Saudi Arabia, Israel Resort to Terrorism to Derail Iran Nuclear Talks

Muhammad Sahimi

Ever since Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran’s President on 14 June 2013 and promised that he will lead a government of “hope and prudence,” the United States’ most important allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and Israel – and their lobbies here have been doing their best to prevent any agreement between Iran and the Obama administration regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Israel and its lobby in the United States have succeeded in persuading Washington to impose the most crippling economic sanctions on Iran, disrupting and threatening the lives of tens of millions of ordinary Iranians. But that has not been enough for Israel. It wants Iran to surrender its national sovereignty and its rights under Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that gives Iran the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Thus, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been on an increasingly desperate diplomatic offensive to “prove” that Iran is not sincere in its effort to reach a nuclear agreement. After cynically calling the efforts by Iran’s new administration “a charm offensive;” referring to President Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing;” mentioning Iran 70 times and Rouhani – not Mr. Rouhani or President Rouhani – 25 times in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly meeting (while barely mentioning Israel’s war on the Palestinians); foolishly becoming an advocate of “democracy” for the Iranian people by declaring that if the Iranian youth were free,they would wear jeans and listen to Western music – which created a huge backlash by the Iranians (see here, here, and here), telling Netanyahu to first address democracy for the Palestinian people – and repeating his absurd claim that “Iran is preparing for another Holocaust,” Netanyahu threatened once again that if forced to,Israel will attack Iran alone.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also let the world know that it is angry at the Obama administration for not attacking Syria, for imposing military sanctions on the military junta in Egypt even though they are insignificant, and for trying to reach a diplomatic resolution of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Never mind that Secretary of State John Kerry just said the other day that “Egyptians are following the right path.” This is a path that was paved by the junta overthrowing Egypt’s democratically-elected government and President Mohamed Morsi. Never mind that President Obama changed his mind about attacking Syria after the huge worldwide backlash against his threats of military attacks.

The opposition to U.S.-Iran rapprochement by Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the support of the former for the most extreme forces in Syria that have committed countless number of atrocities, have brought to the fore the real axis of evil consisting of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the War Party in the United States, as opposed to George W. Bush’s bogus “axis of evil.” The same Saudi Arabia that has always supposedly been the grand marshal of defending the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people, has now made an “unholy alliance” with Israel, ignoring the fact that much of Israel’s saber rattling over Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapon program is for distracting attention from the fact that it continues to devour the Palestinians’ lands, water, and other natural resources, and has made practically impossible the two-state solution for the problem.

The second round of negotiations between Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – began on Thursday November 7 in Geneva, and the initial reports have indicated that progress has been made. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has even declared that the main framework for a long-term agreement may be reached during the two days of negotiations between the two parties. That is not the news that Israel and Saudi Arabia want to hear.

Thus, in addition to pressuring the Obama administration through their lobbies in Washington, another way of derailing the negotiations and killing any potential agreement between Iran and the U.S. that the unholy alliance has put in place is provoking Iran’s hardliners that are deeply suspicious of the West and oppose any rapprochement with the U.S. The hardliners have made their opposition clear, with the latest manifestation of which being the demonstrations that they staged in front of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran on Monday on the 34th anniversary of the hostage crisis. And the best way to provoke Iranian hardliners is by terrorist attacks inside Iran, although such attacks are nothing new.

The United States and its allies have been trying for decades to destabilize Iran by supporting small groups among Iran’s ethnic minorities that have secessionist tendencies and have been carrying out terrorist attacks inside Iran. These groupsinclude Jundallah, a Sunni extremist group that operated from Pakistan and for years carried out many terrorist attacks in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province on the border with Pakistan. Another group is the Kurdish Party of Free Life of Kurdistan,known as PJAK, the Iranian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party – usually referred to as PKK – in Turkey that has been listed as a terrorist group by both the European Union and the US PJAK is a secular group. A third group consists of Iranian Arabs in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in southwest Iran, which is widely believed to besupported by Britain.

As the author described in detail in October 2009, Jundallah was supported for years by the United StatesSaudi Arabia, and Israel. Then, in December 2009 Selig Harrisonof Center for International Policy reported in the New York Times that the George W. Bush administration provided support to Jundallah through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate – the infamous ISI – and to PJAK through CIA and Israel’s Mossad, which has had long-term relations with the Kurds in both Iraq and Iran. Documents released by WikiLeaks in November 2010 indicated that Israel has tried to use Kurdish dissidents against Iran. Then, in an important article in January 2012 Mark Perry described how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.

In February 2010, Iran arrested Jundallah’s leader Abdolmalek Riggi, and executed him in June 2010. A month earlier, Iran had executed his brother, Abdolhamid Rigggi. The two executions were severe blow to Jundallah. Then, another Riggi, Abdolrauf Riggi, took over the leadership of Jundallah, but he was arrested by Pakistan in December 2010. Execution of the Riggis, the arrest of the third one, and lack of popular support due to ruthless tactics, such as beheading of Iran’s border guards, and revelations about foreign support for the group, eventually led to the demise of Jundallah. But, while the Iranian branch of the group formally disappeared (its Pakistani branch still operates within Pakistan, attacking Shiites), its offshoots have emerged and are just as brutal and deadly, and supported by the same foreign powers. This became abundantly clear in the latest terrorist attacks on Iran.

