The death camps covered Central and Eastern Europe like bubonic plague sores. Even according to official data of the German Ministry of the Interior, the fascist regime built 1,634 concentration camps. Besides there were many other structures created to find the final solution to the problem of "second rate" people or "lower races." Located 70 km from Krakow, Auschwitz was the largest (around 40 square km) network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during WWII. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II-Birkenau (a combination concentration/extermination camp), Auschwitz III-Monowitz (the largest sub-camp of Auschwitz) and satellite camps. The first prisoners came there in June 1940. There were over 100,000 inmates as of 1944. The camp was the place of mass extermination of peoples, especially of the Jews. There were inmates from Poland, the USSR, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Norway, Romania, Italy and Hungary. For a long time the number of victims was believed to be at least 1.1 million. In 2010, Russia's Federal Security Service declassified the data which showed that more than four million inmates were killed by the Nazis.
There were four crematoriums and two provisional gas chambers. Soviet prisoners and weak inmates were the first to undergo the Zyklon B gas trials in the spring of 1942. At first bodies were buried, then eliminated in crematoria and ditches specially dug for the purpose. Inmates underwent medical experiments. The factory of death killed 150,000 inmates a month. Crematoria and fires burning all night eliminated 270,000 bodies monthly.
The Soviet Supreme Command knew about the existence of the death camps. It ordered the 1st and 4th Ukrainian fronts to liberate Auschwitz during the Vistula-Oder offensive operation. The 100th infantry division led by General Fyodor Krasavin took Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 to save the lives of the remaining 7,000 inmates. The reality was shocking. The machine of extermination was perfect and smooth-running. Here is some evidence provided to Smersh counterintelligence by imprisoned fascist perpetrators. Elizabeth Gazelow (superintendent in Ravensbrück, Majdanek and Auschwitz) says, "There were 40-45,000 inmates of different nationalities: Russian, Ukrainians, Poles, Czech, French. It was a camp of extermination. It had a crematorium, gas chambers ... Children were put into the chambers in front of their parents."
Willie Steinborn (SS-Rottenführer, a guard) remembers, "A large group of Poles, Russians and other nationalities was to be exterminated. The inmates offered resistance. SS guards let dogs attack them. They enjoyed the picture as live people separated from each other were torn and mangled by dogs."
Alfred Skchipek (in charge of barrack N8), "There was a punishment called 'steinbunker.' Twenty to thirty people were put into a small cell. With such little space they could only stand there. No windows, there was only a few millimeters-wide crack in the wall. With no air coming in, inmates suffocated. Transported in winter to be exterminated, prisoners were made to work outside without shoes and clothes on until they died of cold. There were 200-300 victims at a time."
There were thousands of such testimonies that make one shudder. I'm afraid all this evidence is not enough to make a single tear drop from the eyes of those who today are mourning the dead, in Washington, London, Brussels and Warsaw. They say that this is the time to commemorate the victims of gas chambers, but in reality they take the side of the perpetrators, not the victims. In Europe and overseas they speak the right words to remember those who suffered from the Holocaust while turning a blind eye on the SS marches that regularly take place in the Baltic States for already 20 years. They nod their heads upon hearing the delirium about the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and even Germany and say that the fascist coup in Kiev is nothing but the expression of the people's will. They say that Moscow's support for the compatriots shelled in the Donbass is an aggression. The egregious political intrigue and maneuvering mixed with stone age Russophobia makes the Western elite unable to discern the revival of the global evil which would have ruled the world today, if it had not been for the Soviet Union and its Red Army which demonstrated unparalleled prowess 70 years ago. This is conniving to give this evil the environment to make it thrive today.
Vladimir Putin can put up with the fact that he is not
invited to the major
event at Auschwitz marking 70 years since inmates of the Nazi death
were liberated by the Red Army. No great pleasure to meet the
who gather millions to take part in the Paris march to protest the
journalists-provocateurs and watch indifferently as the Khatyn massacre
repeated in Odessa. They have the chutzpah to say they don't
want to see in Auschwitz the head of state who ordered the attack
Ukraine. The sponsors of Ukraine's neo-Nazi regime believe it's not
to invite the head of state claiming to be the successor of the Soviet
the country that liberated Auschwitz and half of Europe. But they find
expedient to invite the Chancellor of Germany who supports the Nazi
in Ukraine to prove that it's too early to affirm that Germans have
gone through denazification. They find Nazism unacceptable on their
put up with its presence in other countries...
The organizers want to commemorate the victims of Auschwitz standing side by side with the leaders of Ukraine's fascist regime. Could it be any other way? All those kapos (a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp assigned by the SS guards to supervise other inmates) and "block-eltesters" (the eldest man of the block in a concentration camp) -- the Banderites and their successors -- are spiritual mentors of such gentlemen as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov and leader of the far-right Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh. Just ask them and they will willingly tell you a story about how they defended civilized Europe from the hordes coming from the East. They will also tell you how to operate the furnaces of Auschwitz, use people as guinea pigs for experiments with Zyklon B and torture unarmed inmates. Especially in view that the experience is remembered as Ukraine conducting a so-called anti-terror operation in the east.
The participation in the events of Western leaders who head the states that were the USSR's allies during WWII is a special case for consideration. The words they say about democratic standards on the territory of Auschwitz sound like talk about rope in the house of a man who has been hanged. Especially if one remembers how their predecessors -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill -- reacted to the information about what happened in Nazi concentrations camps.
British doctoral student Barbara Rogers has discovered a 20-page document in the Foreign Office archive proving conclusively that Britain and the United States knew about the gas chambers at Auschwitz as early as December 1942. The information was contained in a memorandum passed to the British government and handed to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Jewish leaders at a White House meeting on Dec. 8, 1942.
While it has been known that the Allies knew then about the "Final Solution" -- and even about gas chambers -- this is the first time it was demonstrated that the Allies knew in 1942 about the crematoria at Auschwitz. The document informed Roosevelt that "centers have been established in various parts of Eastern Europe for the scientific and cold-blooded mass murder of Jews. Polish Christian workers, eyewitnesses, have confirmed reports that concrete buildings, on the former Russian frontiers, are used by the Germans as gas chambers in which thousands of Jews have been put to death."
The memorandum also specifically informed Roosevelt: "The slaughter of trainloads of Jewish adults and children in great crematoriums at Ozwiencim [Auschwitz] near Krakow is confirmed by eyewitnesses in reports which recently reached Jerusalem." There is no information the allies ever reacted. The find reignites debates about why the Allies took no action, such as bombing, to disrupt the operation of Auschwitz. The researcher made precise the reasons why London did not contact Berlin on the matter. The British feared a flood of Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine (Palestine was then part of the British Empire). The other reason is that they were anxious to avoid a popular backlash if they were perceived to be fighting a "Jewish war."
