Saturday, March 17, 2007

California city council endorses Rumsfeld war crimes prosecution

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The Berkeley, California city council [official website] voted Tuesday to support the criminal complaint [introduction in English, PDF; full complaint text in German, part one and part two, PDF] filed in Germany against former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top US officials and advisers [CCR list] for authorizing the commission of war crimes in the US "war on terror." The council's Peace and Justice Commission originally submitted a proposal [text, PDF] to join the complaint as co-plaintiffs, but members of the traditionally-liberal council voted only to endorse the complaint, the first time any US local jurisdiction has taken such a stand on the controversial case.

The council resolution [CCR press release] reads:
[T]he Council of the City of Berkeley endorses the case of Rumsfeld et al. . . .

[T]he Council of the City of Berkeley supports all efforts throughout the world to hold Donald Rumsfeld and other United States officials who have prosecuted the War on Terror in violation of any applicable law to be held both civilly and criminally accountable for their actions before any tribunal with jurisdiction over the matter, whether such legal proceedings are pursued in this country or abroad.
The complaint, filed [JURIST report] in November 2006 on behalf of eleven former Abu Ghraib detainees and one Guantanamo detainee all claiming to have been victims of US torture, asks the German Federal Prosecutor [official website] to investigate and ultimately prosecute Rumsfeld and the other officials. It invokes Germany's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder] law, which allows the prosecution of war crimes no matter where they were carried out. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.

James M Yoch Jr at 9:18 AM ET

When will hunting season in Israeli killing fields (Palestine) end?

Mar 17, 2007

Palestine: Israeli Killing Fields

By Dr. Elias Akleh

Zionism is a newer name for an ancient racist, expansionist, and imperialist political movement, whose aim was, and still is, the establishment of a strong “Jewish-only” empire (Greater Israel) in the Middle East, which was considered the heart of the ancient world, and the center of all trade.

To accomplish this goal ancient Israelite self-proclaimed “prophets” had introduced false religious beliefs and interpretations of scriptures into Judaism to nationalize the religion, and to misguide the Jews into believing in a prejudiced racist and war-loving god, who favors one group of people over all the rest of his creations, and –as a real estate agent- promised the Jews a piece of land, and promised to protect and to lead their armies to cleanse this promised land (from Nile to Euphrates) from all the heathens (Goyim) through genocide in return he asks them to build him a pathetic temple when he has the whole universe as his house. These false religious beliefs sanctioned theft, murder, torture and exploitation of other people, whom this prejudiced god had allegedly created to be only servants to the Jews.

Unfortunately many Jews – the believers in Judaism from all nations and not just the descendents of Abraham- fell victims to these false religious beliefs, and thus had volunteered themselves and their children, out of religious conviction and duty, to be drafted into armies to inflict mayhem and terror on all other nations in an attempt to actualize this false religious goal. The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 in the heart of the Arab World, and the destructive ruthless genocidal wars against Palestinians and Arabs, consuming the souls of innocent people as well as their own souls, are continuation of their terror campaign towards that goal (Greater Israel).

In ancient times, the Old Testament tells us that “god of Israelites” had instructed their prophet Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king of Israel, and to order him to fulfill god’s wish of annihilating all Philistinian tribes in the Promised Land. Samuel instructed Saul to: “Now go and attack Amalikites (a Philistinian tribe) and utterly destroy all that they have and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (Samuel 15: 1-33). There go Moses’ divine Ten Commandments “You shall not kill” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s possessions” out of the window. Saul perpetrated the genocide but spared the king “Agag” and the best of the livestock. Samuel, the so-called god’s prophet, hacked king “Agag” into pieces, and informed Saul that god is angry with him since he did not complete the genocide as he was instructed.

Since then genocide of non-Jews (Goyims) had been sanctified as a divine duty. Ancient Palestine was turned into killing fields for the Israelites, who raided all Philistinian tribes burning and leveling their cities, slaughtering every living soul without exception, and killing all their animals. The Old Testament is full of descriptions of these Israeli massacres. The Greater Israel dream was harshly shattered by the Persian and Roman armies, who defeated the Israelites, imprisoned them as slaves, sent them into Diaspora, and forbade them from returning to the Palestine.

For almost two thousand years the majority of the Jews forgot about the ancient Greater Israel dream, and concentrated on integrating themselves into the countries they were living in. During the crusaders campaigns (1095-1291) European Christians, while on their way to Palestine driven by false religious duty to cleanse the Holy Land from “heathens” by the sword, started attacking the Jewish communities because they had crucified Jesus. The Jews found refuge only in the Arabic and Islamic countries. When European Christians liberated Spain from Islamic rule, they forced Spanish Jews to convert to Christianity or face death. Many converted out of fear for their lives, some of whom started rediscovering their Jewish roots just recently, previous American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is just one example. Others left Spain, and along with many European Jews, who were persecuted by Christian Europeans, found refuge only in the Arab and Islamic countries in North Africa and in the Middle East, where they were welcomed, lived peacefully, and flourished. Later on these Jews adopted Zionism and immigrated to the newly established state of Israel.

During the nineteenth century, and after the discovery of oil in the Middle East, there was a fear that the Ottoman Empire “the Sick Man” would regain its power. The decision was made by the “World Power Elite” to topple down the Ottoman Sultan, to divide the empire into smaller weaker states ruled by complicit dictators, and to create the warring state of Israel in the heart of the Arab World to pacify Arab nationalism and to divert their attention away from the policies of their corrupt dictators.

Zionism, then, was created to revive the “Greater Israel” dream. Zionism used anti-Semitism and the Holocaust to instill fear into the Jewish communities in an attempt to drive them to immigrate to Palestine in order to “reclaim” god’s Promised Land, and to establish a safe Jewish-only state (Israel). History shows that Zionists were actually the worst enemies of the Jews and had perpetrated genocidal crimes against them. During early 1940’s there were plans to save European Jewry from the war by evacuating them to either USA or to British colonies. In 1941 and 1942 Germany offered hundreds of thousands of European Jews transit to Spain on the condition to be transported to USA or to British colonies, but not to Palestine, in 1942 British Parliament had a plan to evacuate 500 thousand Jews from Europe to British colonies, and in 1943 Romania offered 70 thousand Jewish refugees of the Transdniestria to leave at the cost of $50 each. Zionist leaders had rejected all these rescue operations and abandoned European Jewry to face their holocaust. (

Zionist leaders, such as Yitzhak Greenbaum, Chairman of Rescue Committee of Jewish Agency, and Stephen Wise, President of American Jewish Congress and leader of American Zionists, had rejected every effort to save European Jewry from the war, and refused to spend one cent on such rescue operations unless the Jews are transferred to Palestine. The attitude of Zionist leaders was represented by Greenbaum’s infamous statement: “One cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Europe”.
Instead of saving the Jews Zionists aimed to inflame anti-Semitic feelings to intensify Jewish persecution in the hope to encourage Jewish immigration to Palestine. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, wrote in his diary (part I, pp. 16): “It is essential that the suffering of Jews become worse … this will assist in realization of our plans… I shall induce anti-Semites to liquidate Jewish wealth… The anti-Semites will assist us thereby in that they will strengthen the persecution and oppression of Jews. The anti-Semites shall be our best friends.” Zionists had paid money to thugs and sometimes to Jewish religious zealots to attack Jewish communities, especially those in the Arab countries, to vandalize their cemeteries, throw molotov bombs against synagogues, and write hate graffiti on their walls, in order to pressure them to immigrate to Palestine. Israelis are the biggest anti-Semites since they persecute Palestinians, who are also Semitic nation.

Zionists propaganda portraying the Zionist state of Israel as the safest haven for Jews is the greatest hoax perpetrated against Jews, who were living peacefully in Arabic and Islamic countries before the establishment of Israel. In fact Israeli Jews have been facing the greatest physical danger while living in the Zionist Israeli state since they met the Arabic welcoming favors with the savage robbery of Palestine and the theft of important Islamic religious mosques. Since the establishment of Zionist Israel in 1948 its Jewish citizens have been living in a state of perpetual wars, and their every new generation had been turned into war criminals through conscription into the Israeli terrorist army.

Zionist leaders had offered to collaborate with strong Nazi Germany at the beginning of the war by offering the services of Zionist terrorist militias to strengthen German power in the Middle East, for the purpose of receiving jurisdiction over Palestine. David Yisrael, in his book “The Palestinian Problem in German Politics 1889-1945” (Israel: 1947); pp. 315-317, reports that the radical Zionist group “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”, better known as the terrorist “Stern” gang, which later on became the Israeli army, had offered to cooperate with the Nazis in order to maintain and strengthen German power in the Middle East for the hope of receiving jurisdiction over Palestine to establish the Israeli state.

Edwin Black, in his book “The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine”, also talks about Zionist collaboration with the Nazi. On August 7th, 1933, Black reports, Zionist leaders concluded a secret and controversial agreement with the German Third Reich to transfer 60 thousand Jews and $100 million to Jewish Palestine.

