Tuesday, July 10, 2012

526 BBC, NYT, FAZ admit Syria rebels responsible for massacres

BBC, NYT, FAZ admit Syria rebels responsible for massacres

(1) NYT reports mass killing of 25 men near Aleppo in Syria was done by
Rebels
(2) BBC world news editor: Houla massacre coverage based on opposition
propaganda
(3) BBC Editor admits "psy-ops" in news reports blaming Houla Massacre
on Assad regime
(4) US supports Syria rebels but not Palestinians or Occupy protestors -
Paul Craig Roberts
(5) Germany's leading newspaper: Syrian Rebels responsible for Houla
Massacre
(6) War drums for Syria - Rep. Ron Paul
(7) CIA directing arms shipments to Syria's "rebels"
(8) NYT: CIA officers in Turkey "steering Arms" to Syrian Opposition
(9) Burying the "Lockerbie Bomber" — and the Truth

(1) NYT reports mass killing of 25 men near Aleppo in Syria was done by
Rebels


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/23/world/middleeast/mass-killing-reported-in-syria-apparently-a-rebel-ambush.html

Mass Killing Reported in Northern Syria, Apparently a Rebel Ambush

By DALAL MAWAD

Published: June 22, 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon — More than 25 Syrian men were found shot to death on
Friday near the northern city of Aleppo in circumstances that remained
unclear, but appeared to be a rebel ambush, according to accounts from
both Syrian state media and opposition activists.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported that armed terrorist
gangs, the standard government description for all opposition forces,
carried out what it described as a brutal massacre of the men, described
as kidnapping victims, in Daret Azzeh, in western Aleppo Province.

Most of the dead had been shot and their bodies mutilated, the official
account said, with some of the kidnapping victims still missing. It did
not provide any other details.

The opposition described the event as the consequence of a military
skirmish, with Free Syrian Army soldiers carrying out a surprise attack
on a group that included men suspected of being members of shabiha, the
feared shadowy pro-government militia often deployed in conjunction with
the armed forces.

"The armed opposition in the area ambushed a number of cars," said the
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an antigovernment
group with networks of contacts inside Syria.

A video that the Observatory posted online from activists, said to have
been recorded in Daret Azzeh, showed carnage, with bloodied corpses
piled around a white pickup truck riddled with bullet holes. The
circumstances of the killing was not immediately clear, nor what might
have happened to the other vehicles.

Many of the corpses were wearing military fatigues or black clothes, a
trademark of the shabiha. The contents of the video could not be
independently verified. The government of President Bashar al-Assad,
which has been seeking to crush the uprising by force since it began as
peaceful protest in March 2011, sharply limits the access of reporters
and other independent observers to the country.

There have been clashes in western Aleppo Province all week, with the
Syrian forces trying to regain control, the Observator said. Government
forces have lost control of most of the rural areas in Aleppo Province
but carry out raids continuously to keep the opposition from holding
territory.

Other activists in contact with the area corroborated that a mass
killing had taken place, saying it was done by the local branch of the
Free Syrian Army, a loose coalition of autonomous opposition forces in
every area.

Turkey's government said it had lost contact with a military aircraft on
patrol over the Mediterranean near the Turkey-Syria border. Turkish news
agencies reported it had crashed, and some quoted unidentified sources
as saying it had been accidentally shot down by Syrian air defense
units, and that Syria had apologized. There was no official confirmation
from either Turkey or Syria, formerly cordial neighbors whose
relationship has deteriorated badly since the conflict in Syria began.

The mass killings came less than a week after unarmed United Nations
monitors in Syria suspended their work because of relentless violations
of a two-month-old cease-fire and a peace plan that has all but collapsed.

Kofi Annan, the special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League who
negotiated that plan, issued a new plea on Friday for intensified
international pressure on the antagonists in the conflict.

"It's time for countries of influence to raise the level of pressure on
the parties on the ground and to persuade them to stop the killing and
start the talking," Mr. Annan told a news conference at the Geneva
offices of the United Nations.

Elsewhere in Syria, dozens of people were killed on Friday during
clashes and protests around the country, according to opposition
accounts. Activists took to the streets after Friday prayers in various
cities including Aleppo, where eight protesters died in gunfire,
according to the Observatory.

For the third consecutive day, the Red Cross and Red Crescent were
unable to enter the central city of Homs to evacuate injured and
civilians despite both sides ostensibly agreeing to a cease-fire.

The shelling on Friday proved too intense for them to enter, activists said.

In Homs, Hadi Abdullah, a 26-year-old member of the Syrian Network for
Human Rights, an activist group, said he had lost faith in the ability
of the Red Cross and all other international organizations to intercede.
They are, he said, "unable to rescue the injured or evacuate the
families — many of those injured have now only a few days to survive."

Many families remain trapped in Homs by the continuous shelling and
bombing, with relief organizations unable to channel medical aid or food
to the area, he said. Some families are living on dates because they
have no other food. His only power source was a car battery, Mr.
Abdullah said in an interview via Skype.

Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Sebnem Arsu from
Istanbul and Rick Gladstone from New York.

(2) BBC world news editor: Houla massacre coverage based on opposition
propaganda


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/bbcs-j15.shtml

By Chris Marsden

15 June 2012

As quietly as possible, BBC world news editor Jon Williams has admitted
that the coverage of last month's Houla massacre in Syria by the world's
media and his own employers was a compendium of lies.

Datelined 16:23, June 7, Williams chose a personal blog to make a series
of fairly frank statements explaining that there was no evidence
whatsoever to identify either the Syrian Army or Alawite militias as the
perpetrators of the May 25 massacre of 100 people.

By implication, Williams also suggests strongly that such allegations
are the product of the propaganda department of the Sunni insurgents
seeking to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

After preparatory statements of self-justification noting the
"complexity of the situation on the ground in Syria, and the need to try
to separate fact from fiction," and Syria's long "history of rumours
passing for fact," Williams writes:

"In the aftermath of the massacre at Houla last month, initial reports
said some of the 49 children and 34 women killed had their throats cut.
In Damascus, Western officials told me the subsequent investigation
revealed none of those found dead had been killed in such a brutal
manner. Moreover, while Syrian forces had shelled the area shortly
before the massacre, the details of exactly who carried out the attacks,
how and why were still unclear."

For this reason, he concludes somewhat belatedly, "In such
circumstances, it's more important than ever that we report what we
don't know, not merely what we do."

"In Houla, and now in Qubair, the finger has been pointed at the
Shabiha, pro-government militia. But tragic death toll aside, the facts
are few: it's not clear who ordered the killings—or why."

No trace of such a restrained approach can be found at the time on the
BBC, or most anywhere else.

Instead the BBC offered itself as a sounding board for the statements of
feigned outrage emanating from London, Washington and the United Nations
headquarters—all blaming the atrocity on either the Syrian Army or
Shabiha militias acting under their protection.

Typical was the May 28 report, "Syria Houla massacre: Survivors recount
horror", in which unidentified "Survivors of the massacre ... have told
the BBC of their shock and fear as regime forces entered their homes and
killed their families." Nowhere was the question even posed that in such
a conflict these alleged witnesses could be politically aligned with the
opposition and acting under its instruction.

Only now does Williams state:

"Given the difficulties of reporting inside Syria, video filed by the
opposition on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube may provide some insight
into the story on the ground. But stories are never black and
white—often shades of grey. Those opposed to President Assad have an
agenda. One senior Western official went as far as to describe their
YouTube communications strategy as ‘brilliant'. But he also likened it
to so-called ‘psy-ops', brainwashing techniques used by the US and other
military to convince people of things that may not necessarily be true."

Williams is in a position to know of what he speaks.

On May 27, the BBC ran a report on Houla under a photo purporting to
show "the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial."

In reality this was an example of opposition propaganda that was
anything but "brilliant". The photograph of dozens of shrouded corpses
was actually taken by Marco di Lauro in Iraq on March 27, 2003 and was
of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.

Di Lauro commented, "What I am really astonished by is that a news
organization like the BBC doesn't check the sources and it's willing to
publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or
whatever… Someone is using someone else's picture for propaganda on
purpose."

The BBC again acted as a vehicle for such propaganda, despite knowing
that the photo had been supplied by an "activist" and that it could not
be independently verified.

Williams concludes with the advice to his colleagues: "A healthy
scepticism is one of the essential qualities of any journalist—never
more so than in reporting conflict. The stakes are high—all may not
always be as it seems."

Given its track record, the appeal to exercise a healthy skepticism
should more correctly be directed towards the BBC's readers and
viewers—and towards the entire official media apparatus.

It may well be the case that Williams' mea culpa is motivated by a
personal concern at the role he and his colleagues are being asked to
play as mouthpieces for the campaign for regime change in Syria. But
with his comments buried away on his blog, elsewhere on the BBC
everything proceeds according to script.

The BBC's coverage of the alleged June 6 massacre in the village of
Qubair once again features uncritical coverage of allegations by the
opposition that it was the work of Shabiha militias that were being
protected by Syrian troops. BBC correspondent Paul Danahar, accompanying
UN monitors, writes of buildings gutted and burnt and states that it is
"unclear" what happened to the bodies of dozens of reported victims. He
writes of a house "gutted by fire," the "smell of burnt flesh," blood
and pieces of flesh. He writes that "butchering the people did not
satisfy the blood lust of the attackers. They shot the livestock too."

This is accompanied by a picture of a dead donkey, but aside from this
there is absolutely nothing of substance to indicate what happened in
the village.

And at one point, Danahar tweets: "A man called Ahmed has come up from
the village who says he witnessed the killings. He has says dozens were
killed… He has a badly bruised face but his story is conflicted & the UN
say they are not sure he's honest as they think he followed the convoy"
(emphasis added).

This does not stop Danahar from concluding, from tracks supposedly made
by military vehicles, that "attempts to cover up the details of the
atrocity are calculated & clear."

