Of course, I would like the drone campaign to end. But its targets (whom it invariably misses) are Bandar’s operatives, and in the absence of even a deliberately mis-targeted drone campaign against them, these operatives will presumably become bolder. So the other half of the equation, along with stopping the drones and the other various manifestations of US military aggression, is to stop Bandar, which can only be done by exposing him as the real leader of “al-Qaeda” – RB
Drone strike kills four AQ suspects in Yemen: military
AFP, Mar 5 2014
SANA’A: A US drone strike in northern Yemen on Wednesday killed four suspected AQ members, including an Iraq veteran, a military official said. The UAV fired two rockets at a vehicle in the Khalka area of Jawf province, the official said, adding that among those killed was Ali Juraym, a local militant chief who had fought in Iraq. The US military operates all drones flying over Yemen in support of Sanaa’s campaign against AQ and has killed dozens of
militants (bla – RB) in a sharply intensified campaign in the past year. Drone strikes have triggered criticism from rights activists, who say they have claimed the lives of many innocent civilians. The UN said 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 wounded when two separate wedding processions were targeted by drones in early December. The victims had been mistakenly identified as members of AQ, the UN quoted local security officials as saying at the time. Following the deaths, Yemen’s parliament voted for a ban on drone strikes, but analysts say lawmakers have limited powers and are unlikely to have an impact on Washington’s campaign. The US says that drones are an essential part of its GWOT.
New Disturbing Details of Yemeni Wedding Hit by US Drone
Joe Wolverton, New USAian, Mar 2 2014
A new report on the Dec 12 US drone strike that killed 12 guests at a Yemeni wedding calls on Obama to come clean on the standards it uses to decide who lives and who dies and when drones are an appropriate weapon in the GWOT. HRW published a 28-page report in February highlighting various versions of the events that tore families apart about two weeks before Xmas 2013. One of the most relevant revelations in the study is that, as reported by The Intercept, “some, if not all, of the victims may have been civilians.” An AP story on the HRW study quoted the report’s author, Letta Tayler:
We asked both the Yemeni and the US authorities to tell us which of the dead and wounded were members of militant groups and which if any were civilians. They did not reply to this question. While we do not rule out the possibility that AQAP fighters were killed and wounded in this strike, we also do not rule out the possibility that all of those killed and wounded were civilians.
Naturally, the Obama administration tells a different story. Again, from the AP story:
Pentagon spokesman Rear-Adm John Kirby said he would not comment on specific operational details. He noted that the Yemeni government has stated that the targets were dangerous senior AQ militants. US and Yemeni officials said the target of the attack, Shawqi Ali Ahmad al-Badani, a midlevel AQ leader, was wounded and had escaped. Al-Badani is on Yemen’s most wanted list and is accused of masterminding a plan for a major attack last summer. When an intercepted message revealed the plot, the US temporarily closed 19 of its diplomatic posts across MENA. Some European missions were closed as well. Three US officials said the US government did investigate the strike against al-Badani, twice, and concluded that only members of AQ were killed in the three vehicles that were hit.
The story of the strike is unconscionable and would be unbelievable, were it not for the president’s penchant for adding names to a kill list and then erasing them with Hellfire missiles fired from a remote control aircraft. Citing local security authorities, Reuters reports that the families celebrating the wedding were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an AQ convoy. Another unnamed official told Reuters that 10 people were killed immediately by the missiles, while five died later of injuries they sustained in the attack. Five more members of the wedding party were wounded, but survived the strike. AP, citing the HRW report, puts the body count a little higher:
The report said four Hellfire missiles were fired at a wedding procession of 11 vehicles on Dec 12 2013 in Radda in southern Yemen, killing at least 12 men and wounding at least 15 others, six of them seriously.
