an open transparent congressional hearing of what THEY saw THAT DAY.
“Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s entire foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.”
During Fiscal Year 2007, the Congressional Research Service’s “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,”written by Jeremy M. Sharp, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, [updated January 2, 2008] reported that the US gave Israel at least $2,500.2 million in 2007. This number does not include the $137.894 million we spent on joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects or the $1.4 billion in loan guarantees made available to Israel in 2007. [Ibid]
While U.S. economic aid to Israel has been phased out, it has been replaced with increased military aid of $3.1 billion each year out of American wallets that go to provide even more weapons of destruction to one of the most powerful militaries the world has ever known.
The United States has given more money to Israel than to any other country, and the “indirect or consequential costs to the American taxpayer as a result of Washington’s blind support for Israel exceed by many times the amount of direct U.S. aid to Israel. Some of these ‘indirect or consequential’ costs would include the costs to U.S. manufacturers of the Arab boycott, the costs to U.S. companies and consumers of the Arab oil embargo and consequent soaring oil prices as a result of U.S. support for Israel in the 1973 war, and the costs of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. [Ibid]
Just before Christmas 2009, President Obama signed into law the biggest aid pledge of the year. NOT for struggling countries on the World Bank’s list, but another $3 billion for Israel in 2010 and $30 billion over the next decade.
Now deceased, Retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who investigated the attack, wrote in 1997 that he believed Israel intentionally attacked the Liberty to conceal that it was preparing to seize the Golan Heights from Syria.
On January 16, 2004, Adm. Moorer also wrote for The Stars and Stripes:
“There is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew. In attacking the USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder against U.S. servicemen and an act of war against the United States.”
Adm. Moorer also gave Ernest Gallo his marching orders to: “Never give up this fight for the truth.”
In 1776, President George Washington warned US to:
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all…and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.
SUPPORT THE TROOPS and Learn More about the USS LIBERTY:
1. Captain Joseph Tully, commanding officer of the USS Saratoga, page 175, “Operation Cyanide” by Peter Hounam.
4. Silver Star Medal Commendation
5. James M. Ennis, Jr. “Assault on the Liberty” pages 213, 214, 131, 136, 141, and 142. Reintree Press, 1979.
6. James M. Ennis, Jr. “ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY” pages 97, 98, 76, 77, and 78.
7. Operation Cyanide, Pages 244-245.
8. James Scott, “The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship” Page 216.
9. James Scott, Pages 271-272.
10. James Scott, Pages 272-273
The most significant aspect of President Obama’s speech on the Middle East (May 19) is the absence of a plan to revive the “Peace Process.” The passing storm over his statements regarding the 1967 borders notwithstanding, it is already evident that there will be no new initiatives in the months to come. This is just as well, because any new initiative would be doomed to fail for as long as the political future of several key countries in the region remains uncertain. The PLO-Hamas coalition hopes, with good reason, that as several key Arab regimes become more democratic, they will become more willing to pursue policies supportive of the Palestinian views and aspirations.
The “Arab Spring” may yet produce regimes with enhanced domestic legitimacy. This will be reflected in the reduced willingness of the countries thus democratized to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state, let alone to sign peace treaties and establish normal relations with that state. A secondary result will be an enhanced ability of those states, in the long run at any rate, to fight wars successfully. This is one of the reasons why “spreading democracy” in the Middle East has always been a dubious idea. The quagmire in Iraq is largely due to George W. Bush and his team extending the original mission from containment—depriving Saddam of his (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction—to regime change and the establishment of “democracy.” Iraq was supposed to be only the first step in transforming the region as a whole, and “democracy” was claimed to be the universal remedy for the ills of Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, poverty and violence.
As we now know, and as some of us had warned back then, the objective of democratizing the Middle East is unattainable in practice and undesirable in principle. The regime changes contingent upon “democratic transformation” would benefit only one variety of political Islam or another—from the Muslim Brotherhood’s various offshoots to al-Qaeda affiliates—which are happy to use the rhetoric, legal form and mechanisms of “democracy” for the imposition of a very different model of society. That scenario is being played out even in the formerly Kemalist Turkey, which is now yet again an integral part of the Middle East.
It cannot be otherwise: the system of governance based on the concept of popular sovereignty is not viable outside of the framework of ideas, beliefs and habits of the culture and civilization which sustain it. In the Muslim world Allah is “the true sovereign of the community, the ultimate source of authority, the sole source of legislation” (Bernard Lewis). All over the Middle East governments consist in practice of only one branch—the executive—controlled by a political party (Turkey) or a family (the Emirates, Saudi Arabia), or an oligarchy (Egypt, Syria).
This is not to say that the United States is powerless, or should remain passive, faced with the many unpleasant aspects of the Middle Eastern politics and society. Insisting on greater respect for the rule of law can and should be demanded from the governments in the region Washington considers friendly. Limiting capricious exercise of state power and especially limiting its abuse for political ends is the least the United States should demand of those regimes which expect to be regarded as “friendly.” Such demand should be accompanied by a clear statement of intent: those regimes will become more stable by making their legal systems less arbitrary. This is the not the first step on the road to “regime change,” this is its exact opposite.
In addition it is important to note that—unlike “democracy”—an impartial, efficient and predictable system of justice is not inherently contradictory to the spirit of Islam. The discriminatory strictures of Sharia vis-à-vis women and “infidels” are intolerable and should be discouraged, of course, but at its base is the demand for the scrupulous observance of legal strictures. This principle per se is a more promising base to build upon in the Middle East than the legacy of Pericles, Jefferson, or Lech Walesa.