The latest terrorist attacks on Iran occurred on October 25, perfectly timed in advance of the Geneva negotiations. The Sunni terrorist group, Jaish al-adl (army of justice),attacked Iran from Pakistan, killing 14 Iranian border guards (12 of whom were conscripts), wounding six, and taking three guards as hostage. Jaish al-adl is a Salafi group, of the same type as those fighting in Syria against Syrian government and supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In an apparent retaliation, Iran executed 16 prisoners, although the Iranian government claimed that the sixteen, at least half of whom were members of the terrorist groups, had already received death sentences, but their sentences had not been carried out under a deal whereby in return for not executing them, their groups will not carry out any terrorist operations. Jaish al-adl has carried out many attacks in Iran; see herehere, and here. The statement that the group issued after its most recent attack has striking similarities with those of extremist Sunni group in Syria. In fact, in its statement Jaish al-adl declared that the attacks were in retaliation for alleged Iranian “massacre” in Syria and the “cruel treatment” of Sunnis in Iran. In addition, its flag and its style of attacks are very similar to those of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that is deeply involved in fighting in Syria. Similar to all other Sunni extremist groups, Jaish al-adl uses children in its operations, and carries out suicide bombing. Interestingly, no Western nation, including the United States, condemned the terrorist attacks. On November 7 the public prosecutor in city of Zabol in Sistan was assassinated, and for which Jaish al-adl took responsibility.

Jaish al-adl is led by Abdolrahim Mollazadeh, although he uses the pseudonym Salaheddin Faroughi. He was a prominent member of Jundallah. His brother, Abdolmalek Mollazadeh, was executed in January 2012 by the Iranian government, after he was arrested and charged with the assassination of a local Sunni leader, Molavi Mostafa Jangizehi, who had worked with the government and its paramilitary group, the Basij. After 12 other people were arrested in April 2012 in connection with the assassination, Mollazadeh fled Iran and moved to Pakistan, where he set up Jaish al-adl. Jaish al adl’s spokesman is Mohsen Mohammadi. Its first terrorist operation occurred in August 2012.

Jaish al-adl operates in a far more sophisticated manner than did Jundallah. It has aFacebook page (although it was recently blocked), and issues its statements not just in Farsi, but also in Arabic, English and other languages, in an apparent effort to put itself within the global movement of the Sunni groups. It has three military branches, named after three of its prominent “martyrs,” including Abdolmalek Mollazadeh. Based on its various statements since its first operation in 2012 and what has been reported in the Iranian press, it is estimated that Jaish al-adl has killed at least between 100-150 military personnel and policemen in Sistan and Baluchestan.

There is another Sunni terrorist group in Iran in the same province of Sistan and Baluchestan, called Harakat Ansar Iran (HAI). It too has carried out many terrorist attacks in Iran; see here and here, for example. HAI also works with a Sunni extremist group, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which currently operates under a new name,Ahlesunnat wal Jamaat, an anti-Shiite group that has been waging a low-intensity war in Pakistan for decades, and has murdered thousands of Shiites.

Both Jaish al-adl and HAI are offshoots of Jundallah. Although its current leader isAbu Yasir Muskootani, HAI still considers Abdolmalek Riggi as its “Amir” (religious/political leader). As mentioned earlier, Mollazadeh was a prominent member of Jundallah. HAI has declared that its aim is to “liberate” Iran and set up a government run based on the Sharia. Its emblem has striking similarities with that of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Since August, PJAK has been attacking Iran’s military, hence ending the unofficial ceasefire that it had with Iran for some time. After executing the sixteen prisoners in connection with Jaish al-adl attacks, Iran also executed two people that it had accused of membership in PJAK. The two had denied the allegation, although there is evidence that at least one of the two had received military training by PJAK. Both PJAK and Iran’s military accuse the other side of breaking the ceasefire. PJAK’s leader, Abdolrahman Haji-Ahmadi has taken the same position as Netanyahu’s,warning the West that it should not be “fooled” by Rouhani.

In supporting such terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia and Israel pursue different, but complementary goals. Saudi Arabia’s goal, first and foremost, is bringing the Shiite-Sunni sectarian war that it has been supporting in Syria to Iran, hence hitting it back for its support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime that Saudi Arabia’s-supported terrorist forces have not only not been able to topple, but are actually losing the war to. One goal of Israel is having allies that are willing to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities, and assassinating its nuclear scientists.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia seek to destabilize Iran and its government, keeping it tied up with internal problems. And, both hope that the terrorist attacks will provoke the hardliners in Tehran to react strongly, retaliate militarily and, hence, not only give an excuse to the two countries and the United States to attack Iran, but also block any diplomatic resolution of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Thus, both President Rouhani and Obama must control their hardliners, and give diplomacy a chance.


Syria: Empire’s Last Gasp


Oscar Sánchez Serra

WHY is the United States attacking Syria?

Brazil, Russia – reborn as a superpower and an uncomfortable one – India and China – are emerging economies that are already acting as leaders on the world geopolitical stage. It is said that India and China, also the most populated nations of the world, will mark the rate of development during the 21st century. In other words, one has to be prepared for a global transfer of power. The current empire will not be the most powerful.