While the people at the wedding may have been accidentally killed by the US, thousands of so-called militants have been purposefully assassinated by our government. For Obama and those pulling the triggers on the joysticks guiding the missiles toward their human targets, suspected militants are officially defined as all military-age males in a strike zone. For those of us concerned with the Constitution, due process, and the rule of law, however, suspected militant is just a euphemism for a person not charged with any crime, not afforded even the most perfunctory due process protections, but executed by presidential decree anyway. In this way, we are no better than those we kill in the name of safety. The drone war began in Yemen in 2002. There have reportedly been 84 such strikes since that year. The number of dead is not verifiable, but Long War Journal reports that 395 “AQ commanders” and 99 “civilians” have been killed during the duration of the program. Regardless of the body count, USAians can expect the growth of anti-USAian sentiment to increase proportionally to the number of missiles fired from the powerful Predator and Reaper drones used to carry out the culling of the president’s kill list. That sentiment is already being channeled by AQ leadership as its primary recruitment message. Testimony from victims and eyewitnesses of the drone-delivered devastation in Yemen reveals that the attacks are serving better to recruit AQ than defeat them. Since the inauguration of Yemeni Pres Hadi, the number of sorties sent to Yemen has spiked. Although US officials typically do not comment on this or any other drone strike in Yemen or elsewhere, Hadi isn’t quite so close-mouthed about the arrangement between the two allies. In a statement made to the WaPo in an interview published Sep 29 2012, Hadi said he personally approves every US drone strike in his country. Hadi’s praise for the Predators continued during a speech delivered at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he said, according to the NYT:
They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at.
The problem with this arrangement is that there is no way to tell who is a militant and who isn’t. More to the point, when did militancy become a crime? If it is a crime, where is it defined? How can anyone know if he is guilty of militancy if such a crime is not defined? Could one hypothetically be a militant without knowing it, given that the crime is nowhere defined? Incidentally, it is this very vagueness that dilates the grey area and makes the National Defense Authorization Act such a fearsome weapon in the arsenal of the seemingly all-powerful president. Obama’s nearly daily approval of drone-delivered assassinations is an affront to over 650 years of our law’s protection from autocratic decrees of death without due process of law. When any president usurps the power to create a kill list, add names to that kill list, keep that kill list secret, and assassinate people on that kill list, he places our Republic on a trajectory toward tyranny and unbounded, unaccountable, unending government-sponsored terrorism. Of course, it would be another matter if those targeted and executed by the president were armed enemy combatants. They were not. Were these suspected militants enemy soldiers captured during wartime, they would be necessarily afforded certain rights granted to POWs. Those slated for assassination are not allowed any rights, neither the due process rights given to those accused of crimes nor the rights of fair treatment given to enemies captured on the battlefield. The White House has assumed all power over life and death, at home and abroad, and has created a brand-new category of individual, one who can be indiscriminately deprived of all rights altogether. Regardless of the president’s purported justification for disregarding due process and killing children, women, and men in untold numbers, the morality of the event makes the operation deplorable. As The Intercept rightly reports:
But at its core, the HRW report makes the case that a swirling mix of competing accounts surrounding the strike demands a transparent investigation and publicly available findings. In an interview with The Intercept Wednesday, Letta Tayler, the author of the report, said the contradictory claims her team uncovered investigating the strike were mind-boggling. “It would be comical if we were not talking about human beings who were killed, and yet that is what we’re talking about, and that’s why the silence is unconscionable,” Tayler said. Such sickening operations will continue, however, until the US people stop being silent and demand that our elected leaders conform to the rule of law.
