German government arrests journalist on behalf of Egyptian dictatorship


This video from Germany says about itself:

Germany: Protesters demand Germany release Al Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour

21 June 2015

Protesters gathered outside Berlin’s State Criminal Police Office in Berlin, Sunday, to demonstrate against the detention there of Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour.

The protesters also demonstrated against incumbent Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the 2013 Egyptian government coup. Two of Mansour’s lawyers, Patrick Teubner and Fazli Altin, were also present. Teubner said German authorities had arrested Mansour despite Interpol rejecting an international arrest warrant that had been issued by the Egyptian authorities. “In this respect there are still unanswered questions,” the lawyer said.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Germany: Journalist held on Egyptian warrant

Monday 22nd June 2015

PROTESTERS called for the release of al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour yesterday after German authorities arrested him on an Egyptian warrant.

Egyptian-British Mr Mansour, a senior journalist with the Qatar-based broadcaster’s Arabic service, was detained at Tegel airport in Berlin on Saturday while trying to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

He had previously been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in Egypt for allegedly torturing an unnamed lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, a charge both he and al-Jazeera rejected.

“During the course of the day there will be several meetings and of course there can be at any time also a decision to set him free again,” said Berlin Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Martin Steltner.

In a video posted on Facebook, Mr Mansour criticised German authorities for detaining him on behalf of Egypt.

This video says about itself:

Germany: arrested Al Jazeera journalist expecting to face extradition judge

21 June 2015

A high-profile Al Jazeera journalist, arrested in Germany at the request of Egypt, says he is surprised about his detention.

Ahmed Mansour, who is a leading talk show host on the channel’s Arabic service, is expecting to face a judge who will decide on whether he should be extradited.

Cairo’s criminal court sentenced the journalist to 15 years in prison in absentia last year.

By Alex Lantier:

Germany arrests Al Jazeera journalist on warrant issued by Egyptian junta

22 June 2015

In an unprecedented move, the German government on Saturday detained senior Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the bloody regime of Egyptian military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Mansour was arrested at Tegel airport in Berlin. He was taken from court to prison in the Moabit district on Sunday, according to Berlin court spokesman Martin Steltner. “Today’s meeting was about formalities,” Steltner said, adding that “next week there will be an assessment regarding the validity of the warrant.”

On Monday, German courts will begin examining a request from the Sisi regime to extradite Mansour to Cairo, according to Mansour’s lawyer, Fazli Altin. Mansour, a dual British-Egyptian national, is receiving consular advice from British authorities.

“This case has clearly taken on a political dimension, and there are currently lots of background talks and various consulates are also involved,” said Patrick Teubner, a second lawyer for Mansour.

By honoring an arrest warrant issued by the Sisi junta, which has shot thousands in the streets of Egypt after launching a coup two years ago against Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, Berlin is endorsing the Egyptian junta and its frame-ups of journalists. It is a naked assault on freedom of the press and fundamental democratic rights.

This persecution of a journalist at the behest of a blood-soaked regime comes only months after German Chancellor Angela Merkel marched with other European leaders in Paris and proclaimed their devotion to freedom of the press and the rights of journalists following the attack on the anti-Islamic, racist French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Dozens of protesters, including many Egyptians, gathered outside the Berlin court yesterday to protest Mansour’s arrest.

Last year, Egyptian courts imprisoned three journalists from Al Jazeera, a news channel based in Qatar, whose government is aligned with Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The journalists were jailed on charges of acting to discredit the Sisi junta.

Correspondent Peter Greste, Cairo Bureau Chief Mohamed Fahmy, and news producer Baher Mohamed received prison terms of seven to ten years, though prosecutors provided no probative evidence against them. Prosecution witnesses contradicted prosecutors’ claims and suggested they had tampered with evidence. The trial attracted international condemnation and Cairo ultimately released Greste in February.

So noxious is the stench of criminality and blood that hangs over the Sisi junta, the international police agency Interpol refused to honor its request last year for a warrant against Mansour. In October, Interpol declared that the Sisi junta’s warrant request against Mansour “did not meet Interpol’s rules.”

