Category: Deception / Lies

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Is This Real Life? Saudi Arabia Executes ‘Wizards’, But Condemns ‘Syrian Human Rights Violations’

A Saudi-proposed UN resolution expresses “outrage” at the worsening violence in Syria (fuelled by Saudi-backed extremists) that has left at least 250,000 dead

18 hours ago  

Obama greets a brave anti-wizard crusader
Obama greets a brave anti-wizard crusader

Close your eyes and think about “defenders of human rights”. What image bubbles up from your subconscious? If you answered “Saudi Arabia”, you probably represent one of the 115 countries that just passed a Saudi-proposed UN resolution condemning “Syrian human rights violations.”

Yes, Saudi Arabia —the oasis of human dignity where Harry Potter fans (widely considered the greatest dangers to world peace) are dealt with accordingly — is leading the fight against Syrian violence caused by Saudi-funded terrorists. Here are the terrible details:

A resolution presented by Saudi Arabia was adopted by a vote of 115 to 15, with 51 abstentions.

China, Iran and Russia were among the countries that voted against the measure that now goes to the full General Assembly.

The resolution expresses “outrage” at the worsening violence that has left at least 250,000 dead and displaced more than 12 million people. It stressed the need for accountability and encouraged the UN Security Council to take action, noting that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could play a role. An attempt last year to refer Syria to the ICC for war crimes was blocked by Russia, Syria’s ally, and China at the Security Council.


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the guardian

Cultural figures and human rights groups call for release of poet facing execution

Individuals and creative organisations join Amnesty International to demand Saudi Arabia overturn Ashraf Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam

Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh
Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh is facing execution in Saudi Arabia for renouncing Islam, a charge he denies. Photograph: YouTube

Leading international cultural figures have joined human rights campaigners in calling for the release of Ashraf Fayadh, the Palestinian poet and artist facing execution in Saudi Arabia.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, historian Simon Schama, playwright David Hare, and Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif are among the those calling for the death sentence imposed on Fayadh by a Saudi court last week to be overturned.

More than a dozen organisations for artists, writers, musicians and freedom of expression from the UK, North America and Africa – including Index on Censorship, literary association PEN International and the International Association of Art Critics – have also signed a joint statement condemning Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam, a charge which he denies.

The statement, which will be delivered to the Saudi embassy in London on Friday, says: “We believe that all charges against him should have been dropped entirely, and are appalled that Fayadh has instead been sentenced to death for apostasy, simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.”

Amnesty International launched an urgent action on Tuesday to lobby for Fayadh’s release, which denounced his lack of legal representation as a violation of international and Saudi law.

Schama said: “Anyone with a conscience should abhor the sentence and shun those responsible as inhuman.”


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Saudi Arabia executes 100th prisoner in 6 months

AFP Photo / STR
Saudi Arabia has beheaded a Syrian drug trafficker, rocketing the number of this year’s executions in the Kingdom to 100. This figure is already more than the 87 sentenced and put to death in the country during the whole of last year.

The execution took place on Monday in the northern region of Jawf. Syrian Ismael al-Tawm smuggled “a large amount of banned amphetamine pills into the kingdom,” the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement, as cited by AFP.

READ MORE: 89 in 5 months: Saudi Arabia continues executions

The man was sentenced to death according to the nation’s strict version of Sharia law, under which such crimes as murder, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death. Public executions are mostly conducted by decapitating the accused with a sword.

The 100th execution has surpassed the 87 recorded by AFP in 2014, but is still some way below the highest figure of 192, recorded by the human rights group Amnesty International in 1995. The watchdog has been scathing of the Kingdom’s human rights record, saying they “fall far short” of global norms.

“Almost half of the executions carried out so far this year have been for drug-related offences, which don’t fall into a recognized international category of ‘most serious crimes,’ and the use of the death penalty for such offences violates international law,” a statement on Amnesty International’s website read.



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New York Post


Hillary Clinton’s plan to fight ISIS is like Obama’s — only more so

Hillary Clinton’s plan to fight ISIS is like Obama’s — only more so

If you like President Obama’s “plan” to fight ISIS, you’ll just love Hillary Clinton’s.

Clinton wants to defeat the jihadis by relying pretty much on the same lame steps Obama has — only more so.

