Category Archives: War Crimes and Criminals

Yamin Zakaria – The Massacre of Muslim Civilians is always: ‘Self-Defence’ but never Terrorism

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By Guest Post • Aug 28th, 2009 at 14:29 • Category: Analysis, Counter-terrorism, No thanks!, Israel, Newswire, Palestine, Religion, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, War, Zionism
The Anglo-US-Israeli axis continues to market the murdering of Muslims civilians as the result of self-defence, through its media outlets. Any impartial observer seeing the carnage in Iraq, Lebanon and now in Gaza would conclude differently, because it is obvious who is being terrorised and slaughtered. Naturally, the gruesome images from Gaza have caused the ordinary masses in all parts of the world to take to the streets and protest; this is unprecedented in our recent history.

It is disgusting to see the pro-Israeli commentators having the ‘chutzpah’ to claim that Israel has the higher moral grounds, whilst committing mass murder in the concentration camp of Gaza. The sheer barbarism shown by Israel has full endorsement from the US and British governments. Most Israelis do not feel remorse for the killing of gentiles. In the US, you see the pro-Israeli Jews [1] are celebrating the bloodletting. I will elaborate later on the Israeli barbarism. There is also tacit approval of this carnage from the Arab regimes, deduced from their silence and inaction.

As a mark of true democracy, Israel and the US are ignoring the mass protests, and the resolution 1860 issued by the UN General Assembly that reflects the opinion of the vast majority of the world’s population. The vote was unanimous, 142 in favour, 4 against and 8 abstentions. This is why the democracies have setup the Security Council, so that UN can reflect the interests of the tiny minority!

The assembly president, Nicaragua ‘s Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said [2]

“The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented: collective punishment; disproportionate military force; attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools.”

He also pointed out the ungrateful nature of the Jewish State and said:

“It seems to me ironic that Israel, a state that more than any other owes its very existence to a (1948) General Assembly resolution, should be so disdainful of United Nations resolutions…”

There was also consensus that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza and there were calls for further investigation. Had a fraction of this been done by a Muslim country, the US troops, not the UN troops with blue helmet would have already been sent on bombing missions.

Israel knows the world is becoming desensitised to shedding of Muslim blood, because it is easy to justify killing on a mass scale once you have demonised the population. Sounds familiar, yes the tactics used by the Nazis. The victims have learnt well from their Holocaust experience it seems! The business of marketing and exploiting holocaust continues to this day.

There is no oil in Palestine except the olive oil, which explains why the US-run organisation, the UN is paralysed. Now remember, the so-called world community of US-led coalition moved to save the ‘poor’ Kuwaitis from Saddam Hussein, back in 1991, as if there was moral crusade to restore justice, international law and nothing to do with oil.

The Zionists have excelled not just in killing defenceless women and children but the propaganda campaign that goes with it. They have abundant money, influence and resource at their disposal, with the added advantage of knowing the Arabs will use their oil money only to build more shopping malls to make way for Zionist companies like Starbucks and Marks and Spencer. Frequently repeating a point, regardless of is merit is effective when the quality of the audience is so poor, like the docile and illiterate masses in the US. Therefore, the Zionists are constantly propagating the following points, which the media amplifies:

a) They repeat constantly, Hamas is a terrorist organisation and not the democratically elected body. This terrorist label is given irrespective of who is actually being terrorised and slaughtered. The underlying ‘logic’ is Hamas made weapons delivers terror but the US-Israeli weapons do not! However, in reality it is Hamas and the Palestinians who are being terrorised and slaughtered since 1948. Hamas are considered to be terrorists defending their homes, but the Jews imported and ‘settled’ on stolen lands are innocent victims, what an irony.

b) In contrast, Israel is not a state terrorist or terrorist of any sort no matter how much terror and carnage it delivers. No matter how many women and children they kill. Rather, Israel is often glorified in the West as the only democracy in the Middle East despite having clear characteristics of an apartheid state. Concurrently it implies the Arabs are too uncivilised to be democratic.

