Saturday, February 17, 2007
By Mohamed Khodr
For years, but especially after 9/11 our “free media” has excluded to a large extent the voices of peace rather than war, the voices of the informed who cry out for justice in our foreign policy, especially as it applies to the oppressed Palestinians by our “democratic” ally, Israel; the patriotic voices who believe dialogue and diplomacy, not guns, are more effective for lasting peace; the voices who speak for the voiceless suffering, oppressed, sick, and dying have-nots; the voices who toil in cyberspace to bring unwelcome truth to our citizens; the voices of sacredness who seek divine justice for all. What remains for America is to blindly digest and regurgitate “manufactured consent, hate, and lies” that serve the rich, the powerful, and the few at the expense of the many.
Napoleon understood the power of the Media’s influence:
"I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets."
Do you think he was prophetically referring to America’s three most powerful Jewish owned newspapers? Papers that lyingly and deliberately drummed up the Iraq debacle?
--The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal
Our “free” media’s motto: “All the news that supports Israel’s wars and defames Islam is fit to print”
In pure Orwellian fashion; Cheney’s White House Puppet himself said:
“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.”
--President George W. Bush
Why does America stand alone against the world and its own national interests in supporting the rogue Apartheid regime of Israel that is Judaizing God’s Holy Land, a blessing to all Jews, Christians, and Muslims? Israel is forcibly Judaizing Jerusalem through house demolitions, expulsions of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, denying building permits and social services, forbidding Palestinian Christians and Muslims entry to pray in Jerusalem’s holy sites; hence the inhumane horrific picture of Palestinian Muslims prostrating at the feet of Israeli soldiers, not to God in their mosques. No other nation can act with such arrogance, impunity, and defiance of American supported U.N. Resolutions that call Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem “null and void.” Israel is a “Jewish” State”, an Apartheid State, whereby the Holy Land will be purified from the impure Christians and Muslims. To dare speak truth to this ethnic cleansing is to risk the media’s rabid attack that instills fear into any citizen of this “superpower” nation. The latest victim of such a nationally widespread Zionist dressing down and insolent disrespectful attack is former President Jimmy Carter, a moral man who risked his Presidency to secure Israel’s peace with Egypt. Not even Carter’s Christian brethren dared defend him.
Why are Americans so uninformed about Israel and its control of our foreign policy?
It’s the Media.
During Israel’s widespread devastation of Lebanon last summer with America’s latest weapons, use of illegal cluster and phosphorous bombs, depleted uranium missiles, bombing of civilian convoys trapped behind blown bridges including U.N. compounds and International Red Cross vehicles carrying life saving medicines to already bombed hospitals; even repeating the 1996 bombing of Qana murdering entire families; what did the decider, freedom and democracy spreader, the man who believes all men are born free and created equal, the man opposed to occupations and tyranny, the religious follower of the Prince of Peace do?
He criminally supported Israel’s murderous shredding of Lebanon, sending more tax funded American weapons, money, Arab “oil” to Israel to “complete the job”, and vetoes a United Nation Security Council Resolution that simply “condemned” Israel’s atrocities.
Bush, the obedient Congress, and our kosher friendly media sold the usual lies to allow Israel’s death and destructive campaign against an entire nation, Lebanon; turning its murderous offensive war into Israel’s “right to defend itself.” After each civilian massacre, America and Israel finally admit it was an “accident.”
To the surviving Muslim and Christian Lebanese and Palestinians of Israel’s civilian massacres; there can only be one conclusion:
Jewish Blood is more worthy, vital, and important than any Goy Blood anywhere, including the blood of America’s youthful courageous soldiers dying abroad fighting Israel’s wars.
This war was not for oil but for a small Jewish only State, Israel, with the power to unleash “Anti-Semitism” and “Holocaust” guilt against the Christian West. Since World War II America has enjoyed dominance, good relations, and easy access to cheap oil in the Arab Middle East; but Cheney and his Neocons (mostly Jewish according to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper) wanted a pretext to kill for Israel (Hallelujah 9/11).
Jewish blood, the Chosen Blood, from the Torah to the Babylonian Talmud, to modern Rabbinic edicts, is a blood superior to the world’s Goyish blood.
"One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail."
--Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 [N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1]
“It is forbidden to be merciful to them (Palestinians). You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable,…The Lord shall return the Arabs' deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world.”
--Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Founder and Spiritual Leader of Israel’s Political Party (BBC; April 10, 2001), -----Odd that the “media” and western governments did not see this in a similar vain to the Iranian President’s misinterpreted threat against Israel.
Even Elie Wiesel, the secular Jewish intellectual, the Noble Peace Prize winner, the poster child for peace, humanity and freedom for all, the man who single handedly convened the entire United Nations Security Council to listen to his pained rhetoric on Darfur’s suffering (which is legitimate) but who has totally ignored and dismissed Palestinian suffering at the hand of his own people.
This hypocritical Wiesel according to Professor Norman Finkelstein's ground breaking book: “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering” (By the way, read Israel’s own media on how Israel is starving and mistreating its Holocaust Survivors despite billions of aid) Verso, New York 2000, page 49; said:
"Everything about us is different." Jews are "ontologically" exceptional”
Elie Wiesel’s pain (that costs $25,000 a speech according to Norman Finkelstein) does not apply to the Palestinians, Iraqi’s, Afghani’s, Chechens, Kashmiri’s, Iranians, Aborigines, Gypsies, or to any other Muslim-Christian human being: Some of Wiesel’s quotes are:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
”There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
Compare Wiesel’s Zionism for Israel to a courageous Israeli journalist who patriotically criticizes his own country’s colonial brutality against the Palestinian population:
“The war against the Palestinians is therefore unequivocally a territorial war, a war for the settlements. In other words, in the West Bank and Gaza, people were killed and are getting killed because of our greed for land. From Golda Meir to Ehud Olmert, the lie has held that the war with the Palestinians is an existential one for survival imposed on Israel when it is actually a war for real estate, one dunam after another, that does not belong to us….While we are ready to jump on any war bandwagon, as in this time, we endlessly procrastinate when it comes to peace negotiations”
--Gideon Levi, “THE REAL ESTATE WAR”, Ha’aretz, August 6, 2006
Five American Corporate Medias control the greatest majority of the media that formulates our opinions, our daily agendas, conversations, voting patterns, our commercialism, and tragically. who lives and dies domestically and abroad. The American poor, hungry, uninsured, and homeless are not worthy media subjects but Israel’s psychological stress and insecurity despite being the fourth most powerful nuclearized nation on earth, is frontpage news.
Who else but the powerful media can intimidate, indoctrinate and sell war and death to a nation whose government is cowardly when it comes to Israel and its Lobby.
“Phony pretexts repeated often enough become real reasons. Things that...are not true become true in the public mind simply through endless repetition. --Lenny Bloom
President Bush does read after all:
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." –
--President Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005
Call of the Wild for Endless Wars for Israel:
Enemy du Jour: Cheney, Neocons, Israel, Israel Lobby, Media, Bush: “Next Stop…Iran”
What Chutzpah, what outrageous confidence, what power and influence, what shamelessness, what callousness to human life and economic burden upon America’s youth, what arrogance, that Cheney and his mainly Jewish Cabal are pushing this nation to a new war, a war with Iran, while American coffins are still arriving from Iraq and Afghanistan.
From Zionist David Frum’s phrase “Axis of Evil” for Bush’s Speech: Iraq, Iran, North Korea
To: “Next Stop…Baghdad”; “Next Stop…Iran”; “Next Stop…Syria”,
“Next Stop…Saudia Arabia”
Finally---“Next Stop….Islam”: The Root of All Evil.
From Saddam Hussein to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cheney has orchestrated a campaign that these homicidal maniacs are capable of attacking America and “Israel”; thus we must fight them there before we fight them here.
“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” --George Orwell
Our “free” media, dependent upon our dollars and its advertisers can either push for or stop the insane clamoring to attack Iran. It all depends on you and me. Our silence will ensure that Cheney’s Bush will attack Iran prior to his political end and will once again follow those who put him in office, pull his strrings, and fulfill his simpleton dream of removing the “wimp factor” staining the Bush family.
“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.”
Bush abandoned America’s foundational principles, idealism, values, sense of justice, and moral credibility for Israel and Oil hegemony. He has subverted our Constitution and needlessly and lyingly risked American lives, both civilian and military, here and abroad. He has extinguished the light of this nation as a beacon of hope, opportunity, and respectability in the eyes of the world. His legacy will forever be one of insane fear, insecurity, death and destruction for Israel and Corporate America. It’s Exxon’s oil and America’s youthful blood that will decorate his Presidential Library.
Sadly, when it comes to wealth and Israel the Democrats are just as cowardly and unpatriotic. Pay attention how the GOP and Democratic Presidential candidates will stain their character and this nation’s future to appease Israel and Jewish money. For self interests they Pledge Allegiance to the Star of David, not to the Stars and Stripes.
NO POLITICIAN in this nation can ever hope to be elected if he/she dare speaks against Israel.
The worldwide American-Israeli Alliance of Injustice will not endure long. It will end sooner rather than later, for in due time the world will awaken to their oppressive military and economic injustice upon the weak; but most importantly God is just, and His wrath will be unleashed for the sake of the unjust to reclaim their right for life, liberty, human dignity, freedom, and pursuit of happiness from the empires of injustice. May God give us the patience and perseverance to endure until such time when peace, justice, freedom, and wealth belongs to all, not just the few.
