Puppet MastersS


War Whore

CIA Drone Assassinations Violate the Law of War

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© unknown
The constitutional arguments against the Central Intelligence Agency's assassinations of Anwar al-Awlaki and, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son have been widely discussed. Less well known, however, is the case against CIA assassinations to be made on the basis of the law of war.

Into the breach has stepped Howard University law professor Morris Davis, who in a recent column presented a well-researched case that the CIA's drone assassination program is illegal under the law of war and that, as a result, CIA personnel participating in drone strikes could be prosecuted for murder.

Davis knows his subject well. He was a U.S. Air Force judge advocate for 25 years and served as chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions from 2005 to 2007, resigning from that post in disgust at the use of torture to extract evidence from prisoners and the interference in the proceedings from the Pentagon. He is now executive director and counsel of the Crimes of War Education Project. In other words, Davis' opinion on the matter of war crimes should not be taken lightly.

Central to Davis' argument is the indisputable fact that the CIA is not an arm of the military but "a civilian agency made up of civilian employees and civilian contractors." For those still not convinced, columnist Nat Hentoff reminds us that "when Gen. David Petraeus (who had led U.S. forces in Afghanistan) became the present head of the CIA, he removed his military uniform."

Bad Guys

US: Pentagon Prepares for Economic Warfare

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© Agence France-PresseTraders at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. The US fears China's ability to press the button on its Treasury bills.
The scene: the war games suite of the mightiest military power in the world.

The guests were assembled in the Warfare Analysis Laboratory, surrounded by uniformed officers from the highest levels of the Pentagon and a dizzying array of screens normally used to simulate nuclear world war.

The gentlemen were called to order and the games began.

"If you imagine the war room in Dr. Strangelove, you're not far off," says participant James Rickards.

Yet this was no traditional battle game, but rather the Pentagon's first economic war game, and the authorities are loath to talk about it.

Economic war? It sounds preposterous. Except it gets less so with every dollar of debt run up by the US.

Behind the scenes, the military are worried about the market. For who owns much of this debt? China, the US's most powerful rival and threat. And that makes America vulnerable to a new kind of bloodless but ruthless war.

Rickards is not a soldier but a banker. He was joined in the war game by dozens of his Wall Street colleagues, flown in from Manhattan to this bunker at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland for the two-day event in 2009, when the Pentagon started to get really alarmed.

People

US: Members Of Congress Grow Wealthier Despite Recession

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© Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesRep. Darrell Issa
Despite the economic recession and declining household wealth, the net wealth of members of Congress continues to rise, according to a Roll Call analysis of financial disclosure forms.

Members of the House and Senate have a collective net worth of $2.04 billion, up from $1.65 billion in 2008. The vast majority of the increase goes to the wealthiest members of Congress, who also account for most of Congress' net worth.

Members' net wealth may be much higher, however, since Roll Call only used the minimum valuation of assets in the range required by disclosure forms, and disclosure forms do not include non-income-producing assets, such as a personal residence.

Star of David

EU poll: Israel 'biggest threat' to world peace

Israel, Iran, nuclear
© unknown
U.S. beats out 'axis of evil' in causing global instability

Over half of Europeans think Israel poses the "biggest threat to world peace," according to a controversial poll commissioned by the European Commission.

The same survey has the United States beating out Iran, Iraq and North Korea - the trio dubbed the "axis of evil" by President George W. Bush - as well as Afghanistan in a ranking of what countries contribute most to world instability.

EUobserver.com reports the survey, conducted between Oct. 8 and 16 by Taylor Nelson Sofres/EOS Gallup of Europe, consisted of 15 questions regarding "the reconstruction of Iraq, the conflict in the Middle East and World peace."

According to the website, the poll sparked controversy - not over its results, but over the release of its results. Namely, the European Commission was accused of suppressing the results revealing the extent of mistrust of Israel and the U.S. while the Bush administration was stumping for Iraq reconstruction assistance at the international donors conference in Madrid last week.

Rocket

Feeling safer now?: Israel Improving nuclear abilities. Report

Nuclear submarine
© Illustration: AP
The Guardian quotes report claiming Israel extending Jericho III missile's range, developing ICBM capabilities, expanding nuclear-tipped cruise missile enabled submarine fleet.

Israel is extending its Jericho III missile's range, developing intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities and expanding its nuclear-tipped cruise missile enabled submarine fleet, The Guardian, quoting an independent committee report, said Monday.

According to the British newspaper, the report was prepared for the Trident Commission, an independent cross-party initiative set up by the British American Security Information Council (BASIC).

"In the case of Israel, the size of its nuclear-tipped cruise missile enabled submarine fleet is being increased and the country seems to be on course, on the back of its satellite launch rocket program, for future development of an inter-continental ballistic missile," the report said.

