Bureau of Investigative Journalism exposes CIA lies on drone casualties

An investigation by a Bureau of Investigative Journalism team led by Chris Woods conclusively shows that the US government has been lying about civilians casualties in its illegal drone war inside Pakistan. The story was recently covered by the BBC’s Newsnight.

Our friend, the great Gitmo lawyer Clive Stafford Smith is now suing the CIA’s former legal chief John Rizzo for murder.

BDS, LGBT, and Why You Should Care about Pinkwashing

by Shiri Eisner

The latest video hoax produced by the Israeli government and released unto YouTube has recently drawn wide attention to a phenomenon that many radical LGBT groups have been trying to combat for quite a while now: pinkwashing.

For those unaware of the hoax story so far, the gist of it goes thus: a mysterious video goes on YouTube in which a ‘disillusioned’ gay activist by the name of “Marc” tells his viewers about his attempt to join the Gaza Flotilla, only to be rebuked by the organizers on account of his being gay. “Marc” then goes on to tell us, that after being rejected in such a homophobic manner, he went on to find pictures of Palestine solidarity and human rights organizers embracing Hammas leaders. The shocked “Marc” then warns his fellow gay activists from believing the “lies” of these terrible human rights groups and, indeed, from joining or supporting either the flotilla or the Palestinian solidarity movement. However, all’s well that ends well: the video was quickly exposed as a hoax, tracking it back to a minor Tel Aviv gay celebrity by the name of Omer Gershon, by and by proving that the Israeli government has no fear of spreading outright lies in attempts to achieve its propaganda goals (for example, it’s worth noting that out bisexual author Alice Walker will be joining the flotilla).

So, What’s This “Pinkwashing” Anyway?

Continue reading “BDS, LGBT, and Why You Should Care about Pinkwashing”

Sailing to Yemen with human traffickers

(GALLO/GETTY)

Freelance journalist Glen Johnson recently traveled on a human smuggling boat from Djibouti to Yemen, where he was arrested and imprisoned for two weeks. The following is an excerpt from his report on the voyage for Al Jazeera:

I waited for an hour while people filed onto the boats, departures of each boat were staggered by around 15 minutes. Gradually the Affar left and one of the smugglers approached and signalled to me. While dozens of crabs scuttled across the sand, I waded out waist deep and clambered into the boat’s bow. Nearly 50 people were crammed into the boat, which was essentially a fishing dhow. The passengers were squeezed one next to the other as the boat set-off.

A young man from Ethiopia – his forehead covered in a line of 10 faded, blue tattoos depicting the cross – said there was no work in Ethiopia; in Saudi Arabia he would have everything, like his friend in Riyadh, the capital.

“Ethiopia is a very big country. I have no job and no monies. I calling to my friend and he says about his big house and big car. I say I must go, go, go.”

He had little money, but was carrying a block of hasheesh, to sell in Saudi Arabia. Other passengers carried bottles of vodka, to sell to Yemeni bootleggers in order to fund the rest of their trip to Saudi. Those who could not afford to pay for a vehicle would attempt the journey on foot.

Continue reading “Sailing to Yemen with human traffickers”

AIPAC and Stealth Israel Political Action Committees

Janet McMahon, Managing Editor – Washington Report on Middle East Affairs explains the history and impact of “stealth PACs.” Why has the American Israel Public Affairs Committee spawned a network of PACs across America? Why don’t any claim affiliation to their creator or use descriptive  names? Shouldn’t they be consolidated to have reduced total contribution limits like other PACs? How has the American Israel Public Affairs  Committee secretly coordinated stealth PACs, and what has been done  about it? Presentation panel from the Move Over AIPAC conference on May 21, 2011.

Walid Shoebat and the ‘ex-extremist’ Industry

During the Cold War extremists like James Burnham, who declared themselves reformed Communists, pushed extremely hawkish policies which historians agree merely prolonged the Cold War by at least two decades. In a similar vein, a gaggle of self-styled ‘ex-extremists’ is today shaping security policy in both domestic and international spheres through alliances with the neoconservative right. In an excellent piece of reportage, Anderson Cooper, Kathleen Johnson and Drew Griffin of CNN recently exposed Walid Shoebat, one stalwart of this industry. Richard Silverstein who runs the excellent Tikun Olam began exposing Shoebat in 2007. Meanwhile in the UK, ex-extremist Maajid Nawaz of the controversial Quilliam Foundation, is being feted by forums like TED! A disgrace, indeed.

Continue reading “Walid Shoebat and the ‘ex-extremist’ Industry”

Roger Waters endorses BDS and speaks against Israeli anti-boycott law

The great Roger Waters once again stands up for justice.

Roger Waters supports those who will publicly declare their disregard of new Israeli anti-boycott law. Please support and promote Palestinian rights by joining the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

More on the BDS campaign and the Boycott from Within statement. Also, see ICAHD founder Jeff Halper’s message below:

The following statement has been issued by Jeff Halper, Director, ICAHD:
Continue reading “Roger Waters endorses BDS and speaks against Israeli anti-boycott law”

Is Palestine Next?