The Arab/Israeli conflict serves the interest of the industrial military complexes in the US, UK and to a certain degree in France. They have sold weapons to both sides. To preserve Israel in order to ensure profiting perpetual wars they provided Israel with WMD and supported Israeli government politically and financially. Successive American administrations have become the major supporters of Israeli policies until recently, thanks to the influential power of AIPAC (Israeli lobby), the Israeli interests had become American’s primary interests. Both Republican and Democratic parties support Israel’s actions and policies unconditionally. Criticizing Israel is considered a political suicide as previous President Jimmy Carter put it.

With the unconditional support of the American administration (the global bully and greatest Satan as viewed by the Islamic World) Israeli government had received an open hunting license to, one more time, turn Palestinian territories into killing fields using cruel terrorist methods that surpassed those of the Nazis’.

Worse than Nazism, that was built on the racist social ideology of German supremacy (the superman), Zionism is built on a racist divine ideology of god’s chosen people in god’s promised land. Whereas it is acceptable to debate social ideologies, debating or questioning divine ideologies is considered sacrilege.

Worse than Nazism, for Zionism to establish the pure Jewish-only Greater Israel it was necessary to get rid of all other ethnic groups. This led to genocidal, ethnic cleansing and complete evacuation of Palestinians from their home land. Massacres and complete demolition of total Palestinian towns to terrorize Palestinians into “voluntary” immigrations became the adopted policies of Zionist Israel. Massacres such as Deir Yassin, Kufr Qassem, Qibya, Qana, Sabra & Shatila, Jenin, Rafah, and Beit Hanoun are just few among the hundreds of Israeli massacres against Palestinian civilians. Walid Khalidi, a Palestinian professor, in his book “All that Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied & Depopulated by Israel in 1948” details 400 Palestinian villages that were totally destroyed by Israeli army. Sharon Shai, an Israeli history professor at Tel Aviv University, revealed that the records of the Association of Archeological Survey Department, housed in Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, show that this Archeological Department had approved the razing of about one hundred Palestinian villages within 1948 Israel after their inhabitants were forcefully evacuated. After 1967 war the Department turned its attention to razing Palestinian villages in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights. Now-a-days we have 40 Palestinian towns in the Naqab desert that are unrecognized by Israel and do not receive any civil services although their inhabitants pay taxes. These towns are considered illegal by Israeli government, who has plans to demolish them all. Last Friday March 9th. military bulldozers, under the protection of the Israeli troops, had demolished the whole town of At-Taweel one home after the other as a first step in demolishing the rest of the 40 towns.

Worse than the Nazis Israeli terrorist troops conduct daily raids, mostly after midnights, on Palestinian cities and towns using tanks and armored military carriers. They raid civilian homes, destroy furniture, loot jewelry and money, terrorize family members, kidnap young men, and finally demolish the home. Demolishing Palestinian civilian homes has become a favorite pass time for the Israeli troops. During the last five years and up to the first of this March the Israeli terrorist forces had demolished 645 public buildings and 72,437 civilian homes belonging to 29,314 extended Palestinian families as reported by Palestinian Health Ministry. During the last week of February 2007 alone the Israeli army had conducted 43 raids throughout the Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Major Palestinian cities such as Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqellya, and Hebron just to name few have been raided by Israeli tanks since the beginning of this March. City infrastructures were destroyed, government institutions were ransacked and burnt, media institutions were raided and their equipments destroyed and confiscated, schools and hospitals were raided and damaged, civilian homes were targeted by tanks, innocent civilians including women and children were gunned down by snipers, and many men – civilians, police and members of Palestinian Parliament- were kidnapped. Fifty five men including six children from Nablus, twenty five from Bethlehem, and about sixty from Hebron were kidnapped in one night.

In Gaza Strip Israeli snipers routinely target Palestinian children playing in the streets. Artillery shells rain unexpectedly on Palestinian neighborhoods. American made Israeli military fighter planes bomb the houses of resistance leaders, alleged missile manufacturing and storage shops, and civilian vehicles inflicting what the Israeli government calls “regrettable collateral damage”.

Israeli government routinely confiscates Palestinian land to build colonies on them and calls them Israeli neighborhoods. This week Al-Birah Palestinian residents were informed by Israeli military that hundreds of acres of their land east of the city will be confiscated to build new Israeli colony. Military bulldozers routinely raze farm lands in Gaza Strip and West Bank destroying crops and carrying fertile soil and palm and olive trees to Israel.

Israel is building an imprisonment wall (730 km long and 8 meters high with an average 50 meters buffer zone) that annexes 47% of the West Bank, totally encircling and imprisoning major Palestinian communities turning them into concentration camps and isolating 361 thousand Palestinians, devastating Palestinian economy, and evacuating 35 thousand Palestinians from their homes.

Israel is destroying Christian and Islamic religious sites and is trying to claim many of as Jewish. Many Islamic mosques and Christian churches had been destroyed and converted to whore houses, nightclubs, restaurants, and even to animal barns. Israel is destroying an important ancient Islamic cemetery (Ma’man Allah) in Jerusalem in order to build so-called museum of tolerance in its place (what an irony). Israeli archeologists have been digging under the Islamic Al-Aqsa mosque since 1967 hoping to uncover their alleged temple, but so far they succeeded only in uncovering more Islamic structures and are trying to hide them. Yofal Baruch, a prominent Israeli archeologist, revealed that Israeli government is destroying and burying all the Islamic archeological sites they had uncovered around Al-Aqsa mosque.

Israel had kidnapped more than 10 thousand Palestinian men, women and children and thrown them into dark dungeons and desert make-shift tent prisons. Newborn babies were born to Palestinian mothers in prison. Prisoners are routinely tortured using unimaginable cruel methods. Many of these methods were exported to American prisons in Iraq such as Abu-Ghraib. It has been revealed that Palestinian prisoners are being used as experimental subjects for new dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. Amy Liftat, the pharmaceutical head in the Israeli Health Ministry, had revealed in the Knesset that there is an annual 15% increase in the amounts of “legal permits” granted to conduct more drug experiments on Palestinian prisoners.

Besides the terror of the Israeli Army Palestinian communities are also faced with Israeli colonizers’ terror. These colonizers have been given free hand to inflict all types of terror they can think of against Palestinian farmers and villagers. This terror included armed night raids and burning of farm houses, poisoning Palestinian animals, burning and damaging Palestinian crops and uprooting trees (especially ancient olive trees), releasing waste water into Palestinian area as a form of germ warfare, terrorizing Palestinian children on their way to schools, and many times shooting and killing Palestinian civilians. All these terror tactics are perpetrated under the watchful eyes and protection of the Israeli troops, who would shoot, beat to death, and imprison any Palestinian, who dares to defend himself and his property, accusing them of terrorizing settlers.

The Israeli terror against the Palestinian people is numerous and requires volumes to enumerate.

These Israeli killing fields are sanctioned and legalized by the American unconditional support to Israel. The American administration and Congress had been hijacked by the American Zionist Israeli lobby (AIPAC), who had convinced the Americans that Israeli religious racist interests and American interests are the same when in fact they are definitely not. I heard one American co-worker concludes “there is something so similar between Israel and Al-Qaeda terrorists, which is their certainty that God is on their side”

How is it that the American administration, the self-claimed patron of freedom and democracy, cut down on the vital services to its own tax-paying people, such as proper education, health care especially to its own veterans, helping victims of natural disasters such as Katrina victims, take care of the homeless and poor, and take care of, at least, the American environment, in order to provide terrorist Israel with financial, military, and political support, and thus antagonizing at least half of the world population.

Have I known better, I, as a Palestinian, would have asked the self-proclaimed righteous president Bush to help free the ten thousand Palestinian prisoners (men, women and children), who had been kidnapped by the Israeli army in the middle of the night from their own homes, the same way he helped Israel attack Lebanon last summer in an attempt to free two captured Israeli troops, who were sent as sacrificing lambs into the Lebanese territories to be captured by Hezbollah so that Israelis could use them as an excuse to wage a war they had planned for few months in advanced as Israeli Prime Minister Olmert had revealed recently. The Bush administration had supplied Israel with laser guided bombs to demolish Lebanese infrastructures, and cluster bombs to litter Lebanese fields. Later Bush coerced the UN to send international troops into Southern Lebanon to allegedly protect Israel from Hezbollah. I am sure Bush’s administration would not offer the same help to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, not at least sending UN troops to protect Palestinians from Israeli terror.

How is it that killing civilians by a terrorist group is a grave crime, while the annihilation of a whole nation by (Israeli) government is considered a self-defense? Israel is an occupying force, and thus is violating international laws and many times its own laws. Israel had opposed several UN resolutions, violated human rights, and thus has been condemned numerous times by the international community. Yet with the protection of the American administration the Israelis keep on killing Palestinians.

When will the hunting season in the Israeli killing fields (Palestine) end?