For Viktor Burbaki of the U.S. Strategic Culture Foundation, mathematical models of the global geopolitical dynamic have led to the conclusion that a grand-scale victory in a war utilizing conventional means is the only option for the United States being able to reverse the rapid collapse of its geopolitical status. Burbaki affirms that if the current geopolitical dynamic persists, a change in global leadership could be expected by 2025, and the only way in which the United States can derail this process is by unleashing a war on a grand scale.

Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 have already endured imperial attacks, utilizing the same argument based on a pack of lies. The tactic of the world gendarme has never been to challenge states that could dispute its global supremacy, for which reason Burbaki considers that Iran, Syria and Shi’ite groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, face the greatest danger of suffering strikes in the name of a new world redistribution of power. The specialist did not state this the other day, but more than 12 months ago, in February of 2012.

In other words, to get rid of Syria and Iran, obstacles on the route to U.S. global domination, would be Washington’s next natural step.

Paul Farrell, U.S. columnist and financial analyst, stated last April that the United States needed a new war, in order for capital to thrive. He ironically commented then, in a brief note which appeared in Russia Today, “Didn’t WWII get us out of the Great Depression?” He capped this statement off with data which informs his thesis that wars benefit capitalists above all. The Forbes list of world billionaires skyrocketed from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently, 31% of them being American.

Marcelo Colussi, Argentine psychologist, professor, writer, journalist and full-time activist for social justice and global dignity, has one of the most convincing answers to the question as to why the United States would attack Syria. When, at the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said that his country’s business consisted of doing business, this has today been transformed into doing business with war. Let others do the fighting and here we are to sell them weapons.

In this context, the Argentine intellectual passes his verdict that today, U.S. power is based on wars, always those in other nations, never on its own territory. In any event, war is its axis; its domestic economy is nourished to a large extent by the arms industry and its planetary hegemony (appropriation of raw materials and imposition of the rules of the economic and political game on a global scale, with primacy of the dollar. Today, Washington needs wars. Without wars, the power would not be a power.

What we are seeing now with a besieged Syria, what is leading the Middle East into a war of unforeseeable consequences, with the real target, Iran, following behind and with Israel, which is waiting, pressuring and coercing the master to the North to fulfill its promise of punishing that Persian country, is not a chance operation.

The first victim of war is the truth. While in Iraq the most obscene fallacies were its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its close links with Al Qaeda, and in Iran, the manufacture of powerful nuclear armaments, in Syria the lie is chemical weapons utilized by President Al-Assad against his own people, although nobody with the most elemental common sense believes it, because Syria would be the least to benefit by creating a pretext such as this.

But lies are part of the plan, and this one did not come into existence overnight, nor was it improvised in a bar over a few beers, but in the White House, in 1997, when a group of fevered minds of the alienated ultra-right created a project for the New American Century, with the objective of sustaining the United States as the hegemonic superpower of the planet, at any and all costs.

The objectives of the project are the opening up, stability, control and globalization of markets, as well as security and freedom of trade; unrestricted access to energy sources and raw materials needed to dynamize the U.S. economy and those of its allies; the monitoring and control in real time of people and all significant political and social movements opposed to its interests; the expansion and domination of the financial and industrial capital of its companies and transnational corporations; and the assuring of control over the means of communication and world information.

To that end it has not even stinted on mercenaries, who abound in Syria – well paid and armed – nor in the deployment of U.S. military might, as well as creating situations within nations, such as the manufacture and unveiling of the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa, which ended with the assassination, recorded live, of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Who thought up and armed this insanity based on the industry of death, the real sustenance of the U.S. economy? Illustrious neo-cons with senior positions in the administrations of Reagan, George Bush (father and son); in other words: Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and Richard Perle, among others. Who sheltered them politically? The Republican Party, the Democratic Party, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), or the pro-Israeli lobby in the nation of the stars and stripes; and many powerful organizations on Wall Street, in the media and in the powerful military-industrial complex. It would seem that it is not important who the President happens to be.

The Twin Towers were brought down, but this provided the basis for the rising up of the Project, sowing the divine fundamentalist idea that the United States is the only nation capable of combating the terrible evils of Islamist terrorism, drug trafficking, or organized crime, even though it is within its own territory that most terrorists are harbored, where the highest quantity of drugs are consumed, and where criminals enjoy impunity. An implacable media crusade was launched which fixed fear and danger in the mentality of citizens of the world.

It has reached the extent that, even the UN, in its investigation into the existence of chemical weapons in Syria – the key pretext for the aggression – has stated that its research is only to confirm whether they were used or not, and not who utilized them.

A variant of the of the Arab Spring was already tested out in Syria, but failed in destabilizing the country, hence the recourse of destroying the nation and leaving it without a government, and without order, because social anarchy there would justify a U.S. presence, plus that of its allies with all their troops and even a coalition. This would provide a gateway to Iran, additionally keeping a close watch on the dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a commitment to Israel which, since its defeat by this force in 2006, has not been able to heal its wounds.

Who can be left in any doubt that all of this is an orchestrated plot, and that the United States and its allies are not bothered as to whether or not chemical weapons enter the equation?

What does interest it is the geo-strategic situation of Damascus and imperial power, even if this involves a bloodbath in this nation of heroic people, and world peace is once again trampled by the nation and government which sets itself up as the paradigm of human rights. But it should be careful. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

White House Syria Lies Backfire on Administration

Clifford A. Kiracofe

Although US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that diplomatic options suggested by Russia to solve the Syrian chemical weapon crisis would be pursued, the damage done by the US beating the drums of war has already been done.

