MEMORIAL DAY 2015: Can We Write Our Own Story?

By Joe Scarry

In past years, I’ve reminded people that Memorial Day is a day, most of all, to renew our commitment to NOT waging war.

In 2012, in particular, I was thinking about this in the wake of the NATO Summit in Chicago:“THIS Memorial Day, Honor the Fallen: STOP Drone Killing!”

Instead of waiting for Memorial Day to come, and silently lamenting the useless loss of life and the fact that the world isn’t turning toward peace, shouldn’t we be publicly putting forward the headline we want to see on Memorial Day?

Here’s mine:

The Memorial Day 2015 we want:
Obama, Putin in Direct Talks to End Nukes; “A Share Obligation to Prevent Disaster”
OBAMA: “We’ve heard the rest of the world loud and clear. It’s time for us to disarm.”
PUTIN: “We’ve heard the rest of the world loud and clear. It’s time for us to disarm.”

What headline would YOU like to see on Memorial Day 2015? (Add comments below!)

More . . . 

Key 2015 Events for Nuclear Disarmament Movement Organizers

5 Ways YOU Can Make a Difference on #NoNukesTuesday

360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States)

Reviews of “Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom” by Elaine Scarry

Obama Nobel Peace Prize – REVOKED!

Posted in Nuclear Weapons, The Left's Challenge, The New Peace Movement, The Right's Challange | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hersh’s Bin Laden Story Revisited

Veteran journalist and historian Gareth Porter recently published an article at disputing one key element in Seymour Hersh’s recent bombshell story on the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

According to Porter, bin Laden was not sequestered in Abottabad by the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, for some five years, as claimed by Hersh’s sources, but was instead exiled there by al-Qaeda. Porter’s source is a retired Pakistani brigadier general who had done his own research into the circumstances surrounding the bin Laden raid using contacts he had known in South Waziristan from his military service there some years earlier. They had put the retired general, Shaukat Qadir, in touch with tribal couriers who had served a leading militant allied with al-Qaeda. And though Qadir had never had any involvement in the ISI himself, one of the ISI officers involved in an investigation of the bin Laden killing had once been under his command and assisted him in his own investigation. The information borne out of Qadir’s research was the basis of Porter’s own 2012 article on the bin Laden raid. That piece goes into some detail of how al-Qaeda began to perceive bin Laden as something of a crazy old nuisance, obsessing over such delusional goals as a takeover of Pakistan’s heavily guarded Kahuta nuclear reactor. Furthermore, Qadir confirmed from discussions with various residents in the neighborhood of the Abottabad compound that there was never any evidence of ISI guards, contrary to the claims of Hersh’s sources.

Interestingly enough, Porter points out that the claim, relayed by Hersh, that a retired ISI intelligence officer revealed bin Laden’s location to the CIA in exchange for a $25 million reward actually serves the interests of certain CIA muckety-mucks, including those of CIA Director Leon Panetta. They had begun to disdain the ISI for having the gall to demand curtailment of CIA espionage in Pakistan and a reduction of U.S. drone strikes. Claims of ISI complicity in hiding bin Laden first began to surface in the summer of 2011 as U.S.-Pakistani tensions over those issues increased.

In Porter’s account, the fix on bin Laden’s location was made after the ISI asked the CIA to place the Abottabad house under satellite surveillance following their investigation of the suspicious activities of a man named Arshad Khan. His cell phone number, which the ISI provided to the CIA, was the same as that of the owner of the house.

But regardless of how the CIA came to locate bin Laden–whether it was a tip-off from a former Pakistani insider seeking reward money, as reported by Hersh, or if it instead happened as described by Porter (who doesn’t raise any other disputes with Hersh’s story)–a tangled web of U.S. government lies is revealed in either account. For it was not torture–of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed or anyone else–that located bin Laden, as was initially suggested by U.S. government officials and the mainstream media, nor was it the U.S. government’s massive and indiscriminate electronic surveillance programs.

Nor was there a dramatic exchange of gunfire between bin Laden and the SEALs, as claimed in the official story. According to Porter’s reporting, bin Laden was most likely so ill that he could barely walk.

And the question remains–why was it so important to kill bin Laden rather than take him  alive? An unnamed U.S. “senior intelligence official” claimed soon after the raid that the bin Laden compound was “an active command and control center” for international terrorism at the time of the raid. But according to Porter’s reporting, bin Laden had become something of an annoyance to al-Qaeda at worst, and a joke at best. They had convinced him to relocate to Abottabad with the pretense that he could command them from there, after which they proceeded to simply ignore his impractical, half-baked proposals for more 9/11 type anti-American attacks. (A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that any claims of an unnamed source that are reported by independent journalists, and which contradict the official versions of certain events, will almost always be reflexively dismissed by the mainstream media. Official U.S. government claims that are supported by unnamed sources from within their own ranks, however, will almost always be accepted at face value.)