In other words, whole nations were sacrificed in the
interests of the
British Empire. Even after the Second Front was open and Anglo-American
forces moved to the east and their aviation could easily reach
nothing was done to at least interrupt transport routes to the camp and
complicate the continuation of heinous crimes committed by Germans. No
wonder the contemporary successors of Roosevelt and Churchill are prone
hypocrisy. Meeting in Washington on January 16, Barack Obama and David
Cameron agreed to keep sanctions on Russia until it stops its
Ukraine. "We agree on the need to maintain strong sanctions against
until it ends its aggression in Ukraine, and on the need to support
it implements important economic and democratic reforms," Obama said
talks in Washington with the UK Prime Minister. What a striking
some believe that crematoria and gas chambers serve as instruments of
purification while others use napalm and multiple launch rocket systems
against civilians in the Donbass as the means of implementing
reforms." Don't be surprised, ladies and gentlemen, if the fires of new
crematorium will be smelled again in Europe.
Those forces seeking to isolate Russia actively support neo-Nazi and fascist organizations in Ukraine today. These organizations are committing various crimes, such as the May 2, 2014 massacre in Odessa, when Ukrainian fascists attacked a group of people near the Ukrainian Trade Union building, forcing some inside and setting the building on fire. Dozens were killed and many more injured. (Stop NATO)
(Strategic Culture, January 20, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)
Freedom of Speech of the Reactionary Ruling Classes
No Chelsea Morning for
Mock Charlie Hebdo cover circulated after the murder of the magazine's cartoonists.
The text says “Charlie Hebdo is shit.
It doesn't stop bullets.”
A 16-year-old high school student was taken into police custody on Thursday [January 15] and indicted for "defending terrorism," national broadcaster France 3 reports.
His alleged crime? He posted on Facebook a cartoon "representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets, and accompanied by an 'ironic' comment," France 3 states.
The report does not include the drawing -- presumably that could put France 3 afoul of the law. So we do not know for sure what the youth is accused of sharing.
But the cartoon at [to the right] fits the description precisely. It was widely shared on social media, and published on 7 January on the website of the controversial French comedian Dieudonné. It is a mock Charlie Hebdo cover by the cartoonist Dedko.
The text says "Charlie Hebdo is shit. It does not stop bullets." It appears quite heartless and cruel, but look at the copy of Charlie Hebdo that the person in the cartoon is holding.
It represents a real Charlie Hebdo cover that was published in July 2013, days after the military coup in Egypt. It caused outrage at the time because of its cruelty and insensitivity.
It shows an Egyptian protestor being shot through a copy of the Quran he is holding. The text says, "The Quran is shit, it doesn't stop bullets."
Assuming that the mock Charlie Hebdo cover is the one shared by the youth on Facebook, this incident sums up the sheer hypocrisy of France's current national mood.
Anything mocking and denigrating Islam and Muslims is venerated as courageous free speech, while anything mocking those who engage in such denigration -- even using precisely the same techniques -- can get you locked up.
"A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of 'defending terrorism' ('l'apologie du terrorisme') risks violating freedom of expression," Amnesty International said in an understated press release on Friday.
"All the arrests appear to be on the basis of statements made in the aftermath of the deadly attacks against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher supermarket and security forces in Paris on 7 and 9 January," the human rights group added.
"Some of the recently reported cases in France may cross the high threshold of expression that can legitimately be prosecuted," Amnesty said. "Others, however offensive the statements made, do not."
As previously reported, the most high profile arrest was of Dieudonné himself -- also apparently for an ironic comment.
Many of the arrests are simply absurd, and it is impossible to imagine what purpose they could serve other than to allow the French government to look tough amid an increasingly right-wing and xenophobic political atmosphere, and to satisfy a desire in some sections of the public and media for scapegoats.
- A 14-year-old girl charged with "defending terrorism." She allegedly shouted at a tram conductor: "We are the Kouachi sisters, we're going to grab our Kalashnikovs." Cherif and Said Kouachi are two French brothers authorities say carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack.
- A 21-year-old was caught without a ticket on a tram, and subsequently sentenced to ten months in prison for allegedly saying, "The Kouachi brothers is just the beginning; I should have been with them to kill more people," according to Amnesty International.
- In the northern city of Lille, authorities suspended three school workers for allegedly refusing to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the attacks, and then justifying their action. One is being charged with "defending terrorism." The accused denies that he refused to respect the minute of silence, but said he did "debate it with colleagues outside work hours."
- In Paris, one man who was drunk and another who suffers psychiatric problems were jailed for fourteen and three months respectively for "defending terrorism" for comments they made. A third was jailed for fifteen months and the court ordered that their sentences begin immediately.
- In Bordeaux, police carried out a traffic stop. A very drunk 18-year-old passenger in the car allegedly hurled abuse at the police and made comments sympathetic to the Charlie Hebdo attackers. She was charged with "defending terrorism" and sentenced to 210 hours of community service. Prosecutors had asked for a four-month jail term.
In almost every case where a name is provided, those arrested would appear to be of North African ancestry -- suggesting that France's crackdown is quite targeted.
If it is not calculated to further alienate the country's large, young population of French citizens whose parents or grandparents came from the former colonies, there's a good chance it will do that anyway.
The cases also suggest a pattern where minor encounters with police -- with drunks and youths -- quickly escalate into "terrorism"-related accusations. The fact that young people of color have long complained that they are targeted by police means that they are going to be disproportionately more vulnerable.
Amnesty says the crackdown followed a circular sent to prosecutors on 12 January by justice minister Christiane Taubira instructing them that "words or wrongdoing, hatred or contempt, uttered or committed against someone because of their religion must be fought and pursued with great vigor."
Although they might exist, I have yet to see cases of people being charged or jailed for anti-Muslim or other kinds of racist or bigoted comments under the "defending terrorism" law.
After the attacks, prominent journalist Philippe Tesson took to the airwaves of Europe 1, one of France's biggest radio stations, and declared that Muslims were responsible for threatening the country's vaunted secularism.
"It's the Muslims who bring the shit to France these days," he said.
While a private citizen has reportedly brought a legal complaint against Tesson for "inciting racial hatred," the authorities have not charged him with a crime.
Cécile Duflot, a Green Party legislator, noticed the discrepancy and urged that "the reaction to the foul Islamophobic words of Philippe Tesson should be much stronger."
(Author's Update: Le Parisien reports today, Monday [January 19], that Paris prosecutors have opened an inquiry into Tesson on suspicion of "inciting hatred").
Monitoring groups have collected reports of at least 83 Islamophobic threats and attacks in France since the Charlie Hebdo attack.
There were at least 21 incidents of shots or grenades being fired at buildings.
Police are investigating if the murder of Mohammed El Makouli, a Moroccan man in the eastern town of Beaucet, was motivated by anti-Muslim hatred.
El-Makouli was stabbed seventeen times by a neighbor who invaded his home, allegedly shouting anti-Muslim slogans. El-Makouli's wife was injured and his young son escaped the attack.
It may seem surprising that French authorities can charge and jail people so quickly. These summary trials and long custodial terms are the result of a change in the law last November in which the charge of "defending terrorism" became a criminal offense subject to fast-track trials.
Last week France's Human Rights League said that when the change in the law was being debated, it had "demonstrated that it would be ineffective for security, dangerous for liberties and damaging to the credibility of the justice system."
The organization said that the slew of summary convictions of "drunks and fools" vindicated its warnings.
Many of these people are now likely to end up on the state's planned "antiterrorist register."
