Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kathleen Christison: The Myth of the Two State Solution

January 24, 2008

One and Two State Solutions
The Myth of International Consensus


Among the panoply of reasons put forth against advocates of a one-state solution for Palestine-Israel, perhaps the most disingenuous is the injunction, repeated by well meaning commentators who believe they speak in the Palestinians' best interests, that Palestinians would simply be irritating the international community by pressing for such a solution, because the so-called international consensus supports, and indeed is based upon, a two-state solution. At a time when the "international consensus" could not be less interested in securing any Palestinian rights, particularly in forcing Israel to withdraw from enough territory to provide for real Palestinian statehood and genuine freedom from Israeli domination, this call for compliance with the wishes of an uncaring international community is at best an empty argument, at worst a hypocritical dodge that undermines the Palestinians' right to struggle for equality and self-determination. By telling the Palestinians that they cannot even speak out for one state without antagonizing some mythical consensus around the world, this line of argument undermines their right simply to think about an alternative solution.

The one-state solution is envisioned as an arrangement that would see Palestinians and Jews living together as citizens of a single, truly democratic state, with guaranteed rights to equality and guaranteed equal access to the instruments of governance. Such a solution would mean the end of Zionism as currently conceived and the end of Israel as an exclusivist Jewish state, but it would guarantee equal civil and political rights for Israeli Jews and the right to encourage further Jewish immigration, just as it would guarantee -- for the first time -- equal civil and political rights for Palestinians and the right of Palestinian refugees exiled over the last 60 years to return to their homeland.

The notion of establishing a single state for Palestinians and Jews, although historically not a new idea, has regained currency in recent years as it has become increasingly obvious that Israel's absorption of more and more Palestinian land in the occupied territories -- land stolen from Palestinians for constantly expanding settlements, a vast network of roads for the exclusive use of Israelis, the monstrously destructive separation wall, and Israeli military bases and closed security zones -- has made the vision of "two states living side by side in peace" a cruel joke.

Establishment of a single state is strongly supported by a small but growing core of scholars and activists. Virginia Tilley raised the idea in her 2005 book The One-State Solution. Ali Abunimah continued the discussion with One Country the following year, and Joel Kovel contributed Overcoming Zionism in 2007. In the last few years, numerous articles, international conferences, and debates between advocates and opponents of one state, largely in Europe and Israel, have
addressed the possibilities. An emerging grassroots movement in Palestine is directing its energies toward promoting one state, working with scholars and solidarity activists around the world.

But many treat the idea with casual disdain, dismissing it as "naively visionary," "an illusion," or simply "a non-starter." Other opponents at least give the idea more thought and have put forth some reasoned, and often quite soundly reasoned, argumentation for their opposition. This article will address only one of the objections: one of the most commonly heard, that a single state would violate an "international consensus" supporting the two-state solution.

This argument holds that international bodies such as the United Nations and its subsidiaries, as well as human rights organizations and the leaderships of most nations in the world -- including, not least, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority themselves -- want the end of the occupation and support Israel's continued existence inside its 1967 borders, along with the establishment of a Palestinian state in the one-quarter of Palestine that would thus be left to the Palestinians. This international consensus is automatically assumed to be sacrosanct, apparently simply because it is international (and perhaps also because it does not endanger Israel's continued existence as a Jewish state).

The most obvious response to this honoring of the international consensus is that in actuality the international community is not in the least interested in what becomes of the Palestinians, now or ever in the past, and does not give more than lip service to any particular solution. Whatever "international consensus" exists has never been interested in specific positions but primarily in accommodating the U.S. and its policies -- which ultimately means preserving Israel's existence above all, supporting a two-state solution because that is the position to which the U.S. and Israel currently themselves pay lip service, but not exhibiting concern for Palestinian rights in any respect. The international community does not initiate policies; it merely parrots and goes along with the positions promoted by the centers of international power, in this case the U.S. and Israel.

There is in fact no international consensus supporting two states for Palestine-Israel. Those who cite UN Security Council Resolution 242 as the basis for two states ignore the reality that the resolution never imagined two states. When it was adopted in the wake of the 1967 war, during which Israel captured territory from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, it called for Israel's withdrawal "from territories occupied" in the war and affirmed the right of all states in the region "to live in peace within secure and recognized borders" (a formulation later twisted into the demand that Palestinians and other Arabs recognize Israel's "right to exist"). Although it became the basis for future peace initiatives, as well as the basis for future UN resolutions, Resolution 242 did not even mention Palestinians except as "the refugee problem" and clearly did not put forth a proposal for two states in Palestine-Israel. The international consensus at this point acted as though it had never even heard of Palestinians. At the time, any consideration of the fate of the occupied West Bank and Gaza was directed solely at ending Israel's control and returning these territories to Jordan and Egypt respectively, their original occupiers.

If there was ever an international consensus in favor of two states in Palestine, this was during the year or so surrounding passage of the 1947 UN partition resolution, which divided Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. This period of support for two states ran from mid-1947, when a UN committee recommended partition, until early 1948, when Israel and Jordan began what became the theft of the territory designated for the Palestinian Arab state, each taking approximately half of it (except for Gaza, which Egypt controlled, but did not annex, until Israel captured that tiny strip of land in 1967). The international community expressed absolutely no concern over this dismemberment of the second state supposed to be established in Palestine -- or over Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population, or over the fate of the 750,000 Palestinians forced into exile and consigned to refugee camps in surrounding Arab countries, or over Israel's and Jordan's continued control over territories stolen from the Palestinians. So much for the international consensus.

Today, whatever international consensus exists in support of two states arises not out of any true international interest in seeing a Palestinian state formed alongside Israel, but from the Palestinians' own formal decision in November 1988 to accept the two-state formula. This came at the height of the first Palestinian intifada and immediately after Jordan had relinquished any claim to the West Bank. Even then, neither the U.S., Israel, nor the international community accepted the idea of allowing the Palestinians a state until several years later, when the notion of two states gradually came to be accepted implicitly as the logical outcome of peace negotiations that continued through the 1990s. Throughout the Oslo peace process, Palestinian statehood was still rarely if ever explicitly mentioned as a likely outcome.

It was not until the last days of President Clinton's term in January 2001 -- more than 30 years after the occupation began, over 50 years after Palestine had been dismembered -- that a U.S. president first publicly and explicitly advocated Palestinian statehood. (George Bush has been claiming to be the first president to call for a Palestinian state, but Clinton beat him to it by more than a year. Clinton does not boast about being first on this issue, presumably because no one wins political points in the U.S. by seeming to advocate any benefit for Palestinians or demand any concessions from Israel. Both Clinton and Bush have specifically ruled out the likelihood that the Palestinian state would include all of the Palestinian territories captured in 1967, as both have asserted that Israel will retain control of major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.)

The "international consensus" had little to say about the Palestinians' fate throughout the dozen years between the PLO's acceptance of the two-state formula in 1988 and the collapse in 2000 of the only serious peace process that might have led to genuine Palestinian statehood. The international community did not press for a Palestinian state; it did not object to Israel's continued expropriation of the territory where such a state would have been located; it did not object to the fact that the number of Israeli settlers in that territory doubled during the years of the peace process intended to resolve the questions of land and settlements.

