Thursday, 28 January 2010

secret detention: crime against humanity

Secret detention may amount to crime against humanity: UN experts

January 28, 2010, 6:53 am

GENEVA (AFP) - UN human rights experts warned in a report on Wednesday that "widespread and systematic" secret detention of terror suspects was continuing and could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity.

The report listed 66 countries that have allegedly been involved in secret detentions -- from Ethiopia to Romania, from Kosovo to Pakistan -- and called on governments to investigate and prosecute those who ordered such detentions.

In their first in-depth global study on secret detentions, the UN experts said that virtually no judicial steps had been attempted against the practice despite the "widespread" manner in which suspects were held in a legal limbo.

"Secret detention continues to be used in the name of countering terrorism around the world" in spite of international human rights norms, said the study, which is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

"If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity," the authors cautioned.

The "global war on terror," which was launched by President George W. Bush's administration after the September 11 attacks, had "reinvigorated" the use of secret detentions in an organised manner, they said.

The campaign saw the creation of "a comprehensive and coordinated system of secret detention of persons suspected of terrorism, involving not only US authorities, but also other states in almost all regions of the world."

The study was compiled by two independent UN experts on counter-terrorism and torture, as well as UN panels overseeing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

Campaign group Amnesty International said in a statement that governments must be held to account.

"States must act swiftly to implement the recommendations in this important study, to confront and end secret detention and the human rights violations it entails and enables," said Widney Brown, Amnesty's director of international law, citing torture and unlawful executions.

The UN study welcomed commitments by US President Barack Obama to dismantle and investigate secret detentions.

But the experts also called for clarification of outstanding issues such as short term CIA holding facilities and those operated by the military Joint Special Operation Command.

Human rights campaigners say other countries took advantage of secret detentions to crack down on their own political opponents or restive ethnic groups.

Extraordinary rendition involved abducting suspects without legal proceedings, and flying them to foreign countries or secret CIA prisons.

Drawing on its own interviews with former detainees, witnesses, officials and its own analysis of flight records, as well as published material, the UN study named dozens of secret detainees -- including some alleged to have died in custody.

Thailand denied that it had hosted a secret detention facility for the United States in a response to the experts, but the study maintained that it was "credible that a CIA black site" existed there.

The study also welcomed a Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry into similar allegations, which had concluded that there was no evidence to back them up.

However, it stressed that the findings "in no way constitute the final word on Lithuania's role in the programme."

The UN study also cited evidence of secret US-run facilities in Romania, Poland, and Kosovo as well as several in Afghanistan and Iraq, including "Dark Prison" and "Salt Pit."

Accounts by detainees added weight to claims that Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Djibouti were proxy centres where "detainees have been held on the CIA's behalf," the report added.

german police: we're training fighters for talibans



New Strategy?

German Military and Police Blast Merkel's Afghanistan Plan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has emphasized the need for a new "strategic direction" in Afghanistan. But many German officials question Berlin's plan to slightly boost the number of troops and police trainers in the war-torn country. "We are training fighters for the Taliban," said one police spokesman.

For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the importance of Thursday's Afghanistan conference in London is clear: "In London, nothing less than a new strategic direction is at stake," she said on Wednesday in an address to the German parliament.

She is not alone in that assessment. In a Thursday contribution for the London Times, NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote, "this conference must and will be different. It will deliver results."

In the last few days, Merkel's government has made clear how it plans to contribute to those results. Berlin intends to send 500 additional troops, with 350 more to be part of a "flexible reserve" for extraordinary situations. Beyond that, Merkel's cabinet has agreed to increase the number of German police trainers in Afghanistan and Defense Minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg wants to see German soldiers show a greater presence on the streets of northern Afghanistan, where the Bundeswehr is based.

It is perhaps not surprising that the plan, in a country where public support for the war continues to drop, has not been well received. But the plan's greatest detractors, it has become clear this week, are not just to be found in the parliamentarian opposition. Both Germany's police unions and military association are skeptical of Merkel's new Afghanistan formula.

'Will Achieve Nothing'

Wilfried Stolze, spokesman for the German Federal Armed forces Association, told German radio on Thursday that Guttenberg's intention to have military trainers fight side-by-side with their charges in battles with the Taliban means a much greater danger for the German troops. He said that a strong focus on civilian reconstruction remains vital and that simply sending more soldiers "will achieve nothing."

His critique was echoed by association head Ulrich Kirsch in an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper. "Just talking about numbers doesn't help," he said. "Five hundred soldiers more or less -- that is inconsequential for the success of the mission. That cannot be called a new strategy."

There was also pointed critique from Germany's two major police unions of Berlin's pledges to almost double the number of police trainers in Afghanistan. The increase is not huge -- from 119 currently in the country to 200 -- but German police have complained for years of difficulties finding enough officers willing to do a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Paramilitary Units

And on Wednesday, they went on the offensive. "The plans are utopian," said Konrad Freiberg, head of the German police union GdP. "As German police officers, we don't want to become part of a civil war."

In an interview with the daily Münchner Merkur, he also appeared to call into question the very efficacy of the police training program. "We have to look at things realistically," he said. "Afghanistan needs a police force that can secure areas against Taliban fighters. In some cases, they will have to use heavy weaponry in their fight against the terrorists. We are not talking about ... crime scene investigators who collect finger prints. We are talking about paramilitary units. That is something that we cannot provide -- nor do we want to provide training on the job."

Rainer Wendt, head of the competing police union, called the German Police Union (DPolG), agreed with his colleague's assessment. "The incoming Afghan police officers receive just a brief crash course from us," he told the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten. "We would already consider it a success if the future security personnel wouldn't bash people on the head, cut off the hands of thieves and stone women."

He also voiced concern that many of those trained by German police might join the Taliban once their instruction is complete. "We are training fighters for the Taliban," Wendt said. "We should be concerned that many of the Afghan police candidates don't even join the force after their training course. Instead, they go directly to the Taliban. They pay twice as much." Afghan police officers earn $100 per month, according to the German Foreign Ministry.

Diplomatic Silence

Still, despite the critique, training Afghan security forces is the crux of NATO's strategy in Afghanistan. In all, the Western alliance wants to increase the number of trained soldiers to 134,000 and police to 109,000. A secret draft communiqué circulated prior to Thursday's conference -- and obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE -- expresses hope that Afghan security forces can take the lead on a "majority of operations in insecure areas of Afghanistan within three years."

NATO itself seems to doubt whether the German contribution will make much of a difference. The US has established an immense training facility in northern Afghanistan, not far from the German base, which is capable of training many more security personnel than its German counterpart.

Upon being questioned recently about the German contribution to the training effort, a NATO spokesman in Kabul responded, "let's just maintain a diplomatic silence when it comes to the German contribution to police training in Afghanistan."

cgh -- with wire service

cartoon: taliban ipad



Wednesday, 27 January 2010

the best currency of the decade vs. gold & silver


GoldMoney Alert

25 January 2010

The Decade's Best National Currency

In my last alert I presented two tables that showed the appreciation of gold and silver against nine of the world's major currencies. A number of readers have asked me to provide these calculations for more currencies.