In a statement issued Saturday, Mansour declared, “I informed [the German police] that the global police organization has rejected Egypt’s request and that I have this document from Interpol to prove that I am not wanted in any charge. I also told them that all the cases that were filed against me in Egypt were fabricated. They, however, insisted on holding me in their detention center for investigation. They told me that they will transfer me to face an investigating judge, who will determine my case.”

The accusations against Mansour are manifestly as baseless as those against Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed. Egyptian Foreign Minister Badr Abdelattie told the Associated Press that Egyptian judicial authorities, including the chief prosecutor in Cairo, were in contact with German authorities and are still trying to decide what charges to bring against Mansour. However, they apparently include claims that Mansour “harmed the reputation of Egypt massively” by his coverage, and that he tortured an unidentified lawyer during mass protests in 2011.

“It’s unacceptable for freedom of the press and embarrassing for Germany that Mansour is being held here on these clearly political allegations,” said Mansour’s lawyer, Altin.

The German government’s decision to act on politically-tainted allegations is an infamous act. Its arrest of a journalist—based on accusations of harming the reputation of a junta that massacres unarmed protesters and tortures thousands of political prisoners—amounts to outright censorship. If Mansour is deported to Egypt, he will undoubtedly face a long a prison term, or even a death sentence.

Media organizations denounced the jailing of Mansour. Reporters Without Borders issued a statement calling the detention “Egypt’s terrible revenge against journalists that cross the regime,” and warning that if Berlin decides to extradite Mansour, “it will be putting itself at the service of a dictatorial regime and will dishonor itself.”

Al Jazeera Acting Director General Mostefa Souag declared, “The crackdown on journalists by Egyptian authorities is well known. Our network, as the Arab world’s most watched, has taken the brunt of this. Other countries must not allow themselves to be tools of this media oppression, least of all those that respect freedom of the media as does Germany.”

Like Washington, the European financial aristocracy supports the Sisi junta, which they see as the only force capable of suppressing the revolutionary struggles of the Egyptian working class that broke out in 2011. Earlier this month, Sisi traveled to Berlin, where he was showered with honors and tens of billions of euros in defense contracts and business deals. (See: Al-Sisi in Berlin: Red carpet for the hangman of Cairo) He was similarly received in earlier visits to Paris and Rome.

The arrest of Mansour marks, nonetheless, an escalation in the brazenness of the European Union (EU) powers’ support for the Sisi regime.

It is a calculated signal sent by Berlin that it is ready to publicly collaborate with repressive measures by military dictatorships taken, as in Egypt, to muzzle the press and crush opposition in the working class—despite popular opposition in Europe itself.

One of the intended recipients of this message is doubtless the Greek premier, Alexis Tsipras. He is currently seeking to renegotiate austerity measures demanded by Berlin and the EU, which are threatening to cut off credit to Greece and drive it into bankruptcy, though at the risk of provoking a new global financial meltdown and the possible disintegration of the EU itself.

Greece was ruled from 1967 to 1974 by the junta of the colonels, which came to power in a CIA-backed coup and employed mass torture and murder to suppress popular opposition.

If Berlin is capable of working so openly with the Egyptian junta, it will have no difficulty making arrangements with a new Greek military junta imposed to enforce austerity on the working class. Tsipras can see what his intended fate would be in such a scenario by looking south across the Mediterranean to Egypt, where Mursi is in jail on trumped-up charges, facing multiple death sentences.

AL-JAZEERA journalist Ahmed Mansour who was detained in Germany on Saturday on an Egyptian arrest warrant, was released from custody yesterday. Berlin prosecutors’ office spokesman Stefan Stoehr confirmed that Mr Mansour “is free,” but he was unable to provide any more details: here.

Racist Charleston church massacre, reactions


This video from the USA says about itself:

Shooting Victim’s Friend Blames Fox News ‘Hate Speech’ for Charleston Church Massacre

18 June 2015

Friend of Charleston Victim: Fox News ‘Hate Speech’ a Potential Influence

Todd Rutherford, a South Carolina state legislator and a friend of one of the victims, spoke out on CNN this afternoon about how “the rhetoric in South Carolina, the rhetoric nationwide, has led people to believe… that it’s okay to walk into a church and take nine lives.”