The so-called international consensus can hardly be said ever to have stood for Palestinian statehood in any meaningful way. It is engaged today, in fact, in an active effort to undermine any prospect of genuine Palestinian statehood. By continuing to support Israel as it makes a two-state solution an utter impossibility and by turning away as Israel perpetrates what in any other context would be recognized as war crimes against a powerless civilian population, the vaunted international consensus is in actuality helping to perpetuate support for the decimation of an entire people and its national aspirations. The humanitarian disaster that is Gaza is entirely the result of the international community's supine refusal to stand up to Israel and the U.S. and its active support for an embargo on Gaza that is imprisoning and starving 1.5 million inhabitants and devastating the Gazan economy.

In an interview at the new year began, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert crowed about how much international support Israel enjoys for its program of oppression. The international constellation of world leaders supporting Israel, he said, is almost a kind of divine intervention. "It's a coincidence that is almost 'the hand of God' that Bush is president of the United States, that Nicholas Sarkozy is the president of France, that Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, that Gordon Brown is the prime minister of England and that the special envoy to the Middle East is Tony Blair." How could Israel have asked, he wondered, for a "more comfortable" combination? The fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority apparatus in Ramallah support and encourage this nice comfort zone in which Israel relaxes and encourages the humanitarian disaster being imposed on fellow Palestinians in Gaza does not lessen the responsibility of the "international consensus" for its part in going along with these horrors.

Those who tout the international consensus as something to be heeded point out that public opinion polls in Israel, the U.S., and Europe show strong popular support for an end to Israel's occupation and consistently support the two-state formula by large majorities. This is accurate, but these polls are essentially meaningless. On Palestinian-Israeli issues, as on the march toward war in Iraq, international public opinion has virtually no impact on the policies pursued by governments, and in any case public opinion on this issue is merely reactive. In the minds of most people in liberal western societies, Palestinian statehood is a nice concept in a vague sort of way, but few understand what is happening on the ground in Palestine and fewer still are willing to go out on the streets to back up their casual "yes" answers to pollsters with anti-occupation protests. Moreover, support for statehood drops off when the precise nature of the Israeli concessions required is spelled out. It is also worth noting in any consideration of the importance of polls on this issue that in Israel polls show the same large majorities for ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank as they do for permitting the Palestinians a state.

Invocation of the international consensus to induce Palestinians to stop advocating true equality in a single state in all of Palestine comes out of a kind of denial, a refusal to acknowledge that the international consensus is so oblivious to the injustice being perpetrated against the Palestinians that it has not noticed and does not care that the possibility of establishing two states died quite some years ago. A real two-state solution -- in which a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem would enjoy full sovereignty and independence in a contiguous territory not segmented and not totally surrounded by Israel -- is now a forlorn dream from which the international consensus has yet to awaken.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession. She can be reached at

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents - Christians, Jews and Muslims alike," Gates said in a keynote address at an international security conference in Bahrain. "There can be little doubt that their destabilizing foreign policies are a threat to the interests of the United States, to the interests of every country in the Middle East, and to the interests of all countries within the range of the ballistic missiles Iran is developing." -- Secretary Robert Gates

Gates, despite his more laid back demeanor is clearly Rumsfeld redux. Iran has launched no war against its neighbors as has Israel or across the oceans as has the US, and both Hizbollah and Hamas are, as we know, genuine grass roots movements fighting for their respective people's liberation from Israel's chronic invasions in the first instance and six decades of occupation in the second. Neither group has attacked the US and the accusation that Hizbollah, than in its infancy, was responsible for the attack on the US Marine barracks in 1983, has never been proved. Gates's audience must have rolled its collective eyes when he had the nerve to say, "Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into a place like Iraq to kill thousands of innocent civilians covertly. It has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors. It is not trying to destabilize the government of Lebanon." If any two countries hands are soiled with the blood of innocents, it is the US and Israel and since when lobbying for Israel part of the "Defense" Secretary's job description? Another rhetorical question, of course. Jeff
U.S. Defense Sec.: Gulf nations must band together to counter IranBy News Agencies
December 9, 2007

Persian Gulf nations must demand that Iran come clean about its past nuclear ambitions and openly vow to not develop such weapons in the future, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday.

In a broad call to diplomatic arms, Gates exhorted leaders from the Gulf to band together to force Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program and to help the fragile Iraqi government.

"Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents - Christians, Jews and Muslims alike," Gates said in a keynote address at an international security conference in Bahrain. "There can be little doubt that their destabilizing foreign policies are a threat to the interests of the United States, to the interests of every country in the Middle East, and to the interests of all countries within the range of the ballistic missiles Iran is developing."

And in a sarcastic riff, he goaded Iran to acknowledge its bad behavior - from arming terrorists in Iraq to its support for militant organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Asked if the United States would be willing to sit down and talk with Iran, Gates said the behavior of the "new leadership of Iran has not given one confidence that a dialogue would be productive."

Noting that Iran embraced the recent U.S. intelligence estimate that concluded it had actually stopped atomic weapons development in 2003, Gates said Iran should accept that all other intelligence conclusions about its conduct are true. When the report came out earlier this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed it as a declaration of victory for his country.

"In reality, you cannot pick and choose only the conclusions you like of this National Intelligence Estimate," Gates said. "Since that government now acknowledges the quality of American intelligence assessments, I assume that it also will embrace as valid American intelligence assessments of its funding and training of militia groups in Iraq."

Gates said Iran should also acknowledge it delivers weapons to terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, supports terror groups and continues to develop ballistic missiles that could be used to carry weapons of mass destruction.

Gates' rebukes didn't reach any Iranian ears directly, since Iran decided at the last moment not to attend the gathering, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

While Gates used the intelligence estimate as a hammer against Iran here, the report has bruised the Bush administration. The findings were in stark contrast to a 2005 estimate that said Tehran was continuing its weapons development.

And it flies in the face of U.S. President George W. Bush's rhetoric on Iran, such as when he said in October that people interested in avoiding World War III should be working to prevent Iran from having the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon.

The administration has acknowledged that the report may make it harder to build international support to persuade Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program.

Gates defended Israel's nuclear policy, saying that Israel did not seek to destroy its neighbors or support terrorism, unlike Iran.

Asked whether he thought Israel's nuclear program posed a threat to the region, Gates replied: "No, I do not."

The statement was greeted by laughter from a room filled with government officials from Middle Eastern countries.

Israel is widely assumed to have the region's only atomic arsenal, but declines to confirm or deny it.

Gates dismissed the allegation that the United States applied a double standard on the nuclear issue by supporting Israel while calling for Iran to abandon its enrichment activities, which Tehran says are for peaceful purposes.

"Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into a place like Iraq to kill thousands of innocent civilians covertly," Gates said.

"It has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors. It is not trying to destabilize the government of Lebanon.

"So I think there are significant differences in terms of both the history and the behavior of the Iranian and Israeli governments. I understand there is a difference of view on that," he said.

Gates' speech followed efforts by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press for new sanctions against Iran.

Rice asserted Friday in Brussels, Belgium, that Washington would continue pressing for new sanctions against Iran while holding talks to convince Tehran to come clean about its nuclear program.