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala and lives in the US. Email: mailto:

Election fraud trial finds judge guilty

11:36 PM EDT on Friday, March 16, 2007

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A judge-executive serving a rural county on the edge of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region has been convicted of conspiring to buy votes in last year’s primary election.

Bath County Judge-Executive Walter Bascom Shrout was also found guilty of making false statements to a federal agent and obstruction of justice, said U.S. Attorney Amul R. Thapar.

U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood ordered Shrout to resign from office no later than noon EDT on Monday.

Shrout, 54, a Democrat from Sharpsburg, was indicted in November after an FBI investigation into vote buying allegations in the primary, which he won.

A federal grand jury indicted 11 others on vote fraud charges uncovered in the investigation.

“Our election process is the very basis of our democracy,” Thapar said in a statement Friday. “When people can not vote freely and independently, it takes away a government by and for the people.”

Shrout, who is free on bond, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 9 in Lexington.

In February, Bath County Attorney Donald “Champ” Maze pleaded guilty to vote buying and perjury in connection with an alleged scheme to rig the primary election. He entered the plea on the fifth day of his trial, admitting to paying three people between $100 and $200 to vote for him.

Hood also ordered Maze to resign. Maze, who is free on bond, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing was set for May 7.

About 520 Bath County residents voted absentee in the election in question—more than double the number cast in 2002. Of those 520, nearly half filled out a form saying they needed assistance and brought people into the voting booth with them.

Another judge-executive candidate, Michael Swartz, who was Shrout’s main opponent in the primary election, has also pleaded guilty to vote buying.

The US, Israel and Iran

Mar 17, 2007

Mehran Ghassemi interviews Sasan Fayazmanesh, chair of the Department of Economics at California State University, Fresno.

Q. How do you evaluate the relationship between the US and Israel at this time? What is this relation based on?

A: Allow me to say beforehand that I am currently writing a book-tentatively entitled The United States and Iran: Sanctions, Wars and the Policy of Dual Containment- which chronicles the US, Israel and Iran relation since 1979. The book-which is to be completed by the end of summer-examines, in a comprehensive manner, the evolution of the US policy of "dual containment" of Iran and Iraq, particularly as it pertains to Iran. I believe, without such a comprehensive analysis, it is difficult to give meaningful and satisfactory answers to many questions that I am often asked about the current entanglement between Iran on the one side and the US and Israel on the other. With this caveat, I would answer your question by saying that under no previous administration has the relation between US and Israel been as close as under the current, Bush Administration. Why this is the case and what the relation is based on requires the kind of comprehensive analysis that I was referring to above. But let me just say that, as it is well known, the Middle East Policy of the current administration has been determined by the "neoconservatives," individuals who virtually see no distinction between the "interest" of the US and Israel and might even put the "interest" of the latter above the former. Now, I put "neoconservative" in quotation marks because, for reasons that I will not go into here, it is an ambiguous and overrated expression. Also, I put the term interest in quotation marks, since one has to distinguish between perceived and actual interests on the one hand and the interest of ordinary citizens and those of the elite on the other. The individuals who make the US foreign policy, particularly the "neoconservatives," represent a privileged group of people with a unique and peculiar view of the world. To these "neoconservatives" waging wars against Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and possibly Iran and Syria, might appear to be in the "interest" of the US, even though in actuality such policies might be very harmful to the interest of ordinary citizens of the US, particularly in the long-run.

The current relation between the US and Israel, of course, goes beyond the issue of the strength of the "neoconservatives" in the White House. The US Congress, too, has traditionally been, and remains to this day, a close ally of Israel. However, given that the US war against Iraq is going very badly-and the fact the US was egged on to start this war by some Israeli politicians and their "neoconservative" allies in the US-it appears that a few US Congressmen have become lately somewhat uneasy about their blind, unequivocal support for Israel.

Q. How do you evaluate the integration of US and Israeli policy?

A: As it is clear from my answer above, the integration of the US and Israeli policy is nothing new, it is many decades old. But, as I also indicated above, under the current administration this integration has reached a level not seen before. Even at the beginning of the Bush Administration the integration was not as strong as it became later. We all remember that immediately after the September 11 (2001) events the Bush Administration spoke of the creation of a Palestinian State and started a courtship dance with Iran. But the talk and dance ended as soon as the Israeli forces inside and outside the US intervened. Binyamin Netanyahu's September 21, 2001, testimony before the US congress-when he stated that "if the US includes terrorism-sponsoring regimes like Syria, Iran, or the Palestinian Authority in a coalition against worldwide terrorism, then the alliance 'will be defeated from the beginning'"- set the stage for a radical reversal of the US newly conceived policy. Similarly, Ariel Sharon's October 6, 2001, warning that the US should not "repeat the terrible mistake of 1938" stifled any attempt to moderate the US policy. Finally, the January 6, 2002, Karine-A affair-when Israel allegedly captured a ship carrying Iranian arms to the Palestinian Authority group-put a complete stop to any rapprochement between the US and Iran or attempt to establish a Palestinian State. The result was the January 29, 2002, State of the Union Address by President Bush, when the "neoconservative" concept of "axis of evil," coined apparently by David Frum, was put forward. From then on the "neoconservatives" seemed to have complete control of the US Middle East policy and integrated this policy fully with that of Israel.

Q. How do you see the role and the position of the Israeli lobby in the US? Are there similar lobbies in Israel that advocate for US interest?

A. This is a very broad and complicated question that requires at least a book to answer. There are, of course, a number of articles and books written on the subject of various Israeli lobby groups in the US, particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The most recent essay, and probably the most comprehensive and academic one, is that of John Mersheimer and Stephen Walt, which can be found online. But even this analysis is not detailed enough and, unfortunately, details that are provided appear only in the footnotes. My own book will deal with the subject matter in a greater detail, but only in so far as Iran is concerned. In other words, I investigate the role that various Israeli lobby groups and individuals have played, particularly since the early 1990s, in formulating the US foreign policy towards Iran. The role, I would argue, is quite extensive. Indeed, I argue, that we have to trace this role to Martin Indyk, the communication advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, a staffer at AIPAC, the head of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (which is an offshoot of AIPAC), the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the US Department of State under the Clinton Administration and the former US ambassador to Israel. In his 1993 inaugural address as the national security advisor to Clinton, Indyk stated:

The Clinton administration's policy of "dual containment" of Iraq and Iran derives in the first instance from an assessment that the current Iraqi and Iranian regimes are both hostile to American interests in the region. Accordingly, we do not accept the argument that we should continue the old balance of power game, building up one to balance the other. . . The coalition that fought Saddam remains together, as long as we are able to maintain our military presence in the region, as long as we succeed in restricting the military ambitions of both Iraq and Iran, and as long as we can rely on our regional allies Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the GCC, and Turkey-to preserve a balance of power in our favor in the wider Middle East region, we will have the means to counter both the Iraqi and Iranian regimes. We will not need to depend on one to counter the other.
As I argue in my book, Indyk's claim that the policy of dual containment of Iran and Iraq was something new was exaggerated and the roots of the policy go back to the Carter Administration and particularly Zbigniew Brzezinski. Setting aside this issue, however, I argue that with the help of Martin Indyk, a few other individuals in the Clinton White House and a few powerful people in the US Congress, various Israeli lobby groups, especially AIPAC, became the underwriters of the sanction policy of the US against Iran. This is particularly true of the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. But Indyk, I argue, represented the moderate wing of the Israeli lobby groups in general and the Washington Institute in particular. He was close to the Israeli Labor party.

When the Bush Administration came to power, more radical members of the Washington Institute, such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, took over the formulation and implementation of the White House Middle East policy. These "neoconservatives" were closely linked to the Likud party members, particularly Binyamin Netanyahu. As such, their idea of "containment" of Iran and Iraq went beyond the roundabout way of passing sanctions to ruin the economy of these countries, bringing about discontent, causing revolt and then overthrowing their governments; they advocated a more direct way for "regime change": using the military might of the US to attack these countries. Even though some of these individuals have left office, there are still many such characters in the current administration. One such person is Elliott Abrams, the current deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy. He is, of course, a well-known figure who was convicted, and subsequently pardoned, on charges related to the Iran-Contra scandal. Another one is Stephen Hadley, the current national security adviser to President Bush. Under former President George H.W. Bush, Hadley served as an assistant to Wolfowitz, who was then Undersecretary of Defense. Yet, another individual is Stuart Levey, the present Treasury Department's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Levey has been working zealously to stop foreign banks from dealing with some Iranian banks. In 2005 Stuart Levey gave an address at AIPAC that began with: "It is a real pleasure to be speaking with you today. I have been an admirer of the great work this organization does since my days on the one-year program at Hebrew University in 1983 and 1984. I want to commend you for the important work that you are doing to promote strong ties between Israel and the United States and to advocate for a lasting peace in the Middle East." Then he goes on to talk about what his office does and how "[w]e levy economic sanctions to pressure obstructionist regimes, and we have the ability to freeze the assets of wrongdoers."