The use of propaganda in wartime is nothing new. From experience with Washington’s lies during former president George W. Bush’s Iraq War, the international community knows the US cannot be trusted.

The Bush administration knowingly and systematically circulated false stories about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Washington’s outrageous claims such as supposed uranium “yellowcake” from Niger being transferred to Iraq proved false. Claims about “aluminum tubes” for rocket production proved false. Claims about chemical warfare and WMDs raised by then secretary of state Colin Powell at the UN proved false.

The broader pattern of Western deception for the Iraq War included falsified “intelligence” reports from the UK ordered by then prime minister Tony Blair.Parliament in its subsequent investigations of the “dodgy dossier” intelligence manipulation revealed Blair’s lies.

Investigations of the British claims revealed that Israeli institutions, including the Herzliya research complex, played an important role in creating these false British and US reports.

Today in the case of Syria, the world is experiencing the same spectacle of US, British,and Israeli propaganda and deception. The players remain the same and the pattern of lies and deception is the same.

In the present case, the White House bases its case of the Syrian use of WMDs primarily on a single “intercept” of an unencrypted Syrian military voice communication.Washington alleges that this intercept proves the Syrian military used WMDs against civilians.

But what are the facts? Official Washington carefully avoids identifying the source of the intercept and hides it under the rubric of classified information because, critics say, the source of this intelligence report is Israel.

Experienced retired US intelligence officers believe that Israel is once again playing false with information so as to influence the West to go to war in the Middle East. Reports say that the alleged electronic intercept of a conversation between Syrian military personnel was fielded by Unit 8200 of Israeli military intelligence, which specializes in signals intelligence.

Some US experts believe that this alleged intercept, if it even exists, was doctored by the Israeli government so as to “prove” Syrian government complicity in WMD attacks.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray raises additional questions about the Israeli report.

He claims that the powerful British electronic intelligence center for the region, located on Mount Troodos in Cyprus, has no such intercept from its own monitoring.

He says that this center has such powerful capabilities that no electronic communications in the Middle East can escape it.

In addition to the Israeli allegation, the White House says it has obtained materials from the scene of the recent attack in Syria which “prove” the nerve agent Sarin was used.

From whom did the US obtain such contaminated materials? The Obama administration refuses to identify the source and chain of custody of the materials.

Given Washington’s transparent propaganda campaign, it is not surprising that some leaders around the world express grave doubts about US allegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin forthrightly calls such propaganda “lies.” Many Americans, including senators and congresspersons, would agree with him.

It is significant that the US Intelligence Community (IC) so far is not on public record supporting the Israeli allegations. The US IC apparently cannot assess with high confidence this Israeli reporting.

This is why the Obama administration had to issue its own politicized report on alleged Syrian WMD use from the White House.

The White House made a major political mistake engaging in such blatant deception of the American people and the international community.

The recent turnabout may mean no strikes, but the harm to US credibility has already been done.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Harsh Sentence for Heroic Manning

Eugene Puryear

On August 21 Col. Denise Lind handed out a brutally unjust sentence to a courageous whistleblower whose leaks offered an unprecedented look into U.S. government crimes, misdeeds, and manipulations. While the military prosecutors were unable to obtain a sentence as harsh as they sought, it has still imposed a harsh sentence aimed entirely at criminalizing those who expose government misdeeds.

Shortly after sentencing, the person born as Bradley Manning relayed through a statement that she is a woman, and would from now on be known as Chelsea Manning and use female pronouns.

Manning was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, this sentence is more than 17 years longer than what had been the longest sentence served for leaking information to the media; it is more in line with those sentences of those convicted of leaking information for money to so-called enemies of the United States.

It is important to note the disgusting contrast in the punishment meted out to Manning on the one hand, and the treatment of war criminals that for the past decade have sown torture, death, and destruction across the world. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld remain completely free despite the massive war crimes conceived and executed under their leadership. John Brennan, a key advocate of the Bush-era torture regime, has not only faced no criminal charges, but has become an important and celebrated member of President Obama’s government. Others such as Michael Hayden and Cofer Black have spun their criminal exploits into lucrative careers.

Even at the most basic level the sentence handed out to Manning is outrageous. Manning has been sentenced to more time in prison than anyone charged in the Abu Ghraib case, in which none received a sentence above 10 years. In the brutal Haditha Massacre—where 24 innocent Iraqis including children were murdered by Marines—the perpetrators walked out of military court free.

The stakes of the Manning prosecution should not be understated. It is clear that the government is determined to crush anyone who dares speak out against its national security machine. The capitalist elites, having surveyed the domestic and international situation, have decided to construct a massive apparatus that can monitor the world’s digital communications, track people’s movements, and kill or detain—at will—any person who threatens their interests.

Manning heroically lifted the curtain on the way the U.S. government truly operates around the world, unearthing information that was crucial to the Arab Spring and social struggles around the world. In addition, the “Collateral Murder” video also revealed by Manning showed the type of cold-blooded war crimes committed during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without Manning the people of the world would have significantly less information on the truly Imperialist character of the U.S. government. Manning is a hero. Revealing at great personal cost information that has informed political debates in dozens of countries, while the U.S. media, with a few notable exceptions, has used information released by Manning over and over, but criminally has lifted not even a finger in defense. Despite this the Manning trial and verdict are aimed at dissuading government workers from revealing important information even to “traditional media outlets.”

