Posts Tagged ‘UN’
You may remember the so-called anthrax attacks in 2001, which were widely cited as a reason to attack Iraq. The lasting image in the run-up to the war is of Colin Powell sitting in front of the UN, shaking a vial of anthrax and saying “We know this came from Saddam”. Of course it didn’t. And for years afterward, no one quite knew who the mysterious “anthrax attacker” was.
Then, in 2008, the FBI came out with its decision that the anthrax attacker was one Bruce Ivins, an apparently disgruntled Army biodefense expert who committed suicide just days before the justice department planned to formally charge him. Since Mr. Ivins was dead, the FBI saw no need to gather any additional evidence or reveal what evidence they had already gathered. Case Closed!
Not quite. Glenn Greenwald and several other bloggers have cast deep aspersions on the FBI’s investigation, stopping just short of calling it a fraud. In his sublime article, Greenwald noted several unresolved questions in the FBI’s investigation – questions which, it would now seem, will never be solved. Also see this, this, and this.
Greenwald isn’t the only one with questions. Last Thursday, Rep. Steve Holt called on Congress to begin a new investigation. As he wrote in a letter to Congress:
To date, there has been no comprehensive examination of the FBI’s conduct in this investigation, and a number of important questions remain unanswered.
We don’t know why the FBI jumped so quickly to the conclusion that the source of the material used in the attacks could only have come from a domestic lab, in this case, Ft. Dietrick. We don’t know why they focused for so long, so intently, and so mistakenly on Dr. Hatfill.
We don’t know whether the FBI’s assertions about Dr. Ivins’ activities and behavior are accurate. We don’t know if the FBI’s explanation for the presence of silica in the anthrax spores is truly scientifically valid. We don’t know whether scientists at other government and private labs who assisted the FBI in the investigation actually concur with the FBI’s investigative findings and conclusions.
We don’t know whether the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Postal Service have learned the right lessons from these attacks and have implemented measures to prevent or mitigate future such bioterror attacks.
You can read the full letter here. Rep. Holt joins Senator Pat Leahy, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Arlen Specter, and several others in expressing deep skepticism on the FBI’s narrative. What would cause all these senators and representatives, from both sides of the aisle, to question the FBI’s findings?
And on top of it all, President Obama has threatened to veto an intelligence budget bill (a move which I would normally be all for), because it carries a provision to investigate the FBI’s handling of the anthrax case. Why would he do this?
Well, according to him, an investigation “would undermine public confidence in a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of the attacks and unfairly cast doubt on its conclusions,”. To tell you the truth, that statement did far more to undermine my confidence in the FBI than any investigation would have.
This whole thing stinks of a cover-up. At this point I think it extremely likely that the anthrax scare was deliberately put on by the Bush Administration (at the cost of five lives) in order to drum up support for the Iraq War. It was just too convenient! Think of how many speeches in which President Bush or one of his flunkies accused Saddam of manufacturing anthrax. The only thing that made those threats credible was the anthrax attack that already happened in the US.
So the FBI, under immense public pressure to find someone responsible decides upon Bruce Ivins. But they know if the case went to court, their fraud would be exposed. So they “arrange” for him to commit suicide, thus precluding the possibility of a trial but still closing the case once and for all.
Then President Obama uses his muscle to make sure the case stays closed, by threatening his first veto over the matter. It’s all too easy.
Also, see this. Dr. Meryl Nass is an expert in the subject, and was intimately involved with Bruce Ivins’s research. She rounds up 16 major holes in the FBI’s case against Bruce Ivins, including the fact that no autopsy was performed on Ivin’s body (so we’re supposed to just take their word that it was a suicide).
Remember, without these anthrax attacks, President Bush would have had a far more difficult time convincing the country to go to war with Iraq, and many think he could not have done it. The FBI’s case is full of holes and begs for a more thorough investigation. Ask yourself: why is President Obama so intent on letting sleeping dogs lie? What does he think this investigation will reveal? Why is he willing to veto a major intelligence bill to make sure that Bruce Ivins remains the sole anthrax perpetrator?
Frontline makes a compelling case for Kashmiri independence:
Despite its accession to India, the idea of independence for Kashmir was freely aired by Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, and others, as noted earlier (Frontline, January 29, 2010). The Sheikh could not have been unaware of this and made his own moves as a member of the Indian delegation to the Security Council, whose leader, Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, had publicly recognised the possibility of independence.