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” --Thomas Jefferson
Does America have one more Revolution in its soul to reclaim our nation from Israel’s webs in all our institutions? Are there any more Thomas Paine’s, Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Adam’s, Madison’s, Franklin’s, Paul Revere’s, or Patrick Henry’s to proclaim loudly and proudly “give me liberty from foreign influence or give me death”? Yes, America, they live in each of us. They simply need our courage to resurrect them. America is ready for another Emancipation Proclamation—this time, from Israel and its Lobby.
“Our Patriotic Shouts Bursting in Air, Gives Proof through the Night that our Flag, America’s flag, is still there”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1270038.stm (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Quote)
Afif Safieh | Fri. Feb 16, 2007
I know of no way to measure suffering, no mechanism to quantify pain. All I know is that we Palestinians are not children of a lesser God.
Had I been a Jew or a Gypsy, I would consider the Holocaust to be the most atrocious event in history. Had I been a Native American, it would be the arrival of the European settlers and the subsequent near-total extermination of the indigenous population. Had I been an African American, it would be slavery in previous centuries and apartheid in the last. Had I been an Armenian, it would be the Turkish massacre.
I happen to be a Palestinian, and for Palestinians the most atrocious event in history is what we call the Nakba, the catastrophe. Humanity should consider all the above as morally unacceptable, all as politically inadmissible. Lest I be misunderstood, I am not comparing the Nakba to the Holocaust. Each catastrophe stands on its own, and I do not like to indulge in comparative martyrology or a hierarchy of tragedies. I only mention our respective traumas in order to illustrate that we each bring to the table our own particular history.
The fact that the accords reached last week in Mecca between Hamas and Fatah were met with a variety of reactions, ranging from warm to cautious to skeptical, makes it imperative to revisit and learn the lessons of the diplomatic history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Time and again the three “no’s” of the Khartoum summit in 1967 — no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel — are invoked as proof conclusive of Arab intransigence toward Israel. Such a claim, however, conveniently forgets that Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt and Jordan accepted United Nations Security Council resolution 242 just months after the Khartoum meeting.
Also forgotten is that Syria, after the October War in 1973 — the purpose of which, it should be remembered, was to reactivate a dormant diplomatic process and to capture the attention of American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — accepted U.N. resolution 338, which incorporated resolution 242. Ignored, too, is that the entire Arab world endorsed a peace plan put forth by the then-Saudi crown prince Fahd at a 1982 summit in Fez, Morocco, as well as unanimously backed the initiative put forth by then-Saudi crown prince Abdallah in Beirut in 2002.
For the Palestinian national movement, the October War in 1973 was a demarcation line in strategic thinking. It is then that we concluded that there was no military solution to the conflict. Until then we had advocated a unitary, democratic, bicultural, multiethnic and pluri-confessional state in Mandatory Palestine.
After 1973, a pragmatic coalition within the Palestine Liberation Organization emerged. Composed of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, Nayef Hawatmeh’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and As Sa’iqa, the Palestinian branch of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, the coalition demanded not absolute justice but rather possible justice within the framework of a two-state solution. The fact that As Sa’iqa belonged to that school of thought, it is worth noting, is proof that Damascus can be a constructive player in the region if properly engaged and its concerns addressed. Syria is not necessarily the eternal spoiler that needs to use the Lebanese theater or the Palestinian scene in order to remind everyone of its presence.
Led by this pragmatic coalition, the PLO was ready for a historical compromise as far back as 1974. It was not the rejectionist player, as many have labeled it, but rather the rejected party until the Oslo peace talks in 1993. Throughout its presence in Lebanon, the PLO aimed to remain a military factor so as to be accepted as a diplomatic actor.
I have told my many Israeli interlocutors that I believe that the Israeli posture in peace negotiations was to expect a diplomatic outcome that would reflect Israeli power and intransigence, American alignment toward Israeli preferences, declining Russian influence, European abdication, Arab impotence and what they hoped to be Palestinian resignation.
It is this attitude that has resulted in having a durable peace process instead of a lasting and permanent peace. Peace and security will stem not from territorial aggrandizement but from regional acceptance — and make no mistake about it, we Palestinians are the key to regional acceptance of Israel. For years now, the Arab world from Morocco to Muscat has been ready to recognize the existence of Israel if it withdraws back from its expanded 1967 borders. The perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is due not to the Arab rejection of Israeli existence, but to the Israeli rejection of Arab acceptance.
The absence of a credible diplomatic avenue has allowed for the emergence and the strengthening of radical movements. The electoral defeat of Fatah in January 2006 was caused by a plurality of factors, not least of them the fact that Fatah became identified with negotiations and a peace process that was non-existent for the last six years and totally unconvincing during the years preceding. To the Palestinians, the last 15 years of “peacemaking” were years during which we witnessed the expansion of the occupation — with the number of settlers doubling — not a withdrawal from the occupation.
Now, however, there is a chance to move beyond this history. As a result of the agreement reached last week in Mecca, the Palestinian government will be more representative than at any period before. The new foreign minister, Ziad Abu Amr, both enjoys the confidence of Hamas and is a political friend of Mahmoud Abbas — who as PLO chairman is charged with negotiating on behalf of the Palestinian people and as P.A. president has prerogative over the conduct of foreign affairs.
Both Fatah and Hamas are in favor of a cease-fire, for which they can now ensure disciplined Palestinian adherence — especially if it is reciprocated by the Israeli side and extended to the West Bank, where alas we have recently witnessed an escalation in assassinations and arrests. And in Mecca, Hamas and Fatah agreed that the Palestinian government will honor all agreements signed by the PLO, will abide by all the resolutions of previous Arab summits and will base its activity on international law.
The term “honor,” rest assured, has as much a ring of nobility to it in Arabic — if not more — as it does in any other language.
A territory that was occupied in 1967 in less than six days can also be evacuated in six days — so that Israelis can rest on the seventh, and we can all finally engage in the fascinating journey of nation-building and economic recovery.
Afif Safieh is head of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission to the United States.
By Reed Eurchuk
Israel's government recently appointed Avigdor Lieberman its Minister of External Threats, more accurately known as its Minister of Fear. Like countless authoritarian politicians before him, Lieberman employs the rhetoric of violent racist fantasies, blood identification, and fear of a threatening "other." Lieberman has called upon Israel to bomb the Aswan Dam to punish Egypt for supporting the PLO; he has called for the drowning of Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli gulag; and he has suggested Arab-Israeli politicians should be shot if they speak with representatives of the governing Palestinian party, Hamas. How does such a throwback to brutish coarse fascism find a powerful place within Israel's government? How does a country portrayed in our media as a democratic, tolerant, open society throw up such a barbarian? As renowned Israeli historian Ilan Pappe recently said, "The problem with Avigdor Lieberman is not his own views, but the fact that he reflects what most Israeli Jews think."
What’s it like inside?
Israeli violence in Gaza, the West Bank, and southern Lebanon diverts our attention from life within Israel itself. The violence Israel imposes upon its neighbours originates from a society that defines itself on the basis of blood, religion, and military might. In Toward An Open Tomb, Michel Warschawski writes, "Systematic dehumanization of a colonized people inevitably leads to dehumanization of the colonizers and their society.” Warshawski points to rising intolerance, racism and violence within Israel as symptomatic of the violence Israel inflicts on its neighbours, especially the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. His is one of a number of recent books written by Israelis that expose religious and race-based policies within Israel itself.
Susan Nathan moved to Israel from England under the ''right of return” guaranteed all Jews regardless of their place of birth. Shocked by the depth of segregation and discrimination within Israel, she set to work for the civil rights of the Israeli Arab population. In her book, The Other Side of Israel, she investigates and documents the structures in place within Israel that ensure Israeli Arabs do not have the same resources and opportunities available for them that Israeli Jews have.
The Israeli state does not serve all its citizens equally. Israel calls itself a "Jewish and democratic state," and its Jewish majority population receives services, opportunities, and privileges not available to its Palestinian, Druze, and Bedouin minorities, who comprise about 17% of the population living within Israel's pre-1967 boundaries. Israel appears more eager to help a Jew from North America to relocate to Israel than it is to attend to the medical, educational, water, or housing needs of its Arab populations. As Bernard Avishai wrote in an article in Harper's Magazine, when he immigrated to Israel in 1972, "All I had to do was prove myself a Jew by birth," and "I was given a virtually interest-free mortgage to buy an apartment" in occupied Palestine.
Land development: in the details
Avishai benefitted from a complicated land system unique to Israel. Much of the land within Israel is owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a private organization whose charter explicitly forbids leasing or renting land to Israeli Arabs. Most of the rest of the land is managed by the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), but as Nathan explains, "even here the JNF is really pulling the strings. The [JNF] nominates half the members of the ILA's governing council, thereby determining the policies of the ILA too." So explicit ethnic and religious criteria limit Arab-Israeli access to land within Israel. Try to imagine a Canada where such criteria determined the right to purchase or use land. Is there any other word for such an arrangement other than racist?
And while a Jewish North American will get a lot of assistance to relocate to Israel, an Israeli of Arab descent, whose family could trace their lineage within Palestine to the distant past, finds roadblocks in his or her path to simply build a new addition on their own home. Nathan, who lives in an Arab village in Israel, gives a number of illustrations of how this discriminatory practice plays out. One of her neighbours "tried to get a building permit to build on family owned land. Planning authorities refused him, so he built a place anyway. Now to ward off demolition he is forced to pay heavy fines."
