Saturday, August 31, 2013

Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, explains the REAL reason why Obama has been intent on attacking Syria. It is not to destroy chemical weapons but rather to degrade the Syrian military, leading ultimately to "...the overthrow of Assad and getting rid of some of the opposition groups that the United States doesn't want in there." The only lawful international justifications for a war of agression are (1) self defense and (2) a ruling by the UN Security Council. The only national justification under the U.S. Constitution is an affirmative vote of the U.S. Congress. Obama will violate both if he goes forward with his plan.

 theREALnews                                                                               Permalink

Fool Me Twice, Shame on US

Michael Ratner: Obama administration asserting the use chemical weapons by Assad feels like deja vu of the lead-up to the Iraq War - August 31, 13

More at The Real News


Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

As the moment approaches when Obama will either make himself a war criminal or ignominiously call off his attack on Syria, Paul Craig Roberts is a man on fire: "Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US 'superpower,' the 'exceptional' and 'indispensable' country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria. But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence." Roberts also excoriates "the presstitute media on the evening news" for "beating the drums for war," as well as the brainwashed Americans that still listen to them.

America Totally Discredited — Paul Craig Roberts

August 30, 2013 | Original Here                                                   Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter

America Totally Discredited

Paul Craig Roberts

A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch. All are exposed as a collection of third-rate liars.

Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US “superpower,” the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria.

But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence. A foolish Obama was pushed far out on the limb by an incompetent and untrustworthy National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and the pack of neoconservatives that support her, and the British Parliament cut the limb off.

What kind of fool would put himself in that vulnerable position?

Now Obama stands alone, isolated, trying to back away from his threat to attack without authorization from anyone–not from the UN, not from NATO, not from Congress who he ignored–a sovereign country. Under the Nuremberg Standard military aggression is a war crime. Washington has until now got away with its war crimes by cloaking them in UN or NATO approval. Despite these “approvals,” they remain war crimes.

But his National Security Advisor and the neocon warmongers are telling him that he must prove that he is a Real Man who can stand alone and commit war crimes all by himself without orchestrated cover from the UN or NATO or a cowardly US Congress. It is up to Obama, they insist, to establish for all time that the President of the United States is above all law. He, and he alone is the “decider,” the Caesar, who determines what is permissible. The Caesar of the “sole superpower” must now assert his authority over all law or Washington’s hegemony over the world is lost.

As I noted in an earlier column today, if Obama goes it alone, he will be harassed for the rest of his life as a war criminal who dares not leave the US. Indeed, a looming economic collapse could so alter the power and attitude of the United States that Obama could find himself brought to justice for his war crimes.

Regardless, the United States government has lost its credibility throughout the world and will never regain it, unless the Bush and Obama regimes are arrested and put on trial for their war crimes.

Obama’s destruction of US credibility goes far beyond diplomacy. It is likely that this autumn or winter, and almost certainly in 2014, the US will face severe economic crisis.

The long-term abuse of the US dollar’s reserve currency role by the Federal Reserve and US Treasury, the never-ending issuance of new debt and printing of dollars to finance it, the focus of US economic policy on bailing out the “banks too big to fail” regardless of the adverse impact on domestic and world economies and holders of US Treasury debt, the awaiting political crisis of the unresolved deficit and debt ceiling limit that will greet Congress’ return to Washington in September, collapsing job opportunities and a sinking economy all together present the government in Washington with a crisis that is too large for the available intelligence, knowledge, and courage to master.

When the proverbial hits the fan, the incompetent and corrupt Federal Reserve and the incompetent and corrupt US Treasury will have no more credibility than Obama and John Kerry.

The rest of the world–especially Washington’s bullied NATO puppet states–will take great delight in the discomfort of “the world’s sole superpower” that has been running on hubris ever since the Soviet collapse.

The world is not going to bail out Washington, now universally hated, with currency swaps, more loans, and foreign aid. Americans are going to pay heavily for their negligence, their inattention, their unconcern, and their ignorant belief that nothing can go wrong for them and that anything that does is temporary.

Two decades of jobs offshoring has left the US with a third world labor force employed in lowly paid domestic nontradable services, a workforce comparable to India’s of 40 years ago. Already the “world’s sole superpower” is afflicted with a large percentage of its population dependent on government welfare for survival. As the economy closes down, the government’s ability to meet the rising demands of survival diminishes. The rich will demand that the poor be sacrificed in the interest of the rich. And the political parties will comply.

Is this the reason that Homeland Security, a Nazi Gestapo institution, now has a large and growing para-military force equipped with tanks, drones, and billions of rounds of ammunition?