Most readers had the same objective. They wanted to know which of the various national currencies of the world ranks as the best one. In other words, they wanted to know which of them lost the least amount of purchasing power when using gold as the numéraire. Gold is an excellent 'measuring stick', but I also did the calculations for silver. The rates of appreciation of gold and silver in terms of 23 world currencies from 2000-to-2009 are presented in the tables below.

Gold's Rate of Appreciation Against 23 World Currencies

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Average

franc -4.1% 5.0% 3.9% 7.0% -3.0% 36.2% 13.9% 22.1% -0.3% 20.3%

krone 1.3% 7.7% 5.8% -0.2% -2.2% 35.5% 10.2% 18.8% 10.9% 20.3% 10.8%

euro 1.1% 8.1% 5.9% -0.5% -2.1% 35.1% 10.2% 18.8% 11.0% 20.4% 10.8%

dollar -2.1% 8.8% 23.7% -2.2% -2.0% 14.5% 22.8% 11.5% 31.1% 5.9% 11.2%

New Zealand
dollar 10.8% 8.9% -0.9% -4.4% -4.2% 25.1% 19.3% 19.5% 40.5% -1.5% 11.3%

krone 3.6% 4.5% -3.6% 14.9% -4.0% 31.0% 13.5% 14.6% 36.0% 2.8% 11.3%

dollar 11.2% 11.3% 13.5% -10.5% 1.4% 25.6% 14.4% 18.1% 33.0% -3.6% 11.4%

yuan -5.7% 2.5% 24.8% 19.5% 5.2% 15.2% 18.8% 22.9% -1.0% 24.0% 12.6%

dollar -2.1% 9.3% 17.2% 17.1% 1.1% 20.4% 13.3% 23.1% 6.0% 21.0% 12.6%

baht 5.0% 4.3% 21.8% 9.7% 3.0% 24.9% 8.2% 7.4% 24.6% 19.0% 12.8%

krona 4.7% 13.5% 3.7% -1.0% -2.5% 40.7% 5.8% 24.2% 29.1% 12.6% 13.1%

ringgit -5.7% 2.5% 24.7% 19.6% 5.2% 17.6% 14.7% 23.2% 10.3% 22.9% 13.5%

yen 5.5% 17.4% 13.0% 7.9% 0.9% 35.7% 24.0% 23.4% -14.0% 27.1% 14.1%

Hong Kong
dollar -5.4% 2.4% 24.7% 19.1% 5.4% 17.9% 23.2% 31.8% 5.2% 24.0% 14.8%

dollar -5.7% 2.5% 24.7% 19.6% 5.2% 18.2% 22.8% 31.4% 5.8% 23.9% 14.9%

dollar -0.4% 8.1% 23.7% 17.1% -1.7% 22.1% 22.1% 30.8% 6.9% 20.9% 15.0%

pound 1.8% 5.4% 12.7% 7.9% -2.0% 31.8% 7.8% 29.7% 43.7% 12.1% 15.1%

South Korea
won 5.2% 6.2% 12.6% 20.2% -8.6% 15.3% 13.1% 32.3% 42.7% 14.3% 15.3%

rupee 1.3% 5.8% 24.0% 13.5% 0.0% 22.8% 20.5% 17.4% 30.5% 18.4% 15.4%

real 1.7% 21.4% 91.0% -2.2% -3.5% 3.9% 12.3% 9.6% 37.9% -6.8% 16.5%

South Africa
rand 15.9% 62.4% -10.8% -6.7% -11.3% 32.5% 36.6% 28.1% 43.5% -1.9% 18.8%

peso -4.3% -2.4% 42.0% 28.9% 4.4% 12.7% 24.8% 32.9% 34.0% 17.0% 19.0%

Sri Lanka
rupee 8.8% 15.2% 29.7% 19.6% 13.5% 15.6% 29.3% 32.9% 10.0% 25.5% 20.0%

The best currency compared to gold is the Swiss franc, but even this venerable national currency lost 10.1% per annum on average for the past ten years.

Silver's Rate of Appreciation Against 23 World Currencies

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Average

New Zealand
dollar -0.4% 6.2% -16.7% -0.9% 4.1% 37.2% 41.2% 4.9% 1.1% 18.6% 9.5%

dollar -0.1% 8.5% -4.6% -7.3% 10.2% 37.7% 35.3% 3.7% -4.3% 16.1% 9.5%

dollar -12.0% 6.1% 4.0% 1.4% 6.5% 25.5% 45.3% -2.1% -5.7% 27.6% 9.7%

krone -6.9% 1.8% -18.9% 19.1% 4.3% 43.6% 34.3% 0.6% -2.1% 23.8% 10.0%

franc -13.9% 2.3% -12.6% 11.0% 5.4% 49.3% 34.8% 7.2% -28.2% 44.9% 10.0%

krone -9.0% 5.0% -11.1% 3.5% 6.2% 48.5% 30.3% 4.3% -20.2% 44.8% 10.3%

euro -9.1% 5.3% -11.0% 3.2% 6.4% 48.1% 30.4% 4.3% -20.1% 45.0% 10.3%

baht -5.6% 1.7% 2.4% 13.7% 12.0% 36.9% 28.0% -5.7% -10.4% 43.3% 11.6%

krona -5.9% 10.6% -12.8% 2.6% 6.0% 54.2% 25.1% 9.1% -7.1% 35.5% 11.7%

dollar -12.0% 6.5% -1.5% 21.4% 9.8% 32.0% 34.1% 8.1% -23.7% 45.7% 12.0%

yuan -15.3% -0.1% 4.9% 23.9% 14.3% 26.3% 40.5% 7.9% -28.8% 49.3% 12.3%

ringgit -15.3% -0.1% 4.8% 24.0% 14.3% 28.9% 35.7% 8.2% -20.6% 48.0% 12.8%

real -8.6% 18.3% 60.5% 1.4% 4.9% 13.9% 32.9% -3.8% -0.8% 12.2% 13.1%

pound -8.5% 2.7% -5.3% 11.9% 6.5% 44.4% 27.5% 13.9% 3.4% 35.0% 13.2%

South Korea
won -5.5% 3.5% -5.3% 24.6% -0.7% 26.4% 33.8% 16.2% 2.7% 37.6% 13.3%

rupee -9.0% 3.1% 4.3% 17.7% 8.6% 34.6% 42.6% 3.1% -6.1% 42.6% 14.1%

dollar -10.5% 5.4% 3.9% 21.5% 6.8% 33.9% 44.4% 14.9% -23.1% 45.6% 14.3%

Hong Kong
dollar -15.0% -0.2% 4.9% 23.4% 14.5% 29.3% 45.8% 15.8% -24.3% 49.3% 14.3%

dollar -15.3% -0.1% 4.8% 24.0% 14.3% 29.6% 45.3% 15.4% -23.8% 49.3% 14.4%

yen -5.2% 14.4% -5.0% 11.9% 9.6% 48.8% 46.7% 8.3% -38.1% 53.0% 14.4%

South Africa
rand 4.1% 58.3% -25.0% -3.2% -3.7% 45.3% 61.6% 12.5% 3.3% 18.1% 17.1%

peso -14.0% -4.9% 19.4% 33.6% 13.4% 23.5% 47.7% 16.7% -3.5% 41.0% 17.3%

Sri Lanka
rupee -2.3% 12.3% 9.0% 24.0% 23.3% 26.7% 52.9% 16.8% -20.9% 51.2% 19.3%

The best currency compared to silver is a tie between the New Zealand dollar and Australian dollar. They lost 9.5% per annum on average for the past ten years.