Rutherford spoke to Jake Tapper about the Charleston church shooting and the death of his friend Reverend Clementa Pinckney.

He said that South Carolina is part of the problem because there’s no hate crimes law and the Confederate flag flies at the capitol. Rutherford referred to networks using “coded language” before calling out one network in particular:

“[The gunman] hears that because he watches the news and he watches things like Fox News, where they talk about things that they call news, but they’re really not. They use that coded language, they use hate speech, they talk about the president as if he’s not the president, they talk about churchgoers that they’re not really churchgoers. And that’s what this young man acted on. That’s why you can walk into a church and treat people like animals when they’re really human beings.”

Related: update: Gunman Dylann Storm Roof, 21, spares 1 woman telling her: ‘tell the world what happened’. Gunman to Victims: ‘You Rape Our Women’

The gunman who killed nine people during a Bible study meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, spewed a message of hate. Sylvia Johnson—a cousin of church pastor Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the attack—says a survivor told her the gunman reloaded five times. “He just said ‘I have to do it,’” Johnson reports the survivor saying. “‘You rape our women and you’re taking over the country. You have to go.’”

Earlier, a local NAACP official said the killer told one woman, who has not been identified, that she was allowed to live so that she can tell everyone else what happened. Police confirmed that at least three people survived the attack, and that the gunman sat with the prayer group for at least an hour before he began to shoot. The FBI has named Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Columbia, South Carolina as the suspected killer of nine people at a black church in Charleston. Roof was previously arrested on April 26 on a trespassing charge and was awaiting moderation. His sparse Facebook page shows an image of Roof in a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, which was an apartheid state before it became Zimbabwe.

By David Walsh in the USA:

The mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina

19 June 2015

The mass killing of six women and three men at an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday evening is a horrific event that speaks to a deeply dysfunctional and diseased society.

The alleged gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, of Columbia, South Carolina, was apparently motivated by racist and right-wing nationalist sentiments. He reportedly told those he was about to shoot in cold blood, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go.”

On his Facebook profile page, Roof included a photograph of himself wearing a jacket with badges representing the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the 1928 South African flag in particular has been adopted around the world in right-wing circles “as a symbol of white supremacy.”

The response of the political establishment in general has been hypocritical and empty to an obscene extent. Whatever the immediate political or psychological driving forces behind Roof’s alleged action, such a killing emerges in a specific political and social context.

The most obvious hypocrisy came from leading political figures in South Carolina. Various individuals associated with the South Carolina Republican Party have been exposed as members of the blatantly racist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the descendant of the old White Citizens Council, the “respectable” version of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s and 1960s.

South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley declared Thursday that the state’s “heart and soul…was broken” by the mass killing. In 2014 she defended the flying of the Confederate flag at the statehouse on the grounds that “not a single CEO” had complained to her.

In his statement, President Barack Obama expressed on Thursday his “deep sorrow over the senseless murders” in Charleston. Obama continued, “Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy.” The president suggested that “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Yes, but at which point exactly? Obama, like his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, has had to make this sort of ceremonial appearance following a killing rampage on numerous occasions. If the president needs reminding about what has occurred during his administration alone, one could point to the April 2009 massacre of 13 people at a civic center for immigrants in Binghamton, New York; the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabby Giffords and the killing of six other people in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011; the mass killing at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in July 2012; the murder of six people and wounding of four others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August 2012 by a white supremacist; the killing of 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012; and there are many more.

Following each killing, one portion of the media, looking to Scripture for its inspiration, asserts that the tragedy proves the existence of “evil” and presumably Man’s Fallen Nature; another, more officially liberal-minded, claims that gun control will somehow mysteriously solve everything; a third sighs over the “senselessness” of it all and collectively shrugs its shoulders. The cluelessness of the official punditry is one indication of the moral and political bankruptcy of the American social order.

There is, of course, an irrational element in each of these tragic episodes, including the most recent one. Roof apparently let one elderly woman live because, he told her, “I need someone to survive,” indicating that he planned to kill himself, “And you’ll be the only survivor.”