Prosecutions for expression do not take place only under the "defending terrorism" law. This week the rapper Saïdou of the band Z.E.P., and the sociologist Saïd Bouamama will be indicted in Lille for "public insult" and "incitement to discrimination, hate, or violence."
The prosecution was brought by a right-wing nationalist group, as MR Zine reports, because of Saïd's book Fuck France and a Z.E.P. song with the same title.
The song's refrain states: "Fuck France and its colonialist past, its paternalist smells, stenches, and reflexes. Fuck France and its imperialist history, its capitalist walls, fortresses and delusions."
Z.E.P., ironically, stands for "Zone d'expression populaire" -- Popular Expression Zone. But irony is now a crime in France.
It is a matter of time before these laws are used with renewed vigor against a whole range of speech that might upset the French state, especially those who advocate for Palestinian rights and for the boycott of Israel.
With all I've read since the Paris attacks, a few items stand out as particularly thoughtful and informative.
A 2013 piece by Olivier Cyran, a former journalist at Charlie Hebdo, traces the magazine's descent into an obsessive bigotry against Muslims in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
The piece, in the form of an open letter to the magazine's editor Stéphane Charbonnier, is an important rejoinder to the pervasive claims that Charlie Hebdo irreverently targeted everyone and that Muslims are just too sensitive.
Charbonnier is one of the cartoonists who was murdered.
"The obsessive pounding on Muslims to which your weekly has devoted itself for more than a decade has had very real effects," Cyran wrote to Charbonnier.
"It has powerfully contributed to popularizing, among 'left-wing' opinion, the idea that Islam is a major 'problem' in French society. That belittling Muslims is no longer the sole privilege of the extreme right, but a 'right to offend' which is sanctified by secularism, the Republic, by 'co-existence.'"
"Commentators in France and elsewhere have taken the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as an occasion to reflect more broadly about Muslims in France," observes Mayanthi Fernando, a professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Cruz.
"Many read the attacks as a sign of French Muslims' refusal to integrate. They've asked whether Muslims can be fully secular and expressed doubt as to whether one can be both Muslim and French," Fernando says in an article for The Conversation.
She warns, "we should be wary of myths about French secularism (laïcité) and French citizenship being spun in the aftermath of the attacks."
Fernando notes that despite its ostensible laïcité, the French state has always privileged some religious groups. But when Muslims ask for the same accommodations others receive, "they are reminded that France is a secular country where proper citizenship requires separating religion from public life."
All of this happens, Fernando notes, in a country where research demonstrates "nonwhite immigrants and their descendants as a group suffer systematic discrimination on the basis of their race, culture and religion."
Although Muslims are 7.5 percent of the general population in France, they are 60 percent of the prison population.
The broader debates about "Islam" and "democracy" or "Islam" and "secularism" are tackled in Joseph Massad's new must-read book Islam in Liberalism.
Massad argues that "American and European missionaries of liberalism" are engaged in a campaign to remake Islam and Muslims in their image, that is to say in the image of "liberal Protestant Christianity."
"Muslim resistance to this benevolent mission is represented as rejection of modernity and liberal values of freedom, liberty, equality, the right-bearing individual, democratic citizenship, women's rights, sexual rights, freedom of belief, secularism [and] rationality," Massad writes.
"If Muslims refuse to convert willingly," Massad observes, "they must be forced to convert using military power, as their resistance threatens a core value of liberalism, namely its universality and the necessity of its universalization as globalization."
"It's hard to imagine a more necessary and timely book," says Jonathon Sturgeon, literary editor at Flavorwire.
I could not agree more.
Ali Abunimah is
co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for
Justice in Palestine, now out from
(Electronic Intifada, January 19, 2015)
The Justice Department on Wednesday [January 14] issued a press release trumpeting its latest success in disrupting a domestic terrorism plot, announcing that "the Joint Terrorism Task Force has arrested a Cincinnati-area man for a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials." The alleged would-be terrorist is 20-year-old Christopher Cornell (above), who is unemployed, lives at home, spends most of his time playing video games in his bedroom, still addresses his mother as "Mommy" and regards his cat as his best friend; he was described as "a typical student" and "quiet but not overly reserved" by the principal of the local high school he graduated in 2012.
The affidavit filed by an FBI investigative agent alleges Cornell had "posted comments and information supportive of [ISIS] through Twitter accounts." The FBI learned about Cornell from an unnamed informant who, as the FBI put it, "began cooperating with the FBI in order to obtain favorable treatment with respect to his criminal exposure on an unrelated case." Acting under the FBI's direction, the informant arranged two in-person meetings with Cornell where they allegedly discussed an attack on the Capitol, and the FBI says it arrested Cornell to prevent him from carrying out the attack.
Family members say Cornell converted to Islam just six months ago and claimed he began attending a small local mosque. Yet The Cincinnati Enquirer could not find a single person at that mosque who had ever seen him before, and noted that a young, white, recent convert would have been quite conspicuous at a mosque largely populated by "immigrants from West Africa," many of whom "speak little or no English."
The DOJ's press release predictably generated an avalanche of scary media headlines hailing the FBI. CNN: "FBI says plot to attack U.S. Capitol was ready to go." MSNBC: "US terror plot foiled by FBI arrest of Ohio man." Wall St. Journal: "Ohio Man Charged With Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attack on U.S. Capitol."
Just as predictably, political officials instantly exploited the news to justify their powers of domestic surveillance. House Speaker John Boehner claimed yesterday that "the National Security Agency's snooping powers helped stop a plot to attack the Capitol and that his colleagues need to keep that in mind as they debate whether to renew the law that allows the government to collect bulk information from its citizens." He warned: "We live in a dangerous country, and we get reminded every week of the dangers that are out there."
The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.
First, they target a Muslim: not due to any evidence of intent or capability to engage in terrorism, but rather for the "radical" political views he expresses. In most cases, the Muslim targeted by the FBI is a very young (late teens, early 20s), adrift, unemployed loner who has shown no signs of mastering basic life functions, let alone carrying out a serious terror attack, and has no known involvement with actual terrorist groups.
They then find another Muslim who is highly motivated to help disrupt a "terror plot": either because they're being paid substantial sums of money by the FBI or because (as appears to be the case here) they are charged with some unrelated crime and are desperate to please the FBI in exchange for leniency (or both). The FBI then gives the informant a detailed attack plan, and sometimes even the money and other instruments to carry it out, and the informant then shares all of that with the target. Typically, the informant also induces, lures, cajoles, and persuades the target to agree to carry out the FBI-designed plot. In some instances where the target refuses to go along, they have their informant offer huge cash inducements to the impoverished target.
Once they finally get the target to agree, the FBI swoops in at the last minute, arrests the target, issues a press release praising themselves for disrupting a dangerous attack (which it conceived of, funded, and recruited the operatives for), and the DOJ and federal judges send their target to prison for years or even decades (where they are kept in special GITMO-like units). Subservient U.S. courts uphold the charges by applying such a broad and permissive interpretation of "entrapment" that it could almost never be successfully invoked. As AP noted last night, "defense arguments have repeatedly failed with judges, and the stings have led to many convictions."