From the beginning
Again, this discrimination is legal under Israeli law; it is structured into the Israeli state. Nathan explains that, under the 1965 Planning and Building Law, "a master plan for all of Israel," "the state decided that . . . 123 Arab communities" and towns not on the list ceased to exist as far as the government was concerned. Nathan goes on, "In the case of every community they listed, Jewish and Arab, they set down a border for its development, what they called blue lines. In the case of Arab communities, these were drawn tightly around the houses, so there was no room left for development. In the case of Jewish communities, they were drawn loosely, so there was plenty of space for them to expand and develop." In 1967, the Knesset passed the Law of Agricultural Settlement that prohibited the subletting of the Jewish-owned land of the JNF to non-Jews. In his new book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe gives a statistical measure of the results of these racist policies: "The Palestinian minority in Israel, seventeen per cent of the total population after ethnic cleansing, has been forced to make do with just three per cent of the land. They are allowed to build and live on only two per cent of the land; the remaining one per cent was defined as agricultural land which cannot be built upon. In other words, today 1.3 million people live on that two per cent."
Nathan cites statistics regarding educational funding for Arab versus Jewish students in Israel. In 2004, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics published figures from 2001, which show that "[e]ach Arab student in Israel received resources (after teachers' salaries had been excluded) of 105 pounds a year, less than a quarter of the 485 pounds spent on Jewish pupils in secular state schools." Students at Jewish religious schools get even more money from the state. Some social welfare services are also prejudiced against Arab-Israelis because some of them are predicated on service in the military, which most Arab-Israelis are not allowed to join. Water resources are also monopolized for the Jewish majority to the detriment of the Arab minority.
In Blood and Religion, Jonathan Cook focuses on the mistreatment of Arab people living within Israel, but he emphasizes what he calls the "Battle of the Numbers." According to Cook, Israel's fear of its growing Arab population motivates much of its policy making. For example, a recent amendment to its Nationality Law of 1952, known as the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, "discriminated against hundreds of Arab citizens recently married or preparing to marry a Palestinian from the occupied territories" as it effectively "banned marriages between Israelis and Palestinians." And Cook follows many others in saying Israel's recent evacuation of its colonists from Gaza had more to do with "disposing of an unwanted Palestinian population estimated at about 1.3 million, more than a quarter of all the Palestinians who fell under its rule." Demographic considerations, not a search for peace, led to the decision.
Warschawski sees the root of Israel's racist society in its Zionist ideology. "For Zionists . . . the only normal society is an ethnically homogeneous society. Excluding those who are different [and] racism. . . are natural phenomena that express society's need to expel any alien element." Pappe would agree, and he locates this race-based ideology at the root of Zionism. He quotes a passage from the diary of Theodor Herzl, a father of Zionism, which states, "We shall endeavour to expel the poor population across the border unnoticed, procuring employment for it in the transit countries, but denying it any employment in our own country." And he quotes a public speech made by Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion: "If the Arabs in Israel form 40 per cent of the population, this is the end of the Jewish state. . . . But 20 per cent is also a problem. If the relationship with these 20 per cent becomes problematic, the state is entitled to employ extreme measures."
The Israeli establishment's fear of its Palestinian minority continues to this day. Writing in the well-known Israeli liberal daily, Ha'aretz in 2002, and quoted in Cook's book, Israel's Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's military chief of staff during much of the second intifada, wrote that, "When you are attacked externally, you can see the attack, you are wounded. Cancer, on the other hand, is something internal. Therefore, I find it more disturbing, because here the diagnosis is critical . . . . My professional diagnosis is that there is a phenomenon here that constitutes an existential threat." So, for Ya'alon, the Israeli-Palestinian population is a threat, a “cancer” imperiling Israel's existence. It is in this context that Lieberman's threats of “voluntary transfer,” i.e., the further ethnic cleansing of Palestinians within Israel, must be taken seriously.
Guess who is described above?
See PEW RESEARCH CENTER FOR THE PEOPLE & THE PRESS
FEBRUARY 2007 POLITICAL SURVEY - PDF
By James Brooks
Who is not happy to see movement in the old dead limbs of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? The Bush administration wants to give the Palestinians a “diplomatic horizon”, and that must be better than “diplomatic isolation, economic blockade, and military occupation”.
Israeli PM Olmert, PA President Abbas, and US Secretary of State Rice will meet in Jerusalem next week for a summit. They may not actually discuss peace, but at least they’ll talk about the peace process. That will give folks back home a bit of good news, a welcome break from the war process. Maybe the old sentimental magic will work one more time: “The US has got the Israelis and Palestinians talking to each other. Perhaps the world is looking up!”
In a universe more proximate to reality, Olmert’s poll numbers have been in the tank since Israel’s atrocious, inept, and illegal war on Lebanon last summer. Now he’s the subject of a police probe into multiple allegations of abuse of office. Like past Israeli prime ministers in a tight spot, Olmert seeks the rituals of the peace process to restore his respectability and importance and give his ratings a sorely needed boost.
Olmert is being encouraged by Bush, who owes him one. In December, Olmert wanted to squeeze his peace process juice from Syrian President Assad’s offer of unconditional bi-lateral talks. Bush told him it was out of the question.
But Bush needs the peace process hoodoo just as much as Olmert does, if not more. So the US has become uncharacteristically “engaged in the process”, as if it could finally pull off some diplomacy in the Middle East that actually looks like diplomacy.
Once the image hits the brain, however, we see this “push for peace” is merely “pushing peace”, like selling a drug that takes the public to a Neverland where the military occupation of Iraq accomplishes its liberation.
Originally, the upcoming summit was billed as the kickoff for ‘final status’ negotiations. In preparation, Olmert announced that he would refuse to discuss Jerusalem, withdrawal to Israel’s borders, and the rights of Palestinian refugees. This goes beyond ‘non-starter’—it hides the keys to the car.
Even if Olmert was willing to be serious, he is too weak and vulnerable at home to lead Israel, inevitably kicking and screaming, into an agreement with the Palestinians. If he’s convicted of any of the current allegations he could wind up behind bars.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has his own mountain of political troubles, although graft is not one of them. Last week in Mecca his fractious Fateh party pledged to end months of street warfare with the majority Hamas party. Their accord requires the reassembly of the Palestinian Authority government, a process that has just begun and is not certain of success.
In normal diplomacy, you don’t launch negotiations when one of the parties is between governments. But that’s the wonderful thing about the vicious war on the Palestinians. They’re almost always ready to come to talks, whenever Israel and the US find it convenient to stage them.
The Israelis don’t even have to stop their daily kidnapping raids in the West Bank, or cease their relentless expansion of illegal settlements, or allow Palestinians back into the Jordan Valley, a huge chunk of the West Bank they have now virtually annexed. Israel can even use the extra diplomatic space its gains by being “ready to talk” to stage a major provocation or two.
Right on cue comes a blatantly illegal excavation and renovation project at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, with Olmert’s enthusiastic support. Maneuvers like these are designed to humiliate, inciting Palestinian anger that can be used to undermine the peace process.
An adroit Israeli prime minister can earn points for starting an episode of the peace process, and more points for ending it. By excluding the major issues before the summit begins, Olmert has ensured its failure, which will restore his right-wing Likud roots, soothe the noxious settlers, and win his ultimate Zionist badge of honor—for refusing to yield land and rights stolen from the Palestinians.
The US is bringing its own deal-killers to the summit. Advisors to Mr. Abbas have been told the US will not deal with any party in the new Palestinian government, because it will fall short of demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept past agreements. The US will speak only with Mr. Abbas and his office.
This expanded boycott may seriously undermine the rocky effort to put together the unity government, pushing occupied Palestine back into chaos in pursuit of the same failed policy.
Elliot Abrams, the “last neocon standing” in the Bush administration, has been encouraging and arming Fateh to crush Hamas for a year now. The result? A unity government agreement.
The US-enforced financial blockade against the PA has succeeded only in wrecking the Palestinians’ economy and social services and deepening their already alarming poverty.
But the US is undeterred by the rotten fruit of its policies. Now it says that Abbas must convince Hamas to knuckle under!
Remarkably, the Quartet (Russia, EU, UN, US) continues to support this pointless campaign to overturn a free and fair election. But there are signs the unanimity won’t last forever. Saudi Arabia, always among the wisest voices on this issue, is now poised to ignore the boycott and resume its financial aid to the PA.
Beset by failures, the Bush team needs the peace process in order to save face. They also need something that makes them look reasonable, even good, while they join Israel in whipping the dogs of war toward Iran. This is why they want to give the Palestinians a "diplomatic horizon", not a deal they can accept.
This “horizon” is like the physical horizon facing millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, where the field of view now terminates at a concrete wall, or an electric fence bordered by razor wire and electronic sensors. It is the horizon of a prison, like the Gaza Strip, where the people remain incarcerated within Israel’s elaborate system of multiple fences and naval patrols, and suffer malnutrition thanks to Israel’s iron grip on their border crossings. Israeli officials say all this will remain in any ‘final status’ with the Palestinians.
In the summit’s final act, US and Israeli leaders will probably unite to dismiss the Palestinian position as “unrealistic”, even “provocative”, no matter how closely it resembles international law, UN Security Council resolutions, and the right to armed resistance to illegal military occupation. The Bush gang may even use the failure as an excuse to escalate its war on Hamas.