But the claim by the media that such mass killings are incomprehensible is a self-serving lie. The commentators, along with Obama and the political officialdom, cannot and will not “reckon with” the phenomenon because even to begin probing the various massacres would be to lift the lid on the reality of American life and, above all, the atmosphere of unrelenting violence and aggression that has been generated by two decades or more of almost nonstop war.

The alleged actions of Roof, who was obviously unbalanced and disoriented and came under the influence of pro-Confederate and white supremacist propaganda, have a racist coloring. But, changing what must be changed, is there much of a difference in terms of social type between the Charleston suspect and the young killers at Columbine High School in 1999; or Seung-Hui Cho, the South Korean immigrant, who murdered 32 people and wounded 17 others on the Virginia Tech campus in April 2007; or James Eagan Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado shooter, and the various others?

What psychological and sociological features do the various perpetrators share in common? A highly advanced state of social alienation, great bitterness at other human beings, self-hatred, isolation, general despondency and the recourse to extreme violence to solve their real or imagined problems.

These tendencies recur too often and too devastatingly to be mere personal failings; they clearly come from the broader society. They reflect a terrible malaise, the mentality of individuals living perpetually under a dark cloud, who have no hope for the future, who can only imagine that things will get worse. Only look at the Facebook photograph of Dylann Roof if you want some idea of this bleakness and despondency!

The generation to which Roof belongs, unlike any other in American history, has known nothing but the combination of war and the building up of immense social inequality. If one sets aside with contempt the media’s fantasy version of American life, in which things have never been better—and, after all, don’t young people have Facebook, Twitter and iPhones?—no generation in modern times has experienced such harsh and discouraging circumstances. Capitalism, the subordination of every aspect of life to the drive for profit and personal wealth by the corporate elite, is at the heart of the problem.

The American ruling elite would have us believe that endless war, belligerence, aggression and threats of new, more catastrophic wars, part of the drive for US global domination, have no consequences. Violence and killing on the part of the American military or intelligence apparatus is a daily occurrence. US officials and politicians, mafia-like, blandly discuss “killing” alleged terrorists or “eliminating threats” to “America’s national interests.” Murder, whether by drone or other efficient modern means, has become routinized, banal. The president, as we know, meets with his advisers every Tuesday, to go over “kill lists.”

Someone like Roof, if he turns out to be the culprit, has known nothing but this expanding and escalating violence all his life. And not only violence overseas. Police in the US have been given a green light to open fire and kill innocent civilians. Only two months ago, in North Charleston, South Carolina, less than 10 miles from the scene of Wednesday night’s mass killings, a local police officer murdered Walter Scott in cold blood with five bullets in the back.

The crisis of American society is reaching a breaking point. It cannot go on like this. Roof’s is the unhealthy, twisted response of an infinitesimal portion of his generation. Masses of young people and masses of working people will respond to the crisis in a rational, progressive manner, by turning against the criminals and liars in power and their rotten economic and social system.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

[Mass murder suspect] Roof had complained recently that “black people are taking over the world”, a former high school friend of his says. Someone should do something against that, according to Roof. He also supported racial segregation, according to the friend.

Roof had told the friend recently that he had bought a weapon with the money which he had got for his birthday. He also said he had a plan, but Roof did not say what that plan was.

CHARLESTON GUNMAN PLANNED ATTACK ‘FOR MONTHS’ “Dylann Roof’s roommate says the suspect was planning something big leading up to the alleged shooting at a South Carolina church Wednesday that left nine people dead. Dalton Tyler told ABC News that he’d known Roof for at least seven months, and that the 21-year-old was ‘planning something like that for six months.'” Here’s why the flags Roof is wearing in his Facebook profile picture matter. And watch President Obama discuss the horrific episode. [Andy Campbell, HuffPost]

MEET THE CHARLESTON VICTIMS Hundreds stood outside the Emanuel AME Church doors yesterday to mourn the nine victims of the Charleston shooting, who ranged in age from 26 to 87. [David Lohr, HuffPost]

RACISM: NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS “When white people go on shooting sprees, their actions are frequently attributed to mental illness and, thus, they’re not considered fully accountable for the harm they’ve inflicted. This narrative — which is not afforded to people of color — feeds into the assumption that incidents like what happened at Emanuel AME Church are isolated tragedies executed by lone gunmen. Essentially, it excuses the system that allows racialized terrorism to keep happening.” [HuffPost]

As Nation Mourns Nine Black Victims of Church Massacre, Details of Suspect’s White Supremacism Emerge: here.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ call to take down the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina Capitol.