The Democratic presidential front-runner laid out her ideas Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in what was billed as a major policy speech. Alas, it offered far more rhetoric than substance.

Even Hillary herself admitted, in a question-and-answer session afterward, that her proposal is but “an intensification, an acceleration” of the failed Obama strategy.

Yes, she called for more airstrikes, a no-fly zone over Syria and boots on the ground. But it’s plain she’d have non-US forces do the heavy lifting in many of these areas.



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Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Alexandria, Virginia on October 23, 2015

Clinton Plan to Fight ISIL ‘All Rhetoric, No Strategy’ – Ex-US Ambassador

© AFP 2015/ Andrew Caballero-Reynolds


06:27 25.11.2015

US Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s plan to destroy the Islamic State, announced last Thursday, is a reheat of neo-conservative rhetoric and lacking any strategy whatsoever, former US Ambassador Chas Freeman told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On the same day Clinton offered her proposed strategy to fight the Islamic State, her chief challenger for the nomination, US Senator Bernie Sanders, offered a different plan advocating close cooperation between the United States, Russia and major Muslim nations.

“‘Hillary’s plan’ is all rhetoric and no strategy. As such, it is hard to distinguish it from the bellicose pronouncements of our nation’s neo-conservative pundits,” Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a past president of the Middle East Policy Council, said.

Clinton wanted to repeat over Syria the policies she adopted as secretary of state to topple Libya’s long-time leader Muammar Gadhafi, not realizing that conditions were very different, Freeman argued.

“Ms. Clinton essentially proposes a replay of Libya, an example of the use of force that few, if any other than she, find inspiring. As she did in Libya, she proposes airstrikes and a ‘no-fly zone’ — a purely military approach aimed at regime change with a proven record of producing disasters,” he said.

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Hmmmm,  last I checked the sovereign Nation of Syria had invited only two countries to enter and assist in the eradication of ISIS .  Russia and Iran.

It is curious  that in the short time period that Russia has been involved they have done more to eradicate the scourge infecting Syria than the US had done  in the two years it has been leading this  alleged ‘anti-ISIS’ coalition.

So my question is  what right  does the US have to stipulate any demands  or requirements  of Russia? When they have been invited by a  sovereign Nation.  The  US, however, has basically entered said  sovereign Nation of it’s own accord to tell them who should be in charge.

Not to mention claiming victories  against ISIS  while using videos of  airstrikes that are  essentially  Russian. Making it very clear that the  US  has no footage to backup their claims.  Quite the contrary they have been accused of  not only backing  ISIS  but having created it.

The Russian campaign in Syria has brought to light just how inept the alleged US led  campaign truly is.  As well as the discrepancies in the reports given by US officials.  For the most part fairy tales and fabrication!

Essentially waging war without declaring war on Syria itself! 


What unmitigated audacity!




Russia ‘must change strategy’ in Syria if it wants to join US-led ‘anti-ISIS’ coalition – State Dept

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby. © Alex Wong


Russia is not welcome to join the US-led coalition in Syria, as France has proposed, until it changes its “focus” and stops “propping up” President Assad, the US State Department said. Yet, Washington continues to insist their goal isn’t defeating Assad.

“If other nations not in the coalition [the US-led coalition] want to join it and become part of it and focus on the fight against ISIL [Islamic State/IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] that’s a conversation we’re certainly willing to have,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said.

An appeal to expand the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State came from French President Francois Hollande three days after deadly attacks in Paris a week ago. Stating that “France is at war,” Hollande called for the creation of a “large coalition,” which could unite forces with Russia “to achieve a result that has taken too long.”

READ MORE: ‘For Paris!’ Revenge messages on ISIS-bound Russian bombs

The grand coalition is going to be the focus of separate talks President Hollande will have with his American and Russian counterparts in coming days. The French leader is expected to hold talks in Washington on November 24 and in Moscow on November 26.

However, the US State Department says that Russia’s involvement in the coalition would depend on Moscow’s “commitment.”

“But in order for that to work, every member of the coalition has to have the same focus on defeating ISIL, and thus far we, talking about Russia, haven’t seen that same commitment,” Kirby said, referring to Russia’s support for the Syrian President Bashar Assad. “It’s inconsistent with the goals of the coalition, which is to defeat ISIL, if you’re also propping up the Assad regime.”



