Politics and Legislation
How far will the most powerful Republicans go to shield their top donors’ identities?
NDAA declared unconstitutional; Indefinite detention of Americans blocked by the court
Published on Jun 15, 2012 by FinanceAndPolitics
Published on May 17, 2012 by RTAmerica
On Wednesday, District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled the National Defense Authorization Act unconstitutional. Forrest issued a preliminary injunction which restrains the US government from administering section 1021 of the NDAA, a provision that allows for the indefinite detention for Americans with alleged terrorist ties. Carl Mayer, attorney for The Mayer Law Group representing the plaintiffs,joins us for more on the judge’s ruling.
GOP kingmakers make their case for Romney’s best 2012 running mate
Mitt Romney has kept his cards close to the vest about who he’ll pick for his presidential running mate — but that hasn’t stopped a number of Republican kingmakers from saying who they think Romney should pick.
A number have mentioned Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as their top choice. Others mentioned at least once include GOP Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Rand Paul (Ky.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).
No one touted former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who has loyally worked for Romney since his own campaign ended and is said to be in the running.Here’s a list of some top Republican movers and shakers — and who they want to see as Romney’s vice presidential pick.
A number of other top Republicans declined to comment or offered a list of options, saying it was Romney’s decision to make and that they didn’t want to meddle. Those who declined to comment include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and Faith & Freedom Coalition President Ralph Reed, both of whom touted the GOP’s deep bench but refused to offer specifics on the record.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R): Rubio
“Marco would bring an incredible energy. He’s the most articulate spokesman for conservative principles I think in America today,” Bush told reporters in early May. “And he’s my friend, so I’m a little biased. But I think he would be extraordinary.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Ryan
“I’m biased for Paul,” Walker told The Hill at a Thursday breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor in mid-June. “If you believe that the fiscal crisis facing our country is clearly one of our top challenges, I don’t know of anybody, at least in this town, who’s better equipped to help you deal with that, not just because of his plan but because he understands the dynamics. I think he’s got credible respect on both sides of the aisle. … Far beyond that, he’s just from Wisconsin — I think there’s tremendous value to Paul.”
Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist: Jindal
“Romney would do well to have a wing man who can astutely explain the flaws in President Barack Obama’s policies and lay out the GOP’s innovative, pro-growth alternatives. There are many attractive prospects out there, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal can do not just all that, he has already implemented the sort of bold reforms at the state level that are now desperately needed at the federal level,” he wrote in Politico in mid-May.
Rep. McKeon says Obama’s budget chief won’t commit to testify on defense cuts
House Armed Service Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) on Friday said President Obama’s budget director won’t commit to testify about the impact of sequestration.
McKeon said he was “disappointed” that Jeffrey Zients, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), wouldn’t appear before Armed Services to discuss the automatic budget cuts that are set to begin in 2013.
McKeon called the OMB chief Friday in the midst of a push to have the Obama administration and the Pentagon explain how the $500 billion in cuts to the Defense Department would be implemented.
McKeon told reporters Thursday that he wanted to hold hearings where the OMB director testified on the impact of sequestration.
But in their phone conversation, Zients would apparently not commit to that, according to McKeon spokesman Claude Chafin.
“The chairman is disappointed with OMB’s position,” Chafin said in an e-mail. “After nearly a year they should be prepared to report to Congress on how they will handle sequestration.”
OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer said the department does not comment on private phone conversations.
Romney Sheds ‘Crocodile Tears’ Over Jobs, O’Malley Says
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley accused presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of shedding “crocodile tears” for factory workers, while having helped engineer the export of U.S. manufacturing jobs as head of Bain Capital LLC.
“Mitt Romney stands up in front of factory gates and cries crocodile tears and falsely claims that the president is sending jobs to other countries, and yet he made a big profit telling American companies just how they could move jobs to other countries,” O’Malley, a Democrat, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend.
June 22 (Bloomberg) — Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley talks with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt about his accusation that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sheds “crocodile tears” for factory workers, while having helped engineer the export of U.S. manufacturing jobs as head of Bain Capital LLC. Bloomberg’s Julie Davis and Hans Nichols discuss support for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and campaign fundraising. Bloomberg’s Rich Miller talks about the U.S. economy and the outlook for further quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. Commentators Margaret Carlson and Kate O’Beirne discuss the Latino vote and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, as a potential running mate for Romney. (Source: Bloomberg)
The Washington Post reported June 21 that Bain, the Boston- based private-equity firm that Romney helped found in 1984, invested in multiple firms specializing in relocating U.S. jobs to low-wage countries such as China and India during the 15 years that he was involved in running the company.
The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign pushed back against the Post story, with Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul calling the report “fundamentally flawed,” because “it does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus off- shoring,” or address work done overseas to support U.S. exports.
O’Malley, one of Barack Obama’s top surrogates as the president battles Romney for re-election, called the report “a legitimate story.”
O’Malley, 49, said the Post story was just a symptom of a more serious Romney flaw.