So what really is the world's best currency in terms of preserving purchasing power? It is gold, and silver is a close second. When viewed in terms of the above tables, no national currency even comes close. This conclusion is also confirmed by the following chart which presents a base-100 analysis of crude oil prices against three national currencies and the precious metals.


Both gold and silver purchase essentially the same amount of crude oil they did at the beginning of this decade. In fact, an ounce of gold or silver purchases basically the same amount of crude oil that they did at any time during the past 60-year time span presented in the above chart. The precious metals have a proven track record of preserving purchasing power.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

lebanon: the real hezbollah

How Lebanon Organized the Resistance against Israeli Aggression in the 2006 War

An interview with Franklin Lamb

Mike Whitney--- Are the Lebanese people grateful to Hezbollah for forcing Israel to retreat in the war of 2006?

Franklin Lamb---I think in their hearts most Lebanese are indeed grateful and even proud that for the first time since the founding of the State of Israel Lebanon has been able to effectively resist its numerous aggressions. Certainly Hezbollah has plenty of detractors particularly among the American and to a lesser extent French supported right wing Phalangist Christian factions and some Sunni communities fearful of the rise of the long discriminated against Lebanese Shia. But when Lebanon is threatened by Israel they tend to unite behind the National Lebanese Resistance. Expelling Israel on May 24, 2000 earned Hezbollah general respect in Lebanon and the region.

MW---Why was the Lebanese army never deployed to fight the advancing IDF?

Franklin Lamb--On July 13, 2006 when it became obvious that Israel was trying to launch a deep penetration into Lebanon both the US and the French vetoed any participation by the Lebanese army in the conflict. Both expected Hezbollah to take a real beating by Israeli forces while being blamed by the Lebanese for the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure.

MW--- In a recent article, you cite a "Policy Declaration" that was issued on November 26, 2009 by the Lebanese government which states: "It is the right of the Lebanese people, Army and the (Hezbollah led—ed.) Resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the northern part of the village of Ghajar as well as to defend Lebanon and its territorial waters in the face of any enemy by all available and legal means.”

This is a stunning development. Doesn't this basically "legitimize" Hezbollah (armed resistance) and leave US/Israeli policy in ruins?

Franklin Lamb---The Lebanese government “Policy Declaration” affixes Lebanon’s imprimatur to what has been a fact for many years and that is the arms of the Hezbollah led National Lebanese resistance will remain and dramatically increase until Lebanon is no longer occupied or threatened and until Palestine is fully liberated or the Palestinians themselves agree on how much of their land they will agree to accept. Some here don’t like to speak publicly about the second point but its clear in my view. The ‘peace process’ in a cruel hoax perpetrated on the Palestinian people and only by an international Resistance led by Hezbollah will the Zionist colonial enterprise be expelled and the full Right of Return realized. My personal view is that history shows clearly that only Resistance, in its hundreds of forms, in its persistence in uniting the many to defeat the few, will achieve Liberation and Return.

You are quite correct in my view that the “Policy Declaration” legitimizes the arms of the National Lebanese Resistance. But the United States and Israel will continue to employ their projects and arsenals to achieve a “New Middle East”. Their intervention in Lebanon and the region teaches us that they will fail but will likely shed much blood in the process. As Israel continues to weaken and fracture, America may well be able to normalize relations with the Middle East countries based on mutual respect and fair dealing among sovereign states.

MW---Israel has attacked or invaded Lebanon 6 times in the last 60 years. Why hasn't the Lebanese government developed a credible deterrent to Israeli aggression? Weapons systems, larger army, special forces etc?

Franklin Lamb---The 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war, which in some ways continues today in a ‘cold war’ phase was a factor in preventing a national identity forming or enough unity to support a national force. Frankly this situation obtains still.

In addition, the US has not allowed effective weapons to be given to the Lebanese Armed Forces without Israeli agreement and because 60% of command structure of the Lebanese Army, which historically has been overwhelming Maronite and Phalange Christian is believed now to be Shia or supportive of Hezbollah. You will recall that in 1975 and in 1983-84 the army split deeply along sectarian lines. The US believes this might happen again or, worse from their point of view, the arms would be used to defend Lebanon against Israeli attacks or conceivably to help liberate Palestine. American ‘military’ aid is limited to shoring up the internal Lebanese policing agencies to ‘fight terrorism’ as the EU Embassy regularly declares. I do not believe the LAF is in danger of fracturing currently and when the next war comes they will likely fight Israel to the best of their limited ability, alongside Hezbollah, Palestinians, regional volunteers and others.

MW---You recently reprinted part of the Hezbollah Manifesto which stated:

"We want a government that works for its citizens and provides the appropriate services in their education and medical care and housing to secure a decent life and to address the problem of poverty and provide employment opportunities..."We want a government that works to strengthen the role of women in society and enhance their participation in all fields"...and that “guarantees public liberties, ensures national unity and protects its sovereignty and independence with a strong and capable army.”

Is Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah sincerely committed to democracy or is this some kind of public relations scam?

Franklin Lamb---Well, Mike certainly he works, as does the Party’s numerous institutions of education, medical services, women’s and youth groups to broaden Hezbollah’s appeal among the Lebanese population. I think Hezbollah’s New Manifesto reflects this and reveals their evolution over the past quarter century.

Nasrallah is not a small D democrat in the sense that you or I might think we are. He accepts the authority of Iran’s Supreme leader, Ali Khameini as Hezbollah’s Wali al Faqui (jurisconsult). He believes there is a major role for religious authorites in achieving a fair and just society and that they are more qualified than the masses to make religious and many political decisions. The Wali al fiqui, for example, has life and death authority over all subjects civil and religious based on an 11th century Shia interpretation of the Koran used by Grand Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iran Revolution. Both Khomein and Khameini have nearly complete power. Hasrallah agrees with this but does declare from time that it is not suitable for Lebanon and Hezbollah has rejected the idea of an Isalmic Republic for Lebanon which was in their first “open letter” of 1985. That is far to much power in one leader to be democratic. Some have said that its like giving the religious powers of the Pope, who claims infallibility in all matters of Church and combining them with infallibility in all matters of politics. The Wali was not elected and many, if not the majority of Shia, reject this recent innovation.

Having said that, it appears incongruous but Hezbollah is considered the most secular sect in Lebanon with the exception of the Palestinians. Hezbollah supporting Shia women wear shorts or Hijab depending on their personal preferences. The Party no longer enforces dress codes nor does it bar women from any aspect of its work except armed combat. In many ways women and youth run Hezbollah’s institutions.