A long overdue start should be made with Turkey, which at least nominally remains committed to the Western values, principles and practices bequeathed by its founder 85 years ago. A spectacular miscarriage of justice is in the making there, orchestrated and manipulated by the government and obediently followed by a pliant judiciary. The story is huge but it has been under-reported in the United States, which reflects a long-established reluctance of the Obama Administrations, and its predecessors, to confront the realities of Turkey under the Islamist regime of the Justice and Progress Party (AKP).
On April 6 the Turkish Army General Staff deplored the arrest of over a hundred active-duty officers as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to topple the government. The latest arrests bring to 196 the number of active and retired officers who stand accused of involvement in the so-called Sledgehammer Plot dating back to 2003. In February, prosecutors requested that 163 of the accused remain under arrest—most of them active duty senior ranks—on a dubious legal pretext. The suspects include the former commanders of the Turkish navy and air force.
What we are witnessing is a massive purge in preparation for the largest show trial ever in the non-Communist world. The charges, too, are worthy of Moscow 1937. The Sledgehammer plot, the government alleges, was to have included bombings of historic mosques in Istanbul, an attack on a museum, and the provocation of military tensions with neighboring Greece including aerial attacks on Greek islands. Such acts of terrorism and outright military aggression were supposedly designed to plunge Turkey into utter chaos and provide an opportunity for the military to step in and remove the AKP-controlled government from power.
The Sledgehammer is connected to the reported Ergenekon conspiracy. This is supposedly the Mother of All Plots, the mega-conspiracy in which the “Deep State”—a shadowy coalition of senior military officers, the intelligence services, the judiciary, and organized crime—planned terrorist attacks to foment unrest leading to a military takeover. As Claire Berlinski explains, the claims about these supposed conspirators defy logic:
Arch-secular nationalists, the prosecutors say, have been in bed with the Maoist PKK, the extreme-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party, the Islamist Hizbullah and Milli Görüş, the ultranationalist Turkish Revenge Brigades, the Turkish Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, and the Islamic Great East Raiders Front. This is a bit like imagining that the Weathermen hooked up with the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers, Act Up, the Zeta drug cartel, and a dissident faction of the Republican National Committee, and that all concerned managed to refrain from killing each other long enough to design a serious plan to overthrow the American government—with a bit of willing propaganda assistance from Bob Woodward and the Huffington Post.
Details of the “Sledgehammer” emerged after an anonymous source delivered a suitcase full of supposedly secret military documents to a newspaper reporter in January 2010. Prime Minister Erdoğan and other AKP leaders have openly lent support and credibility to the charges. There are countless inconsistencies in the accusations, however. To take but one example, dozens of entities—hospitals, NGOs, companies, and even military units—were referred to by names or acronyms which they acquired many years after 2003, in some cases as late as August 2009.
The military has strenuously denied the allegations, claiming that the documents were forged, and insisting thatthe scenarios were part of a hypothetical war game that took place at a military training seminar. “The Turkish Armed Forces, which have especially avoided any actions that could be seen as interfering with the ongoing judicial process, have explained through repeated statements, in no uncertain terms, what the seminars were, how they were carried out, what they involved and who participated under what orders,” the April 6 General Staff statement said.
The Sledgehammer case is not a “case” at all; it is an attempt by the AKP regime to neutralize Turkey’s once-powerful military once and for all. The government’s specific objective is to discredit the officer corps and thus facilitate the abolition of the Army’s traditional role as the guardian of the country’s secular political system. According to Dani Rodrik of Harvard University—whose father-in-law, retired four-star general Cetin Dogan, is one of the defendants—we are witnessing machinations in the guise of the judicial process aimed at achieving political advantage instead of justice. The result is that “Turkey’s relevance as a democratic beacon for the Middle East” will be undermined.
Turkey has grand ambitions as a “beacon.” It is pursuing an openly neo-Ottoman strategy all over the region. Its president, Abdullah Gül, claims that Turkey can have a “great and unbelievably positive effect” on the Middle East. Its Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu delares modestly, “If the world is on fire, Turkey is the firefighter… assuming the leading role for stability in the Middle East.”
The United States should take note of such aspirations and act accordingly. It is probably too late to encourage the generals not yet in jail to bring the AKP to heel, but it is still possible to demand that the Prozess in the making be abandoned as a precondition of tolerating Turkey’s attempts at regional grandstanding. Messrs. Erdoğan, Gül and Davutoğlu should be told that this would be the test of Turkey’s putative “positive effect” and “leading role” in the region. That much Ankara should and probably would do to maintain its bid for regional leadership which remains unhindered from Washington.
Standing up for the Turkish army at its time of need—the only true ally the United States has had in the country for some decades now—is both just and prudent. Among the accused officers several have maintained close professional and personal ties with their American colleagues.
The U.S. should demand no more (but also no less) than a scrupulous observance of Turkey’s own laws and legal procedures. As Ms. Berlinski points out, Turkey’s legal system has always been viewed “as something opaque, arbitrary, and capricious—another weapon to be used by the powerful against their enemies, not a source of justice for ordinary people.” Its continued misuse is an issue which is a matter of legitimate American concern, if we are to take seriously President Obama’s rhetoric about Turkey as the essential bridge between the East and the West.
Different in magnitude and political implications but not in legal and moral substance is the case of an American citizen, Zack Shahin, who was arrested in Dubai in 2008, held in isolation for months on end. Shahin still remains in jail on what appear to be spurious charges with no trial date in sight. All this is happening in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which still purport to be the forward-looking showcase of Arab capacity for liberalism and entrepreneurial flair.
Before the financial crisis the UAE attracted thousands of Western investors and experts. Dubai in particular started growing into a glittering metropolis of high-rise towers, expensive hotels and top-tier shops. It became Arabia’s Las Vegas (minus the gambling and showgirls), a financial Disneyland without the fun.