“The deeper disqualification of this, beyond his lack of sincerity and the crocodile tears for factory jobs lost, is that he has no record as a job creator,” said O’Malley, the head of the Democratic Governors Association. “The bigger point of the story I believe is that his work at Bain was about wealth consolidation, not about job creation in the United States.”
Romney, in making his business background the central theme of his White House bid, has said that during his tenure at Bain the firm created 100,000 jobs.
Neither the private-equity firm nor Romney’s campaign has documented that figure in response to repeated requests by Bloomberg News. Bain Capital doesn’t track jobs lost or gained as a result of their investments.
Protesters are maintaining a vigil in the iconic Tahrir Square on Saturday, where on Friday tens of thousands of protesters gathered to denounce the military council and demand the announcement of the country’s presidential election result.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) announced the dissolution of the parliament on June 16 following an earlier Supreme Court ruling, assuming full legislative powers.
The council also gave itself the veto power on a new constitution and the right to arrest civilians for trial in military courts.
The measures, taken before the results of the country’s presidential run-off vote are released, have raised fears that the ruling junta is planning to put its favored candidate at the helm.
This is while both candidates in Egypt’s presidential election have claimed victory.
The Muslim Brotherhood announced that its candidate Mohamed Morsi had won 52 percent of the votes, four percent more than Ahmed Shafiq.
However, Shafiq’s campaign says the claim is false, and that more than half of the voters have chosen the right-hand man of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak as the next president.
The election commission says it has been considering appeals by the two candidates and the delayed results of Egypt’s presidential run-off will be announced on Sunday.
The Syrian president issued Decree 210 on Saturday, forming a new government under the newly appointed Prime Minister Riad Farid Hijab, the television said.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem as well as Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha and Interior Minister Mohammad al-Sha’ar will remain in their posts.
On June 6, President Assad appointed former Agriculture Minister Riad Farid Hijab as the Syrian premier.
The presidential decree also ordered the formation of a number of new Syrian ministries, including internal trade and consumer protection, foreign economy and trade, and housing and construction development.
The latest decree was issued a day after armed groups in Syria killed 25 civilians in the northern province of Aleppo.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.
The anti-Damascus Western governments have been calling for the overthrow of President Assad over the past few weeks.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on June 21 that a “scheme according to which President Assad should leave somewhere before something happens in terms of a cessation of violence and a political process… does not work simply from the very start.”
Also on June 21, the New York Times published a report quoting some US and Arab intelligence officials as saying that a group of “CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey” and that the agents are helping the anti-Syria governments decide which gangs inside the Arab country will “receive arms to fight the Syrian government.”
On June 12, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “The US administration is pushing forth with its flagrant interference in Syria’s internal affairs and its backing of armed terrorist groups.”
The statement also condemned Washington for “distorting the truth and what is happening on the ground while encouraging armed terrorist groups to carry out more massacres… throughout the country.”
ReutersFriday 22 June 2012CAIRO: Egypt’s military council criticized the two presidential candidates for making premature claims of victory yesterday and said it would stand by a decree limiting the new president’s powers, which many see as prolonging military rule.
As thousands of protesters gathered for weekly prayers on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the army said people were free to protest as long as they did not disrupt daily life but flatly rejected their demands that it rescind the dissolution of Parliament and an order giving itself more power.
The move was justified “during this critical period” for the good of the country, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said in a statement. Criticizing the candidates, though not by name, it said: “Anticipating the announcement of the presidential election results before they are announced officially is unjustifiable and is one of the main causes of division and confusion prevailing the political arena.”
Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhamad Mursi announced within hours of polling ending on Sunday that he had won by four percentage points. His riva Ahmed Shafiq challenged that and said he was confident of victory. A delay in publishing results, due to have been announced on Thursday, has heightened tensions after a week in which many have accused the ruling generals of reneging on a promise to hand over to civilian rule by July.
Responding to complaints, the council said in its statement: “The issuance of the supplementary constitutional decree was necessitated by the needs of administering the affairs of the state during this critical period in the history of our nation.”
The decree gives the Parliament’s powers over legislation to SCAF and also a potential role for the council in drafting a new constitution. The SCAF statement made clear the army view that the dissolution of the Islamist-led Parliament elected in January was entirely due to a review by the judiciary, which found the election rules unconstitutional.
“The rule of law is the basis of governance in the state,” it said. “The state shall be subject to the law and independent judiciary, whose independence and immunity are two basic guarantees to safeguard rights and freedoms.
“The verdicts issued by the judiciary are executed in the name of the people and refraining from implementing these verdicts is a crime punishable by law,” the council said, in an apparent criticism of members of Parliament who have challenged the court’s decision and SCAF’s moves to enforce it.
NAIROBI: ARAB NEWS
Saturday 23 June 2012
The US Embassy in Kenya yesterday warned of the threat of an imminent attack in Mombasa, a top tourist destination, as Kenyan police arrested two Iranians on suspicion of planning bomb attacks.
“This is to alert all US citizens in Kenya, or planning to travel to Kenya in the near future, that the US Embassy in Nairobi has received information of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Mombasa, Kenya,” a statement said.