Senate staffers filched docs from CIA HQ
Jonathan Landay, Ali Watkins, Marisa Taylor, McClatchy, Mar 5 2014
WASHINGTON — Congressional aides involved in preparing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s unreleased study of the CIA’s secret interrogation and detention program walked out of the spy agency’s fortress-like headquarters with classified documents that the CIA contended they weren’t authorized to have, McClatchy has learned. After the CIA confronted the panel in January about the removal of the material last fall, panel staff concluded that the agency had monitored computers they’d been given to use in a high-security research room at the CIA HQ in Langley, a McClatchy investigation found. It remained unclear Wednesday if the monitoring, the unauthorized removal of classified material or another matter were the subject of a recent CIA request to the Justice Dept for an investigation into alleged malfeasance in connection with the committee’s top-secret study. The documents removed from the agency included a draft of an internal CIA review that at least one Congress crittur has publicly said showed that CIA bosses misled the Intelligence Committee in disputing some of the committee report’s findings, according to a knowledgeable person. In a combative statement issued Wednesday evening, CIA Director John Brennan chastised unidentified senators for making “spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts.” He said, in an apparent reference to the request for a Justice Dept investigation:
I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch. Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and congressional overseers.
The removal of the documents is the focus of an intense legal dispute between the CIA and its congressional overseers, said several people. Some committee members regard the monitoring as a possible violation of the law, and contend that their oversight powers give them the right to the documents that were removed. On the other hand, the CIA considers the removal as a massive security breach, because the agency doesn’t believe that the committee had a right to those particular materials.” One US official said:
Even if the agency is technically correct on the legalities, it’s a real asinine thing to pick a fight with your oversight committee like this. You’ve got to be asking yourself why the agency would be willing to take such a risk. The documents must be so damned loaded.
White House officials have held at least one closed-door meeting with committee members about the monitoring and the removal of the documents, said the first knowledgeable person. White House officials were trying to determine how the materials that were taken from CIA HQ found their way into a database into which millions of pages of top-secret reports, emails and other documents were made available to panel staff after being vetted by CIA officials and contractors, said the knowledgeable person. The extraordinary battle has created an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its congressional overseers, and raises significant implications for the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of the government. It also has fueled uncertainty over how much of the committee’s report will ever be made public. Mark Heinrich, a Senate Intelligence Committee member who has pushed hard for the release of the report, said:
The CIA has gone to just about any lengths you can imagine to make sure that the detention and interrogation report won’t be released. As furious as I am about these allegations, I want to keep focused on getting that report out to the people so that they can read the truth and make up their own minds as to who made those decisions and why.
The committee has the legal power to decide through a simple majority vote to release whatever portions of the study it deems should be made public. If the executive branch continues to resist the release of the information, the committee’s action must then be approved by the full Senate. In voting in Dec 2012 to approve the final draft, the panel gave the CIA three months in which to respond to the findings and recommend what parts should be kept secret. It has now been 15 months since the committee approved the report. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein except to confirm that CIA Inspector General David Buckley was looking into whether the agency had monitored her staff’s computers. White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment, referring questions to the Justice Dept and to the CIA, but Carney did say:
As a general matter, we are in touch with the committee. We’ve told Feinstein that the summary and conclusions of the panel’s report should be declassified with any redactions necessary to protect national security.
Obama was asked by a reporter if he had any reaction to the allegation that the CIA monitored Intelligence Committee computers, while he was lunching with governors on a New England visit. He responded:
I’m going to try to make sure I don’t spill anything on my tie.
The 6,300-page report lays out in exhaustive detail what Congress critturs have publicly described as a scathing indictment of the CIA’s use during the Bush administration of waterboarding and other techniques in secret “black site” prisons overseas. The study, which took four years to complete at a cost of $40m, also found that the CIA misled the White House, Congress and the public over the value of the intelligence produced by the program, according to the critturs. Many experts and foreign governments have condemned the techniques as torture. The Bush administration, which insisted that the techniques were legal, shut down the program in 2006 and Obama banned the use of waterboarding, which he described as torture, after assuming office in 2009. The CIA disputed significant portions of the committee’s findings in its official response to the report, which it submitted in June, three months after the deadline set by the committee. The agency also disputes that it conducted an internal review of the detention and interrogation program, asserting that it only compiled summaries of documents provided to the committee and not an analytical report. Several months after the CIA submitted its official response to the committee report, aides discovered in the database of top-secret documents at CIA headquarters a draft of an internal review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta of the materials released to the panel, said the knowledgeable person. They determined that it showed that the CIA leadership disputed report findings that they knew were corroborated by the so-called Panetta review, said the knowledgeable person. The aides printed the material, walked out of CIA headquarters with it and took it to Capitol Hill, said the knowledgeable person. The US official who confirmed the unauthorized removal said:
All this goes back to what is the technical structure here. If I was a Senate staffer and I was given access to documents on the system, I would have a laptop that’s cleared. I would be allowed to look at these documents. But with these sorts of things, there’s generally an agreement that you can’t download or take them.