But Russia ignored her calls to punish Iran. Despite continued support from NATO and other European allies, Rice was unable to convince Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that fresh sanctions were urgently needed.

Rice said her talks with Lavrov were an extension of other conversations we have had, suggesting the two didn't see eye to eye.

Gates, in his speech, pressed Gulf nations to back sanctions to force Iran to suspend enrichment, and to demand that Iran openly affirm that it does not intend to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

"In a complex region where partnerships do not come easy," Gates said the countries need to pull together and develop regional air and missile defense systems.

Gates ended his speech with a grim warning against underestimating the United States.

"Some countries," he said, may believe our resolve has been corroded by the challenges we face at home and abroad. This would be a grave misconception."

"Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and the former Soviet Union all made that miscalculation," Gates said. "All paid the price. All are on the ash heap of history."

Gates' stop in Bahrain is the last stop on a frenetic, weeklong tour of the region, which included meetings with military commanders on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran sends protest letter over U.S. nuclear "espionage"

Iran has sent a protest letter to the United States accusing it of spying on the Islamic state's nuclear activities, the official IRNA news reported on Saturday, citing the country's foreign minister.

The letter, submitted to the Swiss embassy in Tehran which handles U.S. interests in the country, was in reaction to the U.S. intelligence report published last Monday.

"The ministry submitted a letter to the Swiss embassy in Tehran ... demanding explanations over America's espionage on Iran's nuclear case," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Bolton: U.S. intelligence report influenced by politics
U.S. intelligence services were seeking to influence political policy-making with their assessment Iran had halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said.

Der Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton on Saturday as saying the aim of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contradicting his and President George W. Bush's own oft-stated position, was not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.

"This is politics disguised as intelligence," Bolton was quoted as saying in an article appearing in next week's edition.

Bolton described the NIE, released on Monday, as a "quasi-putsch" by the agencies, Der Spiegel said.

Bolton has long criticized Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for refusing to declare that there was hard evidence Tehran was trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Earlier this year Bolton said: "Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons
capability, if they want it."

Uri Avnery: Blockade of Gaza
Weekend Edition
January 26 / 27, 2008
The Blockade of Gaza
Worse Than a Crime


It looked like the fall of the Berlin wall. And not only did it look like it. For a moment, the Rafah crossing was the Brandenburg Gate.

It is impossible not to feel exhilaration when masses of oppressed and hungry people break down the wall that is shutting them in, their eyes radiant, embracing everybody they meet - to feel so even when it is your own government that erected the wall in the first place.

The Gaza Strip is the largest prison on earth. The breaking of the Rafah wall was an act of liberation. It proves that an inhuman policy is always a stupid policy: no power can stand up against a mass of people that has crossed the border of despair.

That is the lesson of Gaza, January, 2008.

* * *

ONE MIGHT repeat the famous saying of the French statesman Boulay de la Meurthe, slightly amended: It is worse than a war crime, it is a blunder!

Months ago, the two Ehuds - Barak and Olmert - imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and boasted about it. Lately they have tightened the deadly noose even more, so that hardly anything at all could be brought into the Strip. Last week they made the blockade absolute - no food, no medicines. Things reached a climax when they stopped the fuel, too. Large areas of Gaza remained without electricity - incubators for premature babies, dialysis machines, pumps for water and sewage. Hundreds of thousands remained without heating in the severe cold, unable to cook, running out of food.

Again and again, Aljazeera broadcast the pictures into millions of homes in the Arab world. TV stations all over the world showed them, too. From Casablanca to Amman angry mass protest broke out and frightened the authoritarian Arab regimes. Hosny Mubarak called Ehud Barak in panic. That evening Barak was compelled to cancel, at least temporarily, the fuel-blockade he had imposed in the morning. Apart from that, the blockade remained total.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid act.

* * *

THE REASON given for the starving and freezing of one and a half million human beings, crowded into a territory of 365 square kilometers, is the continued shooting at the town of Sderot and the adjoining villages.

That is a well-chosen reason. It unites the primitive and poor parts of the Israeli public. It blunts the criticism of the UN and the governments throughout the world, who might otherwise have spoken out against a collective punishment that is, undoubtedly, a war crime under international law.

A clear picture is presented to the world: the Hamas terror regime in Gaza launches missiles at innocent Israeli civilians. No government in the world can tolerate the bombardment of its citizens from across the border. The Israeli military has not found a military answer to the Qassam missiles. Therefore there is no other way than to exert such strong pressure on the Gaza population as to make them rise up against Hamas and compel them to stop the missiles.

The day the Gaza electricity works stopped operating, our military correspondents were overjoyed: only two Qassams were launched from the Strip. So it works! Ehud Barak is a genius!

But the day after, 17 Qassams landed, and the joy evaporated. Politicians and generals were (literally) out of their minds: one politician proposed to "act crazier than them", another proposed to "shell Gaza's urban area indiscriminately for every Qassam launched", a famous professor (who is a little bit deranged) proposed the exercise of "ultimate evil".

The government scenario was a repeat of Lebanon War II (the report about which is due to be published in a few days). Then: Hizbullah captured two soldiers on the Israeli side of the border, now: Hamas fired on towns and villages on the Israeli side of the border. Then: the government decide in haste to start a war, now: the government decided in haste to impose a total blockade. Then: the government ordered the massive bombing of the civilian population in order to get them to pressure Hizbullah, now: the government decided to cause massive suffering of the civilian population in order to get them to pressure Hamas.

The results were the same in both cases: the Lebanese population did not rise up against Hizbullah, but on the contrary, people of all religious communities united behind the Shiite organization. Hassan Nasrallah became the hero of the entire Arab world. And now: the population unites behind Hamas and accuses Mahmoud Abbas of cooperation with the enemy. A mother who has no food for her children does not curse Ismail Haniyeh, she curses Olmert, Abbas and Mubarak.

* * *

SO WHAT to do? After all, it is impossible to tolerate the suffering of the inhabitants of Sderot, who are under constant fire.

What is being hidden from the embittered public is that the launching of the Qassams could be stopped tomorrow morning.

Several months ago Hamas proposed a cease-fire. It repeated the offer this week.

A cease-fire means, in the view of Hamas: the Palestinians will stop shooting Qassams and mortar shells, the Israelis will stop the incursions into Gaza, the "targeted" assassinations and the blockade.

Why doesn't our government jump at this proposal?

Simple: in order to make such a deal, we must speak with Hamas, directly or indirectly. And this is precisely what the government refuses to do.

Why? Simple again: Sderot is only a pretext - much like the two captured soldiers were a pretext for something else altogether. The real purpose of the whole exercise is to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza and to prevent a Hamas takeover in the West Bank.

In simple and blunt words: the government sacrifices the fate of the Sderot population on the altar of a hopeless principle. It is more important for the government to boycott Hamas - because it is now the spearhead of Palestinian resistance - than to put an end to the suffering of Sderot. All the media cooperate with this pretence.

* * *

IT HAS been said before that it is dangerous to write satire in our country - too often the satire becomes reality. Some readers may recall a satirical article I wrote months ago. In it I described the situation in Gaza as a scientific experiment designed to find out how far one can go, in starving a civilian population and turning their lives into hell, before they raise their hands in surrender.