Why don’t Americans call mass shootings ‘terrorism’? Racism: here.

Rupert Murdoch empire has to retract anti-Edward Snowden smear


This 21 August 2013 video from Britain is called David Miranda on his nine-hour terror detention ordeal.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sunday Times drops claim that Miranda met Snowden before UK detention

Allegation repeated one made in Daily Mail in September 2014, which was removed on Monday pending inquiries

Jane Martinson

Monday 15 June 2015 13.13 BST

An allegation that the partner of the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald met Edward Snowden in Moscow before being detained at Heathrow carrying classified documents has been quietly deleted from a report in the Sunday Times.

In Sunday’s front-page story claiming Russian and Chinese authorities had gained access to the NSA files leaked by Snowden, the paper reported that David Miranda “was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 ‘highly classified’ intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow”.

Those last five words were deleted from the online version by Monday morning without explanation.

The allegation repeated one made in the Daily Mail in September 2014 which was removed on Monday “pending inquiries”, an executive at the newspaper said.

Miranda was returning from Berlin, where he had visited the film-maker Laura Poitras, when he was detained at Heathrow for nine hours.

Greenwald was the first to point out that the falsity had been dropped without any clarification. He wrote:

UPDATE: The Sunday Times has now quietly deleted one of the central, glaring lies in its story: that David Miranda had just met with Snowden in Moscow when he was detained at Heathrow carrying classified documents. By ‘quietly deleted’, I mean just that: they just removed it from their story without any indication or note to their readers that they’ve done so (though it remains in the print edition and thus requires a retraction). That’s indicative of the standard of ‘journalism’ for the article itself. Multiple other falsehoods, and all sorts of shoddy journalistic practices, remain thus far unchanged.

The Sunday Times report quoted anonymous senior officials in No 10, the Home Office and security services who said agents had to be moved because Moscow had gained access to classified information that revealed how they operate.

The erroneous allegation about Miranda visiting Snowden was first made in the Daily Mail last September. The newspaper’s website carried the allegation until 24 hours after the Sunday Times published its story.

The editors’ code of practice enforced by Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) states: “A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.”

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, handed over tens of thousands of leaked documents to the Guardian in Hong Kong two years ago. He left Hong Kong with flights booked to Latin America but was stopped in Russia when the US revoked his passport, and has been living in Moscow in exile since.

He has repeatedly said he handed over all the documents to journalists in Hong Kong and no longer has access to them, making it impossible for either China or Russia to get to them through him. The Sunday Times do not say where China or Russia allegedly gained access to the files.

Privacy campaigners questioned the timing of the Sunday Times report, coming days after the publication of a 373-page report by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, which was commissioned by David Cameron. Anderson was highly critical of the existing system of oversight of the surveillance agencies and set out a series of recommendations for reform.

Sunday Times‘ legal threat to Glenn Greenwald is no way to stop criticism, by Jane Martinson. News UK’s attempt to prevent the Intercept founder using an image of its front page is a weak response to his attack on the paper’s Edward Snowden story: here.

UK government, Murdoch press smear of Edward Snowden unravels: here.

Pentagon, kill more Syrian civilians, New York Times says


This video from the USA says about itself:

Iraq Reports Civilian Casualties in U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS

13 October 2014

Iraq has reported civilian casualties resulting from U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS. According to the Los Angeles Times about 18 civilian casualties were found after a building was bombed in Euphrates River Valley town, Hit. The U.S. military has denied that there is any evidence of the reported casualties. Are these casualties inevitable when carrying out airstrikes in highly populated areas? We discuss it, in this Lip News clip with Mark Sovel and Elliot Hill.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

The New York Times calls for blood in Iraq-Syria war

27 May 2015

The New York Times published a major front-page critique Tuesday of the Obama administration’s military tactics in the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The article quotes several US and Iraqi military and intelligence officials, most of them unnamed, denouncing the supposed restraint on bombing due to excessive fears of killing civilians.

