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The U.S. Army [will have] destroyed about 90 percent of its aging chemical weapons after it wraps up work this week in Utah, where it has kept its largest stockpile — a witches' brew of toxins, blister and blood agents that accumulated through the Cold War. The Army's Deseret Chemical Depot in Utah's west desert burned its last hard weapons in a 1,500-degree furnace on Wednesday. The depot ... at its peak held some 13,600 tons of chemical agents, making it the world's largest. The U.S. is part of an international treaty to rid the world of chemical weapons, a campaign taking place with spotty success around the globe. The goal was supposed to be accomplished by April 29 but will take years longer. The U.S. has acknowledged it will take as long as 2021 to finish destroying the final 10 percent of its chemical weapons. Russia is farther behind in its effort, having destroyed only about 48 percent of a large cache of chemical weapons. Chemical weapons were introduced into warfare during World War I, killing 90,000 troops on battlefields, according to the Organisation of for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The Pentagon has quietly shifted combat troops and warships to the Middle East after the top American commander in the region warned that he needed additional forces to deal with Iran and other potential threats, U.S. officials said. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who heads U.S. Central Command, won White House approval for the deployments late last year after talks with the government in Baghdad broke down over keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, but the extent of the Pentagon moves is only now becoming clear. The Pentagon has stationed nearly 15,000 troops in Kuwait, adding to a small contingent already there. The new units include two Army infantry brigades and a helicopter unit - a substantial increase in combat power after nearly a decade in which Kuwait chiefly served as a staging area for supplies and personnel heading to Iraq. The Pentagon also has decided to keep two aircraft carriers and their strike groups in the region. Earlier this week, the American carrier Carl Vinson joined the carrier Stennis in the Arabian Sea, giving commanders major naval and air assets in case Iran carries out its recent threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic chokepoint in the Persian Gulf, where one-fifth of the world's oil shipments passes.
As arguments flare in Israel and the United States about a possible military strike to set back Iran’s nuclear program, an accelerating covert campaign of assassinations, bombings, cyberattacks and defections appears intended to make that debate irrelevant. The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on [January 11] when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran’s morning rush hour. The scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was a department supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. He was at least the fifth scientist with nuclear connections to be killed since 2007; a sixth scientist, Fereydoon Abbasi, survived a 2010 attack. Iranian officials immediately blamed both Israel and the United States for the latest death, which came less than two months after a suspicious explosion at an Iranian missile base that killed a top general and 16 other people. Neither Israeli nor American officials will discuss the covert campaign in any detail, leaving some uncertainty about the perpetrators and their purpose. Israel has used assassination as a tool of statecraft since its creation in 1948, historians say, killing dozens of Palestinian and other militants and a small number of foreign scientists. But there is no exact precedent for what appears to be the current campaign against Iran, involving Israel and the United States and a broad array of methods.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on covert actions undertaken by the US in the "global war on terror", click here.
It has been 10 years since Guantanamo Bay became a prison. Today, 171 men are still held there with no real prospect of either trial or release. Bush administration officials have admitted ordering torture against prisoners in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq and secret sites in [other] countries, yet no one has been held to account for violating U.S. law. Their illegal actions and the recent passage - and signing by President Obama - of the National Defense Authorization Act have undermined fundamental structures of law and morality that are our heritage as Americans. More than 80 percent of Americans self-identified as "religious" in a 2011 Pew poll. Today, 312 U.S. faith groups are members of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Organized in 2006, it is a vehicle for people of faith seeking to denounce abusive practices by the United States. Under President Obama, we have held no one accountable for torture. With the passage of the Defense Act, indefinite detention without trial has become law ... including even American citizens captured on U.S. soil, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The loss of habeas corpus rights under the Defense Act now puts every ordinary person at risk of indefinite detention. As citizens, it is our right and responsibility to demand that our government investigate the U.S. torture program and uphold our constitutional rights. As a nation of people of faith, this is our sacred duty.
Note: The author, Louise Specht, is the convener of the Bay Area Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Northern California affiliate of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing him to indefinitely detain citizens. Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country. It was a continuation of the dishonest treatment of the issue by the White House since the law first came to light. The White House told citizens that the president would not sign the NDAA because of the provision. [But] sponsor Senator Carl Levin ... went to the floor and disclosed that it was the White House [that] insisted that there be no exception for citizens in the indefinite detention provision. The almost complete failure of the mainstream media to cover this issue is shocking. Reporters continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true. The administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review. Moreover, most experts agree that such indefinite detention of citizens violates the constitution. The White House conducted a misinformation campaign to secure this power while portraying the president as some type of reluctant absolute ruler, or, as Obama maintains, a reluctant president with dictatorial powers. Most Democratic members joined their Republican colleagues in voting for this un-American measure. Some Montana citizens are moving to force the removal of these members who, they insist, betrayed their oaths of office and their constituents.