c) Hamas is portrayed as the belligerent aggressor, because they launched thousands of ‘deadly’ missiles. Israelis have suffered negligible casualty from those homemade missiles in comparison to what is happening in Gaza. Therefore, it is far easier to repeat that thousand of missiles launched from Gaza, as it is too embarrassing to justify the killing of 1000 Palestinians for a handful of Jews. Especially from a nation, that upholds the ethos of – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

d) As usual, the ‘weak’ and ‘vulnerable’ Israel is defending itself, as the US defended itself against the mighty Saddam Hussein armed with WMD! There is no mention of the continuation of the siege imposed over Gaza and breaking of the cease-fire back in November by Israel. History conveniently begins where Israel can be made to look like the innocent victim acting in self-defence. Commonsense dictates that the act of self-defence is repelling an advancing enemy, meaning the threat is real and active. The homemade Hamas rockets came in retaliation to the continuation of the subjugation of the Palestinians.

e) The most recent fantastic claim is Hamas is out there to kill every Jew. Here comes the business of marketing holocaust again. Israeli Jews once again faces total annihilation. Even if the Hamas statements are true, but can you blame them for saying that. Is this not the result of Israeli barbarism? Israelis should remember that the victims of Gaza would one day seek vengeance and dispense collective punishment.

The Zionist entity has shown barbarism before like in Sabra and ShatiIa, Qana and Jenin. In Gaza, they went a step further, and it is not just the killing of innocent civilians. In the Channel 4 interview [3], Mark Regev, the Israeli Prime Ministers spokesperson was asked why the Israeli Defence Force was preventing the Red Cross from reaching the dead and wounded civilians for three days. He was specifically asked why the starving children waiting for food by the corpses of their mothers were denied aid from Red Cross – which is not in the business of propaganda. Red Cross were eventually made to walk for one mile to get to the victims. Such behaviour is disgusting from a people who constantly wave the holocaust flag and howl of being victimised – if they have really suffered so much, they ought to behave at least like human beings and not beasts.

ISRAEL JUST DOESN’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU THINK

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August 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm (Ethnic Cleansing, Gaza, Genocide, Illegal Settlements, Israel, Palestine, War Crimes)

At present there is a delegation visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine. The group is simply known as The Elders, which is made up of twelve prominent politicians, including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter, former Irish President Mary Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Obama’s latest ‘shtick‘ is to agree to Israel’s request to remove East Jerusalem from negotiations on the impending settlement freeze. And why not? Israel will do whatever it wants to do regardless. You can read the details to that HERE.

And in Gaza, the killing continues daily…. today fishermen were the target of Israeli Navy personel….

The settlements continue, the genocide continues, all being witnessed by the visiting ‘Elders’…. and Israel just doesn’t give a damn!

Medics say Israeli forces killed Gaza fisherman

Funeral for Al-Attar in Beit Lahiya [MaanImages]

A Palestinian man was killed and another injured on Thursday when Israel’s navy shelled a fishing boat just off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, medical officials told Ma’an.

However an Israeli military spokesman denied the navy had anything to do with the incident. He said naval forces did not fire on the boat, nor otherwise cause the death of a man onboard.

But earlier Thursday Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanein, the director of emergency and ambulance services at Gaza’s Health Ministry, said Israeli shells killed 25-year-old Muhammad Nady Al-Attar when his head was severed from his body.

One other fisherman was injured in the incident, which reportedly occurred while the two were fishing.

Al-Attar was buried later on Thursday after a funeral procession in his home town of Beit Lahiya.

Source

Noor al Haqiqa said…

How could any one be so naive as to think they do give a damn about world opinion? Awhile back I saw a quote from one PM or another saying that they could do as they wanted, public opinion meant nothing to Israel.

When Cynthia McKinley was arrested, she said to one of her captors that, according to UN regulations this was illegal. His response? “In Israel there IS no UN.”