Vader

Netanyahu Threatens Gazans with Death

Benjamin Netanyahu
© unknown
Throughout its history, Israel had belligerent, racist prime ministers, none worse than Netanyahu. He talks peace but mocks and spurns it.

His extremism heads Israel toward the brink. His worst ever government enrages global millions. Eventually, Israel may end up isolated and universally vilified as a pariah state.

Already, it's a regional menace. Lawlessly occupied for 44 years, Palestinians know it best. Gaza remains suffocating under siege. Militantly, Netanyahu wants harsher conditions.

On October 30, Haaretz headlined, "Netanyahu to Gaza militants: Israel's policy is kill or be killed," saying:

Netanyahu threatened attacks against "every attempt to fire against Israel and anyone who fires anyway."

He told ministers at a special cabinet session that Israel's defense policy stresses two principles: "Kill or be killed," and "He who harms you should bear the blood on his head."

So-called "militants" are freedom fighters. Hamas and other resistance groups respond only in self-defense. International law affirms it.

In December 2008, Israel waged preemptive war on Gaza. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups observed months of unilateral ceasefire, despite repeated Israeli violations. On November 4, it ended after the IDF invaded without cause, killing six Hamas members, allegedly to close tunnels.

War Whore

Propaganda Alert!: US fears uncoordinated Israeli strike on Iran

Netanyahu and Barak
© Ariel Hermoni, Defense MinistryNetanyahu and Barak. Planning attack?
Washington concerned Israel will mount military operation against Islamic Republic, State Department official says. US consequently putting greater pressure on Security Council to impose harsher sanctions on Iran.

Fearing an uncoordinated Israeli attack against Iran, the United States is working on several levels to pressure the UN's Security Council into imposing harsher sanctions on Iran, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

A senior US State Department official said there was growing concern among Obama administration officials ahead of an IAEA report set to be published in November indicating considerable progress in Tehran's development of its military nuclear program.

The US is concerned that the report may trigger Israeli actions against the Islamic Republic which may not necessarily be in line with US interests in the region.

Bad Guys

Markets fall on as Greece announces referendum on euro bail-out

George Papandreou
© Reuters/Francois LenoirGeorge Papandreou has announced that there will be a Greek referendum to approve the EU bail-out deal which would impose a 50pc haircut on its creditors
Global stock markets dropped sharply as investors sold off shares after Greece's shock decision to hold a referendum on its eurozone bail-out package thratened to intensify the region's debt crisis.

London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares dropped more that 2pc, with markets in Germany falling, France, Spain and Italy sliding between 2.7pc and 4pc.

Andrew Lim, banking analyst at Espirito Santo in London, said: "If Greek voters reject the unpopular bailout plan it could result in a "hard default", which could force banks to take losses of about 75pc on their Greek sovereign bonds, trigger payouts on credit default swap insurance contracts, and raise the threat of a systemic risk.

"If we get a hard default in Greece, it will exacerbate the situation with Italy and Spain. It just increases the problem of Italy going down the same route, and that's the real risk.

The fall in Europe followed big falls on Wall Street overnight and in Asia, with surveys showing China's manufacturing remained sluggish also weighing on sentiment.

Bad Guys

European Banks Sink on Greek Vote Bombshell

bank vault
French banks and other lenders exposed to Greece and other weak euro zone countries slumped on Tuesday after Greece's leader said he would put a bailout plan to a referendum, raising the risk of a disorderly default.

The European bank index was down 6.1 percent at 133.2 points.

The index gave up all the gains made on Thursday, when banks staged their biggest rally for 18 months after EU leaders and banks agreed to write off half Greece's debt as part of a wider euro zone rescue plan.

If Greek voters reject the unpopular bailout plan it could result in a "hard default", which could force banks to take losses of about 75 percent on their Greek sovereign bonds, trigger payouts on credit default swap insurance contracts, and raise the threat of a systemic risk, said Andrew Lim, banking analyst at Espirito Santo in London.

Bad Guys

Greek vote would be on euro membership: Finnish minister

A Greek referendum on the bailout deal would be a vote on its euro zone membership, a Finnish minister said in a TV interview on Tuesday.

Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday called the unexpected referendum, citing the need for wider political backing for the fiscal measures and structural reforms demanded by international lenders.

The vote is seen bringing uncertainty back to markets and threatening Europe with a new crisis after euro zone leaders only last week agreed on the last-minute bailout deal.

"The situation is so tight that basically it would be a vote over their euro membership," Alexander Stubb, the Finnish minister of European affairs and foreign trade, said in an interview with Finnish broadcaster MTV3.