Consider the truly remarkable (yet not aberrational) 2011 prosecution of James Cromitie, an impoverished African-American Muslim convert who had expressed anti-Semitic views but, at the age of 45, had never evinced any inclination to participate in a violent attack. For eight months, the FBI used an informant -- one who was on the hook for another crime and whom the FBI was paying -- to try to persuade Cromitie to agree to join a terror plot which the FBI had concocted. And for eight months, he adamantly refused. Only when they dangled a payment of $250,000 in front of him right as he lost his job did he finally assent, causing the FBI to arrest him. The DOJ trumpeted the case as a major terrorism arrest, obtained a prosecution and sent him to prison for 25 years.
The federal judge presiding over his case, Colleen McMahon, repeatedly lambasted the government for wholly manufacturing the plot. When sentencing him to decades in prison, she said Cromitie "was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own," and that it was the FBI which "created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true." She added: "only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope."
In her written ruling upholding the conviction, Judge McMahon noted that Cromitie "had successfully resisted going too far for eight months," and agreed only after "the Government dangled what had to be almost irresistible temptation in front of an impoverished man from what I have come (after literally dozens of cases) to view as the saddest and most dysfunctional community in the Southern District of New York." It was the FBI's own informant, she wrote, who "was the prime mover and instigator of all the criminal activity that occurred." She then wrote (emphasis added):
As it turns out, the Government did absolutely everything that the defense predicted in its previous motion to dismiss the indictment. The Government indisputably "manufactured" the crimes of which defendants stand convicted. The Government invented all of the details of the scheme - many of them, such as the trip to Connecticut and the inclusion of Stewart AFB as a target, for specific legal purposes of which the defendants could not possibly have been aware (the former gave rise to federal jurisdiction and the latter mandated a twenty-five year minimum sentence). The Government selected the targets. The Government designed and built the phony ordnance that the defendants planted (or planned to plant) at Government-selected targets. The Government provided every item used in the plot: cameras, cell phones, cars, maps and even a gun. The Government did all the driving (as none of the defendants had a car or a driver's license). The Government funded the entire project. And the Government, through its agent, offered the defendants large sums of money, contingent on their participation in the heinous scheme.
Additionally, before deciding that the defendants (particularly Cromitie, who was in their sights for nine months) presented any real danger, the Government appears to have done minimal due diligence, relying instead on reports from its Confidential Informant, who passed on information about Cromitie information that could easily have been verified (or not verified, since much of it was untrue), but that no one thought it necessary to check before offering a jihadist opportunity to a man who had no contact with any extremist groups and no history of anything other than drug crimes.
On another occasion, Judge McMahon wrote: "There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that James Cromitie could never have dreamed up the scenario in which he actually became involved. And if by some chance he had, he would not have had the slightest idea how to make it happen." She added that while "Cromitie, who was desperately poor, accepted meals and rent money from [the informant], he repeatedly backed away from his violent statements when it came time to act on them," and that "only when the offers became outrageously high--and when Cromitie was particularly vulnerable to them, because he had lost his job--did he finally succumb."
This is pre-emptory prosecution: targeting citizens not for their criminal behavior but for their political views. It's an attempt by the U.S. Government to anticipate who will become a criminal at some point in the future based on their expressed political opinions -- not unlike the dystopian premise of Minority Report -- and then exploiting the FBI's vast financial, organizational, and even psychological resources, along with the individuals' vulnerabilities, to make it happen.
In 2005, federal appellate judge A. Wallace Tashima -- the first Japanese-American appointed to the federal bench, who was imprisoned in a U.S. internment camp -- vehemently dissented from one of the worst such prosecutions and condemned these FBI cases as "the unsettling and untoward consequences of the government's use of anticipatory prosecution as a weapon in the 'war on terrorism.'"
There are countless similar cases where the FBI triumphantly disrupts its own plots, causing people to be imprisoned as terrorists who would not and could not have acted on their own. Trevor Aaronson has comprehensively covered what amounts to the FBI's own domestic terror network, and has reported that "nearly half [of all DOJ terrorism] prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violation." He documents "49 [terrorism] defendants [who] participated in plots led by an agent provocateur -- an FBI operative instigating terrorist action." In 2012, Petra Bartosiewicz in The Nation reviewed the post-9/11 body of terrorism cases and concluded:
Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the informants -- who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal charges of their own -- have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI's guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.
The U.S. Government has been aggressively pressuring its allies to adopt the same "sting" tactics against their own Muslim citizens (and like most War on Terror abuses, this practice is now fully seeping into non-terrorism domestic law: in a drug smuggling prosecution last year, a federal judge condemned the Drug Enforcement Agency for luring someone into smuggling cocaine, saying that "the government's investigation deployed techniques that generated a wholly new crime for the sake of pressing criminal charges against" the defendant).
Many of the key facts in this latest case are still unknown, but there are ample reasons to treat this case with substantial skepticism. Though he had brushes with the law as a minor arguably indicative of anger issues, the 20-year-old Cornell had no history of engaging in politically-motivated violence (he disrupted a local 9/11 memorial ceremony last year by yelling a 9/11 Truth slogan, but was not arrested). There is no evidence he had any contact with any overseas or domestic terrorist operatives (the informant vaguely claims that Cornell claims he "had been in contact with persons overseas" but ultimately told the informant that "he did not think he would receive specific authorization to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States").
Cornell's father accused the FBI of responsibility for the plot, saying of his son: "He's a mommy's boy. His best friend is his cat Mikey. He still calls his mother 'Mommy.'" His father said that "he might be 20, but he was more like a 16-year-old kid who never left the house." He added that his son had only $1,200 in his bank account, and that the money to purchase guns could only have come from the FBI. It was the FBI, he said, who were "taking him somewhere, and they were filling his head with a lot of this garbage."
The mosque with which Cornell was supposedly associated is itself tiny, a non-profit that reported a meager $115,000 in revenue last year. It has no history of producing terrorism suspects or violent radicals.
Whatever else is true, a huge dose of scrutiny and skepticism should be applied to the FBI's claims. Media organizations certainly should not be trumpeting this as some dangerous terror plot from which the FBI heroically saved us all, nor telling their viewers that the FBI "uncovered" a plot that it actually created, nor trying to depict it (as MSNBC's Steve Kornacki did in the pictured segment) as part of some larger plot of international terror groups, at least not without further evidence (and, just by the way, Mr. Kornacki: Anwar Awlaki was not "the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen," no matter how much repeating that false claim might help President Obama, who ordered that U.S. citizen killed with no due process). Nor should politicians like John Boehner be permitted without challenge to claim that this scary plot shows how crucial is the Patriot Act and the NSA domestic spying program in keeping us safe.
Having crazed loners get guns and seek to shoot people is, of course, a threat. But so is allowing the FBI to manufacture terror plots: in the process keeping fear levels about terrorism completely inflated, along with its own surveillance powers and budget. Ohio is a major recipient of homeland security spending: it "has four fusion centers, more than any other state except California, New York and Texas. Ohio also ranks fourth in the nation (tying New York) with four FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs)."
Something has to be done to justify all that terrorism spending. For all those law enforcement agents with little to do, why not sit around and manufacture plots to justify those expenditures, giving a boost to their pro-surveillance ideology to boot? Media outlets have a responsibility to investigate the FBI's claims, not mindlessly repeat them while parading their alarmed faces and scary graphics.