But then, as reported in Human Events last February, in early 2008 Dubai’s investment flagship, Dubai_World, showed signs of financial instability and the authorities looked about for scapegoats: “As the world economic downturn expanded, Dubai’s $80 billion debt threatened the emirate with financial collapse. It withdrew from free-trade negotiations with the U.S. over disagreements about its foreign worker labor laws and human rights… While Dubai sought a bailout from the rest of the UAE, it engaged in highly autocratic behavior.”
Those same expatriates who built Dubai’s economy and helped enrich its rulers were suddenly presented as predatory speculators to be blamed for the downturn in what had been obviously an overheated property market. Shahin, a former top executive of Deyaar Development, was held in isolation for 13 months, denied U.S. consular assistance—in blatant violation of international treaties to which the Emirates are a party—and in April 2009 charged with embezzlement. There is no indication when he will be tried. While incommunicado he was allegedly tortured and forced to sign papers in Arabic he did not understand. After investigating one misdemeanor charge against Shahin for the past 3 years, it suddenly dawned on the presiding judge that he may not have jurisdiction over the case. Therefore, he decided to send the case back to the public prosecutor. This maneuver will now enable the prosecutor to apply a new law that never existed at the time of Shahin’s arrest, where Shahin can be labeled a public official and potentially, if ever tried and convicted, face a sentence of up to 20 years. Shahin has twice been “released” on bail, and then immediately rearrested. Dozens of other non-American foreignershave been treated in a similar vein. Tourists in Dubai have sometimes fared far worse, such as British tourist Lee Bradley Brown, who was apparently beaten to death by his jailors following his arrest for allegedly using abusive language.
The U.S. government has sent at least three formal Diplomatic Notes expressing concerns about Shahin’s treatment but they remain unanswered. His case has been raised with UAE officials by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton during her visit last January and by other American diplomats, but all have been rebuffed. Letters to the UAE ambassador in Washington DC from both Ohio Senators and from former Rep. Deborah Pryce have never been answered.
The State Department has yet to make a public statement about Shahin’s predicament, however. This is in marked contrast to the case of three American hikers who strayed into Iran. Paradoxically, the U.S. government has taken far keener interest in the legal problems of two foreigners—Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia and Liu Xiaobo in China—than in the ongoing predicament of one of its citizens.
In these uncertain times for the region, the UAE are precariously stable but vulnerable. Looking at the neighboring Bahrain, its mega-rich rulers are feeling uneasy. They, too, are a minority in their own country—a mere fifth of the population—and they, too, suspect the impermanence of their wealth and power. Dubai’s ruling Al Maktoums in particular provide vivid evidence of Carnegie’s dictum that “there is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.” They control an ostensibly U.S.-friendly, economically weakened and politically fragile Middle Eastern autocracy which needs robust encouragement from Washington to clean up its act in the legal sphere. This needs to include rectifying victimization of foreigners through a corrupt judicial processes. A public expression of concern by the Secretary of State about the specific case of Zack Shahin would be a commendable first step.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—the biggest regional offender in this and many other fields—is a tougher nut to crack. It is actively engaged in spreading Islamic extremism all over the world and it is the biggest terrorist offender in the world. The desert kingdom does not only disregard the rights of its own people, it tramples on those of Americans, too. American citizens can be detained indefinitely at the pleasure of an Islamic judge—or of a Saudi Muslim father who had kidnapped them from their American mother. This happened a decade ago to Patricia Roush, whose daughters Alia and Aisha—now grown up and married to their father’s cousins twice their age—remain clad from head to toe in the black abbaya. Yet the State Department directed the U.S. embassy in Riyadh to remain “impartial.” Ray Mabus, ex-U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, explained that diplomats feel they should be working on the “big stuff.” Ms. Roush’s book At Any Price details her horrendous experiences with the Saudi government and with a society steeped in barbarity.
That barbarity is manifested in the extensive use of judicial corporal punishment, including amputations of limbs for robbery and flogging for “sexual deviance” and intoxication. The Saudis insist that their “legal traditions” are divinely ordained. That is no reason for the U.S. not to express an unambiguous and publically stated opinion on the matter, especially
- when the condemned is accused of the nebulous “crime” of sorcery and sentenced to eight years in jail and 800 (!) lashes, compliments of the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” (CPVPV), aka the religious police; or
- when high-school students are sentenced to six months in prison and 120 lashes each for stealing examination papers.
Large sections of the American and European elites are being fed Saudi money, directly and indirectly, to bribe them to exert pressures at home favorable to the Kingdom. Its kleptocracy owns huge parts of major American corporations, and that is the “big stuff.” The focus on the “big stuff” also allowed thousands of young Saudis easy access to American visas under various pretexts, many of them hell-bent on waging jihad against the unbelievers. The Saudi authorities issued them exit visas in the full knowledge what they were up to. The Islamic “charities” that financed terrorists included prominent members of the royal family on their boards. Many are now more discrete about their involvement than a decade ago, but no less committed.
America is still reluctant to read the riot act to the Saudis. It is high time she did. Their money earned during the oil boom has been largely squandered on palaces, cars, armaments, white hookers and brown foreign laborers. The fabulous flow of wealth was not used to create a serious industrial base. The only expanding industry is that of Islamic extremism. The ability of the fanatical and mendacious (as well as profligate and corrupt) rulers of the desert kingdom to remain in power is uncertain. The Saudis seem to believe that the North African storm has passed them by and that the US officials prefer to deal with the devil they know anyway. America needs to set herself free from the urge to pander to Saudi whims, however, because leaving the Saudis to their own devices will end in an Iranian scenario, more sudden and more violent than the drama in Teheran in 1979.
* * *
America cannot and should not try to effect regime changes in Turkey, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, or for that matter anywhere else in the Middle East. Washington has all kinds of political and economic tools at its disposal, however, to make their governments more observant of the rule of law, domestic as well as international. Using those tools judiciously but firmly has the potential to create far more good—for those countries’ people, for America, and for the rest of the world—than using cruise missiles has ever done.