The Israeli lobby groups' influence is, of course, not confined to its members and associates in the White House. The lobby has a great influence in the US Congress as well. Its own current website verifies this influence by stating:

For more than half a century, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has worked to help make Israel more secure by ensuring that American support remains strong. From a small public affairs boutique in the 1950s, AIPAC has grown into a 100,000-member national grassroots movement described by The New York Times as "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel."

Political advocacy is one of the most effective ways in which AIPAC works to accomplish its mission. Each year, AIPAC is involved in more than 100 legislative and policy initiatives aimed at broadening and deepening the U.S.-Israel bond.

Among the "more than 100 legislative and policy initiatives" that each year AIPAC helps to underwrite are the numerous sanctions bills against Iran that I alluded to above. Obviously, given the short space here, I can't elaborate on this and you have to wait until I finish my book.

As far as the second part of your question is concerned, I don't have an answer. That is, whether there are similar lobby groups in Israel that advocate for US interest is not something that I have followed.

Q. You have used the term USrael. What interpretation did you have in mind? What are the implications of this concept for international relation?

A. It seems that some individuals have attributed coining the term "USrael" to me. Unfortunately, I am not the originator of the term. It existed before it appeared in some of my essays. I used it in the sense that under the Bush Administration the US and Israel's foreign policy towards the Middle East converged and became virtually indistinguishable. As I explained earlier, this started to happen a few weeks after the events of the September 11, 2001, when the "neoconservatives" aligned the US policy in the Middle East with that of Likud. Given this alignment, there is no significant policy difference between the US and Israel over Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Syria or Lebanon. This was not the case under the previous administrations. For example, during the Clinton Administration the Likud and their "neoconservative" counterparts in the US were trying to toughen the US stand towards Iran. But near the end of the Clinton era US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, under the pressure from the US corporate lobby, tried to modify the direction of the US belligerent policy towards Iran, much to the dismay of the Israeli lobby groups. Her March 17, 2000, speech-in which she nearly apologized for the CIA's 1953 coup in Iran and spoke of the "regrettably shortsighted" US policy of supporting Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran war-was part of her attempt at rapprochement. We have not seen such rapprochements since the "neoconservatives" took over the US Middle East foreign policy and made it almost identical to that of Israel.

The nearly complete alignment of the US and Israel foreign policy has had a profound implication for the Middle East. For example, the US used to pretend to be an "honest broker" between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But now that veneer has mostly disappeared and the US does not even pretend to be a neutral mediator. Since post September 11, Israel has had a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians. It also has had a free hand in waging the summer of 2006 war against the people of Lebanon. Indeed, as the world watched, the US became the partner of Israel in that war. With regard to Iran, as I have argued above, the implication is clear. Israel and its various affiliates in the US are now the leading force in pushing the US in the direction of confrontation with Iran.

Q. How do you evaluate political developments in the US and Israel? For example, does the change in the balance of power in the US Congress or the coming to power of a different faction in Israel have any impact on strategic interest?

A. It is evident from what I stated earlier that historically both the Democratic and Republican Parties have supported the policy of "containment" of Iran since 1979. This support appears to continue in the future as well. For example, on January 24, 2007, The Jerusalem Post reported from Herzliya Conference in Israel that at "a time when most US Democrats are calling for less military involvement abroad Edwards of South Carolina told conference participants his country must do everything it can to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." According to this report, Edwards, a leading Democratic presidential candidate stated: "All the options are on the table to ensure that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon." Similarly, the Associate Press of February 2, 2007, reported that Hilary Clinton, another leading Democratic presidential candidate, addressed an AIPAC event a day earlier and stated: "I have advocated engagement with our enemies and Israel's enemies." The prime "enemy" of both countries was, of course, Iran. According to the same report, Hilary Clinton, then stated that the "U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. . . In dealing with this threat . . . no option can be taken off the table." On the same day, the Associated Press reported that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lashed out at Hilary Clinton and accused her of "timidity" regarding the security threat posed by Iran. Romney, according to the report, told the conservative Republicans that at "this point, we don't need a listening tour about Iran. . . Someone who wants to engage Iran displays a troubling timidity toward a terrible threat of a nuclear Iran." The same Mitt Romney also appeared at the Herzliya Conference, according to The Jerusalem Post, and stated that "Iran must be stopped, Iran can be stopped, and Iran will be stopped. . . The heart of the jihadist threat is Iran. . . I believe that Iran's leaders and ambitions represent the greatest threat to the world since the fall of the Soviet Union and before that Nazi Germany." In a more recent interview with ABC News on February 16, 2007, Mitt Romney called the whole nation of Iran "genocidal" and "suicidal," adding that "you say to yourself this is a setting where, of course, you have to consider the possibility of military action, but we're not there." The rest of the Republican presidential candidates are not much different. The same Jerusalem Post that I referred to above also stated that another "Republican hopeful Sen. John McCain said the US should 'intensify' its military support for Israel to ensure that the country maintained it strategic edge over those who were bent on destroying it such as Iran."

As we can see from the above, presidential candidates from both parties are singing the same tune. The question is which wing of the Israeli lobby groups will be put in charge of formulating the Middle East policy when one of these candidates is elected. Will it be Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross type or Wolfowitz and Perle kind?

Given that the US policy towards Iran is devised by different wings of the Israeli lobby groups, and given the affiliations of these groups with Israeli parties, it is natural to expect the same kind of mind set among the Israeli leaders. These leaders, too, are unified in their policy of "containment" of Iran. Whether it is Likud, Labor or Kadima party, the essence of the policy will remain the same. The only difference appears to be how each party or individual intends to "contain" Iran. Some Israeli politicians are more aggressive and fanatical in their "containment" policy than others. For example, in their campaign to demonize Iran, both Binyamin Netanyahu, the "hawkish" former Prime Minister, and Shimon Peres, the "dovish" former prime minister, have repeatedly compared today's Iran to Nazi Germany. But, according to the Agence France Presse of December 5, 2005, Benjamin Netanyahu promised "a pre-emptive air strike against Iran's nuclear installations if he were to be re-elected." Shimon Peres might think twice about such a strike.

Q. How does the US establish a balance between its relation with Arab allies and Israel?

A. Historically, successive US administrations have maintained a symbiotic relation with both their Arabs client states and Israel. At times US's alliance with the Arabs states has caused some annoyance on the part of Israel and its lobby groups. For example, in the early years of the Iran-Iraq war the US decided to sell Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) to Saudi Arabia to assist Saddam Hussein with intelligence. This decision did not sit well with some Israeli politicians and their allies in the US who were interested in "containing" Iraq first. Similar frictions and fissures have appeared at other times. The interesting issue is what has happened in recent times. Some "neoconservatives" in the Bush White House, such as David Wurmser-currently, Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney-who saw the policy of "dual containment" as too roundabout and time consuming, advocated adopting a new policy: "Dual Rollback of Iran and Iraq." According to this policy, the US was supposed to attack Iraq, bring the Shiite majority to power, use this power-which supposedly would be friendly to the US and Israel-as a counterweight to Shiite Iran, and then do a "regime change" in Iran. The policy, however, has so far not worked as planned. That is, the Iraqi Shiites have not challenged Iran or shown a great affection and admiration for the US and Israel. Given this reality, we now hear something new in the US-Israeli circle: a dangerous "Shiite crescent," headed by Iran, is appearing in the Middle East, stretching from Lebanon to Iraq and beyond. This crescent, we are told, must be defeated by an alliance of the US, Israel and Sunni Arab states. The implication of this policy is that Israel and its neoconservative allies in the US might no longer oppose a close relation between US and its traditional Arab client states, such as Saudi Arabia. The new policy is, of course, based on the old dictum of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." The US and Israel have played this game many times before in their pursuit of colonial domination, sometimes with costly blowbacks. The sad fact is that some Arab states appear to be going along with this old colonial trick and are joining the alliance against the "Shiite crescent."

Q. What is the role of Israel in pressuring Iran regarding the nuclear issue?

A. The role is extensive, particularly if you also include Israel's lobby groups and associates in the US. But showing how extensive it is requires writing a detailed account, which obviously I can't provide here. In my book I trace one of the first official claims about Iran making an atomic weapon to the "neoconservative" Kenneth L. Adelman. According to the July 1984 Department of State Bulletin, on May 2, 1984, Adelman-who was at the time the US Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency-gave an address before the "Mid-America Committee" in Chicago in which he spoke of some "frightening thoughts," such as Iran, Libya, or Palestine Liberation Organization acquiring a nuclear bomb. Adelman then stated that "today, talk about the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran is in the news. A British defense journal recently alleged that Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran is only 2 years away from acquiring nuclear weapons." Twenty three years later, we are still told by the "neoconservatives" and their counterparts in Israel that Iran is 2, 5 or 10 years away from the nuclear bomb. In my book I will provide details of twenty three years of such claims by the Israelis and their associates in the US. Let me just mention one interesting claim. Starting in 1992 Israelis and some "Iranian dissidents," who have been working closely with the Israeli intelligence, began to claim that Iran actually possesses three or four nuclear warheads. According to this claim, Iran had acquired these warheads from Kazakhstan, after the break up of the Soviet Union.

