Sunday, February 28, 2010

Justice Dept. Reveals More Missing E-Mail Files

The New York Times

February 26, 2010

Justice Dept. Reveals More Missing E-Mail Files


WASHINGTON — Large batches of e-mail records from the Justice Department lawyers who worked on the 2002 legal opinions justifying the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation techniques are missing, and the Justice Department told lawmakers Friday that it would try to trace the disappearance.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who leads the panel, angrily demanded to know what had happened to the e-mail files, and he noted that the destruction of government records, including official e-mail messages, was a criminal offense. He said the records gap called into question the completeness of the department’s internal reviews of the work done by the lawyers in the Bush years.

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which spent more than four years investigating the handling of the legal opinions about interrogation policies after the Sept. 11 attacks, pushed to get access to a range of e-mail records and other internal documents from the Justice Department to aid in its investigation.

But it discovered that many e-mail messages to and from John C. Yoo, who wrote the bulk of the legal opinions for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, were missing. The office disclosed the missing messages in a footnote to its final report, which was released last week.

“We were told that most of Yoo’s e-mail records had been deleted and were not recoverable,” officials from the Office of Professional Responsibility said in the footnote.

Also deleted were a month’s worth of e-mail files from the summer of 2002 for Patrick Philbin, another Justice Department lawyer who worked on the interrogation opinions. Those missing e-mail messages came during a period when two of the critical interrogation memos were being prepared.

Mr. Yoo’s lawyer, Miguel Estrada, said Mr. Yoo had left the Justice Department by the time the Office of Professional Responsibility had begun its review and “has no basis for knowing whether e-mails are gone or why.” In pursuing the matter, Mr. Leahy is “simply chasing his tail and feeding far-left conspiracy theories,” Mr. Estrada said.

Mr. Philbin did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Mr. Leahy said the disappearance of the e-mail messages raised “serious concerns about government transparency and whether the Office of Professional Responsibility had access to all the information relevant to the inquiries.”

The original interrogation memos “were intended to provide a golden shield to commit torture and get away with it,” Mr. Leahy argued, but he said questions about how the memos were developed and what role the White House played may go unanswered.

Mr. Leahy also noted that 22 million missing e-mail messages from the Bush White House were recovered just two months ago, including batches of communications that had been sought by the judiciary committee as part of its oversight work into the 2007 firings of United States attorneys and other matters.

Gary Grindler, the acting deputy attorney general who represented the Justice Department at Friday’s hearing, said he did not think there was “anything nefarious” about the deletion of the e-mail messages, but he could not explain what happened to them.

He said he had directed administrative personnel at the Justice Department to review the situation and determine whether there were problems in the department’s system for automatically archiving internal documents. He said the review would also seek to recover the missing e-mail messages if possible.

In its final report, the Office for Professional Responsibility concluded that Mr. Yoo and his former boss, Jay S. Bybee, demonstrated professional misconduct in preparing the legal opinions that justified waterboarding and other interrogation tactics on Al Qaeda suspects in American custody.

The office’s findings were overruled, however, in another report released the same day by David Margolis, the associate deputy attorney general, who said Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee demonstrated flawed reasoning but not misconduct. Mr. Margolis rejected the Office of Professional Responsibility’s attempt to refer Mr. Yoo, now a law professor at Berkeley, and Mr. Bybee, a federal appellate judge, to state bar officials for possible disciplinary action.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee appeared unconcerned about the missing e-mail messages and said that if the Justice Department were to continue investigating anything involving the interrogation memos, it should be whether officials at the Office of Professional Responsibility or elsewhere at the Justice Department improperly leaked details of the ethics inquiry to the news media over the last year.

Senator Jon Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee deserved “the thanks of a grateful nation for their service,” not accusations, and that the leaks had done “irreparable damage” to their reputations.