By Paul Craig Roberts…
In a sensational and explosive TV report, the Pakistani News Agency has provided a live interview with an eye witness to the US attack on the alleged compound of Osama bin Laden. The eye witness, Mohammad Bashir, describes the event as it unfolded. Of the three helicopters, “there was only one that landed the men and came back to pick them up, but as he [the helicopter] was picking them up, it blew away and caught fire.” The witness says that there were no survivors, just dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. “We saw the helicopter burning, we saw the dead bodies, then everything was removed and now there is nothing.”
I always wondered how a helicopter could crash, as the White House reported, without at least producing injuries. Yet, in the original White House story, the SEALs not only survived a 40-minute firefight with al Qaeda, “the most highly trained, most dangerous, most vicious killers on the planet,” without a scratch, but also survived a helicopter crash without a scratch.
The Pakistani news report is available on You Tube. The Internet site, Veterans Today, posted a translation along with a video of the interview. And, Information Clearing House made it available on May 17.
If the interview is not a hoax and the translation is correct, we now know the answer to the unasked question: Why was there no White House ceremony with President Obama pinning medals all over the heroic SEALs who tracked down and executed Public Enemy Number One?
The notion that Obama had to keep the SEALs’ identity secret in order to protect the SEALs from al Qaeda detracts from the heroic tough-guy image of the SEALs, and it strains credulity that Obama’s political handlers would not have milked the occasion for all it is worth.
Other than on the Veterans Today and ICH Internet sites, I have not seen any mention of the Pakistani news story. If the White House press corps is aware of the report, no one has asked President Obama or his press spokesperson about it. Helen Thomas was the last American reporter sufficiently brave to ask such a question, and she was exterminated by the Israel Lobby.
In America we have reached the point where anyone who tells the truth is dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist” and marginalized. Recently, a professor of nano-chemistry from the University of Copenhagen made a lecture tour of major Canadian universities explaining the research, conducted by himself and a team of physicists and engineers, that resulted in finding small particles of unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers in addition to other evidence that the professor and the research team regard as conclusive scientific proof that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition.
No American university dared to invite him, and as far as I know no mention of the explosive research report has ever appeared in the American press.
I find it astonishing that 1,500 architects and engineers, who actually know something about buildings, their construction, their strength and weaknesses, and who have repeatedly requested a real investigation of the destruction of the three WTC buildings, are regarded as conspiracy kooks by people who know nothing whatsoever about architecture or engineering or buildings. The same goes for the large number of pilots who question the flight maneuvers carried out during the attacks, and the surviving firemen and “first responders” who report both hearing and personally experiencing explosions in the towers, some of which occurred in sub-basements.
A large number of high-ranking political figures abroad don’t believe a word of the official 9/11 story. For example, the former president of Italy and dean of the Italian Senate, told Italy’s oldest newspaper, Corriere delia Sera, that the intelligence services of Europe “know well that the disastrous [9/11] attack has been planned and realized by the American CIA and the [Israeli] Mossad . . . in order to put under accusation the Arabic Countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part in [the invasions].
Even people who report that there are dissenting views, as I have done, are branded conspiracy theorists and banned from the media. This extends into the Internet in addition to newspapers and TV. Not long ago a reporter for the Internet site, The Huffington Post, discovered that Pat Buchanan and I are critics of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. He was fascinated that there were some Reagan administration officials who dissented from the Republican Party’s war position and asked to interview me.
After he posted the interview on The Huffington Post, someone told him that I was not sound on 9/11. In a panic the reporter contacted me, demanding to know if I disbelieved the official 9/11 story. I replied that being neither architect, engineer, physicist, chemist, pilot, nor firefighter, I had little to contribute to understanding the event, but that I had reported that various experts had raised questions.
The reporter was terrified that he might somehow have given a 9/11 skeptic credibility and be fired for interviewing me about my war views for The Huffington Post. He quickly added at the beginning and, if memory serves, ending of the posted interview words to the effect that my lack of soundness on 9/11 meant that my views on the wars could be disregarded. If only he had known that I was unsure about the official 9/11 story, there would have been no interview.
One doesn’t have to be a scientist, architect, engineer, pilot or firefighter to notice astonishing anomalies in the 9/11 story. Assume that the official story is correct and that a band of terrorists outwitted not only the CIA and FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and those of our NATO allies and Israel’s notorious Mossad, along with the National Security Council, NORAD, air traffic control and airport security four times in one hour on the same morning. Accept that this group of terrorists pulled off a feat worthy of a James Bond movie and delivered a humiliating blow to the world’s only superpower.
If something like this really happened, would not the president, the Congress, and the media be demanding to know how such an improbable thing could have happened? Investigation and accountability would be the order of the day. Yet President Bush and Vice President Cheney resisted the pleas and demands for an investigation from the 9/11 families for one year, or was it two, before finally appointing a non-expert committee of politicians to listen to whatever the government chose to tell them. One of the politicians resigned from the commission on the grounds that “the fix is in.”
Even the two chairmen and the chief legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission wrote books in which they stated that they believe that members of the military and other parts of the government lied to the commission and that the commission considered referring the matter for investigation and prosecution.
Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said: “FAA and NORAD officials advanced an account of 9/11 that was untrue . . . We, to this day don’t know why NORAD told us what they told us . . . It was just so far from the truth.”
Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said: “We had a very short time frame . . . we did not have enough money . . . We had a lot of people strongly opposed to what we did. We had a lot of trouble getting access to documents and to people. . . . So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail.”
As far as I know, not a single member of the government or the media made an issue of why the military would lie to the commission. This is another anomaly for which we have no explanation.