Welcome to the peace process.
James Brooks serves as webmaster for Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (www.vtjp.org). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Summary of CNI Foundation "Public Hearing" with Jeff Halper and Naim Ateek
By Carlton Cobb
February 16, 2007
Two Israeli peace activists told an audience in Washington, DC, this week that, as long as current Israeli policies continue, a real two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is increasingly unlikely and perhaps impossible. The speakers were the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder and director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, and Jeff Halper, founder and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Halper and Ateek spoke at the National Press Club on Monday, February 12th, 2007, at the CNI Foundation's 22nd "public hearing" to bring a much-needed debate about U.S. Middle East policy to Washington, DC.
A streaming video of the event can be seen online at the following website: http://www.archive.org/details/Is_the_Two-State_Solution_Still_Possible
Halper stated that his background as an anthropologist taught him to see things "from the ground up" and to "go where the field takes him," even if it means he has to ocasionally admit that he is wrong. As a peace activist, Halper said he believes that while a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an article of faith among Israelis, Palestinians, and virtually every other party involved or interested in the conflict, activists should admit that such an outcome is no longer possible because of Israel's policy of apartheid in the territories. He said that this position has made him a pariah among American groups, such as Americans for Peace Now and the Foundation for Middle East Peace, who refuse to host him for public talks.
In short, Halper said that the two-state solution is a "political program based on wishful thinking." He said he defines the word "apartheid" the same way as Jimmy Carter does in his book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid": a separation of populations in which one people structurally and conceptually dominates the other permanently. One difference between Israeli apartheid and that of South Africa, Halper notes, is that Israel "feels like it can finesse a bantustan [for the Palestinians] in a way that South Africa could not."
As evidence he pointed to what he calls Israel's "matrix of control" in the occupied territories. The population of the Jewish-only settlements has more than doubled since Yasser Arafat's PLO recognized Israel, and thus endorsed the two-state solution, in 1988. The wall, the military checkpoints, and Israeli "bypass roads" criss-cross the West Bank and allow settlers easy travel, while carving up the territory and preventing Palestinian freedom of movement. Halper hinted at an alternative solution to the two-state model, which he calls a "two-stage" solution, based on an economic federation of Israel/Palestine and neighboring states.
Rev. Ateek cited scripture's command to "do justice and love mercy" as a reason why he once advocated for one state in Palestine, where, he said, "Jews, Muslims, and Christians can live together democratically." Later, he said he came to see that a one-state solution "may not be fair for a Jewish state," but that "a 'Jewish state' cannot be democratic." As a Palestinian Christian, he argued that, in the same way, an Islamic state in Palestine would not be democratic for the Christian minority. A one-state solution to the conflict would represent "justice without mercy."
As long as the final outcome is based on prior UN Security Council resolutions and international law, Ateek said that he would support a two-state solution. Specifically, he said that any solution must address the current disconnect between nationality and citizenship in the conflict. For example, he argued that Palestinians who live in Israel with Israeli citizenship, like himself, are not considered part of Israeli society, just as Israeli settlers living in the West Bank do not consider themselves Palestinian. He stated that he would tell the Israeli settlers, under any future agreement, "You are welcome to become Palestinians," but that until then, they are living illegally on Palestinian land. Any arrangement that takes justice and mercy as its basis must "protect the sovereignty of both states," which includes keeping "Palestinians secure from encroachment from their more powerful neighbor."
The event was sponsored by the Council for the National Interest Foundation and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace. The moderator was Dr. Mark Braverman, board member of the Washington Interfaith Alliance on Middle East Peace and board member of Partners for Peace.
Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1
Washington, District of Columbia 20024
By Mike Whitney
The Bush foreign policy is predicated on one simple axiom: “We will stop the world’s most dangerous men from getting their hands on the world’s most dangerous weapons”. By that standard, Bush’s dealings with North Korea have been a wretched failure. After 6 years of fruitless saber rattling and belligerence, the North detonated a nuclear bomb in early October and put region on notice that there’s a new member in the nuclear weapons club.
For the time being, only South Korea and Japan are within range of the North’s missile systems, but as the technology improves the Taepodong 2 will eventually be capable of hitting mainland U.S.A. The bottom line is that the American people are considerably less safe with a nuclear armed DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) than they were before.
The Bush administration has had ample time to take steps to negotiate a settlement between the two traditional adversaries. Instead, they chose to aggravate the situation by trying to topple the regime by freezing bank accounts and enforcing punitive “unilateral” sanctions.
Unsurprisingly, Bush’s ham-fisted tactics have produced the opposite result of what was intended. The North rushed ahead with its research and quickly figured out the basic elements of nuclear bomb-production allowing the madcap dictator in the oversized sun-glasses to build a stockpile of between 6 to 12 nuclear weapons. Now the entire region is on tenterhooks and frantically trying to cobble together a diplomatic solution.
The Bush administration has stubbornly refused to sit down in one-on-one negotiations with the North. Their refusal was supposed to send a message that the U.S. is just “too important” to engage a vassal state like North Korea in serious dialogue. Bush further strained relations by including the North on its “axis of evil” list which includes the states that the US has designated as targets for regime change.
Additionally, Vice President Cheney delivered a blunt warning to Kim in a speech he delivered early last year. He said, “We don’t negotiate with evil; we defeat it.”
What could be clearer?
Given the administration’s blatant hostility, Kim Jung Il did what any leader would do if they were facing a similar existential threat; he developed a credible deterrent to US aggression, nuclear weapons. His research was undoubtedly hurried along by Bush’s bellicosity.
Immediately following October’s nuclear blast, the Bush administration reversed its policy and sent a messenger to the North Korean Embassy to see if they would be willing to conduct secret “bilateral” negotiations in Berlin. Bush was desperately trying to avoid the appearance that he had completely caved in on a matter of principle, but the facts are not in dispute. Bush’s sudden U-turn is just another unfortunate humiliation for the country.
The Bush public relations team is trying to spin the new agreement as a “breakthrough”. But there is no breakthrough. Bush has capitulated on all the main issues. It’s a terrible deal and that’s why so many conservatives are enraged and spewing their anger in the newspapers.
The agreement will remove the North from the State Department’s list of terrorist states and provide 50,000 tons of fuel oil just for shutting down its Yongbyon reactor. But that won’t address the north’s clandestine nuclear program or Kim’s nuclear weapons stockpile. In fact, these are not even on the table!
Just months ago Bush rejected the same deal saying, “We will never agree to blackmail”.
My, how things change once a country gets nukes.
The present agreement is worse than the “Agreed Framework” which was initiated by Bill Clinton in 1994 and which was universally repudiated by Republicans and the conservative think tanks. Nicholas Eberstadt of the far-right American Enterprise Institute summarized it like this:
“This is substantially worse than the Agreed Framework… The (original) agreement attempted to freeze everything that we knew about the DPRK’s activities and probe their good faith. Now, we have agreed to a deal that only freezes part, at most, of North Korea’s nuclear activities for a much higher price then the earlier agreement, with a regime that we know operates in bad faith on nuclear deals.”
Eberstadt is right. Every part of the agreement favors the North. The United States and its allies will have to provide 50,000 tons of fuel oil just for the privilege of sitting down at the bargaining table with the DPRK diplomats. Shutting down Yongbyon is utterly meaningless; that doesn’t tell us where the secret uranium enrichment program is located and that is the fuel-source for the Kim’s nuclear weapons.
There’s no chance that the administration will persuade the North to “denuclearize” (the administration’s word du jour). Kim knows that the real objective of US policy is regime change and that guarantees that he will never give up his nukes. Instead, he plans to use the upcoming negotiations as a means of extorting more concessions from Bush and the allies. Next, he’s expected to demand electrical power from South Korea, additional food and medicine, and the light-water reactor which was promised by Clinton. All the while, his nukes will remain safely tucked away beyond reach; his only real bargaining chip.
The real danger in Bush’s policy-turnabout is the message that it sends to Iran and any other country who wants to improve its prospects vis a vis the United States. If Iran had any doubts that it needs nuclear weapons to fend off the US; those doubts have been removed.
Bush’s blundering foreign policy has dealt a withering blow to nuclear nonproliferation and paved the way for a 21st century arms race. This is a bad deal all around and only underscores one basic truism:
On February 1, 2007 Senator Hillary Clinton prostituted we the people of America in her pandering address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee/AIPAC. Senator Clinton claimed, "Both Israelis and Americans know so well, a democracy is far more than just holding elections. Democracy has to spring from an active and open citizenry dedicated to tolerance, to respect for differences, to the rule of law, to policies that lift us up not tear us down as fellow human beings, and to the value of human life."
American Israeli, a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, the Founder and Coordinator of ICAHD/Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions has consistently affirmed that, "Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control." [Chapter 2, Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory]
When Israel became a state in 1948, it was contingent upon upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees in Article 13 that:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Israel encourages any Jew without any pre-existing historical tie to the land to migrate under the Law of Return and all receive immediate citizenship and all rights and privileges including state-financed language and Jewish history immersion, free and subsidized housing, job placement and welfare assistance while seeking employment, medical, dental and other benefits.
