Thursday, September 10, 2015

UN Human Rights Office Skews Another Ukraine Report

Another Flawed and Biased Report on Ukraine by the UN Human Rights Office 

by Roger Annis - CounterPunch

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released its first report in five months purporting to provide an overview of the human rights situation in Ukraine. It is the eleventh such report of the OHCHR on Ukraine since 2013.

This latest report covers the period from May 16 to August 15, 2015. The report is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and it focuses on the situation in eastern Ukraine. The 44-page report of the OHCHR is here. As with past such reports, it is heavily biased towards the governing regime in Kyiv. (All the mentioned UNHRMM reports on Ukraine are here.)

The UN body has revised its estimate of the numbers of people killed and wounded by the civil war launched in April 2014 by the governing regime in Kyiv.[1] It now says close to 8,000 civilians and military combatants have been killed and nearly 18,000 injured.

The UN body provides no information of how its casualty numbers are arrived at. The numbers are lower that the estimates of officials on the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. For example, the human rights ombudsperson of the Donetsk People’s Republicreported in August 2015 that in the year to date in the territory under its control, 1,287 people died and 1,100 were injured. These figures were drawn from medical records at hospitals and emergency health care centers. reported on Feb. 8, 2015 that the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitungnewspaper in Germany was reporting casualty figures on the Ukrainian side to be ten times those of UN and Kyiv officials. It wrote:

Germany’s special services estimate the probable number of deceased Ukrainian servicemen and civilians at up to 50,000 people. This figure is about ten times higher than official data. Official figures are clearly too low and not credible,” the newspaper reported on Sunday, citing its source.

RT also reported on an estimate by DPR military officials of Ukrainian army losses in Donetsk after Kyiv launched a new military offensive in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine in January 2015, definitively breaking a ceasefire agreement it was obliged to sign in September 2014. Eduard Basurin of the DPR said the Ukrainian army lost 1,569 servicemen in just three weeks after it restarted its offensive.

Ukraine suffered a large military blow in early February 2015 when some 8,000 of its soldiers became trapped in and around the small city of Debaltseve. Kyiv refused an offer of free passage for its soldiers out of their entrapment provided they leave their weapons behind. Instead, it ordered them to fight their way out, causing heavy losses. The defeat of its offensive obliged Kyiv to sign a second ceasefire agreement in Minsk on February 12.

The UN report is typical of past reports by the same body in that it is deeply hostile to the people and governing authorities in the the rebel territories of Donetsk and Lugansk. Here is an example of the language of the UN, contained in the UN News Center press release of September 8:

Meanwhile, the development of more centralized civilian administrative structures and procedures in the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ continued during the reporting period, although they do not conform with either international law or the national legislation of Ukraine.

According to the report, civilians living in the conflict-affected area, particularly near the contact line, bear the brunt of the armed conflict, facing uncertainty and hardship on a daily basis. Their overall situation is reportedly worsening, including in terms of access to food and water, and is of particular concern with winter approaching.

Thus, according to the UN, the Donetsk and Lugansk republics are supposed to “conform” to the national legislation of a regime in Kyiv which labels them “terrorists”, has declared war upon them, and for the past 18 months has levelled all manner of war crimes against the civilian population of the territories. The republics are, in turn, supposed to “conform” to the international law of the international agencies such as the UN Security Council whose majority is backing Kyiv.

In fact, there is an international law, of sorts, which can serve as a fine roadmap out of the present political and military impasse in Ukraine. It is the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement of Feb. 12, 2015. Its terms were negotiated with the direct participation of Russia, Germany and France. But nowhere does the OHCHR report suggest that Minsk-2 provides such a roadmap, still less whether Kyiv has lived up to its terms. The report refers to Minsk-2 at various points in its text, but only in passing.

The UN press release says: “The report notes a ‘persistent pattern of arbitrary and incommunicado detention by the Ukrainian law enforcement, mainly by the Security Service of Ukraine, and by military and paramilitary units’.” But then it goes on to make equivalent accusations of human rights abuses against the governing authorities in Donbas and Crimea (whose authority the OHCHR does not recognize). Claims of such equivalency are unproven and not credible.

The release devotes three of its 18 paragraphs to the trial in Russia of Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko. They were convicted last month of organizing violent attacks on the government and people of Crimea in 2014. But the same release says little specific of the jailings of opposition political figures, journalists and activists in Ukraine, whose numbers are in the hundreds. (See Western hypocrisy over convictions in Russia of Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kol’chenko, by Victor Shapinov, Aug 28, 2015.)

The full OHCHR report contains two and a half pages of attention to “Unlawful and arbitrary detention, summary executions and torture and ill- treatment” by the governing authorities in Kyiv. As it happens, that’s less than the space devoted to equivalent claims against Donetsk and Lugansk authorities, but in any event, the report’s cited examples consist of anecdotal reports of individual cases with no attempt to discern a pattern or overall numbers. High-profile cases of journalists and political activists jailed or killed, including that of journalist Oles Buzina, murdered in broad daylight in Kyiv in front of his home on April 16, 2015 by right-wing extremists, do not earn mention.[2]

Concerning the banning of political parties by the Kyiv regime and other grave infringements on the right of political expression and assembly, the report contains a few anecdotal examples but no analysis of the deeply troubling overall trends or the most high profile cases, for example, the ongoing effort to outright proscribe the large Communist Party and other, smaller, parties with ‘communist’ in their name.

The Sniper Massacre on Maidan Square on Feb 20, 2014 and the Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014

Among the various tropes which the UN report repeats is the false claims about the sniper fire that killed dozens of police and protesters on Maidan Square on February 20, 2014. The report repeats the increasingly discredited claims that snipers of the ‘Berkut’ special police units of the elected Ukrainian president who was overthrown on February 22 committed a massacre. It notes simultaneously that the “investigation” by the Ukrainian justice system of this claimed, heinous crime is apparently going nowhere:

Limited progress has been achieved in the investigation into the incidents of excessive use of force during the dispersal of protestors at Maidan on 30 November 2013 and the killing of protestors in Kyiv between 18 and 20 February 2014, when special police units used firearms.

Concerning the Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014, in which at least 48 people protesting the illegal regime change in Kyiv on Feb. 22, 2014 were killed in an arson attack, the report dryly notes, “only limited progress has been observed in the investigations”.

Researcher Ivan Katchanovski at the University of Ottawa has responded to the UN report with a comment on Facebook:

The UN human rights report also failed to notice revelations from the Maidan massacre trial pointing to falsification of the Maidan massacre case. The same concerns the Odessa massacre [of May 2, 2014]. The politically-motivated misrepresentation of the Maidan mass killing now rivals the Katyn massacre.

Katchanovski has published his extensive research into the ‘Sniper Massacre’ on Maidan Square and concludes that it was paramilitary forces of the Maidan (Euromaidan) movement which perpetrated the killings.

He also comments on the coincidental announcement of a propaganda documentary film to be premiered next month on Netflix. The film is titled Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom. Katchanovski writes:

Its trailer and advance reviews suggest that this Netflix documentary also misrepresents the Maidan massacre in Ukraine. The trailer highlights excerpts from highly publicized videos to suggest that the government forces massacred the protesters even after my study showed how these videos were misrepresented.