How long will it be before American citizens are shot down in their streets by “their” government as occurs frequently in Washington’s close allies in Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain?

Americans have neglected the requirements of liberty. Americans are so patriotic and so gullible that all the government has to do is to wrap itself in the flag, and the people, or too many of them, believe whatever lie the government tells. And the gullible people will defend the government’s lie to their death, indeed, to the death of the entire world.

If Americans keep believing the government’s lies, they have no future. If truth be known, Americans have already lost a livable future. The neocons’ “American Century” is over before it begun.

Update: I have heard from educated and aware friends that the presstitute media on the evening news are beating the drums for war. This shows what paid whores the US media is and their total disconnect from reality. Anyone who wastes their time on the US media is a brainwashed idiot, a danger to humanity.

Update 8:52 PM August 30: Is the White House idiot going to be a victim of his own careless presidential appointments? Does he have no one to tell him how to escape the dilemma his moronic Secretary of State and National Security Advisor have put him in? Someone needs to tell the WH Fool that he must say that he accepts the conclusion of the world community that there is not sufficient evidence for launching a military attack on Syria and killing even more people than were killed in the alleged, but unproven, chemical attack, and that he awaits further and better evidence. God help the moron and the unfortunate country that the fool represents.

Friday, August 30, 2013

"If Obama now strikes Syria, when he has no cover from the UN, or from NATO, or from the American people, or from Congress..." "[he] will have to be handed over and put on trial. He will have no more leg to stand on than did the Nazis." -- Paul Craig Roberts

Will Obama Doom Himself As A War Criminal — Paul Craig Roberts

August 30, 2013 | Original Here                                                   Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter

Will Obama Doom Himself As A War Criminal

Paul Craig Roberts

Obama, pushed by his Israeli and neocon masters, especially his National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, who, in effect, functions as an Israeli agent, crawled far out on the limb, only to have it sawed off by the British Parliament.

In response, the “socialist” president of France, Hollande, who lacks French support for France’s participation in a US/Israeli orchestrated military attack on Syria, has crawled back off the limb, saying that, while everything is still on the table, he has to see some evidence first.

As Cameron and Obama have made clear, there is no evidence. Even US intelligence has declared that there is no conclusive evidence that Assad used chemical weapons or even has control over the weapons.

Even the US puppet government in Canada has disavowed participating in the Obama/Israeli war crime.

This leaves Obama with support only from Turkey and Israel. Recently, the Turkish government shot down in the streets more of its own people–peaceful protesters, not imported mercenaries trying to overthrow the Turkish government–than were killed in the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad.

As the entire world is aware, the Israeli government has been committing crimes against the people in Palestine for decades. A distinguished Jewish jurist concluded in an official report that the Israeli government committed war crimes in its attack on the civilian population of Gaza.

No country regards the criminal states of Turkey and Israel as cover for a war crime. If Obama is pushed by Susan Rice and the evil neocons, who are strongly allied with Israel, into going it alone and conducting a military strike on Syria, Obama will have made himself an unambiguous War Criminal under the Nuremberg Standard created by the US Government. Unprovoked military aggression is a war crime under international law. That is completely clear. There are no ifs or buts about it.

If Obama now strikes Syria, when he has no cover from the UN, or from NATO, or from the American people, or from Congress, having ignored the House and Senate, Obama will stand before the entire world, starkly, as a War Criminal. Unless the world is prepared to flush international law, arrest orders for the War Criminal will have to come from the Hague. Obama will have to be handed over and put on trial. He will have no more leg to stand on than did the Nazis.

The evil neocons are telling Obama that he must prove that he is a man and go it alone. If Obama does, he will prove that he is a War Criminal.

Paul Craig Roberts: "British MP George Galloway is the only real leader in the entire Western world." Don't miss his speech below! Also note that American veterans appear to agree with his message.


Democratic Reward for the British People Rejecting Military Action Against Syria

UK Prime Minister Cameron loses Syria war vote

British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes Thursday, a stunning defeat that will almost guarantee that Britain plays no direct role in any U.S. attack on Bashar al-Assad’s government.

A grim-faced Cameron conceded after the vote that “the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action.”

Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament urging an urgent debate on military action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. He argued strongly for military intervention in Syria.

As Russia and China at the United Nations push back, British lawmakers rejected the motion in Parliament to go to war with Syria by a tally of 285 to 272.

Cameron said it is clear that the British Parliament, reflecting the view of the British people, doesn’t want to see the U.K. get involved in military action in Syria and “the government will act accordingly.”

This can be considered a victory of sorts for Alternative Media. 90% of Americans and Brits are against attacking Syria. Where do they get their news? Certainly NOT from Zionist owned and controlled CNN, and BBC.