On January 28, 1948, in New York, Abdullah met the United States representative to the United Nations, Warren Austin. “His whole attitude and approach being obviously to seek U.S. support for Indian viewpoint,” Austin reported, adding: “It is possible that principal purpose of Abdullah’s visit was to make clear to U.S. that there is a third alternative, namely, independence. He seemed overly anxious to get this point across, and made quite a long and impassioned statement on subject. He said in effect that whether Kashmir went to Pakistan or India the other Dominion would always be against solution. Kashmir would thus be a bone of contention. It is a rich country. He did not want his people torn by dissension between Pakistan and India. It would be much better if Kashmir were independent and could seek American and British aid for development of country. I, of course, gave Abdullah no encouragement on this line and I am confident when he left he understood very well where we stand on this whole matter.” However, the leader of the so-called “Azad Kashmir” government, Sardar Ibrahim, “emphatically said Kashmir could not remain independent” (Foreign Relations of the United States: South Asia, 1948, Volume 5; pages 292-293).
In New Delhi on February 21, 1948, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Patrick Gordon-Walker, had extensive talks with Nehru as well as the Sheikh. The record bears quotation in extenso: “7. At this point Nehru fetched in Sheikh Abdullah and said he would leave us to this together. Just before Nehru left Sheikh Abdullah said he thought the solution was that Kashmir should accede to both Dominions. I had not time to get him to develop this idea before Nehru left the room, but questioned him afterwards. He said Kashmir’s trade was with India, that India was progressive and that Nehru was an Indian. On the other hand Kashmir’s trade passed through Pakistan and a hostile Pakistan would be a constant danger. The solution therefore was that Kashmir should have its autonomy jointly guaranteed by India and Pakistan and it would delegate its foreign policy and defence in them both jointly but would look after its own internal affairs. The two Dominions share a common interest in Kashmir and it would agree to unite and link them.
“I asked whether Nehru would agree to this solution and he said he thought so. He did discuss it with him. I will ask Nehru about this, this morning, when I see him and shall hope to add a paragraph to the end of this telegram. Sheikh Abdullah had no idea whether Pakistan would agree to this solution, but he said it would avoid a plebiscite which he did not really want. He thought India would win but the vote would be close, perhaps 60 to 40, and either way the minority would be so large that it would never really accept the verdict. If Pakistan lost, there would be constant trouble and no peace for Kashmir. The Muslim Conference would accept a joint accession and he could carry his own party.
Kai Eide is the UN “special representative” in Afghanistan, and his former student, Peter Galbraith, has repeatedly accused him of corrupt influence within the Karzai administration, including allegations of vote rigging in last year’s elections (which were widely seen as a fraud). Galbraith was later fired for his accusations.
Now the Times reports Mr. Eide has engaged in high-level talks with Taliban leaders.
Kai Eide, the United Nations’ special representative in Afghanistan, met with a group of Taliban leaders in the days leading to this week’s international conference in London, where President Hamid Karzai invited the Taliban to enter peace talks.
It’s unclear at this point what sort of game Mr. Eide is playing, especially since no details of the meeting (where/when it was held, who represented the Taliban, what was said, etc) are available. But I think it’s pretty clear that the UN – and by extension, the US – are rapidly shifting their strategy from “we don’t negotiate with Terrorists” to “Hey guys, let’s talk about this”.
The plan seems simple enough. To use the overwrought war-as-football metaphor, the US would seem to have “moved the goalposts”. It now appears that we are resigned to some portion of Afghanistan being ruled by the Taliban – perhaps even most of Afghanistan – but at the same time we are unwilling to let go of Hamid Karzai. If I could divine the strategy of our oh-so-wise policy planners, I would think they envision some form of power-sharing arrangement wherein the Karzai government controls Kabul and the heroin-producing regions of Afghanistan and the Taliban take the outlying desert. That way the US can extricate itself with some “credibility” left intact while leaving in place its “stooge” for whatever future plans they have for Afghanistan (permanent military bases, of course, but perhaps a natural-gas pipeline as well).
Eide’s role in all of this is still a bit mysterious. It is clear, from numerous previous statements, that Mr. Eide is very close to the Karzai regime and is willing to invest quite a lot to see it saved. That he fired his subordinate for leaking the Afghan election fraud is further evidence of this. It seems likely Mr. Eide is using his role as a UN envoy to prop up the Karzai regime and shield it from international criticism.