If Israel OR AMERICA gave a sweet toot, they would not so blatantly do the things they do to other countries. The two are Tweedledum and Tweedledee when it comes to all of these things that go on. My jaundiced view even has me thinking the differences over the settlement situations is merely a good cop/bad cop set up scenario.

The INTERESTING thing is that Israel is so involved in media control and what gets out of the world. If one watches Peace Propaganda (I think that is it) in the Holy Land, you know how much they want control.

But in the long run the news gets out and irrefutable proof or not they deny. WHY? Because in the long run they don’t care.

All they want above everything is to get what they want and will stop at nothing to get it. Right now they want complete control of the middle East from Iran down to Egypt. Control of the oilfields and as much destruction of the filthy Muslim, Christian and Iranians as possible. They are just unwanted goyim after all.

Remember, they are the chosen ones of Lucifer and believe that no one else matters. Why justify to your inferiors?

Afghan war to be escalated in open defiance of public opinion around the globe

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August 27th, 2009 4:50 AM

James Cogan

A major increase in American and NATO troop numbers in Afghanistan is on the agenda in the wake of last week’s corrupt and illegitimate election in that country. The ballot—which witnessed a mass voter boycott—has underscored the widespread opposition within the country to the ongoing US-led military occupation.

Over the coming weeks, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO occupation forces, is scheduled to present the White House with an assessment of the military and political situation. Defence Secretary Robert Gates stated on August 13 that the review will not include “specific recommendations or requests for more forces”. What it will include, however, has been largely leaked to the media by US military commanders and foreign policy analysts.

Read more »

Flashback

Glorifying Terror?

afghan twoafghan one

A British artist made these impressive propaganda posters during the Afghan war against the Soviet occupation. They were also printed as postcards. The picture to the right was sent out as a christmas card by Agency Afghan Press in the UK, prompting London’s Evening Standard to wonder, jokingly, if the three figures represented Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

The picture to the left was made for Gulbedeen Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami, which then had a London office. The pictures raised no horrified eyebrows in the UK – of course not: the Afghan people and the Thatcher and Reagan administrations were all on the same side, for freedom, against godless Soviet communism interfering with a traditional culture.

Today, however, Hekmatyar is fighting the NATO occupation of his country, and were a British artist to dare paint an Afghan mujahid, with Qur’an in one hand and kalashnikov in the other, standing on an American flag, underneath a calligraphed ‘Allahu Akbar’, he would quite probably be charged under anti-terror legislation.

Israel Replaces Dated “War on Terror”, Declares New “War on Peace”

Israel Replaces Dated “War on Terror”, Declares New “War on Peace”

25/08/2009 International Solidarity Movement
18 August, 2009

Al-Manar.com.lb is not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

Tristan Anderson, an American national, was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during an unarmed demonstration against the Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin (report and video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5324).

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has notified the Anderson family’s lawyers that Israel perceives the incident on 13 March 2009 as an “act of war.” This classification was made despite the fact that Anderson’s shooting occurred during a civilian demonstration and there were no armed hostilities during the event or surrounding it.

The consequence of such classification is that according to Israeli law, the state of Israel is not liable for any damage its’ forces have caused.

Israeli police have completed their criminal investigation and passed the file to the district attorney of the Central District of the Israeli prosecution offices. The Anderson’s criminal attorney, Michael Sfard, is awaiting their decision.

According to Michael Sfard,

If a process by which unarmed civilian demonstration is classified by Israel as an ‘act of war,’ then clearly Israel admits that it is at war with civilians. International law identifies the incident as a clear case of human rights abuse. As such, Tristan and his family are undoubtedly entitled to justice and compensation. We will pursue this matter and take the government of Israel to court.
In addition to filing a criminal complaint against the State of Israel for the shooting of their son, the Andersons have submitted a notice of intent to file a civil suit.

Leah Tsemel, the civil suit attorney, stated,

This is another occasion where the Israeli government is alluding responsibility. The demonstrations that take place in Ni’lin and Bil’in are not acts of war. We will pursue, in Israeli courts and international courts if necessary, justice for the Anderson family.