The greatest puzzle is the conclusion drawn by a national audience from watching on their TV screens the collapse of the WTC towers. Most seem satisfied that the towers fell down as a result of structural damage inflicted by the airliners and from limited, low-temperature fires. Yet what the images show is not buildings falling down, but buildings blowing up. Buildings that are destroyed by fires and structural damage do not disintegrate in 10 seconds or less into fine dust with massive steel beams sliced at each floor level by high temperatures that building fires cannot attain. It has never happened, and it never will.
Conduct an experiment. Free your mind of the programmed explanation of the towers’ destruction and try to discern what your eyes are telling you as you watch the videos of the towers that are available online. Is that the way buildings fall down from damage, or is that the way buildings are brought down by explosives? Little doubt, many Americans prefer the official story to the implications that follow from concluding that the official story is untrue.
If reports are correct, the US government has gone into the business of managing the public’s perceptions of news and events. Apparently, the Pentagon has implemented Perception Management Psychological Operations. There are also reports that the State Department and other government agencies use Facebook and Twitter to stir up problems for the Syrian, Iranian, Russian, Chinese, and Venezuela governments in efforts to unseat governments not controlled by Washington. In addition, there are reports that both governments and private organizations employ “trolls” to surf the Internet and to attempt to discredit in blogs and comment sections reports and writers who are out of step with their interests. I believe I have encountered trolls myself.
In addition to managing our perceptions, much is simply never reported. On May 19, 2011, the 14-decade-old British newspaper, The Statesman, reported that the Press Trust of India has reported that the Chinese government has warned Washington “in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China,” and advised the US government “to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
As trends forecaster Gerald Celente and I have warned, the warmongers in Washington are driving the world toward World War III. Once a country is captured by its military/security complex, the demand for profit drives the country deeper into war. Perhaps this news report from India is a hoax, or perhaps the never-diligent mainstream media will catch up with the news tomorrow, but so far this extraordinary warning from China has not been reported in the US media. [I had it posted on OEN.]
The mainstream media and a significant portion of the Internet are content for our perceptions to be managed by psy-ops and by non-reporting. This is why I wrote not long ago that today Americans are living in George Orwell’s 1984.
Conspiracy theorists assure us that Osama bin Laden was killed in December 2001 and his body put on ice in—of course—an undisclosed location. If the recent killing of bin Laden was a lie, who were the liars? All 79 members of SEAL Team 6, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. State Department, the White House and 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. All conspired to have us believe that he was killed in Pakistan.
“Who you gonna believe,” the theorists ask, “me or your lyin’ eyes?”
The killing or capture of Osama bin Laden was a strategic imperative of the Obama presidency. His death on Pakistani soil now presents a challenge to the strategic depth required for security and stability in the region. How, under these circumstances, does the U.S. collaborate with a nation given $20 billion since 911?
To date, the clash between the U.S. and Pakistan has been the focus of mainstream news. Little has been said about the loss of 30,000 Pakistani lives to the war on terrorism. That human toll includes a sharp upswing in deadly attacks since the November 2008 assault in India where Islamic extremists, trained in Pakistan, left 174 dead in Mumbai. Pakistan was portrayed as guilty—by association.
Savvy national security analysts are monitoring who uses bin Laden’s death to tout The Clash of Civilizations. The continued plausibility of this narrative requires a series of plausible Evil Doers, a role that bin Laden played to perfection.
With his death in Abbottobad, home to Pakistan’s elite military academy, Islamabad looks guilty—by association. Mainstream media immediately proposed a no-win proposition for Pakistan: it was either complicit or incompetent. No other option was offered.
When deploying agenda-advancing narratives to induce wars, the power of association is critical. Should a nuclear device be used in the U.S., the U.K. or the E.U., here is the plausible storyline: “How could Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal be secure if their military could not locate bin Laden’s lair in a military town in Pakistan?”
Is Pakistan Next for Regime Change?
Is the power of association again being deployed to start a war by inducing an internalized narrative that displaces facts with false beliefs? Is Islamabad a new cast in a new movie featuring the same old plot?
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Americans know they were induced to invade Iraq on false intelligence. That deceit could not have succeeded absent pre-staging that changed our perception of Iraq from ally to Evil Doer. Is a similar shift in perspective being promoted to rebrand Pakistan?
Plausibility is key. Yet Tom Donilon, Obama’s National Security Adviser, was quick to concede there is no evidence of foreknowledge by Pakistan of bin Laden’s whereabouts.
He also concedes that Pakistan suffered greatly at the hands of those who used its remote lawless regions to train fanatics and launch attacks that killed Pakistanis while Islamabad provided intelligence that enabled Washington to kill or capture extremists.
Obama chose not to share operational intelligence with anyone, including Pakistanis and senior White House staff. Silence is the essence of operational security.
Despite sovereignty issues, the U.S. and Pakistan must make this six-decade relationship work. Progress is best sustained when cooperation is based on mutual interests.
Why Not Try a Prescription That Matches the Malady?
Women in the Pashtun region bordering Afghanistan report that their lives would be vastly improved if they had the electricity to run four light bulbs, charge their cell phones and power their TVs. This is 2011 after all.
Equipping an off-the-grid home with just two high efficiency thin film solar panels would do the job. Another four panels would allow them to refrigerate their food. Imagine raising and educating your children without access to affordable electricity.
Approximately 70% of Pakistani tax revenues are used to service external debt. Much of the balance funds their 1.5 million-strong military, leaving few resources for education or other services for Pakistan’s 185 million citizens.
It’s no wonder that Pakistani children educated in 40,000 Islamic seminaries (madrassas) fail to learn useful job skills. Or that the average Pakistani is skeptical of Islamabad.
The missing component is not trust but a shared vision of what both nations require to restore and sustain their national security. As the largest contributor of personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions, Pakistan is well positioned to become a global force for positive change.