Shia Islam has a long history of seeking justice for the downtrodden and this is reflected in its modern views as noted in its recent Manifesto. It offers its political platform during elections and is now the most active party in Parliament working for what we in the west would call a progressive liberal agenda. Nasrallah and Hezbollah want universal health care, universal affordable education and state sponsored jobs programs. It is why in 1992 Hezbollah decided to enter into Lebanese electoral contests. It felt is could achieve a better quality of life for all Lebanese and it has been doing that.

---Why is Nasrallah demonized as a terrorist and a religious fanatic in the western media?

Franklin Lamb---He is demonized because he is a threat of US-Israeli plans to dominate the Middle East, obtain its oil resources and exercise hegemony. His appeal to too broad and it is growing across sectarian lines.

It has been easy, without proof, for Israel and its US lobby and the American government to cite the 1980’s and the resistance to US forces in Lebanon that joined Lebanon’s civil war against the majority of the population as terrorism. It was not terrorism for the Lebanese resistance to attacks those who were killing Lebanese civilians and aiding on faction. When US forces ceded their peacekeeping missions to joining one side they became legitimate military targets under the laws of armed conflicts.

One reason Hezbollah has so much support is that it has done much for the Shia population and others living in its areas. Their schools, hospitals, social services, are considered among the best in Lebanon and the Middle East. Their social programs benefit them politically and socially.

Repeated charges of Terrorism and religious fanaticism in the pro Israel main stream media obviously affect the popular western view of Hezbollah but they are not credited much in this region. Lebanon’s population tends to believe that such charges are politically motivated and they are not taken seriously.

Franklin P. Lamb, PhD is the Director of Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut and the Acting Chair of the Sabra-Shatila Memorial Scholarship Program Laptop Initiative Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp

Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Monday, 25 January 2010

haiti - venezuela: disinformation in full swing




Venezuela. Propaganda war being waged against Hugo Chavez. Venezuelan leader never accused U.S. of launching an earthquake weapon against Haiti. Chavez was erroneously connected to a story on the Internet penned by "Sorcha Faal," a notorious Internet hoaxer whose is also known as David Booth. Booth/Faal normally claims to be funneling information from Russian government sources.


Hugo Chavez Did Not Accuse the U.S. of Causing the Haitian Earthquake

by The Anti Press

Chávez acusa a EE.UU. de provocar el seísmo de HaitíOn January 19, Spanish newspaper ABC, a newspaper of record in Spain, published a story entitled "Chavez Accuses US of Causing Earthquake in Haiti."

The story was quickly picked up by websites around the globe -- most quoting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as saying the U.S. used a new tectonic weapon to induce the Haitian earthquake. This was, according to Chavez -- "only a drill, and the final target is destroying and taking over Iran."

Within the actual story, ABC noted that the information came from an obscure opinion post on the website of a Venezuelan state television channel, VIVE Television. The post referenced a supposed Russian military report on American seismic weapons.

All quotes subsequently attributed to Chavez regarding Haiti and earthquake weapons were in fact direct quotes from this web posting -- none of which was ever uttered by Chavez.

Spurred on by the international attention being received by its first story, ABC posted a second article on January 20 under the banner "The Secret Weapon to Cause Earthquakes" in which it cites Chavez as having blamed the US for razing Haiti.

By the time the story had run its course, it had been covered with varying degrees of accuracy by corporate news channels, foreign outlets eager to accuse the U.S. of another evil deed, and conspiracy websites happy to have their ideas officially validated.

In the end, it serves as one more reminder to those who prefer truth over ideological delusion: there are some subjects for which the myths of journalistic standards will still be displayed -- stories about the government of Venezuela are not one of those subjects.

This article was first published by The Anti Press on 22 January 2010; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes. Vea también: "Otra mentira de la prensa derechista: Chávez se suma a la teoría conspiranoica del HAARP" (, 20 Enero 2010).

belgique: "jaures, reviens, ils sont devenus fous !"


Cet article a été publié le Lundi 25 janvier 2010 à 10:16

INBEV : Les syndicats mis en bière

Impuissants. Marx et Jésus n’y peuvent rien. Ni la FGTB ni le Mouvement ouvrier chrétien et sa Centrale syndicale chrétienne n’est capable d’inverser la logique infernale de la mondialisation capitaliste. De Côte d’Or à Fortis, les joyaux de la couronne sont tous passés sous pavillon étranger dans l’indifférence générale des « représentants des travailleurs ». Tout pour les actionnaires, rien pour les ouvriers ? Alors que la logique ultra-financière, trahison de l’esprit d’entreprise a lobotomisé nos richissimes familles belges propriétaires d’InBev, les syndicats contemplent le désastre de notre Jupiler nationale avec les méthodes du 19e siècle : arrêts de travail, piquets de grève moules frites, prières au Ciel des permanents qui ne savent pas sur quoi négocier. Et qui s’en foutent. Du moment qu’on sauve la peau des délégués, la valetaille ouvrière peut aller pointer au chômage.

Est-ce que la diminution de la consommation de bière justifiait 300 licenciements au pays de la Bière ? Evidemment non. Mais face à la mondialisation et aux centres de décision lointains et hautains, face aux délocalisations [cette fois en Hongrie], ça fait belle lurette que les directions syndicales ont abdiqué. Forts de 600 millions d’euros de recettes selon une enquête explosive de Trends-Tendance datant déjà de 2002 [la CSC y reconnaissait 250 millions de recettes et 25 millions placés au… Luxembourg], on ne peut pourtant pas dire que les « défenseurs des travailleurs » manquent de moyens. Dans la fonction publique, l’Etat paie des centaines de permanents à faire du syndicalisme à plein temps. Les délégués syndicaux sont protégés par une indemnité de licenciement qui varie entre 4 et 8 ans. Ils sont partout : à l’INASTI, à l’ONEM, à l’Office des Pensions, au Bureau du Plan, à l’INAMI, à la commission de l’Index. Ils sont juges dans les tribunaux du Travail. Leurs services juridiques [le Setca bruxellois notamment] pèsent autant que des gros cabinets d’avocats. Ils co-écrivent le droit du travail. La FGTB assiste chaque vendredi au bureau du PS, le Mouvement ouvrier chrétien a enfanté plusieurs ministres et même un Premier ministre. Et rien que le paiement du chômage leur rapporte 12 euros par versement [soit la bagatelle de presque 150 millions d’euros chaque année]. Des centaines d’employés des syndicats ne font que ça : payer les chômeurs. Et tant que la CAPAC [la caisse auxiliaire [sic] de paiement des allocations de chômage] dysfonctionne avec la bénédiction de son conseil d’administration contrôlé par les syndicats, la manne céleste n’est pas prête de se tarir. Oui : vous avez tout compris: quand le chômage baisse, les syndicats licencient, quand il augmente, par ici la caisse enregistreuse!
Confortablement assis à signer des accords inter-professionnels interminables pour décider d’une ou deux décimales sur votre feuille de paie, c’est pas demain que ces lourdingues iront défendre nos intérêts au Brésil ou en Inde. Jaurès, reviens, ils sont devenus fous !