So much for healthy scepticism!

It must also be pointed out that the BBC has not written a word
regarding the June 7 report by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that
the Free Syrian Army carried out the Houla massacre, according to
interviews with local residents by opposition forces opposed to the
Western-backed militia.

(3) BBC Editor admits "psy-ops" in news reports blaming Houla Massacre
on Assad regime


http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2012/06/reporting_conflict_in_syria.html

Reporting conflict in Syria

Post categories: BBC World News

Jon Williams | 16:23 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012

Some months ago, I reflected on the difficulties of reporting from
Syria. The deaths of Marie Colvin and a dozen other journalists in the
country so far this year has given us cause to think long and hard about
the very real dangers there. But so too does the complexity of the
situation on the ground in Syria, and the need to try to separate fact
from fiction.

Damascus prides itself on being the oldest, continually inhabited city
in the world. It also has the longest history of rumours passing for fact.

I spent three days in Syria earlier this week, talking to all sides
involved in the current conflict. Waking up on my first morning, social
media was alive with reports that the mobile phone network was down.
True enough, I could access the hotel wi-fi but not place a call. On
Twitter and Facebook, people claimed the phones had been turned off as
the precursor to a major military assault. The truth it seems was more
prosaic. It's the high school exam season in Syria - diplomats claimed
the real reason was the phone network had been turned off to prevent
students cheating. Even in a conflict zone, good grades count for a lot.

In the aftermath of the massacre at Houla last month, initial reports
said some of the 49 children and 34 women killed had their throats cut.
In Damascus, Western officials told me the subsequent investigation
revealed none of those found dead had been killed in such a brutal
manner. Moreover, while Syrian forces had shelled the area shortly
before the massacre, the details of exactly who carried out the attacks,
how and why were still unclear. Whatever the cause, officials fear the
attack marks the beginning of the sectarian aspect of the conflict.

In such circumstances, it's more important than ever that we report what
we don't know, not merely what we do. In Houla, and now in Qubair, the
finger has been pointed at the shabiha, pro-government militia. But
tragic death toll aside, the facts are few: it's not clear who ordered
the killings - or why.

Given the difficulties of reporting inside Syria, video filed by the
opposition on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube may provide some insight
into the story on the ground. But stories are never black and white -
often shades of grey. Those opposed to President Assad have an agenda.
One senior Western official went as far as to describe their YouTube
communications strategy as "brilliant". But he also likened it to
so-called "psy-ops", brainwashing techniques used by the US and other
military to convince people of things that may not necessarily be true.

A healthy scepticism is one of the essential qualities of any journalist
- never more so than in reporting conflict. The stakes are high - all
may not always be as it seems.

Jon Williams is the BBC World News editor.

(4) US supports Syria rebels but not Palestinians or Occupy protestors -
Paul Craig Roberts


http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/05/25/washingtons-hypocrisies/

Washington's Hypocrisies

Paul Craig Roberts

May 25, 2012

The US government is the second worst human rights abuser on the planet
and the sole enabler of the worst –Israel. But this doesn't hamper
Washington from pointing the finger elsewhere.

The US State Department's "human rights report" focuses its ire on Iran
and Syria, two countries whose real sin is their independence from
Washington, and on the bogyman- in-the-making–China, the country
selected for the role of Washington's new Cold War enemy.

Hillary Clinton, another in a long line of unqualified Secretaries of
State, informed "governments around the world: we are watching, and we
are holding you accountable," only we are not holding ourselves
accountable or Washington's allies like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel,
and the NATO puppets.

Hillary also made it "clear to citizens and activists everywhere: You
are not alone. We are standing with you," only not with protesters at
the Chicago NATO summit or with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, or
anywhere else in the US where there are protests. (ref)

The State Department stands with the protesters funded by the US in the
countries whose governments the US wishes to overthrow. Protesters in
the US stand alone as do the occupied Palestinians who apparently have
no human rights to their homes, lands, olive groves, or lives.

Here are some arrest numbers for a few recent US protests. The New York
Daily News reports that as of November 17, 2011, 1,300 Occupy Wall
Street protesters were arrested in New York City alone. Fox News
reported (October 2, 2011) that 700 protesters were arrested on the
Brooklyn Bridge. At the NATO summit in Chicago last week, 90 protesters
were arrested (Chicago Journal).

In the US some protesters are being officially categorized as "domestic
extremists" or "domestic terrorists," a new threat category that
Homeland Security announced is now the focus of its attention,
displacing Muslim terrorists as the number one threat to the US. In
September 2010, federal police raided the homes of peace activists in
Chicago and Minneapolis. The FBI is trying to concoct a case against
them by claiming that the peace activists donated money to the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As demanded by Israel, the US
government has designated the PFLP as a terrorist group.

