Jan 102014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

americacowers

“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” – President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919

The horrors reported each day from Syria and Iraq are enough to make one cry; in particular, the atrocities carried out by the al-Qaeda types: floggings; beheadings; playing soccer with the heads; cutting open dead bodies to remove organs just for mockery; suicide bombers, car bombs, the ground littered with human body parts; countless young children traumatized for life; the imposition of sharia law, including bans on music … What century are we living in? What millennium? What world?

People occasionally write to me that my unwavering antagonism toward American foreign policy is misplaced; that as awful as Washington’s Museum of Horrors is, al-Qaeda is worse and the world needs the United States to combat the awful jihadists.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote. “They are different from you and me.”

And let me tell you about American leaders. In power, they don’t think the way you and I do. They don’t feel the way you and I do. They have supported “awful jihadists” and their moral equivalents for decades. Let’s begin in 1979 in Afghanistan, where the Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”) were in battle against a secular, progressive government supported by the Soviet Union; a “favorite tactic” of the Moujahedeen was “to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their nose, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another”, producing “a slow, very painful death”. 1

With America’s massive and indispensable military backing in the 1980s, Afghanistan’s last secular government (bringing women into the 20th century) was overthrown, and out of the victorious Moujahedeen arose al Qaeda.

During this same period the United States was supporting the infamous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; yes, the same charming lads of Pol Pot and The Killing Fields. 2

President Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a leading force behind the US support of both the Moujahedeen and the Khmer Rouge. What does that tell you about that American leader? Or Jimmy Carter – an inspiration out of office, but a rather different person in the White House? Or Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama, who chose Brzezinski as one of his advisers?

Another proud example of the United States fighting the awful jihadists is Kosovo, an overwhelmingly Muslim province of Serbia. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed conflict with Belgrade in the early 1990s to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against Serbia. 3 But Washington’s imperialists, more concerned about dealing a blow to Serbia, “the last communist government in Europe”, supported the KLA.

The KLA have been known for their torture and trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). 4 The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

More recently the US has supported awful jihadists in Libya and Syria, with awful consequences.

It would, moreover, be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

Not exactly the grand savior our sad old world is yearning for. (Oh, did I mention that Washington’s policies create a never-ending supply of terrorists?)

And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club when she wrote that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.” 5

If you’ve never done anything you wouldn’t want the government to know about, you should re-examine your life choices.

“The idea is to build an antiterrorist global environment,” a senior American defense official said in 2003, “so that in 20 to 30 years, terrorism will be like slave-trading, completely discredited.” 6

One must wonder: When will the dropping of bombs on innocent civilians by the United States, and invading and occupying their country become completely discredited? When will the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, CIA torture renditions, and round-the-world, round-the-clock surveillance become things that even men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and John Brennan will be too embarrassed to defend?

Last month, a former National Security Agency official told the Washington Post that the Agency’s workers are polishing up their résumés and asking that they be cleared – removing any material linked to classified programs – so they can be sent out to potential employers. He noted that one employee who processes the résumés said, “I’ve never seen so many résumés that people want to have cleared in my life.” 7

Morale is “bad overall”, said another former official. “The news – the Snowden disclosures – it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.” 8

President Obama was recently moved to declare that he would be proposing “some self-restraint on the NSA” and “some reforms that can give people more confidence.” He also said “In some ways, the technology and the budgets and the capacity [at NSA] have outstripped the constraints. And we’ve got to rebuild those in the same way that we’re having to do on a whole series of capacities … [such as] drone operations.” 9

Well, dear readers and comrades, we shall see. But if you’re looking for a glimmer of hope to begin a new year, you may as well try grabbing onto these little offerings. When the American Empire crumbles, abroad and at home, as one day it must, Edward Snowden’s courageous actions may well be seen as one of the key steps along that road. I’ve long maintained that only the American people have the power to stop The Imperial Machine – the monster that eats the world’s environment, screws up its economies, and spews violence on every continent. And for that to happen the American people have to lose their deep-seated, quasi-religious belief in “American Exceptionalism”. For many, what they’ve been forced to learn the past six months has undoubtedly worn deep holes into the protective armor that has surrounded their hearts and minds since childhood.

A surprising and exhilarating example of one of these holes in the armor is the New Year’s day editorial in the New York Times that is now well known. Entitled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-blower” – itself a legitimation of his actions – its key part says: “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”

The president has been moved to appoint a committee to study NSA abuses. This of course is a standard bureaucratic maneuver to keep critics at bay. But the committee – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – did come up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:

“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”

“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.” 10

The first recommendation refers to a practice, though certainly despicable, that is something the United States has been doing, and lying about, for decades. 11 Just this past September, James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, declared: “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies.” 12

Clapper is the same gentleman who told Congress in March that the NSA does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans; and, when subsequently challenged on this remark, declared: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.” 13

The second recommendation had not been revealed before, in a Snowden document or from any other source.