Tristan Anderson was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high-velocity tear gas projectile by Israeli forces. He was taken to Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv and to date remains in the hospital facilities. Tristan suffered multiple condensed fractures as a result of being hit in the right frontal lobe. He has had several life-saving surgeries and his prospects for recovery are unclear. On 10 August 2009, Tristan underwent another surgery to reattach the top part of his skull, which was removed in order to save his life immediately after his shooting five months ago.

Several eye-witnesses have given testimony that Tristan was shot when he could not have been perceived as any threat to the forces in the area. He was shot from around 60 meters while standing with a few internationals and Palestinians, hours after the demonstration had dispersed from the construction site of the Wall.

“We are horrified and overwhelmed,” said Nancy Anderson during a press conference on 23 March 2009. “We are scared and really still in shock. To shoot peaceful demonstrators is really horrifying to us. What we want to ask is that the Israeli government publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son.” (audio of press conference held by the Andersons: http://www.alternativenews.org/news-from-within:-palestine/israel-podcasts/1854-news-from-within-podcast-press-conference-of-the-parents-of-american-activist-tristan-anderson-who-was-critically-injured-by-israeli-military.html)

Israeli forces have been systematically shooting tear-gas projectiles directly at demonstrators during protests at the West Bank Wall.

After Anderson’s shooting, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem requested the Judge Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, to immediately clarify to security forces that it is absolutely forbidden to directly aim tear-gas canisters, including extended-range type canisters, at demonstrators in the West Bank. B’Tselem also provided extensive video footage of demonstrations in Ni’lin, Bi’lin, and Jayyus showing repeated firing of tear-gas grenades directly at demonstrators, proving that, contrary to the army’s contentions, Israeli forces in the West Bank have commonly practiced this unlawful act. (report & video: http://www.btselem.org/English/Firearms/20090318_Firing_of_Tear_Gaz_at_Demonstrators.asp).
Following the killing of a Palestinian demonstrator in Bil’in, Basem Abu Rahme, by Israeli forces on 17 April 2009 with a high velocity tear gas projectile (report and video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/6185), B’Tselem again demanded that the army enforce its Open-Fire Regulations and investigate the incidents (http://www.btselem.org/English/Firearms/20090422_Firing_Tear_Gaz_Canisters_directly_on_People.asp).
On 5 May 2009, Yehoshua Lemberger, deputy state attorney for criminal affairs of the Justice Ministry, asked the police to review the guidelines for dispersing protesters based on Rahme’s death and the police investigations of four additional incidents that occurred in Nil’in, including the shooting of Tristan Anderson (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710864477&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull).

Blackwater: CIA Assassins?

Blackwater: CIA Assassins?

25/08/2009 Jeremy Scahill – The Nation
August 22, 2009

Al-Manar.com.lb is not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

In April 2002, the CIA paid Blackwater more than $5 million to deploy a small team of men inside Afghanistan during the early stages of US operations in the country. A month later, Erik Prince, the company’s owner and a former Navy SEAL, flew to Afghanistan as part of the original twenty-man Blackwater contingent. Blackwater worked for the CIA at its station in Kabul as well as in Shkin, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they operated out of a mud fortress known as the Alamo. It was the beginning of a long relationship between Blackwater, Prince and the CIA.

Now the New York Times is reporting that in 2004 the CIA hired Blackwater “as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda.” According to the Times, “it is unclear whether the CIA had planned to use the contractors to capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance.”

The Times reports that “the CIA did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune.” A retired intelligence officer “intimately familiar with the assassination program” told the Washington Post, “Outsourcing gave the agency more protection in case something went wrong.” The Post reported that Blackwater “was given operational responsibility for targeting terrorist commanders and was awarded millions of dollars for training and weaponry, but the program was canceled before any missions were conducted.”