“All US government travel to Mombasa is suspended until July 1, 2012.”
France’s Embassy in Nairobi also warned its citizens to be “extremely vigilant” in Mombasa and the surrounding area.
Top Kenyan police officials immediately made statements calling for calm. “Police are working around the clock to guarantee security in Kenya,” said Kenyan police commissioner Mathew Iteere.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told AFP: “There is no cause for alarm, security agents are ahead of events. We are even working with the FBI and other international agencies in this war.”
The warnings came as Kenyan police said they had detained two Iranian nationals over suspected links to a terror network planning bombings in Mombasa and in the capital Nairobi.
“We are holding these two suspects, and they are being interrogated to establish their involvement in terrorism activities,” said Aggrey Adoli, police chief for Coast province.
Welcome to Doomsday, warns Wall Street seer
Andrew Ross Sorkin
If you want to be scared, truly terrified, listen to Mark J. Grant. He might be right.
For the past two years, Grant, a managing director at a regional investment bank in Florida, has been predicting the bankruptcy of Greece and a cascade of chaos across the global economy, attracting quite a following on Wall Street in the process.
“Greece will be forced to return to the drachma and devalue, and the default will cause bank runs and money flowing into Germany and the United States as the only viable safe haven bets,” he declared in the days before Sunday’s Greek elections, irrespective of which party would win. “Greece will default because there is no other choice regardless of anyone’s politics.”
He then walked through the falling dominoes: “It will hit the [European Central Bank], the banks on the other side of the derivatives contracts, all of the Greek banks who are really in default at present and being carried by Europe as well as the nation, and the Greek default will spread the infection in many places that we cannot imagine because so much is hidden and tucked away in the European financial system.”
Welcome to Doomsday, brought to you by Grant. He says he doesn’t think of it as such; he calls it “reality”. He told me, almost hopelessly, “There’s only so much money to go around.”
In a January 13, 2010, report Grant forecast that Greece would default on its government debts, one of the first to publish such a prognostication.
Grant could be the Nouriel Roubini (Dr. Doom) of the European crisis. Roubini, the New York University economist, said the subprime-debt sky was falling for a long time before it fell. Few people listened, in part, because nobody had ever heard of him. Then, of course, the sky fell. Now everybody has heard of him. Time will tell, but soon everybody could know Grant.
The January 2010 report, written two years before Greece did indeed default, has made him the go-to forecaster of Europe’s collapse for some of the world’s largest investors. Nicknamed the Wizard, Grant, who works for Southwest Securities, sends out a daily report, often frightening in its detail and matter-of-factness, by email to a who’s who of the world’s biggest institutions, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds. Subscribers like Bill Gross, a founder of Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, pay thousands of dollars a year to receive Grant’s views in their in-boxes.
Never one to sugarcoat his views, his success is partly a function of his plain-spoken way of making complex ideas simple.
“There is only one way out of this mess and that is if Europe keeps handing Greece money like one does to some aged aunt that cannot support herself, but that is a family decision,” he wrote. But, he argues: “Greece requires 16 other family members to support her jointly and the politics in many of these nations, including Germany, is making it difficult for the charade to continue.”
We seem to be heading towards an economic downturn equivalent to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
It’s more of a slow-motion train wreck—Greece’s crisis started in 2009. But that leaves a puzzle—why is the American stock market not reacting to obvious warning signs?
Greece is in very deep trouble. Spain (the Euro’s fourth largest economy) just needed a $125 billion bank bailout. The weaker economies (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) face severe credit crunches as local banks lose deposits (withdrawn because of credit concerns and fear of forced devaluations following a Euro exit).
Serious discussion is already taking place about the demise of the Euro, or even worse the break-up of the European common market—in which case unemployment rates across Europe will exceed 20 percent. National incomes will decline sharply, resulting in large-scale corporate insolvencies, with the crisis spilling over into the U.S. and Asia.
Arguably, the Germans have a sufficiently healthy economy to avert the crisis. But they are reluctant to act—without clear structural changes in the European Union/member states to prevent future problems. Amidst a crisis, it’s difficult to make structural changes quickly. The Germans (with some legitimacy) fear that a bailout lacking agreement on structural changes will result in some combination of a larger financial disaster later, and/or the German economy permanently subsidizing some of the weaker economies.
Europe’s economies provide little reason for optimism.
The U.S. faces a recession next year if the Budget Control Act takes effect, which is likely if Obama wins and partisan gridlock continues. House Speaker Boehner already announced that if Obama’s re-elected, the GOP will treat us to another debt ceiling confrontation. If Romney wins, the Democrats (having learnt their lesson from the Republicans) would be as disruptive as possible. If the U.S. faces a major economic crisis triggered by the Euro’s collapse, bipartisan consensus on how to resolve it is unlikely.
(Reuters) – Independent auditors said Spanish banks may need up to 62 billion euros in extra capital, to be filled mostly by a euro zone bailout, after Spain’s medium-term borrowing costs spiraled to a euro-era record on Thursday.