My forthcoming paper to be presented to American Political Science Association comments on these videos as follows:

Another publicized but misrepresented video shows that Dmytro Holubnychyi, a teenage protester, and some other protesters fled from the barricade on Instytutska Street within two minutes after Iosyp Shyling was killed in the head at the same barricade at 10:28 am and immediately after a loud call by one of the protesters that ‘they [shooters] are behind.” Holubnychyi confirmed in his media interview that he and other protesters came under live ammunition fire by the shooters from the Hotel Ukraina.

Oleh Sukhinsky, a protester in a lilac cover who is seen in the 55 minute video shortly before and shortly after his wounding, said in his interview that he saw that he was shot from the Hotel Ukraina. His wound on the right leg coincided with the position of advancing protesters and the shot from the direction of the hotel. However, he was then carried out at 9:27 am to the make-shift hospital, which was organized with direct involvement of Svoboda deputies on the ground floor of the same Hotel Ukraina from which he was shot at. Later many other killed and wounded protesters were carried out to this hotel and Zhovtnevyi Palace. These seemingly irrational decisions from a point of a view of personal safety turn to be rational if both buildings were controlled by the Maidan protesters and the concealed shooters there were from the Maidan side.

Belgian VTM TV and BBC videos shows Ihor Dmytiv being shot dead on the right side of Instytutska Street at 9:21 am and Andrii Dyhdalovych being hit and killed on the same spot one minute later. Reported entry wounds and an analysis of testimony by two protesters who witnessed these shooting indicate that in both cases they were shot from the Hotel Ukraina. Dmytriv reported four wounds included one in his shoulder, and he was positioned with his back towards the hotel at the moment of his shooting. Mykhailo Khomik, who is seen in the videos at that place and time in a while helmed stated that Dmytiv was shot from the hotel. A protester in his interview to a Dutch television soon after this happened said that Dyhdalovych was killed from the hotel, but the Maidan leaders and the media claimed that he was killed by the government snipers. Similarly, videos showing the Omega sniper lying on the ground and then pointing his rifle into the direction of the Hotel Ukraina exactly when Dyhdalovych was shot dead in front of the barricade were misrepresented as a definite proof of government snipers killing him and other protesters.

A video from the police side of the barricade depicts several Berkut policemen with 7.62mm caliber AKMs and many armed members of the Omega special Internal Troops unit with 5.65 caliber AKS-74 taking cover from live ammunition fire during the height of the massacre of the protesters starting at 9:55 am. It shows that several Omega snipers arrived there at a later stage of the massacre. One Omega sniper was filmed targeting an open window of the Hotel Ukraina, and another sniper pointing his rifle in an upward direction, likely toward Zhovtnevyi Palace around 10:40-10:45 am. A Ukraina TV journalist, who filmed this video, confirmed that they came under a fire and were looking for a sniper in the Hotel Ukraina. All these buildings and the protesters on Instytutska Street were located downslope from this police barricade. A previously unreported radio intercept of the Omega commander (Strelchenko ) and servicemen from his unit informed at 10:37 am on February 21 about gunshots coming from the Hotel Ukraina.

Mustafa Nayem, an initiator of the Euromaidan protests and a widely known journalist from Ukrainska Pravda, an openly pro-Maidan online newspaper, twitted at 11:58 am a photo of snipers on the police side of this barricade located at the intersection of Instytutska and Bankova streets. This photo was presented by the Ukrainian media as evidence that these were snipers who massacred the protesters. However, these snipers and Berkut special company shooters generally did not hide, and they allowed the media and bystanders to film themselves during the massacre.

A compendium of Katchanovski’s research and writing on the Sniper Massacre of Feb. 20, 2014 on Maidan Square can be found on the New Cold website here. It includes The ‘Snipers’ Massacre’ on the Maidan in Ukraine (revised and updated version), published by the author on Feb. 20, 2015.

A comprehensive human rights report on war crimes by Ukraine armed forces and paramilitaries in eastern Ukraine, , including widespread use of torture, was prepared by the Moscow-based Foundation for the Study of Democracy and published on March 1, 2015. It was the second such report by the agency. Its findings have been ignored by Western governments, media and human rights agencies. The reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights do not indicate if the body has read the Foundation reports or how it judges their findings.

[1] Kyiv titles its civil war an ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’. The title comes with a catchy acronym used in the everyday language of the regime: ‘ATO’.
[2] The previous, tenth, report of the OHCHR on Ukraine, for the period ending May 15, 2015, did devote one paragraph to the case of Oles Buzina. The paragraph highlighted a statement of the Kyiv regime calling the murder a “provocation”, meaning an act perpetrated by forces favorable to Russia, if not the Russian government itself, with a view to destabilizing Ukraine.

Roger Annis is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. On June 12, he gave a talk in Vancouver, Canada reporting on his visit to Donetsk, eastern Ukraine in April 2015 as part of a media tour group. A video broadcast of that talk is here: The NATO offensive in eastern Europe and the class and the national dynamics of the war in eastern Ukraine.

Coups, Terror, and Rights Abuses are US Special Ops Outcomes for Africa

Problem Partners, Ugly Outcomes: U.S. Special Ops Missions in Africa Fail to Stem Rising Tide of Terror Groups, Coups, and Human Rights Abuses

by Nick Turse (with additional reporting by Gabriel Karon) - TomDispatch

"Africa is a challenging place today and one that, if left unattended, is likely to be the birthplace of many more challenges in the future,” Army Secretary John McHugh said recently. Since 9/11, in fact, the continent has increasingly been viewed by the Pentagon as a place of problems to be remedied by military means. And year after year, as terror groups have multiplied, proxies have foundered, and allies have disappointed, the U.S. has doubled down again and again, with America’s most elite troops -- U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) -- leading the way.

The public face of this engagement is a yearly training exercise called Flintlock. Since 2005, it has brought together U.S. special operators and elite European and West African troops to “strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral sharing of information, and develop interoperability among the partner nations of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).”

Directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sponsored by SOCAFRICA -- the special operations contingent of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) -- and conducted by Special Operations Command Forward-West Africa, the Flintlock exercises have sought to “develop the capacity of and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilian populations across the Sahel region of Africa.” This year, for instance, 1,300 troops representing 28 countries -- including U.S. Army Green Berets -- trained together in the host nation of Chad, as well as in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Tunisia, conducting mock combat patrols and practicing counterterrorism missions
Tomgram: Nick Turse, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

Let’s take a moment to consider failure and its options in Washington. The U.S. has been warring with the Islamic State (IS) for more than a year now. The centerpiece of that war has been an ongoing campaign of bombings and air strikes in Syria and Iraq, thousands upon thousands of them. The military claims that these have resulted in death tolls high enough to stagger any movement. In Iraq, the Obama administration has also launched a major effort, involving at least 3,400 military personnel, to retrain the American-created Iraqi army that essentially collapsed in June 2014. Impending offensives to retake key IS-held cities are regularly announced. In addition, in Syria there is an ongoing $500 million Pentagon effort to find and train a force of “moderate” Syrian rebels to battle IS militants. Despite such efforts, reports now suggest that the Islamic State is at least as strong now as it was when the U.S. intervened in August 2014. If anything, from Turkish border areas to al-Anbar Province in Iraq, it has expanded its holdings. Only recently, its fighters even began to move into the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

In an era when there has been failure aplenty for the U.S. military, disappointing results like these have become the new norm across the Greater Middle East and Africa, which undoubtedly breeds frustration in Washington. There have been at least four types of responses to such failures. The first -- a more-of-the-same approach -- has involved simply stumbling along in Washington's fog of ignorance when it comes to strange peoples in far off lands. In recent weeks, for instance, an agreement was reached with Turkey to allow U.S. planes access to two key Turkish air bases to attack the Islamic State, while the government of President Recep Erdogan pledged to join the struggle as well. In reality, however, what the Obama administration evidently green-lighted were Turkish air strikes not against IS militants but their own Kurdish rebels with whom they had a fragile truce and who are linked to just about the only effective force the U.S. has found to fight IS, Syrian Kurds. In other words, an additional element of chaos was introduced to the region.