It’s still unclear whether the Taliban will be willing to negotiate a power-sharing agreement. This must be a very difficult decision for them. On one hand, the Americans are on the run and lack the resources to prosecute their effort for more than another year. Just holding out for a few more months can get them a better deal – and if (as our planners fear) the Taliban have the resources to resist indefinitely, control of Afghanistan is almost assured to them. On the other hand, if the Taliban find themselves running low on resources, morale or income, the smart thing to do would be to negotiate now. They might not get a better deal later.
But given the string of audacious attacks on Kabul, I think it safe to say the Taliban’s operations proceed unhindered. So I expect they will reject the offer of negotiation and press on.
The Karzai regime is immensely unpopular, and the only thing between him and an angry mob are American soldiers. Unless he can secure some sort of deal with the Taliban, it looks as though his days are numbered.
The Times reports that Israel plans to officially repudiate the notorious Goldstone Report which alleges, among other things, that Israel engaged in gross inhumanity during its January 2009 assault on Gaza. The report accuses Israel of “targeting Gaza citizens as a whole” and that the attack was designed to “humiliate and terrorize a civilian population”. Israel wantonly destroyed a UN school during the assault and indiscriminately bombed houses. The Goldstone report specifically reccomends Israel end its blockade of Gaza and award reparations for the damage it caused.
Israel was so furious at the report that it ranked it among the “top threats” to its national security, alongside nuclear war.
From The Times:
“We face three major strategic challenges,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently. “The Iranian nuclear program, rockets aimed at our civilians and Goldstone.”
At one point during the assault, Gaza’s sewage treatment was hit with a missile, spraying raw sewage everywhere. Naturally everyone assumed Israel was responsible – after all, who else has access to high-precision missiles? But they deny it, ludicrously alleging that the explosion “must have come from Hamas”, the erstwhile residents of Gaza who I can’t imagine enjoy the state of Gaza’s sanitation.
A second finding concerned the destruction of a wastewater plant, leading to an enormous outflow of raw sewage. The Goldstone report contended that it was hit by a powerful Israeli missile in a strike that was “deliberate and premeditated.” The Israelis say they had nothing to do with that plant’s collapse and suggest that it may have been the result of Hamas explosives.
The Goldstone report was open and transparent, so naturally a competing Israel investigation would have to conform to those standards. Well, maybe not:
Mr. Netanyahu and his government have not decided whether to submit the findings to independent scrutiny, as the Goldstone report specifies. They may do so in a partial way — by asking a group of nonmilitary Israeli jurists to examine the rebuttal but without power to recall witnesses, an approach favored by the military and those close to it.
If you don’t like the rules – change ’em!
President Obama delivered a speech yesterday morning in which he offered his “condolences” to the Hatian people and offered a vague and unspecific amount of “aid”. The speech was short on actual promises, but I’m sure the Hatians can trust America’s good intentions. I mean, it’s not like the US supported a murderous father and son dictatorship in their country for more than three decades, right? Oh wait…
So let’s see what President Obama intends to do:
I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives.
And that entails what, exactly? The speech leaves it pretty vague: he says the people of Haiti will have the “full support of the US in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble”, but I’m not sure what that means. Will we just be cheering them on? (“You can do it, Haiti!”) – or are we actually sending people to help?
Well, I guess we should look at Mr. Obama’s stated priorities to find out:
Right now our efforts are focused on several urgent priorities. First, we’re working quickly to account for U.S. embassy personnel and their families in Port-au-Prince, as well as the many American citizens who live and work in Haiti.
Okay, first things first – make sure the US citizens are safe! What next?
Second, we’ve mobilized resources to help rescue efforts. Military overflights have assessed the damage, and by early afternoon our civilian disaster assistance team are beginning to arrive. Search-and-rescue teams from Florida, Virginia and California will arrive throughout today and tomorrow, and more rescue and medical equipment and emergency personnel are being prepared.
Alright, that’s more like it – wait … civilian disaster team? You mean we won’t be lending Haiti the use of our professional disaster response? FEMA and whatnot? Oh well.
So this is a big deal, and it requires close collaboration with NGOs and the UN – but strangely, Mr. Obama declines to specify a dollar amount for our aid, despite the generous aid packages announced by Australia, China, Brazil, The World Bank, and even those soulless corporations . Huh.