(The Intercept, January 16, 2015)
On January 13, the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling began in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Sterling is charged under the Espionage Act with mishandling national defence information, i.e., revealing details of a CIA operation -- Operation Merlin -- to journalist James Risen. In order to make its case, the government had subpoenaed Risen to force him to reveal his confidential sources, despite its claims to support freedom of the press.
Operation Merlin took place in the context of U.S. aims to isolate Iran as part of its designs for regime change. The U.S. had long made spurious accusations that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program. Under Operation Merlin, which began in 1996 and was approved by then-President Clinton, the CIA would actually provide Iran with plans for a key component that would permit Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
Anti-war activist David Swanson attended the opening proceedings of the Sterling trial and reported:
"The CIA drew up plans for a key part of a nuclear bomb (what a CIA officer on Wednesday [January 14] described in his testimony as 'the crown jewels' of a nuclear weapons program), inserted flaws in the plans, and then had a Russian give those flawed plans to Iran.
"During the trial on Wednesday morning, the prosecution's witnesses made clear both that aiding Iran in developing a part of a bomb would be illegal under U.S. export control laws, and that they were aware at the time that there was the possibility of what they were doing constituting just such aid.
"[... T]he stated reason for [...] Operation Merlin, was to slow down Iran's nuclear weapons program by causing Iranian scientists to spend time and resources on a doomed plan that would never work.
"[...] The U.S. government lacked evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and not long after came out with an assessment that such a program did not exist and had not existed for some time. Nonetheless, years of effort and millions of dollars went into trying to slow the program down by a period of months. The CIA created a design, drawing, and parts list for a Russian nuclear fire set (the nuclear bomb component). They intentionally made it incomplete because supposedly no actual Russian scientist would credibly have complete knowledge of it. [...]
"According to one cable read aloud in court, the CIA would have liked to give Iran the actual device already constructed for them, but didn't because it wouldn't have been credible for their Russian to have it."
On this basis, "flawed" nuclear plans were given to Iran in February 2000, in the belief that these mistakes in the plans would slow the Iranians in building a working fire set.
Operation Merlin reveals the U.S. imperialists'
detachment from reality. At the very least, despite Iran not having a
nuclear weapons program, Iran's acceptance of the plans would provide
"proof" of such a program and thereby vindicate the U.S. claim that
Iran was building nuclear weapons. Swanson remarks that, "another
explanation of both Operation Merlin and of the defensiveness of the
prosecution and its witnesses [was that this] was an effort to plant
nuke plans on Iran [...]" He points out how similar planting of
evidence in 2004 was also used to try to frame Iran and justify U.S.
On January 12, the U.S. government informed that author James Risen would not be called to testify in the trial against former CIA officer Sterling. A New York Times report states:
"Mr. Risen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, was the highest-profile journalist drawn into the Obama administration's attempt to crack down on government officials who talk to reporters about national security. The Justice Department has brought more charges in leak cases than were brought in all previous administrations combined. [...]
"The Justice Department first subpoenaed Mr. Risen to testify in the case in 2008, during the Bush administration. [U.S. Attorney General Eric] Holder authorized the subpoena again in 2011. In addition to subpoenaing Mr. Risen, the Justice Department secretly seized phone records from The Associated Press, labeled one Fox News reporter a criminal co-conspirator and sought grand jury testimony from another.
The Times reports that the government's efforts "provoked a backlash among journalism groups and civil rights advocates, and as Mr. Risen's case dragged on, Mr. Holder, who has announced plans to leave office, signaled a change in policy. He rewrote the Justice Departments rules for subpoenaing journalists and said he would not try to put reporters in jail for doing their jobs.
"That edict set up a peculiar court hearing [in the week before the Sterling trial]. Mr. Risen took the witness stand and said he would not reveal his sources or offer any details about where he got the information. Prosecutors, under orders from Mr. Holder, did not demand answers, since that could have exposed Mr. Risen to a charge of contempt and a jail sentence."
Therefore, Risen will not be testifying at the Sterling trial. The Times notes that prosecutors in the Sterling trial have said their case is not winnable without testimony from Risen.
Risen's lawyer Joel Kurtzberg said that while Mr. Risen ultimately may not have to testify, the Justice Department used the case to create court precedent that could be used to force journalists to testify in the future.
"I worry about future administrations," he said. "Now there's bad precedent, and not every executive branch in the future will exercise their discretion the way this one did. It didn't have to go this way."
(With files from Information Clearing House, New York Times)
High Level Meeting for Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations
On January 21 and 22, Cuba and the United States held their 28th round of talks on migratory issues. Following the historic December 17 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro that the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, this round of talks took on great significance. It was the first high-level meeting on the normalization of relations following this announcement.
The U.S. delegation was led by the State Department Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, the highest level official to visit Cuba since the 1970s.
Cuba's delegation was headed by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minrex) General Director for the United States.
Prior to the meeting, a representative of Minrex assured the press that the country is approaching these talks in a constructive spirit, aspiring to a respectful dialogue between equals, based on national sovereignty and reciprocity, which does not compromise the country's independence or the Cuban people's right to self-determination.
"We must not pretend that everything can be resolved in a single meeting," the diplomat said, as the first steps are being taken toward restoring diplomatic relations severed more than 50 years ago. He continued, "Normalization of relations is a much longer, complex process, during which issues of interest to both parties must be addressed."
He added that the measures announced by President Obama are positive, but much remains to be done with respect to the economic, commercial and financial blockade, imposed unilaterally by the U.S. on Cuba. The diplomat explained that, after the announcements made by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro on December 17, the two parties agreed to change the agenda of a meeting already scheduled to discuss migratory issues.
Over the course of two days, three meetings were
scheduled to discuss the
following issues: 1) migration, 2) the initiation of the process to
diplomatic relations, and 3) other areas of mutual interest and
The talks on migratory issues on January 21 marked the 28th round of discussion. The heads of both delegations described the tenor of the dialogue as respectful and constructive, reporting progress on specific topics.
Vidal Ferreiro indicated that several aspects of migratory relations were evaluated, including adherence to agreements in effect since 1994-95, and the issuance of visas for emigrants and visitors. Also addressed were the results of actions taken by both parties to combat illegal emigration, trafficking in persons and document fraud, according to Vidal.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for South America and Cuba within the U.S. State Department's Western Hemisphere Bureau Alex Lee told the press that during the talks, both Cuba and the United States expressed their commitment to pursue safe, legal and orderly emigration.
The U.S. diplomat added that the talks have been productive and that a spirit of collaboration has prevailed despite the differences between the countries, and that opportunities exist to continue working together on issues of mutual concern.
Also discussed on the first day was the situation of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC which has been without banking services for almost a year as a result of the U.S. blockade, severely affecting the services it should be providing to those who renew their passports or ask for visas, said a Minrex press release.
The second day of talks focused on restoring diplomatic relations, the opening of embassies, and other issues of bilateral interest.
A Minrex official said the opening of embassies in both capitals should be based on the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.