Karl UBU

yemen: huthi rebels cease-fire announced


17:56 cet
jan 25th 2010


Zaidi rebels announce truce with Saudi Arabia

Al Arabiya television reported on Monday that Abdul Malik al-Huthi, the leader of Yemen's Shiite-Zaidi “Huthi” rebels, has announced a cease-fire with Saudi Arabia. “We announce our total withdrawal from all the Saudi positions and territories under the control of the Saudi regime,” he said in an audio message first broadcasted on the insurgency website Alminbar al-ikhbari.

In this audio, the rebel leader stated that his group would pull out all its fighters from Saudi territories. He stated that he had offered this initiative to “avoid more bloodshed and to stop aggression on civilians.”

However, he demanded Saudi Arabia to stop immediately its attacks against his group's positions in the north-western Yemeni province of Saada. “Its (Saudi Arabia) insistence to continue the aggression after this initiative gives us the legitimacy to open new fronts and to wage an open war,” Abdul Malik al-Huthi warned


Saudis suffer heavy losses in Yemen's other war

Patrick Martin


Globe and Mail

Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 5:07AM EST

In Yemen, one war must end before another can really begin.

In order to free up forces to confront al-Qaeda operatives in the country, Yemeni troops and their Saudi allies have intensified the fight against Huthi rebels in the northern province of Saada.

The operation, dubbed “Blow to the Head,” is being waged against a group that has fought Yemen's government since 2004, complaining of economic and religious marginalization. The Huthi are members of a Shia sect, known as Zaydism, and they once ruled in the north of the mostly Sunni country.

The recent surge has not come without casualties. While Yemen remains mum about its losses, Saudi Arabia announced this weekend that 133 Saudi troops have been killed in the fighting. The figures took account of the bodies of 20 missing Saudi soldiers found late last week.

Prince Khaled bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister, also told reporters that Riyadh has “confirmed information” that al-Qaeda has been communicating and co-ordinating tactics with the Huthis. It is a charge that both Yemen and Saudi government officials have made several times in recent months, without substantiation.

The latest charge comes just days before a pivotal conference opens Wednesday in London. The two-day meeting is intended to focus world attention on what Yemen needs to effectively combat terrorist activities in its hinterland. Saudi Arabia launched its operations against the rebels in November after accusing them of killing a Saudi border guard and occupying two Saudi villages near the frontier.

It was to avoid such high losses – unheard of in Saudi Arabia where its army has seldom been tested in battle – that Riyadh sought a painless way to conduct its fighting.

The country's first action was carried out by Saudi warplanes that bombed several Huthi positions on both sides of the border. Since then, however, the Saudi infantry also has been thrust into battle, as the aerial assault proved ineffective.

“It was very embarrassing to have the Huthi occupying Saudi territory,” said Abdel-Ghani Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst.

“Initially, they [the Saudis] entered the war thinking they would easily defeat the Huthi.”

Unable to win from the air, and leery about taking too many losses on the ground, the Saudi operation has increasingly relied on fighters from another Yemeni group, the Hashed tribe, to take the fight to the Huthi.

The Hashed, who hail from the north-central province of Amran, have long been rivals of the Huthi.

“The trouble is, these tribesmen have an incentive in continuing the fighting,” Mr. Iryani said, noting that they make a great deal of money from fighting for the Saudis.

Sometimes, Mr. Iryani said, they come up with some ingenious schemes to prolong it.

“If they're given the mission of taking a particular mountain, for example, they'll call up the Huthi leaders and tell them: ‘We're getting five million riyals to take the mountain. We'll split it with you if you withdraw tonight and let us take over.'“ “After the tribesmen take charge, they hand it over to the Saudis,” he said. “The next day, the Huthi return and defeat the Saudis and retake the mountain.”

“It's been happening like this for weeks.”

Such tactics have brought on the increase in Saudi fatalities, it would seem.

“Saudi Arabia got sucked into the war because they wanted to take charge of the region and have more influence in Yemen as a whole,” Mr. Iryani said.

Until the 1960s, Saudi Arabia dominated the region, even supporting the Zaydi imamate (leadership) of the Huthi, and supporting various other tribes as well. After the war that brought Yemeni republicans to power in the mid 1960s, however, Riyadh and Sanaa quarrelled over their mutual border, only settling their differences in 2000 with the signing of the Jeddah Treaty.

Over the years, Saudi Arabia has sought to maintain its influence in the area – through financial incentives with the Yemeni leadership and through close relations with some of the tribes in the border areas, but not the Huthi.

The Huthi, whom some claim now are being supported by Iran, have distanced themselves from the once-supportive Saudi authorities, even though claims of Iranian sponsorship have never been fully substantiated.

A desire to curry favour with Islamist fringes that oppose the Shiites might also have been behind the Saudi intervention, says Joost Hiltermann, deputy program director for the Middle East at the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Hiltermann notes that last year's merging of the terrorist groups al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda in Yemen, as well as the group's relocation to Yemen, are worrying to Riyadh.

With good reason: In August, the group claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's top counterterrorism official.

However, says Mr. Hiltermann, “the capacity of Yemen-based al-Qaeda militants to carry out [such] attacks beyond the border … is unlikely to be reduced by Saudi Arabia's military intervention.” Such an intervention will likely serve only to expand areas of instability where groups such as al-Qaeda can find safe haven, he said.

But it's hard for Riyadh to resist taking some kind of action.

“The Saudis see what's happening in Yemen [the push to end the fighting against the Huthi] and can't let the war end while Huthis are still occupying some of their territory,” Mr. Iryani said.

“That's why the sense of urgency.”


Sunday, 24 January 2010

kelly's murder, raison d'etat: 70 years secret!


David Kelly post mortem to be kept secret for 70 years as doctors accuse Lord Hutton of concealing vital information

By Miles Goslett

23rd January 2010

Vital evidence which could solve the mystery of the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly will be kept under wraps for up to 70 years.

In a draconian – and highly unusual – order, Lord Hutton, the peer who chaired the controversial inquiry into the Dr Kelly scandal, has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem, and unpublished evidence.

The move, which will stoke fresh speculation about the true circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death, comes just days before Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.

It is also bound to revive claims of an establishment cover-up and fresh questions about the verdict that Dr Kelly killed himself.

Dr David Kelly

Whistle-blower: Dr Kelly died after casting doubt on Government claims about Saddam's weapons

Tonight, Dr Michael Powers QC, a doctor campaigning to overturn the Hutton findings, said: ‘What is it about David Kelly’s death which is so secret as to justify these reports being kept out of the public domain for 70 years?’

Campaigning Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has also questioned the verdict that Dr Kelly committed suicide, said: ‘It is astonishing this is the first we’ve known about this decision by Lord Hutton and even more astonishing he should have seen fit to hide this material away.’

The body of former United Nations weapons inspector Dr Kelly was found in July 2003 in woods close to his Oxfordshire home, shortly after he was exposed as the source of a BBC news report questioning the Government’s claims that

Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Lord Hutton’s 2004 report, commissioned by Mr Blair, concluded that Dr Kelly killed himself by cutting his wrist with a blunt gardening knife.