At this key juncture in an essential relationship, should Americans kill more Muslims, further advancing The Clash storyline? Or should Pakistan and the U.S. join forces to create a new narrative founded on peace through human dignity and solar-powered prosperity?
The tools are known, available and affordable. The missing ingredients are leadership, imagination and the confidence that success is possible.
Last Sunday evening, after The Big News, someone wrote the following in their Facebook status.
“WAS IT WORTH IT? Assuming the government’s report is indeed true and OBL is dead, were the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, not to mention the worldwide animosity created against us worth it to capture one individual that could’ve been caught with Letters of Marque and Reprisal?”
I cut and pasted the above as my status, which led to a spirited albeit civil conversation thread. An old and good friend wrote the following:
“What evidence is there that a Letter of Marque and Reprisal would have led to Bin Laden’s capture or death any sooner than yesterday or even at all? Yesterday only showed this way worked, not that it was the best way. You might as well ask if the Civil War was worth it.”
I started to reply on Facebook, but thought I would drone on at some length about these questions. Herewith:
The proper question about how the FEDGOV should respond, if at all, to a given situation is the constitutional one. Our Constitution gives us a tool to deal with things like piracy and terrorism: a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Such letters, issued by Congress, are a type of warrant.
The 9/11 attacks, while horrific crimes, were not acts of war. There was no invading army, no naval armada or submarine force, no aerial bombing raids by a terrorist Luftwaffe and no jihad jarheads riding their LCACs ashore in Battery Park. The 19 hijackers are dead, and hence not capable of taking us over, making us all speak Arabic and pray to Mecca five times a day, forcing Sports Illustrated to do a burqa issue, yadda, yadda, yadda.
(As Fred Reed has pointed out numerous times, it has been several centuries since a Muslim country conquered a non-Muslim country.)
Had 19 American scumsuckeroos gone overseas and committed some horrific suicide attack, would that justify a war on America? If the answer is no, why do so many Americans support all these wars in response to 9/11?
Or would you rather that any Americans who could be proven to have had a hand in planning and financing the attacks be tried and punished accordingly, and that us innocents be left alone?
With this in mind, had I been president on 9/11, I would have asked Congress to issue a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. I would have demanded that those who could be proven to have been accomplices to the attacks be apprehended, tried according to the Due Process protections spelled out in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and punished accordingly. (1) The Bill of Rights applies to terror suspects, too. And if it doesn’t apply to terror suspects, it doesn’t apply to you either.
A Letter of Marque and Reprisal would not even necessarily involve the use of the military. Moreover, it would focus our entire energy on apprehending the specific perpetrators of the crimes, and would thus very probably finish the task in much less than a decade. It would not authorize the spilling of innocent blood. It would not authorize ruinously expensive – in both blood and treasure – wars. And it would not set a precedent for further breaches of the Constitution by future presidents.
This course of action would have been worth it.
When Benjamin Franklin was exiting the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a women is said to have asked him just what had the convention had wrought. Franklin replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
In 1866, in the case of Ex Parte Milligan, supreme Court Justice David Davis wrote some of the greatest words ever to emanate from the federal bench: “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism.”
The strict limits our Constitution sets on the federal government – both domestically and abroad – become even more important during times of crisis. It is during these times that governments are most likely to take away liberties. Moreover, it is during these times that people are willing to relinquish liberty for a false sense of security.
In response to 9/11, GWB launched two wars without formal declarations from Congress. These wars resulted in the deaths of over 5000 American sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines as well as countless thousands of innocents abroad. 9/11 has been used as an excuse to spy on the American people without warrants, torture people, and declare people guilty without trial. This was most definitely not worth it.
When you allow a president whom you like to overstep constitutional limits on his power for reasons that you approve of, just know that there are other people with other agendas who want presidents that they like to overstep these limits. (Please read my article on how the Right literally begged for Obamacare.)
“But this was Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind.” I don’t give a flying rip who he was! When the POTUS can arbitrarily and unilaterally proclaim Bin Laden guilty, he can also declare you guilty. (2) When the POTUS can order the killing of Bin Laden without due process, he can also order you to be killed without due process. It doesn’t matter how severe the accusation or how overwhelming the weight of public opinion against the accused. Either the Bill of Rights applies equally to everybody or it doesn’t apply at all to anybody.
(The Constitution only grants the POTUS one direct power over an individual: the power to pardon.)
Bin Laden was never formally charged in connection with 9/11. The FBI wanted him in connection with the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and “other terrorist attacks.” However, no specific mention was ever made on his “Most Wanted” poster of 9/11. And calling 9/11 “(an)other terrorist attack” is like calling the Grand Canyon another hole in the ground.
Osama bin Laden was most probably quite a horrible person. Nevertheless, he was a person, however hard that statement might be to stomach. And as this war was never properly declared by Congress, he is entitled to the same protections as thee or me.
(And if they really wanted Bin Laden, why did they never trace any of those recordings they claimed he made back to their origin and just nab him?)
But the feds would ne-e-e-e-e-ever kill innocent civilians. Oh yes they would. What happened at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and at Waco in 1993? I have heard the Waco massacre described as a trial balloon floated before a brainwashed nation. The Powers That Be wanted to see just how much the American people would let them get away with. As it turns out, this is a whole lot.
Spreading lurid accusations about people and then killing them without due process is something that the feddle gummint would never, ever, ever, ever, ever do to American citizens.
Eighteen years and a few weeks later, the majority of Americans are all good with having themselves photographed naked and sexually assaulted as a condition of travel in the name of “national security.” If they are so devoid of self-respect that they will tolerate this, what will they NOT tolerate?
Blood? Money? Liberty? No, it was not worth the price at all.
Now let’s rewind things 140 years to the Civil War. (I will not drone on at nearly as much length about this.)