This week, the satire has become official policy. Respected commentators declared explicitly that Ehud Barak and the army chiefs are working on the principle of "trial and error" and change their methods daily according to results. They stop the fuel to Gaza, observe how this works and backtrack when the international reaction is too negative. They stop the delivery of medicines, see how it works, etc. The scientific aim justifies the means.

The man in charge of the experiment is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a man of many ideas and few scruples, a man whose whole turn of mind is basically inhuman. He is now, perhaps, the most dangerous person in Israel, more dangerous than Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu, dangerous to the very existence of Israel in the long run.

The man in charge of execution is the Chief of Staff. This week we had the chance of hearing speeches by two of his predecessors, generals Moshe Ya'alon and Shaul Mofaz, in a forum with inflated intellectual pretensions. Both were discovered to have views that place them somewhere between the extreme Right and the ultra-Right. Both have a frighteningly primitive mind. There is no need to waste a word about the moral and intellectual qualities of their immediate successor, Dan Halutz. If these are the voices of the three last Chiefs of Staff, what about the incumbent, who cannot speak out as openly as they? Has this apple fallen further from the tree?

Until three days ago, the generals could entertain the opinion that the experiment was succeeding. The misery in the Gaza Strip had reached its climax. Hundreds of thousands were threatened by actual hunger. The chief of UNRWA warned of an impending human catastrophe. Only the rich could still drive a car, heat their homes and eat their fill. The world stood by and wagged its collective tongue. The leaders of the Arab states voiced empty phrases of sympathy without raising a finger.

Barak, who has mathematical abilities, could calculate when the population would finally collapse.

* * *

AND THEN something happened that none of them foresaw, in spite of the fact that it was the most foreseeable event on earth.

When one puts a million and a half people in a pressure cooker and keeps turning up the heat, it will explode. That is what happened at the Gaza-Egypt border.

At first there was a small explosion. A crowd stormed the gate, Egyptian policemen opened live fire, dozens were wounded. That was a warning.

The next day came the big attack. Palestinian fighters blew up the wall in many places. Hundreds of thousands broke out into Egyptian territory and took a deep breath. The blockade was broken.

Even before that, Mubarak was in an impossible situation. Hundreds of millions of Arabs, a billion Muslims, saw how the Israeli army had closed the Gaza strip off on three sides: the North, the East and the sea. The fourth side of the blockade was provided by the Egyptian army.

The Egyptian president, who claims the leadership of the entire Arab world, was seen as a collaborator with an inhuman operation conducted by a cruel enemy in order to gain the favor (and the money) of the Americans. His internal enemies, the Muslim Brothers, exploited the situation to debase him in the eyes of his own people.

It is doubtful if Mubarak could have persisted in this position. But the Palestinian masses relieved him of the need to make a decision. They decided for him. They broke out like a tsunami wave. Now he has to decide whether to succumb to the Israeli demand to re-impose the blockade on his Arab brothers.

And what about Barak's experiment? What's the next step? The options are few:

(a) To re-occupy Gaza. The army does not like the idea. It understands that this would expose thousands of soldiers to a cruel guerilla war, which would be unlike any intifada before.

(b) To tighten the blockade again and exert extreme pressure on Mubarak, including the use of Israeli influence on the US Congess to deprive him of the billions he gets every year for his services.

(c) To turn the curse into a blessing, by handing the Strip over to Mubarak, pretending that this was Barak's hidden aim all along. Egypt would have to safeguard Israel's security, prevent the launching of Qassams and expose its own soldiers to a Palestinian guerilla war - when it thought it was rid of the burden of this poor and barren area, and after the infrastructure there has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation. Probably Mubarak will say: Very kind of you, but no thanks.

The brutal blockade was a war crime. And worse: it was a stupid blunder.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

FISA Fight: Get Ready for Rd 3

FISA Fight: Get Ready for Round 3
by mcjoan
Fri Jan 25, 2008

Chris Dodd won round 1 back in December, we all went down in round 2 thanks to a handful of Democrats who somehow have missed how the Republicans play politics, or maybe they were just really hoping to make it to Davos. We're in the wind-up to round 3 today, as it dawns upon Democrats just how craven the Republicans are, as they silently filibustered and obstructed every effort to move this bill forward, objecting to every amendment and filibustering all the way.

Tim Tagaris has a good summation of where we stand at Open Left:

There will be a cloture vote at 4:30 on Monday. There are two potential outcomes here.

a.) Republicans get 60 votes. In which case, there will only be one amendment pending to the final bill, and that is Feingold/Dodd on blanket warrants, I believe. That will get tabled quite easily (much like Judiciary was today), and then the Intelligence Bill as we know it will get a a vote for final passage.

b.) We stop Republicans from getting 60 votes, and we're right back where we left off today -- with no agreement on whether or not there is a 50 or 60 vote threshold to pass amendments.

Why is this a big deal?

Well, because there are a number of amendments out there that would serve as "poison pills," forcing a presidential veto. One or two of those might even get 50 votes (Feinstein's call to make FISA the exclusive means of electronic surveillance).

It's also worth noting that Dodd will object to any requirement that 60 votes be needed to pass an germane amendment, which would further muck up and extend the process.

It's also possibly dawning on Senate Democrats, as Tim points out, that all of this could have just been yet another political ploy by the Republicans so that they drag the fight into Monday, the day of Bush's state of the union address, and that quite possibly, this will be a major feature in his last opportunity to try to scare the shit out of the nation in hopes that they can eke out a few extra votes in November. What? This administration playing politics with national security? Trying to paint the Democrats as weak on terra?

It would be hard for Democrats not to see through this, but in the event that some of them missed it, here's Feingold pointing it out (via e-mail):

"The conduct of Senate Republicans yesterday was shameless. After weeks of insisting that it is absolutely critical to finish the FISA legislation by February 1, even going so far as to object to a one-month extension of the Protect America Act, they obstructed all efforts to actually work on the bill. Now they want to simply ram the deeply flawed Intelligence Committee bill through the Senate. They refused to allow amendments to be offered or voted on, including my straight-forward amendment to require that the government provide copies of FISA Court orders and pleadings for review in a classified setting, so that Members of Congress can understand how FISA has been interpreted and is being applied. If the Republicans succeed in cutting off debate on Monday, the Senate won't even get to vote on the amendment Senator Dodd and I want to offer to deny retroactive immunity to telecom companies that allegedly cooperated with the administration's illegal wiretapping program.

"Democrats should not allow the Republicans to ram this bill through the Senate without amendments. Monday's cloture vote will be a test of whether the majority is willing to stand up to the administration and stand up for our rights."

The Republicans are going to have get 60 votes to get cloture, so the burden is more on them than on the Democrats with this vote, particularly since Rockefeller has announced that he will vote against it. But this time it shouldn't be about forcing them to get to 60--this time it should be about a united front of Democrats standing up to Republican obstructionism and the politics of fear, once and for all. Dems have the majority, albeit slim, but what's more, they have the American people.