“What the agency was doing with Blackwater scares the hell out of me,” said Jack Rice, a former CIA field operator who worked for the directorate of operations, which runs covert paramilitary activities for the CIA. “When the agency actually cedes all oversight and power to a private organization, an organization like Blackwater, most importantly they lose control and don’t understand what’s going on,” Rice told The Nation. “What makes it even worse is that you then can turn around and have deniability. They can say, ‘It wasn’t us, we weren’t the ones making the decisions.’ That’s the best of both worlds. It’s analogous to what we hear about torture that was being done in the name of Americans, when we simply handed somebody over to the Syrians or the Egyptians or others and then we turn around and say, ‘We’re not torturing people.'”

Reached by telephone, Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that because of her oath of secrecy on sensitive intelligence issues, she could neither confirm nor deny that Congress was aware of Blackwater’s involvement in this program before the Times report. Schakowsky also declined to comment on whether Blackwater came up at a June briefing by CIA director Leon Panetta, which she attended. That briefing sparked calls for an investigation into whether Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to conceal an assassination program from Congress.

“What we know now, if this is true, is that Blackwater was part of the highest level, the innermost circle strategizing and exercising strategy within the Bush administration,” Schakowsky told The Nation. “Erik Prince operated at the highest and most secret level of the government. Clearly Prince was more trusted than the US Congress because Vice President Cheney made the decision not to brief Congress. This shows that there was absolutely no space whatsoever between the Bush administration and Blackwater.”

As The Nation has reported, Blackwater continues to operate on the US government payroll in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where it works for the State Department and the Defense Department. The CIA will not confirm whether Blackwater continues to work for the agency (or, for that matter, if it ever has).

Blackwater’s work for the CIA was the result of meetings in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 between Prince and Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, then-executive director of the CIA, the agency’s number-three man. Krongard and Prince, according to a former Blackwater executive interviewed by The Nation, “were good buddies.” In a 2006 interview for my book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Krongard said that the company was hired to provide security for the CIA in Afghanistan. “Blackwater got a contract because they were the first people that could get people on the ground,” Krongard said. “The only concern we had was getting the best security for our people. If we thought Martians could provide it, I guess we would have gone after them.”

The relationship between Krongard and Prince apparently got chummier after the contract was signed. One former Blackwater executive said in 2006, “Krongard came down and visited Blackwater [at company headquarters in North Carolina], and I had to take his kids around and let them shoot on the firing range a number of times.” That visit took place after the CIA contract was signed, according to the former executive, and Krongard “may have come down just to see the company that he had just hired.”

The relationship between Blackwater and the CIA quickly evolved. Shortly after Prince arrived in Afghanistan in May 2002, according to a former Blackwater executive who was with Prince, the Blackwater owner focused on winning more business with government agencies, providing private soldiers for hire. In 2002 Prince, along with former CIA operative Jamie Smith, created Blackwater Security Consulting, which would put former Navy SEALs and other special ops on the market.

Prince subsequently tried to join the CIA but was reportedly denied when his polygraph test came back inconclusive. Still, he maintained close ties with the agency. He reportedly was given a “green badge” that permitted him access to most CIA stations. “He’s over there [at CIA headquarters] regularly, probably once a month or so,” a CIA source told Harper’s journalist Ken Silverstein in 2006. “He meets with senior people, especially in the [directorate of operations].”

Prince would also go on to hire many senior Bush-era CIA officials to work at Blackwater. In July 2007 Buzzy Krongard joined the company’s board; Prince offered him a $3,500 honorarium per meeting attended plus all expenses paid. “Your experience and insight would be ideal to help our team determine where we are and where we are going,” Prince wrote in a letter to Krongard. At the time his brother, Howard “Cookie” Krongard, was the State Department inspector general responsible for overseeing Blackwater’s work for the State Department. In September 2007 California Democratic Representative Henry Waxman accused Cookie Krongard of impeding a Justice Department investigation into Blackwater over allegations the company was illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq.

Prince hired several other former CIA officials to run what amounted to his own private CIA. Most notable among these was J. Cofer Black, who was running the CIA’s counterterrorism operations and leading the hunt for Osama bin Laden when Blackwater was initially hired by the CIA in 2002. Black left the government in 2005 and took a job at Blackwater running Prince’s private intelligence company, Total Intelligence Solutions.