“That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about,” observed the director of a government transparency group. 14

ABC News reported that “A spokesperson for the NSA declined to comment on the issue of bank account hacking, and a representative for U.S. Cyber Command did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.” 15

Manipulating bank records is about as petty and dishonorable as a superpower can behave, and could conceivably, eventually, lead to the end of the NSA as we’ve all come to know and love it. On the other hand, the Agency no doubt holds some very embarrassing information about anyone in a position to do them harm.

The bombing of Flight 103 – Case closed?

When the 25th anniversary of the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 occurred on December 21 I was fully expecting the usual repetitions of the false accusation against Libya and Moammar Gaddafi as being responsible for the act which took the lives of 270 people over and in Lockerbie, Scotland. But much to my surprise, mingled with such, there were a rash of comments skeptical of the official British-US version, made by various people in Scotland and elsewhere, including by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Libya.

In a joint statement the three governments said they were determined to unearth the truth behind the attack. “We want all those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed”, they declared. 16

Remarkable. In 1991, the United States indicted a Libyan named Adelbaset al-Megrahi. He was eventually found guilty of being the sole perpetrator of the crime, kept in prison for many years, and finally released in 2009 when he had terminal cancer, allegedly for humanitarian reasons, although an acute smell of oil could be detected. And now they speak of bringing to justice “those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism”.

The 1988 crime was actually organized by Iran in retaliation for the American shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of 290 people. It was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization, with some help from Syria. And this version was very widely accepted in the Western world, in government and media circles. Until the US buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed. Then, suddenly, we were told that it was Libya behind the crime.

If the US and UK now wish to return to Iran, and perhaps Syria, as the culprits, they will have a lot of explaining to do about their previous lie. But these two governments always have a lot of explaining to do. They’re good at it. And the great bulk of their indoctrinated citizens, with little resistance, will accept the new/old party line, and their mainstream media will effortlessly switch back to the old/new official version, since Iran and Syria are at the top of the current list of Bad Guys. (The PFLP-GC has been quiescent for some time and may scarcely exist.)

If you’re confused by all this, I suggest that you start by reading my detailed article on the history of this case, written in 2001 but still very informative and relevant. You may be rather surprised.

The UK, US and Libyan governments have now announced that they will co-operate to reveal “the full facts” of the Lockerbie bombing. And Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, said he believes more people will be charged. This could be very interesting.

Notes

  1. Washington Post May 11, 1979; New York Times, April 13 1979
  2. William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” (2005), chapter 10
  3. RT TV (Russia Today, Moscow), May 4, 2012
  4. Associated Press, December 14, 2010
  5. Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000 issue
  6. New York Times, January 17, 2003
  7. Washington Post, December 7, 2013
  8. Washington Post, December 18, 2013
  9. Washington Post, December 7, 2013
  10. “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”, p.221
  11. See Anti-Empire Report, #118, June 26, 2013, second part
  12. Statement by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Allegations of Economic Espionage, September 8, 2013
  13. NBC News, June 9, 2013
  14. Kel McLanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, speaking toABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
  15. ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
  16. Reuters news agency, December 22, 2013

 

Feb 102012
 

 

* IN LIBYA NOW THE TRUTH IS COMING OUT

By Lizzie Phelan, VoltaireNet.org

Irish free-lance journalist Lizzie Phelan reverts to her recent interview by New York Times reporter Robert Mackey. In this article, she elaborates in greater detail on the three themes discussed in the interview. She argues that, though labeled as “activists” and “firebrands”, those journalists who express views going against the current when it comes to countries which are in NATO’s firing line are, objectively, in a better position to provide reliable information than their mainstream media counterparts. If today some Western journalists can afford to be more evenhanded about Libya, it is only because the military objectives have already been achieved. The grotesque coverage of the situation in Syria by the Western media is further confirmation of this. Grasping a complex reality does not depend on the amount of information accumulated in favor of any one side, but on the diversity of informed poins of view reflecting a given situation. As long as the political and economic conditions of such a multiplicity of views are not met, tomorrow, as yesterday, the first casualty of war will always be truth. […]

READ INTERVIEW @ http://www.voltairenet.org/In-Lybia-now-the-truth-is-coming

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* WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN SYRIA: INSIDER UPDATE

By Boris Dolgov, VoltaireNet.org

[…] The current situation in Syria remains one of the most important components of the Middle Eastern and international policies. Using Syria’s domestic crisis and pursuing their own goals NATO, Israel, Turkey and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf are trying to undermine the Syrian regime.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria I have made two trips to that country as a member of international delegations in August 2011 and in January 2012. If we watch the dynamics of situation’s development over that period on the one hand we can state intensification of terrorist groups in Syria and on the other hand we see a broader people’s support of President Bashar Assad and a clear demarcation of political forces’ positions.

In the last two months Syria has seen a number of terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacked Syrian servicemen and military facilities, law enforcement agencies institutions, blasts on oil pipelines, railroads, murders and taking of hostage among peaceful citizens (In the city of Homs insurgents killed five well known scientists), arson of schools and killing of teachers (since March 2011, 900 schools have been set on fire and 30 teachers have been killed). […]

READ @ http://www.voltairenet.org/What-Is-Really-Going-On-In-Syria

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* BRITISH, QATARI TROOPS ALREADY WAGING SECRET WAR IN SYRIA?