As one wag put it, by attacking the Kurds, the Turks provided the Islamic State with something it previously lacked: an air force. To add insult to injury: according to McClatchy, Turkish intelligence tipped off the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front that the U.S. was about to insert in Syria a tiny group of 54 “moderate” Syrians the Pentagon had vetted from 7,000 applicants and spent a fortune training. Al-Nusra's fighters essentially wiped the unit out on the spot. Talk about a cornucopia of failure!

The Obama administration’s frustration over its inability to even dent the Islamic State has led to another version of more-of-the-same. It has now loosed drones from the CIA and U.S. special operations command in an assassination campaign against the IS leadership, the latest version of what Andrew Cockburn has dubbed “the kingpin strategy.” Elsewhere this approach has tended to strengthen, not weaken, extremist movements and make them even more brutal.

As for the second response to failure, call it the “more-plus” approach or finding something spectacularly dumb to do. The most recent example: former surge general, CIA director, and state secrets sharer David Petraeus, a man with a certain following in Washington, has been privately urging the administration that vetted 7,000 Syrians and could hardly find a “moderate” among them to cleave off and arm supposedly “moderate” elements in the al-Nusra Front to fight IS. This proposal instantly joins the ranks of Washington’s what-could-possibly-go-wrong schemes.

And here's a third response to failure, reported just a couple of weeks ago: military officials moved to staunch the bad news from Syria in the simplest way possible. They evidently altered their intelligence assessments or pressured “terror analysts” under them to do the same in order to provide “a more optimistic account of progress” in the war against IS. The Pentagon’s inspector general is now investigating this possible good-news scam by officials of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the air campaign against the Islamic State. Consider this the equivalent of Senator George Aiken’s supposed suggestion during the Vietnam War that the U.S. should simply declare victory and go home. In this case, however, you establish success in the easiest way possible and then stick around to pursue responses one and two.

A fourth response, as Nick Turse suggests today in his remarkable continuing coverage of the U.S. military’s “pivot” to Africa, is simply to embrace failure wholeheartedly. Counterintuitive as it might seem, this approach couldn’t be more sensible from the Pentagon's point of view. After all, in our present American world, military failures only ensure that, as things worsen eternally, the U.S. military will be called on ever more, not less, which means more, not less, of everything for you-know-who. Tom 

Africa Fail to Stem Rising Tide of Terror Groups, Coups, and Human Rights Abuses

by Nick Turse (with additional reporting by Gabriel Karon)

Flintlock exercises provide AFRICOM with a patina of transparency and a plethora of publicity each year as a cherry-picked group of reporters provide mostly favorable, sometimes breathless cookie-cutter coverage. (The command has, for years, refused my repeated requests to attend.) Spinning tales of tough-talking American commandos barking orders at “raw,” “poorly equipped” African troops “under the pewter sun” in the “suffocating heat” and the “fine Saharan sand” on a “dusty training ground” in the “rocky badlands” of West Africa, they dutifully report on one three-week U.S. special ops mission.

What goes on the rest of the year is, however, shrouded in secrecy as the U.S. military “pivots” to Africa and shadowy contingents of Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets shuttle on and off the continent under the auspices of various programs. This includes Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET), low-profile missions that lay the groundwork for each year’s Flintlock exercise, providing instruction in all manner of combat capabilities, from advanced marksmanship and small unit tactics to training in conducting ambushes and perfecting sniper skills.

The U.S. military says little about JCET activities in Africa or elsewhere. Special Operations Command, which oversees America’s most elite forces, will not even disclose the number of JCETs carried out by American commandos on the continent. AFRICOM, for its part, refuses to reveal the locations of the missions, citing “operational security reasons and host nation sensitivities.” And what little information that command will divulge only raises additional questions.

According to AFRICOM, special operators conducted “approximately nine JCETs across Africa in Fiscal Year 2012” and 18 in 2013. Documents obtained by TomDispatch through the Freedom of Information Act from the office of the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs indicate, however, that there were 19 JCETs in 2012 and 20 in 2013. The reports provided by the Pentagon to keep Congress informed of “training of Special Operations forces” show that, from October 2011 to October 2013 (fiscal years 2012 and 2013), there was only one month in which U.S. commandos did not conduct Joint Combined Exchange Training somewhere on the African continent. In all, according to those documents, Special Operations forces spent nearly 2,200 days in 12 countries under the JCET program alongside more than 3,800 African soldiers.

AFRICOM attributes the confusion over the numbers to differing methods of accounting. However one tallies them, such missions increased last year according to figures provided by the command and they seem to be on the rise again this year. In 2014, the number of JCETs jumped to 26. By the end of July, “approximately 22” had already been carried out.

U.S. Africa Command refuses to name the forces it’s training with. All that can be said, in the words of AFRICOM spokesman Chuck Prichard, is that “there are locations where U.S. personnel are working side-by-side with African military members in close proximity to various threat groups.” The documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, however, paint a vivid picture of unceasing special ops missions across Africa -- many in nations with checkered human rights records.

The Company You Keep

Officially, Joint Combined Exchange Training is designed to enable U.S. special operators to "practice skills needed to conduct a variety of missions, including foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism." Authorization for the program also allows "incidental-training benefits" to "accrue to the foreign friendly forces at no cost."

In reality, JCETs appear little different from other far more overt U.S. military overseas training efforts. “They have to be able to show that more than 50% of the benefit of this training activity goes to U.S. Special Operations forces,” Linda Robinson, a senior international policy analyst at the Rand Corporation and author of One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare, says of the missions. “Now, of course, the other 49% can be for the benefit of the partner and this certainly is a very strong rationale for doing it -- ultimately that is the overarching goal of these activities.”

Africa Command doesn’t, in fact, shy away from touting the benefits to foreign troops. “JCETs improve the capabilities of African forces to protect civilians from current and emerging threats. The ultimate goal is to enable African states to address security issues without the need for foreign intervention and empower regional solutions to transnational threats,” according to AFRICOM’s Chuck Prichard. Experts, however, question the efficacy of such training missions.

“There’s an unexamined assumption in policy circles that because we have, by our own estimation, the best soldiers in the world -- indeed the best soldiers in all of recorded history -- therefore it must follow that our soldiers have the ability to convey fighting capacity to anybody else that they deal with,” says Andrew Bacevich, retired Army lieutenant colonel and author of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country. “At root,” he notes of U.S. efforts in Africa, “it’s probably a racist assumption that the white guys are going to be able to teach the ‘lesser breeds’ and somehow lift them up in a military sense.”

From October through November 2011, for example, Green Berets were deployed in Mali to work with 150 local troops. For 45 days, they practiced patrolling and desert warfare, as part of a JCET, according to the Pentagon documents obtained by TomDispatch. “International principles and procedures of human rights will be integrated throughout all phases of training,” reads the report. What effect it had is open to debate.

That same year, the State Department called out Mali due to “several reports that the government or its agents committed unlawful killings” as well as “arbitrary and/or unlawful deprivation of life.” In early 2012, with the next Flintlock exercise to be held there, America’s troops were already in Mali when a U.S.-trained officer overthrew the democratically elected government. Flintlock 2012 was first postponed, then finally cancelled.

