The Weekly Steve Lendman Column #1

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

Originally published on the SJLendman Blog

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Note from RE:  Steve has joined the Diner as a Cross Posting Blogger.  His regular articles from the SJLendman Blog will appear here on a regular basis.  Some may appear individually titled by Article, others as Compilations in the Steve Lendman Column.  All the articles can also be found on Steve’s Blog.  In addition to his Blog, Steve also Hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour where you can listen to Podcasts with many notable Talking Heads on Geopolitical, Economic and Social Issues.

RE 

Syrian False Flag Planned?
by Stephen Lendman
Never bet against Washington’s imperial plans. New tactics follow failed ones. Efforts to oust Assad continue. Proxy killers can’t do it alone. They’re no match against Syria’s superior military strength. It’s committed to rout them.
Expect NATO intervention anytime or perhaps post-US November elections. Libya 2.0 looks increasingly likely. What better way to finesse it than by staging a false flag attack blamed on Assad.
America’s false flag history suggests it. In 1898, Spain was falsely accused of blowing up the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba harbor. The Spanish-American war followed.
Roosevelt manipulated Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. South Korea was used to instigate war on the North. Lyndon Johnson wanted war on Vietnam and got it.
Fake threats sent US marines to Grenada. Manufactured incidents precipitated America’s Panama invasion.
Saddam was head-faked into invading Kuwait. The Gulf War, two decades of sanctions, another war, and occupation followed.
September 11, 2001 was the mother of all false flags. It’s the big lie of our time. Eleven years of imperial wars followed. One segues to another without end. Syria is Washington’s latest. Iran is next. Proxy wars always rage. Media silence makes pretexts unnecessary.
On August 20, Obama perhaps signaled US intervention intentions. He told reporters:
“I have indicated repeatedly that President al-Assad has lost legitimacy, that he needs to step down. So far, he hasn’t gotten the message, and instead has double downed in violence on his own people.”
“I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical.”
“That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria. It concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.”
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
“We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.”
These comments signal possible intervention. The New York Times said Obama’s warning advances things “a step closer to direct American intervention.”
Syrian Foreign Ministry Jihad Makdissi clearly said chemical weapons won’t be used internally. Nor will they be used against other nations except in self-defense.
Of course they won’t. Why would Assad give Washington and other NATO countries reason to intervene?
No matter. Incidents are easy to manufacture. Scoundrel media hyperbole manipulates readers and viewers to expect it. Propaganda hypes fear.
On August 17, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined “Syria’s neighbors braced for chemical threat. Assad warns Turkey on Stingers,” saying:
“The US and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require up to 60,000 ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of the Assad government, an unnamed American source said Thursday night, Aug.16.”
Securing weapons is deceptive cover perhaps for a planned chemical false flag blamed on Assad. DF, Obama, other officials, and Western media are manipulating public opinion to accept another full-scale war.
Alleged Iraq WMD threats facilitated shock and awe and occupation. Others initiated NATO’s destruction of Libya. Expect something similar for Syria. Washington’s bag of tricks contains all dirty ones.
Chemical warfare threats are hyped. DF said US special forces are positioned in Jordan, Turkey and Israel. “Reconnaissance teams from potentially targeted countries have infiltrated Syria.”
Medical preparations have been made. “Israeli hospitals are on war alert.” Fortified emergency wards were opened. “IDF Home Front Command units embarked on a series of chemical attack drills….”