While at the CIA, Black ran the “extraordinary rendition” program and coordinated the CIA “Jawbreaker” team sent into Afghanistan to kill or capture bin Laden and senior Al Qaeda leaders. In the days immediately after 9/11, he told Bush that his men would aim to kill Al Qaeda operatives. “When we’re through with them, they will have flies walking across their eyeballs,” Black promised Bush. When Black told Bush the operation would not be bloodless, the president reportedly said, “Let’s go. That’s war. That’s what we’re here to win.”

Before the CIA Jawbreaker team deployed on September 27, 2001, Black gave his men direct and macabre directions: “I don’t want bin Laden and his thugs captured, I want them dead…. They must be killed. I want to see photos of their heads on pikes. I want bin Laden’s head shipped back in a box filled with dry ice. I want to be able to show bin Laden’s head to the president. I promised him I would do that.” According to CIA operative Gary Schroen, a member of the Jawbreaker team, it was the first time in his thirty-year career he had been ordered to assassinate an adversary rather than attempt a capture.

In September 2002, five months after Blackwater’s first known contract with the CIA in Afghanistan, Black testified to Congress about the new “operational flexibility” employed in the “war on terror.” “There was a before 9/11, and there was an after 9/11,” Black said. “After 9/11 the gloves come off.” Black outlined a “no-limits, aggressive, relentless, worldwide pursuit of any terrorist who threatens us,” saying it “is the only way to go and is the bottom line.” Black would later brag, in 2004, that “over 70 percent” of Al Qaeda’s leadership had been arrested, detained or killed, and that “more than 3,400 of their operatives and supporters have also been detained and put out of an action.” The Times reports that the Blackwater-CIA assassination program “did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.”

In addition to Black, Total Intelligence’s executives include CEO Robert Richer, the former associate deputy director of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and second-ranking official in charge of clandestine operations. From 1999 to 2004, Richer was head of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia Division, where he ran covert operations in the Middle East and South Asia. As part of his duties, he was the CIA liaison with Jordan’s King Abdullah, a key US ally and Blackwater client, and briefed George W. Bush on the burgeoning Iraqi resistance in its early stages.

Total Intelligence’s chief operating officer is Enrique “Ric” Prado, a twenty-four-year CIA veteran and former senior executive officer in the Directorate of Operations. He spent more than a decade working in the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and ten years with the CIA’s “paramilitary” Special Operations Group.

Total Intelligence is run out of an office on the ninth floor of a building in the Ballston area of Arlington, Virginia. Its Global Fusion Center, complete with large-screen TVs broadcasting international news channels and computer stations staffed by analysts surfing the web, “operates around the clock every day of the year” and is modeled after the CIA’s counterterrorist center, once run by Black. The firm employs at least sixty-five full-time staff–some estimates say it’s closer to 100. “Total Intel brings the…skills traditionally honed by CIA operatives directly to the board room,” Black said when the company launched.

Representative Schakowsky says the House Intelligence Committee is investigating the CIA assassination program and will probe alleged links to Blackwater. “The presidential memos (often referred to as ‘findings’) authorizing covert action like the lethal activities of the CIA and Blackwater have not yet surfaced,” says Ray McGovern, a retired twenty-seven-year CIA analyst who once served as George H.W. Bush’s national security briefer. “They will, in due course, if knowledgeable sources continue to put the Constitution and courage above secrecy oaths.”

Blackwater Strikes Back

The Times report comes as Prince and his Blackwater empire are facing the prospect of a potentially explosive civil trial over the killing of Iraqi civilians. Attorney Susan Burke and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), who are suing Prince and his companies on behalf of their Iraqi victims, have alleged that Prince is “equivalent to a top mafia boss who is responsible for all the day-to-day crimes committed at his direction and behest.” If the case proceeds, the process of discovery could blow the lid off some of the darkest secrets of the powerful security contractor and its secretive owner. Burke and CCR are suing Prince and his companies directly rather than his individual employees because they say Prince “wholly owns and personally controls all Defendants.” Burke also alleges that Prince has committed “violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal statute permitting private parties to seek redress from criminal enterprises who damage their property.” Among the allegations are war crimes, extra-judicial killings and assault and battery of Iraqis.