Source: RT

British and Qatari troops are directing rebel ammunition deliveries and tactics in the bloody battle for Homs, according to an Israeli website known for links to intelligence sources.

­Four centers of operation have been established in the city with the troops on the ground paving the way for an undercover Turkish military incursion into Syria.

The debkafile site said the presence of British and Qatari troops in Homs topped the agenda of Tuesday’s talks between Assad’s officials and head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov.

Qatar makes little secret of supporting the Syrian opposition with cash, arms and political support. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said in mid-January he is ready to send troops to Syria to stop the violence there. Britain insists it is not planning any military action against the Assad regime. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30479.htm

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* US ADMITS ISRAEL IS ARMING AND TRAINING TERRORIST GROUPS IN IRAN – VIDEO

Source: MSNBC

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NXCIiQA3nnM

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* ISRAEL VS. IRAN: THE TRUTH SLIPS OUT

By Ira Chernus, CommonDreams.com

Just days after the New York Times Magazine’s lurid cover story, “Israel Vs. Iran,” the Washington Post struck back with a two-fisted effort to win the “most dire prediction” contest. The Post’s foreign policy pundit David Ignatius wrote a widely-circulated column claiming inside information: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.” The next day the Post’s front page headline warned ominously, “Israel: Iran Must Be Stopped Soon.”

Both stories reported that the Obama administration opposes any Israeli action, just like the Bush administration before it. The risks to U.S. interests are incalculable, as the Pentagon and State Department have been telling us for years.

Yet both stories added a new note: Israel might strike without U.S. support or permission. “The administration appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits U.S. assets,” Ignatius wrote.

Of course the U.S. is already in the conflict, as the Iranians know perfectly well. Israel’s ability to strike depends largely on its high-tech weaponry, paid for by the $3 billion a year coming from Washington. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/09-1

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* U.S. OUTRAGE OVER SYRIA VETO AT UN RIFE WITH HYPOCRISY

By Stephen Zunes, Truthout

[…] A little perspective is required here: Since 1970, China has used its veto power eight times, and Russia (and the former Soviet Union) has used its veto power 13 times. However, the United States has used its veto power 83 times, primarily in defense of allies accused of violating international humanitarian law. Forty-two of these US vetoes were to protect Israel from criticism for illegal activities, including suspected war crimes. To this day, Israel occupies and colonizes a large swath of southwestern Syria in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, which the United States has successfully blocked from enforcing. Yet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insists that it is the Russians and Chinese who have “neutered” the Security Council in its ability to defend basic human rights.

What draft resolutions by the United Nation Security Council did the United States find so terrible that both Democratic and Republican administrations felt compelled to veto? Just to give a few examples:

  • Enforcement of sanctions against the brutal white minority regime in Rhodesia – 1970
  • Opposition to South Africa’s occupation of Namibia – 1975
  • The application of Vietnam to join the United Nations -1976
  • A call for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with strict security guarantees for Israel – 1976
  • Sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa – 1977
  • Condemning the ongoing occupation of southern Angola by apartheid South Africa – 1981
  • Opposition to Israel’s de facto annexation of Syrian territory invaded and occupied in the 1967 war – 1982
  • Calls for a halt to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon – 1982
  • Calls for cease-fire between Israeli occupation forces and joint Lebanese-Palestinian forces during the siege of Beirut – 1982
  • Opposition to the US invasion of Grenada – 1983
  • Calls for an end of US-sponsored attacks against Nicaragua – 1985
  • A call to honor the ruling by the International Court of Justice calling for an end to US-sponsored contras against Nicaragua – 1986
  • Criticism of Israeli attacks against civilians in Lebanon -1988
  • Opposition to the US invasion of Panama – 1990
  • Condemnation of Israeli violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied West Bank -1997
  • Establishment of an unarmed human rights observer force in the occupied Palestinian territories – 2001
  • Condemnation of the killing of UN employees and destruction of a World Food Program warehouse by Israeli occupation forces – 2002
  • A call on Israel to cease construction of its separation wall deep inside the occupied West Bank – 2003
  • Condemnation of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian leaders – 2004
  • Reiteration of the illegality of Israeli colonization in the occupied West Bank and a freeze on additional construction of settlements – 2011

In virtually every one of these resolutions, the United States cast the sole negative vote in the otherwise-unanimous 15-member Security Council. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/putting-un-veto-perspective/1328713320

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* THE RETURN OF THE KEYBOARD WARRIORS

By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

[…] Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Return of the Keyboard Warriors – a prized Return of the Living Dead spin-off – is at hand. From Republican chicken hawks to public intellectuals, right-wing America is erupting in renewed neo-conservative revolt. The year 2012 is the new 2002; Iran is the new Iraq. Whatever the highway – real men go to Tehran via Damascus, or real men go to Tehran non-stop – they want a war, and they want it now.

Go ahead and jump 

Exhibit A is an op-ed piece at the Wall Street Journal [1] – similar to countless others popping up virtually everyday not only in this Masters of the Universe vehicle but also in the Washington Post and myriad rags across “Western civilization”.