President Obama, after objecting to provisions of a military spending bill that would have forced him to try terrorism suspects in military courts ... signed the bill on [New Year's Eve]. The White House had said that the legislation could lead to an improper military role in overseeing detention and court proceedings and could infringe on the president’s authority in dealing with terrorism suspects. But it said that Mr. Obama could interpret the statute in a way that would preserve his authority. The president, for example, said that he would never authorize the indefinite military detention of American citizens, because “doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.” He also said he would reject a “rigid across-the-board requirement” that suspects be tried in military courts rather than civilian courts. Congress dropped a provision in the House version of the bill that would have banned using civilian courts to prosecute those suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda. It also dropped a new authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda and its allies. Civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, still oppose the law, in part because of its authorization of military detention camps overseas.
Note: This New York Times article amazingly fails to mention that civil liberties groups oppose this law primarily because it eliminates habeus corpus, Posse Comitatus and Bill of Rights protections, and enables the military to arrest and imprison American citizens on American soil and subject them to military tribunals without due judicial process. These protections are what Pres. Obama was referring to when he mentioned "our most important traditions and values as a nation." Is his statement that he will not use the new powers the law gives him sufficiently reassuring?
In the space of three years, the [Obama] administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries. The apparatus involves dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force cockpits in the Southwest and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents. No president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals. Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte, piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities that govern the use of lethal force. In Yemen, for instance, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command pursue the same adversary with nearly identical aircraft. But they alternate taking the lead on strikes to exploit their separate authorities, and they maintain separate kill lists that overlap but don’t match. CIA and military strikes this fall killed three U.S. citizens, two of whom were suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Although human rights advocates and others are increasingly critical of the drone program, the level of public debate remains muted. [One] reason for the lack of extensive debate is secrecy. The White House has refused to divulge details about the structure of the drone program or, with rare exceptions, who has been killed.
Note: Not that the US citizens killed were not given their constitutional rights for a fair trail before being assassinated. For lots more from major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret. And though they worked long hours under intense deadlines, sometimes missing family holidays and anniversaries, they could tell no one — not even their wives and children — what they did. They were engineers, scientists, draftsmen and inventors. It was dubbed “Big Bird’’ and it was considered the most successful space spy satellite program of the Cold War era. From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks. The scale, ambition and sheer ingenuity of Hexagon KH-9 was breathtaking. So too is the human tale of the 45-year-old secret that many took to their graves. Hexagon was declassified in September. “The question became, how do you hide an elephant?’’ a National Reconnaissance Office report stated at the time. It decided on a simple response: “What elephant?’’ Employees were told to ignore any questions from the media, and never confirm the slightest detail about what they worked on.
Note: This is another excellent example of how government is able to keep huge projects secret, and how top secret military technology is often decades ahead of anything which has been publicly revealed. Note that even the existence of the National Reconnaissance Office, founded in 1960, was completely denied until it's existence was declassified in 1992. Does government lie to us? Without a doubt.
A Pentagon public relations program that sought to transform high-profile military analysts into "surrogates" and "message force multipliers" for the Bush administration complied with Defense Department regulations and directives, the Pentagon's inspector general has concluded after a two-year investigation. The inquiry was prompted by articles published in the New York Times in 2008 that described how the Pentagon, in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, cultivated close ties with retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks. In response to the articles, the Pentagon suspended the program, and members of Congress asked the Defense Department's inspector general to investigate. The results of the inquiry ... confirm that the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld made a concerted effort ... to build and sustain public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The inquiry found that from 2002 to 2008, Rumsfeld's Pentagon organized 147 events for 74 military analysts. The inquiry confirmed that Rumsfeld's staff frequently provided military analysts with discussion points before their network appearances.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
It has been seven years since the end of the second siege of Fallujah – the US assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands more; the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there with cancers and their children with birth defects. It has been seven years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did. Unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city. How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors? I carried a radio on my back that dropped the bombs that killed civilians and reduced Fallujah to rubble. If I were a Fallujan, I would have killed anyone like me. I would have had no choice. The fate of my city and my family would have depended on it. I would have killed the foreign invaders. [US soldiers] were killed and they killed others because of a political agenda in which they were just pawns. They were the iron fist of American empire, and an expendable loss in the eyes of their leaders. What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone. What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudices that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would have done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.