In Chicago last week, among the many arrested NATO protesters with whom
the State Department does not stand are three young white americans
arrested for "domestic terrorism" in what Dave Lindorff reports was "a
warrantless house invasion reminiscent of what US military forces are
doing on a daily [and nightly] basis in Afghanistan." If the US
government, which stands with protesters everywhere except in America,
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Palestine, can make this into a
terrorism case, the three americans can be convicted on the basis of
secret evidence or simply be incarcerated for the rest of their lives
without a trial.

Meanwhile the three american "domestic terrorists" are being held in
solitary confinement. Like many of the NATO protesters, they came from
out of town. Brian Church, 20 years old, came from Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. Jared Chase, 27, came from Keene, New Hampshire. Brent
Betterly, 24, came from Oakland Park, Florida. Charged with providing
material support for terrorism, the judge set their bail at $1.5 million
each.

These three are not charged with actually throwing a Molotov cocktail at
a person or thing. They are charged with coming to Chicago with the idea
of doing so. Somehow the 16 federal intelligence agencies plus those of
our NATO puppets and Israel were unable to discover the 9/11 plot in the
making, but the Chicago police knew in advance why two guys from Florida
and one from New Hampshire came to Chicago. The domestic terrorism cases
turn out to be police concoctions that are foiled before they happen, so
we have many terrorists but no actual terrorist acts.

Two other young americans are being framed by their Human Rights
Government. Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, of Chicago is charged with
"falsely making a terrorist threat," whatever that means. His bail was
set at $750,000. Mark Neiweem, 28, of Chicago is charged with
"solicitation for explosives or incendiary devices." His bail is set at
$500,000.

This is human rights in america. But the State Department's human rights
report never examines the US. It is a political document aimed at
Washington's chosen enemies.

Meanwhile, Human Rights america continues to violate the national
sovereignty of Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan by sending in drones,
bombs, special forces and in Afghanistan 150,000 US soldiers to murder
people, usually women, children and village elders. Weddings, funerals,
children's soccer games, schools and farmers' houses are also favorite
targets for Washington's attacks. On May 25 the Pakistani Daily Times
reported that Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan
strongly condemned the drone attacks: "We regard them as a violation of
our territorial integrity. They are in contravention of international
law. They are illegal, counter productive and totally unacceptable."

The US reportedly funnels money to the Iranian terrorist group, MEK,
declared terrorists by no less than the US State Department. But it is
OK as long as MEK is terrorizing Iran. Washington stands with MEK's
protests delivered via bombs and the assassin's bullet. After all, we
have to bring freedom and democracy to Iran, and violence is
Washington's preferred way to achieve this goal.

Washington is desperate to overthrow the Syrian government in order to
get rid of the Russian naval base. On May 15 the Washington Post
reported that Washington is coordinating the flow of arms to Syrian
rebels. Washington's justification for interfering in Syria's internal
affairs is human rights charges against the Syrian government. However,
a UN report finds that the rebels are no more respectful of human rights
than the Syrian government. The rebels torture and murder prisoners and
kidnap civilians wealthy enough to bring a ransom.

NATO, guided by Washington, went far outside the UN resolution declaring
a no-fly zone over Libya. NATO in blatant violation of the UN resolution
provided the air attack on the Libyan government that enabled the
CIA-supported "rebels" to overthrow Gadhafi, killing many Libyan
civilians in the process.

Under the Nuremberg standard (principle VI.a.i), it is a war crime to
launch a war of aggression, which is what Washington and its NATO
puppets launched against Libya, but, no sweat, Washington brought Libya
freedom and democracy.

Assassinating foreign opponents is the West's preferred diplomacy. The
British were at ease with it, and Washington picked up the practice. In
his book, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, Cambridge
University historian Piers Brendon, the Keeper of the Churchill
Archives, reports from the documents he has at hand, that in the build
up to the "Suez Crisis" in 1956, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden
told Foreign Office minister Anthony Nutting, "I want him [Nasser,
Egypt's leader] murdered."

Brendon goes on to report: "Doubtless at the Prime Minister's behest,
the Secret Intelligence Service did hatch plots to assassinate Nasser
and to topple his government. Its agents, who proposed to pour nerve gas
into Nasser's office through the ventilation system, were by no means
discreet." The secret agents talked too much, and the scheme never came
to fruition.

Last week in Malaysia a war crimes tribunal found George W. Bush, Dick
Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers, Alberto Gonzales,
David Addington, William Haynes II, Jay Bybee, and John Choon Yoo guilty
of war crimes. (ref)

But don't expect Washington to take any notice. The war crimes
convictions are merely a "political statement."

(5) Germany's leading newspaper: Syrian Rebels responsible for Houla
Massacre


From: Iskandar Masih <iskandar38@hotmail.com> Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012
05:01:18 +0500
From: jimxwaite@pacific.net.au

Here's the original German article, from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/neue-erkenntnisse-zu-getoeteten-von-hula-abermals-massaker-in-syrien-11776496.html

Syrian Rebels Responsible For Houla Massacre: Report

By Doug Mataconis

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31538.htm

June 09, 2012 "Information Clearing House"

It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the "tipping
point" in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people,
predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar
al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western
media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S.,
France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries
announced that they were expelling Syria's ambassadors in protest.