Adam Shatz has an excellent essay in the London Review of Books, a survey of the Palestinian situation in the occupied territories, inside Israel, and in exile. This essay is available free of charge at the LRB website. I strongly recommend subscribing to the LRB, Britain’s best publication by far. Subscription gives you a print edition fortnightly and access to the enormous online archive.

“The Arab world may be impatient for the Palestinians to rebel,” Shatz writes, “but they are not. When they are ready to mobilise, they will; meanwhile they will continue to prepare, and to wait until the time is right, as they have for the last 63 years. This waiting should not be mistaken for passivity; it is a deeply political act.”

No one in the Arab world was watching the news more closely than the Palestinians during the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The first emotion they experienced was disbelief; the second – particularly when they saw Palestinian flags being raised in Tahrir Square – was relief that they were no longer alone. Arab lethargy has been a virtual article of faith among Palestinians, who felt that their neighbours had betrayed them in 1948 and had done nothing to help them since. The Palestinian national movement, which rose to prominence under Yasir Arafat’s leadership in the late 1960s, was defined in large part by its belief that Palestinians had to rely on themselves. Mahmoud Darwish was not the only one to note that during the siege of Beirut in 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to crush the PLO, tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv but the Arabs were too busy watching the World Cup Final to take to the streets.

Continue reading “Is Palestine Next?”

Gunboats and gurkhas in the American Imperium

My new piece on the complicity of the Pakistani elite in the US drone war is up on Al Jazeera‘s website.

Pakistanis are enraged by ongoing US drone strikes in their country

Meet Resham Khan. The 52-year-old shepherd was brought on a stretcher to a psychiatric hospital in Islamabad in January, traumatized and unable to speak. The father of six witnessed 15 members of his extended family perish last June when a US drone attacked a funeral procession in his native North Waziristan. The atrocity has left him mute and emotionally paralyzed, his vacant eyes staring into the distance. He gave up on food and drink in the months following the attack; shortly afterward, the pious Muslim gave up on prayer too. His condition also prevented him from looking after his ailing mother who died soon thereafter. And his surviving children have suffered. When the Reuters journalist finally got him to talk, one of the few things he said was ‘Stop the drone attacks.’

Kareem Khan, too, has suffered. On December 31, 2009, his son Zaenullah Khan and his brother Asif Iqbal were among the three people killed in a US drone attack which destroyed their home in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. Kareem’s absence spared him the sight of his mutilated family; and unlike the helpless shepherd, he had the wherewithal to demand justice. In November 2010, his lawyer, Barrister Shahzad Akbar served legal notices to the CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, former Defence Secretary Robert Gates, and former Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta for $500 million in damages.  Banks, who was in Pakistan on a business visa, took fright and soon fled the scene, and the US government was so terrified of the legal challenge that last month it denied a visa to Barrister Akbar to travel to the US. More survivors have since come forward demanding justice.

Continue reading “Gunboats and gurkhas in the American Imperium”

All Things Considered

I was a guest on BBC Wales’s All Things Considered, a religious programme, talking about Christians in the Arab world in the light of the Arab revolutions. Also talking are the Right Reverend Bill Musk, based in Tunisia, Bishop Angelos, who serves the Coptic community in London, and the Reverend Christopher Gillam, who admires the Syrian regime and overemphasises Syrian Christian opposition to the uprising. Apologies for my voice, which was heavy with cold.

Gillam’s problem may be that he only speaks to ‘official’ Christians. Here‘s an article on Christian opposition to the regime. I like this quote: “The Christian churches have been bought, and have allowed themselves to be bought,” criticizes Otmar Oehring, a human rights expert with the Aachen-based Catholic aid organization Missio. “They’re ignoring the fact that so many people are dying.”

Playing with Political Fire

by Brenda Heard

The timing of political manoeuvring often reveals the stark business of domination.  Sometimes the timing is flagrant, like the recent commotion in Greece.  In the very hours of forbidding the passage of the aid flotilla to Gaza, the financially strapped Greek government welcomed the approval of an €8.7 billion aid payment from the European Union.  With Israel’s position as an EU-groupie, even the Associated Press couldn’t resist smirking at Greece’s underlying ‘incentive to cozy up to its rich Mediterranean neighbor’.

Political manoeuvring also thrives on more subtle timing, as for example in the case of the notorious indictments of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Widely announced as imminent in December 2010, they somehow found themselves on the backburner when the Arab uprisings claimed every corner of Middle East news coverage.  Some six months later, on the heels of the formation of a Lebanese government non-hostile to the targeted Hezbollah—in the very hours between finalising the government’s policy statement  and its being subject to a parliamentary vote of confidence—only then were the indictments set into motion.  Bored of battling the credibility of Arab protests, international media eagerly shifted to the new sensational headlines.

Particularly when it comes to the Zionist project, the Western Israeli Alliance has often banked on timing—on distraction and exploitation. Five years ago, for instance, Israeli forces repeated the pretext-invasions of 1978 and 1982.  Five years ago, Israeli forces renewed their aggressive campaigns of 1978 and 1982.  With the full backing of their Western allies, five years ago Israeli forces again attacked Lebanon.

Continue reading “Playing with Political Fire”