Israeli Foreign Policy and propaganda is obviously NOT working!

It sure appears that Obama/Cameron are about to fall on the Bibi Israeli sword?

Hear Hear George!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

WHAT IS REALLY ABOUT TO HAPPEN IN SYRIA, WHY IT WILL BE HAPPENING, AND WHAT IS LIKELY TO BE THE UNFORSEEN CONSEQUENCES. Though he may look like a hippie, Pepe Escobar has proved to me to be the best reporter of all facets of the political planning and scheming of all the countries of the Asian contenent. Here he analyzes Obama's ill-advised (and illegal) rush to war with Syria and the many possible consequences (all of them bad) likely to flow from his actions.

OpEdNews Op Eds 8/29/2013 at 00:46:53
"War On Chemical Weapons": Obama Traps Himself Into Syrian Combat
By (about the author)     Permalink

Headlined to H2 8/29/13

Source: RT

Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people they say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013. (Reuters)

Only a few days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama might be fighting side by side with... al-Qaeda, as he was foolish enough to be trapped by his own rhetoric on Syria.

The dogs of war bark and the caravan... is Tomahawked. Amid out-of-control hysteria, the proverbial "unnamed US officials" spin like demented centrifuges.

Obama's "kinetic operation" on Syria will fall out of the sky "in the next few days." It will be "limited,"  lasting only "three days," or "no more than two days." It will "send a message," a "short, sharp attack" against less than 50 sites on a list of targets.

But then long-range bombers may "possibly" join the Tomahawk barrage, and all bets are off.

A proverbial, anonymous "senior administration official" even stressed the "desire to get it done before the president leaves for Russia next week."

That's it; we bomb a country like dialing a pizza delivery, and then we go to a G20 summit with the world's emerging powers hosted by no less than Russia's president, Vladimir Putin. Just because we need to prove that the president of the United States meant what he said: chemical weapons are a red line. And to hell who's responsible for deploying them.

I'm not making this up. This is the core of White House spokesman Jay Carney's message, when he said, in faultless Newspeak: "The options that are being considered do not contain within them a regime change focus."

So the administration of "constitutional lawyer" Barack Obama is mulling how to attack Syria, bypassing the UN Security Council -- which will veto, via Russia and China, the new resolution proposed by the UK;  bypassing always-docile NATO; and with 91 percent of Americans against it, just to send an (explosive) political message. And all because a US president was foolish enough to get trapped in his own rhetoric.

U.N. chemical weapons experts visit people affected by an apparent gas attack, at a hospital in the southwestern Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya August 26, 2013. (Reuters)

Remember Iraq?  Call it a 10th anniversary special: it's Iraq 2003 all over again. 

The attack dog presumably in charge of the Obama administration war brigade is Secretary of State John Kerry. Here, Gareth Porter thoroughly debunks Kerry's game -- and lies. No wonder Kerry's "Powell moment" has gone viral -- as in "deceived" Colin Powell in his infamous February 2003 UN presentation telling the world Saddam Hussein had tons of WMDs. Unlike Powell though, Kerry knows exactly what he's doing. 

The White House promises a "revelation" from above this Thursday, "above" being the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Yet the heart of the matter is that the UN chemical inspectors have had no time to identify what sort of chemical weapon is involved in the Ghouta attack (sarin or something else); where it was manufactured; how it was delivered (possibly by DIY rockets); and last but not least, who did it.

It's imperative to remember that Russia presented an 80-page report last month to the UN Security Council detailing serious evidence about the "rebels" being behind the March 19 attack in Khan al-Assal. That's why the inspectors are in Syria now. So the Obama administration is lying when it insists that it's "too late" for the inspectors to investigate the latest attack.

This time though, Russia may not have collected enough evidence; it's too early. Otherwise Ambassador Vitaly Churkin would be talking to the press, like he did last month.

These investigations take time. And the results cannot be fixed around the policy.

"Fixing" the facts

Let's follow a track that is much more plausible than Washington's official narrative.

Israeli intelligence has leaked to a Kuwaiti newspaper that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz handed over to his good pal US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey "documents and pictures" as evidence of the Syrian government's culpability. Arguably, this will be the core of the White House "revelation" this Thursday.

The evidence points to rockets launched from a "Syrian army post near Damascus" -- which Finnish researcher Petri Krohn, currently conducting a meticulous investigation, conclusively placed as occupied by the "rebels" since June.  (scroll down to "Qaboun rocket launches")

Add to it the Defense Ministry in Baghdad, one month ago, dismantling an Al-Qaeda cell in Iraq that was planning to launch attacks in Iraq and "abroad," as in Syria, using chemical weapons.