But according to a new report in Germany's leading daily, the
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact
committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims
were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely
supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites
opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in
print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.

According to the article's sources, the massacre occurred after rebel
forces attacked three army-controlled roadblocks outside of Houla. The
roadblocks had been set up to protect nearby Alawi majority villages
from attacks by Sunni militias. The rebel attacks provoked a call for
reinforcements by the besieged army units. Syrian army and rebel forces
are reported to have engaged in battle for some 90 minutes, during which
time "dozens of soldiers and rebels" were killed.

"According to eyewitness accounts," the FAZ report continues,

the massacre occurred during this time. Those killed were almost
exclusively from families belonging to Houla's Alawi and Shia
minorities. Over 90% of Houla's population are Sunnis. Several dozen
members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to
Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed,
as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is
regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the
perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then
presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.

The FAZ report echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from
the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara,
Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East
expert Martin Janssen, armed rebels murdered "entire Alawi families" in
the village of Taldo in the Houla region.

Already at the beginning of April, Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix of
the St. James Monastery warned of rebel atrocities' being repackaged in
both Arab and Western media accounts as regime atrocities. She cited the
case of a massacre in the Khalidiya neighborhood in Homs. According to
an account published in French on the monastery's website, rebels
gathered Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in Khalidiya and
blew up the building with dynamite. They then attributed the crime to
the regular Syrian army. "Even though this act has been attributed to
regular army forces . . . the evidence and testimony are irrefutable: It
was an operation undertaken by armed groups affiliated with the
opposition," Mother Agnès-Mariam wrote.

— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security
issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook.

This this article was first published at National Review

(6) War drums for Syria - Rep. Ron Paul

From: Come Carpentier <comecarpentier@gmail.com> Date: 8 June 2012 17:25

War Drums for Syria?

By Rep. Ron Paul

Ron Paul is a member of the US House of Representatives from Texas and
a former presidential candidate, for the GOP

Posted: June 05, 2012

http://www.ronpaul2012.com/2012/06/05/ron-paul-no-war-on-syria/

War drums are beating again in Washington. This time Syria is in the
crosshairs after a massacre there last week left more than 100 dead. As
might be expected from an administration with an announced policy of
"regime change" in Syria, the reaction was to blame only the Syrian
government for the tragedy, expel Syrian diplomats from Washington, and
announce that the US may attack Syria even without UN approval. Of
course, the idea that the administration should follow the Constitution
and seek a Declaration of War from Congress is considered even more
anachronistic now than under the previous administration.

It may be the case that the Syrian military was responsible for the
events last week, but recent bombings and attacks have been carried out
by armed rebels with reported al-Qaeda ties. With the stakes so high, it
would make sense to wait for a full investigation -- unless the truth is
less important than stirring up emotions in favor of a US attack.

There is ample reason to be skeptical about US government claims
amplified in mainstream media reports. How many times recently have lies
and exaggerations been used to push for the use of force overseas? It
was not long ago that we were told Gaddafi was planning genocide for the
people of Libya, and the only way to stop it was a US attack. Those
claims turned out to be false, but by then the US and NATO had already
bombed Libya, destroying its infrastructure, killing untold numbers of
civilians, and leaving a gang of violent thugs in charge.

Likewise, we were told numerous falsehoods to increase popular support
for the 2003 war on Iraq, including salacious stories of trans-Atlantic
drones and WMDs. Advocates of war did not understand the complexities of
Iraqi society, including its tribal and religious differences. As a
result, Iraq today is a chaotic mess, with its ancient Christian
population eliminated and the economy set back decades. An unnecessary
war brought about by lies and manipulation never ends well.

Earlier still, we were told lies about genocide and massacres in Kosovo
to pave the way for President Clinton's bombing campaign against
Yugoslavia. More than 12 years later, that region is every bit as
unstable and dangerous as before the US intervention – and American
troops are still there.

The story about the Syrian massacre keeps changing, which should raise
suspicions. First, we were told that the killings were caused by
government shelling, but then it was discovered that most were killed at
close range with handgun fire and knives. No one has explained why
government forces would take the time to go house to house binding the
hands of the victims before shooting them, and then retreat to allow the
rebels in to record the gruesome details. No one wants to ask or answer
the disturbing questions, but it would be wise to ask ourselves who
benefits from these stories.

We have seen media reports over the past several weeks that the Obama
administration is providing direct "non-lethal" assistance to the rebels
in Syria while facilitating the transfer of weapons from other Gulf
States. This semi-covert assistance to rebels we don't know much about
threatens to become overt intervention. Last week Gen. Martin Dempsey,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said about Syria, "I think the
military option should be considered." And here all along I thought it
was up to Congress to decide when we go to war, not the generals.

We are on a fast track to war against Syria. It is time to put on the
brakes.