Soldiers wore anti-contamination clothing. Underground parking areas are ready as bomb shelters. “Assad is resolved more than ever to stand fast” and fight.
DF hyperbole sounded like Western media reports during the Blitz.
On August 21, Voice of Russia headlined “Russia denies sending chemical weapons to Syria,” saying:
Colonel Vladimir Mandych, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Department for Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, said none were sent to Syria, adding:
“Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. (Their) use leads to colossal consequences for people involved in armed conflicts and the civilian population and inflicts irreparable damage to the environment.”
“Of course, the international community should take measures to prevent the use of chemical weapons in different regions in the 21st century.”
At the same time, SANA state media reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejects outside intervention and safe zones. He said:
“Statements saying (the Geneva agreement) is as good as dead imply that someone seeks a pretext for military intervention. This is worrying as it can only lead to catastrophe in the region.”
He added that Russia continues discussions with “everyone” to prevent what’s bad getting worse. He fears it for good reason.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expects no Security Council resolution. On August 20, her follow-up comments suggested intervention, saying:
Washington’s position is well-known. “We don’t think there’s going to be peace in Syria until Assad steps down and the bloodshed ends.”
America’s agenda remains unchanged, “that is to get to a political transition strategy, to get to an end to the bloodshed, and to get to a real transition with those countries who are willing to participate, outside the UN if necessary.”
On August 19, SANA state media reported Britain’s Sunday Times saying UK intelligence “is covertly aiding the armed terrorists to launch terrorist attacks in Syria….”
A Syrian opposition official was quoted saying:
UK authorities “know about and approve 100%” of intelligence from their Cyprus military bases. It’s being sent through Turkey to Free Syrian Army forces.
“British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus. The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans and we are getting it from the Turks.”
Information includes Syrian army movements in Aleppo. CIA elements are involved. So is German intelligence. The Bild am Sontag weekly reported that a spy ship off Syria’s coast uses Federal Intelligence Service (BND) technology. It’s provides information to insurgents.
Germany’s Defense Ministry confirmed its presence. The vessel Oker provides early warnings, communications and reconnaissance. It’s able to monitor troop movements up to 600 km inside Syria. Information is sent to Washington, Britain and insurgents.
BND agents are also stationed in Adana, Turkey. They’re monitoring Syrian telephone and radio communications.
Oker is part of Germany’s UNIFIL mission (UN Interim Force in Lebanon since 1978 until August 31, 2012 unless renewed). It’s not authorized to conduct Syrian intelligence. No parliamentary mandate approved it.
Perhaps Angela Merkel is freelancing on her own. She’s part of NATO’s imperial regime change coalition. Germany is also involved with the “Economic Reconstruction and Development” working group.
Last May, the Syrian National Council’s (SNC) Finance and Economic Affairs Bureau (FEAB) adopted a post-Assad privatization plan. Dozens of countries and 10 organizations are involved. Germany and the UAE lead the initiative.
They want Syrian spoils carved up among them. Plunder is their mandate. Subterfuge masks it. They call it a mission to benefit all Syrians. They plan erasing the Syrian Arab Republic and remaking it in their own image.
They envision unfettered capitalism unleashed in its most savage form. They want Syria replicating the new Iraq and Libya. Profits, not people, matter. Iraq more closely resembles hell than “the cradle of civilization.”
Violence ravages Libya. No end of conflict and human misery is imminent in either country. Full-scale war rages in Afghanistan. American-style liberation is more charnel house than democratic freedom.
Syrians experienced it for months. No end in sight is near. The worst is yet to come. Bet on it.