According to Iraqi national security advisor Faleh al-Fayyadh, Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) would have free access to these chemicals.

A Turkish fighter of the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front, bearing the flag of Al-Qaeda on his jacket (C-back), holds position with fellow comrades on April 4, 2013 in the Syrian village of Aziza, on the southern outskirts of Aleppo. (AFP Photo)

So here we have all the elements of a sophisticated false flag operation. Jabhat al-Nusra jihadis, mostly mercenaries, connected to al-Qaeda in Iraq, but with no connection with Syrian civilians, including women and children, use an area formerly occupied by the Syrian army to launch a chemical attack -- perhaps using chlorine -- under the cover of a Syrian offensive (admitted by the government). The offensive was code-named "Operation City Shield." Damascus had solid intel about scores of "rebels" trained by the CIA and the Saudis in Jordan converging to the area and planning a massive attack on the capital.

Then there is Saudi intel tsar Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush's threat to President Putin in their notorious four-hour meeting earlier this month: The military solution is the only one left for Syria. Bandar, a master of the dark arts, is in charge of "winning" Syria to the House of Saud by all means available, chemical or otherwise. 

Any serious UN chemical weapons inspector would be following this lead as we speak. They might not -- because of US political pressure (as in "It's too late"). They might not because Washington wants the inspections over barely after they started -- as in a lightning quick remix, once again, of Iraq 2003; fixing the facts around the policy.  

Deconstructing Obama's game  So we have to come back to the policy -- as in "we bomb because we want to." What exactly is Obama's game?

Tel Aviv's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, as I reported earlier, badly wants Washington to attack Syria's chemical weapons sites -- regardless of possible, horrible, "collateral damage," not to mention the possibility of al-Qaeda-linked jihadi outfits taking control of some of them.

Israel's agenda is Syria bleeding in total chaos for the foreseeable future. Which is not the same as the House of Saud's agenda: regime change. Which is not the same as the Obama administration's agenda. At face value, it's regime change, but Plan B calls for "leveling the playing field," and that melts into the Israeli agenda.

As for President Obama, establishing a hazy "red line" with no context, just to appease clueless but influential neo-cons, not to mention the liberal hawks/humanitarian interventionists that surround him, and without regard for the consequences; this has to be construed as criminal irresponsibility.

Granted, Obama's IQ in theory would equip him to know that yet another war of choice in the Middle East is the last thing he needs. At the same time, when we look at his record, we know he doesn't have the balls to confront the awesome War Party Hydra -- also featuring the mini-coalition of the willing, ranging from nostalgic opportunists such as Britain and France to cold-blooded actors pursuing their specific agendas, like Israel and the House of Saud.

And all this after Obama announced he would weaponize the "rebels" -- in fact that's been going on for ages, now fully supervised by Bandar Bush. The infinitely fractious rebel gangs have fractioned even further into sub-gangs of looters and assassins, with the more organized jihadis promising that after the Ghouta attack, they will kill any Alawite in sight.

A picture downloaded from the US Air Force website shows F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons (AFP Photo/US AIR FORCE)

Obama knows these are bit players; the only factor that can deliver another one of his red lines --"Assad must go" -- is a US military attack. Crucially, Assad also knows it; that's why the notion that Assad would sanction a chemical weapons attack is beyond ludicrous.

So if we take the Obama administration at their word -- at our own peril -- they couldn't care less about who deployed chemical weapons. Yet at the same time they don't want regime change. They want a bombing to fulfill a "moral obligation," and to boost Washington's horrendously shattered "credibility."  American exceptionalists are even carping on "purity of intent" -- as if purity was inherent to cold-blooded, hardcore geopolitical power play.

Both US and Israel assume they have perfect intel -- as in knowing exactly where all of Syria's chemical weapons are stored. Yet if anything could go wrong, it will. We all thought that the "war on terror"  could not be topped as a meaningless concept. Wrong: meet the "war on chemical weapons."

Amid all the hysteria, we're not even talking about a counterpunch from Damascus itself, Hezbollah, Iran or, crucially, Russia. Moscow and Tehran are playing the chessboard like ninjas -- as they clearly see the possibility of Washington being bogged down in a net of its own. All it takes would be a single Onyx SS-N-25, also known as Super-Sunburn SS-22, the fastest hypersonic anti-shipping missile in the world -- which is part of Syria's arsenal -- to sink a US warship. Then what? Shock and Awe all over again?