Since the first case was filed by Iraqi civilians against Prince and Blackwater over the killing of seventeen Iraqis at Baghdad’s Nisour Square on September 16, 2007, the company’s high-powered lawyers have fought feverishly to have that and four other cases dismissed. Now, facing a crucial August 28 hearing in federal court in Virginia, they are putting forward a new argument: instead of Prince and Blackwater standing trial, the US government should be the defendant.

In a motion filed August 12, Blackwater’s lawyers asked federal Judge T.S. Ellis III to order “that the United States ‘be substituted as the party defendant,’ in place of all of the current Defendants.” In his motion, Blackwater lawyer Peter White of the powerhouse firm Mayer Brown argued that the company was working for the State Department in Iraq and therefore was on official business when the alleged killings and injuries of Iraqis took place. White cites the 1988 Westfall Act, which prohibits suits against government employees for their actions on behalf of the government and states that the government will assume liability for any lawsuits against employees.

Federal tort law defines “employees” in this context as “persons acting on behalf of a federal agency in an official capacity, temporarily or permanently in the service of the United States, whether with or without compensation.” The fact that the defendants are “corporate entities” in this instance, White claims, “does not alter that conclusion.” In the motion, Blackwater’s attorneys note that the company, which recently renamed itself Xe Services, now does business with the government under the name US Training Center (USTC).

“The idea that the United States government should accept liability for the unprovoked criminal manslaughter of seventeen innocent Iraqis by Blackwater mercenaries, and place it on the back of taxpayers, is corporate animism run amok,” says Ralph Nader, who has spent his entire career fighting against corporate personhood. “If Blackwater wants to be treated like a person, then its latest mutation, USTC, should be prosecuted, convicted and given the equivalent penalty of corporate capital punishment by revoking its charter and terminating its corporate operations.”

The Westfall Act was passed in 1988 as an amendment to the Federal Torts Claim Act “to protect federal employees from personal liability for common law torts committed within the scope of their employment, while providing persons injured by the common law torts of federal employees with an appropriate remedy against the United States.” After Westfall, the government assumed legal responsibility for suits filed against federal employees and made the sole remedy for victims suits against the government.

Blackwater has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to intervene in the case and to assume liability for the allegations against Blackwater. If that were to happen, legal experts say, the case would be dead in the water. “It’s clear that if they win this motion and the government is substituted, since the wrongs occurred in a foreign country, the government is absolutely immune and the case will be dismissed,” says Alan Morrison, a former federal prosecutor who is now the associate dean for public interest at George Washington Law School. “This is an effort [by Blackwater and Prince] to absolve themselves…of any liability for the alleged wrongs to the plaintiffs.” He adds: “A gigantic, for-profit corporation is seeking to use this statute, designed to protect government employees, to shield themselves from any responsibility for the deaths and injuries” of Iraqis.

“When Blackwater chooses to interpose itself in the middle and to make profit off these individual employees in the relationship with the government, the notion that Blackwater itself, a corporation, could be an employee is unusual to say the least,” says Morrison. “Why would Congress want to, in effect, transfer liability from a large, well-heeled corporation like Blackwater to the United States taxpayers for this kind of conduct? What they’d be saying [if Blackwater’s interpretation of the Westfall Act is accepted] is they would have wanted to assume liability for that which they didn’t have any liability in the first place.”

The Justice Department has not yet issued a position in this case. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can provide in regard to your inquiry at this time,” an official wrote in an e-mail. Earlier, in response to questions from The Nation, a Justice Department spokesperson sent a memo filed by the department earlier this year in a similar case against Blackwater in federal court in Florida, in which the department had rejected the company’s attempt to make the government responsible. “Defendants’ request for Westfall Act certification should be denied because only natural persons can be considered ‘employee[s] of the government,'” Assistant Attorney General Tony West wrote on June 8 in a thirty-five-page filing opposing Blackwater’s motion.