Euro zone finance ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss how to channel up to 100 billion euros ($126 billion) in aid to Spanish lenders weighed down by bad debts from a burst property bubble. Madrid’s economy minister said a formal request would be made in days for the bailout, which was agreed two weeks ago.
Many in the markets see the package as a mere prelude to a full program for the Spanish state, which Madrid vehemently denies it will need.
Spain’s financial plight took centre stage a week before a European Union summit tackles long-term plans for closer fiscal and banking union in a bid to strengthen the euro’s foundations, after bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal failed to end a 2-1/2-year old debt crisis.
To pave the way, the leaders of Germany, Italy, France and Spain will meet in Rome on Friday.
“We are clearly seeing additional tension and acute stress applying to both banks and sovereigns in the euro area,” International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who attended the Luxembourg meeting, told reporters.
“With that in mind, the IMF believes that a determined and forceful move towards complete European monetary union should be reaffirmed.”
Two independent audits by consultants Roland Berger and Oliver Wyman found that Spanish banks would need between 51 and 62 billion euros in extra capital to weather a serious downturn in the economy and new losses on their books.
The Bank of Spain said the 100 billion euros offered to Madrid two weeks ago would give a wide margin of error. Spain’s three biggest banks would not need extra capital even in a stressed scenario, it said. The government said it did not expect to shut any banks and would restructure those in trouble.
In Luxembourg, the finance ministers decided Spain should initially apply to the euro zone’s temporary rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, with the loan taken over by the permanent bailout fund the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) once it is up and running after July 9.
“The financial assistance will be provided by the EFSF until the ESM becomes available, and then it will be transferred to the ESM,” Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the Eurogroup of finance ministers, told a news conference.
“We would expect the Spanish authorities to put forward a formal request for financial assistance by next Monday,” he said.
Such a solution should avert a problem which had scared investors: debt issued by the ESM must be paid back first in case of a Spanish default, relegating private creditors lower in the pecking order. Because the new bailout debt will originate from the EFSF it will be issued without that requirement.
Wars and Rumors of War
(Reuters) – Syria shot down a Turkish warplane over the Mediterranean on Friday and Ankara warned it would respond decisively to the incident that threatened to open a new international dimension in the 16-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria said the Turkish aircraft was flying low, well inside Syrian territorial waters when it was shot down.
With the second biggest army in NATO, a force hardened by nearly 30 years of fighting Kurdish rebels, Turkey would be a formidable foe for the Syrian army which is already struggling to put down a 16-month-old revolt.
But Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s initial comments and subsequent statement on the downing of the F-4 jet were measured in tone. He said Turkish and Syrian forces were working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft.
“As a result of information obtained from the evaluation of our concerned institutions and from within the joint search and rescue operations with Syria, it is understood that our plane was brought down by Syria,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement.
“Turkey will present its final stance after the incident has been fully brought to light and decisively take the necessary steps,” the office said after a two-hour emergency meeting between prime minister, the chief of general staff, the defense, interior and foreign ministers, the head of national intelligence and the commander of the air force.
Turkish media had reported earlier that Syria had apologized for the incident, but Erdogan made no mention of any apology.
Violence raged unabated inside Syria, which appears to be sliding into a sectarian-tinged civil war pitting majority Sunni Muslims against Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Turkey fears the fighting if unchecked could unleash a flood of refugees over its own border and ignite regional sectarian conflict.
Ankara, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Assad, turned against the Syrian leader when he responded violently to pro-democracy protests inspired by popular upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world. Turkey now gives refuge to the rebel Free Syrian Army on its frontier with Syria.
Erdogan, whose enmity with Assad has assumed a strongly personal nature, gave no hint what action he might contemplate.
A statement by the Syrian military said the Turkish plane was flying low, just one kilometer off the Syrian coast, when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The plane fell in Syrian waters 10-kms (seven miles) west of the village of Um al-Touyour.
“The navy of the two countries have established contact. Syrian naval vessels are participating along with the Turkish side in the search operation for the missing pilots,” it said.
Syria has some of the most sophisticated air defenses in the Middle East, supplied by Russia.
Turkish state television interviewed witnesses on the country’s Mediterranean coast, near the Syrian border, who said they saw two low-flying fighter jets pass overhead in the morning in the direction of Syrian waters but only one return.
Ankara has previously floated the possibility of setting up some kind of safe haven or humanitarian corridor inside Syria, which would entail military intervention, but has said it would undertake no such action without U.N. Security Council approval.
Turkey has said however that Assad must go.
Turkey hosts about 32,000 Syrian refugees and allows the rebel Syrian Free Army to operate from its territory. The opposition Syrian National Council meets in Istanbul.
It was unclear why the Syrians had shot down the aircraft, which, having left a base in Malatya, was flying close to a corridor linking Turkey with Turkish forces on Northern Cyprus.
“The Syrian military may have taken a calculated gamble by downing the Turkish plane, which could boost the morale of Assad’s loyalists after increased defections from the military we have seen,” Yasser Saadeldine, a prominent pro-opposition Syrian political commentator, said.