So if we take the White House at its word, this  "limited" kinetic whatever will end in a couple of days. Or it could spiral into something more hellish than Iraq 2003. And then, the clincher; only a few days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama is fighting side by side with... al-Qaeda. Why?  Because, together, they can.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His regular column, "The Roving Eye," is widely read. He is an analyst for the online news channel Real News, the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.  He argues that the world has become fragmented into "stans" -- we are now living an intestinal war, an undeclared global civil war. He has published three books on geopolitics, including the spectacularly-titled "Globalistan: How the Globalised World Is Dissolving Into Liquid War".

His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan."

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166 Articles

Hypocrisy of the criminal U.S. government exposed (one more time)

Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran
The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history -- and still gave him a hand.

BY SHANE HARRIS AND MATTHEW M. AID | AUGUST 26, 2013                                                Original Here

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein's government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

"The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn't have to. We already knew," he told Foreign Policy.

According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today's wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein's widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons' use -- even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States' knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly civilians.

Officials were also warned that Iran might launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East, including terrorist strikes, if it believed the United States was complicit in Iraq's chemical warfare campaign.

"As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings," the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. "Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international law."

At the time, the military attaché's office was following Iraqi preparations for the offensive using satellite reconnaissance imagery, Francona told Foreign Policy. According to a former CIA official, the images showed Iraqi movements of chemical materials to artillery batteries opposite Iranian positions prior to each offensive.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attaché in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as "GA") against Iranian forces in southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq's chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. "If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border," the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

The CIA noted in one document that the use of nerve agent "could have a significant impact on Iran's human wave tactics, forcing Iran to give up that strategy." Those tactics, which involved Iranian forces swarming against conventionally armed Iraqi positions, had proved decisive in some battles. In March 1984, the CIA reported that Iraq had "begun using nerve agents on the Al Basrah front and likely will be able to employ it in militarily significant quantities by late this fall."

The use of chemical weapons in war is banned under the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which states that parties "will exert every effort to induce other States to accede to the" agreement. Iraq never ratified the protocol; the United States did in 1975. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production and use of such arms, wasn't passed until 1997, years after the incidents in question.

The initial wave of Iraqi attacks, in 1983, used mustard agent. While generally not fatal, mustard causes severe blistering of the skin and mucus membranes, which can lead to potentially fatal infections, and can cause blindness and upper respiratory disease, while increasing the risk of cancer. The United States wasn't yet providing battlefield intelligence to Iraq when mustard was used. But it also did nothing to assist Iran in its attempts to bring proof of illegal Iraqi chemical attacks to light. Nor did the administration inform the United Nations. The CIA determined that Iran had the capability to bomb the weapons assembly facilities, if only it could find them. The CIA believed it knew the locations.

Hard evidence of the Iraqi chemical attacks came to light in 1984. But that did little to deter Hussein from using the lethal agents, including in strikes against his own people. For as much as the CIA knew about Hussein's use of chemical weapons, officials resisted providing Iraq with intelligence throughout much of the war. The Defense Department had proposed an intelligence-sharing program with the Iraqis in 1986. But according to Francona, it was nixed because the CIA and the State Department viewed Saddam Hussein as "anathema" and his officials as "thugs."

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona's shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report partially entitled "At The Gates of Basrah," warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: "An Iranian victory is unacceptable."

Subsequently, a decision was made at the top level of the U.S. government (almost certainly requiring the approval of the National Security Council and the CIA). The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized electronic intelligence. There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona described much of the information as "targeting packages" suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

The nerve agent causes dizziness, respiratory distress, and muscle convulsions, and can lead to death. CIA analysts could not precisely determine the Iranian casualty figures because they lacked access to Iranian officials and documents. But the agency gauged the number of dead as somewhere between "hundreds" and "thousands" in each of the four cases where chemical weapons were used prior to a military offensive. According to the CIA, two-thirds of all chemical weapons ever used by Iraq during its war with Iran were fired or dropped in the last 18 months of the war.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein's military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory and recapture the entire peninsula. The success of the Fao Peninsula offensive also prevented the Iranians from launching their much-anticipated offensive to capture Basrah. According to Francona, Washington was very pleased with the result because the Iranians never got a chance to launch their offensive.

The level of insight into Iraq's chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq's program prior to the United States' invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and could send officials out to assess the damage.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin's lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad -- proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam's unconventional assaults. Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus.