As late as 1998 the news still percolated within the Israeli, "Iranian dissidents" and some American circles. For example, on April 9, 1998, The Jerusalem Post stated: "Iran received several nuclear warheads from a former Soviet republic in the early 1990s and Russian experts maintained them, according to Iranian government documents relayed to Israel and obtained by The Jerusalem Post." "The documents," the Israeli newspaper went on to say, "deemed authentic by US congressional experts and still being studied in Israel, contain correspondence between Iranian government officials and leaders of the Revolutionary Guards that discusses Iran's successful efforts to obtain nuclear warheads from former Soviet republics." The paper then went on to say: "The documents appear to bolster reports from 1992 that Iran received enriched uranium and up to four nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan, with help from the Russian underworld." The following day The Jerusalem Post ran another piece on the same story. This time it claimed that "Iran paid $25 million for what appears to have been two tactical atomic weapons smuggled out of the former Soviet Union in a highly classified operation aided by technicians from Argentina, according to Iranian government documents marked top secret and obtained by The Jerusalem Post." All this, of course, was pure, sheer fabrication by Israel, their US allies and their "Iranian dissidents" partners. The sensational story, however, soon disappeared as the CIA and US government admitted that there was no truth to it. Afterward, the Israelis and their allies went back to estimating how soon Iran will have the atomic bomb; and since the bomb never materialized, they kept pushing the estimate back. Of course, as I will show in my book, the alleged Iranian bomb, similar to the proverbial "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, is an excuse. The real intention is to complete the "dual containment" by "containing" or destroying the one country that is still standing.

Q. The US is facing the anger of the Middle Eastern people as the result of its support for Israel. Is it possible to continue this? Or will the US reach a point when it will be ready to change the equation.

A: As long as the anger of the people of Middle East does not translate into overthrowing the corrupt, tyrannical and reactionary regimes in the Middle East who have symbiotic relation with the US and Israel, I don't see much fundamental change in the US foreign policy. So far, the anger has resulted mostly in sporadic, isolated and individual acts of violence. Such acts have removed the veneer of US being an "honest broker" between Israel and her opponents. Yet, at the same time, these actions have hardened the position of the US, brought her even closer to Israel and resulted in more acts of violence on the part of the US and Israel.

Q. How do you access the prospect of development in the Middle East in the next year?

A. It is very difficult and dangerous to predict the future, especially if one is familiar with the past and its complexities. This is particularly true if one is dealing with individuals who appear to be irrational or believe in a Hobbesian world. Will there be another election in Israel to bring back Binyamin Netanyahu to office? Will he fulfill his promise of "a pre-emptive air strike against Iran's nuclear installations if he were to be re-elected"? Will "neoconservatives" push for the use of a "shock and awe" air strike against Iran and carpet bomb Iranian nuclear and military sites, however irrational that action might appear to be to the rest of the world? Or will Iran capitulate, give up its right under Article IV of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept the US-Israeli demand-which is now backed by a UN sanction-to stop all enrichments activities? If Iran does accept this demand, what other demands will be put forward by the US and Israel, given that the nuclear issue, as I argued, is merely an excuse for "containment" of Iran? If Iran does not accept the demand, and if rational people around the world can stop the US and Israel from military adventurism, will there be more severe sanctions drafted against Iran by the UN? Will Russia and China be bribed, cajoled, arm twisted again to go along with these sanctions? Will these sanctions bring about what the US and Israel have been after for years, namely, to ruin the Iranian economy, bring about unrest, and make Iran ripe for a US invasion, as was the case in Iraq? These are difficult questions to answer and make predicting events in the future nearly impossible. The ultimate question, however, is this: is Iran ready to deal with all and every contingency? Does Iran know how this game is played and does it have a well-thought-of, well-articulated and unified game plan of its own? Is Iran fully aware that the US and Israel have patiently and meticulously worked for decades to push Iran into the current corner, where UN sanction has been finally imposed on it? Is Iran ready for the further tightening of the UN sanction noose? Could the economy of Iran, which is already under severe constraints, withstand further pressure? Are Iranians willing to tolerate additional economic hardship, such as the reduction in foreign investment, falling employment and rising inflation? Having carefully studies the history of the US-Israel-Iran entanglement, and having heard many voices from Iran, empty rhetoric and wishful thinking, I am not sure if the answers to the above questions are all affirmative.

Q. In your view is the confrontation of the US with Iran directed toward the strategic position of Iran and its potential impact in the region or is this effort directed to weaken the political and spiritual influence of Iran in the region?

A. It seems like most empires in the past the US does not tolerate disobedience and will not accept any challengers in the world, whether it is Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Cuba or Venezuela it does not make much difference. Thus, it is not necessarily the strategic position of Iran or its political and spiritual influence in the region that has led to the confrontation between the two countries. The confrontation, as it is well known, goes back to 1979, when the US "lost" Iran. Ever since the US has been trying to bring back the old order and make Iran another obedient, client state. To use an American expression, until Iran says "uncle" to the US and Israel it is considered to be an "out law," a "rogue nation" that must be punished. Of course, the strategic position of Iran and its political alignment with groups such as Hamas and Hezbolah puts her on the top of the US's agenda.

Q. Will Iran be able to have the capacity to form an alliance against Israel in the region? Or will Iran be forced to collaborate with Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas to form an anti-Israel alliance as opposed to moderate Arab countries?

A. As mentioned earlier, having failed to achieve the desired result in Iraq, the US and Israel are now trying to create the myth of the Shiite crescent headed by Iran. As I also indicated, the traditional Arab client states of the US appear to be accepting this new myth and are going along with the idea of joining US and Israel in the "containment" of Iran. Whether Iran can change this trend appears to be doubtful given the nature of these Arab regimes and their long, historical, and symbiotic relation with the US. That leaves Iran with a very limited choice of allies, such as Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. But, obviously, this alliance doe not do much for Iran in terms of security. Actually, a major reason for the US-Israel policy of "containment," and the resulting insecurity that Iran faces, is Iran's support for groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. As I have argued elsewhere and will argue in my book, when the policy of "dual containment" was announced in the early 1990s, Iran was said to commit three "sins:" 1) sponsoring terrorism worldwide-which was meant support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad-2) opposing Middle East peace efforts-which was meant the Oslo "peace process"-and 3) developing weapons of mass destruction-which, at the time, was left ambiguously defined. The sin of opposing the Olso "peace process" was soon dropped out of the equation, since Israel opposed it as well. But the other two sins remained; and, to paraphrase Paul Wolfowitz's explanation for invading Iraq, for bureaucratic reasons the US and Israel settled on the issue of weapons of mass destruction as the core reason for "containing" Iran. In actuality, the main reason for Israel's belligerent policy towards Iran has been the latter's support for Hamas and Hezbollah. As long as that support remains, the attempt to "contain" Iran and the resulting insecurity will remain.

Q. Will Israel serve as pressure lever against Iran? Or will she, by exaggerating the nuclear threat of Tehran, try to create Western shield for itself?

A. Israel, as I have alluded to above and will show in my book, has been the prime force behind "containing" Iran since the end of the US invasion of Iraq in 1991 and the subsequent UN sanctions imposed on the country. Also, given what I said earlier, it is clear that Israel does not need a Western shield and is not really worried about Iran building a nuclear weapon. It is well known-and lately Olmert admitted it indirectly- that Israel has many nuclear warheads. With those warheads, and her advanced Western technology, Israel cannot possibly feel threatened by Iran supposedly developing a primitive nuclear bomb. As President Jacques Chirac stated in his January 31, 2007, interview with The New York Times: "Where would Iran drop this bomb? On Israel? . . It would not have gone off 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed to the ground." As I have argued above, the issue of Iran allegedly developing a nuclear weapon is an excuse by the US and Israel to "contain" Iran in the same manner that they "contained" Iraq. The "containment" of Iraq, of course, did not go exactly as planned, but Iraq will be economically and militarily out of action for decades to come. For some of the architects of the US invasion of Iraq, this is a good enough "containment."

Mehran Ghassemi is an Iranian journalist. This interview is available in Farsi at:

Congress, Iran: Walking the Edge of the Cliff

Mar 17, 2007

By Fiona West

The Bush administration is threatening to attack Iran. Many of us ignored the threats for a long time. How could it be more than saber rattling, when we’re already involved in two wars? But there is evidence that compels us to see an attack as a serious possibility.

Efforts to block that possibility suffered a defeat yesterday. Leaders of the House are trying to gather votes to pass a bill limiting the Iraq war. Rep. Jim McDermott added a provision to prevent an attack on Iran without congressional authorization. But conservative Democrats objected, and it was dropped to gain their votes on Iraq.

This is not the end of the story, however. Senator Jim Webb has already introduced a bill with similar intent. And there are renewed rumblings in the House. We may well see language related to Iran reintroduced.