“A Turkish retaliation would fit into the fantasy he (Assad)is peddling that the uprising is a foreign conspiracy.”
Russia and China, Assad’s strongest backers abroad, have fiercely opposed any outside interference in the Syrian crisis, saying envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan is the only way forward.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Syrian counterpart that he had urged Syria to “do a lot more” to implement Annan’s U.N.-backed proposals, but that foreign countries must also press rebels to stop the violence.
Lavrov said the Syrian authorities were ready to withdraw troops from cities “simultaneously” with rebels. A Syrian military pullback and a ceasefire were key elements in Annan’s six-point peace plan, most of which remains a dead letter.
Annan hit out at some countries he said had taken national initiatives that risked unleashing “destructive competition”.
He told a news conference in Geneva that he wanted states with influence on both sides of the conflict to be involved in the peace process, including Iran, Assad’s closest ally.
The U.N.-Arab League envoy was speaking a week before a planned Syria crisis meeting that is in doubt because of Western objections to the Islamic Republic’s participation.
Map locates Latakia, Syria, near where a Turkish plane was shot down by Syria.
Ankara, Turkey: Syria said Friday it shot down a Turkish military plane that entered Syrian air space, and Turkey vowed to “determinedly take necessary steps” in response.
It was the most clear and dramatic escalation in tensions between the two countries, which used to be allies before the Syrian revolt began in March 2011. Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of the Syrian regime’s brutal response to the country’s uprising.
Late Friday, Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA, said the military spotted an “unidentified aerial target” that was flying at a low altitude and at a high speed.
“The Syrian anti-air defenses counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly,” SANA said. “The target turned out to be a Turkish military plane that entered Syrian airspace and was dealt with according to laws observed in such cases.”
Turkey issued a statement Friday night following a two-hour security meeting led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying Syrian forces downed the plane and that the two Turkish pilots remain missing.
It said Turkey “will determinedly take necessary steps” in response, without saying what those actions would be.
“Following the evaluation of data provided by our related institutions and the findings of the joint search and rescue efforts with Syria, it is understood that our plane was downed by Syria,” the statement said, without providing other details.
Relations between Turkey and Syria were already tense before the downing of the F4 plane on Friday.
Turkey has joined nations such as the U.S. in saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad should step down because of the regime’s brutal suppression of the uprising in his country. Turkey also has set up refugee camps on its border for more than 32,000 Syrians who have fled the fighting.
Syria and Turkey have expelled each other’s ambassadors and Syria has accused Turkey of supporting Syrian opposition and even allowing Syrian rebels to operate out of Turkish soil. Turkey strongly denies the allegations.
After a cross-border shooting by Syrian forces in April, Turkey said it would not tolerate any action that it deemed violating its security. The firing had left two refugees dead at a camp near the town of Kilis just inside Turkey.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal earlier on Friday rejected allegations that Turkey was sending arms and other equipment to Syrian rebels as baseless. Unal said Turkey was not sending weapons to any of its neighbors, including Syria.
Turkey’s military provided no details on the downed plane’s mission Friday, but some Turkish TV reports said it was on a reconnaissance flight.
Syria claimed the jet violated its air space over territorial waters, penetrating about 1 kilometer (0.62 mile), but that Syrian vessels joined the search for it, according to Turkey’s NTV television. It said Syria forces realized that it was a Turkish jet after firing at it.
Ilter Turan, a professor of political science at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, told NTV that Syria’s action was clearly “hostile,” even if it violated its air space.
“They could have either sent their planes to confront it or force it to land, it is a hostile act by any standard,” Turan said.
Turan, however, predicted that Syria will try to avoid escalating tensions further.
Erdogan said the plane went down in the Mediterranean Sea about 8 miles (13 kilometers) away from the Syrian town of Latakia. Four Turkish gunboats and three helicopters were searching for the pilots and wreckage of the plane.
The Turkish military said the plane disappeared from its radar and that radio contact was lost at 11:58 a.m. (0958GMT) Friday during a mission flight.
Some eyewitnesses in Turkey’s seaside area of Hatay province told private NTV television that the plane was flying so low they thought it would “hit the roofs.” They said the plane then flew toward the sea.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this month had warned about a massing of Syrian forces near Aleppo, saying such a deployment could be a “red line” for Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey “in terms of their strategic and national interests.”
The August 1964 false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident initiated full-scale conflict after Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
War was authorized without declaring it.
It’s an American tradition. Big lies launch wars. Manufactured pretexts initiate them. Mass killing and destruction follow.
One nation after another is ravaged. Syria’s next, then Iran, followed by other states on Washington’s hit list.
On June 22, Turkey provocatively flew two warplanes at low altitude over Syrian airspace. It wanted a response and got it.
On June 23, Syria’s SANAstate media headlined “Military Spokesman: Anti-Air Defenses Intercepted a Target That Violated Syrian Airspace Over Territorial Waters, Shot It Down West of Lattakia,” saying:
“At 11:40 AM on 22/6/2012, an unidentified aerial target violated Syrian airspace, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters, so the Syrian anti-air defenses counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly as it was 1 kilometer away from land, causing it to crash into Syrian territorial waters west of Om al-Tuyour village in Lattakia province, 10 kilometers from the beach.”