The festival of fallacies ranges from the usual “diplomacy has run its course” to “the sanctions are too late” – culminating in the right-wing weapon of choice; “Iran is within a year of getting to the point when it will be able to assemble a bomb essentially at will.” Why bother to follow what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is doing, not to mention the National Intelligence Estimates released by the US intelligence community?

And why not add imperial disdain tinged with racism, as in “Iran is a Third World country that can’t even protect its own scientists in the heart of Tehran”. Of course not; they are being killed by the Iranian terror group Mujahideen-e-Khalq, merrily trained, financed and armed by Israel’s Mossad, as US corporate media has just discovered. [2] Everybody in Iran has known this for months. […]

READ @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB11Ak02.html

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* GREECE AUSTERITY DEAL HITS PEOPLE HARD – VIDEO

Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R68mX70KmDI

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* AGREED UPON GREEK BAILOUT “UNAGREED” 24 HOURS LATER AS LAOS LEADER CHANGES MIND, EURO TUMBLES

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge.com

Remember the pomp and circumstance with which Venizelos showed up in Brussels yesterday carrying a two paragraph statement from Lucas Papademos in hand, saying Greece promises it has agreed to agree to make idiotic “pledges”? Well, as was largely suspected by cynical old us, even that “deal” has lasted not even a whopping 24 hours.

  • GREECE’S KARATZAFERIS SAYS CAN’T VOTE FOR TROIKA ACCORD AS IS – BBG
  • GREEK FAR-RIGHT PARTY LEADER SAYS ELECTIONS WOULD NOT PROVIDE A SOLUTION NOW, WOULD NEED MORE TIME

This is coming from the LAOS coalition member whose support for the Troika accord was supposedly in place yesterday.Alas, without his endorsement, the whole thing is off. And just to complete the sheer chaos that is about to be unleashed in Greece:

  • Greeek far right party leader says asks for reshuffle of Papademos technocrat gov

-> Kiss this whole thing goodbye. Just as Germany wanted all along. And the all-idiotic EURUSD, which had soared on what was glaringly idiotic hopes that this time, just this time, things in Greece would be different, tumbles.

READ and CHART @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/agreed-upon-greek-bailout-unagreed-24-hours-later-laos-leader-changes-mind-euro-tumbles

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* REBEL POLICE?

Source: WhenTheCrisisHitTheFan.com

I just read this announcement by the National Union of Employees in the Police. It’s soooo strange to read something like this. I think the policemen have started to think of the “next day”. It seems that less and less people believe in the course Greece has taken and more and more people are trying to find a place for themselves in the next status quo. It remains to see this change of stance in tomorrow demonstration as well on Sunday’s evening gathering at Syntagma.

The letter is addressed to the representatives of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

The interests of creditors of usurious loans and capitalists who covet our national wealth, can not in any rule of law be put in priority over the basic needs of people. Moreover, the priority of survival of a nation’s citizens, has been legitimized as a priority not only in domestic policy but also in the international community. Moreover, we, nor the majority of the people, are not those who caused this crisis.Because, however, we find once again that you continue the same destructive policies for all of us, we would like to state categorically that under no circumstances we will accept being put to be killed with our brothers.

Be warned as legitimate representatives of the Greek police that we will require to be issued directly to statutory orders to arrest you for a host of violations of the legislation, the act of committing a hearing in accordance with specific provisions of the Greek penal law, such as extortion, the covert promoting elimination or reduction of our democratic polity and national sovereignty, the interference of other essential legal goods of the Greek people, etc.

The full letter (in Greek) can be found at the union’s website here.

READ @ http://whenthecrisishitthefan.com/2012/02/10/rebel-police/

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* WHY THE FORECLOSURE DEAL MAY NOT BE SO HOT AFTER ALL

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

[…] It feels an awful lot like what happened here is the nation’s criminal justice honchos collectively realized that a thorough investigation of the problem would require resources they simply do not have, or are reluctant to deploy, and decided to accept a superficially face-saving peace offer rather than fight it out.

So they settled the case in a way that reads in headlines like it’s a bite out of the banks, but in fact is barely even that. There will be little in the way of real compensation for stuggling homeowners, and there are serious issues in the area of the deal’s enforceability. In fact, about the only part of the deal we can be absolutely sure will be honored in full is the liability waiver for the robosigning offenses.

With the rest of it — collecting on the settlement, enforcement of the decrees, all the stuff put in there to balance the deal in the consumer’s direction — there will be an uphill battle from this point forward to get the banks to comply. The banks meanwhile have no such uphill battle. They will get the full benefit of the deal (a release from costly litigation) from the moment the ink is dry.

Really this looks like America’s public prosecutors just wilted before the prospect of a long, drawn-out conflict with an army of highly-paid, determined white-shoe banker lawyers. The message this sends is that if you commit crimes on a large enough scale, and have enough high-priced legal talent sitting at the negotiating table after you get caught, the government will ultimately back down, conceding the inferiority of its resources. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/why-the-foreclosure-deal-may-not-be-so-hot-after-all-20120209

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* GOVERNMENTS ‘MAY SANCTION NERVE-AGENT USE ON RIOTERS’, SCIENTISTS FEAR

By Steve Connor, Independent UK

[…] But the Royal Society working group says the Government shifted its position to allow the development of more severe chemical agents, such as the type of potentially dangerous nerve gases used by Russian security forces to end hostage sieges. “The development of incapacitating chemical agents, ostensibly for law-enforcement purposes, raises a number of concerns in the context of humanitarian and human-rights law, as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” the report says.