The survey shows nearly two-thirds of poll respondents say the government should be required to get an individual warrant before listening in on conversations between US citizens and people abroad. Close to six in 10 people oppose an administration proposal to allow intelligence agencies to seek "blanket warrants" that would let them eavesdrop of foreigners for up to a year no additional judicial oversight required if the foreign suspect spoke to an American. And a majority are against a plan to give legal immunity to telecommunications companies that facilitated the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping.

"Across the board, we find opposition to the administration's FISA agenda," pollster Mark Mellman said Tuesday.

The Senators we need to convince of this are those who voted with the Republicans yesterday to table the Leahy substitute amendment, the version of the bill that contained all of those protections, and didn't allow telco amnesty. Call these Senators and tell them to stand with their majority on Monday's cloture vote, tell them to vote against cloture and for amendments to the SSCI bill on Monday.
Bayh (202) 224-5623
Carper (202) 224-2441
Inouye (202) 224-3934
Johnson (202) 224-5842
Landrieu (202)224-5824
McCaskill (202) 224-6154
Mikulski (202) 224-4654
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551
Pryor (202) 224-2353
Salazar (202) 224-5852

In addition, call or e-mail your own Senators. Both CREDO and EFF have great tools to make it easy. Emptywheel has some great talking points for your calls, and Christy has an excellent follow up.

Tags: FISA, warrantless wiretaps, telco amnesty (all tags) :: Previous Tag Versions