Syria’s military spokesman also said naval forces from both countries were “searching for the two missing pilots.”
Some media sources said both crew members were rescued. Others said they’re still missing.
On June 23, Turkey’s Today’s Zamanheadlined “Turkey says Syria down(ed) its air force jet,” saying:
The incident will “likely….worsen already strained relations between” both countries.
After a two hour security meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Syrian forces for downing its aircraft. An official statement said:
“Following the evaluation of data provided by our related institutions and the findings of the joint search and rescue efforts with Syria, it is understood that our plane was downed by Syria.”
Turkey “will determinedly take necessary steps” in response. No further details were given.
At the time of its report, Today’s Zaman said both crew members were missing. It added that Ankara wouldn’t “tolerate any action that it deemed violating its security.”
Turkish TV reports said two military aircraft were on a reconnaissance mission.
In fact, Ankara acted provocatively. Perhaps it was at the behest of Washington. Turkey is a NATO member. A previous article explained it can invoke NATO Charter Articles 4 or 5.
Article 4 calls for members to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any” is threatened.
Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all, and calls for collective self-defense.
On June 23, Reutersheadlined “Turkey warns it would respond decisively to Syria downing it aircraft,” saying:
Erdogan’s “initial comments and subsequent statement (were) measured in tone. He said Turkish and Syrian forces were working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft.”
Turkish media also said Syria apologized for the incident.
“Turkish state television interviewed witnesses on the country’s Mediterranean coast, near the Syrian border, who said they saw two low-flying fighter jets pass overhead in the morning in the direction of Syrian waters but only one return.”
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said:
“There was no aggression.” Damascus confirmed “an unidentified target flying at very low range when it violated Syrian airspace.” He added that both sides were searching for missing crew members.
The New York Times said an official Turkish statement hadn’t “yet concluded that the Syrian action was provocative, and it acknowledged that Syrian rescue teams were cooperating in trying to locate the aircraft and crew.”
“But the statement also left open the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would respond militarily, an outcome that could further complicate and widen the Syrian conflict.”
Washington has longstanding regime change plans. In early 2011, it orchestrated Western-generated violence.
It wants Assad replaced by a subservient puppet leader. If events on the ground don’t succeed, expect war to follow.
The Obama and Erdogan administrations may have staged Friday’s incident. Whether it’s a pretext for full-scale intervention remains to be seen.
Events on the ground keep escalating dangerously. Anything may erupt anytime. Provocations are easy to stage.
Friday’s incident may indeed become a casus belli. If not, perhaps something greater is planned to give Obama another war he wants. What better way to silence his Republican critics who call him soft on Assad.
On June 22, Foreign Policy‘s associate editor Uri Friedman headlined “How would NATO respond to Syria shooting down a Turkish plane?” saying:
“Could this incident — or an incident like it — trigger more aggressive action against Syria by the international community? After all, Turkey is a member of NATO….”
Its Charter affirms its all-for-one-and-one-for-all policy. Attacking one member is considered acting against all 28. Collective self-defense is called for.
On September 12, 2001, NATO invoked Article V for the first time. Will Syria be number two? If Turkey claims Damascus acted aggressively, will war follow?
“It is not an entirely unreasonable” possibility, said Friedman.
In April, Erdogan suggested he might invoke Article V. Whether he plans it now remains to be seen.
According to former UN Permanent Representative to NATO Kurt Volker, Article V gives NATO countries a chance to consult with one another on possible responses. It doesn’t automatically suggest a military one.
“A response could be anything from a statement reiterating the inviolability of security guarantees to members coordinating activities so that they can respond to further attacks on Turkish interests.”
Volker doesn’t think Friday’s incident justifies war. At the same time, the ball advanced closer to initiating it without Security Council authorization.
One way would be by creating Syrian “safe zones,” providing greater opposition support, and conducting air strikes against strategic military sites.
“I do get the feeling,” he added, “that the patience of the international community is growing thinner.”
“I think we may be approaching a point at which this kind of coalition intervention is more thinkable than it was a couple of months ago.”
Atlantic Council managing editor James Joyner also doesn’t believe Friday’s incident justifies war.
“It would be one thing if Syria sent ground troops into Turkey and started shooting,” he said.
In contrast, “shooting down a plane that might have been surveilling Syrian air space is just a different animal than that.”
“This is more of a harsh words and sanctions kind of thing, and frankly there’s not much more of that that we can do in terms of Syria.”
On June 23, UK government controlled BBCheadlined “Turkish warplane downed by Syria ‘may have crossed border,’ ” saying:
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said its aircraft may have violated Syrian airspace. Doing so isn’t unusual for short distances at high speed, he added.
“It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (other) borders….when you consider their speed over the sea,” he claimed.
“These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed.”
No harm, no foul.
It’s quite another given months of intense violence in Syria and Turkey’s direct role.