The article’s headline, “With ISIS in Cross Hairs, U.S. Holds Back to Protect Civilians,” gives the flavor of the piece, suggesting that ISIS could be easily crippled or destroyed if only the White House were not so squeamish.

Reporter Eric Schmitt—one of a group of Times correspondents who are regular conduits for the CIA and Pentagon—begins the article, “American intelligence analysts have identified seven buildings in downtown Raqqa in eastern Syria as the main headquarters of the Islamic State. But the buildings have gone untouched during the 10-month allied air campaign.

“And just last week, convoys of heavily armed Islamic State fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets of the provincial capital Ramadi in western Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops to flee. They rolled on unscathed by coalition fighter-bombers.”

An accompanying photograph shows ISIS fighters brandishing weapons atop an armored personnel carrier parading through the streets of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in eastern Syria. The obvious implication is that what could be targeted for a photograph could also be targeted for a smart bomb or drone-fired missile.

Schmitt continues: “American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant—and obvious—Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.”

According to Schmitt, “But many Iraqi commanders, and even some American officers, argue that exercising such prudence is harming the coalition’s larger effort to destroy the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Daesh, and that it illustrates the limitations of American air power in the Obama administration’s strategy.”

And further, “A persistent complaint of Iraqi officials and security officers is that the United States has been too cautious in its air campaign, frequently allowing columns of Islamic State fighters essentially free movement on the battlefield.”

The language is provocative. The US targeting process is “often cumbersome”; critics “say there are too few warplanes carrying out too few missions under too many restrictions.” Pilots hover over targets for hours waiting “for someone to make a decision to engage or not.” US officials responded to Iraqi targeting requests by attacking “the least important 5 percent” of targets, and “either neglected our requests or responded very late.”

Schmitt quotes exactly one critic by name, a Major Muhammed al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi officer in Anbar province, who blames alleged US “restraint” for the loss of Ramadi and other Iraqi military defeats. Two other sources are described as the “pilot of an American A-10 attack plane” and an Iraqi “army commander in Salahuddin Province, of which Tikrit is the capital.” Otherwise, the critics are merely referred to in the most general terms, suggesting that the article is not the product of genuine investigation, but a semi-official trial balloon, alerting the television producers and newspaper editors who take their lead from the Times that a significant shift in US military tactics is being prepared.

When Seymour Hersh published his recent exposé of US government lies about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he was harshly attacked by critics in the corporate-controlled media for relying heavily on witnesses whose identities had to be kept secret for their own protection.

Schmitt uses anonymous sources for the opposite purpose—not to debunk US government lies, but to spread them, putting into circulation the propaganda of the military-intelligence apparatus, backed by powerful political forces, including the entire Republican Party and significant sections of the Obama administration itself. But there will be no media pundits denouncing Schmitt and the Times for their “thinly sourced” report on the US bombing campaign against ISIS.

As Glenn Greenwald points out today in the Intercept, the Times article fails the most elementary test of journalistic objectivity, since it accepts without question the claims of the Pentagon and CIA that the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria has up to now spared civilians. Greenwald cites credible claims from independent observers of nearly 1,000 civilians killed by US bombing since the air war against ISIS began last summer.

The actual figures given in the Schmitt article are 12,500 ISIS fighters killed and only two Syrian children as collateral damage—ludicrous Pentagon numbers that echo CIA Director John Brennan’s claim, at one point in the drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that there had not been a single civilian casualty.

It is notable that Schmitt directly compares the supposedly feeble US air campaign against ISIS—only 15 strikes a day, with three quarters of planes returning without dropping their bomb loads because of restrictions on targeting—to the more aggressive campaigns in Libya (50 strikes a day), the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 (85 strikes a day), and the 2003 invasion of Iraq (a staggering 800 strikes a day), in what was described by the Bush administration as an effort to produce “shock and awe” among the Iraqi victims.