In this meeting, Cuba reiterated the proposal it made last year to the U.S. government to hold a respectful dialogue on the basis of reciprocity in regard to the exercise of human rights, a Minrex spokesman reported.
On January 19, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, received a delegation of Senators from the Democratic Party: Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Richard Durbin (Illinois), Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), and Representatives Christopher van Hollen (Maryland) and Peter Welch (Vermont). This is the first visit by U.S. legislators to Cuba since the historic December 17 announcement that the U.S. would re-establish relations with Cuba.
Minrex Director General for the U.S. Vidal Ferreiro and Chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC José Ramón Cabañas participated in this meeting, where topics of mutual interest were discussed.
In related news, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will head a trade mission to Cuba in the coming months. "As part of the Global NY initiative, Gov. Cuomo is planning to lead a trade mission to Cuba. This is one of several trips of this kind he is planning to undertake during his new term to promote New York," said the governor's communications director Melissa Derosa on January 18.
With the trip, the New York governor will become one of the first high-level U.S. politicians to visit Cuba since the groundbreaking December 17 announcement.
Cuomo was re-elected last November and is slated to head a series of five trade missions during his second term. He decided that Cuba would be his first destination, a move coinciding with the U.S. administration's easing of restrictions on travel by Americans to the Caribbean country, the Wall Street Journal said.
(With files from Radio Havana Cuba, EFE, Granma International, Prensa Latina. Photos: CubaDebate)
On January 20, during his State of the Union Address to the joint sessions of the U.S. Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, U.S. President Barack Obama called on the Congress to end the blockade of Cuba, which the U.S. calls an embargo so as to deny its all-sided extra-territorial nature. Obama reiterated the failure of U.S. policy towards Cuba, the important changes he announced and the work to re-establish diplomatic relations.
"In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you're doing doesn't work for fifty years, its time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of small steps. These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba."
ABC News remarks that this "call to action comes after the president has taken all of the steps that the executive branch can to normalize relations with the Communist nation but only Congress can lift the longstanding [blockade]."
Differences within the U.S. ruling circles over Cuba
policy were self-evident during the State of the Union. The American
contractor Alan Gross sat next to First Lady
Michelle Obama as a guest of the White House. Gross, convicted of being
involved in setting up a clandestine telecommunications network to
Cuban state, was released by Cuba on humanitarian grounds in December,
of the events that triggered the reopening of formal relations.
notorious anti-Cuban Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen invited two
so-called Cuban dissidents. Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican whose district
Miami, is closely linked with anti-Cuba organizations in the area.
and House Speaker John Boehner invited a woman whose father was a
Brothers to the Rescue -- considered a terrorist organization by both
the FBI -- whose plane was shot down for violating and refusing to
Cuban airspace. These moves are indicative of the Republicans'
to abandon the failed policy against Cuba, which includes the use of
terrorism, intensifying the blockade and other measures that have not
succeeded in overwhelming the Cuban people, their leadership and their
The day prior to the State of the Union, 78 former politicians, businessmen and members of the Cuban-American community on January 20 sent an open letter to President Obama. The letter, signed by three former assistant secretaries of state for Western Hemisphere relations, former top officials from across the political spectrum and important Cuban-American businessmen, asks Obama to "work with Congress to update the legislative framework with regard to Cuba so that it... reflects 21st century realities."
The text hails the step taken by Obama on December 17 when he announced the pending normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Signatories highlighted the failure of the U.S. blockade policy against Cuba. Many of the people who signed this letter were among those who sent Obama an open letter last year, saying he had an opportunity to take executive action to change aspects of U.S.-Cuba policy. This open letter, published on the eve of Obama's State of the Union address, was also supported by well-known businessmen, including the Fanjul brothers, who are Cuban-Americans, and Venezuelan magnate Gustavo Cisneros, who was born in Cuba.
Through their letter, those who signed also reminded
Obama of the opportunity offered by the upcoming Summit of the
Americas, which will be held in Panama in April and to which, for the
first time, Cuba has been invited.
Polls conducted by ABC and CNN this
month show that
more than 60 per cent of people in the U.S. favour re-establishing ties
Cuba. That percentage is even higher in Miami-Dade County, which has a
large population of Cuban Americans. According to a Florida
University poll, taken between February and May 2014, 68 per cent of
Americans in Miami-Dade County said they favoured re-establishing
diplomatic relations. Almost the same number support the lifting of the
ban. Fifty-two percent want to scrap the blockade. The survey also
the youngest Cuban Americans tend to be the strongest advocates for
In related news, some 30 agricultural organizations and companies have joined together as the U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba (USACC) to promote an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which they describe as a self-imposed obstacle to increased trade.
In a statement to the press on January 8, Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation said, "Improving trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba will expand access to a market of 11 million consumers for U.S. agriculture." He explained, "Right now, U.S. farmers can export to Cuba, but third-party banking requirements and limited credit financing make it harder to compete in the market than it should be. We look forward to a prompt lifting of those restrictions." U.S. farmers, in fact, stopped selling rice to Cuba in 2008, as a result of these obstacles.
Stallman commented that many other countries have
expanded relations and trade freely with Cuba, while U.S. farmers are
at a disadvantage. He insisted that farmers and agricultural companies
should have the opportunity to do so, as well.
The American Farm Bureau Federation includes 28 of the country's principal agricultural organizations representing producers of sorghum, soy, corn, milk and meat, among other food crops, including industry giants such as Cargill and Smithfield Foods.
Paul Johnson, President of Chicago Foods International LLC and vice president of the USACC commented that it will take some time for Congress to move on normalizing relations with Cuba, but that the blockade must be ended.
During the event, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized opportunities for trade with Cuba. Cuba imports a significant amount of food and represents a $1.7-billion market, he said.
Representing U.S. agri-business, especially in the Midwest, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon criticized the complicated bureaucratic process involved in trade with Cuba, describing restrictions as a self-imposed obstacle.
Nixon commented that Brazil's exports to Cuba have
quadrupled over the last decade, while Spain, Argentina and Canada are
rapidly expanding their share of a market which has been closed to U.S.
farmers and agri-business.
(With files White House, from ABC News, U.S. News, Granma International. Photo: AFBF)
When U.S. President Obama announced on December 17 that he would direct his administration to start normalizing relations with Cuba, there was one big obstacle: the blockade on Cuba would still remain in place. As Obama stated, the blockade has been codified in legislation. He announced his intention to engage with Congress about lifting the blockade. But with both chambers of Congress now in the hands of the Republican party, it doesn't appear likely. But the reality is that Obama doesn't need Congressional permission. As he did when he announced he would defer deportation for certain undocumented residents, Obama can and should act on his own, said Matt Poppe in an article published January 19 by Counterpunch newsletter.
Congress would seemingly have to repeal the Helms-Burton Act to undo the blockade, otherwise the President's hands would be tied. Except in reality the regulations the President is ordered to enforce are not valid, and should not be legally binding on him. This is because there is no legal merit for the regulations against Cuba, which are written based on the application of enemy status to Cuba.
But Cuba does not meet the definition of an enemy. According to the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA), an "enemy" is defined as "any individual" or "the government of any nation with which the United States is at war." The act specifies that the "beginning of the war" is "midnight ending the day on which Congress has declared or shall declare war or the existence of a state of war."