Moreover, violating another country’s airspace by trying to avoid its defensive capabilities at low altitude shows clear hostile intent.
Damascus has every right to consider these type actions aggressive and threatening. Turkey would react the same way. So would Washington, key NATO partners and Israel.
A virtual state of war exists in Syria short of officially declaring it. These type incidents can easily be used as pretexts for full-blown conflict. It remains to be seen if Washington has that in mind.
The attacks occurred on Saturday, a few hours after two Palestinian men were killed in two separate drone attacks carried out by the Israeli military.
On the same day, a six-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and two others injured in an attack by an Israeli warplane near the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.
If the Zionist regime [of Israel] tries to take any action against us, it will mark the end of its existence and there is no doubt that they are unable to harm the [Islamic] Revolution and the establishment in any way.” Brigadier General Mostafa Izadi
“If the Zionist regime [of Israel] tries to take any action against us, it will mark the end of its existence and there is no doubt that they are unable to harm the [Islamic] Revolution and the establishment in any way,” Brigadier General Mostafa Izadi said on Saturday.
He pointed to Iran’s high naval as well as missile capabilities and said, in addition to military power, the Islamic Republic enjoyed other high capabilities that were not comparable to those of the Israeli regime.
Izadi referred to Iran’s geostrategic location in the region as a privilege and said, ”The existence of numerous [Iranian] islands in the Persian Gulf has provided us with great capabilities, making the Islamic Republic the superior defense power in the region.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Ali-Reza Tangsiri also said that Iran was fully ready to repel any threat.
“Taking into consideration all aspects of the enemy’s military might, if we say we have the power and skill to counter major threats it is not a mere claim it is a reality based on reality,” he said, adding that Iran was not afraid of any military threat.
Israel has repeatedly threatened Iran with a military option in a bid to force the Islamic Republic to halt its peaceful nuclear energy program, which Tel Aviv claims has a military aspect and considers it as a threat to its existence.
Iran rejects the allegations of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
By Al Arabiya with agencies
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul said Saturday the jet fighter shot down by Syria might have violated Syrian airspace.
“It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (national) borders … when you consider their speed over the sea,” Gul told Anatolia news agency. “These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed.”
He said Anakara has made a telephone contact with Syria.
The president, however, heightened his tone when he said that it is not “possible to ignore Turkish fighter jet being downed by Syria,” and that whatever is needed to be done following downing of the fighter jet will be done.
Meanwhile, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on Saturday a jet that was shot down by Syria was not a warplane but a reconnaissance aircraft, state television TRT reported.
It was not immediately clear where Arinc, who is one of four deputy prime ministers and also the government’s spokesman, was speaking. Turkish media reported the downed jet was an F-4 Phantom, a supersonic jet fighter which can also carry out reconnaissance operations.
Syria’s downing of a Turkish plane marks a serious escalation of the Syrian conflict, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Saturday.
“The shooting down yesterday of a Turkish aircraft over Syrian territorial waters – this is a serious escalation and indication that the conflict would have far (a) bigger impact than (on) Syria itself,” he told a televised news conference with his Swedish, Bulgarian and Polish counterparts in Baghdad.
On Saturday, Syria confirmed that it shot down a Turkish warplane over its territory, sparking a fresh crisis on the two countries’ long border which is already awash with refugees and rebel fighters.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said NATO member Turkey would take all necessary steps once it had established the facts of Syria’s downing of the F-4 fighter jet in Mediterranean waters on Friday.
Tensions between the two neighbors were already running high as Ankara has taken a tough line on Damascus’s bloody crackdown on a 15-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, giving sanctuary to defecting military personnel who have formed the kernel of an expanding rebel army.
Syria’s official SANA news agency confirmed that Damascus had downed the jet in a terse report early on Saturday.
“An unidentified aerial target violated Syrian air space, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters,” the news agency quoted a military spokesman as saying.
Turkey has denied that it is arming Syrian opposition, however the New York Times reported on Thursday that a small number of CIA officers had been deployed to southern Turkey, where they were helping U.S. allies decide which Syrian opposition elements should receive weapons deliveries.
While Turkey’s offcials downplayed the serious of Syria’s downing of a Turkish plane, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Saturday it marks a serious escalation of the Syrian conflict,
“The shooting down yesterday of a Turkish aircraft over Syrian territorial waters – this is a serious escalation and indication that the conflict would have far (a) bigger impact than (on) Syria itself,” he told a televised news conference with his Swedish, Bulgarian and Polish counterparts in Baghdad.
Articles of Interest
Is Barack Obama Morphing into Dick Cheney?
By Michael T. Klare
As details of his administration’s global war against terrorists, insurgents, and hostile warlords have become more widely known — a war that involves a mélange of drone attacks, covert operations, and presidentially selected assassinations – President Obama has been compared to President George W. Bush in his appetite for military action. “As shown through his stepped-up drone campaign,” Aaron David Miller, an advisor to six secretaries of state, wrote at Foreign Policy, “Barack Obama has become George W. Bush on steroids.”