Stephanie N. Mehta: How Haim Saban works with Hillary Clinton

The man with the golden gut
How Haim Saban, a flinty self-made billionaire, plans to turn Univision into the next great network - and put Hillary Clinton in the White House. Fortune's Stephanie Mehta reports.
By Stephanie N. Mehta, Fortune senior writer
May 1 2007: 10:01 AM EDT
(Fortune Magazine) -- "May I offer you a cucumber?"
That's how Haim Saban begins his account of the battle for Spanish-language media company Univision. It's an unconventional icebreaker, to be sure, but then again, much about the 62-year-old media entrepreneur is out of the ordinary: He gossips with Rupert Murdoch, vacations with Bill Clinton, throws parties with Steven Spielberg, and confers with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
He is worth an estimated $2.8 billion. Yet he eschews power lunches at the Grill in Los Angeles, choosing instead to eat sushi nearly every weekday with his driver, Laine Burton.
The cucumber, it turns out, is part of an afternoon snack that also includes tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. "It's very low fat," says the fitness-conscious Saban. (He works out an hour or more daily.)
"He could be the subject of a movie or a TV series," former President Bill Clinton told Fortune. "He's a fascinating character."
Despite this ready-for-prime-time personality, Saban (sa-BAHN) has preferred to work behind the scenes. But two events are changing his ability to stage-manage far from the headlines. First, he is attempting to put Senator Hillary Clinton in the White House at a time when Senator Barack Obama is catching fire with L.A.'s Gulfstream liberals. Second, he and a consortium of private-equity players bought Univision, the largest Hispanic media company in the U.S., in March.
The $12.3 billion acquisition battle strained Univision's relations with Mexican media giant and rival bidder Grupo Televisa (Charts), its main supplier of programs. The deal, which should have been a snap to close, has been singled out for some harsh regulatory treatment: Before the Federal Communications Commission signed off on it, the buyers had to agree to pay a hefty $24 million fine to settle charges that the network wasn't airing enough children's programming.
Univision claimed it was meeting its educational mandates by running Complices al Rescate (Friends to the Rescue), a telenovela about 11-year-old twin girls who swap identities. Not exactly Plaza Sesamo.
Fortified by his veggies and cheese, Saban explains why Univision and New York's junior Senator will both be winners in 2008. First, Univision: Under founder A. Jerrold Perenchio, the company had grown to nearly $2 billion in annual revenue, but Saban, who put in a chunk of his own money, and his deep-pocketed partners - Providence Equity Partners, TPG, Thomas H. Lee Partners, and Madison Dearborn - think Univision can still grow sales in the double digits. That would be a tall order for ABC, CBS, or NBC, but Saban isn't sweating it, because by the year 2010, the Hispanic population will grow 17% and will be spending about $1.1 trillion a year.
The trouble with Saban's vision is that for now, only a fraction of the top U.S. brands advertise on Univision, partly because some key decision-makers picture its viewers as blue-collar immigrants rather than affluent suburbanites. "Marketing to Hispanics is something that companies need to make a priority," says Caleb Windover, managing director of ad buyer MediaVest's multicultural division. Before Madison Avenue will open the spigot, Univision needs a face to woo its media buyers.
That job falls to new CEO Joe Uva, who most recently ran ad-buying agency OMD. Like his predecessor, Perenchio, Uva doesn't speak Spanish, but he will go out and personally press the flesh with marketers and suppliers. The 76-year-old Perenchio, who declined comment, hadn't been involved in day-to-day operations at Univision for years before it was sold.
The company hasn't named a chairman, and it won't be Saban, who isn't interested in titles. That doesn't mean, however, that he won't be involved. He thinks Univision is leaving money on the table by barely charging the cable and satellite operators to air the network, and he shared a bombshell proposal with Fortune: Charge the operators an unprecedented $1 per subscriber per month for Univision.
To put that in context, CBS earlier this year reportedly got some small operators to pay about 50 cents per viewer per month. Saban boldly suggests that Univision is worth more. "If you are an operator and you have the guts to commit suicide and remove Univision, you'll be... " He trails off, then pretends to wash his hands, the gesture for finito.
Cable operators are sure to balk, but Saban says Univision delivers big market share while CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox have lost viewers to cable, the Internet, and other media. If his fee scheme is successful, Univision could add $1 billion in annual revenue.
It turns out that Saban has had his eye on Univision for the past three years. Back then he went to see the press-shy Perenchio at his Bel Air, Calif., home to let him know of his interest in buying Perenchio's stake in Univision. (The two men aren't close but have common friends, such as CBS CEO Les Moonves.) According to Saban, Perenchio said his Univision holdings weren't for sale but encouraged him to call every month or so, "just to say hello." So Saban started checking in every two weeks.
But he wasn't the only one interested in Univision: Wall Street had long thought Televisa, the Mexican television empire that helped Perenchio acquire Univision in 1992 and thus owned 11% of the company, would be a logical buyer. And indeed, Televisa, along with Bain Capital and Bill Gates' investing arm, Cascade, did put in a $12.2 billion offer for Univision, only to be outbid by Saban and his partners by about $170 million, or 50 cents a share. Just to show that there were hard feelings, the Televisa rep on the Univision board voted against Saban's offer.
Fortunately, the man likes a challenge. In 2003 he led the acquisition of ProSiebenSat.1, a moribund German broadcaster once controlled by the Kirch group. Saban says he had a hard time getting ProSieben's banker to even send him a deal book, he was such a long shot to win the property, which was in bankruptcy.
"All the big muckety-mucks were there," Saban recalls, ticking off the names of A-list moguls whose companies had looked at ProSieben. "You know Mel Karmazin? Rupert Murdoch? Michael Eisner? Dick Parsons? They were all there, and they all went away."
Once he won ProSieben, Saban set about transforming the company, though not all his ideas were well received. He sent its dour newscasters to his friend Murdoch's Fox News to be schooled in pepping up their delivery. He urged management to create a German version of the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea (known to U.S. audiences as Ugly Betty). The German version of the show, Verliebt in Berlin (In Love in Berlin), turned into a huge hit for ProSieben's Sat 1 channel. This spring, as the Univision deal was closing, Saban also completed the sale of his stake in ProSieben to KKR and Permira for about 29 euros a share - more than quadruple what he paid for the company four years ago.
A ribald polyglot who liberally peppers his conversation with phrases in French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, and four-letter words, Saban isn't a numbers guy or even an operational whiz. But with ProSieben and now with Univision, he is showing that entrepreneurial skills and taste-making instincts can succeed on a big scale - and he's doing it with his own money, plus the vast sums of private equity floating around right now.
"This is the story of big-time entrepreneurship," says Jonathan Nelson, managing partner at Providence Equity Partners, which invested in ProSieben with Saban and now is a member of the Univision consortium. "There isn't one model for corporate success anymore. Haim offers a more interesting and human model." Nelson is a seasoned media and telecom investor - his portfolio includes MGM and Warner Music - and he certainly doesn't need access to Saban's capital. Still, Nelson says Saban, with his ability to spot big media opportunities, was the first person he called when Providence was checking out Univision.
Saban's ability to seamlessly glide from East Coast bankers to Israeli pols to Hollywood media moguls can be traced to his peripatetic youth. His father was a toy seller - a child can't imagine a better job for a parent - and the close-knit Jewish family lived modestly in Alexandria, Egypt. When Saban was 12, the Suez Crisis of 1956 erupted, forcing the family out of Egypt to Israel by way of Greece.
They left behind everything, and times were so bad, says Saban's wife, Cheryl, that his mother couldn't even rustle up two pans so that she could bake him a cake to celebrate his bar mitzvah. The experience of poverty "is so deep in the family psyche," says his wife of 20 years - they met when she took a job as his assistant and married a year later - "at some time in Haim's young life, he decided that was never going to happen to him again."
He got his start in show biz as the manager of an Israeli Beatles cover band called the Lions. He came to L.A. in 1983 and began a career as a self-described "cartoon schlepper" who built Japan's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers into Fox Kids, a programming joint venture with Rupert Murdoch that, um, morphed into a national cable network. Disney (Charts, Fortune 500) later purchased it for a stunning $5.2 billion, and Saban pocketed some $1.5 billion - money he has donated to several pet causes, including $7 million for the construction of a new Democratic National Committee headquarters building in Washington, D.C.
Saban wasn't even interested in politics until he met Bill Clinton during his first term as President. The meeting was brief, but the friendship grew as Clinton made dozens of trips to California during his presidency. Clinton, Saban says, ignited his interest in using his resources to find solutions to strife in the Middle East. He soon became the Democratic Party's largest single donor. "I don't say this lightly," says Terry McAuliffe, head of the Democratic National Committee at the time. "Haim Saban saved the Democratic Party."
Now Saban is turning his energies to Hillary Clinton. "I think he likes her better than he likes me," jokes Bill Clinton. But as he talks about Saban's support of Senator Clinton, the former President turns serious. "It is something that" - he pauses - "I can hardly talk about it because it really makes me emotional, 'cause he has genuinely come to love and respect her."
Under current campaign-finance laws, donors can give only $2,300 to a candidate's primary run and another $2,300 for the presidential run. That means that to raise the big money, fundraisers like Saban have to knock on a lot of doors. "He makes all those miserable calls you have to make to get your friends to contribute," says Steven Rattner, managing principal of New York-based investment firm Quadrangle and an active Democrat. "He's quite relentless."
For Senator Clinton's run, he has hosted events at his office and at his Beverly Park estate, a sprawling mansion in a gated community that is also home to Reba McEntire, Rod Stewart, Sylvester Stallone, Denzel Washington, and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone. Saban, Steven Spielberg, and News Corp. (Charts, Fortune 500) executive Peter Chernin are hosting another fundraiser for Clinton in late May.
He tells of traveling with her on his jet (she paid her way, he insists) when the pilot informed him an engine had gone out. Saban says he excitedly conveyed this information to Clinton, who thanked him and went back to her reading. He later asked her how she managed to stay so calm. According to Saban, Clinton explained that she was in the middle of a good paragraph in her book and that there was little she could do about the situation, so why freak out? "This is magnificent!" Saban practically shouts. "This is what you want in a leader. Nobody touches her. She's really the most qualified candidate."
Some of the Clintons' former supporters disagree, most notably fellow mogul and master fundraiser David Geffen, who is backing Barack Obama. (He has also made a contribution to former Senator John Edwards's campaign.) The same week Geffen threw a star-studded fundraiser for the Illinois Senator, he trashed the Clintons, essentially calling them liars, in an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
Saban's response is uncharacteristically subdued. "I'll make three observations," he says crisply. "David is a friend of mine. David is a very smart guy. I don't understand where he's coming from. But let's you and I agree that there are other aspects of this race that are interesting beyond what David Geffen is saying."
Perhaps he's being polite, or maybe he's trying to stop himself from gloating: Clinton is running only slightly ahead of Obama in money from lawyers, and she's trailing in donations from teachers, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In the entertainment industry, though, she's outgunning her rival by about 22%. Much of that can be attributed to Saban, who by early May had raised $1 million for Clinton, the most by any individual fundraiser. Call it the Haim effect.
Will the Haim effect also work its magic on Univision? "I would like to stress that I am the smallest investor in Univision. Every deal needs a face," he says. (When the choice is one of four private-equity firms or Saban, the guy who wrote the music for Inspector Gadget, can you blame the press for picking Saban?) Indeed, the other investors each put up about $1 billion of the capital for the deal, with Saban kicking in about $300 million of his own money. The group borrowed the rest.
But Saban's charm could also be a valuable asset to Univision in its efforts to smooth relations with Televisa, run by Mexico's powerful Azcárraga family. The late Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, a billionaire known as El Tigre, not only invested in Univision but also supplied it with Televisa's popular (and occasionally risqué) telenovelas. His son, current Televisa CEO Emilio Azcárraga Jean, sat on the Univision board for several years until he abruptly quit in May 2005. The relationship between the companies deteriorated from there, and Televisa sued Univision, saying it wasn't getting the royalties it deserved for its programming. "I know both sides" of that conflict, says Murdoch. "I would say it is very, very difficult, but if there's anyone who can mend that fence, it would be Haim."
As it turns out, Saban is already trying to make nice with Televisa. For starters, he has an existing relationship with the Mexican broadcaster, which aired his kids' programs in the 1990s. He also speaks Spanish. But mostly Saban brings to the table what business school professors might blandly call "people skills," though in Saban's hands the delivery is anything but bland.
During a visit to Televisa before the deal closed, for example, Saban and associate Adam Chesnoff toured a school the company runs for teaching the art of producing telenovelas. The two men watched a taping, and between scenes Saban danced on the set with a dozen actresses. Talk about breaking the ice. Perhaps next time he'll offer them a cucumber.
From the May 14, 2007 issue

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© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.

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Alex on Lobbyists for Zionism

Hi Ron,Here are some thoughts for your blog..