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New Eastern Outlook

Why Qatar Wants “to Make Friends” With Russia



As it has been reported, the leaders of the International Union of Muslim Scholars drafted an open letter, stating that they “share a positive attitude towards the Russian Federation, which supports the Arabs and Muslims today.” Moreover, the letter states that if any any decision is to be made in relation to the Russian Federation, those making the decision must first consult Russia’s Islamic theologians. The letter is truly unique, in fact, it says that the International Union of Muslim Scholars supports the actions of the Russian authorities in Syria. If there is at least a couple of sincere words in this letter, then means a lot, especially if one is to remember that the headquarters of this organization are located in Doha – the capital of Qatar, a Wahhabi state. Moreover, the letter states that the fate of Bashar al-Assad should be decided by the Syrian people themselves.

It would be an understatement to say that it’s an unusual step, since this International Union is one of the most influential and authoritative Muslim organization in the world that brings together Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and even Ibadi Muslim, that are generally residing in Oman. There’s at least 90 thousands of prominent Muslim scholars to be found in the ranks of this Union, including more than 40 of the most authoritative Russian theologians – those are muftis and rectors of the Islamic institutions of the North Caucasus and Volga regions. So, it’s a truly influential organization.

But one thing should be remembered all along – the president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and he’s the spiritual and ideological leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, which remain the largest association of radical Islamists in the whole world. In 1963 the then president of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled Yusuf al-Qaradawi from Egypt for attempts to undermine the ruling regime. But the radical scholar wasn’t wondering the world for long, since he found refuge in Qatar – the Wahhabi emirate. Yusuf al-Qaradawi was the spiritual leader and the ideological mastermind of all the Arab “revolutions” –  Egyptian, Libyan, Syrian and Yemeni. It was he, together with the former Prime Minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim, to organize in 2011 an assault on the Russian ambassador to Doha, since Russia’s envoy exposed his vicious policies of encouraging the Arab revolutions.

Largely due Qaradawi’s influence on the former emir of Qatar, that now has been surpassed by the influence he has on the sitting Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Doha has been fomenting and financing the wave of the Arab “Springs” and, despite all the recent changes in the situation in Syria, it continues supporting the terrorist group that goes under the name Jabhat al-Nusra. What is curious is that after Russian intervenion in Syria Sheikh Yusuf urged Muslims around the world to wage a “jihad” against Russia, and now we witness a complete reversal of his policies.

Many analysts have immediately noted that we are witnessing an incredibly positive phenomenon, almost a complete change Qaradawi’s mentality. But is there any change at all? It’s obvious that a leopard cannot change its spots.

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Moon of Alabama


November 20, 2015

U.S. media can not agree with itself if Russia is giving ISIS an airforce or if Russia pounds ISIS with the biggest bomber raid in decades. Such confusion occurs when propaganda fantasies collide with the observable reality.

To bridge such divide requires some fudging.

So when the U.S. claims to act against the finances of the Islamic State while not doing much, the U.S Public Broadcasting Service has to use footage of Russian airstrikes against the Islamic State while reporting claimed U.S. airstrike successes.

The U.S. military recently claimed to have hit Islamic State oil tankers in Syria. This only after Putin embarrassed Obama at the G-20 meeting in Turkey. Putin showed satellite pictures of ridiculous long tanker lines waiting for days and weeks to load oil from the Islamic State without any U.S. interference.

The U.S. then claimed to have hit 116 oil tankers while the Russian air force claims to have hit 500. But there is an important difference between these claims. The Russians provided videos showing how their airstrikes hit at least two different very large oil tanker assemblies with hundreds of tankers in each. They also provided video of several hits on oil storage sites and refinery infrastructure.

I have found no video of U.S. hits on Islamic State oil tanker assemblies.

The U.S. PBS NewsHour did not find any either.


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What’s made IS one of the richest terrorist armies ever?




Published on Nov 19, 2015

How does the Islamic State militant group make money to fund its operations? A key source is oil extraction, which has helped make the group one of the richest terrorist armies in history. Economics correspondent Paul Solman takes a look at the Islamic State’s revenue sources, while William Brangham learns more from Cam Simpson of Bloomberg Businessweek.