Israel abetted by USA blind allegiance has blatantly refused to uphold UN Resolution 194, which guarantees the Right of Return-or compensation to the indigenous population which was forced from their homes in 1948 and 1967. Clinton is unmoved by the facts on the ground that the indigenous peoples of that land have been denied human rights and dignity and that they are illegally dominated and oppressed with the aid of USA's "$1.8 billion a year in military aid and $1.2 billion in economic aid, plus another $1 billion or so in miscellaneous grants, mostly in military supplies, from various U.S. agencies. Tax exempt contributions destined to Israel bring up the total to over $5 billion annually." [Page 24, Understanding the Palestine-Israeli Conflict, Dr. Phyllis Bennis. www.tari.org ]
Clinton continued to satisfy the ignoble lusts of AIPAC as she continued to deny the truth, "Israel is a beacon of what's right in a neighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism. We need only look to one of Israel's greatest threats: namely, Iran. Make no mistake, Iran poses a threat not only to Israel, but to the entire Middle East and beyond… U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal. We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. And in dealing with this threat as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table."
On Feb. 10, 2007, Dr. Phyllis Bennis, a secular Jew, journalist, prolific author, Mid East analyst and Co-founder and Co-Chair of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation stated, "Iran has signed the NPT, which allows them the right to have nuclear power and to enrich uranium. The 185 non-nuclear states have agreed to give up the right to have nuclear weapons and the five nuclear powers that signed the NPT agreed to get rid of their nuclear weapons... Iran is not in violation of the NPT, but America is! The USA has been in violation ever since the day they signed it. The USA is acting like a rogue state. The rhetoric out of Washington, the arresting of Iranian diplomats in Iraq , are deliberate provocations hoping that the Iranians will take the bait and respond." [WAWA blog Feb. 13, 2007]
At her AIPAC fundraiser, Clinton continued her pimping and denial of the facts on the ground, "We also know that the dangers posed to Israel have been compounded by the rise to power of Hamas, an avowed terrorist group that has assumed the reigns of the government in the Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah, the terrorist group that is represented in the Lebanese government. I have long said that Hamas must not be recognized until it renounces violence and terror and recognizes Israel's right to exist…Hamas terror campaigns have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians and its leaders have refused to disarm, to reject violence, or even to recognize the right of Israel to exist. We must insist that Hamas and indeed all Palestinian parties renounce terror and recognize Israel"
Not only did the Palestinian Authority agree in 1988 to recognize Israel and reaffirmed this in 1993 during the Oslo Accords, Israel instead, persisted in its unabated relentless seizure of Palestinian land and resources.
On November 15, 2005, Senator Hillary Clinton stood on the Jerusalem side of The Wall and was quoted in Ha'aretz, expressing support for The Wall because it "is against terrorists" and "not against the Palestinian people."
Senator Clinton,-as most of Congress- have NOT ventured to the other side of The Wall to view the economic and psychological effects of The Wall, which has been deemed illegal and must come down by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. [I addressed this in detail in MEMOIRS of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory ]
After reading Senator Clinton's inaccurate, insensitive and pandering remarks in Ha'aretz, I immediately contacted her through her website, but my email bounced back, for I am no longer a New York constituent. This really got my Irish up, for unlike Senator Clinton, I was born and bred in New York and I am more New York than Hillary will ever be.
Not being one to ever give up, I then snail mailed Hillary a respectful letter expressing my distress over her obvious pandering and blatant denial of International Law and informed her of the many gaps and lack of 'security' along The illegal Wall that I knew about from my visits to Israel Palestine in June 2005 and in January, March and November 2006. Every taxi driver, would be 'terrorist' and I knew the way into Jerusalem from Bethlehem without going through security checkpoints and The Terminal.
The only response I received from Senator Clinton was to be put on the DNC's mailing list soliciting funds.
Clinton has continued to fuel the fire of my Irish ire during her hustling of AIPAC votes: "I was deeply saddened and outraged by the suicide bombing in Eilat this week. Some are saying that Eilat was bombed because Israeli's efforts at self-defense through its security fence have been so successful. But Eilat is a tragic reminder of the threats that Israel faces everyday and underscores the importance of our continued support for Israel's right to protect and defend her people. The highest priority of any government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens and that is why, as I have said, I've been a strong supporter of Israel's right to build a security barrier to keep terrorists out. I have spoken out against the International Court of Justice for questioning Israel's right to build that fence of security."
If The Wall were actually built on Israeli land, Clinton could get a pass on her procuring of Jewish votes, but a map of The Wall super-imposed upon Palestinian aquifers clearly illuminates that The Wall is all about grabbing land and resources from the indigenous peoples of that land.
Reported in the august, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, "Financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile, the Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families' sole livelihood for generations." [Page 43, Jan/Feb. 2007]
In Jeff Halper's April 2005 edition of Obstacles to Peace, A Re-Framing of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, he wrote, “Missing from Israel’s security framing is the very fact of occupation, which Israel both denies exists…and that “security” requires Israel control over the entire country…rendering impossible a just peace based on human rights, international law, reconciliation.” [Page 1]
During one of my four interviews with Jeff, he told me this joke:
“The Israeli government simply does not want to take responsibility and the USA government ignores the situation. Do you know why Israel does not want to become America’s 51st state? Because then they would only have two senators!"
They certainly have one vocal demimondaine and ultimate craving consummate pandering politician who is currently lusting for the American Presidency.
February 12, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative
Implanting radio ID tags in U.S. passports makes stealing personal data easier than ever.
by William Norman Grigg
Information-security expert Lukas Grunwald is not reluctant to share his opinion of the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that is now a mandatory security feature of American passports. “This whole design is totally brain damaged,” Grunwald told Wired magazine. “From my point of view all of these RFID passports are a huge waste of money. They’re not increasing security at all.” RFID chips or tags are tiny data storage units, generally the size of a grain of rice, equipped with radio transmitters. The new “e-passports” issued by the U.S. government have a passive RFID chip embedded in the back containing personal information, including a digitized photograph and, in the future, a fingerprint. The chip is activated by passing it in front of a reading mechanism that transmits the appropriate radio signal. Under a U.S. law passed in 2002, the 27 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program—most of them European—are required to install RFID chips in their passports. U.S. citizens returning from abroad must now present a passport to customs officers, and since Jan. 1, 2007, the U.S. government has issued e-passports to Americans renewing travel documents or obtaining them for the first time. The State Department insists that the new digitized passports are more secure. Experts like Lukas Grunwald strongly beg to differ. During last August’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Grunwald, a consultant with DN-Systems Enterprise Solutions in Germany, demonstrated the ease with which the RFID-enhanced e-passports can be hacked and cloned. Along with an associate named Christian Bottger, Grunwald developed a cloning program that can duplicate an e-passport’s digital information in roughly five minutes using an RFID reader he purchased on eBay. The cloned passport chip is completely indistinguishable from the genuine article. Grunwald was neither the first nor the only techie to expose the vulnerabilities of e-passports. In January 2006, the Dutch security firm Riscure conducted a similar experiment for “Nieuwslicht,” a television news program in the Netherlands. Using a personal computer and a commercially available radio receiver, Riscure was able to read the digital information of a prototype Dutch e-passport (which uses the same RFID chip and encryption scheme as the new U.S. passports) from a distance of about 30 centimeters. With that information, Riscure cracked the e-passport’s password in roughly two hours and thus gained full access to the RFID chip’s contents, including a digital picture, fingerprint, and other personal information. “Nearly every country issuing this passport has a few security experts who are yelling out … ‘This is not secure,’” Grunwald points out. “This is not a good idea to use this technology.’” British computer security expert Adam Laurie of Bunker Secure Hosting expresses that view in more colorful terms, comparing the supposedly ultra-secure e-passport system to “installing a solid steel front door to your house and then putting the key under the mat.” Laurie himself has rigged a device that can swipe an e-passport’s information from a distance of slightly less than eight centimeters. That distance is “enough if your target subject is sitting next to you on the London Underground or crushed up against you on the Gatwick Airport monorail, his pocketed passport next to the reader you have hidden in a bag,” writes Steven Boggan of London’s Guardian. A technical study performed in 2005 demonstrated that it’s possible to eavesdrop on an RFID passport from greater distances. Using an electronic “leech,” researchers were able to read personal data from about 50 centimeters and then relay it to a second device called a “ghost” up to 50 meters away. A relay system of this sort in a crowded travel node—an airport, bus station, or subway—would make it possible for information thieves to harvest countless digital profiles from e-passports. What use could be made of a cloned e-passport? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply steal a physical passport, as defenders of the new system maintain? According to Grunwald, the biometric features that supposedly make the RFID-enhanced passport more secure may actually benefit terrorists, smugglers, and others in the market for phony travel documents, in large part because those features make stealing physical passports unnecessary. Although a cloned chip cannot be altered to add new biometric information, such as a new fingerprint, Grunwald contends that there are “established ways of making forged fingerprints” that can fool automated security systems. And electronically stored photographs would pose only minor obstacles to terrorists. As the Guardian’s Steve Boggan points out, “if a terrorist bore a slight resemblance to you—and grew a beard, perhaps—he would have a good chance of getting through a border. Because his chip is cloned, with the necessary digital signatures, and because you have not reported your passport stolen—you still have it!