This is why it is so crucial to defend and say “Thank you” to Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. The harsh penalties are meant to crush those who dare expose the government’s criminal acts. A massive movement in defense of those who expose government lies and wrongdoing is the necessary antidote to these attempts.

We believe Manning is guilty only of providing a public service; all these charges are simply an attempt to stifle the release of information about the brutal Imperialist national security-military apparatus. We demand Manning be released right away!

Fight the “Power”: Venezuela’s Maduro Responds to Obama’s UN Envoy Nominee

Power has also been ‘credited’ with lobbying the Obama Administration to attack Libya

Ryan Mallett-Outrim

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described comments made by US President Barack Obama’s nominee for envoy to the United Nations as “despicable”, and demanded an apology.

Yesterday Maduro criticised the nominee Samantha Power’s testimony to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. During the speech, Power called for a “contesting” of what she described as a “crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.”

“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression?” Maduro responded on Venezuelan television.

“There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth,” he stated. His comments come in the wake of a Florida jury acquitting George Zimmerman on 13 July for the killing of  Trayvon Martin.

He also called for an “immediate correction by the US government”.

“And the U.S. government says they want to have good relations? What tremendous relations they want,” Maduro stated.

Following his victory in the 14 April presidential elections, Maduro called for closer relations with the US. In June, his foreign minister Elias Jaua met US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry described the meeting as the “beginning of a good, respectful relationship”.

After the talks, Jaua told Telesur that the Maduro administration is open to a more positive relationship “based on the premise of mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs and the proper treatment of disagreements”.

“If this is respected then we can move forward in relations with US,” Jaua stated. Today, Jaua announced that the government had issued a letter of protest to the US embassy in Caracas. According to Jaua, the letter asked if there is still “willingness” in Washington to improve relations, “as expressed by the Secretary of State John Kerry”.

Since then, Maduro has criticised the US for its pursuit of whistleblower Edward Snowden, to whom he has offered asylum.

Yesterday, he stated that Power’s comments were being applauded by the “fascist right” in Venezuela. Power’s speech also received positive feedback from a number of committee members, including some Republicans.

Along with calling for more “efficiency and a greater focus on promoting freedom”, Power stated that the UN needs US “leadership” and fairness.

“There cannot be one standard for one country and another standard for all others,” she stated, before criticising the General Assembly and Human Rights Council for passing “one-sided resolutions” against Israel.

“Just as I have done the last four years as President Obama’s UN adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” she said.

Lessons from the Legalized Murder of Trayvon Martin

Nina Westbury

The sad but unsurprising acquittal of George Zimmerman has uncovered the racial oppression that remains the bedrock of American capitalism even under a black President. It is a cruel irony that just a few weeks ago, a narrow Supreme Court majority gutted the Voting Rights Act by citing a dramatic improvement in racial equality since the Civil Rights Movement. A jury has ruled that in Florida, it is legal to kill young black men (17-year-old Martin was not a “boy,” as paternalistic guilty liberals have repeatedly stated) if one thinks they’re “scary.” This finding is only notable since it applies domestically. Abroad, drone strikes have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of black and brown people with little fanfare, beginning under the Bush administration and ramping up under President Obama. As political polarization intensifies and elites are unable to resolve the capitalist financial crisis, formal “post-racialism” is falling by the wayside so that bigotry can again be used as a tool to garner support for austerity at home and recolonization in Africa.

Thinking about all of the injustice surrounding the case of Trayvon Martin today, I couldn’t but help but think about Muammar Gaddafi. Why? The Socialist People’s Libyan Jamahiriyah, the state of the masses outlined by Gaddafi, was a world leader in racial equality and human rights for people of color.

A world-historical hero in our time, taken from us before our own eyes. Never forget.

Libya, with its borders drawn by the old colonial powers, has a large black African minority. Muammar Gaddafi launched the September 1 Revolution inspired by his Egyptian counterpart, the Arab nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser. Despite this, Gaddafi’s Green Book highlighted the important contributions of blacks to world history and predicted they would become the dominant people of the world. Seeing how Arab nationalism was being used by corrupt neoimperial regimes to manipulate their citizens, Gaddafi called on the Libyan government to abandon this ideology in favor of a radical vision of a united African continent. The Brother Leader, a Bedouin Muslim, became a pan-Africanist. His efforts toward African unity led traditional elders to coronate Gaddafi as the symbolic “King of Africa.”

King of Kings.

Gaddafi was made fun of for his famous bodyguards, who were all female and many of whom were black. But this was actually a beautiful action: showing the nation that Gaddafi was committed to women’s empowerment to such an extent that he put his life in their hands. It was a wonderful rejection of ugly stereotypes. Where others saw weakness in these individuals because of their gender or skin color, Gaddafi saw strength.

Under the socialist government, Libya sustainably developed to the point that it became the most developed country in Africa and the standard of living outranked countries including Brazil, Russia, and China. People from elsewhere in Africa flocked to the country for jobs, education, and opportunity. A tiny minority of monarchists, al Qaeda extremists, and corporate neoliberals set out to overthrow the Libyan system of socialist direct democracy in February 2011 as part of the “Arab Spring” color revolutions. The Jamahiriya put up a valiant resistance to a 2011 military campaign launched by NATO, the most powerful military alliance the world has ever known. The Libyan government went so far as to arm its people. Ultimately, however, a country of 5 million inhabitants could not withstand the constant shock-and-awe bombing and targeted killings engineered by Western powers. NATO’s quislings on the ground engaged in racial terror, committing depraved acts of terror against majority-black towns like Tawergha and dark-skinned political prisoners. Gaddafi was murdered by “Islamists” who rejected his pleas for Quranic compassion.