Just check out and compare the time line recorded on the top right hand side of the  airstrike footage and you will see that  at  14:03:55 at 0:57 on the RT video and  at 2:36 on the PBS video  both show the bombing of the same  exact  tankers at exactly the same time.  And again 13:49:07 can be seen at 0:45 on the PBS video and at1:43 on the RT video. Not to  mention the Cyrillic characters on the targeting screen (green letters down sides).  Really ?

Now what are the chances  that these were being  filmed at the same exact  time on the same exact day, with the same exact interface markers?

So if the US did indeed bomb 116 tankers where is the American footage?



Combat Cam: Russian jets destroy ISIS oil refinery & tanker trucks in Syria





Published on Nov 18, 2015

Russian Air Force jets carried out airstrikes against an oil refinery controlled by Islamic State in Syria on Wednesday and destroyed around 500 fuel tanker vehicles transporting illegal oil from Syria to Iraq. READ MORE:




 And no one can say that RT was using American footage because in the  following video they credit the  US  with the  alleged 116 tankers  that they claim to have blown up.


Oil on Fire: Russian jets destroy ISIS refineries, trucks and wells





Published on Nov 19, 2015

Russia has stepped up its air strikes on Islamic state over the last few days. It’s now targeting the transport of the oil which brings in much of ISIS funding . Let’s get more from RT’s Lizzie Phelan in Damascus. Moscow is currently hosting an international energy forum. Economist Constantin Gurdgiev is there at the moment – let’s cross live to him.




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The seven hundred years-old expression, “curses are like chickens; they always come home to roost,” rarely has been more appropriate than to describe what is happening to the world’s largest purveyor of gene-manipulated or GMO seeds and paired chemical toxins. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of genocidal eugenicists. Monsanto Corporation of St Louis is apparently in a deep decline.


Ever since 1992 when that nasty US President George H. W. Bush conspired–yes, Virginia, conspiracies exist– with the leadership of Monsanto to unleash GMOs on an unwitting American population, Monsanto seemed unstoppable.

With the help of Bush, who made a decree that no US Government agency be allowed to independently test GMO seeds or their chemicals for health and safety–the fraudulent and totally unscientific Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence–Monsanto could make its own fraudulent doctored tests and give them to US or EU agencies as valid. As a result, GMO seeds took over American agriculture, based on a pack of lies to farmers that they would raise yields and decrease chemical use. Monsanto spread its GMO far around the world, through bribery as in Indonesia, and through the unusual machinations of the Government of the United States. Monsanto paid scientists to lie about its products safety.

It used the corrupt Brussels European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to back its position, even when alarming studies such as the famous September 2012 Food and Chemical Toxicology peer-reviewed study by Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini created shock waves around the world. The Seralini study, the first ever long term, two year study of GMO diet with a group of 200 rats found shocking effects. Among them that,”female rats fed Monsanto GMO maize died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly… Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than, and before, controls; the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments.”

Monsanto then set about to kill the messenger by pressuring the Food & Chemical Toxicology journal to hire a former Monsanto employee, Richard E. Goodman, who promptly declared Seralini’s study “unscientific” and deleted it, an act almost without precedent in science journals. A year later both Goodman and the journal’s editor-in-chief were forced to step down and Seralini’s article was republished in another scientific journal. But the scientific character assassination against Seralini had a chilling effect as Monsanto wanted.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at Nazarbayev University on November 2, 2015 in Astana

US Secretary of State John Kerry Lays Out Washington’s Policy in Syria

© REUTERS/ Brendan Smialowski/Pool

21:36 12.11.2015(updated 01:23 13.11.2015) 

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Washington’s foreign policy in Syria.

“The stakes could not be higher,” Kerry said on Thursday, before insisting that the United States is “on the right track and we are making gains and we are clear on the road ahead.”

The secretary of state also reiterated the Obama administration’s three principle goals for ending the conflict. The first is the necessity for defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group, the second is the intensification of diplomatic efforts, and the third being a determination to support regional allies to ensure that Syria’s instability does not spread beyond its borders.

Kerry also spent a good deal of time claiming that the Syrian government was ultimately responsible for the creation of IS. While the international community largely agrees that the principle cause for the terrorist group’s formation was the instability created by the US-led invasion of Iraq, Kerry blamed local dissatisfaction with the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Governments and NGOs: Germany Spied on Friends and Vatican

Efforts to spy on friends and allies by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, were more extensive than previously reported. SPIEGEL has learned the agency monitored European and American government ministries and the Vatican.