“The UK Government should publish a statement on the reasons for its apparent recent shift in position on the interpretation of the CWC’s law enforcement position.” The Royal Society group points to a 1992 statement by Douglas Hogg, the then Foreign Office Minister, who indicated that riot-control agents were the only toxic chemicals that the UK considered to be permitted for law-enforcement purposes. But in 2009 ministers gave a less-restrictive definition suggesting the use of “incapacitating” chemical agents would be permitted for law-enforcement purposes as long as they were in the categories and quantities consistent with that permitted purpose.

READ @ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/government-may-sanction-nerveagent-use-on-rioters-scientists-fear-6612084.html

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* EX MONSANTO LAWYER CLARENCE THOMAS TO HEAR MAJOR MONSANTO CASE

Source: celsias.com

In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case which could have an enormous effect on the future of the American food industry. This is Monsanto’s third appeal of the case, and if they win a favorable ruling from the high court, a deregulated Monsanto may find itself in position to corner the markets of numerous U.S. crops, and to litigate conventional farmers into oblivion.

Here’s where it gets a bit dicier. Two Supreme Court justices have what appear to be direct conflicts of interest.

Stephen Breyer
Charles Breyer, the judge who ruled in the original decision of 2007 which is being appealed, is Stephen Breyer’s brother, who apparently views this as a conflict of interest and has recused himself.

Clarence Thomas
From the years 1976 – 1979, Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto. Thomas apparently does not see this as a conflict of interest and has not recused himself.

Fox, meet henhouse. […]

READ @ http://www.celsias.com/article/ex-monsanto-lawyer-clarence-thomas-hear-major-mons/

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* ROBO-SIGNING BANK SETTLEMENT IS A CRIMINAL SELL OUT

Source: bettermarkets.com

“Let me help a few victims I created by ripping them off and illegally throwing them out of their homes by false court filings that I swore were true.”  That’s what the so-called mortgage settlement talks are really all about:  fraud, perjury and crimes.  That’s what these banks did and that’s what they are trying to buy their way out of.

The settlement discussions are the same: eliminate all or almost all liability for the bank and, most importantly, all bank officers and employees in exchange for a loan forgiveness or modification program.  Think about this:  the banks engaged in a years-long pattern and practice of what can only be described as fraudulent if not criminal conduct that would put anyone else in prison for years if not decades, yet banks get to buy off the cops with some money to help the victims they created.

Worst of all, there is no requirement in any of these talks that I’m aware of that require the banks to come clean, publicly release all the relevant documents and provide sufficient information on their conduct so that anyone can evaluate whether the sell-out, I mean, pay-off, oops, I mean, “settlement” is anywhere near adequate.

And they get to buy their way out of prosecution for chump-change.  It’s reported that the settlement is going be $25 billion, with only $5 billion in cash and $20 billion in “loan forgiveness.”  That’s nothing.  There are more than 10 million homes under water where the amount they owe on their mortgages is more than the house is valued, i.e., could be sold for.  $20 billion doesn’t make a dent in that:  1 million homes at $20,000 loan forgiveness is it.  And, remember, $20 billion in “loan forgiveness” to the banks is not equal to $20 billion in cash.  It is more like $10 billion, if that, due to accounting, prior write-downs and other shenagigans. […]

READ @ http://bettermarkets.com/blogs/robo-signing-bank-settlement-criminal-sell-out

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* BP WINS EXCLUSION OF EMAILS FROM OIL SPILL TRIAL

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

BP Plc won a court order keeping several potentially damaging emails out of a scheduled trial to determine responsibility for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan in New Orleans came a day after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected the oil company’s effort to keep evidence about settlements it had already reached out of the trial.

The rulings came as Barbier prepares to preside on February 27 over a non-jury trial to assign blame for the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 people and caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. […]

READ @ http://news.yahoo.com/bp-wins-exclusion-emails-oil-spill-trial-225319673.html

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* MONTHS OF NDAA DEBATE, ZERO PRIME TIME COVERAGE- VIDEO

Source: TheYoungTurks

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk4nhInLDJg

Jan 262012
 

 

* IS SCHNEIDERMAN SELLING OUT? JOINS FEDERAL COMMITTEE THAT LOOKS DESIGNED TO UNDERMINE AGs AGAINST MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT DEAL

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

[…] A lot of soi-disant liberal groups have fallen in line with Obama messaging, which was the plan (I already have the predictable congratulatory Move On e-mail in my inbox). Let’s get real. The wee problem is that this committee looks like yet another bit of theater for the Administration to pretend, yet again, that it is Doing Something, while scoring a twofer by getting Schneiderman, who has been a pretty effective opponent, hobbled.

