Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan

Jeremy Scahill

From The Nation’s press release (You can watch Democracy Now’s interview with Jeremy Scahill here):

In a stunning investigation just posted at, Jeremy Scahill reveals a covert military operation being run almost entirely by Blackwater, USA, a military contractor embroiled in controversy for their actions in Iraq and the Middle East. Key points from the piece:

  • An elite division of Blackwater, USA is running a covert, US Military operation that includes planning targeted assassinations, “snatch and grabs” and other sensitive actions inside and outside Pakistan. This is a program that not even some Senior Level Obama Administration and Pentagon officials are aware of.
  • Blackwater operatives are assisting in gathering intelligence to help run a secret, second and heretofore unreported, US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.
  • Sources for The Nation report that some non-military Blackwater employees, outside of the US Military chain of command, have obtained rolling security clearances above their approved clearances, and higher than even members of the US Congress.
  • Continue reading “Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan”

Shimon the Brazilian (and Mahmoud the Conqueror)

I am not sure how to explain this strange report from Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman: the headline reads:  ‘Brazilians protest Ahmadinejad tour‘, yet the only person in the report shown protesting is Shimon Peres. On the other hand, the single Brazilian who is interviewed speaks about the benefits of relations with Iran, and the president is reported to be welcoming Ahmadinejad with ‘open arms’.

Peres, I hate to tell Al Jazeera, is not a Brazilian; even if he were, he would need to persuade at least one other before he can stage a ‘Brazilians protest’.

Also, the report goes on to tells us in ominous Cold War cliches that Ahmadinejad is challenging ‘Washington in its own back yard’. What’s with this ‘back yard’ nonsense; does being a journalist mean never having to say a thing that’s original?

To A Christian Zionist

Update: I wrote this in 2006. If I wrote it today I would do it a little differently. Specifically, I would discuss the pernicious role of the Scofield Bible in perverting protestantism in America. I would discuss the meeting point of Christian Zionism, orientalism and racism in Western cultures. And I would point out that contemporary science has shown us that the direct descendants of the ancient Israelites are the Palestinians, not the Ashkenazi or Berber Jews who have colonised Palestine in recent years. Shlomo Sand’s excellent book The Invention of the Jewish People, reviewed here, summarises the science and undercuts the blood-and-soil aspects of Zionism which are so important to Christian Zionists and their ultimately anti-Semitic agenda.

I have recently been discussing Middle East issues with an American colleague who I would describe as a Christian Zionist. Although I like him personally I find some of his ideas (on Palestinian history, and Lebanon, and the wider Middle East) pretty offensive, and I have told him so. So as not to start an argument, I told him so in writing. He replied, saying that although he disapproves of collective punishment of the Palestinians he believes that the Bible clearly states that the Holy Land belongs to the Jews, and that the rebuilding of Israel prophesied in the Old Testament has happened since 1948. Hmm. My first response is anger. I understand Jews with memories of European anti-Semitism being attracted to Zionism, however wrong I think they are, but Americans? People who are not oppressed, who think Palestine is a Cecil B Demille set, who think real human beings (Arabs) are less important than their own narrow interpretations of scripture. Who think that ethnic cleansing, massacres, and apartheid are supported by God. It makes my blood boil. But I think responding intelligently to this kind of thing is important, because there are millions of Americans (with power) who see the Middle East through a Biblical prism. Anyway, here is my latest letter:

Continue reading “To A Christian Zionist”

The Lost Art of Reportage

Robert Fisk and Martin Bell in conversation with Ann Leslie at The Independent Woodstock literary festival.

Event description:

Was there a golden age for international correspondents? Are current affairs now largely brought to us in dumbed down soundbites? Who now sets the framework for coverage of world events?

In this podcast recorded at The Independent Woodstock literary festival Dame Ann Leslie, recognised as one of the 40 most influential journalists of our time (‘Killing my own Snakes’), talks with The Independent’s award-winning correspondent Robert Fisk (The Age of the Warrior’) and BBC’s renowned foreign reporter Martin Bell (‘The Truth that sticks – New Labour’s Breach of Trust’). They discuss whether reportage is indeed a ‘lost art’.