The conclusion is ominous: the US government and its Arab and imperialist allies are preparing to escalate the air war in Iraq and Syria to produce thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilian casualties.

Schmitt’s article is a signal to begin preparing the American people to accept war crimes on the scale of the previous US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is a demonstration that the Times, which sets the political agenda for the bulk of the American media, will play its role in justifying and covering up for these crimes.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that the US had agreed to provide air support for so-called “moderate rebels” being trained in Turkey, once they cross the border into Syria: here.

Whitewashing war crimes, attacking civil liberties in Japan


This video says about itself:

UN human rights panel calls on Japan to provide compensation to its wartime sex slavery victims

24 July 2014

A UN panel is urging Japan to provide a public apology and compensation to the victims of its wartime system of sex slavery.

The call comes as two elderly victims continue their mission in the United States to raise awareness about the horrors they faced.

Park Ji-won reports.

Two victims of Japan’s wartime system of sexual slavery visited the city of Glendale in California this week.

It’s where a monument dedicated to them and the thousands of other victims,… a bronze statue of a young girl dressed in traditional Korean clothing,… is set up.

“Please help us, the victims, receive an apology before we all die.”

Lee Ok-seon says she was abducted by Japanese soldiers when she was only 15,… and sent to a military brothel.

To this day,… the Japanese government denies its military operated the brothels, despite a huge amount of evidence that shows the military did.

The two women, now in their late 80s, spoke out against some Japanese Americans and Japanese officials who want the statue removed.

“They’re saying really inhumane things.”

Both women will stay in the U.S. for another couple of weeks.

They’ll travel to Virginia and New Jersey and to other monuments set up in memory of all those who suffered under Japan’s cruel system of sexual slavery.

Meanwhile, a UN panel is urging Japan to provide a public apology and compensation to the victims of its wartime sex slave victims before it’s too late.

The UN Human Rights Committee said Thursday that, after reviewing the records of several countries,… it’s concerned about the re-victimization of the former sex slavery victims.

The panel criticized the Japanese government for continuously denying its responsibility and even defaming the victims,… rather than taking the necessary steps to help them.

The committee, made up of 18 independent experts, also noted that every compensation claim brought by victims has been dismissed, and every call to ask for independent investigation on the sex slavery has been rejected in Japan.

Park Ji-won, Arirang News.

From the Japan Times:

Are forces of darkness gathering in Japan?

by Jeff Kingston

May 16, 2015

Certainly it’s worse in China, South Korean security recently beat demonstrators and Spain faces a blanket gag rule, but are concerns about the anti-democratic forces of darkness in Japan unduly alarmist? How bad can it be if protestors in Hibiya Park can carry placards depicting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Adolf Hitler?

Bad enough, alas. New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Martin Fackler, among others, recently implicated Team Abe in getting Shigeaki Koga, a prominent Abe critic, axed from Asahi TV’s “Hodo Station” program.

“I am afraid that media organizations’ self-restraint is spreading and, as a result, accurate information is not reaching the public,” Koga said at a press conference, claiming he was the victim of a political vendetta and corporate media timidity.

Mindful of the orchestrated attacks on the Asahi’s news organs and fearful of right-wing reprisals, self-censorship is a growing problem. Columbia University’s Gerald Curtis told me about the recent cancellation of a planned television interview that was to take place in New York. The local correspondent informed him that the Japanese network’s management in Tokyo nixed the interview because it was going to assess how Abe has handled the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and this topic was deemed too sensitive.

Curtis says the worrying lesson here is that “the government doesn’t have to muzzle the press if the press takes it upon itself to do the muzzling.”

But the government is taking no chances.

Conservative Abe cronies were appointed to NHK’s top management last year, and Katsuto Momii, a man without any media experience, was named chairman. He later declared to the press, “When the government is saying ‘Right’ we can’t say ‘Left.’”

Since Momii began promoting this curious vision at NHK, staff have complained that managers are strictly insisting on wording that hues to government views on controversial topics such as Yasukuni Shrine, disputed territories and the “comfort women.” To ensure conformity, NHK now publishes an internal censorship manual, called the “Orange Book,” banning the use of the term “sex slaves” and other phrases identified as problematic. NHK insiders told me that some recalcitrant staff suffered career derailments because they didn’t toe the line, including a group that openly called on Momii to step down.

