Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Bush award" protest at 4:45 Monday at the Hyatt Regency and untruths for war in Syria


Several people have asked me where and when a demonstration is Monday:

"The Colorado Student Power Alliance, led by Sara Fitouri (a Sturm Law/Korbel student), is holding a "Bush Award" protest in front of the Hyatt Regency Denver (650 15th Street) starting at 4:45 p.m. on Monday.

At 5:30, a press conference featuring a Korbel faculty member, alum (TBD), and student will be held. (The Korbel fundraising dinner begins an hour or so later.)"

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The student statement is here.

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The award is now linked to Obama's projected illegal attack on Syria. Crimes such as those Bush committed in Iraq through arbitrary executive power are thus what Obama, against his seemingly anti-war candidacy, is contemplating in Syria. If the US Presidency plus Congress are convinced to go to war all by themselves (with Congress nearly evenly divided after a Presidential "roll out" of "intelligence" without even waiting for a UN report...), isn't that suspicious? Why does no one else in the world - particularly no ordinary public - think that a US use of arms is positive? Could it be that America makes war belligerently, wantonly, is given to cooking intelligence (all these important people with a straight face...), and is hypocritical about human rights (there is, as of now, no punishment under law or even hearings for Bush, the admitted torturer - see here and here - or others in his administration)?

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The American public is calling in 9 to 1 to Congress against the war (see here and The New York Times yesterday here). The intensity of opposition is far greater than the reported 60% in polls (9% favor Obama's policy....)

The British public has already spoken...

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Below is a report by Ray McGovern, former Presdential daily briefer for the CIA for Presidents from Reagan to George W. Bush (he resigned in protest about the Iraq War). It is co-signed by former FBI agent Colleen Rowley (who tried relentlessly to report from Minnesota that some Arabs were learning to fly but not to land planes...and was ignored by President Bush and Condi Rice, inter alia), Todd Pierce, a Judge Advocate General lawyer for prisoners at Guantanamo, and Ann Wright, an officer and career diplomat, one of three who courageously resigned in the run-up to the Iraq war, among others.

It makes increasingly clear that the report offered by CIA director John Brennan and in the name of national intelligence director James Clapper who had already misled Congress on NSA spying on the American people (yet another crime to add to the spying itself), is not sound. This rush to war parallels Bush on Iraq and makes Obama's and Clinton's launching of Bush at his Presidential library to regain respectability all the more grim in implication, all the more linked to reperfuming the practice - executive authority or so-called "commander in chief power" - of telling lies in favor of aggression and torture. Yes, the US was viciously attacked on 9/11 (and congratulations again to those who took out Bin Laden and Obama who mandated the operation). No, the aggression in Iraq and an illegal and immoral attack on Syria (Syria did not aggress against the United States; there is no external approval even from the UN for a US attack; the only two allies are Israel and France - France without popular support delaying now for the UN report, and one may hope that even in Israel sanity pervades among many people (see the grim comment reported by Jodi Ruroren in the New York Times cited by McGovern below); the gassing is horrific but who did it is still unclear... - are wrong and sabotage American obligations - and Obama's commitment - to seek peace. (Italy, Canada and some others joined the US in condemning poison gas attacks at the G-20 Friday, but explicitly with no mandate to the US to use force).

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There are easy alternatives for a noncriminal American response, for instance, waiting for UN findings, taking the issue to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, pursuing collective action short of war against Syria...

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Second, giving this award projects the Korbel School not as an academic institution, that is one broadly speaking devoted to seeking out the truth through debate about international affairs (there was no discussion or debate of this false award among the relevant constituencies; no DU student or faculty member has so far spoken out publicly in support of the award; 1600 students and alumni and 24 faculty at Korbel have stood up against it). It displays the School instead as mainly an instrument of power, contributing to a campaign to revive Bush as ostensibly a "humanitarian" and "global servant."