The BND's listening station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria: In addition to spying on friends, German intelligence also monitored Oxfam, Care International and the Red Cross. Zoom


The BND’s listening station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria: In addition to spying on friends, German intelligence also monitored Oxfam, Care International and the Red Cross.

Three weeks ago, news emerged that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), had systematically spied on friends and allies around the world. In many of those instances, the BND had been doing so of its own accord and not at the request of the NSA. The BND came under heavy criticism earlier this year after news emerged that it had assisted the NSA in spying on European institutions, companies and even Germans using dubious selector data.

SPIEGEL has since learned from sources that the spying went further than previously reported. Since October’s revelations, it has emerged that the BND spied on the United States Department of the Interior and the interior ministries of EU member states including Poland, Austria, Denmark and Croatia. The search terms used by the BND in its espionage also included communications lines belonging to US diplomatic outposts in Brussels and the United Nations in New York. The list even included the US State Department’s hotline for travel warnings.


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Thomson Reuters


World | Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:24am EST

Germany seeks clarity on whether spy agency snooped on own diplomat

Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service spied on a German diplomat, possibly violating the constitution, and on allies including French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a German radio station reported on Wednesday.

Officials firmly declined to comment on the report, but the parliamentary committee that oversees intelligence agencies was due to meet later in the day with the issue to be discussed.

The report by the Berlin-based rbb Inforadio was the latest twist in a growing scandal over the activities of Germany’s BND stemming from revelations in 2013 by U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

Without identifying its sources, rbb said the BND had monitored German Hansjoerg Haber, from 2008-2011 head of the EU’s observer mission in Georgia and then a senior diplomat in Brussels. He is now head of the EU’s mission in Turkey and married to a state secretary in the Interior Ministry.

The BND declined to comment. A government spokeswoman, quizzed for about 20 minutes at a regular news conference, declined to comment on the report directly and said the oversight body worked “without discussing everything in public”.


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‘Nothing surprising’ about Germany spying on France

© AFP archive | French President François Hollande with German Chancellor Angela Merkel


Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2015-11-13

No one should be surprised that Germany’s foreign intelligence service spied on French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a former French Air Force intelligence officer told FRANCE 24 Friday.

Berlin public radio reported this week that the BND intelligence service had listened in on its French allies, prompting a show of indignation from French President François Hollande.

“We ask that all the information be given to us,” Hollande said Thursday on the sidelines of a migration summit in Malta. “These kinds of practices should not go on between allies.”

“I know that the chancellery will do everything it can to explain the circumstances to us in detail,” he added, saying he had been assured that such spying “had completely stopped”.

According to former French Air Force intelligence officer Alain Charret, who is a member of the French Intelligence Research Centre (CF2R) thinktank, Hollande’s show of outrage is just hot air designed to calm public opinion.


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Strategic Culture
                      ONLINE JOURNAL


Uprising against Assad was Engineered in Washington

Eric ZUESSE | 10.11.2015 | 00:02








A terrific news report by Jonathan Marshall at Consortium News provides the first-ever presentation in the West of the event that sparked the demonstrations that sparked the Syrian civil war, and of the entire origin of that war.

Unlike so many online ‘news’ reports that are merely authoritarian trash because they don’t link to any of their sources (they rely instead upon dumb readers’ faith or trust in the ‘reporter’ or in the publisher, such as The New York Times or Fox News), this one from Marshall is top-notch: not only does it provide intelligently skeptical readers with instantaneous access to documentation for each one of its key points, but those sources are credible ones. Taken all together, the sources, and Marshall’s presentation of them, constitute a solid historical account of how the war to bring down Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, actually started. It didn’t start by Assad’s dumping (as U.S. President Barack Obama loves to claim) “barrel bombs,” upon merely peaceful protesters in Syria. It started actually in Washington, years before that. The Obama Administration itself was taking advantage of not only the “Arab Spring” protests throughout much of the Arab world, but, specifically, of an ongoing economic catastrophe in Syria that had started five years before the anti-Assad demonstrations did: an extended drought. Here is how the source that Marshall linked to describes it, two years before the “Arab Spring” even began:

In the past three years, 160 Syrian farming villages have been abandoned near Aleppo as crop failures have forced over 200,000 rural Syrians to leave for the cities. This news is distressing enough, but when put into a long-term perspective, its implications are staggering: many of these villages have been continuously farmed for 8000 years.