Click here to read the recently declassified CIA files.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If your (BIG) bank fails, the U.S., Canada, England, and European governments are prepared take part of your deposits ...and any help from the FDIC will be miniscule. This is called a bail-IN (as opposed to a bail-out). The large global and Wall Street banks are at the greatest risk because they have been gambling depositor money in risky derivatives and other speculative devices. Derivatives enjoy special status in bankruptsy, effectively making drivative counterparties senior to almost all other claimants, especially bank depositors. What a pity that only 842 people are following this blog, when due to their ignorance millions of people will surely lose much of their bank deposits in this way. The big banks are now gobbling up much of the wealth on earth before their bubbles burst, at which point they will steal even more. Do your friends a favor by telling them to follow Ellen Brown.

PublicBankingTV : Your Money Is Not Safe in the Big Banks

Posted on August 25, 2013 by Ellen Brown

The Leveraged Buyout of America

Posted on August 26, 2013 by Ellen Brown

Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts. They are systematically buying up or gaining control of the essential lifelines of the economy. How have they pulled this off, and where have they gotten the money?

In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke dated June 27, 2013, US Representative Alan Grayson and three co-signers expressed concern about the expansion of large banks into what have traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically:
[W]e are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.
After listing some disturbing examples, they observed:
According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.
A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy. Aren’t there rules against that? And where are the banks getting the money?

How Banks Launder Money Through the Repo Market

In an illuminating series of articles on Seeking Alpha titled “Repoed!”, Colin Lokey argues that  the investment arms of large Wall Street banks are using their “excess” deposits – the excess of deposits over loans – as collateral for borrowing in the repo market. Repos, or “repurchase agreements,” are used to raise short-term capital. Securities are sold to investors overnight and repurchased the next day, usually day after day.

The deposit-to-loan gap for all US banks is now about $2 trillion, and nearly half of this gap is in Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo alone. It seems that the largest banks are using the majority of their deposits (along with the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing dollars) not to back loans to individuals and businesses but to borrow for their own trading. Acquiring a company or a portion of a company mostly with borrowed money is called a “leveraged buyout.” The banks are leveraging our money to buy up ports, airports, toll roads, power, and massive stores of commodities.

Using these excess deposits directly for their own speculative trading would be blatantly illegal, but the banks have been able to avoid the appearance of impropriety by borrowing from the repo market. (See my earlier article here.) The banks’ excess deposits are first used to purchase Treasury bonds, agency securities, and other highly liquid, “safe” securities. These liquid assets are then pledged as collateral in repo transactions, allowing the banks to get “clean” cash to invest as they please. They can channel this laundered money into risky assets such as derivatives, corporate bonds, and equities (stock).

That means they can buy up companies. Lokey writes, “It is common knowledge that prop [proprietary] trading desks at banks can and do invest in a variety of assets, including stocks.” Prop trading desks invest for the banks’ own accounts. This was something that depository banks were forbidden to do by the New Deal-era Glass-Steagall Act but that was allowed in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed those portions of Glass-Steagall.

The result has been a massively risky $700-plus trillion speculative derivatives bubble. Lokey quotes from an article by Bill Frezza in the January 2013 Huffington Post titled “Too-Big-To-Fail Banks Gamble With Bernanke Bucks“:
If you think [the cash cushion from excess deposits] makes the banks less vulnerable to shock, think again. Much of this balance sheet cash has been hypothecated in the repo market, laundered through the off-the-books shadow banking system. This allows the proprietary trading desks at these “banks” to use that cash as collateral to take out loans to gamble with. In a process called hyper-hypothecation this pledged collateral gets pyramided, creating a ticking time bomb ready to go kablooey when the next panic comes around.
That Explains the Mountain of Excess Reserves

Historically, banks have attempted to maintain a loan-to-deposit ratio of close to 100%, meaning they were “fully loaned up” and making money on their deposits. Today, however, that ratio is only 72% on average; and for the big derivative banks, it is lower yet. The unlent portion represents the “excess deposits” available to be tapped as collateral for the repo market.

The Fed’s quantitative easing contributes to this collateral pool by converting less-liquid mortgage-backed securities into cash in the banks’ reserve accounts. This cash is not something the banks can spend for their own proprietary trading, but they can invest it in “safe” securities – Treasuries and similar securities that are also the sort of collateral acceptable in the repo market. Using this repo collateral, the banks can then acquire the laundered cash with which they can invest or speculate for their own accounts.

Lokey notes that US Treasuries are now being bought by banks in record quantities. These bonds stay on the banks’ books for Fed supervision purposes, even as they are being pledged to other parties to get cash via repo. The fact that such pledging is going on can be determined from the banks’ balance sheets, but it takes some detective work. Explaining the intricacies of this process, the evidence that it is being done, and how it is hidden in plain sight takes Lokey three articles, to which the reader is referred. Suffice it to say here that he makes a compelling case.

Can They Do That?