It was dismissed by many experts as a whitewash for clearing the Government of any culpability, despite evidence that it had leaked Dr Kelly’s name in an attempt to smear him.

Only now has it emerged that a year after his inquiry was completed, Lord Hutton took unprecedented action to ensure that the vital evidence remains a state secret for so long.

A letter, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, revealed that a 30-year ban was placed on ‘records provided [which were] not produced in evidence’. This is thought to refer to witness statements given to the inquiry which were not disclosed at the time.

In addition, it has now been established that Lord Hutton ordered all medical reports – including the post-mortem findings by pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt and photographs of Dr Kelly’s body – to remain classified information for 70 years.

The normal rules on post-mortems allow close relatives and ‘properly interested persons’ to apply to see a copy of the report and to ‘inspect’ other documents.

Lord Hutton’s measure has overridden these rules, so the files will not be opened until all such people are likely to be dead.

Last night, the Ministry of Justice was unable to explain the legal basis for Lord Hutton’s order.

The restrictions came to light in a letter from the legal team of Oxfordshire County Council to a group of doctors who are challenging the Hutton verdict.

Last year, a group of doctors, including Dr Powers, compiled a medical dossier as part of their legal challenge to the Hutton verdict.

They argue that Hutton’s conclusion that Dr Kelly killed himself by severing the ulnar artery in his left wrist after taking an overdose of prescription painkillers is untenable because the artery is small and difficult to access, and severing it could not have caused death.

In their 12-page opinion, they concluded: ‘The bleeding from Dr Kelly’s ulnar artery is highly unlikely to have been so voluminous and rapid that it was the cause of death. We advise the instructing solicitors to obtain the autopsy reports so that the concerns of a group of properly interested medical specialists can be answered.’

Tonight, Dr Powers, a former assistant coroner, added: ‘Supposedly all evidence relevant to the cause of death has been heard in public at the time of Lord Hutton’s inquiry. If these secret reports support the suicide finding, what could they contain that could be so sensitive?’

The letter disclosing the 70-year restriction was written by Nick Graham, assistant head of legal and democratic services at Oxfordshire Council.

It states: ‘Lord Hutton made a request for the records provided to the inquiry, not produced in evidence, to be closed for 30 years, and that medical (including post-mortem) reports and photographs be closed for 70 years.’

Nicholas Gardiner, the Chief Coroner for Oxfordshire, confirmed that he had seen the letter.

Lord Hutton

Order: Lord Hutton has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday today, he said: ‘I know that Lord Hutton made that recommendation. Someone told me at the time. Anybody concerned will be dead by then, and that is quite clearly Lord Hutton’s intention.’

Asked what was in the records that made it necessary for them to be embargoed, Mr Gardiner said: ‘They’re Lord Hutton’s records not mine. You’d have to ask him.’

He added that in his opinion Lord Hutton had embargoed the records to protect Dr Kelly’s children.

The inquest into Dr Kelly’s death was suspended before it could begin by the then Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer. He used the Coroners Act to designate the Hutton Inquiry as ‘fulfilling the function of an inquest’.

News that the records will be kept secret comes just days before Mr Blair gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Friday.

To date, Dr Kelly’s name has scarcely been mentioned at the inquiry. One source who held a private meeting with Sir John Chilcot before the proceedings began said that Sir John had admitted he ‘did not want to touch the Kelly issue’ .

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘Any decision made by Lord Hutton at the time of his inquiry was entirely a matter for him.’

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said yesterday that it would not be possible to search their records during the weekend.

The Mail on Sunday was unable to contact Lord Hutton.

iraq: baathists plan panarab sunni coup


Baath plans 'Meteor Revolution' in Iraq

Sat, 23 Jan 2010

19:23:16 GMT

A report suggests that Baath, the outlawed party of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is to launch a coup in the lead-up to the country's elections.

The allegations emanate from a new classified document obtained by some Iraqi parties from the dissolved faction's leaders based at home or abroad.

According to the document, the Baath party, in cooperation with some Arab states, most notably Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, and in coordination with some current Iraqi political heavyweights plans to stage a comeback through a military coup, codenamed Naizak (Meteor).

Jordan recently hosted a major Baath meeting, in which the former party leader, Saddam was glorified through special a ceremony, it adds.

The 38-page document, which is yet to be verified by the Iraqi security authorities, identifies some of the prerequisites for a successful coup as: Infiltration into the body and the leadership of the Iraqi security and military apparatuses, weakening of the incumbent government through disturbance of the security situation with widespread explosions that cause maximum casualties, rumor-mongering across the society, penetration into the institutions linked to the provinces hosting holy Shia sites, recruiting tribesmen and identification of the tribal leaders with Baathist orientations.

The papers refers to some famous Iraqi political figures, specially the Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the first post-Saddam Iraqi prime minister and the head of the secular Al-Iraqiya Alliance party, Ayad Allaw, as advocates of a Baathist return.

Al-Hashemi complicated the passage of an electoral law last year by using his veto power to bar an earlier version of the law. Allawi was, at the time of his premiership, widely known as a US ally and operative in the initial American-installed government in Iraq. His attempts to win back his position in the next two elections soundly failed.

The two, the document says, are in secret contact with the Baath leaders and the Arab countries disappointed by the current political trend in Iraq.

It alleges that the Saudi security apparatus is responsible for funding the uprising, while the Egyptian intelligence service leads its planning and the manner in which the coup scheme is to be implemented.

The document, drawn up last year, also refers to al-Hashemi's clandestine meeting in Jordan with the head of the Saudi security apparatus and Allawi's contact with some Baath leaders and Arab authorities.

It names Shia politicians Abbas al-Bayati and Karim Fuzi in connection with likely assassination attempts against political figures in the run-up to the March 7 parliamentary polls as a means of disturbing the domestic situation.

Though the papers have not specified a timetable, experts say the political developments and massive explosions throughout the past weeks and months match the details referred to in the document.

The current government of Premier Nouri al-Maliki has been named there as the biggest obstacle to the realization the Baath's goals.

The text, accordingly, urges that a second victory by the current government be prevented. To this end, it concluded, insecurity must be spread across the country, high-profile political figures should question the government's deficiencies and the Arab media should offer their relevant cooperation.

The text also refers to secret contact between some Baath leaders and American officers without giving details.


'US to surrender Iraq to extremists'

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:02:23 GMT

An Iraqi parliamentarian warns of alleged US plans to surrender the country to extremists, urging resistance on the part of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Press Agency (IPA) quoted female Shia lawmaker Maha al-Douri as saying that the United States aims to cede the country to Baath, the outlawed party of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and Takfiris — both considered to be extremist groups.

Al-Douri, which serves the parliamentarian bloc associated with senior Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, said a recent visit by US Vice President Joe Biden had been in line with the plans.

Biden met with the Iraqi leadership on Saturday after the country's Justice and Accountability Commission barred more than 500 candidates from contesting the country's eagerly-anticipated parliamentary elections on March 7, linking some of the questionable figures to the Baath party.