The junta soon found itself being muscled aside by Islamist militants whose ranks were joined by American-trained commanders of elite army units, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe, civilian deaths, and savage atrocities at the hands of all parties to the conflict. Years later, after a U.S.-backed French and African intervention, Mali is still plagued by a seemingly interminable and increasingly brazen insurgency and remains a fragile state. “It’s not some place that, by any stretch, you can say we’ve succeeded,” says RAND’s Linda Robinson.

And Mali was hardly an anomaly.

Under the so-called Leahy Law -- named for Vermont senator Patrick Leahy -- the U.S. is prohibited from providing assistance to units “of the security forces of a foreign country if the secretary of state has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” But this hasn’t stopped the U.S. from conducting JCETs alongside the military forces of African countries with genuinely dismal records in that regard.

From October through December 2011, for example, members of an elite force of Navy SEALs and support personnel, known as Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 (NSWU-10), carried out JCET training alongside soldiers from Cameroon’s elite 9th Battalion Intervention Rapid (9th BIR). That same year, the U.S. State Department noted that the “most important human rights problems in the country were security force abuses,” including killings and the mistreatment of detainees and prisoners. Members of NSWU-10 nonetheless were back in the country in January and February 2012 to continue the training, this time with troops from the 8th BIR, and members of still another BIR unit that August and September. The same year, according to the State Department, members of various BIR units threatened, beat, shot at, and sometimes seriously injured civilians as well as policemen.

In 2013, personnel from NSWU-10 trained with troops from Cameroon’s 1st BIR -- three separate JCETs from January through June. That same year, according to the State Department, “there were reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings,” specifically that members of “the BIR, an elite military unit” were “implicated in violence against civilians.” In September, for example, “three members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) beat a man to death in a barroom altercation.”

Members of the U.S. Special Operations forces alongside 
soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Intervention Rapid (BIR) 
training together in Bamenda, Cameroon, on January 17, 
2013. (Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Larry W. Carpenter Jr.)

Despite reports by human rights groups that Chad’s security forces were “killing and torturing with impunity,” members of NSWU-10 trained in desert warfare and long-range patrolling with elite indigenous forces there from October through November 2011. According to Amnesty International, during the spring of 2012 the Chadian Army was also recruiting “massive numbers of child soldiers.” But that fall, members of NSWU-10 were back in Chad for a JCET that included training in reconnaissance operations and desert patrols.

In early 2013, while sailors from NSWU-10 and Chadian troops were practicing raids and “heavy weapons employment,” members of Chad's “security forces shot and killed unarmed civilians and arrested and detained members of parliament, military officers, former rebels, and others,” according to the State Department. The next year, according to a United Nations report, Chadian soldiers in the Central African Republic opened fire on a marketplace filled with civilians, killing 30 and leaving 300 wounded. Within a year, U.S. troops were nonetheless back in Chad, playing host to Flintlock 2015, while, reports Amnesty International, “cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishments, including beatings, continued to be widely practiced by security forces... with almost total impunity.”

During 2012 and 2013, JCETs were also conducted in Algeria, where, according to the State Department, “Impunity remained a problem,” and Kenya, where there were “abuses by the security forces, including unlawful killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape, and use of excessive force.”

In addition, the U.S. carried out such missions in Mauritania (“abusive treatment, arbitrary arrests”), Morocco (“excessive force to quell peaceful protests, resulting in hundreds of injuries; torture and other abuses by the security forces”), Niger (“reports that security forces beat and abused civilians”), Senegal (“some reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings”), Tunisia (“security forces committed human rights abuses”), and Uganda (“unlawful killings, torture, and other abuse of suspects and detainees”). Meanwhile, Flintlock exercises were held in Senegal in 2011 (“reports of physical abuse and torture”), Mauritania in 2013 (“authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained protesters, presidential opponents, and journalists”), Niger in 2014 ("some reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings”), and this year in Chad.

Discipline and Punish

While AFRICOM refused to name these foreign forces involved in JCET training, the command nonetheless touts the program as a success. “SOF have conducted a series of JCETs with military forces in West Africa in addition to multi-national training events such as the Flintlock series of exercises. These same military units have since formed a regional task force to combat and contain Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin area,” AFRICOM spokesman Chuck Prichard explained. “We’re proud of our ongoing engagement with these military professionals and continue to support their efforts to protect citizens from Boko Haram violence.”

Despite regular tutelage and hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance in the decade since the Flintlock exercises began, the countries of the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership -- Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, most of them also key JCET partners -- haven’t fared well. Year after year, as the U.S. trained the Nigerian military at Flintlock exercises and worked alongside them during weeks of JCET, for example, Boko Haram grew from an obscure radical sect in northern Nigeria to a raging regional insurgent movement that has killed thousands in that country as well as growing numbers, more recently, in Chad and Cameroon. And it is just one of a number of terror outfits, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitun, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, and Ansaru, a Boko Haram splinter group, that have all been wreaking havoc in one country after another. Even General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, couldn’t help but note the bleakness of the situation. “Organizations like Boko Haram pose a significant threat to West-Central Africa... which is destabilizing a large part of the continent,” he said at a conference earlier this year.

At the closing ceremony for Flintlock 2015, AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez praised Chad and its “African partners” for conducting a military training exercise while also battling Boko Haram. “The capacity to execute real world operations while simultaneously training to increase capacity and capability,” he said, “demonstrates a level of proficiency exhibited only by an extremely professional, capable, and disciplined military.”

But partner forces from Mali or Chad or Nigeria, for example, have hardly shown themselves to be “extremely professional, capable, and disciplined” militaries. In 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry castigated Nigerian security forces for “credible allegations” that they were “committing gross human rights violations.” Last year, according to the State Department, their army “committed extrajudicial killings and used lethal and excessive force.” A recent Amnesty International report is even more damning, revealing evidence of “horrific war crimes committed by Nigeria’s military including 8,000 people murdered, starved, suffocated, and tortured to death.”

U.S. special operators have, in fact, partnered with rogue militaries throughout the region. Last year, the government of Burkina Faso was, like Mali before it, overthrown by a U.S.-trained officer -- a former student of the Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations University, no less. There were also coups by the U.S.-backed militaries of Mauritania in 2005 and again in 2008 and Niger in 2010 as well as a 2011 revolution that overthrew Tunisia’s U.S.-backed government after its U.S.-supported army stood aside.

Despite billions of dollars in aid from U.S. taxpayers as well as training missions and exercises conducted by America’s most elite troops, West African nations find themselves chronically imperiled by a plethora of insurgent groups and members of their own armed forces, with hundreds of thousands of Africans caught up in one conflict, conflagration, or crisis after another.

“Achieving peace, stability, and prosperity in the region begins with ensuring that security forces are well trained and equipped to... deny sanctuary to terrorist cells,” said Colonel Kurt Crytzer, the commander of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara, following Flintlock 2010. Five years, four Flintlocks, and scores of JCETs later, the verdict is seemingly in. Amanda Dory, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, for instance, recently noted that terrorist incidents on the continent have increased exponentially over the last quarter century, with the pace quickening of late. “The growth in the number of terrorist incidents globally, in particular from 2010, is mirrored in Africa,” she wrote.