Countering the argument that “banks can’t really do anything with their excess reserves” and that “there is no evidence that they are being rehypothecated,” Lokey points to data coming to light in conjunction with JPMorgan’s $6 billion “London Whale” fiasco. He calls it “clear-cut proof that banks trade stocks (and virtually everything else) with excess deposits.” JPM’s London-based Chief Investment Office [CIO] reported:
JPMorgan’s businesses take in more in deposits that they make in loans and, as a result, the Firm has excess cash that must be invested to meet future liquidity needs and provide a reasonable return. The primary reponsibility of CIO, working with JPMorgan’s Treasury, is to manage this excess cash. CIO invests the bulk of JPMorgan’s excess cash in high credit quality, fixed income securities, such as municipal bonds, whole loans, and asset-backed securities, mortgage backed securities, corporate securities, sovereign securities, and collateralized loan obligations.
Lokey comments:
That passage is unequivocal — it is as unambiguous as it could possibly be. JPMorgan invests excess deposits in a variety of assets for its own account and as the above clearly indicates, there isn’t much they won’t invest those deposits in. Sure, the first things mentioned are “high quality fixed income securities,” but by the end of the list, deposits are being invested in corporate securities [stock] and CLOs [collateralized loan obligations]. . . . [T]he idea that deposits are invested only in Treasury bonds, agencies, or derivatives related to such “risk free” securities is patently false.
He adds:

[I]t is no coincidence that stocks have rallied as the Fed has pumped money into the coffers of the primary dealers while ICI data shows retail investors have pulled nearly a half trillion from U.S. equity funds over the same period. It is the banks that are propping stocks.
Another Argument for Public Banking

All this helps explain why the largest Wall Street banks have radically scaled back their lending to the local economy. It appears that their  loan-to-deposit ratios are low not because they cannot find creditworthy borrowers but because they can profit more from buying airports and commodities through their prop trading desks than from making loans to small local businesses.

Small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for creating most of the jobs in the economy, and they are struggling today to get the credit they need to operate. That is one of many reasons that we the people need to own some banks ourselves.  Publicly-owned banks can direct credit where it is needed in the local economy; can protect public funds from confiscation through “bail-ins” resulting from bad gambling in by big derivative banks; and can augment public coffers with banking revenues, allowing local governments to cut taxes, add services, and salvage public assets from fire-sale privatization. Publicly-owned banks have a long and successful history, and recent studies have found them to be the safest in the world.

As Representative Grayson and co-signers observed in their letter to Chairman Bernanke, the banking system is now dominated by “global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.” They represent a return to a feudal landlord economy of unearned profits from rent-seeking. We need a banking system that focuses not on casino profiteering or feudal rent-seeking but on promoting economic and social well-being; and that is the mandate of the public banking sector globally.

For a PublicBankingTV video on the bail-in threat, see here.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her websites are,, and

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Greg Palast discovers the "end game" by which Larry Summers and his "flunky" Timothy Geithner arranged for a few criminal banksters to take posession of virtually the whole world. If you don't believe in conspiracy theories, don't read this or it will spoil your day.

GREG PALAST'S COLUMN                                                                                   Original Here
By Greg Palast

When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn't believe it.

The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3 percent unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.

The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank. If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn’t be serving on the Fed, he should be serving hard time in some dungeon reserved for the criminally insane of the finance world.

The memo is authentic.

I had to fly to Geneva to get confirmation and wangle a meeting with the Secretary General of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy. Lamy, the Generalissimo of Globalisation, told me,

“The WTO was not created as some dark cabal of multinationals secretly cooking plots against the people... We don’t have cigar-smoking, rich, crazy bankers negotiating.”

Then I showed him the memo.

It begins with Larry Summers’ flunky, Timothy Geithner, reminding his boss to call the Bank bigshots to order their lobbyist armies to march:

“As we enter the end-game of the WTO financial services negotiations, I believe it would be a good idea for you to touch base with the CEOs…”

To avoid Summers having to call his office to get the phone numbers (which, under US law, would have to appear on public logs), Geithner listed the private lines of what were then the five most powerful CEOs on the planet. And here they are:

Goldman Sachs: John Corzine (212)902-8281

Merrill Lynch: David Kamanski (212)449-6868

Bank of America: David Coulter (415)622-2255

Citibank: John Reed (212)559-2732

Chase Manhattan: Walter Shipley (212)270-1380

Lamy was right: They don’t smoke cigars. Go ahead and dial them. I did, and sure enough, got a cheery personal hello from Reed – cheery until I revealed I wasn't Larry Summers. (Note: The other numbers were swiftly disconnected. And Corzine can’t be reached while he faces criminal charges.)