The visit, some say, was aimed at reversing the decision

The IPA called Biden an advocate of Iraq's disintegration into three federal states along ethnic and religious lines, the US 2003 invasion of the country and 2001 occupation of Afghanistan.

Two of the candidates barred by the commission were Dhafer al-Ani and Saleh al-Mutlaq, who reportedly had strong Baathist orientations.

Al-Ani prompted concerns after he lavished praise on the Baath in several television interviews. Iraq's President Jalal Talabani subsequently ordered for al-Ani to be stripped of his immunity as the chairperson of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the parliament's largest Sunni Arab bloc and that he be tried in a court of law.

Al-Douri said Iraq should not bow to US demands as submission equaled ignoring the country's sovereignty and violating the Iraqis' civil rights.

Meanwhile, a new classified document, obtained by some Iraqi parties from the Baath leaders based at home or abroad, says that the Baath is after staging a comeback on the political stage through a coup.

The subversive plan is to be implemented in cooperation with some Arab states and coordination with a number of current Iraqi political heavyweights, it added

The document has named some famous Iraqi political figures, specially Allaw and Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi as advocates of a Baathist return, claiming the two are secretly contacting the Baath leaders and the Arab countries disappointed by the current political trend in Iraq.

It also referred to secret liaison between some Baath leaders and American officers without giving details.


global warming: wwf retreats melting glaciers claim



20 January 2010

WWF recently became aware that a 2005 report contained erroneous information about the rate at which glaciers are melting in the Himalayas

The WWF report, An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China, quoted an article published in 1999 which predicted a high likelihood of Himalayan glaciers disappearing entirely by 2035 due to climate change.
Although scientists remain deeply concerned about glacier retreat in that region, this particular prediction has subsequently proved to be incorrect.

At the time the WWF report was issued, we believed the source of the statement to be reliable and accurate.

We regret any confusion caused by our role in repeating the erroneous quote in the 2005 report and in subsequent publications and statements.

As the world’s leading science-based conservation organisation, WWF is strongly committed to ensuring the information we provide to the public is thoroughly reviewed to meet the highest standards of accuracy.

Our offices around the world are taking action to correct this information in WWF publications and websites.

pakistan: us "gunboat" diplomacy


What Robert Gates Didn’t Say - And US Media Hides - About Blackwater In Pakistan

Two Pakistani employees of an American defense contractor engaged by the US Embassy in Islamabad have been linked to two attacks on Pakistani military and the assassination of a Brigadier. If this is not alarming, then consider that US Ambassador Anne Patterson’s name has come up in an investigation where thousands of dollars were paid in bribes to Interior Ministry to smuggle illegal weapons into Pakistan. Not to mention how Washington is empowering India in Afghanistan at Pakistan’s cost. When Pakistan takes countermeasures, US officials like Mr. Gates and Mr. Holbrooke accuse Pakistan of ‘anti-Americanism’ and harassing US diplomats. Time for some straight talk.


Saturday, 23 January 2010.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—US Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted during an interview with a Pakistani TV station that Blackwater [now ‘Xe International’] and DynCorp are operating in Pakistan. Immediately after the statement, Pentagon tried to put a spin on his words.

But US meddling inside Pakistan –by posting private US defense contractors under diplomatic cover of the US embassy – is a reality for most Pakistanis. Some of these Americans have been caught disguised as Taliban right in the heart of Islamabad. Some Pakistanis were manhandled by some of these American militiamen on the streets of at least two Pakistani cities in recent months.

Since Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan despite all the US direct and indirect misinformation, these US covert operators were arrested on several occasions.

The mainstream US media continues to keep the good American people and the world opinion in the dark about this. But this is probably one of the biggest untold stories in America’s war on terror. This is about United States trying to put boots on the ground inside Pakistan through the help of a pro-US government in Islamabad that shares [or at least key figures in it] the US objective of containing and limiting the ability of Pakistan’s military to influence the country’s foreign policy. This is about Pakistan wanting to keep an independent foreign policy versus Pakistan blindly serving US policy on Afghanistan, India and China.

Mr. Gates tried to put a gloss on this US covert meddling when he said, ‘Well, they're [Blackwater and DynCorp] operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.’

Not true. The truth is that the issue is so serious that, according to Pakistani investigators, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson is a suspect in a case of bribes amounting to little over US $ 270,000 paid by DynCorp in 2009 to senior officials at the federal Interior Ministry in Pakistan. The money went in exchange for allowing illegal weapons into Pakistan to be used by private US defense contractors without informing the country’s security departments and intelligence agencies. Ms. Patterson personally lobbied Pakistani officials for this concession to DynCorp. She even wrote a letter to Pakistani officials, followed by a letter by her Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Gerald Feierstein, asking Pakistani Interior Ministry officials to issue permits for weapons to be used by DynCorp in the ‘entire territory of Pakistan.’ The US ambassador is directly linked to the probe, which has resulted in the arrest of a key aide to Pakistan’s Minister of State for the Interior. But the government of President Zardari will not dare allow Pakistani investigators to pursue US Ambassador’s role in the scandal. A key question in the probe is how the US Embassy and DynCorp allowed the cargo of illegal weapons into Pakistan. According to one lead, a huge cache of weapons reached a Pakistani tribal leader on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, who in turn wrote to the Interior Ministry announcing he was ‘gifting’ the weapons to a Pakistani subcontractor of DynCorp.

Incidents like this and others raised alarm bells inside Pakistani security departments and the intelligence community. In effect, key figures in President Zardari’s government were found to have given approval for the entry of a large number of US citizens into Pakistan for ‘official US government business’ without explaining what that is. When Pakistani authorities tried to get to the bottom of how private US defense contractors ended up inside Pakistan in large numbers and what they were exactly doing here, US officials and media launched what appears to be a media trial of Pakistan, accusing the country of ‘harassing’ US diplomats and denying visas to them because of alleged anti-Americanism.

The unwillingness of the Zardari government to confront Washington and Pakistan’s generally weak media outreach skills allowed Washington to pain this as a case of anti-Americanism fueled by war on terror.

‘Conspiracy theories’ is another label that US officials and media have increasingly used recently as a cover to hide serious violations of diplomatic norms and sovereignty involving undercover private US operatives inside Pakistan.

This is how the Wall Street Journal tried to delegitimize serious Pakistani concerns raised during Mr. Gates’ visit in a report filed from Islamabad whose opening line read as follows, “U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is overseeing wars with Sunni militants in Iraq and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, he's facing a different foe: the pervasive conspiracy theories that fuel widespread anti-American feelings here.”

The truth is that there are no conspiracy theories but real events, reported and documented, that raise questions over US political, diplomtic, and covert meddling inside Pakistan. Here is a list:

1. NUCLEAR ESPIONAGE: In July 2009, four US ‘diplomats’ were arrested inside the maximum security perimeter around Pakistan’s premier nuclear facility at Kahuta. They failed to tell Pakistani investigators what they were doing there and how they managed to slip through the security checkpoints in the area. US Embassy intervened to rescue the four ‘diplomats’ after almost three hours in detention, citing diplomatic immunity. President Zardari’s government refused to let Pakistani security authorities press charges.