The CIA discovered the security breach and brought it to the committee’s attention in January, leading to a determination that the agency recorded the staffers’ use of the computers in the high-security research room, and then confirmed the breach by reviewing the usage data, said the knowledgeable person. Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who has led calls for the release of the report, disclosed the existence of the Panetta review at a hearing in December, without saying how the committee had learned of it. He contended that the review broadly corroborated the committee’s findings and questioned why it was dramatically different from the CIA’s official response. Udall repeated his contentions in a letter that he sent Tuesday to Obama in which he called on the president to remove from the CIA and give to the White House control over how much of the committee report should be made public. Udall wrote:
This internal CIA review corroborates some of the important findings of the committee study and acknowledges significant mistakes and errors made during the course of the CIA program: mistakes and errors that the CIA’s official Jun 27 2013 response to the committee study denies or minimizes.
Udall also appeared to refer in the letter to the computer monitoring, writing that Obama knew that the “CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review.” Udall and Heinrich have called on the CIA to submit the completed Panetta review to the committee, and Udall says he will maintain a procedural hold on the nomination of Caroline Krass to be the new CIA general counsel until the document is provided.
Obama knew CIA secretly monitored intelligence committee, senator claims
Spencer Ackerman, Graun, Mar 5 2014
A leading US senator has said that Obama knew of an “unprecedented action” taken by the CIA against the Senate intelligence Committee, which has apparently prompted an inspector general’s inquiry at Langley. The subtle reference in a Tuesday letter from Senator Mark Udall to Obama, seeking to enlist the president’s help in declassifying a 6,300-page inquiry by the committee into torture carried out by CIA interrogators after 9/11, threatens to plunge the White House into a battle between the agency and its Senate overseers. McClatchy and the NYT reported today that the CIA had secretly monitored computers used by committee staffers preparing the inquiry report, which is said to be scathing not only about the brutality and ineffectiveness of the agency’s interrogation techniques, but also about deception of Congress and policy-makers by the CIA regarding it. The CIA sharply disputes the committee’s findings. Udall, a Colorado Democrat and one of the CIA’s leading pursuers on the committee, appeared to reference that surreptitious spying on Congress, which Udall said undermined democratic principles. Udall wrote to Obama yesterday:
As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight powers and for our democracy.
Independent observers were unaware of a precedent for the CIA spying on the congressional committees established in the 1970s to check abuses by the intelligence agencies. Steven Aftergood, an intelligence analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said:
In the worst case, it would be a subversion of independent oversight, and a violation of separation of powers. It’s potentially very serious.
The White House declined to comment, but National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said:
For some time, the White House has made clear to the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that a summary of the findings and conclusions of the final report should be declassified, with any appropriate redactions necessary to protect national security.