That source had been published on 16 January 2010. The drought continued on; the situation only got even worse right into 2011 and up through the public demonstrations in Aleppo that started the war. There were no “barrel bombs” then. There was instead surging economic dislocation. Obama merely took advantage of it. He knew that it was coming, and he planned so as to exploit it.

In fact, a wikileaked confidential 26 November 2008 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the CIA and other associated agencies referred to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization by saying:



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Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War

Exclusive: In the early months of the Syrian civil war, the West’s mainstream media presented the conflict as a simple case of good-guy protesters vs. bad-guy government, but the conflict was more complicated than that and the one-sided version only made matters worse, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, nearly a quarter million people have perished and fully half of the country’s inhabitants have been forced from their homes, creating the worst refugee crisis in the past quarter century. Meanwhile, the continuing advance of brutal Islamist factions — which a leading CIA officer in 2013 termed the “top current threat to U.S. national security” — makes the chances of restoring peace and human rights seem more remote than ever.

Many parties are to blame, but certainly among them are interventionists in the United States and its allies who rationalized supporting the Islamist opposition — and refusing to embrace serious peace negotiations — on the grounds that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a uniquely evil dictator. That image of Assad grew directly out of his regime’s brutal response to civilian protests that began in early 2011, soon after the start of the Arab Spring.

A scene of destruction after an aerial bombing in Azaz, Syria, Aug. 16, 2012. (U.S. government photo)

A scene of destruction after an aerial bombing in Azaz, Syria, Aug. 16, 2012. (U.S. government photo)

Summarizing the conventional wisdom, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect notes that “The crisis in Syria was prompted by protests in mid-March 2011 calling for the release of political prisoners. National security forces responded to widespread, initially peaceful demonstrations with brutal violence. From summer 2011 onwards, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refused to halt attacks and implement the meaningful reforms demanded by protestors. In July 2011, accounts emerged from witnesses, victims, the media, and civil society that government forces had subjected civilians to arbitrary detention, torture, and the deployment and use of heavy artillery.”

That August, following critical reports about the regime’s crimes, President Barack Obama joined European leaders in demanding that Assad “face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people” and “step aside.” Washington imposed new economic sanctions, prompting Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari to assert that the United States “is launching a humanitarian and diplomatic war against us.”


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Justice officials fear nation’s biggest wiretap operation may not be legal

Brad Heath and Brett Kelman 

Miniature DEA badges are displayed for sale in the gift shop at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Arlington, Virginia.

© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Miniature DEA badges are displayed for sale in the gift shop at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Arlington, Virginia. RIVERSIDE, Calif.


Federal drug agents have built a massive wiretapping operation in the Los Angeles suburbs, secretly intercepting tens of thousands of Americans’ phone calls and text messages to monitor drug traffickers across the United States despite objections from Justice Department lawyers who fear the practice may not be legal.


Nearly all of that surveillance was authorized by a single state court judge in Riverside County, who last year signed off on almost five times as many wiretaps as any other judge in the United States. The judge’s orders allowed investigators — usually from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — to intercept more than 2 million conversations involving 44,000 people, federal court records show.


The eavesdropping is aimed at dismantling the drug rings that have turned Los Angeles’ eastern suburbs into what the DEA says is the nation’s busiest shipping corridor for heroin and methamphetamine. Riverside wiretaps are supposed to be tied to crime within the county, but investigators have relied on them to make arrests and seize shipments of cash and drugs as far away as New York and Virginia, sometimes concealing the surveillance in the process.


The surveillance has raised concerns among Justice Department lawyers in Los Angeles, who have mostly refused to use the results in federal court because they have concluded the state court’s eavesdropping orders are unlikely to withstand a legal challenge, current and former Justice officials said .


“It was made very clear to the agents that if you’re going to go the state route, then best wishes, good luck and all that, but that case isn’t coming to federal court,” a former Justice Department lawyer said. The lawyer and other officials described the situation on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the department’s internal deliberations.


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