2. SUSPICIOUS CONDUCT: On Oct. 6, 2009, Pakistani police arrested two Dutch diplomats roaming the streets of Islamabad without a number plate carrying advanced weapons. Pakistani police were surprised when security personnel from the US Embassy reached the scene to rescue the Dutch. The Americans used their contacts within the Zardari government to get everyone released. Later, Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US and Dutch diplomats for a private meeting over the incident. But the Pakistani government refused to demand a public explanation from US and Dutch diplomats despite recommendations from police and security officials.

3. FACILITATING INDIAN ACTIVITIES: In this high profile case in May 2009, a US diplomat arranged a small meeting between an Indian diplomat and several senior Pakistani federal government officials at a private house. The invited Pakistanis worked in civilian positions, including one with access to Prime Minister’s Office. It appeared that the US diplomat was basically facilitating the Indian to meet senior officials who otherwise would be inaccessible for him. Pakistan Foreign Office took serious exception to the meeting, publicly reprimanded the Pakistani officials who attended the meeting but stopped short of seeking explanation from the US embassy. According to Pakistani investigators, for a US diplomat to indulge in facilitating possible espionage linked to an Indian diplomat was a matter of grave concern. It also fitted with the US policy of exercising tremendous pressure on the pro-US government in Islamabad to give concessions to India at the expense of Pakistani strategic interests.

4. COVERT US MILITIAS IN THE HEART OF PAKISTAN: In September 2009, undercover US agents were found to have recruited a total of 100 former elite Pakistani military commandos to create rapid-intervention teams for unknown purposes. A 100 more were under training at a secret facility camouflaged as a workshop on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital when it was raided by Pakistani police. It turned out that DynCorp was training the men. US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson brought DynCorp to Pakistan by telling Pakistani officials that the private defense contractor would provide security to embassy buildings. But she never explained why DynCorp was secretly raising private militias on Pakistani soil without informing the Pakistani government or military or the intelligence agencies. Some of those who were under training at the time of the raid said that DynCorp focused on recruiting retired officers who had links and contacts within the Pakistani military and could glean information from their sources. [See video and pictures]

5. PUSHY US DIPLOMATS: The US Embassy in Islamabad has made it its business to mount pressure on owners of Pakistani newspapers to curtail or expel columnists and commentators critical of US policy. Of special target are those who expose how US Embassy is meddling in Pakistani affairs and expanding the US footprint inside Pakistan. Last year, Ambassador Patterson sent a letter to one of the largest Pakistani media groups accusing a columnist of endangering American lives and succeeded in pushing her out. The US Embassy is also recruiting opinion makers within the Pakistani media, academia and military in order to promote the US agenda even at the cost of Pakistani interests, dismissing critics as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and accusing them of anti-Americanism. A senior Pakistani journalist Syed Talat Hussain exposed US activities in the following words, “Pro-American lobby in Pakistan is growing in direct proportion to the scaling up of suspicions about the US. The main task of this lobby is to reduce the complexity of the US’s objectives towards Pakistan to romantic levels of trust (…) A motley crew of former diplomats, retired generals, socialites, slick civil society begums, self-styled analysts, businessmen, journalists, and now also lawyers — they are the darlings of the US embassy staff. They are the instruments of positive outreach and public diplomacy that US diplomats are so keen to expand in Pakistan.”

6. HARASSING PAKISTANIS: Private US security contractors, or militiamen, have been involved in at least three incidents registered by the Pakistani police where armed Americans physically assaulted unarmed ordinary Pakistanis in public places. In one case, the nephew of a senior member of President Zardari’s own government was manhandled and locked up in the toilet of a gas station by men described as armed military-looking civilian Americans.

7. RESISTING POLICE CHECKS: In at least five incidents, US ‘diplomats’ disguised as Taliban, complete with beards and Pashto language skills, were stopped at several police checkpoints in Islamabad and Peshawar. In some cases, these American ‘diplomats’ tried to speed through police barriers. In one recent case, this resulted in a brief police chase, where a Pakistani officer dragged the US ‘diplomats’ back to the police picket and forced the Americans to apologize to Pakistani police officers. Again, no charges were pressed because these private US agents carried diplomatic passports.

8. ENGINEEING DOMESTIC POLITICS: As recently as December 2009, US ambassador in Islamabad was found meeting senior Pakistani politicians at private homes of mutual friends in unannounced meetings restricted to 3 to 4 persons. The ambassador asked her guests to publicly support the embattled pro-US President Zardari. US diplomats in Islamabad and officials in Washington have been blatantly interfering in Pakistani politics. In addition to helping form the incumbent coalition government in Islamabad, made up of pro-US parties, US officials have been busy trying to save both Mr. Zardari and his key political adviser and ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. US officials in Washington have been briefing sympathetic US journalists about this. In one case, columnist Trudy Rubin had this to say while discussing Pakistan in an article published last month: “Here is the first piece of good news: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari seems to have weathered a campaign by opponents, including the military, to force him out of office. Zardari has deep flaws, but his ouster would have hampered efforts to fight the jihadis. So would the removal, now averted, of Pakistan's effective ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, whom the Pakistani military had unfairly blamed for conditions that Congress imposed on aid to Pakistan.”

9. BRIBES AND ILLEGAL WEAPONS: This case is stunning because of the direct involvement of US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson in lobbying for DynCorp. The company ended up bribing Interior Ministry officials to smuggle banned weapons into Pakistan and then went on to raise private militias and hire retired Pakistani military officers to run rapid deployment teams and possibly even spy on the Pakistani military.

10. DEMONIZATION OF PAKISTAN: Since 2007, US officials and US media has systematically demonized Pakistan worldwide, creating false alarm over Pakistan’s strategic arsenal. US officials and media have also pushed to bracket Pakistan along with Iraq and Afghanistan in order to justify a possible military intervention. When Pakistan resisted US meddling recently, US media again went on rampage, accusing Pakistan of ‘anti-Americanism’ and harassment of US diplomats. Additionally, there has been a marked increase of lectures and studies by US think-tanks inviting unknown separatist individuals and groups to speak and fan ethnic separatism inside Pakistan and theorize on the breakup of the country.

11. ABETTING TERROR INSIDE PAKISTAN: The suspicions about why DynCorp was secretly raising private militias inside the federal Pakistani capital almost turned real when a suspect in the attack on the Pakistani military headquarters in October 2009 was allegedly found to have been recruited by DynCorp. In a second case, another suspected DynCorp recruit was found involved in assassinating a senior Pakistani military officer as he drove to work. In other words, two Pakistani employees of a US defense contractor engaged by the US embassy have been linked to two terrorist attacks on the Pakistani military. Add to this that Pakistan’s military and intelligence are a favorite punching bag for the United States and its allies, like India and Britain, and the picture of what the US is doing in Pakistan becomes even more disturbing.

These points explain how ill-motivated the US complaints about delaying visas and alleged anti-Americanism in Pakistan are. This is what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Gates are loath to share with the American people and the world public opinion.

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