It's not the little cabal of confabs held by Summers and the banksters that’s so troubling. The horror is in the purpose of the "end game” itself.

Let me explain:

The year was 1997. US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was pushing hard to de-regulate banks. That required, first, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to dismantle the barrier between commercial banks and investment banks. It was like replacing bank vaults with roulette wheels.

Second, the banks wanted the right to play a new high-risk game: “derivatives trading”. JP Morgan alone would soon carry $88 trillion of these pseudo-securities on its books as “assets”.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers (soon to replace Rubin as Secretary) body-blocked any attempt to control derivatives.

But what was the use of turning US banks into derivatives casinos if money would flee to nations with safer banking laws?

The answer conceived by the Big Bank Five: eliminate controls on banks in every nation on the planet -- in one single move. It was as brilliant as it was insanely dangerous.

How could they pull off this mad caper? The bankers' and Summers' game was to use the Financial Services Agreement (or FSA), an abstruse and benign addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organisation.

Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods – that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules devised by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in "bads" – toxic assets like financial derivatives.

Until the bankers’ re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives “products”.

And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.

The job of turning the FSA into the bankers’ battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.

Bankers Go Bananas

Why in the world would any nation agree to let its banking system be boarded and seized by financial pirates like JP Morgan?

The answer, in the case of Ecuador, was bananas. Ecuador was truly a banana republic. The yellow fruit was that nation’s life-and-death source of hard currency. If it refused to sign the new FSA, Ecuador could feed its bananas to the monkeys and go back into bankruptcy. Ecuador signed.

And so on – with every single nation bullied into signing.

Every nation but one, I should say. Brazil’s new President, Inacio Lula da Silva, refused. In retaliation, Brazil was threatened with a virtual embargo of its products by the European Union's Trade Commissioner, one Peter Mandelson, according to another confidential memo I got my hands on. But Lula’s refusenik stance paid off for Brazil which, alone among Western nations, survived and thrived during the 2007-9 bank crisis.

China signed – but got its pound of flesh in return. It opened its banking sector a crack in return for access and control of the US auto parts and other markets. (Swiftly, two million US jobs shifted to China.)

The new FSA pulled the lid off the Pandora’s box of worldwide derivatives trade. Among the notorious transactions legalised: Goldman Sachs (where Treasury Secretary Rubin had been co-chairman) worked a secret euro-derivatives swap with Greece which, ultimately, destroyed that nation. Ecuador, its own banking sector de-regulated and demolished, exploded into riots. Argentina had to sell off its oil companies (to the Spanish) and water systems (to Enron) while its teachers hunted for food in garbage cans. Then, Bankers Gone Wild in the Eurozone dove head-first into derivatives pools without knowing how to swim – and the continent is now being sold off in tiny, cheap pieces to Germany.

Of course, it was not just threats that sold the FSA, but temptation as well. After all, every evil starts with one bite of an apple offered by a snake. The apple: the gleaming piles of lucre hidden in the FSA for local elites. The snake was named Larry.

Does all this evil and pain flow from a single memo? Of course not: the evil was The Game itself, as played by the banker clique. The memo only revealed their game-plan for checkmate.

And the memo reveals a lot about Summers and Obama.

While billions of sorry souls are still hurting from worldwide banker-made disaster, Rubin and Summers didn’t do too badly. Rubin’s deregulation of banks had permitted the creation of a financial monstrosity called “Citigroup”. Within weeks of leaving office, Rubin was named director, then Chairman of Citigroup – which went bankrupt while managing to pay Rubin a total of $126 million.

Then Rubin took on another post: as key campaign benefactor to a young State Senator, Barack Obama. Only days after his election as President, Obama, at Rubin’s insistence, gave Summers the odd post of US “Economics Tsar” and made Geithner his Tsarina (that is, Secretary of Treasury). In 2010, Summers gave up his royalist robes to return to “consulting” for Citibank and other creatures of bank deregulation whose payments have raised Summers’ net worth by $31 million since the “end-game” memo.

That Obama would, at Robert Rubin’s demand, now choose Summers to run the Federal Reserve Board means that, unfortunately, we are far from the end of the game.

Special thanks to expert Mary Bottari of Bankster USA without whom our investigation could not have begun.

The film of my meeting with WTO chief Lamy was originally created for Ring of Fire, hosted by Mike Papantonio and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Further discussion of the documents I laid before Lamy can be found in “The Generalissimo of Globalization,” Chapter 12 of Vultures’ Picnic by Greg Palast (Constable Robinson 2012).

Follow Greg on Twitter: @Greg_Palast

Previously – 'The Con' Is Leaving a Trail of Blood Across the Planet

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