(7) CIA directing arms shipments to Syria's "rebels"

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/syri-j22.shtml

By Bill Van Auken

22 June 2012

CIA agents have been deployed to Turkey to organize the arming of the
so-called rebels in Syria seeking the overthrow of the government of
President Bashar al-Assad, the New York Times reported Thursday. The
report, citing information provided by senior US officials as well as
Arab intelligence officers, states that the CIA operatives are directing
a massive smuggling operation through which "automatic rifles,
rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are
being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy
network of intermediaries, including the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and
paid for by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey."

The day before the publication of the Times piece, State Department
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated the Obama administration's public
line. "We have repeatedly said that we are not in the business of arming
in Syria." She went on to describe Syria's ambassador to the United
Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari as "deluded" for charging that major foreign
powers were backing "armed terrorist groups" in his country and trying
to escalate Syria's crisis into an "explosion" in order to bring about
"regime change."

The Times article only confirms earlier press reports and provides
further detail in exposing the same, barely covert, operation directed
at fomenting and arming a sectarian civil war in Syria.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that the so-called rebels had
"begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks,
an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by
the United States." The Post, in its May 16 article, also stated that US
operatives had "expanded contacts with opposition forces to provide the
gulf nations with assessments of rebel credibility and
command-and-control infrastructure."

And last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that "the Central
Intelligence Agency and State Department—working with Saudi Arabia,
Turkey, Qatar and other allies—are helping the opposition Free Syrian
Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and
providing communications training."

The result of this operation has been a sharp escalation in the armed
violence in Syria, with a spike in the number of Syrian soldiers killed
and wounded and a proliferation of terrorist attacks.

The Obama administration's pretense that it is not arming the Syrian
militias for the purpose of toppling the Assad government has been
thoroughly exposed. Its claim is based on the fiction that Saudi Arabia,
Qatar and Turkey, none of which would carry out such an operation
without Washington's approval, are doing the arming, and the CIA agents
are merely "vetting" the Syrian rebels to assure that weapons do not
fall into the wrong hands.

The Times report quotes one unnamed senior American official as claiming
that the CIA is working on the Syrian-Turkish border "to help keep
weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other
terrorist groups."

Such claims are absurd. The reality is that the operation being mounted
by the CIA against Syria bears a striking resemblance to the one it
carried out in the 1980s along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, when
Saudi Arabia also provided much of the funding for arms and Al Qaeda was
born as an ally and instrument of US imperialist policy. There is
increasing evidence that Islamist elements from within Syria and from
surrounding Arab countries are the backbone of the imperialist-backed
insurgency seeking regime change in Damascus. The Associated Press
Thursday carried a lengthy report on Tunisian jihadis flocking to Syria.
It reports that fundamentalist Islamic clerics are urging youth to make
their way to Syria to topple the "unbeliever" regime.

According to an earlier report in the German daily Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung "at least 3,000 fighters" from Libya have reached
Syria, most of them through Turkey. Other similar forces have crossed
the border from Iraq to prosecute a sectarian conflict similar to the
one that unleashed a bloodbath between Sunnis and Shiites in that
country under American occupation.

The result, as the AP reports, is that "Al-Qaida-style suicide bombings
have become increasingly common in Syria, and Western officials say
there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, some associated with the
terror network, have made inroads in Syria as instability has spread."

On the one hand, Washington and its regional proxies—Saudi Arabia, Qatar
and Turkey—are lavishing arms and funding on the so-rebels, while, on
the other hand, the major powers are seeking to quarantine the Syrian
regime and starve it of resources by means of ever-tightening sanctions
and international pressure.

While covertly pouring weapons into the country, US officials have
denounced Russia for maintaining ties to Syria, Moscow's sole remaining
ally in the Middle East and the site of its Mediterranean naval base at
Tartus. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unleashed a propaganda
campaign against Moscow, charging falsely that it was supplying Damascus
with new Russian attack helicopters.

Russia responded that there were no new helicopters, but rather it was
sending back old aircraft that Syria had bought decades earlier and had
been sent to Russia for repairs. The ship carrying the refurbished
helicopters, the Curacao-registered MV Alaed, was forced to turn back to
the Russian port of Murmansk on Thursday after the British government
compelled a London-based insurance company to withdraw its coverage of
the vessel. According to press reports, the British government had
considered using military force to board the ship. Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the British move as an attempt to
impose unilateral sanctions on other countries. "The EU sanctions aren't
part of the international law," he said, vowing that the cargo would be
reloaded on a Russian-flagged ship and sent to Syria.

"This is a very slippery slope," Lavrov told Russia Today television.
"This means that anyone—any country or any company—who is not violating
any international rules, who is not violating any UN Security Council
resolutions, might be subject to extra-territorial application of
somebody else's unilateral sanctions."