When it comes to international energy politics, however, it is not Bush but his vice president, Dick Cheney, who has been providing the role model for the president. As recent events have demonstrated, Obama’s energy policies globally bear an eerie likeness to Cheney’s, especially in the way he has engaged in the geopolitics of oil as part of an American global struggle for future dominance among the major powers.
More than any of the other top officials of the Bush administration — many with oil-company backgrounds — Cheney focused on the role of energy in global power politics. From 1995 to 2000, he served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Halliburton, a major supplier of services to the oil industry. Soon after taking office as vice president he was asked by Bush to devise a new national energy strategy that has largely governed U.S. policy ever since.
Early on, Cheney concluded that the global supply of energy was not growing fast enough to satisfy rising world demand, and that securing control over the world’s remaining oil and natural gas supplies would therefore be an essential task for any state seeking to acquire or retain a paramount position globally. He similarly grasped that a nation’s rise to prominence could be thwarted by being denied access to essential energy supplies. As coal was to the architects of the British empire, oil was for Cheney — a critical resource over which it would sometimes be necessary to go to war.
More than any of his peers, Cheney articulated such views on the importance of energy to national wealth and power. “Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature,” he told an audience at an industry conference in London in 1999. “We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality.”
Cheney’s reference to the 1990-1991 Gulf War is particularly revealing. During that conflict, he was the secretary of defense and so supervised the American war effort. But while his boss, President George H.W. Bush, played down the role of oil in the fight against Iraq, Cheney made no secret of his belief that energy geopolitics lay at the heart of the matter. “Once [Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein] acquired Kuwait and deployed an army as large as the one he possesses,” Cheney told the Senate Armed Services Committee when asked to justify the administration’s decision to intervene, “he was clearly in a position to be able to dictate the future of worldwide energy policy, and that gave him a stranglehold on our economy.”
This would be exactly the message he delivered in 2002, as the second President Bush girded himself for the invasion of Iraq. Were Saddam Hussein successful in acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Cheney told a group of veterans that August 25th, “[he] could then be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East [and] take control of a great portion of the world’s energy supplies.”
For Cheney, the geopolitics of oil lay at the core of international relations, largely determining the rise and fall of nations. From this, it followed that any steps, including war and environmental devastation, were justified so long as they enhanced America’s power at the expense of its rivals.
More than 1,000 people took to the streets of the Swiss capital Bern on Saturday in a protest against restrictions in the country’s asylum law.
The protest which included about 130 undocumented immigrants was called by trade unions, political parties and human rights organizations which deplored “increasing repression” in the country’s asylum policies.
ATS news agency said the slogan of the protest was “Stop an asylum policy that disregards human rights”.
Swiss lawmakers restricted the asylum law this month, barring asylum seekers from applying at Swiss embassies, a move aimed at stemming a tide of immigrants from Eritrea, among them deserters and conscientious objectors.
The amendment will be effective from late 2012 or early next year.
Parliament also decided that delinquent and unruly immigrants can be held in special centers where their movements would be restricted.
Lawmakers also restricted family reunions for officially recognized refugees, with only a spouse and underage children allowed to immigrate.
And they cut social benefits for asylum seekers who will only be given emergency aid, half the money so far paid out.
Several of these measures must still be approved by the upper house of parliament.
In 2011, 22,551 asylum requests were made in Switzerland, a record since 2002, and a rise of 45 percent over the 2010 figure.
Most asylum seekers came from Eritrea, Tunisia and Nigeria.
A Russian ship carrying a controversial cargo of attack helicopters that Moscow repaired for Syria has re-entered Russian waters after turning back off Britain, an official said on Saturday.
The Alaed, whose cargo has greatly troubled the West amid the spiraling conflict in Syria, is due to enter the Kola Gulf, which leads from the Barents Sea towards Russia’s Arctic port of Murmansk, on Sunday morning.
“The ship is drifting in territorial waters, the entry into the (Kola) Gulf is expected at 6:00 am Moscow time (0200 GMT),” a Kola shipping control official told the Interfax news agency.
It is not clear when the ship will then arrive in port.
The Alaed, which headed back to Russia after its British insurer withdrew coverage, is to be re-flagged in Murmansk to sail under the Russian flag.
It is currently sailing under the flag of the Caribbean island of Curacao. The change appears to be an attempt to avoid security inspections that come when sailing under the flag of a third country.
Interfax reported on Friday that once re-flagged, the ship will set off again on its voyage to the Syrian port of Tartus under the accompaniment of at least one other Russian ship.
Russia says the Mi-25 helicopters are being returned to Syria after undergoing repairs at Russian factories under contracts that could not be breached.
The Alaed was forced to return from its journey after its mission was reported by the US State Department, prompting the British insurer’s coverage withdrawal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday confirmed the nature of the cargo, saying the ship carried “three helicopters that had been repaired” by Russia for Syria under a 2008 agreement.
Lavrov, who next week meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Saint Petersburg, had said he felt no need to justify Russia’s behavior to the United States as Moscow had not violated any rules.
- [In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes 'FAIR USE' of any such copyrighted material.]