AFRICOM’s own 2015 posture statement is hardly less damning when it comes to the state of the region after more than a decade of military interventions. “In North and West Africa, Libyan and Nigerian insecurity increasingly threaten U.S. interests. In spite of multinational security efforts, terrorist and criminal networks are gaining strength and interoperability,” it reads. “Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Murabitun, Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and other violent extremist organizations are exploiting weak governance, corrupt leadership, and porous borders across the Sahel and Maghreb to train and move fighters and distribute resources.”

For years, AFRICOM’s answer to this increasing instability has been more: more money, more troops, more engagement. Back in 2010, 14 countries took part in the Flintlock exercise. By this year, the number had doubled. RAND’s Linda Robinson is also of the more-is-better school of thought, though in a highly nuanced fashion. “There were a lot of episodic JCETs over the years,” she said in regard to the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership nations. While stressing that she had not conducted a “deep dive” study of the region, she drew attention to deficiencies plaguing the program. “You have to have a different model. You can’t just string together a bunch of JCETs and an annual exercise, in this case Flintlock. That is not enough to make it work. That doesn’t constitute a successful model,” she said, advocating for a more persistent, though less widespread, U.S. special ops presence in the region.

Andrew Bacevich is far more skeptical. “The assumption that we know how to create armies in other parts of the world is a pretty dubious proposition,” he told me recently. “The Pentagon exaggerates its ability to create effective fighting forces in the developing world.”

Nonetheless, JCETs -- indeed all special ops engagement in Africa -- seem impervious to failure. Since 2006, in fact, the average number of special operators on the continent went from 1% of elite forces deployed abroad to 10%, a jump of 900%. And with worldwide Joint Combined Exchange Training missions set to increase next year, according to Pentagon projections, Africa is a likely site of expansion.

The question is: Will episodic training with militaries regularly implicated in human rights abuses, militaries that overthrow their governments, and militaries that have consistently failed to defeat local terror groups turn them into professional, successful armies when longer-term, more intensive, bigger-budget U.S. efforts to build-up national armies from South Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq have been so ineffective? “It’s not difficult to make the case that we are viewed as aliens,” says Bacevich. “Therefore the prospects of being able to effectively transmit whatever the magic is that makes an army into an effective force is not likely to be in the offing. But still, we’re always disappointed and surprised when it turns out we can’t pull that off.”

Gabriel Karon contributed reporting to this article.

Nick Turse is the managing editor of and a fellow at the Nation Institute. A 2014 Izzy Award and American Book Award winner for his book Kill Anything That Moves, he has reported from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa and his pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, the Intercept and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book is Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Nick Turse

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

How Britain's Establishment Allows Briton's Extrajudicial Executions

Exclusive: I Can Reveal the Legal Advice on Drone Strikes, and How the Establishment Works

by Craig Murray

This may be the most important article I ever post, because it reveals perfectly how the Establishment works and how the Red Tories and Blue Tories contrive to give a false impression of democracy.

It is information I can only give you because of my experience as an insider.

It is a definitive proof of the validity of the Chomskian propaganda model. It needs a fair bit of detail to do this, but please try and read through it because it really is very, very important. After you have finished, if you agree with me about the significance, please repost, (you are free to copy), retweet, add to news aggregators (Reddit etc) and do anything you can to get other people to pay attention.

The government based its decision to execute by drone two British men in Syria on “Legal Opinion” from the Attorney-General for England and Wales, Jeremy Wright, a politician, MP and Cabinet Minister. But Wright’s legal knowledge comes from an undistinguished first degree from Exeter and a short career as a criminal defence barrister in Birmingham. His knowledge of public international law is virtually nil.

I pause briefly to note that there is no pretence of consulting the Scottish legal system. The only legal opinion is from the Attorney General for England and Wales who is also Honorary Advocate General for Northern Ireland.

So Jeremy Wright’s role is as a cypher. He performs a charade. The government employs in the FCO a dozen of the most distinguished public international lawyers in the world. When the Attorney-General’s office needs an Opinion on public international law, they ask the FCO to provide it for him to sign.

The only known occasion when this did not happen was the Iraq War. Then the FCO Legal Advisers – unanimously – advised the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, that to invade Iraq was illegal. Jack Straw asked the Attorney General to dismiss the FCO chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood (Goldsmith refused). Blair sent Goldsmith to Washington where the Opinion was written for him to sign by George Bush’s lawyers. [I know this sounds incredible, but it is absolutely true]. Sir Michael Wood’s deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, resigned in protest.

In consequence Blair and Straw decided that, again for the first time ever, the FCO’s chief legal adviser had to be appointed not from within the FCO legal advisers, who had all declared the war on Iraq to be illegal, but from outside. They had to find a distinguished public international lawyer who was prepared to argue that the war on Iraq was legal. That was a very small field. Blair and Straw thus turned to Benjamin Netanyahu’s favourite lawyer, Daniel Bethlehem.

Daniel Bethlehem had represented Israel before the Mitchell Inquiry into violence against the people of Gaza, arguing that it was all legitimate self-defence. He had also supplied the Government of Israel with a Legal Opinion that the vast Wall they were building in illegally occupied land, surrounding and isolating all the major Palestinian communities and turning them into large prisons, was also legal. Daniel Bethlehem is an extreme Zionist militarist of the most aggressive kind, and close to Mark Regev, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK.

Daniel Bethlehem had developed, in his work for Israel, an extremist doctrine of the right of States to use pre-emptive self-defence – a doctrine which would not be accepted by the vast majority of public international lawyers. He clinched his appointment by Blair as the FCO chief legal adviser by presenting a memorandum to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in 2004 outlining this doctrine, and thus de facto defending the attack on Iraq and the Bush/Blair doctrine.

A key sentence of Daniel Bethlehem’s memorandum is this

“It must be right that states are able to act in self-defence in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.”

There is a fundamental flaw in this argument. How can you be certain that an attack is “imminent”, if you are not certain where or what it is? Even if we can wildly imagine a scenario where the government knew of an “imminent” attack, but not where or what it is, how could killing someone in Syria stop the attack in the UK?

If a team were active, armed and in course of operation in the UK – which is needed for “imminent” – how would killing an individual in Syria prevent them from going through with it? It simply does not add up as a practical scenario.

Interestingly, Daniel Bethlehem does not pretend this is accepted international law, but specifically states that

“The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats”

Bethlehem is attempting to develop the concept of “imminent” beyond any natural interpretation of the word “imminent”.

Daniel Bethlehem left the FCO in 2011. But he had firmly set the British government doctrine on this issue, while all FCO legal advisers know not to follow it gets you sacked. I can guarantee you that Wright’s Legal Opinion states precisely the same argument that David Bethlehem stated in his 2004 memorandum. Knowing how these things work, I am prepared to wager every penny I own that much of the language is identical.

It was New Labour, the Red Tories, who appointed Daniel Bethlehem, and they appointed him precisely in order to establish this doctrine. It is therefore a stunning illustration of how the system works, that the only response of the official “opposition” to these extrajudicial executions is to demand to see the Legal Opinion, when it comes from the man they themselves appointed. The Red Tories appointed him precisely because they knew what Legal Opinion would be given on this specific subject. They can read it in Hansard.

So it is all a charade.