—his machine-readable travel document will get him wherever he wants to go, using your identity.” The potential usefulness of e-passports to terrorists goes well beyond merely making identity theft easier. Some privacy advocates and business groups are concerned that the new U.S. passports will leave Americans more vulnerable to violent crime abroad—from petty theft to kidnapping to murder. The Business Travel Coalition worries that the RFID-equipped passports “will put American business travelers at risk of identity theft and physical harm.” Greeley Koch, president of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, seconds that criticism. “The thought that your travel documents could be broadcasting your nationality to those with an interest in harming U.S. citizens is bad enough,” states Koch. “But it could also be pinpointing likely targets for pickpockets, thieves, and even providing information to steal.” In a paper submitted to the State Department two years ago, information security experts Ari Jules, David Molnar, and David Wagner describe some terrifying potential uses for stolen e-passport data. One possibility is that captured data would “enable the construction of ‘American-sniffing’ bombs, since U.S. e-passports [do] not use encryption to protect confidentiality of data.” Another “unpleasant prospect,” as the authors put it, is the advent of an “‘RFID-enabled bomb,’ an explosive device that is keyed to explode at [a] particular individual’s RFID reading.” In an April 4, 2005 submission to the State Department’s Office of Passport Policy, representatives of six privacy and cyber-security advocacy groups protested that “the proposed RFID passport unjustifiably endangers passport holders’ privacy and creates substantial security and other problems.” They also pointed out that the State Department had no statutory authority to issue the e-passport. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 mandates that the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program upgrade their passports with RFID technology, but as the State Department admits, “the United States is not mandated to comply” with that provision. So in addition to making American citizens and their travel documents less secure, the e-passport program is technically illegal. Why did Washington make the program’s creation such an urgent priority? At least part of the answer is corrupt corporatist profiteering. The watchdog group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) obtained a December 2004 memo from the General Services Administration urging federal agency heads to engage in something akin to what the film industry calls “product placement” advertising on behalf of RFID technology. The GSA, which administers federal procurement policies, instructed agency heads “to consider action that can be taken to advance the [RFID] industry by demonstrating the long-term intent of the agency to adopt RFID technological solutions. … [A]gencies need to determine how to best implement RFID technology on current or proposed contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements.” Since that time, notes CASPIAN, “major RFID initiatives have been publicized by a number of government agencies, including Social Security, NASA, the Postal Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, among others.” “Buying needed equipment is one thing,” observes CASPIAN founder Katherine Albrecht, co-author of the RFID exposé Spychips. “Finding excuses to purchase and promote controversial technology at taxpayer expense is another.” Former Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge embodies the nexus between the growing RFID industry and the thriving federal Homeland Security apparatus. In April 2005, Ridge joined the board of directors at Savi Technology, a Silicon Valley RFID firm. A few months later, Tommy Thompson, who had been George W. Bush’s first-term Secretary of Health and Human Services, joined the board of Applied Digital, which manufactures human-implantable “VeriChip” RFID tags containing medical information and other personal data. Thompson did his part to promote the technology by “getting chipped” in his arm. In countries like Mexico and Brazil, where kidnapping is rampant, thousands of people have been chipped as a personal security measure. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, among others, has suggested that laborers migrating to the United States for seasonal work should be implanted with microchips, a suggestion that found favor with some immigration reformers on Capitol Hill. Two years ago, Brittain Elementary School in Sutter, California, mandated that all its students carry an RFID tag. All of these developments and proposals may herald an era of what the Scientific American calls “Human Inventory Control,” an inescapable worldwide system of digital surveillance and pervasive personal insecurity. The architects of that system are already positioning themselves to cash in.
“This whole design is totally brain damaged,” Grunwald told Wired magazine. “From my point of view all of these RFID passports are a huge waste of money. They’re not increasing security at all.”
RFID chips or tags are tiny data storage units, generally the size of a grain of rice, equipped with radio transmitters. The new “e-passports” issued by the U.S. government have a passive RFID chip embedded in the back containing personal information, including a digitized photograph and, in the future, a fingerprint. The chip is activated by passing it in front of a reading mechanism that transmits the appropriate radio signal.
Under a U.S. law passed in 2002, the 27 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program—most of them European—are required to install RFID chips in their passports. U.S. citizens returning from abroad must now present a passport to customs officers, and since Jan. 1, 2007, the U.S. government has issued e-passports to Americans renewing travel documents or obtaining them for the first time. The State Department insists that the new digitized passports are more secure. Experts like Lukas Grunwald strongly beg to differ.
During last August’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Grunwald, a consultant with DN-Systems Enterprise Solutions in Germany, demonstrated the ease with which the RFID-enhanced e-passports can be hacked and cloned. Along with an associate named Christian Bottger, Grunwald developed a cloning program that can duplicate an e-passport’s digital information in roughly five minutes using an RFID reader he purchased on eBay. The cloned passport chip is completely indistinguishable from the genuine article.
Grunwald was neither the first nor the only techie to expose the vulnerabilities of e-passports. In January 2006, the Dutch security firm Riscure conducted a similar experiment for “Nieuwslicht,” a television news program in the Netherlands. Using a personal computer and a commercially available radio receiver, Riscure was able to read the digital information of a prototype Dutch e-passport (which uses the same RFID chip and encryption scheme as the new U.S. passports) from a distance of about 30 centimeters. With that information, Riscure cracked the e-passport’s password in roughly two hours and thus gained full access to the RFID chip’s contents, including a digital picture, fingerprint, and other personal information.
“Nearly every country issuing this passport has a few security experts who are yelling out … ‘This is not secure,’” Grunwald points out. “This is not a good idea to use this technology.’” British computer security expert Adam Laurie of Bunker Secure Hosting expresses that view in more colorful terms, comparing the supposedly ultra-secure e-passport system to “installing a solid steel front door to your house and then putting the key under the mat.”
Laurie himself has rigged a device that can swipe an e-passport’s information from a distance of slightly less than eight centimeters. That distance is “enough if your target subject is sitting next to you on the London Underground or crushed up against you on the Gatwick Airport monorail, his pocketed passport next to the reader you have hidden in a bag,” writes Steven Boggan of London’s Guardian.
A technical study performed in 2005 demonstrated that it’s possible to eavesdrop on an RFID passport from greater distances. Using an electronic “leech,” researchers were able to read personal data from about 50 centimeters and then relay it to a second device called a “ghost” up to 50 meters away. A relay system of this sort in a crowded travel node—an airport, bus station, or subway—would make it possible for information thieves to harvest countless digital profiles from e-passports.
What use could be made of a cloned e-passport? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply steal a physical passport, as defenders of the new system maintain?
According to Grunwald, the biometric features that supposedly make the RFID-enhanced passport more secure may actually benefit terrorists, smugglers, and others in the market for phony travel documents, in large part because those features make stealing physical passports unnecessary.
Although a cloned chip cannot be altered to add new biometric information, such as a new fingerprint, Grunwald contends that there are “established ways of making forged fingerprints” that can fool automated security systems. And electronically stored photographs would pose only minor obstacles to terrorists. As the Guardian’s Steve Boggan points out, “if a terrorist bore a slight resemblance to you—and grew a beard, perhaps—he would have a good chance of getting through a border. Because his chip is cloned, with the necessary digital signatures, and because you have not reported your passport stolen—you still have it!—his machine-readable travel document will get him wherever he wants to go, using your identity.”
The potential usefulness of e-passports to terrorists goes well beyond merely making identity theft easier. Some privacy advocates and business groups are concerned that the new U.S. passports will leave Americans more vulnerable to violent crime abroad—from petty theft to kidnapping to murder.
The Business Travel Coalition worries that the RFID-equipped passports “will put American business travelers at risk of identity theft and physical harm.” Greeley Koch, president of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, seconds that criticism. “The thought that your travel documents could be broadcasting your nationality to those with an interest in harming U.S. citizens is bad enough,” states Koch. “But it could also be pinpointing likely targets for pickpockets, thieves, and even providing information to steal.”
In a paper submitted to the State Department two years ago, information security experts Ari Jules, David Molnar, and David Wagner describe some terrifying potential uses for stolen e-passport data. One possibility is that captured data would “enable the construction of ‘American-sniffing’ bombs, since U.S. e-passports [do] not use encryption to protect confidentiality of data.” Another “unpleasant prospect,” as the authors put it, is the advent of an “‘RFID-enabled bomb,’ an explosive device that is keyed to explode at [a] particular individual’s RFID reading.”
In an April 4, 2005 submission to the State Department’s Office of Passport Policy, representatives of six privacy and cyber-security advocacy groups protested that “the proposed RFID passport unjustifiably endangers passport holders’ privacy and creates substantial security and other problems.” They also pointed out that the State Department had no statutory authority to issue the e-passport. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 mandates that the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program upgrade their passports with RFID technology, but as the State Department admits, “the United States is not mandated to comply” with that provision.
So in addition to making American citizens and their travel documents less secure, the e-passport program is technically illegal. Why did Washington make the program’s creation such an urgent priority? At least part of the answer is corrupt corporatist profiteering.
The watchdog group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) obtained a December 2004 memo from the General Services Administration urging federal agency heads to engage in something akin to what the film industry calls “product placement” advertising on behalf of RFID technology.
The GSA, which administers federal procurement policies, instructed agency heads “to consider action that can be taken to advance the [RFID] industry by demonstrating the long-term intent of the agency to adopt RFID technological solutions. … [A]gencies need to determine how to best implement RFID technology on current or proposed contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements.”