First, the war was not about slavery, but about the disproportionate burden that tariffs placed on the economy of the South.
Second, slavery was well on its way to extinction and would have ended without a war. (No other country “needed a war” to end slavery.) It was dying because of technological advances as well as the growing conviction in the hearts and minds of Americans that it was just plain wrong. There were, however, powerful lobbies in both the North and South in favor of preserving slavery. Lincoln’s prime objective was to save the Union, regardless of whether or not he ended slavery.
Third, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in certain states and, in the case of Louisiana, parts of those states. It did not apply in several states where slavery still existed.
Fourth, Lincoln was a tyrant who arrested dissenting legislators and newspaper editors, censored the mails, suspended habeas corpus, and imposed the first income tax and military draft.
Fifth, secession was never forbidden by the Constitution. The Civil War put an end to the “free and independent states” envisioned by Jefferson became mere administrative subdivisions of the federal leviathan.
620,000 people, whose only offense – not crime, offense – was to exercise the same rights that the colonists exercised so bravely in 1776, died as a result.
The War of Northern Aggression – or for Southern Independence – was not only not necessary to free the slaves, but it also constituted a great leap forward, if you will, in the direction of an omnipotent central government.
When I look at all the spirited resistance to federal authority I see today over Obombercare, gun rights and medical hippy lettuce I can only think how badly we have all been lied to. A war that was supposedly about freedom actually set the table for an all-powerful federal government that today is hellbent on making us all slaves again.
Good ends do not justify bad means. What goes around comes around. We reap what we sow. And before we chop down those hedges of protection enshrined in our Bill of Rights for whatever reason – even an apparently very good reason – we have to ask one question: when those hedges are down, and the hurricane-force winds of tyranny blow, will you – yes, you – be able to stand upright?
I leave you with this.
And, more eloquently, with this.
(1) Also, had I been POTUS on 9/11, I would have pursued a policy 0f – in Jefferson’s words – “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all and entangling alliances with none.” This would include Israel. When you throw your weight around militarily to the extent that America does, you will inevitably have a lot of people hating on you. Also, I would have stopped this idiocy of disarming air travelers.
(2) As Dubya said of Bin Laden: “We know he’s guilty. Turn him over. There’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt.”
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced on Thursday that he would soon stand before the United Nations and report on alleged Libyan war crimes. We can only hope that his brief will include the latest war crime, the murder of Qaddafi’s family, his son and three grandchildren, and the assassination attempt on the life of the Libyan leader on May Day, 2011. Cameron, Sarkozy, the NATO field commanders and the Danish air crew should all be indicted for this crime.
UNSC Resolution 1970 is not a licence to commit mass murder. The resolution simply established a no-fly zone; it was designed to stem the violence, not turn Tripoli into a killing field. This is a clear case of coldly calculated targeted murder, as ruthless and brutal as any other form of political assassination. The date of the operation was known well beforehand, and had already been openly discussed in late April by the Russian Secret Service SVR (External Intelligence Service). On April 29th, a Russian netzine published an article by Kirill Svetitsky who quoted an anonymous source within SVR:
There will be an attempt to kill Muammar Qaddafi on or before May 2. The governments of France, Britain and the US decided on it for the warfare in Libya does not proceed well for the anti-Libyan alliance: the regular army has substantial gains; Bedouin tribes entered the fight on the government’s side; in Benghazi, a “second front” was opened by the armed local militias who are tired of rebels’ presence, their incessant fights and robberies.
But the main reason for the timing is that the Italian parliament plans to discuss Italy’s involvement in Libyan campaign on May 3. Until now, decisions were taken by Berlusconi, but there are strong differences of opinion within the government coalition regarding the Libyan war, and they will probably bring the government down on May 3, and Italy will effectively leave the anti-Libyan alliance. It is likely to have a domino effect. For this reason leaders of the UK, the US and France decided to eliminate Qaddafi not later than May 2d, before the session of the Italian parliament on May 3d.
Unlike many Internet predictions, this one turned out to be timely and exact. On May 1st, the US, France and the UK made a failed attempt on the life of Muammar Qaddafi, although they did succeed in killing his son and three grandchildren. Such unusual operative foreknowledge implies that Western leaders had advised the Russians of the planned attack, and that the SVR had then leaked the plans.
The attack itself imitated the Israeli technique of “targeted killings”. The Israeli Air Force is famous for dropping a one-ton (1800 pounds) bomb on a Gazan house in an attempt to liquidate Salah Shehadeh, a Hamas leader, in 2002. As “collateral damage” 13 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed and many others injured. Among the dead were Shehadeh’s wife Layla and his 15-year-old daughter Iman, who happened to be with him in the house at the time. This act of mass murder was publicly described as “a war crime”, and Israeli military personnel were later indicted in Spain and the UK.
If God does not punish Las Vegas then he owes an apology to Sodom, quipped Jay Leno. Likewise, if the initiators of the Qaddafi assassination attempt are not called to justice, then Europe owes an apology to the Israeli military.
This brutal assassination attempt should open the eyes of those in Europe and the US who still believe that this war is ‘just’, or at least ‘justifiable’. The true reasons behind Western neocolonial interventions in the Middle East now stand revealed to all. One small example: the same source in Russian Intelligence also leaked a document, a letter from Libyan rebel leaders promising France 35% of all Libyan oil. So much for humanitarian reasons!