Jeremy Wright pretends to give a Legal Opinion, actually from FCO legal advisers based on the “Bethlehem Doctrine”. The Labour Party pretends, very unconvincingly, to be an opposition. The Guardian, apparently the leading “opposition” intellectual paper, publishes articles by its staff neo-con propagandists Joshua Rozenberg (married to Melanie Phillips) and Rafael Behr strongly supporting the government’s new powers of extrajudicial execution. In summer 2012 Joshua Rozenberg presented a programme on BBC Radio 4 entitled “Secret courts, drones and international law” which consisted mostly of a fawning interview with … Daniel Bethlehem. The BBC and Sky News give us wall to wall justification of the killings.

So the state, with its neo-con “opposition” and media closely in step with its neo-con government, seamlessly adopts a new power to kill its own subjects based on secret intelligence and secret legal advice, and a very weird definition of “imminent” that even its author admits to be outside current legal understanding.

That is how the state works. I do hope you find that helpful.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact the Daniel Bethlehem is now retired from the FCO. 

Long-time Guantánamo Child Detainee Seeks Humane Bail Conditions in Canada

Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr Asks for Bail Conditions to be Eased So He Can Visit His Family

by Andy Worthington


Former Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr speaking to the media after his release from prison on bail on May 7, 2015. Photo made available by Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star on Twitter.The former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr, who was freed on bail in May, after spending two years and eight months in Canadian prisons (and nearly ten years in Guantánamo), has asked a Canadian court to ease his bail conditions, so he can fly to Toronto to visit his family, attend a night course at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), and get to early morning prayers.

As the Canadian Press described it, he was granted bail “pending his appeal in the US against his 2010 conviction for war crimes by a widely discredited military commission at Guantánamo Bay” — “widely discredited” being something of an understatement.

Although no one has ever disputed the fact that Omar was a model prisoner, and has not been in any trouble since being freed from prison and allowed to live with his lawyer Dennis Edney and his wife, the bail conditions are harsh. As the Canadian Press described it, he is “required to communicate with his family … only in English and under the Edneys’ supervision,” and is not allowed to leave Alberta, except to stay at Edney’s vacation home in British Columbia.

He also has to wear an electronic tag, on his ankle, which, in a supporting affidavit, he called “uncomfortable,” adding, “It has also gone off several times and made noise all the time, even when I am in full compliance with my conditions. This can be particularly embarrassing.” The Edmonton Journal added that he complained that his electronic tag “hinders his full integration into the community,” and also noted that the bail conditions restrict his computer use, but he would “like to use computers in Edmonton public libraries.”

In the affidavit, Omar also stated, “My release and reintegration into the community have been going great. I have been embraced by many members of the community and made many new friends.” The Edmonton Journal noted that, in his affidavit, he also expressed “optimism about his summer activities reintegrating into Edmonton — cycling, meeting friends, connecting with a mosque, continuing his high school studies and preparing for university.”

As the Canadian Press described it, “Khadr’s maternal grandparents live in Toronto. He says his grandmother is ill and his grandfather barely speaks English. As a result, he says, he wants to be able to visit them and converse in another language without the Edneys present.” He also “says he wants to see his mother, siblings, and other relatives during a two-week visit to Toronto, either this month or next.”

In his affidavit, Omar stated, “I am now an adult and I think independently. Even if the members of my family were to wish to influence my religious or other views, they would not be able to control or influence me in any negative manner.” He added, however, “None of my family members are involved in any illegal activity.”

As the Edmonton Journal described his other reasons for asking for hs bail conditions to be relaxed, “Khadr must be home between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. — that does not give him enough time to get home from his 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. night course at NAIT to train as an emergency medical responder. Under the curfew, he can’t go for early bike rides or make overnight visits to his new friends in Canmore [and] Lac La Biche,” as well as his family in Toronto.

The Canadian Press also noted that there had been no immediate response from the government regarding Omar’s application to the court, which is expected to hear the case on September 11. The government still maintains that Omar should not have been released on bail, and is appealing the decision, although “it has yet to request a date or file supporting documents.”

The Canadian Press also noted that, “despite the government’s objections, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the eight-year sentence the [military] commission gave Khadr as part of his plea bargain amounts to a youth sentence,” which “means he would have been eligible for statutory release Aug. 19, according to Correctional Service Canada.”

Nate Whitling, another of Omar’s lawyers, wrote in the application, “The original conditions are no longer necessary or in the public interest,” and US military psychiatrist Stephen Xenakis, who has “spent many hours with Khadr including a visit this summer, sent a letter in support,” as the Edmonton Journal described it, in which he stated that Omar is a “fully alert, oriented co-operative young man,” who has “publicly denounced violence.”

Note: See below for the trailer, on YouTube, for “Guantánamo’s Child,” directed by Patrick Reed and Michelle Shephard, which has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 14 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ was released in July 2015). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

An Engineered Crisis: How the West Uses Refugees

Engineered Refugee Crisis to Justify "Safe Havens" in Syria

by Tony Cartalucci - LandDestroyer

September 7, 2015

While the Western media attempts to portray the sudden influx of refugees suddenly appearing out of no where at Europe's gates, the reality is that for years they have been gathering in expansive, well-funded refugee camps in Turkey.

Image: Turkey has eagerly invited 2 million 
refugees into their country to stay at camps 
unded by upward to 6 billion USD, 
not out of altruism, but to use refugees 
together with the US, NATO, and the EU, 
as a geopolitical weapon.

They have done so as part of a long-standing strategy to justify creating "safe havens" in northern Syria - essentially NATO invading and occupying Syrian territory, protecting their terrorist proxies within Syria's borders so that they can strike deeper toward Damascus and finally topple the government of President Bashar Al Assad.

US plans to carve out a "safe haven" or "buffer zone" in northern Syria stretch back as far as 2012 - before a real crisis even existed. In their "Middle East Memo #21," "Assessing Options for Regime Change," it was stated specifically (emphasis added):

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts. 

Brookings would elaborate upon this criminal conspiracy in their more recent report titled, "Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country." It states (emphasis added):

The idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would act in support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the presence of special forces as well. The approach would benefit from Syria’s open desert terrain which could allow creation of buffer zones that could be monitored for possible signs of enemy attack through a combination of technologies, patrols, and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up. 

Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal of the outside special forces, he would be likely to lose his air power in ensuing retaliatory strikes by outside forces, depriving his military of one of its few advantages over ISIL.Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

Unfortunately for US policymakers, little justification or public support underpins any of these plans to intervene more directly in Syria in pursuit of what is obviously regime change dressed up as anything but.

Bring in the Refugees 

However, in hopes of solving this lack of public support, the West appears to have taken a huge number of refugees created by its years of war upon the Middle East and North Africa, and suddenly releasing them in a deluge upon Europe. The Western media itself implicates Turkey as the source of these refugees, and reports like that from the International New York Times' Greek Kathimerini paper, in an article titled, "Refugee flow linked to Turkish policy shift," claims (emphasis added):

A sharp increase in the influx of migrants and refugees, mostly from Syria, into Greece is due in part to a shift in Turkey’s geopolitical tactics, according to diplomatic sources.

These officials link the wave of migrants into the eastern Aegean to political pressures in neighboring Turkey, which is bracing for snap elections in November, and to a recent decision by Ankara to join the US in bombing Islamic State targets in Syria. The analyses of several officials indicate that the influx from neighboring Turkey is taking place as Turkish officials look the other way or actively promote the exodus.

This wasn't done until after years of staged terror attacks across Europe, in attempts to ratchet up fear, xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia. Every attack without exception involved patsies tracked by Western intelligence agencies in some cases for almost a decade. Many had traveled to and participated in NATO's proxy war on Syria, Iraq, and Yemen before returning home to carry out predictable acts of violence.