At the end of the speech, Mr. Obama inadvertently adds insult to Haiti’s already horrific injury. He says:
With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home. So we have to be there for them in their hour of need.
What does that even mean? “Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home.” Aren’t you supposed to have written two books?
And I wouldn’t go trumpeting the “long history” that binds the US and Haiti together, as it’s one of overwhelming brutality and callousness on the part of the US. Starting in 1804, when the newly formed US helped France try to crush the slave revolt in Haiti (they failed, hence Haiti’s independence), the US has persistently and constantly meddled in Haitian affairs, much to the detriment of its population. After Haiti won independence, the US and France refused to recognize its government and forced them to pay 90 million gold Francs in “compensation” to the “landowners” (read: slavers) they just kicked off the island.
Later, in 1915, Woodrow Wilson occupied Haiti (illegally, of course) for 19 years. He was also instrumental in creating the Haitian army, which, from the moment of its inception, was used to crush the peasant population. Then, in 1957, we entered into a “strategic partnership” with Francois Duvalier, who had recently styled himself “president-for-life”, and killed, oh I don’ t know – 60,000 Haitians via death squads. Then in 1980 we gave a $22 million “aid package” to the Duvaliers, which really turned out to be a “bribe package”, since $16 million of the aid later went “unaccounted for”. Oh well, the Duvaliers were “anti-communist”, so how bad could they be, right?
Then, finally, in 1991 we allowed Haiti to have free elections. But the guy who won, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was deemed “too soft” by US policy planners, so the CIA funded and armed a terroristic “opposition” organization called the “FRAPH (Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress)” which then proceeded to execute a reign of terror, slaughtering between 3 and 5 thousands Haitians. And the slaughter didn’t stop once they exiled Aristide and took power; in fact, it intensified.Oh yeah, I almost forgot – Aristide was extremely popular, rose from the slums (like a certain president we know today), and won the presidency in a landslide victory (almost 70-30). But yeah, he was way too soft.
Then Aristide somehow made a comeback in 2000 and ruled until 2004, when once again the US funded and sponsored a terroristic “counter-revolutionary” group to oust him from power, which they did in 2004. Why? Because he refused to “privatize” Haiti’s economy.
I’m sure Mr. Obama will consider whatever miserly aid package he chooses to deliver as a “boon to Haiti’s struggling people,” a “manifestation of our common humanity,” or whatever other grandiose titles he wishes to give it. But students of history (something which Mr. Obama professes to be) should, of course, know better.
Well, the Copenhagen Climate Conference is just about over, and the amount of “binding agreements” which have so far been enacted would cause an impassioned observer to weep. The airplanes used by the delegates to get to Denmark probably emitted far more carbon than their collective agreement will cut.
Furthermore, a memo intercepted by (you guessed it) The Guardian expresses in stark detail just how far the goalposts have moved.
As they say:
The draft says countries “ought” to limit global warming to 2C, but does not bind them to do so. Rises of 2C and above are the levels scientists say would result in catastrophic consequences in many parts of the world.
It does not give specific targets for emissions cuts or a peak year for global emissions but says only that “deep cuts” are required and that emissions should peak “as soon as possible”. However, the text makes it clear that this subject is still under negotiation.
The text, drafted by a select group of 28 leaders – including UK prime minister, Gordon Brown – in the early hours of this morning, proposes extending negotiations for another year until the next scheduled UN meeting on climate change in Mexico City in December 2010.
So the world went (in three short days) from demanding that global temperatures rise only 2 degrees C to making that number “more of a guideline”. No binding emissions cuts have been agreed upon, and the world has decided, in essence, to procrastinate yet another year.
I have always thought that if our leaders weren’t so implacably old, we would have gotten on climate change much more vigorously. After all, if one is older than 50, greenhouse gases, emissions cuts, and sea-level rises don’t really mean that much. Those over 50 will be dead long before the effects of climate change make themselves known. Those between 10 and 35 years old, however, will have a front row seat for the havoc our short-sighted leaders will wreak. I, for instance, at age 22, will be quite alive during the doomsday year of 2050, and will likely see the sea levels rise, the deserts encroach, the rains dry up, the ice caps melt. The ones making these decisions, however, can rest assured that, after having lived a fruitful and extravagant life, they will sleep the great sleep before things become too hairy.
No wonder they don’t care!