The CIA’s own post-raid analysis of a cache of documents seized at the Abottabad house revealed bin Laden’s self-delusion and impotence, but if they were previously so convinced that he was still a major terrorist operator, why wouldn’t they have valued him more highly alive, as a major intelligence asset?

Just what kind of objectives were met by killing him?

Posted in Barack Obama, Guantanamo Bay, Espionage, Drone Warfare | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Re: Hersh’s Story on Killing Bin Laden: The Painfully Obvious

To pick up on Robert Kaercher post, a friend just recently sent me this piece by Trevor Trimm.  I cannot figure out why a website like the DrudgeReport (which will link to anyone with a hot enough story – even will not mention this story.

Is this the case of the mainstream media being lazy?  Are they circling the wagons?  Are they being leaned on by the State Department?  Perhaps they are legitimately concerned about how this might damage the US and its foreign policy (as if it needed anything more to help out in this area).

Are the Saudi’s paying off the press?

Are the Pakistani’s being threatened to keep mum?

Where is the fourth estate?  This story should have enough legs to at least raise some serious questions.  I understand that when an official government story line is usually questioned it automatically gets ‘conspiracy’ treatment, but this is different.

When the site and the Young Turks are on the same side of the fence, then this is a big story.

Maybe this is just an organic start of something big that is about to explode.

Posted in National Security State, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Yemen from Foreign Policy in Five Minutes

Peace activist Joshua Byers has launched a new video show. He will be joining us here as a blogger. – Angela Keaton


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Hersh’s Story on Killing Bin Laden: The Painfully Obvious

As the initial sniggers of “conspiracy theorist” in reaction to Seymour Hersh’s big story on the killing of Osama bin Laden are being increasingly met with corroboration from other sources, it’s important to understand why this story is so important. And a shrug of the shoulders and giving all-around high-fives while shouting “So what, we got bin Laden!” is no more coherent of an argument than snidely declaring someone a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

One should consider for at least a brief moment that if Hersh’s sources (and those of other journalists) are correct, then what we have is glaring proof that the U.S. government’s military and intelligence bureaucrats do not give one damn about protecting you, dear American taxpayer. Instead, their highest priority is keeping military contractors flush with cash and helping Middle Eastern tyrants hold on to power, even if it means plunging that part of the world into violent chaos.

U.S. intelligence, according to the story’s sources, used the “carrot” approach when trying to get Pakistan’s ISI to confirm whether or not bin Laden was in fact being housed by them in that Abottabad house–they threatened to cut off military aid to the Pakistani government. That would have been most unwelcome, as those funds subsidize the personal security and safety of Pakistani officials.

Then the ISI replies, alright, you Americans can have bin Laden, but on one condition–you have to kill him, while never letting on that the ISI ever had anything to do with it, of course. U.S. intelligence and the White House agreed and the latter was fully prepared to put out a big lie that bin Laden had been blown to bits by a U.S. drone strike in the wilds of the Hindu Kush, but they decided to renege on that particular promise to the Pakistanis, using as an excuse that one of the American choppers had crashed during the operation.

Rather than take bin Laden alive–a negotiation that perhaps bin Laden himself may have been quite willing to settle considering his poor health–and score the massive cache of intelligence on jihadi terrorists that could have come pouring out of his mouth–our supposed protectors chose instead to help the Pakistani and Saudi governments cover their own asses. The Saudis, according to Hersh’s sources, were financing bin Laden’s stay in Abottabad and had been adamant with the Pakistanis that bin Laden’s location never be revealed to the Americans. Hersh’s main source explicitly states that the Saudis were very worried about what bin Laden may tell the U.S. of Saudi control of al-Qaeda.

If U.S. intelligence could use the “carrot” to pressure the Pakistani generals into admitting they had bin Laden, couldn’t they just as easily have threatened to cut off military aid and pressured them into handing him over alive? But apparently it was more important to protect two foreign governments who clearly demonstrated that for them “alliances” are strictly one-way streets. And lately the U.S. has been spending your tax dollars on military assistance for the Saudis and their jihadi friends in Yemen.

What in the hell is going on here? It sure as hell has nothing to do with protecting Americans.