Image: Even Western "international" organizations find it difficult to hide 
NATO's role in the refugee crisis with most migrants transiting through 
NATO-destroyed Libya, and NATO-member Turkey.

In the case of the infamous "Charlie Hebo" massacre, French security agencies followed the gunmen for years - even arresting and imprisoning one briefly. This surveillance continued up to but not including the final six months needed for them to plan and carry out their final act of violence. When asked why French security agencies ended their surveillance of known terrorists, they cited a lack of funds.

With Europeans intentionally put into a state of fear at home and in hopes of eliciting support for wars abroad NATO appears to now be undulating Europe with a tidal wave or refugees intentionally accumulated and cared for in Turkey either to flood back into NATO-established safe zones in Syria or into Europe to extort from the public backing for further military aggression.

The Big Reveal

The Huffington Post's article, "David Cameron Facing Pressure To Bomb Islamic State In Syria After Lord Carey Calls To Group To Be 'Crushed'," in covering the political discourse in England provides us with the final reveal of what was really behind this sudden "crisis."

Image: The Western media ensures that articles discussing the possibility
of using the refugee crisis as justification to further decimate Syria includes
 lots of pictures of desperate refugees struggling to burst into Europe.

It states (emphasis added):

David Cameron is facing growing pressure to extend RAF air strikes into Syria as the worsening conflict threatened to drive increasing numbers of desperate refugees to seek sanctuary in Europe.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey became the latest senior figure to call for a renewed military effort to "crush" Islamic State (IS) in its Syrian heartlands.

He also backed calls for British military intervention to help create "safe enclaves" within the country where civilians would be protected from attack by the warring parties in Syria's bloody civil war.
The Huffington Post's report would also state (emphasis added):
His intervention came after Chancellor George Osorne acknowledged that a comprehensive plan was needed to tackle the refugee crisis "at source".
Speaking to reporters at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Turkey on Saturday, he said that meant dealing with the "evil" regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as well as the militant jihadists of IS. 

At the end of the day, the "refugee crisis" is yet another contrivance by the same special interests who first sought to intervene in Syria to back "freedom fighters," then to stop the use of "WMDs," and most recently to fight "ISIS." Now with all three failing to justify what is otherwise naked military aggression openly pursuing regime change in Syria as a basis for wider confrontation with Iran, Russia, and even China, "refugees" are being used as human pawns to provoke fear and rage across Europe.

To Russia with Love of World's Animals and Ecology: Pamela Anderson Speaks at Economic Forum in Russia

Pamela Anderson Speaks at Economic Forum in Russia on the World's Threatened Ecology and Shameful Mistreatment of Whales and other Animals

by New Cold

 Sept 4, 2015

‘I believe that our planet is in trouble. I believe that our oceans are dying.’

‘Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott… has declared war on environmentalists. My own Prime Minister Stephen Harper shares Mr. Abbott’s views. These are views that will be condemned by future generations.’

Former television actress Pamela Anderson is an invited guest at the Eastern Economic Forum being hosted by the Russian government in Vladivostok from September 3 to 5. She gave a formal address to the forum on September 4 in which she voiced her passionate concerns about the state of the world’s ecology and threats to the world’s animal species caused by rampant industrial development and inhumane treatment. The text of her talk is below.
Pamela Anderson and Russian Natural 

Resources and Environment Minister 
Sergei Donskoi at 2015 Eastern Economic 
Forum in Vladisvostok, Sept 3, 2015 (TASS)

Anderson met with Russian Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Sergey Donskoy on September 3. She wrote on the Pamela Anderson Foundation website, “It’s an honor to be in Russia, where Leo Tolstoy put animal rights on the minds of the world 150 years ago. He wrote ‘If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.’

“The world can be a greedy, selfish place, but let’s keep in Tolstoy’s spirit by letting Russia’s wildlife be free and not enslaving animals for our amusement or profit.”

A report on explains that Anderson was invited to the forum after she wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to support a ban on whale hunting. She is opposing the sale and transfer of 18 beluga whales that were taken from the ocean several years ago by Russian scientists. She is also speaking out against drilling for oil in the Arctic. She explains on her foundation website:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to tell people that I will engage with Russia and China as great powers, Both have the historic opportunity and the moral duty to speak up for environmental issues, human and animal rights.

“People are increasingly skeptical and critical about western propaganda, politics, and the ‘way things are’. People are looking for alternatives and solutions! Russia and China can play an important role.

“I am so grateful to have this incredible opportunity to address Russian leaders… which will include speaking out against oil drilling and other plans for exploitation of Arctic resources. Canada and Russia are in direct competition in the new ‘scramble for the Arctic’ and it is insane.

Pamela Anderson (center) at wildlife rehabilitation center 
in Vladisvostok, Russia on Sept 3, 2015 (TASS)

“The only reason the Arctic resource scramble is happening is because of warming seas/global warming/loss of sea ice. And they’re going up there to do the very things that created that crisis in the first place!”

The Daily Mail newspaper in the UK has a story and photo gallery of Anderson’s visit to Vladivostok. Sputnik News reports on the opening two days of the Eastern Economic Forum.

Vladimir Putin spoke to the forum on September 4. He spoke to journalists afterward about the political situation in Russia and the world. His remarks there on the situation in Ukraine following the deadly riot in Kyiv on August 31 by extreme Ukrainian nationalists are reported here on New Cold

The president arrived in Vladivostok from the Chinese capital Beijing where he attended the military parade on September 3 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II (report here). He told journalists:

I think we are all witnessing attempts to erode the importance of World War II and its events, and sadly, this is happening in Europe and in Asia too, where we can see similar tendencies. It is therefore very important for everyone who fought Nazism and militarism to uphold in humanity’s consciousness the true meaning of what took place in the fight against Nazism and militarism.

I think that in holding such large-scale events to mark this anniversary of the end of World War II, our Chinese friends are moving in precisely this direction, the right direction, and are maintaining among their people a correct understanding of the significance of the fight against these things. The real sense in it all lies only in making sure that nothing like this ever happens again in human history.

Pamela Anderson sets a fine example of conducting dialogue and debate where she disagrees with Russian government policy. This contrasts to the Russia-bashing crowd that has much to say about where they think the Russian government goes wrong but are silent when it comes to the NATO countries’ deadly threats, military buildup and economic and political sanctions against the Russian government and people.

* * *

Text of Pamela Anderson address to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on September 4, 2015

Published on the Pamela Anderson Foundation website

Thank-you for this opportunity to address this forum.

I am very honoured and I very much appreciate the invitation from Minister of Natural Resources and Environment for the Russian Federation Sergei Donskoi to attend this Eastern Economic Forum.

As an international celebrity, I am aware that I have a global audience and that my views are listened to, reported on and at times can be quite controversial. I recognize that there are scientists, journalists, scholars and politicians who are much more knowledgeable than I on many things, but I also recognize that the value I have as a person in the spotlight and I take,that responsibility head on – in my passion for compassion regarding all living things…

Our modern media culture has given artists the platform to be influential communicators. This gives me the ability to be a voice on many issues. Issues like the diminishment of bio-diversity, climate change, pollution, the treatment of animals, the destruction of our forests and health issues associated with the decline in ecological integrity affecting this entire planet.

I believe that our planet is in trouble. I believe that our oceans are dying. We are losing our coral reefs, we have removed over 50% of the living natural biomass from this planet since 1950. We have seen a 40% loss of plankton in the Ocean since 1950. Imagine if your economy diminished by 40-50%…

We are also seeing a dangerous diminishment of bee populations around the world. We live in a world where economic priorities increasingly push ecological priorities aside. Yes the economy is important, but it should never be more important than the life support system that sustains us all.