If you wanted a real investigation, you get a real independent investigator, with a real budget and staffing, and turn him loose. We had the FCIC which had a lot of hearings and produced a readable book that said everyone was responsible for the mortgage crisis, which was tantamount to saying no one was responsible. We even had an eleven-regulator Foreclosure Task Force that looked at 2800 loan files (and a mere 100 foreclosures) and found nothing very much wrong.

Now we have a committee full of people who have made numerous statements in the media and to Congressional committee minimizing the severity of the mortgage mess. Are were to believe they all had a conversion experience on the eve of the State of the Union address? But apparently the members of what passes for the left are prepared to take “investigation” at face value since it would be unpleasant to consider the possibility that they are being snookered again.

And it seems awfully plausible that the aim of getting Schneiderman on board with an Administration “investigation” is to undermine the effort by 15 Democrat attorneys general to devise their own strategy for dealing with mortgage abuses. We’ve heard reports privately that some of the defecting AGs are in a panic. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/01/is-schneiderman-selling-out-signs-up-to-co-chair-committee-designed-to-undermine-defectors-to-mortgage-settlement-deal.html

MORE HERE: 

• The Schneiderman Gambit: Financial Fraud Unit Appears Designed to Fail, and Grease Skids for Foreclosure Fraud Settlement (Firedoglake)

• Obama To Announce Mortgage Crisis Unit Chaired By New York Attorney General Schneiderman (HuffPo)

• California calls $25-billion mortgage settlement ‘inadequate’ (L.A. Times)

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* MORE CAUTION AND SKEPTICISM ABOUT FEDERAL MORTGAGE “INVESTIGATION”

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

While a large number of “liberal” groups, ranging from the official Democratic party outlets (the Center for American Progress) to ones that sometimes cross swords with the Administration (MoveOn, the Working Families Party) praised the Tuesday evening announcement of mortgage “investigations” with Schneiderman co-chairing the effort, others who have been watching the mortgage legal fight closely were far more ambivalent about the creation of a new unit in an initiative …which has done pretty much nothing since its creation in 2009 (boldface mine):

Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Schapiro today announced that President Barack Obama has established by Executive Order an interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to strengthen efforts to combat financial crime. The Department of Justice will lead the task force and the Department of Treasury, HUD and the SEC will serve on the steering committee. The task force’s leadership, along with representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities and inspectors general, will work with state and local partners to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, address discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims.

The task force, which replaces the Corporate Fraud Task Force established in 2002, will build upon efforts already underway to combat mortgage, securities and corporate fraud by increasing coordination and fully utilizing the resources and expertise of the government’s law enforcement and regulatory apparatus. The attorney general will convene the first meeting of the Task Force in the next 30 days. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/01/more-caution-and-skepticism-about-federal-mortgage-investigation.html

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* CONGRESS DOESN’T WANT TO GIVE UP ITS INSIDER TRADING PRIVILEGES

By John Hudson, The Atlantic Wire

President Obama’s plea to ban Congressional insider trading may poll well and have bipartisan support, but it’s already facing stiff resistance from lawmakers the morning after his State of the Union address.

On Tuesday night, the president spoke in no uncertain terms: “Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow,” he said. “Let’s limit any elected official from owning stock in industries they impact.” The remarks were cause for celebration for Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer, who authored a 2011 book exposing Congressional insider trading, and 60 Minutes, which ran a widely-viewed segment based on his book (CBS quickly uploaded the portion of the speech last night). But early reactions from Congress (Republicans and Democrats) shouldn’t encourage much optimism.

“Easier said than done is my reaction,” Democratic Rep. Jim Moran tells Politico‘s Manu Raju on the subject of restricting officials from owning stock they could impact. “Unless you are fairly precise about it, you can conceivably influence almost any corporation.” […]

READ @ http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/01/congress-doesnt-want-give-its-insider-trading-privileges/47836/

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* OBAMA’S FAILED STATE OF THE UNION

Obama and those around him should be in prison, not the White House

By Stephen Lendman, SteveLendmanBlog

It was typical Obama, taking credit for what should be condemned. He’s a fraud, a crime boss, a war criminal multiple times over, a moral coward, and serial liar.

His State of the Union address was beginning-to-end doublespeak, duplicity, coverup, and denial of failed policies complicit with Wall Street crooks, war profiteers, and other corporate favorites while popular needs go begging.

Not according to fawning New York Times writers, however. Suppressing truth and full disclosure, Helene Cooper headlined, Obama Speech Makes Pitch for Economic Fairness,” saying:

Obama “pledged on Tuesday night to use government power to balance the scale between America’s rich and the rest of the public….toward an economy ‘built to last’ and what he called irresponsible policies of the past that caused economic collapse.”

Fact check

Throughout his tenure, Obama transferred trillions of dollars to Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and America’s rich already with too much. In the process, he deepened a Main Street Depression. As a result, half of US households are impoverished or bordering on it. Hunger and homelessness grow. Nothing’s done to help. Unaddressed human need is incalculable.

Over 25 million remain unemployed. Job creation is nil except for low wage/no benefit temp or part-time ones. Inequality in America is unprecedented. Obama supports austerity when massive stimulus is needed. Rich elites never had it so good at the expense of ordinary people left out.