If you have followed my postings over the years, I have not been one to consider conspiracies.So, I hope you will consider what I have to say carefully.The truth is that the media: radio,tv,and the newspapers; and even the bloggers are involved in blocking practically all discussion of exactly who the lobbyists are who are funding the candidates for president in 08.The lobbyists fall into two groups. First we have the big equity fund lobby boys like Blackstone who are heavy into funding candidates of all parties, to influence them on the issue of taxing equity funds. Equity funds are currently taxed at 15%...a convenient way for the rich to avoid high taxes...

Secondly, consider the following list of billionaires, I have made notes beside their respective names that point to why they are influential.Many are Jewish and are interested in keeping the cash flowing from the tax payers to Israel.....some for profit, others out of loyalty to the Zionist cause..Stuart to moderate Arab influence in Georgetown u
Phillip Anschutz a evangelical christian billionaire 71%to repubs
Micky arison...wealthy Jewish-Israelis-American investments in Israel
Steve ballmer...Microsoft investment in Israel..venture capital etc
Bechtel group most to mostly for Saudi interests
Jeff Bezos..biased against carter's book.. for amazon founder
Michael bloomberg supporter of Israel...see Lennie Brenner
Eli broad..Jewish philanthropist...2 state solution supporter
Warren buffett...even though not Jewish he has invested billions in Israel

Then we have AIPAC, considered to be right up there with the terms of power to influence our reps...(When they have conferences in DC, the congressmen and women show in large numbers)AIPAC issues marching orders to congress on how to vote on money for Israel, troops staying in Iraq,No negotiation with Iran,or Syria..., lets get back to Hillary.She gets alot of money from Haim Saban...Who is he? Check this out.. Now folks, tell me why there is no mention of the above in the mainstream media?

Robert Parry: The Clinton Audacity

The Clinton Audacity

By Robert Parry
January 25, 2008

Some rank-and-file Democrats who have weathered three decades of Republican hardball politics aren’t sure what to think when Bill and Hillary Clinton attack Barack Obama over the Iraq War, his attitude toward Ronald Reagan, and his relationship with a sleazy real-estate developer.

On each topic, the Clintons are arguably more vulnerable than Obama: Hillary Clinton voted to give George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq (while Obama opposed the invasion), the Clintons both have praised Reagan far more than Obama has, and the Clintons had closer ties to an ethically challenged developer, Whitewater’s James McDougal, than Obama apparently had with Tony Rezko.

It’s as if the Clintons are channeling Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, whose legendary audacity included attacking an opponent on a strong point even when their candidate was more vulnerable. Think Rove’s assault on John Kerry’s Vietnam War heroism, though George W. Bush had shirked his National Guard duty.

But some Democrats who send us e-mails view this political chutzpah as a good thing, that the Clintons are showing they’ve learned from the Republican scorched-earth tactics and thus are best qualified to wrest control of the White House from the GOP.

These Democrats ridicule what they call Obama’s “kumbayah” strategy of trying to achieve some form of unity among America’s bitterly divided political factions. The mocking reference to “kumbayah” relates to the campfire song derived from an old African spiritual.

Obama’s “kumbayah” is dismissed as either hopelessly naïve or disingenuous.

Some of these hard-bitten Democrats, who now are rallying behind Hillary Clinton, also say they suspect that Obama is a “closet DLCer,” a reference to the centrist Democratic Leadership Conference, where ironically Bill Clinton was chairman for two years.

As First Lady, Hillary Clinton pushed her own DLC-like strategy, the concept of “triangulation” which rejected traditional Democratic positions and distanced the Clintons from many rank-and-file Democrats, in favor of “third way” compromises with Republicans.

In her memoir, Living History, Mrs. Clinton claims credit for bringing Republican pollster Dick Morris back into President Clinton’s inner circle in 1994, overriding resistance from others in the White House who feared that Morris would be a right-wing mole.

“Nobody in the Democratic power structure liked or trusted him,” she acknowledged.

While Morris did help advance Mrs. Clinton’s “triangulation” strategies, he ultimately proved his critics right by betraying the Clintons and going on TV to decry Democrats in the most venomous terms, helped by the insider credibility that Hillary Clinton had bestowed on him.

Attacking Obama on Reagan

Regarding Reagan, the Clintons have excoriated Obama for stating in a Nevada newspaper interview that the Republican icon “changed the trajectory of America.” At the Jan. 21 debate, Hillary Clinton accused Obama of “admiring Ronald Reagan.”

Obama denied Clinton’s characterization, claiming he was just acknowledging Reagan’s historical significance. The Illinois senator also noted that Clinton had “provided much more fulsome praise” of Reagan in Tom Brokaw’s book, Boom!, which quotes Clinton as praising Reagan’s flexibility.

“He could call the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and then negotiate arms-control agreements,” she said. “He played the balance and the music beautifully.”

Clinton also found herself explaining remarks she made in gaining the endorsement of the Salmon Press weeklies in New Hampshire. The endorsement editorial said Clinton’s list of favorite presidents included “Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, George H.W. Bush and Reagan” – plus her husband, Bill Clinton.

Trying to back away from the praise of Bush I and Reagan, the Clinton campaign released a statement quoting the Salmon Press co-owner saying “the question posed was originally what portraits would you hang in the White House if you were President and as the dialogue progressed, who are the presidents you admire most? … She did not say Reagan was her favorite President.”

[For more details on these disputes, see’s “Obama’s Dubious Praise for Reagan” or “The Democrats-Praise-Reagan Game.”]

Bill on Ron

However, it turns out that Bill Clinton may have been one of the Democratic pioneers in the tactic of hailing Reagan as a way to demonstrate independence from the Democratic “base.”

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. recalls how Bill Clinton wowed the Post’s editorial board in October 1991 when he credited Reagan with winning the Cold War and praised his “rhetoric in defense of freedom.”

"The idea that we were going to stand firm and reaffirm our containment strategy, and the fact that we forced them to spend even more when they were already producing a Cadillac defense system and a dinosaur economy, I think it hastened their undoing," Clinton said, with the caveat that there was some wasted U.S. money.

Clinton earned high marks from the Post’s editors and other news organizations for his “free-thinking” about Reagan and his courage in “saying things most Democrats wouldn’t allow to pass their lips,” Dionne wrote. [Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2008]

But Clinton wasn't really demonstrating much courage; he was embracing the Establishment’s safe conventional wisdom on Reagan. It was another “Sister Souljah moment” in which Clinton essentially put down the congressional Democrats and independent investigators who had risked their reputations by critically examining Reagan’s record.

Clinton’s praise for Reagan supposedly winning the Cold War coincided with dramatic Senate Intelligence Committee hearings in fall 1991 when veteran CIA analysts stepped out of the shadows to testify against George H.W. Bush’s nominee for CIA director, Robert Gates, accusing him of politicizing the intelligence analysis in the 1980s.

A principal point of these analysts was that Gates had helped the Reagan administration exaggerate the Soviet threat in the early 1980s and thus obscure evidence of the communist bloc’s disintegration, all the better to justify an expensive military buildup and support for bloody wars in the Third World.