Last month, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “The last thing we want to do is strengthen the environment and at the same time damage our economy… to put the environment ahead of the economy.”

This is a willfully reckless and irresponsible statement, but not surprising from a world leader who has declared war on environmentalists. My own Prime Minister Stephen Harper shares Mr. Abbott’s views, and these are views that will be condemned by future generations.

The world needs leaders that represent the needs of future generations. I have children and therefore I am very concerned about the state of the world, decades into the future.

It is evident that if we are to survive as a species upon this planet, we must conduct ourselves within the boundaries of ecological law and specifically three very important ecological laws.

The first is the law of diversity. An ecosystem is dependent upon the diversity of species within it. The greater the diversity, the stronger the ecosystem. When diversity is diminished ecosystems are diminished.

The second law of ecology is the law of interdependence. All diversity within an ecosystem is inter-dependent and this interdependence maintains the ecological integrity of the system.

The third law of ecology is the law of finite growth. There is simply a finite limit to resources. This means a limit to carrying capacity.

Increased human populations and increased consumption of resources literally steals the carrying capacity of other species. Thus increased human population growth and consumption of resources diminishes diversity and interdependence.

Humans tend to think of ourselves as separate from nature. We tend to view ourselves as superior to all other species. This is an arrogant point of view that simply has no place in reality.

I have come to address this forum today because I believe there is a need for stronger leadership that recognizes that the ecological systems that sustain us must be managed with broader intelligence and vision.

I believe that President Vladimir Putin understands the importance of interdependence. His recent public concerns about bees being threatened by industrial chemicals is an example of his ecological insights. President Putin knows that if the bees disappear there will be severe consequences for agriculture and therefore he understands that the preservation of bees must take precedence over the profits of a chemical company like Monsanto.

Unfortunately many of the world’s economic systems place short-term profits before long-term human, animal or ecological interests.

What, for example, is the value of a whale? If harpooned, it is cut up into meat and consumed with a limited market and a finite price. A whale is killed and money is made by a very few.

But there is a far more important value to a whale that benefits all of us. As I said earlier, since 1950 we have lost 40% of our plankton population as well as about 90% of the fish biomass. The ocean has been severely diminished.

During the 20th Century millions of whales were removed from oceanic ecosystems. One species the largest mammal to have ever lived, the Blue whale, was driven to the brink of extinction. More than 300,000 of these incredible animals were slaughtered. The meat was sold and consumed and the money has been spent.

But consider the real value of those whales, if they had been allowed to live.

Everyday, a Blue whale defecates about three tons of nitrogen and iron rich fecal material. This is not waste, it is essential food for plankton. The Blue whale literally fertilizes the pastures of plankton upon which it feeds and that plankton is the foundation of the entire food chain of the sea. Additionally it is one of the planet’s most prolific producers of oxygen.

The whales need plankton. Fish need plankton and humans need plankton. Removing whales from marine eco-systems means removing the primary source of plankton fertilization. A living whale benefits all of humanity. A dead whale benefits only a few individuals.

In many ways, it is like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. No goose, no egg, in other words, no whales means diminishment of iron and less iron means a diminishment of plankton. And, less plankton means less oxygen.

For millions of years, completely independent of humanity, oceanic ecosystems have been kept in balance by the interdependence of the diversity of species within these eco-systems. A species takes, and a species gives, and it is this ‘give and take’ that keeps ecological systems running.

Within the last few centuries, humans have taken from the sea and returned nothing of value except chemicals, plastics, oil, noise pollution, acidity and radiation.

As a result, life in our ocean has been seriously diminished since 1945 and this diminishment continues at an ever-increasing and alarming rate. Too many people and not enough fish.

So… How do we replenish this system? We need to call a moratorium on all industrialized fishing operations. We need to give time for the fish to replenish their numbers and we need to encourage the growth in population of apex predators like, sharks, marine mammals and seabirds. Sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds contribute to the system within which they evolved, all interdependently producing and recycling nutrients.

As strange as it might seem the fact is that the more seals, dolphins, sharks and whales–the healthier the fish populations.

This can be seen historically. When marine mammal and shark populations were much higher than today, there was no shortage of fish. The agent of diminishment is the predations of humanity and not the species that have maintained the system for millenniums.

We must stop being takers of resources from the sea and we must make the effort to replenish bio-diversity. Government subsidies to industrialized fishing operations must end. Yes, this will create some economic challenges- but by continuing on the present course of subsidies, as well as massive extraction of fish will only lead to greater ecological challenges and that will certainly lead to economic collapse.

What we have here is this thing called “the tragedy of the commons.” A country may realize that their actions are destructive to the environment but they also know that if they desist from exploitation that other countries will simply continue to exploit the resources.

An example in my own country, Canada. The cod fishery collapsed in 1992. Despite this crash, various nations continued to exploit cod just outside Canada’s economic territory. One country knew that if they stopped fishing, that another country would simply take their quota.

What we need is a nation to lead and to say ‘enough is enough’ and that decisions must be made based on ecological realities and not just economic realities.

Russia is not a stranger to this kind of thinking. In 1962, Premier Nikita Khrushchev made the rational and correct decision to avoid nuclear war. He chose the path of sanity over national pride and if not for his decision perhaps none of us would be here today.

We also must understand that we share this planet with other species. We need them, for humanity is not a biological island unto itself. We are interdependent with all the other citizen species of the planet.

We not only need these species, we can also learn from them. As various societies spend great amounts of money on a search for extraterrestrial intelligences, we have all but ignored the possibility of communicating with intelligent species on this planet.

Many animals like the great apes, cetaceans and elephants for example have demonstrated that they are self-aware beings capable of emotions and thoughts. In our arrogance, we have steadfastly ignored the possibility that they may have something to say.

We measure intelligence by the ability to manipulate tools. We are a toolmaking species. I believe, however that there are non-manipulative forms of intelligence. Cetaceans have large complex brains and a complex form of communication between themselves. Apes have learned sign language, elephants have been observed displaying empathy and a comprehension of life and death.

But instead of learning from these magnificent creatures, we kill them and capture them for our amusement.

Humanity needs a great nation with the vision to look into the future and to see that we need to share our world with these other species. We need leadership to restore the ecological balance and we need leadership to guide us to evolve into more compassionate beings ourselves.

Russia could easily win the hearts and minds of tens of millions of people worldwide by becoming a nation that addresses ecological realities with positive actions and a nation that recognizes the rights of ecological value of animals.

India has declared dolphins to be non-human ‘persons’. Cannot Russia do the same?

I would like to humbly request that Russia free dolphins from captivity and abolish the killing of whales and dolphins. I would also like to humbly request that Russia oppose the trade of whale and dolphin products, ivory and endangered wildlife products from transiting by air, land or sea through Russian territory.

Such a move would warm the hearts of tens of millions of people throughout the world. This may not be easy but I firmly believe it is essential for the survival of diversity, interdependence and maintaining finite resources.

My wish is that we find a way to unite economics with ecology in an system where the economy is organized to benefit natural ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems maintain a viable economy.

Like the “Moon Race” of the 60’s, who will win the “EARTH race”? Which Nation will be brave enough and forward thinking enough to go first? As a person of Russian decent, I came all this way, because… I’m betting on you…

Thank you