McClatchy reported that the CIA inspector general has made a criminal referral to the Justice Dept, a threshold procedure for opening a criminal investigation. In 2012, the Justice Dept closed an inquiry into prosecuting low-level CIA practitioners of torture without bringing any charges. But the prospect of the agency spying on its Senate overseers who prepared their own inquiry potentially places the agency right back into the legal morass it has labored for years to avoid. In February, the CIA confirmed to the Graun that it is subject to the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which makes it a crime to access government computer networks without authorization. The issue arose after Udall’s partner on the committee, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, asked CIA Director John Brennan at a January hearing, without elaboration, if the statute applied. Overshadowed by the CIA inspector general’s inquiry is the future of the report itself. The committee is pushing for a declassification that the Justice Dept, in a letter responding to a lawsuit by journalist Jason Leopold, said is a decision that rests with the committee itself. But the POTUS possesses wide latitude to order the report released, as the White House says it supports. Aftergood said:
The classification system is based on executive order, not on statute, and the president has absolute authority to declassify executive branch records at will. In this case, he could order declassification of the Senate intelligence committee report today.
Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and ex officio member of the intelligence committee, said in a statement today:
If, as alleged in the media, CIA accessed without permission or authority a computer network dedicated for use by a Senate committee, it would be an extremely serious matter. Such activity, if it occurred as alleged, would impede Congress’ ability to carry out its constitutional oversight responsibilities and could violate federal law.
CIA chief scolds senators for ‘outburst’
Jeremy Herb, The Hill, Mar 5 2014
CIA Director John Brennan has fired back at reports that the CIA spied on Senate staffers’ computers, accusing Senators of making spurious allegations. Brennan said in a statement Wednesday evening:
I am deeply dismayed that some members of the Senate have decided to make spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts. I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the Executive Branch or Legislative Branch. Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers.
Senators expressed outrage at allegations reported Wednesday of CIA intrusions into staffers’ computers on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein confirmed that the CIA Inspector General was investigating, and McClatchy had reported the matter was referred to the Justice Department. But Brennan suggested in his statement that wrongdoing could also have occurred in Congress. His statement was released as McClatchy reported that the computer spying was allegedly discovered when the CIA confronted the Senate Intelligence panel about documents removed from the agency’s headquarters. The McClatchy report suggested that it was unclear whether the CIA referral to the Justice Dept was tied to the computer monitoring, the removal of the documents or another study. The back-and-forth is escalating tensions between the Intelligence Committee and CIA, which were already strained over the panel’s 6,300-page report on the Bush-era interrogation techniques.
israel has decided to treat syria, like gaza and lebanon, as a free fire zone (goyim are expendable)
IDF shoots 2 terrorists planting bomb on Syrian border
Times of Israel, Mar 5 2014
IDF forces spotted two
terrorists (bla – RB) trying to plant explosives on the Israel-Syria border in the northern Golan Heights early Wednesday morning, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s office. Soldiers opened fire at the suspects (bla – RB), and identified direct hits. The militants (bla – RB) belonged to an organization affiliated with Hezbollah, the IDF said. Israel has been bracing for a possible Hezbollah attack since the latter said on Feb 26 that it had been hit by Israeli planes near the Lebanon-Syrian border two days earlier. Jayloomia has not confirmed involvement in the reported strike, though a high-ranking official told Time Magazine that the IDF was behind it. Lebanese sources said that Hezbollah was responsible for firing two Katyusha rockets that struck the Golan Heights on Mar 1. The rockets, which hit open areas in northern Israel overnight, were said to be retribution for the Feb 24 strike. According to Maariv’s Lebanese sources, the attack aimed to hit an IDF outpost on Mt Hermon. Lebanon’s Daily Star reported that two trucks transferring missiles and a missile launcher were targeted by IAF jets in a raid near the border with Syria, in the Beka’a Valley, as they were being transported from Syria to a Hezbollah storage facility. However, Hezbollah denied that a missile or artillery site was the target. Following the attack, analysts said Israel had opened a new front in its attempts to halt weapons smuggling to Hezbollah by striking one of the group’s positions inside Lebanon for the first time since the sides fought a war eight years ago. They said the alleged airstrike was part of a risky policy that could easily backfire by triggering retaliation. But it shows the strategic importance for Israel of trying to break the Syria-Hezbollah axis. Officials suspect that despite repeated Israeli airstrikes on suspected arms shipments, Hezbollah has managed to get its hands on many sophisticated weapons, including Russian-made anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles. Yesterday (Mar 4), Syrian government forces backed by Hezbollah were tightening their grip on the last rebel stronghold near the border with Lebanon a day after taking control of a key village in the area. Syrian troops backed by Shi’a fighters have been on the offensive in Qalamoun since December, trying to sever the rebel supply route from Lebanon.