Obama’s Failed State isn’t fit to live in for growing millions. […]

READ @ http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/

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* SENATOR SANDERS REACTS TO PRES. OBAMA’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=82NMkSxm6L4

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* WHITE HOUSE PRESSURED SCIENTISTS TO UNDERESTIMATE BP SPILL SIZE

By Kate Sheppard, MotherJones

Back at the height of the massive Gulf oil spill in 2010, there was quite a bit of controversy about just how much crude was blasting out of the well. According to new documents that a watchdog group released on Monday, there was heated debate among the scientists who evaluated the flow rate as well.

For the first few weeks after the spill began in April 2010, BP misled the public about how big it was, and the government repeated BP’s estimate without question. And when the government released its own estimate in late May of up to 25,000 barrels per day, that too was controversial—and proved to be far lower than the actual size, which was more like 53,000 barrels of oil per day.

Now, an email released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) traces efforts to downplay the spill size in the initial weeks back to the White House. The group released a May 29, 2010 email from Dr. Marcia McNutt, the director of the US Geologic Survey and head of the government’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), that was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The email came after scientists on the flow-rate team complained to McNutt about how the spill figures were conveyed to the press, and in response she cited pressure from the White House as the reason the numbers were low-balled. […]

READ @ http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/01/report-white-house-pressured-scientists-underestimate-bp-spill-size

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* APPLE DRIVING WORKERS TO THREATEN MASS SUICIDE? THE PATHOLOGIES OF THE MODERN CORPORATION

By Robert Cruickshank, AlterNet

[…] In the last year or two, it’s become increasingly clear that the way Apple makes its products is deeply flawed. Working conditions at the factory which makes most of their products – Foxconn in Shenzhen, China – are so appalling that workers engaged in a rash of suicides in 2010 to ameliorate their own suffering. Earlier this year workers threatened mass suicide over pay and working conditions. And of course, there’s the fact that Apple makes these products overseas rather than in the United States, where unemployment remains at some of the highest levels we’ve seen since the Great Depression.

Here in the 21st century, it should be clear to us that better technology is not sufficient to build the kind of better lives and society that we want. If it were, we wouldn’t be in a position of mass unemployment, widespread suffering, and a democracy in decay. Social institutions, including workplaces and corporations, have to be full partners in building a democratic, empowered, and equal society.

Most corporations, however, don’t see themselves that way – including Apple. Today’s New York Times took a look at Apple, America And A Squeezed Middle Class, curious to see why Apple no longer manufactures its products in the US and what the impact is on our prosperity. They found that Apple builds in China in large part because they have a narrow focus on their products and their profits, and disdain wider concerns for the good of society. When an unnamed Apple executive was asked about their role in addressing America’s economic problems, their response was revealing:

They say Apple’s success has benefited the economy by empowering entrepreneurs and creating jobs at companies like cellular providers and businesses shipping Apple products. And, ultimately, they say curing unemployment is not their job.

“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries,” a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

That quote is perhaps the best encapsulation of the pathologies of the modern American corporation. In fact, Apple does have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Everyone who lives in this country has that obligation. And corporations have that obligation too. If they don’t want to help make things better, then they shouldn’t exist. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/153873

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* MONSANTO HIRED MERCENARY BLACKWATER TO INFILTRATE ANTI-GMO GROUPS

By Stephanie Dearing, Digital Journal

Documents reveal that Blackwater has been busy expanding its corporate reach by providing intelligence services for agencies such as the Canadian Military, Netherlands Police and corporations like Monsanto.

Blackwater is a private, mercenary army. They’ve been called the ‘shadow army,’ and most notoriously worked for the United States in Iraq, where the company courted controversy. Journalist Jeremy Scahill, who wrote a book about Blackwater, wrote an exclusive for The Nation, revealing general details of the extent of the Blackwater business operations. Scahill managed to obtain documents that, according to Scahill, show:

“… entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation.”

[…]

The news that Monsanto hired a Blackwater company for intelligence reports is rocketing around the world via anti-GMO activists. Blogger Rady Ananda summed up the relationship between Monsanto and Blackwater as:

“… A death-tech firm weds a hit squad.”

[…]

READ @ http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/297701#ixzz1jNunca98

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* HUMAN CARCINOGEN FOUND IN DRINKING WATER NEAR GAS DRILLING OPS

Source: EcoWatch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) detection of arsenic, a known human carcinogen, barium and other contaminants in the well water of homes near natural gas drilling operations in Dimock Township, Pa., should prompt a nationwide investigation of drilling-linked water pollution.

“EPA and other officials must move quickly to ensure these families have an adequate source of clean water,” said Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel with Environmental Working Group (EWG). “This finding confirms what Dimock residents have said for months—that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should have never allowed Cabot to end deliveries of clean water.”

Last month, EWG published a report called Gas Drilling Doublespeak that found that Dimock residents, among other people in gas-rich areas, were not warned of risks to their water supplies when they were approached to lease their land for drilling. […]

READ @ http://ecowatch.org/2012/human-carcinogen-found-in-drinking-water-near-gas-drilling-ops/

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* INDEPENDENT FACT-FINDING LIBYAN MISSION

By Stephen Lendman, OpEdNews

Joint report exposed NATO crimes but still fell far short.