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In such a situation, each of us must stand, as she sees fit, for truth and decency and against war crimes and "preemptive" war. To be at this or other protests is to stand with those who want a nonbelligerent American foreign policy, one aligned with international law, not a policy that wages endless solo wars - "with us or against us," in an increasingly tiny "coalition of the willing" in Mr. Bush's phrases, a "decider" who, he fantasized, need explain himself to no one - in the Middle East or fires drones killing civilians in countries - Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen - with which the US has not declared war.

The US government, so it reported, killed another Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan, a member of the Haqqani network last weekend; there was no mention, in the American press, that the government of Pakistan yet again, futiley, protested against it, a sovereign state to be ignored...

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It saddens me to oppose a policy of my school. But these are issues of principle, not ones that can be papered over. The American people are saying no to "preemption /humanitarian intervention" and arbitrary, illegal and immoral assertions of Presidential power (it is thus good Obama is seeking the fig leaf of Congressional approval, though silly - politically - for him to imagine that if even the US Congress is so massively split before the aggression, any good could come from launching it. More likely, the domestic split over this, particularly given Barack as a seemingly anti-war candidate, the one who has so far avoided bombing Iran despite heavy pressure from Romney-McCain-Netanyahu, is likely to wreck the rest of his second term as well as establishing yet another precedent for the worst - most criminal, self-destructive - enterprises in American foreign policy.

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"Who's Lying? Brennan, Obama, or Both?
By Ray McGovern - Posted on 06 September 2013

Obama Warned on Syrian Intel

September 6, 2013

Editor Note: Despite the Obama administration’s supposedly “high confidence” regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?

Precedence: IMMEDIATE

We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”

We have been down this road before – with President George W. Bush, to whom we addressed our first VIPS memorandum immediately after Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech, in which he peddled fraudulent “intelligence” to support attacking Iraq. Then, also, we chose to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised.

The fraudulent nature of Powell’s speech was a no-brainer. And so, that very afternoon we strongly urged your predecessor to “widen the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” We offer you the same advice today.

Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you.

We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe. Sadder still, this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave “clearly erroneous” sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.

Intelligence Summary or Political Ploy?

That Secretary of State John Kerry would invoke Clapper’s name this week in Congressional testimony, in an apparent attempt to enhance the credibility of the four-page “Government Assessment” strikes us as odd. The more so, since it was, for some unexplained reason, not Clapper but the White House that released the “assessment.”

This is not a fine point. We know how these things are done. Although the “Government Assessment” is being sold to the media as an “intelligence summary,” it is a political, not an intelligence document. The drafters, massagers, and fixers avoided presenting essential detail. Moreover, they conceded upfront that, though they pinned “high confidence” on the assessment, it still fell “short of confirmation.”

Déjà Fraud: This brings a flashback to the famous Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002, on Iraq, The minutes record the Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials that President Bush had decided to remove Saddam Hussein through military action that would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Dearlove had gotten the word from then-CIA Director George Tenet whom he visited at CIA headquarters on July 20.

The discussion that followed centered on the ephemeral nature of the evidence, prompting Dearlove to explain: “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” We are concerned that this is precisely what has happened with the “intelligence” on Syria.

The Intelligence

There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.

According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.

We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.

In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.

Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.

At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government

The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.

Cui bono?

That the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved in support of that effort is clear. Until now, it has not been quite as clear that the Netanyahu government in Israel has equally powerful incentive to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear.

Reporter Judi Rudoren, writing from Jerusalem in an important article in Friday’s New York Times addresses Israeli motivation in an uncommonly candid way. Her article, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” notes that the Israelis have argued, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. Rudoren continues:

“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”

We think this is the way Israel’s current leaders look at the situation in Syria, and that deeper U.S. involvement – albeit, initially, by “limited” military strikes – is likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict in Syria. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates that it is.

That Syria’s main ally is Iran, with whom it has a mutual defense treaty, also plays a role in Israeli calculations. Iran’s leaders are not likely to be able to have much military impact in Syria, and Israel can highlight that as an embarrassment for Tehran.