The signs of Soviet weakness already were apparent in the 1970s when many experts concluded that Moscow was facing technological and economic crises, and was eager for serious negotiations with the West. That analysis – that the Cold War was nearing its end – gave rise to the “détente” strategies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

However, old Cold Warriors and a new breed of intellectuals, known as the neoconservatives, resisted this analysis and insisted that the Soviet Union actually was on the march, building highly sophisticated weapons and still moving toward world domination.

Though ultimately shown to be false, these arguments carried the day after Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980. To scare the American people into support for a massive arms buildup, the neocons hyped evidence of Soviet capabilities, essentially setting up a straw man that Reagan’s military expansion could get credit for knocking down.

In 1991-92, while Bill Clinton was cozying up to this Reagan legacy, several investigations were underway into other Reagan-era deceptions – from Republican collaboration with Iran’s radical mullahs, to secret military assistance for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, to corruption and human rights abuses in Central America.

By giving Reagan credit for “winning the Cold War,” Bill Clinton bought into the key justification for ignoring the crimes committed during the Reagan-Bush years. He also was earning brownie points from the journalistic and political elites in Washington.

Under the Rug

After defeating George H.W. Bush in November 1992, Clinton was perfectly positioned to help pending investigations into Reagan-Bush crimes – from special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh’s Iran-Contra probe to Rep. Henry Gonzalez’s examination of the Iraq-gate scandal to a House task force’s review of the October Surprise issue, whether Reagan’s 1980 campaign had colluded with Iran behind Jimmy Carter’s back.

Even though the evidence in all these cases pointed toward Republican guilt, Clinton and other key Washington Democrats, such as Rep. Lee Hamilton, swept the scandals under the rug, all the better to gain some bipartisan favor from the Republicans. [See Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege, or’s “The Clintons & the Bushes.”]

As it turned out, Clinton’s collaboration in these cover-ups didn’t work out exactly as he planned. Spared from having to defend Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the Republicans and their right-wing attack machine went after Bill and Hillary Clinton, who remained on the defensive for nearly their entire eight years in office.

Now, the Clintons are battling for a new lease on the White House – and they are applying lessons learned from the win-at-all-cost Republicans to discredit Barack Obama.

Though Obama had the foresight to oppose George W. Bush’s Iraq invasion, the Clintons accuse Obama of lacking consistency in his anti-war positions. Bill Clinton called the story of Obama’s war opposition a “fairy tale,” ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton was a war supporter from 2002 almost until the day she jumped into the Democratic race.

The Clintons have sought to make an issue, too, out of Obama’s links to low-income housing developer Tony Rezko, who is under federal indictment in an Illinois corruption probe. [For some background, see Chicago Sun-Times article, Nov. 5, 2006.]

However, the Clintons have had their own difficulties in similar areas, from their ties to the swindler Jim McDougal during their Arkansas days, to the Marc Rich pardon while in the White House, to donations from fugitive Norman Hsu in Campaign 2008.

Most audacious of all, however, the Clintons are making an issue out of Obama’s mild praise of Ronald Reagan, when they have spent years not only complimenting Reagan but protecting his dubious legacy.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

Kurt Nimmo: Panel Prepares to Target Homegrown Terror

Panel Prepares to Target Bogus “Homegrown Terror”
Kurt Nimmo
December 26, 2007

On December 25, Audrey Hudson wrote for the Washington Times:

A commission proposed by key senators would study the emergence of homegrown terrorists and how U.S. citizens become radicalized through ideologies to commit acts of violence.

The National Commission on the Prevention of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism is the brainchild of Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican member.

“The homeland security committee’s extensive and ongoing investigation into homegrown terrorism has confirmed to our committee that this is a real and growing threat to our nation’s security,” Miss Collins said.

“The attacks in London and Madrid, as well as the recent thwarted attacks in the U.S., were the work of homegrown terrorists inspired by, but not directly linked, to al Qaeda,” Miss Collins said. “But we do not yet fully understand what inspires someone to become a violent terrorist.

Senator Collins has absolutely no evidence of this and simply regurgitates the now official fairy tale version of events in regard to the attacks in London and Madrid.

In London, the so-called “homegrown terrorist,” Mohammed Siddique Khan, allegedly behind the bombings was in fact working for MI5, as revealed by Charles Shoebridge, a 12-year veteran detective of the London Metropolitan Police. As the UK Independent noted soon after the bombings, the official story makes absolutely no sense. And yet another supposed homegrowner, Haroon Rashid Aswat, was an MI6 intelligence asset protected by British security, according to terror expert John Loftus.

It should serve as a big fat red flag that José Emilio Suárez Trashorras, a Spaniard accused of providing explosives for the Madrid attacks, had in his possession the telephone number of the Head of Tedax, Juan Jesus Sanchez Manzano. Tedax is Spain’s Civil Guard bomb squad, a specialized division of the Spanish police. In addition, the Moroccan Jamal Zougam, said to be the leader of Spain’s al-Qaida cell, was connected to Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and London’s Finsbury Park Mosque. Abu Hamza al-Masri admitted during his trial on terrorism charges that “he had met several times with police officers and members of the MI5 spy service,” according to the Associated Press. As it turns out, al-Muhajiroun, and thus al-Masri, are connected to British, U.S., Pakistani, and German intelligence, and worked for NATO in Kosovo.

But not a word about any of this from the good senator. Instead we get the following: “If we have a better understanding of the origins of violent extremist behavior, we can disrupt terrorist plans.”

If Collins really wants to understand “violent extremist behavior,” she might do a bit of consulting with the CIA, FBI, MI5 and MI6, Israeli, Pakistani and German intelligence.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and others in the intelligence community have warned the committee that homegrown terrorism is a significant threat.

A bipartisan commission would provide “a better understanding of the radicalization process that leads to terrorist attacks, and ways that we can work to help prevent terror attacks before they occur,” Miss Collins said.

The commission would examine how ideology can cause radicalization leading to violence and then report its findings and recommendations to the president and Congress.

In fact, the “significant threat” comes from the above mentioned “intelligence” and “security” organizations, not homegrowners inspired by al-Qaeda, itself a documented intelligence contrivance.

As if to underscore the bogus nature of the homegrown terrorist threat, consider the fact that a jury has acquitted one of the Liberty City 7, Lyglenson Lemorin, and failed to convict the other six.

“The judge declared a mistral on all unresolved charges,” writes Emmanuel Lopez. The “seven men from the critically impoverished South Florida community of Liberty City were never connected to any maps, written plans or weapons that could back these overzealous claims.” In fact, all of this “evidence” was arranged by the FBI and an agent provocateur. “The warehouse where the group allegedly was hatching their plot was paid for and provided by the FBI… It was a government informant who provided the initial suggestion that they join with Al-Qaeda. The informant provided them with a camera and car to photograph buildings in Miami… Two informants, who were paid $130,000 dollars to work on the case, have questionable pasts. One informant, a former snitch for the New York Police Department, promised to work against the Liberty City 7 to overcome charges of beating his girlfriend.”

Obviously, the government should be setting up a national commission to investigate the criminal behavior of the FBI, not illusory homegrown terrorists inspired by a fictional terror organization named after a Mujahideen database.

But never mind. As we know, the real purpose of the National Commission on the Prevention of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, hatched by a known AIPAC operative, senator Joe Lieberman, is to investigate political activity frowned upon by the government, for instance the antiwar and patriot movements.