·                                 Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Death penalty opponents see executions on the wane



Death penalty opponents see executions on the wane



Wed, Feb 24 2010


GENEVA (Reuters) - An increasing number of countries are abolishing the death penalty and even the most active users of capital punishment are taking steps to restrict it, a congress of abolitionists heard on Wednesday.

The three-day World Congress Against the Death Penalty hopes to give momentum to a trend that has seen roughly 4 countries a year, especially in Africa and Central Asia, join the ranks of abolitionists in recent decades.

"There is a new trend against the death penalty that is something new for the world," said Mario Marazziti, spokesman for the Community of Sant'Egidio, an Italian advocacy group that is one of the driving forces in the global campaign to stop the death penalty.

The congress is backed by the Swiss government and draws strong support from Italy and Spain -- reflecting the fact that Europe is now almost entirely free of executions.

The campaign was given support by a non-binding United Nations resolution in 2007 calling on countries who use the death penalty to introduce a moratorium and arguing that capital punishment undermined human dignity and was not a deterrent.

Marazziti told a briefing that 56 countries continued to execute people, while 141 countries did not use the death penalty, including 93 that had formally abolished it altogether.

Since 2007 the African states of Rwanda and Burundi have abolished the death penalty, joining Cambodia to show that even countries that have suffered genocide can drop it.

In China, which probably executes more people annually than any other country, the supreme court ordered judges earlier this month to limit the use of the death penalty to the most serious crimes. Amnesty International estimates that at least 7,000 people were sentenced to death in China in 2008 and 1,718 executed in that year.

Abolitionists hope that a series of countries, mainly in Africa, that have moratoriums on the death penalty and backed the U.N. resolution will move to full abolition, while others can be persuaded to adopt moratoriums.

In the United States, where capital punishment is largely controlled by the states, New Jersey and New Mexico have repealed the death penalty in recent years.

Campaigners hope President Barack Obama will set an example by declaring a moratorium on the federal death penalty.

They also see diminishing support for the death penalty among the public, now that many states offer the alternative of life in prison without parole, and the high cost of running death row and executions is worrying some state governments.

(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn; editing by Noah Barkin)

© Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged

The New York Times



February 28, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged


No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists, who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.

What made that kamikaze mission eventful was less the deranged act itself than the curious reaction of politicians on the right who gave it a pass — or, worse, flirted with condoning it. Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a “Tea Party terrorist.” But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner. That rant inspired like-minded Americans to create instant Facebook shrines to his martyrdom. Soon enough, some cowed politicians, including the newly minted Tea Party hero Scott Brown, were publicly empathizing with Stack’s credo — rather than risk crossing the most unforgiving brigade in their base.


Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, even rationalized Stack’s crime. “It’s sad the incident in Texas happened,” he said, “but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary. And when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the I.R.S., it’s going to be a happy day for America.” No one in King’s caucus condemned these remarks. Then again, what King euphemized as “the incident” took out just 1 of the 200 workers in the Austin building: Vernon Hunter, a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran nearing his I.R.S. retirement. Had Stack the devastating weaponry and timing to match the death toll of 168 inflicted by Timothy McVeigh on a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, maybe a few of the congressman’s peers would have cried foul.


It is not glib or inaccurate to invoke Oklahoma City in this context, because the acrid stench of 1995 is back in the air. Two days before Stack’s suicide mission, The Times published David Barstow’s chilling, months-long investigation of the Tea Party movement. Anyone who was cognizant during the McVeigh firestorm would recognize the old warning signs re-emerging from the mists of history. The Patriot movement. “The New World Order,” with its shadowy conspiracies hatched by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. Sandpoint, Idaho. White supremacists. Militias.

Barstow confirmed what the Southern Poverty Law Center had found in its report last year: the unhinged and sometimes armed anti-government right that was thought to have vaporized after its Oklahoma apotheosis is making a comeback. And now it is finding common cause with some elements of the diverse, far-flung and still inchoate Tea Party movement. All it takes is a few self-styled “patriots” to sow havoc.