Perhaps of greater concern than the Soviet-era helicopters to Britain
and the other major imperialist powers, the ship that was compelled to
curtail its voyage was also carrying what was described as a new and
advanced air defense system. Such a system could prove an obstacle to an
attempt by the US and its NATO allies to reprise the kind of bombing
campaign used to topple Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

(8) NYT: CIA officers in Turkey "steering Arms" to Syrian Opposition

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all

C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition

By ERIC SCHMITT

Published: June 21, 2012

WASHINGTON — A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in
southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters
across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government,
according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades,
ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across
the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries
including Syria's Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi
Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in
part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al
Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The
Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels,
but it has also acknowledged that Syria's neighbors would do so.

The clandestine intelligence-gathering effort is the most detailed known
instance of the limited American support for the military campaign
against the Syrian government. It is also part of Washington's attempt
to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who has
recently escalated his government's deadly crackdown on civilians and
the militias battling his rule. With Russia blocking more aggressive
steps against the Assad government, the United States and its allies
have instead turned to diplomacy and aiding allied efforts to arm the
rebels to force Mr. Assad from power.

By helping to vet rebel groups, American intelligence operatives in
Turkey hope to learn more about a growing, changing opposition network
inside of Syria and to establish new ties. "C.I.A. officers are there
and they are trying to make new sources and recruit people," said one
Arab intelligence official who is briefed regularly by American
counterparts.

American officials and retired C.I.A. officials said the administration
was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing
satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop
locations and movements. The administration is also considering whether
to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no
decisions have been made on those measures or even more aggressive
steps, like sending C.I.A. officers into Syria itself, they said.

The struggle inside Syria has the potential to intensify significantly
in coming months as powerful new weapons are flowing to both the Syrian
government and opposition fighters. President Obama and his top aides
are seeking to pressure Russia to curb arms shipments like attack
helicopters to Syria, its main ally in the Middle East.

"We'd like to see arms sales to the Assad regime come to an end, because
we believe they've demonstrated that they will only use their military
against their own civilian population," Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy
national security adviser for strategic communications, said after Mr.
Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, met in Mexico on
Monday.

Spokesmen for the White House, State Department and C.I.A. would not
comment on any intelligence operations supporting the Syrian rebels,
some details of which were reported last week by The Wall Street Journal.

Until now, the public face of the administration's Syria policy has
largely been diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

The State Department said Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton would meet with her Russian counterpart, Sergey V.
Lavrov, on the sidelines of a meeting of Asia-Pacific foreign ministers
in St. Petersburg, Russia, next Thursday. The private talks are likely
to focus, at least in part, on the crisis in Syria.

The State Department has authorized $15 million in nonlethal aid, like
medical supplies and communications equipment, to civilian opposition
groups in Syria.

The Pentagon continues to fine-tune a range of military options, after a
request from Mr. Obama in early March for such contingency planning.
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told
senators at that time that the options under review included
humanitarian airlifts, aerial surveillance of the Syrian military, and
the establishment of a no-fly zone.

The military has also drawn up plans for how coalition troops would
secure Syria's sizable stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons if
an all-out civil war threatened their security.

But senior administration officials have underscored in recent days that
they are not actively considering military options. "Anything at this
point vis-à-vis Syria would be hypothetical in the extreme," General
Dempsey told reporters this month.

What has changed since March is an influx of weapons and ammunition to
the rebels. The increasingly fierce air and artillery assaults by the
government are intended to counter improved coordination, tactics and
weaponry among the opposition forces, according to members of the Syrian
National Council and other activists.

Last month, these activists said, Turkish Army vehicles delivered
antitank weaponry to the border, where it was then smuggled into Syria.
Turkey has repeatedly denied it was extending anything other than
humanitarian aid to the opposition, mostly via refugee camps near the
border. The United States, these activists said, was consulted about
these weapons transfers.

American military analysts offered mixed opinions on whether these arms
have offset the advantages held by the militarily superior Syrian Army.
"The rebels are starting to crack the code on how to take out tanks,"
said Joseph Holliday, a former United States Army intelligence officer
in Afghanistan who is now a researcher tracking the Free Syrian Army for
the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.

But a senior American officer who receives classified intelligence
reports from the region, compared the rebels' arms to "peashooters"
against the government's heavy weaponry and attack helicopters.

The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, has
recently begun trying to organize the scattered, localized units that
all fight under the name of the Free Syrian Army into a more cohesive force.

About 10 military coordinating councils in provinces across the country
are now sharing tactics and other information. The city of Homs is the
notable exception. It lacks such a council because the three main
military groups in the city do not get along, national council officials
said.

Jeffrey White, a defense analyst at the Washington Institute for Near
East Policy who tracks videos and announcements from self-described
rebel battalions, said there were now about 100 rebel formations, up
from roughly 70 two months ago, ranging in size from a handful of
fighters to a couple of hundred combatants.

"When the regime wants to go someplace and puts the right package of
forces together, it can do it," Mr. White said. "But the opposition is
raising the cost of those kinds of operations."

Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon. Souad
Mekhennet also contributed reporting.