Syria says Israel has fired tank shells into its territory
Diaa Hadid, Tia Goldenberg, AP, Mar 5 2014
BEIRUT – Israeli troops opened fire Wednesday on two
suspected militants (bla bla – RB) who were trying to plant explosives on the Jewish state’s frontier with Syria, the Israeli military said. Syrian state media accused the Jewish state of targeting its forces with tank shells, and warned against such “adventures.” In eastern Lebanon, Syrian warplanes conducted a series of airstrikes on the outskirts of a Lebanese border town, officials said.Israel’s military said its forces fired on what it called Hezbollah-affiliated militants on the Golan Heights and that “hits were identified.” The military did not explain how it knew of the men’s alleged links with Hezbollah. Syria’s state news agency SANA, citing a military source, said that Israeli forces fired four tank shells toward the Golan village of Hamidiyeh, hitting a school and a mosque early Wednesday. It said Israeli forces also fired another four shells toward another area called Houriyeh, and then opened fire a third time, again toward Hamidiyeh. It said the attacks wounded seven members of the security forces and four civilians. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the Israeli aggression against Hamidiyeh in the Golan came because it felt the Syrian military had carried out a pre-emptive operation to secure its border with Israel. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that Israeli forces fired several tank shells and two missiles toward the Golan Heights. The group said one missile hit a school in the village of Hamidiyeh, where Syrian troops were concentrated. During Syria’s civil war, mortar rounds and artillery shells apparently overshooting their targets inside Syria have landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, prompting an Israeli response on several occasions. IDF spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner described Wednesday’s shooting a response to a substantially different threat than what Israel has seen before: an attempt to plant a bomb directly on the border. That warranted a more forceful response, Lerner said, adding that the military fired multiple artillery rounds, and that the two suspected militants were the only targets.
Syria’s state news agency described today’s shooting as “aggressive acts” and warned Israel of such “adventures and in testing our fighting capabilities.” Tensions between the two foes spiked last week when Israeli aircraft struck Hezbollah positions inside Lebanon. Hezbollah said it would retaliate but it was not clear whether Wednesday’s border shooting was related to that threat, or whether Hezbollah-affiliated militants were even involved, as Israel claimed they were. Israel says Hezbollah has used the fighting in Syria as a cover to transfer weapons to Lebanon. Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining sophisticated arms that could threaten the Jewish state’s military supremacy. Israel has carried out a series of covert airstrikes in Syria over the past year that targeted shipments of weapons believed to be bound for Hezbollah. Lebanon’s state-run news agency reported today that Israeli warplanes flying at low altitude carried out mock raids over the southern towns of Nabatiyeh and Iqlim al-Tuffah. It says the warplanes were accompanied by an unmanned Israeli reconnaissance aircraft. The agency also reported that Israeli military helicopters were flying over the town of Shebaa close to the Golan Heights. On Lebanon’s border with Syria, meanwhile, state media and officials said at least three strikes hit near the town of Arsal in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa valley, 12 km from the Syrian border. One blast wounded a Syrian refugee woman and girl, a resident said. Arsal’s residents strongly support the Syrian rebels, who regularly use the surrounding hills as a supply route into Syria. It lies just across from the rugged Qalamoun region, where forces loyal to Assad have been on the offensive since November, trying to seize the rebel-held town of Yabroud. Deputy mayor Ahmad Fliti said at least eight strikes hit around the town’s edges and the desolate Wadi Hmaied area, where hundreds of Syrian refugees live in a sprawling tent encampment.