Congress has never declared war on Cuba. In fact, they haven't declared war at all since they did so on Japan and Germany in 1941 -- not on Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other country. So there is no legal authority for applying the TWEA to Cuba.
The entire set of Cuban Asset Control regulations in the Treasury code are illegitimate. If Cuba is not an enemy, you cannot use a law that only applies to enemies as the basis for a set of rules promulgated under that law.
The President can use his executive power to repeal regulations that have no legal force behind them. If Congress wants the President to continue enforcing the blockade, they would have to amend the TWEA to modify the definition of an enemy, or pass a new law that gives the President the power to enforce a blockade against a country when the United States is not at war with that country.
Repeal of the Treasury regulations would open up travel for American citizens to Cuba and allow most trade between the two countries. There are various other provisions of the blockade that would remain. However, many of these provisions are in direct violation of international law and are also illegitimate.
If Obama were to invalidate the Treasury Regulations to do away with the blockade, he would still presumably have the authority under the Foreign Assistance Act to enforce a blockade against Cuba. But it would be just an option, not an obligation. If Obama wants to stop the blockade, he doesn't need Congress's permission. He can just direct his administration to remove the regulations that have been illegally applied by the U.S. government against its citizens and against Cuba for the last 51 years.
Obama has showed he is willing to use his executive
authority on other
issues, most recently on immigration in November. What he may not be
willing to do is expose the fraudulent underpinnings of one of the most
detested policies in the history of international relations.
(Janaury 12, 2014)
On January 15, some restrictions on trade with Cuba, and travel to the country by U.S. citizens in certain categories were announced. A preliminary reading of the regulations issued by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control indicates that although the travel ban has not been eliminated -- which would require Congressional action -- some restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 12 previously established categories have been eased. Among changes are the removal of limits on travelers' expenses in Cuba; permission to use credit and debit cards; and authorization for travel agencies, airlines and insurance companies to organize services for travel to Cuba. Nevertheless, tourism and maritime travel remain prohibited.
Among other changes is an increase in limits on remissions sent to Cuba by family members resident in the United States, from $500 to $2,000 every three months.
Regarding trade, restrictions on U.S. exports to Cuba remain in place, including those on advanced technology products, although limited sales to private parties, via Cuban import-export companies, of construction materials and agricultural equipment will be allowed. Prohibitions on the export of Cuban products to U.S. markets remain in place, although visitors will be able to return with purchases of up to $400 dollars, including $100 worth of cigars and rum.
The U.S. changes also address telecommunications services. Notably, this is the only sector in which U.S. investment in infrastructure is authorized, along with sales of services, software and equipment -- excluding products with advanced technology. This reflects the stated U.S. aim of using such means to interfere in Cuban society.
Additionally, U.S. financial institutions may open accounts at Cuban banks for transactions related to authorized activities, but the change is not reciprocal. Cuban banks cannot open accounts in the United States.
The new regulations do not modify existing restrictions on maritime travel, although ships from other countries transporting food, medicine, medical equipment or emergency materials to Cuba will no longer be prevented from traveling directly to the United States after leaving Cuban ports. Other ships will continue to be required to wait 180 days before entering a U.S. port, due to the 1992 Torricelli Act.
Key aspects of the blockade that are not affected by the modifications include prohibitions on the use of U.S. dollars in international transactions; the acquisition in other markets of technological products and equipment containing more than 10 per cent U.S.-made components; commercial relations with subsidiaries of U.S. companies in other countries; and imports to the United States of products containing raw materials from Cuba.
"The announced measures constitute a step in the right direction, but much remains to be done to dismantle other aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade via Presidential executive authority, and action on the part of Congress to end the blockade once and for all," writes Granma International.
In 2014, the small island nation of Cuba responded without hesitation to the Ebola epidemic in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone. The Cuban medical mission is by far the largest sent by any country. Standing side-by-side with the peoples of West Africa, 461 Cuban doctors and nurses -- chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers -- have gone to West Africa and joined the struggle against Ebola. Havana's contribution is to be contrasted with that of Washington, which dispatched thousands of soldiers, instead of more desperately needed healthcare personnel and resources.
At the September 16, 2014 meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Cuban representative Abelardo Moreno declared: “Humanity has a debt to the African people. We cannot let them down.”
Professor Saney will explore the history and impressive dimensions of the Cuban Revolution's solidarity with Africa. Professor Saney is the co-chair and National Spokesperson for the Canadian Network on Cuba. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Cuba: A Revolution in Motion (Zed, 2004)
Justice for Haiti! Imperialist Exploiters and Their Collaborators Out!
On January 13, the Haitian parliament was dissolved after President Michel Martelly failed to negotiate a new electoral law and win support for a U.S.-sanctioned plan to postpone elections again. Elections have been postponed repeatedly for more than three years. Martelly came to power with the backing of the U.S. imperialists following the 2010 earthquake. The current situation only compounds the Martelly regime's illegitimacy as he rules by decree at the behest of U.S. interests. On January 16, Martelly appointed Evans Paul as prime minister and said he would use "executive authority" to form a "consensus government," surely a contradiction in terms. This so-called government was appointed by Martelly on January 18.
Thomas Péralte, writing for Haiti Liberté on January 21, gives an update on the political crisis in Haiti:
"Since coming to power on May 14, 2011, President Michel Martelly has managed to avoid holding elections in Haiti. This has brought on a political crisis that is upending Haiti's democratic institutions and people's daily lives. It has resulted in a rising cost of living, devaluation of the Haitian gourde, Parliament's dissolution, and crazily arbitrary judicial actions and maneuvers.
"Now finally the crisis has led to the formation of a de facto government, led by a new and thoroughly illegal prime minister, perennial opportunist politician Evans Paul, known as Konpè Plim or K-Plim.
"Down with Martelly"
"Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who resigned in the face of popular protests on Dec. 13, is suspected by many of having embezzled or stolen millions of dollars while in power. However, there has been no accounting done of his regime's management. The people demand accountability, and if necessary, the arrest of Lamothe.
"Martelly's unilateral choice of Paul to be PM is an affront. Although the former playwright had credentials as an anti-Duvalierist artist and activist and was the manager of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's successful 1990 presidential campaign, he became a bitter Aristide opponent in later years and helped lead the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'état against his former political ally.
"On Jan. 1, 2014 in Gonaïves, Paul outraged his former comrades by joining former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and neo-Duvalierist former general and dictator Prosper Avril in celebrating the 210th anniversary of Haiti's independence with President Martelly. [...]
"In the lead-up to the current crisis, some political actors had called for a political agreement and a consensus government of public salvation. This might have resulted from good-faith negotiations with the opposition political parties and other state institutions. However, Martelly's intransigence and arrogance torpedoed any such negotiations. He unilaterally chose Evans Paul as prime minister and then installed him on Jan. 16 without Parliament's approval, as required by the Constitution. So K-Plim has become another de facto prime minister, just like Gérard Latortue, who Washington installed in power in Haiti following the 2004 coup against Aristide.