Struggles Against Commodification of the Mind

The free play of the mind has been managerialised. Holding our way of life to account has yielded to accountancy. The logic of the commodity has now penetrated into the sphere of human needs and nurture, breeding pathological symptoms there. In universities, as in transnational corporations, a largely disaffected labour force confronts a finance-obsessed managerial elite (Terry Eagleton, 2009).

Student occupation at the University of Vienna

November 17th marked the twentieth anniversary of the popular uprising in former Czechoslovakia, when thousands of students marched through the streets of Prague on International Students’ Day. Though officially sanctioned by the government, the occasion was used by the student movement to protest against the stale orthodoxy of the Czechoslovak regime, one of the last remaining Communist outposts in Central Europe. Hours later, when news spread of the violent suppression of the demonstration by security forces, the fate of the increasingly hollow regime was effectively sealed, as the event ushered in a remarkable period of popular mobilisation and mass civil disobedience which ultimately led to the regime’s downfall. Twenty years later, with the Czech student body thoroughly depoliticised, one had to look elsewhere however to find traces of the legacy of the International Students’ Day.

Continue reading “Struggles Against Commodification of the Mind”

Imagining Radical Change with David Harvey & Alexander Cockburn

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Event description:

David Harvey, author of A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and Alexander Cockburn, author of End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, don’t think small when it comes to change. They aren’t afraid to think about significant, even radical changes to the social order we’ve grown so used to, whether it’s requiring full employment, reimagining urban living, or repudiating credit card debt and abolishing Wall Street speculation.

Continue reading “Imagining Radical Change with David Harvey & Alexander Cockburn”

Cry Out by Fares Khouri

Reposted from Occupation Magazine 15/11/09.

Cry Out

— Fares Khouri

Cry out in Arabic, Ahmed, and contaminate their ears
Stand at Habima square, and cry out to your friend, who’s on Hertzel street, to bring you the shovel
Disturb all those sitting in Rothschild boulevard with their coddled dogs
Disturb them as they speak about yesterday’s party
About this evening’s Macabi Tel-Aviv match
About the (stinky) orthodox Jew that just got on the bus
About the right-wing government that they aren’t a part of
And about the intelligent Arab they met lately
Cry out, ya Ahmed
Defile their ears with your language
They don’t like it
They fear it
They don’t like to hear your friend’s name
It scares them, disturbs them as they read the leftist paper
Cry out Ahmed, with all the voice that god gave you
Cry out, don’t fear, cry out!
Continue reading “Cry Out by Fares Khouri”

The Buycott Campaign

Do you support Israel? Are you fed up with calls to boycott Israeli goods and services? Want to do something about it? NOW YOU CAN. Sign up for BUYCOTT ALERTS today.We’ll alert you when a boycott initiative needs to be countered, and we’ll let you know the results of every BUYCOTT action.

In a twilight zone, where an established state needs protection from grassroot communities, we have the Buycott campaign. Who are these people and how have they sprung up over night?

Encouraging Consumerism and Faking Tolerance
I got to the official Buycott page through Wikipedia, where two lines and two links were thrown together in haste, in order to give the campaign more Google juice. The site has a clean Getty Image-esque design, and considering how quickly this whole campaign was erected, I say touché to my opponents- you may not be worthy, but you know your shit.

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Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Sand in conversation with Jacqueline Rose

Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Sand in conversation with Jacqueline Rose at the Frontline Club (via PIWP).
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Event description:

Few modern conflicts are as attached to history as that of Israel and Palestine. Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations at Oxford will be in conversation with Shlomo Sand, professor of contemporary history at Tel Aviv University, at the Frontline Club for a seminal evening of discussion. Continue reading “Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Sand in conversation with Jacqueline Rose”

George Galloway at the War Crimes Conference

The inimitable George Galloway addresses the War Crimes Conference in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on 28th October 2009. In three parts.

Part One

Continue reading “George Galloway at the War Crimes Conference”

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