Note: For key reports from reliable, verifiable sources detailing atrocities carried out by the US military and its allies in the "global war on terror", click here.
If terrorists ever target Fargo, N.D., the local police will be ready. In recent years, they have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers in foreign wars. For local siege situations requiring real firepower, police there can use a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. Until that day, however, the menacing truck is mostly used for training runs and appearances at the annual Fargo picnic, where it’s been displayed near a children’s bounce house. Fargo, like thousands of other communities in every state, has been on a gear-buying spree with the aid of more than $34 billion in federal government grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The federal grant spending, awarded with little oversight from Washington, has fueled a rapid, broad transformation of police operations in Fargo and in departments across the country. More than ever before, police rely on quasi-military tactics and equipment. A review of records from 41 states obtained through open-government requests, and interviews with more than two-dozen current and former police officials and terrorism experts, shows police departments around the U.S. have transformed into small army-like forces. Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles.
Since September, at least 60 people have died in 14 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions. The Obama administration has named only one of the dead, hailing the elimination of Janbaz Zadran, a top official in the Haqqani insurgent network, as a counterterrorism victory. The identities of the rest remain classified, as does the existence of the drone program itself. The administration ... has parried reports of collateral damage and the alleged killing of innocents by saying that drones, with their surveillance capabilities and precision missiles, result in far fewer mistakes than less sophisticated weapons. Yet in carrying out hundreds of strikes over three years — resulting in an estimated 1,350 to 2,250 deaths in Pakistan — it has provided virtually no details to support those assertions. The rapid expansion in the size and scope of the drone campaign as the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been winding down has led to increased criticism from human rights and international law experts, many of whom dispute the legal justification for the program. Much of the resistance to increased disclosure has come from the CIA, which has argued that the release of any information about the program, particularly on how targets are chosen and strikes approved, would aid the enemy. The Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which has carried out strikes in Yemen and Somalia, refuses to discuss drones or any other aspect of its secret counterterrorism operations.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay. Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of "a war that appears to have no end". The law ... effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention. The law's critics describe it as a draconian piece of legislation that extends the reach of detention without trial to include US citizens arrested in their own country. "It's something so radical that it would have been considered crazy had it been pushed by the Bush administration," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "It establishes precisely the kind of system that the United States has consistently urged other countries not to adopt. At a time when the United States is urging Egypt, for example, to scrap its emergency law and military courts, this is not consistent."
Note: The implications of the passage of this bill to authorize the US military to carry out domestic arrest and imprisonment of US citizens have hardly been reported on by the major media. The defense authorization bill undermines protections established by the Bill of Rights and the Posse Comitatus Act against use of US military forces in domestic control and arrest. For further analysis of the implications of this legislation, click here and here.
Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in [eastern North Dakota]. He called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. He also called in a Predator B drone. Sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare. But that was just the start. Local police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said. The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country's northern and southwestern borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate.
Note: "Looking for six cows," the Sheriff called in "a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. He also called in a Predator B drone." Does that sound like a reasonable response to the problem of missing cows? Or could there be an agenda to establish aerial surveillance by drones as the norm in the US?
Amnesty International on [December 1] called on Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush for human rights abuse when he visits the region this month. During his time as President from 2001 to 2009, Bush authorized the use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques that Amnesty and other human rights groups consider torture. "International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfill their obligations and end the impunity George W. Bush has so far enjoyed," Matt Pollard, senior legal adviser, said in a statement. Bush has defended the use of waterboarding -- which simulates the sensation of drowning -- as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Bush is expected to visit the region this week to raise awareness about cancer in Africa, Amnesty said.
Note: For the full text of Amnesty's call for the arrest of George W. Bush, click here. For lots more from major media sources on the crimes of the Bush administration during the "global war on terror," click here.
Battlefield technology is coming to the streets of Los Angeles County. Starting this month, one of the nation's major military contractors is outfitting the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's patrol cars with sophisticated computer systems and high-tech gadgetry that has been perfected for the battlefield. At a total cost to taxpayers of $20 million, Raytheon Co. promises to deliver technology that will enable deputies on the road to sort through key intelligence information in mere seconds. In a single roadside stop, they'll have the ability to run a background check using a searchable FBI database — or pull up a suspect's mug shots or even obtain biometric data, such as fingerprints — on the spot. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is the largest in the nation, covering more than 4,000 square miles and a population of more than 10 million. Daniel J. Crowley, president of Raytheon's Network Centric Systems, noted that ... the Sheriff's Department's new equipment is being used by security forces in the Green Zone in Baghdad to police the area. "The military's situation overseas may be much different from the Sheriff's Department, but the need is basically the same."