DNI clapper offers his usual stew of excuses, lying claims, prevarications and misreadings of law & history
DNI defends US intelligence on Ukraine
Josh Gerstein, Politico, Mar 5 2014
DNI Clapper is defending US intelligence agencies’ work in the days leading up to Russia’s move into Crimea, denying through a spokesman that the intelligence community understated the chances of such a move. The more robust defense from Clapper’s office came after Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and other senators lamented the lack of warning. House Intelligence Commitee Chairman Mike Rogers has been more muted in his criticism, but also signaled that some intelligence analysis was off the mark. DNI spokesman Shawn Turner said in a statement Wednesday evening:
Reports that the Intelligence Community was caught off-guard by events in Crimea are highly inaccurate. Since Pres Putin returned to the presidency the IC has frequently warned of worrisome trends with respect to Russia’s foreign policy. On Feb 26, for example, the IC warned that Crimea was a flashpoint for Russian-Ukraine military conflict. The assessment included an analysis of Russian military assets staged for a potential deployment, and those already in Ukraine that could be used for other purposes. It clearly stated that the Russian military was likely making preparations for contingency operations in the Crimea and noted that such operations could be executed with little additional warning. Throughout the Ukraine crisis, the IC has worked diligently to provide our policy-makers with the best possible insight and understanding to inform critical decisions. In the time-frame before the Russian incursion into Crimea, the IC’s expertise on Russian capabilities and intentions combined with our understanding of the highly dynamic environment to provide both advanced insight and warning. Prior to 9/11 one of the major criticisms of the intelligence community was that dissenting analysis was often hidden or discounted. A major reform that vastly improved our intelligence process was the requirement that every intelligence agency have the opportunity to provide assessments based on that agency’s analysis of the relevant information. The National Security Act 1947 (as amended Aug 2007) actually requires that dissenting opinions be included in National Intelligence Assessments. It actually says that the DNI is to ensure that differences in analytic judgment are fully considered and brought to the attention of policy-makers.
US to bolster military support to Poland, Baltic
AFP, Mar 5 2014
WASHINGTON – The US plans to expand military cooperation with Poland and Baltic states to show “support” for its allies after Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, including expanded aviation training in Poland and increasing the US role in NATO’s air policing mission over Baltic countries, Sec Def Hagel said Wednesday. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee:
This morning the Defense Dept is pursuing measures to support our allies. EUCOM chief, General Philip Breedlove, also plans to confer with Central and Eastern European defense chiefs. This is a time for wise, steady, and firm leadership. It is a time for all of us to stand with the Ukrainian people in support of their territorial integrity and sovereignty, and their right to have a government that fulfills the aspirations of its people.
At the same hearing, JCoS Dempsey said:
I have spoken to the Russian JCoS, General Valery Gerasimov today. I conveyed to him the degree to which Russia’s territorial aggression has been repudiated globally. I urged continued restraint in the days ahead, in order to preserve room for a diplomatic solution. I have also spoken this week to military chiefs in the Baltics and in Central and Eastern Europe. Understandably, they are concerned. They seek our assurance for their security. During our conversations we committed to developing options to provide those assurances and to deter further Russian aggression.
Leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia said Tuesday they were “shocked” by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, saying it resembled Soviet crackdowns in their countries during the Cold War. NATO held rare emergency meetings this week after Poland requested “Article 4″ consultations in light of the crisis in Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces have taken de facto control over the Crimean peninsula. Under Article 4 of the NATO Treaty, any member can request consultations when they believe their territorial integrity, political independence or security are threatened. The US has a small team of about 10 airmen stationed in Poland to support military training efforts, while NATO has been conducting air patrols over the skies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for ten years. The responsibility for the air patrols rotates every four months and the US took over from Belgium in January. The US already has suspended all military cooperation with Russia in protest over events in Ukraine, calling off planned exercises, training and exchanges.