The first black President of the United States said in response to the Zimmerman verdict, “we are a nation of laws.” Not a nation of social justice or equality or diversity. A nation of law-and-order, of militarism, of fear and paranoia. After four years of authorizing drone strike murders of brown-skinned adults and kids, Obama has ditched the lofty racial rhetoric that propelled him to his office. Black Americans have not had allies in the bourgeoisie since the defeat of Radical Reconstruction.

The legalized killing of Trayvon Martin symbolizes the deranged nature of the capitalist system, of which racism is an important pillar. Undoing that system by standing up to oppression at home and abroad is the key to ending institutional racism and building an egalitarian world.

Capitalist Surveillance State: Everyone’s a Target


Worker’s Vanguard

George Orwell’s Big Brother may have been watching, but Barack Obama and his secret police are wiretapping, seizing enormous quantities of phone records, mining electronic data and doing so much more we do not know about. What books and periodicals you read, who you chat with, what Internet sites you visit and other intimate details of your life are the daily fare of FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) snoops. Obama sugarcoats the massive spying operation as necessary for the population’s own well-being. Add to the mix the other Orwellian newspeak—e.g., drone strikes save lives, secrecy is transparency, press freedom means subpoenas and indictments—and what you have is a creeping police state that is picking up the pace.

Obama’s ongoing dustup with the basic constitutional rights of speech, press and privacy sprang into view last month when the Associated Press (AP) revealed that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of phone records for several AP reporters and editors. Then came the disclosure that Attorney General Eric Holder had authorized a warrant for the Feds to track Fox News reporter James Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, trace the timing of his calls and read his e-mails.

Rosen had reported that U.S. intelligence believed that North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests. His alleged informant, government employee Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who did not steal any classified documents or sell secrets, faces more than a decade in prison on espionage charges. For supposedly encouraging Kim to speak to him, Rosen was named in the warrant application as an “aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in violation of the Espionage Act. With much of the bourgeois press corps howling in protest over the criminalization of standard journalistic practice, Obama bluntly declared: “I make no apologies.”

The controversy over the government’s low intensity warfare against the press was eclipsed by a series of disclosures last week giving a greater glimpse into the extent of government spying on the entire population. First the London Guardian reported on a secret court order authorizing the NSA to collect all phone records from Verizon Business Services on an “ongoing daily basis” through July 19. Officials have admitted that such accumulation of phone metadata—e.g., the numbers of callers and recipients, the serial numbers of the phones involved and the calls’ timing and duration—has been going on for years.

The day after this data trawling came to light, the Guardian and Washington Post published accounts of the Prism Internet surveillance program. In agreement with nine industry giants, including Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype and Apple, the NSA can access troves of private information communicated over their networks. Combing through the large volumes of audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and connection logs with such data-mining tools as Boundless Informant, NSA technicians can readily assemble individual profiles and track movements and contacts over time.

The whistleblower who leaked the information about these clandestine activities, Edward Snowden, has since come forward to voice his repugnance with “a world where everything I do is recorded.” A 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant who had been working at the NSA for the last four years as an employee of an outside contractor, Snowden elaborated in an interview with the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your e-mails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your e-mails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”

Having taken refuge in Hong Kong, Snowden also told Greenwald, “I do not expect to see home again.” Indeed, soon after the interview was made public, top U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were howling for his head. According to Britain’s Daily Mail today: “The United States may have already approached Interpol or its consulate in Hong Kong to start [extradition] proceedings. They will use the Espionage Act to gain warrants for his arrest.” Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation into the leaks.

The public airing of the Feds’ clandestine activities knocked the legs out from under Obama’s plan to press Chinese leader Xi Jinping on cyber warfare in the summit that just concluded. While most Democratic and Republican politicians have backed Obama on the grounds of “national security,” there have been some protests from both liberals and the libertarian right. In its June 6 editorial on Obama’s data dragnet, the New York Times even offered that “the administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.” Such rebukes from the bourgeois press and politicians reflect fear within the ruling class that it, too, is getting caught in the state surveillance web, one of the tools of repression whose central purpose is to keep the exploited and the oppressed in line.

Under fire, Obama justified such surveillance as crucial to defending the homeland against “terrorism.” Following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the “war on terror” was launched as a rationale for the imperialist occupations of Afghanistan and later Iraq, as well as for expanding the repressive powers of the state at home. We have repeatedly warned that the draconian measures initially directed against Muslims and immigrants would lead to an assault on political dissent and the rights of all, particularly those of black people and the labor movement. The shredding of rights has since come to pass in spades.

During his tenure, the Democrat Obama has proved very capable in extending and expanding the “war on terror” policies of his Republican predecessor, not least the vast surveillance apparatus. Former Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer posted on Twitter last week: “Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. O is carrying out Bush’s 4th term.” Despite the outcry by some in Congress to rein in the snooping, Senator Saxby Chambliss acknowledged, “Everyone’s been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate,” a fact confirmed by California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Proposals floated for greater “checks and balances” and more focused targeting are all aimed at streamlining and winning wider acceptance for government spying on the population.