A joint report was released by the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC).

Their mission investigated alleged widespread international law violations since mid-February 2011. Its mandate included investigating those committed by:

  • the former government;
  • NATO; and
  • insurgents.

It also sought to identify human rights issues, requiring Lybian and international attention.

Investigators included “leading international jurists and lawyers with expertise in international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, transitional justice, and the development of legal systems in post-conflict environments.”

Information obtained from witnesses, victims, and other parties were kept confidential unless already revealed and available.

Investigations weren’t meant to be comprehensive. Rather, the mission tried “to convey the considered observations of its members, in order to facilitate, and prompt, the work of other bodies and authorities.”

[…]

From November 15 – 22, investigations and interviews were conducted in Western Libya alone, in and around Tripoli, Zawiya, Sibrata, Khoms, Zliten, Misrata, Tawergha, and Sirte. Significantly, Benghazi was omitted, an area plagued by insurgent crimes.

Findings revealed “significant” international law violations. However, imposed constraints prevented investigators from reaching “definitive legal conclusions regarding individual incidents.” Nonetheless, they believe crimes of war and against humanity were committed.

Evidence suggests NATO classified civilian sites as military ones for attacks, including homes, schools, colleges, food distribution centers, hospitals, mosques, and others. In addition, civilians were targeted, notably in Sirte.

In fact, one incident there killed 47 or more non-combatants. This and other incidents raise “significant questions,” requiring further inquiry and disclosure.

Insurgents also violated international law, including civilian killings; torture and other abuses; wrongful detentions; mistreatment of foreign workers, and forced “displacement of suspected enemies of the Revolution.” […]

READhttp://www.opednews.com/articles/Independent-Fact-Finding-L-by-Stephen-Lendman-120126-184.html

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* THE HUMAN RIGHTS “SUCCESS” IN LIBYA

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

It quickly became ossified conventional wisdom that NATO’s war in Libya to aid rebel factions in overthrowing Moammar Gaddafi was a clear human rights victory. But the reality in post-Gaddafi Libya has long been in tension with that claim, and that’s true today more so than ever:

Doctors Without Borders is halting work in detention centers in the Libyan city of Misrata because detainees are “tortured and denied urgent medical care,” the international aid agency said Thursday.

The agency known by its French acronym MSF said it has treated 115 people with torture-related wounds from interrogation sessions.

Some of the patients treated were tortured again after they were returned to detention centers, according to the agency.

“Some officials have sought to exploit and obstruct MSF’s medical work,” said Christopher Stokes, the agency general director.

“Patients were brought to us for medical care between interrogation sessions, so that they would be fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions”. . . .

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced similar concerns about torture in Libya. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/26/the_human_rights_success_in_libya/singleton

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* PUPS ON PARADE: EU OBEDIENTLY PUSHES TOWARD WAR WITH IRAN

By Chris Floyd, Information Clearing House

This week, the warlords of the West took yet another step toward their long-desired war against Iran. (Open war, that is; their covert war has been going on for decades — via subversion, terrorism, and proxies like Saddam Hussein.) On Monday, the European Union obediently followed the dictates of its Washington masters by agreeing to impose an embargo on Iranian oil.

The embargo bans all new oil contracts with Iran, and cuts off all existing deals after July. The embargo is accompanied by a freeze on all European assets of the Iranian central bank. In imposing these draconian measures on a country which is not at war with any nation, which has not invaded or attacked another nation in centuries, and which is developing a nuclear energy program that is not only entirely legal under international law but is also subject to the most stringent international inspection regime ever seen, the EU is “targeting the economic lifeline of the regime,” as one of its diplomats put it, with admirable candor.

The embargo will have serious, perhaps disastrous effects on many of Europe’s sinking economies, which are heavy users of Iranian oil. This is particularly true in Greece, the poster boy for our modern “Shock Doctrine über alles” global economic system. For even as Greece writhes beneath the blows of European bankers determined to bleed the country dry to avoid the consequences of their own knowingly corrupt loan policies, the Iranians have been giving the Greeks substantial discounts on oil, which has helped ease — at least in some measure — the economic ruin being imposed on the “birthplace of democracy.” […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30353.htm

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* FALSE FLAG USS ENTERPRISE – VIDEO

Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5Uf-6HrH_fE#!

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* DEADLY BLASTS HIT SHIITE NEIGHBORHOODS IN BAGHDAD

By Yasir Ghazi and Duraid Adnan, NYTimes

BAGHDAD — A series of explosions in Shiite neighborhoods here killed nine people and wounded dozens more on Tuesday, the latest in a wave of sectarian attacks.

No group claimed responsibility, but the bombings bore the hallmarks of others by the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Iraq, which says it has shifted its attention to Shiites and sources of Iranian influence since the withdrawal of the American military.

The group says Iran has destroyed Iraq over the past several years by “killing the best families, the elite, the educated.” […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/world/middleeast/deadly-explosions-rattle-baghdad.html?hp