It appears more and more that the whole Libyan affair was done up with smoke and mirrors. Initially the Benghazi Uprising was nothing more than a small local riot; the rebellion was unknown in other cities. Soon, however, the government was destabilized by Al-Jazeera, as the popular Arab network broadcast the “news” that Muammar Qaddafi and his sons had fled the country for Venezuela and that his black mercenaries were about to unleash another holocaust on hapless Libyans. Al-Jazeera’s lies have proven to be more damaging even than NATO’s bombs; they have fought Qaddafi tooth and nail, from the first rebel yell to the last foul scene of murder. Even today, while the bodies of Qaddafi’s family were spread before Libyan churchmen, al-Jazeera continued to broadcast denials from Benghazi. Stephen Lendmancorrectly notes that “Jazeera has become a more efficient propaganda machine against the Arab minds than the BBC ever was”. The uprising was led by Guantanamo detainees like Abu Sufian Hamuda bin Kumu. Perhaps they should be put onto the next flight back to the USA: thanks, but no thanks.
The Libyan campaign deserves to end like its predecessor the Suez campaign – with the embarrassing withdrawal of NATO forces, and the sooner the better. Enough is enough! Let the Libyans solve their differences themselves.
Syria après Libya?
Even as Libya settles into the typical intervention quagmire, developments in Syria are starting to heat up. While Russian President Medvedev did manage to override his own Foreign Office and Putin’s government, pulling off an abstention during the UNSC vote on the Libyan intervention, there is not the slightest chance for a similar trick regarding Syria. Syria has a Russian naval base in Tartus, practically the only base Russia has managed to keep out of the many Soviet bases lost, from Cuba to Vietnam. Moreover, Syria has a large Orthodox Christian community that openly supports President Bashar el Assad and is plainly nervous about the possible success of the Dera’a uprising. They believe the rebels are Salafist anti-Christian fanatics armed by the Saudis. Russia has always been the traditional protector of the Christian Orthodox in the Middle East, and is not likely to renege on its responsibilities towards these communities.
The Syrian Christian view of the protesters was expressed by the Latin Patriarch of Antioch: “… some groups whose main objective is to provoke a violent response from the government are infiltrating the protests that originally grew from social and economic problems. Tension is stoked to the point of gaining the international community’s condemnation. There are criminals involved in the protest; there is a massive introduction of weapons in the country to provoke a confrontation… Sure, there are young, frustrated people, but many say that among them are criminals and even fundamentalist Muslims who cry for jihad. I think the tactics of a phony war are being used against Syria.”
It’s likely that Russia will defend Syria even if its government decides to crush the rioters with an iron fist, just as Hafez el Assad quelled the 1982 Hama revolt. There is a realpolitik basis for this unconditional support: Bahrain is the base of the US Fifth fleet, and that’s why Bahrain’s rulers were allowed to suppress their “freedom seekers”; Syria is the main base for the Russian Mediterranean fleet and Russia intends to keep it that way. But there is an additional reason as well: the Syrians and their Russian friends believe that the riots are instigated by foreign agencies: Saudis, Americans, Israelis. They point out that the border town of Dera’a (besides being the place where Lawrence of Arabia was flogged and abused, by his own account in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom) is a hotbed for militant Islamic radicalism of the al Qaeda variety, and is located close to the Jordanian city of Ramtha, another safe-house for Muslim radicals heavily infiltrated by the Israeli secret services.
A conspiracy theory? Perhaps, but it is a theory confirmed by the conspirators themselves. President Bashar el Assad was offered a deal by the US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy:break your ties with Hezbullah and Iran, and we will end the riots. Mostafa Zein of the knowledgeable Dar al Hayyat summed it up like this:
The United States has drafted a roadmap for the Syrian regime, so that it may emerge from its worsening crisis, suggesting that it holds the magic key to make the protesters leave the streets. Flournoy said: “Syria must distance itself from Iran and join the Gulf states, as well as move forward in the peace process with Israel”… The Syrian regime considers such a roadmap to be a “conspiracy” targeting it from within, after the failure of pressure on it from abroad.
As in the case of Qaddafi, the Syrian leader is not totally blameless. But, like Qaddafi, Bashar el Assad can make things better by trusting in the Syrian people, namely:
- By giving more freedom to the Syrian people and less to his Mukhabarat, the Internal Secret Service;
- By correcting an unjust distribution of wealth and government positions between the religious and ethnic communities of Syria (the minorities – Jews, Alawites, and Christians – have it too good at the expense of the Sunni majority);
- By allowing political activity beyond the moribund Baath party;
- By making peace with Muslim believers;
- By permitting economic and social mobility and allowing elites to fail.
These goals can be obtained without catastrophic cataclysms and so they should. Granted, the Syrians have become bored with their staple diet of rice and beans; they want more variety. However, this desire must be achieved without destroying the country.
Syria is needed for the Middle East: it is the centerpiece of Mashreq, the Fertile Crescent, the only state in the region not subdued by the US and Israel. It is the defender of Hezbullah and an important partner of Iran. Syria is the home of Hamas émigrés, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. Syria is the last refuge for the non-American Arab world. It is precious, and should be saved.
In Israel, there are two schools regarding Syria development: the conservatives and the adventurers. The conservatives say: we lived for a long time alongside the Assads, and it was safe; let us keep it this way. The adventurers say: let us undo Syria, break it to pieces, destroy Hezbollah, eliminate Iran’s forward base and make the world safe for a generation. Alarmingly, Netanyahu is developing more and more connections to adventurers. He may even try to attack Lebanon, thinking that Assad has his hands too full to get involved. However, such an attack might tempt Bashar el Assad to externalize his political problem by meeting their challenge. He may decide it is better to die a martyr in a war with the Zionist enemy than suffer the fate of Saddam and Qaddafi. David Hirst, the best British expert on the Middle East, prophesied about this war in his recent (2010) book Beware of Small States. This war may become a turning point for the Middle East, with far-reaching repercussions, including destruction of Israel.
There is a way out: let Turkey don the Ottoman mantle and guide the Middle East to safety. With Russian, Iranian and Chinese support, Turkey will be able to reassert its influence over its former provinces torn away by French and British armies in 1917. Regional problems should be solved regionally, without Western interference.