evidently, the inhabitants of the US-mexico border region are about to learn the meaning of israeli discipline
US hires Israeli company to retrofit Mexico border wall
Chloé Benoist, al-Akhbar, Mar 5 2014
An Israeli military contractor whose surveillance technology is used along Israel’s apartheid wall in the Palestinian West Bank has been chosen by the US to provide similar services on the southern border with Mexico, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. Elbit announced on Sunday that the US DHS’s Customs and Border Protection had awarded its subsidiary a $145m contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona, Reuters reported. But according to Bloomberg analyst Brian Friel, the one-year contract could expand to a broader $1b deal if the US Congress passes stringent immigration legislation. Elbit is set to install watchtowers along the border with sensors for spotting, tracking, and classifying data, along with command and control centers. Walnuts McCain hailed the deal as a “step in the right direction,” saying in a statement:
Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Dept of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border. If this technology is developed, integrated and fielded correctly, these Integrated Fixed Towers in southern Arizona, coupled with the tremendous work of the Border Patrol, will give our agents the ability to detect, evaluate, and respond to all illegal entries crossing our border.
A government contractor said the choice of an Israeli firm was justified by its “advanced” experience in maintaining separation barriers. Haaretz quoted Mark Amtower as saying:
It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best.
Elbit is one of the primary military suppliers of the Israel’s occupation forces. Its Hermes 450 attack drone has been used extensively in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as in Lebanon during the 2006 war. The company is also responsible for surveillance technology along the apartheid wall erected by Israel within the West Bank. Only 15% of the separation barrier is built along the so-called 1949 Green Line, which is recognized by the international community as the border of Israel proper, UN figures show, with most of it jutting into the occupied West Bank. The 440km barrier is considered illegal under international law. Among its many international contracts, Elbit contributed in 2013 to a $40m expansive Internet surveillance program for the Nigerian government. Elbit has officially pledged on its website to “contribute to the enhancement of quality of life and the environment of the communities in which we live and work.” But this contribution mainly consists of supporting Israeli occupation forces through the “Adopt a Combat Unit” program. Elbit is targeted by the pro-Plastelinan BDS movement on the grounds that they “directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law.” The Stop the Wall campaign has written:
Elbit thrives on and fuels war, repression and control in Plastelina and around the globe. Now it offers its experience in ghettoizing and killing Plastelinans to repress other people. Because Elbit is knowingly participating in and aiding Israeli war crimes and Israeli occupation of the Plastelinan people, investors in and partners of the security firm are by extension accessories to Israel’s many violations of international law and human rights standards.
perhaps the israelis feel that the political window which permits them to commit gradual genocide publicly, is closing
Israeli attacks on Plastelinans near Gaza border increases
MEMO, Mar 5 2014
Israeli attacks against Plastelinans near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip have sharply increased in the last three months, human rights organisations said. Israeli B’Tselem and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said that since mid-December there has been a sharp increase in the number of incidents in which civilians were injured by live gunfire near the Gaza perimeter fence. The latest attack by an Israeli drone targeted a group of Plastelinan citizens in Beit-Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack resulted in the death of two citizens and wounded two others, including a young girl. Referring to the case of a 57-year-old woman killed on Feb 28 in the eastern area of the Khan Younis city in the north of the Gaza Strip, one organisation said:
This is the fifth incident in the last three months in which Gaza residents who were not taking part in hostilities were killed by Israeli security forces near the perimeter fence.
The civilians were shot when they were near the perimeter fence, on its Plastelinan side. In the ten weeks from Dec 20 2013 to date, B’Tselem field researcher Muhammad Sabah has documented the injury of 55 individuals near the fence. 43 were injured by live fire, 10 by rubber-coated metal bullets and two were hit in the head by teargas canisters. Israeli military officials said soldiers resorted to gunfire because Plastelinans had entered a restricted area and attempted to sabotage the fence. Yet, this explanation cannot constitute justification for the use of live fire. If there is a directive that permits live gunfire in these situations, it is unlawful.