As Marxists, we expect that the capitalist state, whether Democrats or Republicans are at the helm, will continue to eavesdrop on what the rulers term “persons of interest,” not least those who oppose the blood-soaked capitalist order and its brutal repression. There is an inherent tendency for the state, which governs on behalf of a minuscule, ruthless class of obscenely wealthy exploiters, to attempt to amass ever greater power to control the population because it hates and fears the working people.

With a labor “leadership” that has prostrated itself before the capitalist rulers, the working class has taken it on the chin from a government flaunting constitutional rights while pursuing its slaughters abroad. But make no mistake: The bourgeoisie is determined to build up its powers of repression so that it is better able to smash any perceived threat to its rule and profits. At the same time, what it gets away with depends ultimately on the level of class and other social struggle. The working class will not advance its fight against exploitation without also defending the democratic rights of everyone and opposing the overseas savageries of its own ruling class.

“Welcome to America”

The government’s spy network is expanding for the simple reason that it has the technology to do so. The genie is out of the bottle, and this or that piece of legislation or court order is not going to put it back. In a Business Insider (21 March) article titled “CIA Chief Tech Officer: Big Data Is the Future and We Own It,” the CIA’s Ira Hunt brags, “It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human generated information.” Hunt described anybody carrying a mobile device as a “walking sensor platform”—now your gait, as measured by smartphone sensors, is distinctive enough to identify you.

The popularity of smartphones, tablets, social media sites and the like has brought with it an explosion of digital data that the spymasters have harnessed. Some 97 billion pieces of data were collected from networks worldwide in March alone. Just from phone metadata, analysts can weave a mosaic of a person’s life, ferreting out all manner of correlations and patterns. As the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., observed, “The information associated with communications today is often more significant than the communications itself, and the people who do the data mining know that.”

So it was with more than his characteristic sleight of hand that on June 7 Obama promised: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program’s about.” He similarly waved aside concerns over Prism, curtly intoning that it “does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.” In fact, enhancing the government’s capacity to listen in and further pry is precisely what such programs are all about.

Last month, former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente was asked by CNN whether the government could retrieve the content of phone conversations between deceased Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife Katherine Russell. Clemente responded: “We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her.” He added, “Welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”

In late 2005, it was revealed that the NSA was intercepting not only communications abroad but also those of U.S. citizens, without first procuring warrants. A glimpse of the scope of such snooping was provided by retired Bay Area AT&T worker Mark Klein, who came forward to reveal how the NSA had tapped into AT&T’s fiber-optic cables to access much of the country’s Internet data flow. Klein’s revelations became Exhibit A in a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to expose and stop the illegal government data mining (see “Phone Worker Exposes Government Spying Network,” WV No. 953, 26 February 2010). In a June 7 interview with the right-wing Libertas Institute, longtime NSA staffer William Binney noted about the NSA’s original AT&T project: “They could get most of it, but they couldn’t get it all. So in order to get all the data, they had to go to the service providers to fill in the blanks. That’s what the Prism program is for—to fill in the blanks.”

The AT&T data tap, as Binney noted in a 20 April 2012 interview with Democracy Now!, was “prepared to deploy about eight months before 9/11.” Since those attacks, more than 30 secure complexes with a total size of three Pentagons have been constructed in the Washington, D.C., area to accommodate spying operations. In September, the NSA is slated to unveil its Utah Data Center in the desert town of Bluffdale, a $2 billion project. Coursing through its servers and routers will be the complete contents of e-mails, cellphone calls, Google searches, parking receipts, travel itineraries, books purchased and much more. The NSA has separately created a supercomputer with the aim of breaking sophisticated encryption, one of the few ways people can protect their privacy. The simple truth is that in the “information age,” the most secure way to communicate is to buy a postage stamp.

Institutionalizing the “War on Terror”

On May 23, with the spotlight then on drone killings of men, women and children overseas and on Guantánamo hunger strikers protesting their indefinite detention, Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University pledging to wind down the “war on terror” and to protect the rights of journalists. He advised repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to avoid keeping “America on a perpetual wartime footing.” Adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support immediately after the September 11 attacks, the AUMF has been the legal pretext for U.S. imperialism’s terrorization of workers, peasants and the impoverished around the world. Obama added, “I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.” He also spoke of creating new protections for civil liberties “to strike the appropriate balance between our need for security and preserving those freedoms that make us who we are.”

The New York Times gushed with joy that their prodigal son had finally come home. In an editorial posted online the same day, the Times hailed the speech as “a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.” The statement also lauded the president’s shift in drone policy, e.g., turning the CIA’s fleet of drones over to the military—the significance of which will certainly be lost on the masses in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Momentous? About as much as a New York Mets loss. Turning point? Depends on how you look at it. Rather than articulating a change in policy, Obama’s speech marked the institutionalization of the panoply of post-September 11 repressive measures and laws as permanent fixtures of the American legal system. Obama is for discarding the AUMF not just because it is no longer necessary—the powers assumed under its authority are authorized by the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as well as Obama’s own presidential directives—but also because it serves as an unwelcome reminder that those powers were supposed to be temporary exigencies.