Several legal experts interviewed by The Nation said they could not foresee the Justice Department intervening on Blackwater’s behalf. But the Westfall Act has been used by attorneys general in both the Bush and Obama administrations to attempt to absolve senior Bush officials of liability for their alleged role in crimes and to make the government liable. On June 26 Holder’s office intervened in a lawsuit filed by CCR against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and twenty-three other military and medical officials “for their role in the illegal detention, torture, inhumane conditions and ultimate deaths” of two Guantánamo prisoners.

Citing the Westfall Act, Tony West wrote that “the type of activities alleged against the individual defendants were ‘foreseeable’ and were ‘a direct outgrowth’ of their responsibility to detain and gather intelligence from suspected enemy combatants.” In defending the government’s position, West cited case law stating that “genocide, torture, forced relocation, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by individual defendants employed by Department of Defense and State Department were within scope of employment” and similar cases justifying CIA torture as part of official duty.

“It is essentially saying torture is all in a day’s work when it comes to holding people in military detention,” says Shane Kadidal, who heads the Guantánamo project at CCR. In that case, the issue was not whether Rumsfeld and the others were “employees” but whether they were doing official business. Blackwater’s argument is a tougher sell, says Morrison. “Does it hold water?” he asks. “It holds Blackwater.”

Meanwhile, in another development, Prince’s lawyers have responded to explosive allegations made against Prince by two former employees. In sworn affidavits submitted by lawyers representing the Iraqis suing Blackwater, the two alleged that Prince may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. One of the former employees alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.” They also charge that Prince was profiting from illegal weapons smuggling. In a motion filed August 10, Prince’s lawyers asked Judge Ellis to strike from the record the sworn statements of the two former employees, saying that “the conclusory allegations they contain are inadmissible on multiple grounds, including lack of foundation, hearsay, irrelevance, and unfair prejudice.” They charge that the lawyers suing Blackwater are attempting to “use this litigation as a ‘megaphone’ to increase their ability to influence the public’s perceptions regarding the use of contractors in military battlefield situations, the Iraq War, and most particularly about Erik Prince and the other defendants. Unsubstantiated statements made in filings in this Court become ‘newsworthy’ simply because they appear in those filings.” The lawyers characterize the allegations as “scandalous, baseless, inadmissible, and highly prejudicial.” Interestingly, nowhere do Prince’s lawyers say flatly that the allegations are untrue.

As the cases against Prince move forward, the company continues to do a robust business with the federal government, particularly in Afghanistan. Schakowsky has called for a review of all of the companies’ current contracts, and she has called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stop awarding the company contracts. The “Obama administration should at the very least cancel and debar [Blackwater’s] present and pending government contracts,” says Nader. “Otherwise corporate crimes, privileges and immunities continue to pay and pay and pay.”

Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Israel’s Terror Inside (Trailer)

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Max Blumenthal and the Daily Nuisance present the trailer for their forthcoming documentary exposing rising repression inside Israel as the country moves rapidly towards authoritarianism. An activist faces jail for blocking bulldozers; the Knesset attempts to criminalize the Nakba and all opposing “Jewish and democratic” state; feminists investigated for incitement to draft dodge; Palestinian-Israelis arrested for election protest — where is Israel going? Featuring interviews with Ezra Nawi, Breaking the Silence, Sameh Jabarin, Naomi Chazan, Bi’ilin Popular Committee, New Profile and others facing extreme repression from Israel’s right-wing government.

Written by m.idrees

August 24, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Guardian investigation uncovers evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza

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The Guardian gathered testimony of missile attacks by Israeli drones on clearly distinguishable civilian targets. In one case a family of six was killed when a missile hit the courtyard of their house. Israel has not admitted to the use of More.. drones but military experts say their optical equipment is good enough to clearly identify individual items of clothing worn by targets.