These efforts need our vigorous support. Even those progressives whose focus has been on the Iraq war need to pause, look at the Iran situation, and see how important it is for us to make our voices heard about both Iraq and Iran at this crucial time.

An attack on Iran was, without doubt, part of the original Rumsfeld battle plan for the Middle East. The evidence that it is still on the table includes the media campaign to sell the war to the public, and the military preparations that have quietly taken place. Even more disturbing are the repeated reports from dismayed military and intelligence insiders, trying to tell us just how irrational the neo-conservatives are, and that we’re standing on the brink of yet another war.

Looking for ways to block the attack takes us into a twilight zone, a long-simmering constitutional crisis, where we can no longer count on the President abiding by the most basic rules of our system.

We need to confront the evidence, take it seriously, and transmit it to as many people as we can. The stakes are too high not to--particularly as it has become evident that tactical nuclear weapons are among the options under consideration.

Selling the War

We’ve all watched this happen. It’s so familiar. There have been alarming reports of WMD, accusations of plots, of inspectors duped and misled, and urgent warnings that if we don’t act now it may be too late. "It is absolutely parallel. They're using the same dance steps - demonise the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux," says Phillip Geraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist.

It’s different from Iraq in that diplomats and arms experts believe Iran is in fact taking initial steps toward developing nuclear arms, despite having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Nobody likes that idea. A nuclear arms race involving the Sunni regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and possibly Jordan would be very likely to ensue, bringing yet greater risk to the world’s most volatile region.(See Hersh, Next Act, pp 4, 6)*

Yet Iran will not have their first bomb for some time; probably between 5 and 10 years. There is time for diplomacy. The Iranians have periodically shown openness to negotiations. There is no basis for turning to extreme measures at this point.

The White House was embarrassed last fall by the leaking of a CIA assessment which challenged administration claims on how close Iran is to having nukes.
(Hersh, Next Act, p.3) In a sudden change of emphasis, Iran was accused of supplying Shiite groups in Iraq with explosive devices used to kill American troops—even though the great majority of US casualties come from Sunni insurgents. When that case proved weak, Iran was suddenly labeled the "Central Banker of Terrorism."

As with Iraq, one charge after another is leveled. Maybe they don’t stick. Maybe they’re partial and distorted. But the media covers them, and there’s always a residual effect on the public. Many people still believe Saddam Hussein was somehow connected with 9/11.

Preparing for War

The US has moved ships, planes, missiles, and personnel into the Gulf region over the past several months. According to Col. Sam Gardiner (USAF, Retired), who has taught strategy in the War College and been involved in war-gaming strikes on Iran for the Bush administration, the pieces are being put in place for a naval and air attack on Iran.

The aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, with its accompanying destroyers and support ships, is in the Arabian Sea. It has recently been joined by a second aircraft carrier strike group. This is the first time since the start of the Iraq war that two such groups have been deployed in the Arabian Sea. One of the carrier groups is due to be relieved this spring, but journalist Seymour Hersh says, "There is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources." (Hersh, Redirection, p. 3)

According to Col. Gardiner, the carrier groups will be joined by "naval mine clearing assets from both the United States and the UK. Patriot missile defense systems have also been ordered to deploy to the Gulf." There are reports of activity along the Black Sea as well, including setting up new refueling facilities for Stealth bombers in Bulgaria and Romania—within striking distance of Iran.

Col. Gardiner says:

The White House keeps saying there are no plans to attack Iran. Obviously, the facts suggest otherwise....

The White House could be telling the truth. Maybe there are no plans to take Iran to the next level. The fuel for a fire is in place, however. All we need is a spark.

Perhaps most tellingly, there is a new head of Central Command (which oversees the Middle East), and the officer assigned is not a general but Admiral William J. Fallon.
Navy Commander Jeff Huber (Retired) diaried this change here at Daily Kos. The title was: Navy Commander Goes to CENTCOM: Be Very Afraid. He said:

ABC reports that "Fallon, who is in the Navy, is currently head of Pacific Command; he will be overseeing two ground wars, so the appointment is highly unusual."

However, Fallon's area of responsibility will also include Iran.

A conflict with Iran would be a naval and air operation. Fallon is a naval flight officer. He flew combat missions in Vietnam, commanded an A-6 Intruder squadron, a carrier air wing and an aircraft carrier. As a three-star, he commanded Second Fleet and Strike Force Atlantic. ...If anybody knows how to run a maritime and air operation against Iran, it's "Fox" Fallon.

This is not the kind of thing that’s done for show. We have to assume that Fallon is in that command because the administration believes that his talents will prove useful.

Warnings from Inside

The neo-cons came into the White House with a sweeping and reckless vision: creating a global Pax Americana through military action. Formulated by the conservative group PNAC (Project for a New American Century), with Cheney and Rumsfeld among its founders, the plan saw the Middle East as a good place to start. It called for intervention to establish pro-American regimes in a long list of nations, beginning with Iraq. Other countries in their sights included Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

The tragic events of 9/11gave the Bush administration an opening to carry out their policy. They moved fast. General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, recently described visiting the Pentagon on about September 20, 2001. That day, a general he knew told him that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq, even though no connection between Saddam and al-Qaida had been found. A few weeks later, Clark spoke with that general again.

I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" And he said, "Oh, it's worse than that." He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, "I just got this down from upstairs" -- meaning the Secretary of Defense's office -- "today." And he said, "This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran."

As it has turned out, regime change is not so simple as the neo-cons thought. Many people assume that the quagmire in Iraq has taught Bush and Cheney some lessons. Clearly, they’ve had to scale down their plans from the original memo. What are they thinking now?

Among our key reports from inside sources are articles by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh. I’ve drawn on four Hersh articles from 2005, 2006, and 2007. Many quotes and incidents are within the last year. Hersh portrays an administration closed in on itself, not open to criticism or new insight, and obsessed with Iran.

Shortly after the 2004 election, Hersh was told that despite troubles in Iraq, Bush had not changed his basic policy. Repeatedly, Hersh was told that that Iran was next.
(Hersh,Coming Wars, p.3)

"We’re not dealing with a set of National Security Council option papers here," the former high-level intelligence official told me. "They’ve already passed that wicket. It’s not if we’re going to do anything against Iran. They’re doing it."

In an article written last November, Hersh reflected administration positions shortly before the mid-term elections. At that time, neo-cons in the White House, such as David Wurmser, the main Middle East expert on Cheney’s staff, were still in favor of attacking Iran, arguing that bombing Iran would help the US achieve victory in the civil war in Iraq. They also believe that a preemptive strike, even if it doesn’t destroy all of the nuclear sites, will chasten Iran and make them more cautious. Wurmser holds that "so far, there’s been no price tag on Iran for its nuclear efforts and for its continuing agitation and intervention inside Iraq." Along with others in Cheney’s office, Wurmser believes "that there can be no settlement of the Iraq war without regime change in Iran." (Hersh, Next Act, p. 4)

The distrust of Iran’s current leadership, seen as Islamic extremists, is very deep. Sam Gardiner says that one of the basic truths in the Bush administration’s world view is that "you cannot negotiate with these people."

The belief that regime change can be achieved by "shock and awe" seems to be remarkably persistent. Military and other experts have been standing in line to warn that there is no good military option in Iran. They’re aware of the potential for spreading regional chaos, of the war games that have predicted disaster. Still, according to what a former defense official told Hersh (Hersh, Iran Plans, p.1), the Bush administration’s planning assumes that

"A sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government."

Most military leaders who have spoken out do not share this assumption. The former defense official told Hersh that he was shocked by the Bush camp’s thinking.

"I asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’"

Middle East scholar Flynt Leverett, who formerly worked on the Bush National Security Council, warned that an American attack "will produce an Iranian backlash against the United States and a rallying around the regime." (Hersh, Coming Wars, p. 4) A former senior intelligence official told Hersh (Hersh, Next Act, p.4):

"An American attack will paper over any differences in the Arab world, and we’ll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah fighting against us – and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West. It’s an analyst’s worst nightmare – for the first time since the caliphate there will be common cause in the Middle East."

And for what?

The former intelligence official also had this to say
(Hersh, Next Act, p.6):

"The CIA’s view is that, without more intelligence, a large-scale bombing attack would not stop Iran’s nuclear program."

Yet, according to Hersh’s sources, President Bush is convinced that it’s now or never, that it’s up to him to do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do," and that "saving Iran is going to be his legacy." (Hersh, Iran Plans, p. 1)

On Feb.27, 2007, the London Sunday Times reported that, according to a source in British intelligence, up to five top-level US generals and admirals were threatening to resign if they were ordered to strike Iran. This is not the kind of threat made idly, or on theoretical grounds. If the report is accurate, then just over two weeks ago, the possibility of that order being given was still very much alive.