Obama’s speech was his Michael Corleone moment, recalling the christening scene in The Godfather in which Corleone promises to renounce Satan and all his works at the very moment his lieutenants are carrying out a murderous vendetta against Mafia rivals. Since Obama “renounced” the war on terror, more drones have struck in Pakistan’s tribal areas while the government vendetta against reporters and whistleblowers proceeds apace, as does the massive government spy operation.

Perhaps most ominous in Obama’s oration was the redefinition of due process. Obama asserted, “I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen—with a drone, or a shotgun—without due process.” What he meant was seen in the drone assassination in Yemen two years ago of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was an Al Qaeda publicist. The president stated: “My administration submitted information about Awlaki to the Department of Justice months before Awlaki was killed, and briefed the Congress before this strike as well.” Dating back to 13th-century English common law, due process signifies that one cannot be deprived of life or liberty without notice of the charges and an opportunity to defend oneself in a court of law. For the former constitutional law professor Obama, due process now means merely consulting other members of the administration before terminating or locking up anyone deemed an enemy of U.S. interests anywhere in the world.

Obama has repeatedly promised to make his administration more “transparent” while pulling the shroud tighter over the government’s deadly machinations in a way that would make Richard Nixon turn green with envy. Similarly, in his May 23 speech, the president pronounced that “journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs,” even as he and his hatchet man Eric Holder were pursuing a vendetta against the media for (at times) unearthing and reporting things the White House finds uncomfortable. In the case of government employees who supply the information, it has been a full-scale assault.

The trigger for the seizure of the AP phone records was a 2012 article about a foiled terror plot that disclosed leaked information about CIA activity—specifically, a CIA-Saudi-British operation that planted a mole inside Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate. The mole had volunteered to blow up an airliner using a new bomb designed to circumvent airport security, which he then turned over to his CIA handlers. AP honored the CIA/White House request to hold the story for days in order to facilitate the assassination of a top Al Qaeda official using information obtained from the mole. Among the AP journalists involved in the Yemen article were Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, who won a Pulitzer Prize last year for exposing the NYPD’s surveillance of American Muslim communities.

For lifting a bit of the veil of secrecy and lies with which the imperialist rulers cover their depredations, Army Private Bradley Manning is now undergoing a court-martial with the possibility of life imprisonment (see article on page 12). The Obama administration drips venom for WikiLeaks, which posted online the war logs and diplomatic cables made available by Manning. James Goodale, general counsel of the New York Times in its clashes with the Nixon administration, pointed out: “The biggest challenge to the press today is the threatened prosecution of WikiLeaks, and it’s absolutely frightening.”

Goodale’s former client, like the rest of the bourgeois media, is quite content to throw WikiLeaks head Julian Assange to the wolves. Although the Times & Co. bridle when the government steps on their toes, their role is not to expose the capitalist rulers but to be their mouthpieces. It was the Times that played an instrumental role in peddling the lies that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” a pretext for the U.S. invasion in 2003. When Mark Klein fought to expose the NSA/AT&T collaboration, the paper turned him away and sat on the story for months, just as it had refused to report the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping for over a year at the Bush administration’s request. In The ABC of Communism (1920), Nikolai Bukharin aptly described the role of the bourgeois press as auxiliaries to the armed bodies of men that make up the state, acting together with the schools and churches as “specialists to stupefy and subdue the proletariat.”

The Fraud of Bourgeois Democracy

As Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin wrote in his 1918 work The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky: “Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” Among the “snares and deceptions” perfected in the U.S. is the vaunted “separation of powers” between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government. While this setup purports to maintain “checks and balances” on the power of any single branch, the White House gave the game away in responding to the disclosure of the Verizon data tapping. As described by an administration official: “All three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorizing intelligence collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congress passed that act and is regularly and fully briefed on how it is used, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizes such collection.” In the first 30 years of its existence, that secret court approved all but a handful of the tens of thousands of intercept requests by the government.

With Congress having written the White House a blank check to wage war on democratic rights and civil liberties, some lawmakers are belatedly and disingenuously professing dismay at the scope of the snooping. Among them is Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, an author of the Patriot Act, who now pleads, “I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Such measures were precisely the purpose of the Patriot Act, which expanded the government’s authority to monitor anyone it claims is involved in international “terrorism.” Under its Section 215, the FBI has served tens of thousands of “national security letters” to libraries, phone companies and other businesses demanding records. The same section sanctions the seizure of journalists’ phone records. The repeated renewal and expansion of the law, including with the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, has made it even easier for the government to obtain authorization for electronic surveillance and interception.

The ultimate target of the police and spying apparatus is the working class, whose role in producing the wealth of this society gives it the social power to choke off profits, the lifeblood of the capitalist system. At the turn of the 20th century, the Russian tsars propped up their decrepit rule by unleashing an army of agents provocateurs and Okhrana (secret police) against that country’s small but rapidly growing proletariat and the Marxist circles that sprouted up at the time. This was the hallmark of a dying ruling class. In October 1917, the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky led the Russian proletariat to power, overthrowing capitalist rule on one-sixth of the globe. The bourgeoisie to this day sees it as a calamity whose repetition must be prevented at all costs, while we Marxists see in that revolution a model for the proletariat of the world. It is our purpose to forge a world party of socialist revolution to lead the workers in overthrowing capitalist class rule and putting an end to its repression and imperialist ravages once and for all.