Since that time, notes CASPIAN, “major RFID initiatives have been publicized by a number of government agencies, including Social Security, NASA, the Postal Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, among others.” “Buying needed equipment is one thing,” observes CASPIAN founder Katherine Albrecht, co-author of the RFID exposé Spychips. “Finding excuses to purchase and promote controversial technology at taxpayer expense is another.”
Former Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge embodies the nexus between the growing RFID industry and the thriving federal Homeland Security apparatus. In April 2005, Ridge joined the board of directors at Savi Technology, a Silicon Valley RFID firm. A few months later, Tommy Thompson, who had been George W. Bush’s first-term Secretary of Health and Human Services, joined the board of Applied Digital, which manufactures human-implantable “VeriChip” RFID tags containing medical information and other personal data. Thompson did his part to promote the technology by “getting chipped” in his arm.
In countries like Mexico and Brazil, where kidnapping is rampant, thousands of people have been chipped as a personal security measure. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, among others, has suggested that laborers migrating to the United States for seasonal work should be implanted with microchips, a suggestion that found favor with some immigration reformers on Capitol Hill. Two years ago, Brittain Elementary School in Sutter, California, mandated that all its students carry an RFID tag.
All of these developments and proposals may herald an era of what the Scientific American calls “Human Inventory Control,” an inescapable worldwide system of digital surveillance and pervasive personal insecurity. The architects of that system are already positioning themselves to cash in.
William Norman Grigg is editor-at-large for the website, The Right Source. (therightsourceonline.com).
An important reminder from Glen Ford that color is only skin deep . . . while imperialism cuts straight to the bone.
"Barack Obama is our son and he deserves our support," declared Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr., speaking to a gathering of Black Democrats at the party's winter meeting, in Washington, earlier this month. By Jones' logic, Condoleezza Rice deserves automatic African American support as "our daughter," and Colin Powell, her predecessor as George Bush's Secretary of State, was due fealty as "our brother."
Jones' embrace of the entire African American family tree must also, therefore, extend to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, the most reactionary, anti-Black member of the High Court; and to "our brother" J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State whose consuming mission in 2004 was to deny the franchise to as many fellow Blacks as possible.
Although the winter meetings are traditionally showcases for candidates to display their positions on the issues of the day, State Sen. Jones saw no need to present his appeal on Obama's behalf in any packaging other than race. In effect, Jones attempted to relieve Obama of any political obligation to Black people. Under Jones' formula, the relationship between the Black office-seeker and the African American public is reversed: it is the people that owe allegiance to the candidate, who is in turn set free to woo groups and promote interests that may be inimical to those of the Black public.
Jones and the larger political current he represents would utterly gut Black politics of all substance, rendering the entire electoral process worthless to the Black masses. Perhaps the greatest irony of Jones' issue-less directive is that it masquerades as a Black empowerment strategy. In a transparent bid to shame Blacks in the Hillary Clinton camp - another political desert - Jones said African Americans don't "owe" anyone. Jones elaborated later, in a conversation with a Chicago Sun-Times reporter. "How long do we have to owe before we have an opportunity to support our son?" he said.
In other words, Black people's "debt" to the Clintons - as if such ever existed - has been paid, and now it's time to herd Black voters behind Obama, like so many cattle. Jones' brand of politics holds that Black people don't have interests or political ideals, only obligations to one politician or the other. In Jones' world, African Americans are constantly indebted, but nobody owes them anything - certainly not Obama, "our son."
The Emil Jones brand of Black politics is based on the assumption that African American aspirations are limited to a simple desire to see Black faces on display in high places, no matter the public policy content of that representation. It is as if emancipation of the slaves could be achieved by moving Ol' Massa out of the Big House, and installing the Black butler in his place, while the conditions of life and labor in the fields remain unchanged. After all, the butler is one of "ours." The slaves should be happy to experience a vicarious freedom, through their "son." Further, it would be downright unfamily-like to pester our own kin about the need for forty acres and a mule per household.
Jones' remarks exemplify an extraordinary vulgarization of African American politics, the product of uncritical, Jim Crow-era reflexes that linger within the Black polity, combined with the growing influence of corporate money in the Black leadership-creation process. The advent of Barack Obama's stealth corporate presidential candidacy could create the conditions for a "perfect storm" that sweeps away what remains of issues-based coherence in Black electoral and institutional politics. Should that occur - and there is much evidence that the unraveling is already well advanced - the collapse of progressive American politics becomes inevitable, a high price to pay for a Black face in the Oval Office.
African Americans will pay a special, historical price if a corporate-molded Black politician becomes the titular leader of an unreconstructed U.S. imperial state - and, make no mistake about it, Barack Obama is an imperialist. No one but a deep-fried imperialist could describe U.S. behavior in Iraq as "coddling" the Iraqis, as Obama said to an establishment foreign policy gathering in Chicago, late last year. His Iraq War De-escalation Act, carefully calibrated to make him appear slightly less belligerent than Hillary Clinton, allows the U.S. to wage war until March 31, 2008, at the very least, and to maintain a military presence in the country thereafter. It is a sham measure, more helpful in buying time for Bush than in encouraging effective dissent.
At his core, Obama is not opposed to U.S. violations of other nations' sovereignty; he simply opposes "dumb wars" - as he told a reporter for the Chicago Reader - meaning, aggressions executed by less-than-bright American Commanders-in-Chief. U.S.-designated "interests," not adherence to international law, are paramount - the fundamental tenet of imperialism.
Of the declared Democratic candidates, only Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich can pass anti-imperialist muster; thus the near-certainty of another imperialist in the White House in 2009. Which brings us to the special price that African Americans will pay if the face of U.S. imperialism, is Black.
The New Face of Aggression
There was a time not that long ago, when the historic struggles of Black Americans for racial equality, decolonization and peace were admired throughout the African Diaspora and beyond. Especially in what was called the Third World, African Americans were perceived as different than the arrogant, racist "ugly Americans" - the whites that strutted around other people's nations as if they owned them. In the early years of the Vietnam War, there were many reports of Viet Cong attempts to spare Black American soldiers' lives, if practical, as an acknowledgment of shared suffering under white rule. When Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, in 1979, African Americans were soon released, along with female staffers.
It is difficult to imagine such differentiations being made on foreign shores, today. General Colin Powell emerged from Gulf War One as the personification of American military might - and threat. As George Bush's Secretary of State, Powell sacrificed his reputation - and an immeasurable portion of remaining African American planetary good will - in a lie-soaked justification of the impending invasion of Iraq before the United Nations.
Colin Powell became the Black face of international piracy, to be succeeded by Condoleezza Rice. In her first act as the Black American female face of imperial aggression, in April, 2002, then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice could not contain her disappointment at the failure of a U.S.-backed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "We do hope that Chávez recognizes that the whole world is watching," she sneered, "and that he takes advantage of this opportunity to right his own ship, which has been moving, frankly, in the wrong direction for quite a long time."
As Secretary of State, Rice is the reigning imperial drum major. Despite a string of Chavez victories in fair elections and his overwhelming support among the poor and mostly non-white Venezuelan majority, Rice last week loosed another transparent threat against his government. "I believe there is an assault on democracy in Venezuela," she told a congressional committee. "I do believe that the president of Venezuela is really, really destroying his own country, economically, politically." What a spectacle: American imperialism in black-face, threatening a mixed-race president whose government has arguably adopted the most racially progressive and inclusive policies on the South American continent.
When Rice claimed that the U.S. had been meeting with Venezuelan Catholic leaders who were "under fire" from Chavez's government, the vice-president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference - no friend of Chavez - called her a "liar." Contrast this with Barack Obama's exchange of pleasantries with Rice before voting to confirm her as chief diplomatic operative of the Bush endless war doctrine.
From Beirut to Caracas, Condoleezza Rice is the Black, snarling symbol of U.S. lawlessness - a perception of our African American "daughter" that the NAACP must not have anticipated when it bestowed on her its Image Award, in early 2002. Back then, Rice told the civil rights group's gala affair: "As I travel with President Bush around the world and as we meet with leaders from around the world, I see America through other people's eyes."
African Americans, who care so much for image - some, to the exclusion of all else - should contemplate what the ascension of a Black face to the Oval Office will mean to world perceptions of Black Americans as a group. Would Barack Obama be a worse international criminal than Hillary Clinton? My guess is, they'd function identically, as stewards of empire. But a Barack Obama presidency would leave an unindelible impression on the planet: The Blacks of the United States have arrived! They, too, are "ugly Americans."
Glen Ford is executive editor of the Black Agenda Report can be contacted at Glen.Ford (at) BlackAgendaReport.com.
Submitted by qrswave on Sat, 2007-02-17 05:46. qrswave's blog
Iraq's Top Sunni Official Defends Rebels
Posted on Fri, Feb. 16, 2007
Rebels threaten U.S. forces in Diyala
BAQOUBA, Iraq - Sunni insurgents have been streaming out of Baghdad to escape the security crackdown, carrying the fight to neighboring Diyala province where direct fire attacks on Americans have nearly doubled since last summer, U.S. soldiers say.
That has led to sharp fighting only 35 miles north of the capital in a province known as "Little Iraq" because of its near-equal mix of Sunni and Shiite Arabs as well as Kurds - the country's three major groups. At stake is a strategic region that extends from the northeastern gates of Baghdad to the border with Iran.
"I was here in 2004 and I don't remember them ever attacking tanks in open daylight, but now that's exactly what they're doing," said Capt. Paul Carlock, a company commander in the Army's 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.