Note: For an illuminating article revealing that the Pentagon is supplying police departments across the US with military technology and supplies for no cost, click here.
A tribunal formed by Malaysia’s former leader has convicted former President George W. Bush and Britain’s ex-prime minister Tony Blair at a symbolic trial for “crimes against peace” in Iraq. Malaysia’s outspoken former leader Mahathir Mohamad founded a peace organization that set up the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal specifically for trying Bush and Blair. Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz Mahathir, said international judges and lawyers convicted the men Tuesday for crimes against peace over the 2003 Iraq invasion. It plans to hear symbolic war crimes charges against them later. Malaysian activists say they sent information about the charges to Bush and Blair but received no response.
Note: This story sadly received very little press in the major media. For an earlier Associated Press story on the background to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, click here. For more on the results in Canada's conservative National Post, click here. For a press release from the Tribunal, click here. To visit the Tribunal website, click here.
The armed forces minister has been forced to apologise over misleading statements he made regarding the legality and dangers of depleted uranium weapons. Nick Harvey admitted that he had inadvertently misled MPs about a Ministry of Defence review that he said had concluded the weapons were permissible on humanitarian and environmental grounds under the Geneva conventions. It subsequently emerged that the review had never happened. The revelations come as a cross-party campaign is launched to pile pressure on the MoD to phase out the use of depleted uranium (DU). The tank shells that depend on it have to be renewed in 2013. The British army fired shells containing 2.3 tonnes of DU during the Gulf wars in 1990-91 and 2003. DU is used to harden 'Charm3' armour-piercing shells carried by British Challenger tanks. In 1998 the UK government ratified additional protocol 1 of the Geneva conventions. Article 36 of that requires that all weapons are subject to a legal review to assess whether they are "capable of being used discriminately", or cause "widespread and severe damage to the natural environment".
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
Israel has refused to reassure President Barack Obama that it would warn him in advance of any pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear capabilities, raising fears that it may be planning a go-it-alone attack as early as next summer. The US leader was rebuffed last month when he demanded private guarantees that no strike would go ahead without White House notification, suggesting Israel no longer plans to "seek Washington's permission", sources said. The disclosure [was] made by insiders briefed on a top-secret meeting between America's most senior defence chief and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's hawkish prime minister. Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, flew into Israel last month on what was ostensibly a routine trip. Mr Panetta conveyed an urgent message from Barack Obama. The president, Mr Panetta said, wanted an unshakable guarantee that Israel would not carry out a unilateral military strike against Iran's nuclear installations without first seeking Washington's clearance. The two Israelis were notably evasive in their response, according to sources both in Israel and the United States. Alarmed by Mr Netanyahu's noncommittal response, Mr Obama reportedly ordered the US intelligence services to step up monitoring of Israel to glean clues of its intentions. What those intentions might be remains distinctly murky. Over the past fortnight, Israel's press has given every impression that the country is on a war footing, with numerous claims that Mr Netanyahu and Mr Barak are lobbying the cabinet to support the military option.
Note: For veteran geopolitical analyst Michel Chossudovsky's view that the "intelligence" on Iran's nuclear program is being "cooked" to justify an upcoming war, click here. For an investigative report showing that the IAEA's November 8 report on the "Iranian nuclear threat" falsely claimed that a Russian advisor to Iran is a nuclear scientist, click here. On the preparations for this war by the US and UK, which go far beyond the usual contingency planning for future possibilities, click here.
Prominent international human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith was impressed by the 16-year-old boy who wanted to draw attention to civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. Tariq Aziz had volunteered to take pictures of people killed by the remotely piloted aircraft to help Stafford Smith highlight what he calls illegal killings. Three days later, on October 31, he and his 12-year-old cousin were themselves killed by a drone missile strike in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, Stafford Smith said. For the veteran lawyer, the deaths highlighted major flaws in the CIA-run drone campaign, which U.S. officials say is invaluable in the war on militants. He considers the drones as "scandalous" as the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. "What we are seeing in Waziristan is a process that is alienating the population just as napalm in Vietnam did and it's achieving very little benefit." Stafford Smith [also] drew parallels between Guantanamo and the drone campaign in Pakistan, arguing both detentions and strikes were often based on dubious intelligence. He suspects the death of Aziz was a prime example of that. "We as America offer large bounties to different informants and these informants would sell their own mothers," said Stafford Smith, 52, a dual U.S.-British citizen who is the director of Reprieve, an organization that advocates for prisoners' rights.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the killing of innocent people by US drones, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.