Mass Casualties, Mushroom Clouds

Since World War II, the US has treated nuclear weapons as weapons of last resort, to be called on only if the nation’s existence is threatened. Early in the Bush/Cheney years, however, through an evaluation process called a Nuclear Posture Review, a profound change took place with almost no public awareness or discussion. Planning and command structures for nuclear and conventional weapons have been integrated. Possible targets for nukes have been expanded to include, for example, bioweapons facilities and deep underground bunkers that might not be reachable by conventional means. This brings to mind Iran’s deeply buried underground nuclear facilities, particularly the major facility at Natanz, about 200 miles from Tehran, which may well not be reachable without the nuclear "bunker busters."

Military affairs analyst William M. Arkin, of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, points out that under the new rules nukes are no longer strictly weapons of last resort. Smaller nukes may be called on when the military simply needs a little extra punch. Arkin says:

What worries many senior officials in the armed forces ... is that nuclear weapons -- locked away in a Pandora's box for more than half a century -- are being taken out of that lockbox and put on the shelf with everything else. While Pentagon leaders insist that does not mean they take nuclear weapons lightly, critics fear that removing the firewall and adding nuclear weapons to the normal option ladder makes their use more likely -- especially under a policy of preemption that says Washington alone will decide when to strike.

Arkin warns that inevitably, this lowering of the threshold on the part of the US will result in other nations doing the same, and greatly increase the likelihood of nuclear wars.

There has also been a push to develop "flexible" mini-nukes, low-yield tactical nukes that can be used without producing casualty rates on the level of traditional nuclear weapons. Bunker-busters, designed for deeply buried sites, are favorite candidates. Yet scientists consistently warn that there is no clean nuclear weapon. The
Christian Science Monitor says:

According to Dr. Robert Nelson, a physicist at Princeton University, "The goal of a benign earth-penetrating nuclear weapon is physically impossible." His recent report shows that "EPWs cannot penetrate deeply enough to contain the nuclear explosion and will necessarily produce an especially intense and deadly radioactive fallout." ...Even low-yield earth-penetrating nuclear weapons would excavate substantial craters, "throwing out a large amount of radioactive dirt and debris."

Any US strike against Iran, even if purely conventional, would carry a high cost in human life, given the number and range of targets likely to be hit. What happens to the casualty rate if tactical nukes are factored in? How much damage will even relatively low-yield nukes do?

According to all reports, the US military has been adamantly opposed to the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Civilians in the administration, however, are arguing for it. Here is how a former senior intelligence officer described the tension to Hersh. (Hersh, Iran Plans, p.3)

"Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out"—remove the nuclear option—"they’re shouted down."

This is what hides behind minimizing terms like "mini-nuke." Mushroom clouds, mass casualties. Earth-penetrating weapons kicking out clouds of radioactive dust and debris. Radiation sickness. Fall-out drifting on the prevailing winds over Afghanistan, Paksitan, northern India. Once again, the military is trying to restrain civilians whose determined ideological stance makes them unwilling to hear. Those who understand what they’re talking about are being shouted down.

Here is a link to photos of Tehran, a city set amid stunning natural majesty. You can see a crowd in a soccer stadium, a man playing an accordion, a playground, people walking on the street.

If clouds of radioactive dust blow among these tall buildings, as the smoke from the WTC billowed among the buildings of New York City, will the Iranians be chastened? Will they, as the neo-cons dream, rise up in revolt against their government? Or will they, like us, close ranks behind their leaders, whether those leaders are wise or not, and vow to make the attackers pay?

We are looking at our own Day of Infamy, one that will haunt us for generations, at a cost beyond measure in lives, in the prospects for peace, and in honor.

The use of any nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear state is a Pandora’s box that, once opened, can never be closed again. When the first tactical nuke falls on Iranian soil, the political equations change forever.

Will they do it? We don’t know for sure. They considered using tactical nukes in the invasion of Iraq, but did not. Maybe they won’t this time either. The military is strongly opposed.

Still, this is exactly the kind of situation for which Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld prepared their mini-nukes and integrated command structure. It is a basic tenet of neo-con thought that the US has been too hesitant to make use of its military supremacy, and needs to be more assertive. They want Iran’s nuclear program destroyed; Bush wants his legacy; and it’s likely that conventional weapons can’t do it all. How likely are they to take that chance?

Signing Statements and War Powers: How Can Bush Be Stopped?

The President is the Commander in Chief, but according to the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war (or, in contemporary terms, to authorize the use of military force). So we should not be worrying about a US attack on Iran at all. Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq, but with Democratic majorities in both houses, they won’t authorize yet another Bush war under current conditions, when diplomacy has not been exhausted and Iran is not an imminent threat to our security. That should be all that needs to be said, because the Constitution is clear. Bush has no legal right to engage in an act of war against Iran without authorization from Congress.

But many constitutional issues have gotten murky since Bush and Cheney entered the White House.

As most people here know, and most Americans dependent on conventional news sources do not, Bush has been using "signing statements" to rewrite or discount legislation he disagrees with. He had done this on the basis of a theory of presidential power, the "Unitary Executive" theory, that this administration essentially made up out of whole cloth. The signing statement on the resolution authorizing the Iraq war is a chilling example. Bush thanks Congress for this gesture of support, which shows the world that "we speak with one voice." But it’s clear that he’s saying that as Commander in Chief he does not need authorization from Congress to invade and conquer a sovereign state. He does not address the constitutional issues. He simply states his claim to power and leaves it at that.

Like most signing statements over the past six years – some equally outrageous – this one has gone almost without comment except in the blogosphere. Signing statements are filed quietly after the public signing of a bill; it is possible that most members of Congress did not even know until recently what this one said. Some may still not realize how extreme Bush’s position is. It is, in fact, hard to fathom. Bush has managed to take a stunningly law-defying stance, and (with the help of a compliant Republican Congress for six years ) so normalize his dismissal of constitutional restraints that few people quite believe what he’s done.

But the fact is that the Democrats cannot simply count on the Constitution stopping Bush. Furthermore, even a simple resolution against an attack on Iran may not be enough. Even if Democrats could avoid a filibuster and pass such a resolution, there would be no clear gain. Bush might veto it. Or he might simply sign it, attach a signing statement, and do as he pleases anyway.

Grover Norquist, himself a far-right neo-con, has summed up the signing statement situation thus:

If you interpret the Constitution's saying that the president is commander in chief to mean that the president can do anything he wants and can ignore the laws, you don't have a constitution: you have a king.

Fortunately, one avenue of Congressional power has not been undermined so far. That is the power of the purse. This power has been used to control wars in the past (to limit Nixon’s actions against Cambodia, for instance, and to forbid funding the Contras). It is the one war-related congressional power that even Cheney and other neo-cons have acknowledged.

Senator Jim Webb has introduced a bill–S759—to prohibit any funding for an attack on Iran without congressional authorization. Jim Webb has examined the signing statement on the Iraq resolution, and clearly understands its implications, as evident in his speech here.

In signing the 2002 Iraq resolution, the President denied that the Congress has the power to affect his decisions when it comes to the use of our military. He shrugged off this resolution, stating that on the question of the threat posed by Iraq, his views and those of the Congress merely happened to be the same...

Senator Webb’s bill will be offered as an amendment when the Senate considers their version of the supplemental appropriations bill. Funding bills can’t be filibustered, and the supplemental appropriations, which covers the ongoing costs of the wars, is as close to veto-proof as any bill can get.

Meanwhile, as described in the Washington Post, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership are trying to pull together enough votes to put limits on the war in Iraq. They too are using funding power as the lever, attaching their conditions to the $105 billion supplemental appropriations bill. Their plan is a compromise measure, calling for full rest and readiness of troops, and for all troops to be out of Iraq by August, 2008 (with narrow exceptions such as targeted anti-terrorism operations, embassy protection, and training of Iraqi troops).

Some Democrats are refusing to vote for Pelosi’s package because they consider it weak, allowing the war to go on too long, and giving Bush too much maneuvering room. On the other side, some conservative Democrats (Blue Dogs) refuse to vote for it because they claim it is "micromanaging" the war. Yesterday, it also became evident that some Blue Dogs oppose McDermott’s provision specifying that the President could not attack Iran without congressional authorization.

The language Rep. McDermott proposed would do nothing more than reassert the traditional balance of powers by insisting that the President do what he is constitutionally obliged to do – but has made clear he does not feel bound to do. (Unlike Webb’s bill, McDermott’s provision did not specifically withhold funding, invoking the power of the purse. This is a weakness, and can hopefully be addressed in any new version.)

Like Senator Webb’s bill, McDermott’s language would not rule out any future option, including war with Iran, should that prove necessary. It simply says those options don’t belong to the President alone; he must respect Congress’ constitutional power to decide whether war will be initiated.

Despite it’s basic, constitutional nature – it’s conservative nature, in the best sense of the word -- some conservative Democrats made clear they would not vote for the House bill if it included the Iran provision. Some have also given their support of Israel as a reason to oppose the provision. This is ironic, to say the least. While Israel would have valid reason to fear a nuclear-armed Iran, a negotiated settlement would be far more in their interest than a widening Middle East war. However, the House leadership decided to strip the Iran provision from the bill.