"There's a big Sunni influx here, and in the last month or so it's been pretty violent," said Carlock, 31, of Chattanooga, Tenn. "They're getting more aggressive and changing tactics."
Some U.S. officers suspect the advance publicity for the Baghdad security plan may have encouraged extremists - both Sunnis and Shiites - to flee the capital for surrounding provinces, including Diyala, where fewer U.S. troops are stationed.
Even before President Bush announced last month that he was sending in 21,500 more soldiers, mostly to Baghdad, violence had been steadily increasing in Diyala, among the most religiously mixed of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Diyala last June.
On Thursday, a rooftop sniper fired on members of the 12th Cavalry as they patrolled a suburb of Baqouba with Iraqi soldiers. Shots rang out through abandoned streets for about 15 minutes until a Bradley fighting vehicle rumbled in, firing a 25 mm machine gun that thundered through the neighborhood and drove off the attackers.
It is unclear how many insurgents have entered the province over the last month. But U.S. officers believe the numbers must be substantial because of the sharp spike in violence.
Last July, U.S. soldiers came under 90 direct fire attacks - meaning weapons aimed straight at them. Last month the number of such attacks was up about 70 percent, to 157 attacks, according to Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade.
Meanwhile, the number of weapons caches seized more than doubled in that time period, from eight in July to 21 last month. That suggests more weapons are also flowing into the province.
"We know one thing for certain: The resistance and fight in Diyala has gotten tougher over the past couple weeks," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Multinational Division-North, which includes Diyala.
Lt. Col. Morris Goins, 41, a battalion commander, said the surge in attacks was also a result of more aggressive combat operations by the Americans. Last year, U.S. officers believed they could take a lower profile in Diyala and hand more responsibility over to the Iraqis.
"Part of it is this influx, and part of it is the nature of our operations - we're more aggressive. The more you're out there, the more contact you have," said Goins, whose battalion is responsible for security in the provincial capital of Baqouba.
"You've got more than 20,000 more American troops piling into Baghdad, so these insurgents are going to go somewhere," Goins said. His battalion has lost 17 soldiers since it arrived in Iraq in October.
Nine of those soldiers were killed in the past 11 days.
"That wears on you. The violence has definitely increased to a baseline where we have contact every single day," said Goins, of Southern Pines, N.C.
U.S. soldiers are not the only targets.
Between nine and 30 violent acts - murders, kidnappings, small arms fire, mortar attacks, roadside bombs - occur in Diyala province each day, Sutherland said.
At least three mayors of Muqdadiyah, the province's second-largest city, have been killed since 2003. This week, a former Iraqi police lieutenant was beheaded in broad daylight in a public park.
All this has been disappointing for the U.S. command, which had great hopes for Diyala a year ago.
In December 2005, U.S. officials said overall attacks had dropped substantially in the province - a trend they attributed to economic development projects including 180 new or refurbished schools, new water treatment plants and electricity substations.
Now, American officers are questioning whether they can give control of the province to the Iraqis by the end of the year. The U.S. goal is to hand over all 18 provinces to Iraqi control by December.
"Given the pressure on them in Baghdad, they're flooding Diyala, and that means it'll take longer for us to transfer control to Iraqis here," said Capt. Christopher Conley, 30, of Sunderland, Mass., who trains Iraqi soldiers.
Diyala's religious and ethnic mix have made it a fertile ground for Sunni militants.
The province's 1.6 million people include Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Unemployment is estimated at about 70 percent, and U.S. officials acknowledge that the local police force is riddled with corruption.
U.S. military officials say many members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party fled north to Diyala after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and helped rouse the Sunni insurgency here by funding and organizing attacks on coalition troops.
"Abu Musab al-Zarqawi called Baqouba the capital of the caliphate," Sutherland said. "That drew thousands of people into here," he said.
Sutherland, of Toledo, Ohio, said there was little U.S. forces could have done to stop the influx of insurgents.
"I couldn't stop the traffic coming in, because if I do that I upset people and freeze commerce. So what I have to do is identify the problems once they get here," Sutherland said.
Rove Said to Have Received 2003 Iranian Proposal
WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (IPS) - Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003, according to an Iranian-American scholar who was then on his Congressional staff.
Ney, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to prison in January for his role in the Jack Abramov lobbying scandal, was named by former aide Trita Parsi as an intermediary who took a copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House.
Parsi is now a specialist on Iranian national security policy and president of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a non-partisan organisation that supports a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Iran and the United States.
Parsi revealed that the document was delivered specifically to Rove, in an exclusive interview with IPS. Within two hours of the delivery of the document, according to Parsi, Ney received a phone call from Rove confirming his receipt of the document. Parsi said the proposal was delivered to Rove the same week that the State Department received it by fax, which was on or about May 4, 2003, according to the cover letter accompanying it.
Ney was chosen by Swiss Ambassador in Tehran Tim Guldimann to carry the Iranian proposal to the White House, according to Parsi, because he knew the Ohio Congressman to be the only Farsi-speaking member of Congress and particularly interested in Iran.
Guldimann helped the Iranians draft the proposal and passed it on the United States.
The White House press office had not responded to a request for a comment on the account naming Rove as the recipient of the Iranian proposal by midday Friday.
The Iranian proposal for negotiations, which suggested that Iran was willing to consider far-reaching compromises on its nuclear programme, relations with Hezbollah and Hamas and support for a Palestinian peace agreement with Israel as part of a larger peace agreement with the United States, has become a contentious issue between the Bush administration and its critics in and out of Congress.
The identification of Rove as a recipient of the secret Iranian proposal throws new light on the question of who in the Bush administration was aware of the Iranian proposal at the time. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied in Congressional testimony last week that she had seen the Iranian offer in 2003 and even chastised former State Department, National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency official Flynt Leverett for having failed to bring it to her attention at the time.
At a Capital Hill conference on U.S.-Iran relations Wednesday, sponsored by the New America Foundation and NIAC, Leverett responded to Rice's criticism by saying it was "unthinkable that it would not have been brought to her attention" and demanding an apology from her.
In May 2003, both Rove and Rice were considered to be part of Bush's inner circle on foreign policy matters, along with Vice President Dick Cheney. When Bush met with South Korea President Roh Moo-hyun on May 13, for example, the only advisers accompanying him were Rove and Rice.
The revelation that Rove received a copy of the Iranian negotiating proposal within days of the receipt of the State Department makes it appear very unlikely that Rice was not immediately made aware of the document.
The new account of the transmission of a second copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House coincided with the release Wednesday of both the actual text of the proposal as received in Washington and of the cover memo by Ambassador Guldimann which accompanied it. The two documents contradict the suggestion by Rice and by other State Department officials that Guldimann was acting on his own in forwarding the proposal, and that it did not reflect the intentions of the Iranian government.
The two documents were made available on the website of the Washington Post online edition in connection with a story by Post reporter Glenn Kessler. Kessler wrote that they had been provided by "a source who felt its contents were mischaracterised by State Department officials."
The memo from Guldimann, dated May 4, confirms previous reports that the Iranian proposal was drafted by the Iranian Ambassador in Paris Sadeq Kharrazi, in consultation with Guldimann but only after extensive discussions between Kharrazi and the three top figures in Iranian foreign policy: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, then President Mohammad Khatami and his Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.
As the memo notes, Ambassador Kharrazi, a former deputy foreign minister, was extremely well connected to the very top level of Iranian leadership. Khamenei's son is married to his sister, and the foreign minister is his uncle.
The memo recounts that a first draft of what was to be called a "roadmap" was done by Ambassador Kharazzi with Guldimann's help during a long discussion on Apr. 21, 2003. It was that document that Parsi later obtained from Iranian sources and has been reported in previous accounts of the proposal. After that initial meeting Kharrazi had two long meetings with Khamenei, President Khatami and the foreign minister which he reported as lasting a total of four hours.
According to Kharrazi's account, the three leaders agreed on "85%-90%" of the draft roadmap, with the president and foreign minister voicing no objection and Khamenei raising "some reservations as for some points". Guldimann reported in his memo that Kharrazi asked him at a meeting on May 2 to make "some minor changes in the previous draft," especially on the Middle East peace process.
In the final draft, which has now been made public, the bullet point on "U.S. aims" on the Middle East regarding the Palestinian-Israeli peace issue was changed from "acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two states-approach)" to simply "acceptance of the two-states-approach".
The intention behind that shift is made clearer by the only other substantive change in the newly released final draft. In the discussion of a possible "decision on the first mutual steps" the document suggests that the Iranians would issue a "statement that it supports a peaceful solution in the Middle East, that it accepts a solution which is accepted by the Palestinians and that it follows with interest the discussion on the Roadmap, presented by the Quartet." That formula would allow the Iranian side to maintain a position of support for "the Palestinians" in negotiations with Washington.
Guldimann's memo reports that Kharrazi told him all three leaders supported the initiative. But the Iranian diplomat asked him if he could pass the proposal "very confidentially to someone very high in the DoS [Department of State] in order to get to know the U.S. reaction on it." He also warned that, "if the initiative failed, and if anything about the new Iranian flexibility outline in it became known, they would -- also for internal reasons -- not be bound by it."
That was a clear indication that the Iranian leaders were afraid that their conservative critics would attack them if such a proposal did not bring desired results, charging that it showed weakness.
*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June 2005.