There is no smoking gun, and it could be a routine staff rotation, but an apparent casualty of the purge is NHK’s “News Watch 9″ anchor Kensuke Okoshi, who has spoken out against nuclear power and committed other “transgressions.”

Controversy erupted last summer when Naoki Hyakuta, a best-selling writer and conservative on history issues, was handpicked by Abe to serve on NHK’s board of governors. Hyakuta criticized Okoshi’s on-air comments about ethnic Korean residents in Japan that were aired July 17, 2014. Okoshi said: “The first-generation Korean residents were those who were forcibly brought to Japan or moved to the country to seek jobs after the annexation of Korea in 1910. They had a lot of difficulties establishing their foundations for living.”

At the subsequent NHK board of governors meeting, Hyakuta reportedly asked: “Is it acceptable to say ethnic Korean residents are those who were forcibly taken by Japan? That is wrong.”

The acting chair informed Hyakuta that as a governor, comments about the content of an individual program violated the broadcasting law. Hyakuta has since resigned his position, complaining he wasn’t able to have any impact, but one can imagine that NHK staff felt his presence, and indeed Okoshi is no longer a newscaster despite being one of the most respected in the business.

“The systematic suppression of the press and freedom of speech by the Abe government and its functionaries is very, very disturbing in terms of its effects on the future course of Japan and its democracy,” says Ayako Doi, a journalist based in the United States who is currently an associate fellow of the Asia Society. In her view, things have gotten significantly worse under Abe. She cites the Liberal Democratic Party’s summons of Japanese media executives, the Japanese consul general in Frankfurt’s visit to the editors of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and a Foreign Ministry official’s visit to publisher McGraw-Hill in New York to ask for changes in the descriptions of Japan’s comfort women system of sexual slavery written in a U.S. history textbook.

“They have become more numerous, blatant and unapologetic,” she says, adding that the government is targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese critics alike.

Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark says the atmosphere of intimidation has become exceptionally “ugly,” attributing it to a “right-wing rebound and revenge.”

“Something strange is going on,” he says, citing recent attacks on progressive media. “Particularly given that Tokyo keeps talking about its value identification with the West.”

Well-placed sources in Washington previously told me that even overseas the Japanese government actively disparages Abe’s critics, something that Doi isn’t surprised by.

“It seems that under the Abe government, efforts to silence critics of his policies and interpretation of history have become systematic,” she says. “It now appears to be a concerted effort orchestrated by Kantei (the prime minister’s office).”

Japan’s right-wing media also engages in trans-Pacific intimidation. For example, a rightwing pundit slammed the National Bureau of Asian Research’s Japan-U.S. Discussion Forum, making groundless accusations about an anti-Japan bias. He also attacked the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership for sponsoring a research project regarding Sino-Japanese relations and history issues. This research project was deemed a waste of Japanese taxpayers’ money and some of the researchers were subject to defamatory attacks on their professional integrity. But it would be a sad day for Japanese democracy if the right wing gets to set the research agenda, pick the scholars and decide what they should conclude.

Clark himself was publicly defamed for his alleged anti-Japanese views because he raised some questions about government and media representations concerning the North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals. Following that, he says his university employer received a cascade of threatening letters demanding he be sacked.

“Requests to write articles for the magazines and newspapers I had long known dried up,” Clark says. “Invitations to give talks on Japan’s lively lecture circuit died overnight. One of Japan’s largest trading companies abruptly canceled my already-announced appointment as outside board director with the vague excuse of wanting to avoid controversy.”

Lamentably, he added, “You cannot expect anyone to come to your aid once the nationalistic right-wing mood creators, now on the rise, decide to attack you. Freedom of speech and opinion is being whittled away relentlessly.”

Exposing such orchestrated attacks and highlighting the dangers of self-censorship are all the more important in contemporary Japan because, as Doi puts it, media freedom is “sliding down a slippery slope” and it’s important to “speak out before the momentum becomes unstoppable.”

Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.