(9) Burying the "Lockerbie Bomber" — and the Truth

From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences)"
<sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu> Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2012

http://whowhatwhy.com/2012/05/22/burying-the-lockerbie-bomber-and-the-truth/

By Russ Baker on May 22, 2012

I first learned about the death of the "Libyan bomber" Ali Megrahi from
a television screen. The sound was off, but I could see the closed
captioning on CNN. Newspeople and guests were talking about the terrible
thing Megrahi had done, and the closure or lack thereof from his
passing. One man was noting that the perpetrator was a high official of
Libyan intelligence, and that the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 had been
ordered at the very top—by Muammar Qaddafi. The deaths of 270 people,
189 of them Americans, it was implied, justified last year's removal of
Qaddafi, and the dictator's own abrupt and horrible death.

But there's something wrong with that scenario.

How do I know? I read the New York Times. Especially the best part…..the
fine print.

The Times Opens A Door…and Shuts It

Check out
<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/world/africa/abdel-basset-ali-al-megrahi-lockerbie-bomber-dies-at-60.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>
this article, from Robert McFadden, the Times' septuagenarian obit
writer and rewrite man extraordinaire. Under the appropriately neutral
headline, "Megrahi, Convicted in 1988 Lockerbie Bombing, Dies at 60,"
McFadden nailed the true import of Megrahi's death in the second paragraph:

The death of Mr. Megrahi, who insisted that he was not guilty,
foreclosed a fuller accounting of his role, and perhaps that of the
Libyan government under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, in the midair explosion
of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.

Most of the front half of the article lays out the conventional line on
the plane that blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. But anyone getting to
the latter part will notice that it is dominated by evidence casting
doubt on the official story.

Thus, if you read those second-half paragraphs carefully, you see what
the reporter (and perhaps his bosses) may actually wonder: whether Libya
was framed by some enemy, with hints on who that might be.

{quote} The trial lasted 85 days. None of the witnesses connected the
suspects directly to the bomb….The court called the case circumstantial,
the evidence incomplete and some witnesses unreliable…Much of the
evidence was later challenged….The court's inference that the bomb had
been transferred from the Frankfurt feeder flight was also cast into
doubt when a Heathrow security guard revealed that Pan Am's baggage area
had been broken into 17 hours before the bombing, a circumstance never
explored….Hans Köchler, a United Nations observer, called the trial "a
spectacular miscarriage of justice"…. Many legal experts and
investigative journalists challenged the evidence, calling Mr. Megrahi a
scapegoat for a Libyan government long identified with terrorism. While
denying involvement, Libya paid $2.7 billion to the victims' families in
2003 in a bid to end years of diplomatic isolation.
{endquote}

But the Times was not finished with the story. It would have more to
say, though not pursuing the line developed by the desk-bound McFadden,
a 1996 Pulitzer Prize winner. Someone apparently decided that "more
reporting" was needed, this time from another Pulitzer Prize winner, the
longtime war correspondent John Burns.
His article, headlined "Libyan's Death Brings Up Debate Over His
Release," focuses in part on the fact that Megrahi was given early
release from prison because he suffered from cancer. But it also
expanded on McFadden's theme of doubts about Libya's involvement. It
actually goes a bit further in that direction, raising the theory that
Libya was not involved.

Then it suggests that the true sponsor is…Iran. ...

Meanwhile, governments like Libya under Qaddafi, or Iran under the
mullahs, despicable though they are in many respects, have little real
incentive to commit such acts against much more powerful countries. They
gain nothing and stand to lose everything. ...

If you're still not convinced that dark forces of a particular sort have
a deep interest in how this all plays out, consider
<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/world/europe/former-libyan-official-ghanem-found-dead-in-vienna.html>
this development: the mysterious death Sunday of Sukri Ghanem, Libya's
former Oil Minister. Ghanem's early defection turbocharged the effort to
unseat Qaddafi. What's so interesting, besides his ending up floating in
the Danube, is that he had long insisted that Libya had no connection to
Lockerbie, nor to the 1984 shooting of a British policeman outside the
Libyan embassy in London, four years before Pan Am 103, that was cited
as the basis for severing UK-Libyan ties.

Call Ghanem the man who knew too much. And please compare to a fellow
defector, the Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil,
who, unlike Ghanem, was perfectly happy to stoke the fires against
Qaddafi—by announcing, after he had switched sides, that Qaddafi
personally ordered the bombing, and promising to produce evidence.

He…..never has. It is now more than a year since the media ran its
Jeleil headlines that were so damaging to Qaddafi, and no one, including
the Times , has bothered to go back and see if he kept his word.
(Background on that can be found
<http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/06/06/libya-connect-the-dots-you-get-a-giant-dollar-sign/>here.)

The Pan Am 103 story could provide crucial linkage to the invasion of
Libya and removal of Qaddafi—and lead to a real understanding of why
some "accidents" happen, of why some "unavoidable interventions" happen.
And no, it's not always, or even usually, for the stated reasons. Just
as the isolation of Libya over Lockerbie was, it seems, not really
motivated by justice, the Western support of an externally-planned and
-stimulated "indigenous" uprising was not really motivated by a concern
for the human rights or the lives of the Libyan people. ...

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