This must not go unchallenged. We must respond loudly, insistently, and immediately. Those who are looking at ways to get an Iran provision back into the bill must know they have support.

We need to respond to the Blue Dogs and ask them – politely – why they are agreeing to Bush’s undermining of the Constitution. We must also challenge the idea that chaos and war in the Middle East are in Israel’s interest. There is no better time for House members – and Senators as well – to hear from us, to be reminded that people are aware of this issue and want the potential attack on Iran deflected.

We want the war in Iraq ended. But preventing war with Iran is not one of the things that can be dropped in the bargaining process.



Sign the Petition to Stop the Iran War. Wes Clark and the Iraq war vets at have a great site – if you haven’t signed yet, do. Spread the word and the ad. You can also click to send a message to Congress AND write to local papers.

Contact Congress. is great for finding contact information quickly. Write, call, email. Tell them that even as we struggle to wind down the war in Iraq, we have to prevent a new one in Iran. Emphasize the
importance of cutting off funding as a tactic, and explain why. Point to Jim Webb’s bill as a good example. Tell them this provision can’t be dropped.
-- Remember the Blue Dogs. Members can be found here
--Don’t forget the Republicans. If you have moderate Republican congresspeople in your state, contact them. Because the Democrats are divided, Republican votes are going to be needed.
--Don’t forget Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who need to hear that this issue is not something that can be jettisoned.

Remember Why This Is Happening. As Americans, we should not live in fear that our president will start a war at his own whim. Our Constitution and our democracy have been damaged. They’ve been gnawed away at by power-hungry arrogance in the White House, enabled by self-serving greed and negligence in Congress. We can no longer be sure where the limits are. If we get through this crisis safely, it isn’t over. We will be in crisis until we have reawakened our country’s democratic instincts, learned the lessons of the Bush years, and restored our Constitution.

Report on Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territories

PCHR weekly report on Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territories
During the reported period, one Palestinian youth was killed in the Gaza Strip, 15 injured, including three children, and a Palestinian civilian was beaten to death by the Israeli police in occupied East Jerusalem.

Arab Israeli parliamentarian calls Israel’s bluff

An inside job

Arab Israeli parliamentarian calls Israel's bluff

in a room at the renaissance Hotel, gesticulating Israeli parliamentarian Jamal Zahalka inhales deeply from his umpteenth cigarette of the hour and tells me flatly, "Israel is a democratic state for its Jewish citizens, and a Jewish state for its Arab citizens."

Zahalka, one of 10 Arab politicians in the 120-member Knesset, was in town recently for Israeli Apartheid Week and brought his strong message to 300 participants at OISE.

The elegantly dressed pol with a PhD in pharmacology from Hebrew University insists there is a separate and lesser order of citizen rights for the 20 per cent of Israelis who are Arab.

"Palestinians have become the demographic victims of the obsession to establish a Jewish democracy,'' he says, offering as an example the fact that the country spends a yearly average of 4,935 shekels ($1,372) per Jewish student but only 862 ($240) for each Arab one.

Zahalka's party, Balad (which means "homeland''), supports a two-state solution but provokes head-counting panic in Israel because it seeks to transform the country from a "Jewish state into a democratic one.''

Of all the points of discrimination Zahalka identifies, he is most incensed by the Citizenship And Entry Into Israel Law, which outlaws family unification for Israeli citizens married to Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza. "Exceptions are made in humanitarian cases,'' he says dryly, "only marriage and children do not qualify as humanitarian cases.''

The law pointedly does not apply to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. "Palestinian love and the institution of the family has become a demographic conspiracy against Israel,'' he says.

At the Israeli embassy, spokesperson Ofir Gendelman will only speak generally, retorting that "Israeli Arabs are part and parcel of Israeli society and its political establishment.'' He says those who consider Israel an apartheid state misunderstand the history of the Middle East conflict and insult those who fought South African apartheid.

Back in the hotel room, I can't help but ask Zahalka over his third cup of coffee whether, if things are as bad as he says, participating in the Knesset won't legitimize an unfair system.

No, he says. "Arab Israelis have got to use every right they have. Real democracy does not distinguish between people on an ethnic basis.'' It's a question, he says, of calling Israel's bluff.

NOW | MARCH 15 - 21, 2007 | VOL. 26 NO. 28

Waxman letter to White House post Plame hearing

Daily Show: President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski

President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski appeared on The Daily Show last night to talk about his new book, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower, and the current state of geopolitical affairs.
March 15, 2007

Neo-cons have been consigned to history

By Jacob Weisberg

Published: March 15 2007 02:00 | Last updated: March 15 2007 02:00

The term "neo-conservative" has many usages, including "former liberal" and "Jewish conservative". In recent years, however, it has taken on clearer definition as a philosophy of aggressive unilateralism and the attempt to impose democratic ideas on the Arab world. The neo-conservatives also constitute a distinct group around George W. Bush, the US president. They pushed for the invasion of Iraq and remain identified with hardline positions on Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Outside the administration, the chief fulcrum of neo-conservatism is the American Enterprise Institute. The day after vice-president Dick Cheney's former aide Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury, AEI held its annual black-tie gala. I did not go expecting contrition, but under the circumstances it seemed possible that self-examination might feature on the menu. Once a lazy pasture for moderate Republicans hurtled into the private sector by Gerald Ford's 1976 defeat, AEI has turned in recent years into a kind of Cheney family think-tank. It had not been a good week, year, or second term for any of these people and I thought a few cocktails might cause them to consider their predicament.

This was fantasy on my part. From the stage, one took no hint that matters were not working out as anticipated. All rose to salute the arrival of Mr and Mrs Cheney, herself a longtime fellow at the institute. The vice-president looked on from the head table as his friend, Bernard Lewis, perhaps the most significant intellectual influence behind the invasion of Iraq, came up to accept an award.

In his address, the 90-year-old Mr Lewis did not revisit his argument that regime change in Iraq could provide the jolt needed to modernise the Middle East. Instead, he spoke about the millennial struggle between Christianity and Islam. Mr Lewis argues that Muslims have adopted migration, along with terror, as the latest strategy in their "cosmic struggle for world domination". This is a familiar framework from the original author of the phrase "the clash of civilisations". What did surprise me was Mr Lewis's denunciation of Pope John Paul II's 2000 apology for the crusades as political correctness run amok, which drew clapping. Mr Lewis's view is that the Muslims started the trouble by invading Europe in the eighth century; the crusades were merely a failed imitation of Muslim jihad in an endless see-saw of conquest and reconquest.

Were one to start counting ironies here, where would one stop? Here was a Jewish scholar criticising the Pope for apologising to Muslims for a holy war against Muslims, which was also a massacre of the Jews. Here were the theorists of the invasion of Iraq, many of them also Jewish, applauding the notion that the crusades were not so terrible and embracing a time horizon that makes it impossible to judge their war an error. And here was the clubhouse of the neo-conservatives, throwing itself a lavish party when the biggest question in American politics is how to escape the hole they have dug.

But whether or not the neo-cons are prepared to face it, there are increasing signs that their moment is finally over. At the Defence department, Donald Rumsfeld has been replaced by Robert Gates, a member of the Iraq Study Group and an affiliate of the realist school associated with the previous President Bush. Paul Wolfowitz, the architect who wanted to build a new Middle East on Saddam's rubble, has been moved to the World Bank, where he observes a Robert McNamara-like silence on the failure of his war. Another former Pentagon official, Douglas Feith, is under investigation for misrepresenting intelligence data to make the case for the invasion.

At the State department, Condoleezza Rice is returning to her realist roots and now actually seems to direct policy. She has embraced shuttle diplomacy in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, is considering conversation with Syria and Iran and even made a nuclear deal with North Korea. These steps signify a broader shift away from what the neo-con defector Francis Fukuyama calls "hard Wilsonian" ideas and back towards the less principled, more effective pragmatism of Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser, and James Baker, former secretary of state.

The most important sign of all is the fading influence of Mr Cheney, who for six years dominated foreign policy in a way no previous vice-president ever has. Mr Cheney is discredited, unwell and facing various congressional investigations. He was badly damaged by the Libby trial, which exposed his ruthless mania to justify a war gone wrong.

But the larger factor in Mr Cheney's demise is that his neo-conservative hypotheses have been falsified by events. Invading Iraq did not catalyse a new Middle East; isolating North Korea advanced its nuclear programme; high-handed unilateralism has reduced American power. At the outset of his presidency, Mr Bush thought himself lucky to have a number two who did not aspire to his job. He may now grasp the hazard of lending so much power to someone with no incentive to test his views in the political marketplace.

As disciples of Bernard Lewis, it is unlikely Mr Cheney and the neo-con crusaders will apologise for what they have wrought. Like Mr Bush, they look to the long span of history for vindication. It will indeed be eons before anyone trusts them again.

The writer is editor of