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Law School Profs whiff against student protest: Harold Koh and the immunization of war crimes

By Alan Gilbert

Nonwhite students at NYU Law School, led by Amanda Bass and Aman Deep, protested the hiring of Harold Koh, a famous human rights lawyer who worked for the Obama administration, to teach human rights.  Their petition below, signed by some 40 NYU law students (350 total signers), a high number given intimidation, makes a straightforward, technical case that the use of drones which randomly murder civilians (mostly in countries the US has not declared war against) is a crime.


In addition, Koh contradicted his scholarship at Yale on the War Powers Act to try to affirm Obama’s unilateral bombing of Libya (decent in so far as it prevented massacre at Ben Ghazi, terrible in the collapse it has led to).


Torture is a recognized war crime internationally.  Further, the US government fought for all the Conventions under which the Bush officials – Colin Powell probably excepted – need to be put on trial.  By the Supremacy Clause, Article 6 section 2 of the Constitution and by the anti-torture law signed by President Reagan, it is American law as well.  See here.

*** Continue reading

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Libertarianism For and Against War

This is an excerpt of an article by , May 06, 2015

Libertarian Reasons Against War (in no particular order):

1. War requires aggression.

It’s simply irresponsible to speak of war without innocent casualties. Given the weapons, tactics, and scale of modern warfare, civilians are inevitably put in harm’s way. To separate modern warfare from innocent deaths seems to rely on an unrealistic conception of how war actually is in the real world. The notion of “defensive war” is long outdated. All wars are aggressive. Even ones that are supposedly fought in response to some sort of aggression end up killing innocents.

But what if those civilian casualties are merely a side-effect of defending against an aggressor, the actual goal of so-called defensive war? The killer didn’t mean to kill those people. They died as an unintended consequence of the war. Simple collateral damage. Well so what? The killer knew innocent deaths would be an unintended consequence of their decision to pursue war with near absolute certainty. They actively took steps that would result in the foreseen deaths of innocents, even if their other ends were good. If I shoot at a crowd of ten people because I think one of them stole my wallet, any deaths are still my fault even if I was just trying to stop the person who took my wallet. I caused those deaths. Good intentions don’t justify ignoring known, but unintended consequences. Wanting nice things doesn’t grand one a license to pursue mass murder.

But suppose that the would-be killer didn’t know that civilians were going to die because of his actions. Again, so what? Aggression doesn’t always involve moral culpability. We can still say the act of war was wrong in hindsight because of the innocent deaths and that the aggressor owes restitution to the victim or their family and friends. If I’m shooting at a thief who stole my wallet and one of the bullets ricochets and kills someone else completely away from the incident, it doesn’t look like I’m morally culpable for that person’s death. I didn’t know my actions would have that result so how could I be guilty? Nonetheless, I’m responsible for the instance of aggression and owe them or their loved ones restitution. Ignorance is also not a justification for mass murder.

War inevitably rests on aggression. Conflicts of international scale with the technology and weaponry available in today’s world cannot escape civilian deaths and other instances of aggression against innocent people. Therefore, there is no such thing as a war of self-defense. If force is only to be permitted in self-defense, war is unacceptable.

In addition to the above, war also relies on taxation and monopoly, which are sustained through systematic government violence. The institutional factors that give rise to war are themselves based on one group (the government) warring against another (the citizens). War, then, is an example of evil means and evil ends.

2. War makes everyone less safe.

War causes blowback. War naturally creates ideological and emotional conflict between the people of the warring regions. With every blow, more and more people of the targeted region (often innocent civilians suffering due to a sanction or other forms of economic terrorism, or worse, the loss of a loved one due to a bombing or other forms of military violence) are incentivized to deliver a blow back to the aggressor for reasons often completely unrelated to the initial conflict, such as self-interested defense, hostile revenge, or even newly sparked nationalism. These victims then often turn to militaries or their own cooperative efforts to carry out their blowback. The initial attack, even if motivated by self-defense, inadvertently caused innocent victims, and more and/or increased threats to the attacker.

War, then, escalates conflict. War is a never-ending circle of violence, continually sowing the seeds for more war. Both sides take turns delivering punches to the other, each one more powerful than the last. Neither region ever benefits since even the attacking region lays the ideological foundations for its doom. Even so-called “victorious” attacks are merely temporary victories. They achieve a short-term loss, but create more hostility, hate, and eventually violence than the attack stopped. War leads to blowback, which leads to more war, which leads to more blowback, and so on. The unintended consequences and side effects of war make each region less safe as it only feeds into more violence, hatred, bigotry, and, well…war. Each region becomes increasingly less safe until one side finally crushes the other for good (usually paving the way for further conflicts and wars) or they both collapse.

. . .

Full article here.

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