Lawless National Security Letters

by Stephen Lendman
American freedom always was weak. It’s now on life support. Numerous police state laws followed 9/11. Rights most people take for granted are on the chopping block for elimination.
Big Brother spying alone eroded them. It’s ongoing lawlessly in many forms.
So-called National Security Letters (NSLs) is one example. Most people never heard of them. Many are victims without knowing it. Those aware are gagged from discussing them. More on that below.
NSLs have been around since the mid-1980s. They involve abusive police state intrusions. Pre-9/11, they had more limited authority to secure records and other personal information on alleged terrorists and spies.
The USA Patriot Act’s Section 505 changed things. It permits expanded FBI’s authority to obtain personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.
At issue only is claiming information sought relates to alleged terrorism or espionage investigations. No proof is required.
Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private records can be obtained. Gag orders prevent targeted individuals or groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing exponentially.
Between 2003 and 2006 alone, the DOJ’s inspector general reported nearly 200,000 NSLs issued. By now, they may exceed a million. Using them violates constitutional freedoms. They’ve eroded enormously en route to disappearing altogether.
Full-blown tyranny is one more state-sponsored 9/11 type attack away. It could come any time.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls NSLs “one of the most frightening and invasive” police state laws. The FBI’s abuse of power already is legendary.
It’s operated extrajudicially for decades. It does so with impunity. Giving them more powers compounds America’s total surveillance society.
EFF calls NSLs unconstitutional. They’re vehicles for institutionalizing abuse. In March 2007, the Justice Department inspector general published a report confirming extensive misuse of authority. An internal FBI audit confirmed it.
At the same time, Attorney General Guidelines and internal FBI documents claimed no criminal laws were broken.
In response, EFF filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) litigation. It sought documentation of NSL abuse. On June 16, 2007, a federal judge ordered 2,500 pages released monthly.
In January 2007, The New York Times headlined “Military Expands Intelligence Role in US,” saying:
Pentagon officials use NSLs to spy on Americans. It’s part of their “aggressive” domestic intelligence gathering efforts. The CIA and FBI do the same thing. On request, they can get virtually any private information they request.
After The New York Times disclosure, EFF sought Pentagon records. In October 2007, the Department of Defense began producing them.
Since filing FOIA litigation, EFF obtained thousands of documents. They reveal egregious government abuses of power.
Since 2005, EFF petitioned Congress for NSL reform. Bush administration officials blocked it. So did Obama and bipartisan congressional complicity.
Since NSL authority was first enacted, “the FBI issued hundreds of thousands of such letters seeking private telecommunications and financial records of Americans without any prior approval from courts.”
Prior to 2011, EFF believes challenging NSL constitutionality happened only once. The Department of Justice protects FBI authority to operate extrajudicially.
DOJ uses an aggressive new tactic. It’s suing NSL recipients who challenge FBI authority. It claims doing so is lawless.
In other words, DOJ claims standing up for our constitutional rights breaks the law. Claiming it constitutes police state authority. Doing so mocks rule of law principles openly. Everyone is put at risk.
NSLs let federal authorities gag service providers. They’re prevented from telling affected customers or the public what’s going on.
This constraint violates the First Amendment’s procedural prior restraint provision. It lets federal authorities issue a never-ending prior restraint of their own. It forces service providers to comply.
In addition, judicial authority is bypassed. Moreover, recipient telecom and financial companies can’t determine if or how the government might overreach or abuse its authority.
As a result, legal challenges are extremely hard. In May 2011, EFF brought one on behalf of one client. It raised the above concerns and others relating to due process and First Amendment rights.
In response, the DOJ filed a civil complaint against the recipient. It alleged that by “stat(ing) its objection to compliance with (NSL) provisions,” said person or organization “interfered with the United States’ vindication of its sovereign interests in law enforcement, counterintelligence, and protecting national security.”
Subsequently, DOJ agreed to a stay. It temporarily suspended its suit. It moved to compel disclosure of subscriber information. It also upheld gag order restrictions.
The petition contesting NSLs is currently pending before the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It will decide if said recipient is permitted to speak publicly and if federal authorities may keep issuing NSLs.
At the same time, if DOJ loses, it will appeal up to the Supreme Court. At issue is legitimizing police state authority. Expect the usual spurious national security issues to be cited. Most likely the High Court will agree.
Freedoms in America are on the chopping block for elimination. Full-blown tyranny approaches. Expect Supreme Court justices to approve. They support power and privilege over doing the right thing.
A Final Comment
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), five federal statutes authorize FBI or US intelligence officials to issue NSLs related to national security investigations.
The relevant laws include:
(1) section 1114(a)(5) of the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3414(a)(5)
(2) and (3) sections 626 and 627 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681u, 1681v)
(4) section 2709 of title 18 of the United States Code
(5) section 802 of the National Security Act (50 U.S.C. 436)
Two lower federal courts found “uncertainties, practices and policies associated with” NSLs. They violate First Amendment and other freedoms.
Amended federal law addressed concerns raised by critics and lower court judges. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed one lower court case. It remanded the other for reconsideration in light of amended law.
The district court remained troubled by First Amendment violations. The appellate court also expressed concerns but ruled the government could invoke authority under 18 USC 2709 and 18 USC 3511 “in a limited but constitutionally acceptable manner.”
Federal courts are extremely right wing. The Roberts Supreme Court may be America’s worst. When vacancies occur, liberals need not apply.
Democrat and Republican presidents won’t nominate them. Senators won’t confirm them. The Constitution gives them advise and consent authority.
Since 1789, 160 nominations were submitted. Of these, 124 were confirmed. Seven declined to serve. On June 1, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor. On August 6, 2009, she was confirmed.
On May 10, 2010, he nominated Elena Kagan. On August 5, 2010, she was confirmed.
America’s most distinguished independent jurists get no consideration. Today, Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan and William O. Douglas wouldn’t make the cut. US jurisprudence suffers grievously. So do fundamental freedoms.

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