"'I did not campaign for the candidate Martelly, and I did not vote for him either,' Paul said at his installation. 'He campaigned with a political program. Today, I have become his prime minister, so I have to respect his program. I'm not the prime minister of a political party. My government has two specific objectives: to create the conditions for holding elections and to ensure the continuity of the state.'
"Do you hear that? To those who are calling for a consensus government, Evans Paul is telling you that is not his agenda. He intends to 'ensure the continuity' of Laurent Lamothe's regime, which was characterized by political corruption, the looting of state resources, lies, and subservience to the U.S. and its allies.
"Faced with this reality, the Dessalines Children Platform (PPD), the Lavalas Family party (FL), Patriotic Movement of the Dessalinien Opposition (MOPOD) continued their mobilization in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities on Jan. 16, 17, and 20, calling for Martelly's resignation and the formation of a provisional government. Organizations like the Dessalines Coordination (KOD) also stress the need to demand the immediate departure of the 7,500 United Nations troops (MINUSTAH) presently occupying Haiti.
"'Down with Martelly! Down Evans Paul! Down with de facto power! Down with occupation!' the demonstrators chant. 'Long live free elections without foreign interference! We do not want decrees, Martelly must go!'
"The protesters also condemned the U.S., France, Canada,
the Organization of American States (OAS), and the European Union for
supporting Martelly in his establishment of a de facto regime.
denounced the unjustifiable presence at the Haitian Parliament on the
Jan. 11, 2015 of U.S. Ambassador Pamela White, Canadian Ambassador
Valdwell St-Onge, MINUSTAH chief Sandra Honore, and OAS representative
Frédéric Bolduc. They pressured Haitian lawmakers to
extend their mandate
in defiance of the Constitution."
(Photos: Haiti News Network)
On January 12, the people of Haiti and Haitians in the diaspora held actions to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Five years on and the recovery and the people's striving for control over the nation has been blocked by U.S. imperialism and its stooges in Haiti.
Across the country, community groups and political
activities to remember the dead and continue the work to seek justice
those who are still suffering from the aftermath of the earthquake. An
state memorial was held in Port-au-Prince with an early-morning church
service and a gathering of dignitaries at a mass grave. This was
Haitian President Michel Martelly. The fact that this U.S.-installed
state oversaw the official ceremony is surely a bitter pill for
swallow, as it is precisely the interference of the U.S. imperialists,
that of Canada and France, which has ensured that Haiti cannot recover
the quake and that its people continue to be disempowered. This is
why on this sombre anniversary, Haitians' main preoccupation was
to rid themselves of the Martelly government and its U.S. masters, and
MINUSTAH occupation forces. Just the day before the anniversary of the
quake, mass protests once again took place calling for President
The January 2010 earthquake registered 7 on the Richter scale. Affected areas included metropolitan Port-au-Prince and Leogane. Some 300,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were left disabled. This is the second largest loss of life from an earthquake in recorded history. Haiti has only 10 million people, making the loss of life that much more severe. About 1.3 million people were left homeless and five years later some are still living in makeshift shacks while approximately 80,000 people continue to live in tents.
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, great disinformation is being spread about the recovery from the disaster like the following report from the Miami Herald which states, "The United Nations says Haiti has received more than 80 percent of about $12.45 billion pledged by more than 50 countries and multilateral agencies since the disaster, a combination of humanitarian assistance, recovery aid and disaster relief." This totally covers up that billions of dollars of the money ostensibly raised for Haiti has never reached the country. In a January 9 interview with Bloomberg News, Raymond Joseph, the former Haitian ambassador to the U.S., stated, "We don't know where the money has gone" and that it has "mysteriously disappeared." This is very disingenuous, given that it is well-documented that for imperialist parasites, the earthquake in Haiti merely served as a convenient opportunity to once again exploit the Haitian people. Chief amongst the criminals are former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State in 2010.
Haitian-born poet, playwright and journalist Dady Chery, in a December 15, 2014 item recounts the role of the Clintons in exploiting Haiti in its hour of need:
"Clinton saw in the earthquake of 2010 his opportunity
to become the new
U.S. High Commissioner of Haiti [...] Within four months of the
formed the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH): a
strictly pay-to-play group of officials/rich businessmen from the
countries and others who agreed to contribute armed personnel from
countries or money [...] in return for a piece of the action in Haiti.
twisting and bribery, the Haitian parliament was forced to declare a
emergency for 18 months during which Clinton and his CIRH gang could do
as they pleased with regard to reconstruction, without risk of
year and a half came and went, and when the Haitian Senate observed
nothing much had been accomplished, the state of emergency was not
and the CIRH was alleged to be fraudulent."
Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network, in a July 2, 2013, item points out the role of NGOs linked to the U.S. imperialists:
"The NGOs carry out U.S. imperial policies in Haiti in exchange for charity funding which means, they money launder U.S. tax payer and donor dollars and put it in their pockets. U.S. imperial policies are about destroying Haiti's manufacturing and local economy, expropriating Haiti's natural resources and making a larger Haitian market for their subsidized Wall Street monopolies."
Other activists point out that U.S. government agencies have used the pretext of providing aid to Haiti to open up its markets and undermine the country's food security and agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, a recent editorial by the Toronto Star is indicative of the patronizing attitude of the ruling circles in Canada toward Haiti and its people, despite Canada's responsibility for destabilizing the country:
"[D]onors such as Canada, which has been 'reviewing' its aid commitment for the past year, will be hard-pressed to justify continuing to bankroll reconstruction. While Haitians have been promised $6 billion more over the next five years, that cash is contingent on political stability, tolerably good, transparent governance and a minimum of corruption.
"These conditions met, Canada should continue to be generous and should put more aid directly into Haitian hands. At present only about 10 per cent of aid is channelled through the Martelly government and local groups, because of concerns about incompetence, corruption and waste."
The Canadian state's acknowledgement of this important anniversary was a press conference by the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Christian Paradis, joined by Quebec City Mayor Régis Lebeaume, in which they announced "Canada's support for the Sustainable Strengthening of Haitian Firefighters Response Capabilities project, which will be implemented by the city of Quebec. [...] This project will reduce the vulnerability of Port-au-Prince residents to fire through the rebuilding of the municipal fire station and by offering training to its staff." A press release on this occasion also listed the various humanitarian aid Canada has offered to Haiti, precisely the kind of aid meant to disempower the people. It is all to cover up Canada's nefarious role in the 2004 coup in Haiti and the ongoing destabilization and exploitation of the country since then.
TML Weekly condemns those who have used and continue to use the suffering of the Haitian people for self-serving purposes and private enrichment, and also condemns the ongoing role of the U.S. imperialists and the Canadian state to undermine the Haitian people's sovereignty. TML Weekly sends its deepest condolences to Haiti and all its sons and daughters around the world on the anniversary of the earthquake and calls on Canadians to continue the fight for justice and independence for Haiti.
1. The largest death toll from an earthquake was Shaanxi, China on January 23, 1556 in which 830,000 people died. The third largest was in Tangshan, China on July 27, 1976 in which 242,769 people were killed. The Sumatra, Indonesia earthquake and tsunami took about 228,000 lives.
(Photos: Le Nouvelliste, D. Tercier, S. Carrie, TML.)
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