Iran’s Role

Iran can readily be blamed by association and charged with all manner of provocation, real and imagined. Some have seen Israel’s hand in the provenance of the most damaging charges against Assad regarding chemical weapons and our experience suggests to us that such is supremely possible.

Possible also is a false-flag attack by an interested party resulting in the sinking or damaging, say, of one of the five U.S. destroyers now on patrol just west of Syria. Our mainstream media could be counted on to milk that for all it’s worth, and you would find yourself under still more pressure to widen U.S. military involvement in Syria – and perhaps beyond, against Iran.

Iran has joined those who blame the Syrian rebels for the August 21 chemical incident, and has been quick to warn the U.S. not to get more deeply involved. According to the Iranian English-channel Press TV, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif has claimed: “The Syria crisis is a trap set by Zionist pressure groups for [the United States].”

Actually, he may be not far off the mark. But we think your advisers may be chary of entertaining this notion. Thus, we see as our continuing responsibility to try to get word to you so as to ensure that you and other decision makers are given the full picture.

Inevitable Retaliation

We hope your advisers have warned you that retaliation for attacks on Syrian are not a matter of IF, but rather WHERE and WHEN. Retaliation is inevitable. For example, terrorist strikes on U.S. embassies and other installations are likely to make what happened to the U.S. “Mission” in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, look like a minor dust-up by comparison. One of us addressed this key consideration directly a week ago in an article titled “Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria – Remembering the U.S. Marine Barracks Destruction in Beirut, 1983.”

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan

Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

W. Patrick Lang, Senior Executive and Defense Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)

Todd Pierce, US Army Judge Advocate General (ret.)

Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)

This Memorandum was posted first on Consortiumnews.com."

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For congressman Alan Grayson's excellent New York Times op-ed on the feebleness of the "intelligence" and a National Security state gone mad - even people in Congress cannot look at the "intelligence' which allegedly underpins the President's report, see here.

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Here is a recent report on the protest at the Korbel School from Time magazine and the Associated Press:

HOME>U.S.
Students, Faculty to Protest Bush Award in Denver
DENVER September 6, 2013 (AP)
By COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Students, faculty and alumni at the University of Denver plan to protest when the university's international studies school presents an award to former president George W. Bush next week.

Bush will be recognized Monday evening at a fundraising dinner in Denver both for his service as president as well as efforts to fight HIV, cervical cancer and malaria in Africa. The Josef Korbel School's decision has outraged many at the school who fault the 43rd president for starting the war in Iraq and allowing the use of torture on prisoners.

Bush will have a public discussion with the school's dean, former Iraq ambassador Christopher Hill, during the private event at a downtown hotel.

Students and graduates say the award will hurt the international standing of the school, which is named after Josef Korbel, the father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and is known for its focus on human rights.

"He's tarnishing Korbel's name in an attempt to rebrand Bush as a positive character," said Sara Fitouri, a Korbel and law student at the university who plans to attend the protest.

University spokeswoman Kim DeVigil said the university is committed to the open exchange of ideas.

"A university is a place where civil discourse should occur and the fact that a former two-term president is coming to the university is an honor," she said.

Representatives from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Presidential Center didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

At least some opponents [this was, in fact, the position of both the student/alumni and faculty statements against the award] said they don't object to Bush visiting and speaking, just to receiving an award which endorses his legacy. Carol Hubbard, a graduate who lives in Springfield, Va., hopes for an eleventh hour change of heart by the school but also diplomatically suggested changing the award's name to the Global Impact Award, rather than the Global Service Award.

The original announcement from the school said Bush would get the Improving the Human Condition Award. DeVigil said that was just a placeholder name until award's name was decided. She said the change wasn't a concession to opponents.

The name of the award given changes each year. Past recipients include Ban Ki-moon, United National secretary-general, Condoleeza Rice, Bush's secretary of state and Albright."

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