Equally significant is Barstow’s finding that most Tea Party groups have no affiliation with the G.O.P. despite the party’s ham-handed efforts to co-opt them. The more we learn about the Tea Partiers, the more we can see why. They loathe John McCain and the free-spending, TARP-tainted presidency of George W. Bush. They really do hate all of Washington, and if they hate Obama more than the Republican establishment, it’s only by a hair or two. (Were Obama not earning extra demerits in some circles for his race, it might be a dead heat.) The Tea Partiers want to eliminate most government agencies, starting with the Fed and the I.R.S., and end spending on entitlement programs. They are not to be confused with the Party of No holding forth in Washington — a party that, after all, is now positioning itself as a defender of Medicare spending. What we are talking about here is the Party of No Government at All.


The distinction between the Tea Party movement and the official G.O.P. is real, and we ignore it at our peril. While Washington is fixated on the natterings of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Michael Steele and the presumed 2012 Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, these and the other leaders of the Party of No are anathema or irrelevant to most Tea Partiers. Indeed, McConnell, Romney and company may prove largely irrelevant to the overall political dynamic taking hold in America right now. The old G.O.P. guard has no discernible national constituency beyond the scattered, often impotent remnants of aging country club Republicanism. The passion on the right has migrated almost entirely to the Tea Party’s counterconservatism.


The leaders embraced by the new grass roots right are a different slate entirely: Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. Simple math dictates that none of this trio can be elected president. As George F. Will recently pointed out, Palin will not even be the G.O.P. nominee “unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states” (as it did in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Waterloo). But these leaders do have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism. This ideology is far more troubling than the boilerplate corporate conservatism and knee-jerk obstructionism of the anti-Obama G.O.P. Congressional minority.


In the days after Stack’s Austin attack, the gradually coalescing Tea Party dogma had its Washington coming out party at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), across town from Capitol Hill. The most rapturously received speaker was Beck, who likened the G.O.P. to an alcoholic in need of a 12-step program to recover from its “progressive-lite” collusion with federal government. Beck vilified an unnamed Republican whose favorite president was the progressive Theodore Roosevelt — that would be McCain — and ominously labeled progressivism a cancer that “must be cut out of the system.”


A co-sponsor of CPAC was the John Birch Society, another far-right organization that has re-emerged after years of hibernation. Its views, which William F. Buckley Jr. decried in the 1960s as an “idiotic” and “irrational” threat to true conservatism, remain unchanged. At the conference’s conclusion, a presidential straw poll was won by Congressman Paul, ending a three-year Romney winning streak. No less an establishment conservative observer than the Wall Street Journal editorialist Dorothy Rabinowitz describes Paul’s followers as “conspiracy theorists, anti-government zealots, 9/11 truthers, and assorted other cadres of the obsessed and deranged.”


William Kristol dismissed the straw poll results as the youthful folly of Paul’s jejune college fans. William Bennett gingerly pooh-poohed Beck’s anti-G.O.P. diatribe. But in truth, most of the CPAC speakers, including presidential aspirants, were so eager to ingratiate themselves with this claque that they endorsed the Beck-Paul vision rather than, say, defend Bush, McCain or the party’s Congressional leadership. (It surely didn’t help Romney’s straw poll showing that he was the rare Bush defender.) And so — just one day after Stack crashed his plane into the Austin I.R.S. office — the heretofore milquetoast former Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, told the audience to emulate Tiger Woods’s wife and “take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government in this country.”


Such violent imagery and invective, once largely confined to blogs and talk radio, is now spreading among Republicans in public office or aspiring to it. Last year Michele Bachmann, the redoubtable Tea Party hero and Minnesota congresswoman, set the pace by announcing that she wanted “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous” to oppose Obama administration climate change initiatives. In Texas, the Tea Party favorite for governor, Debra Medina, is positioning herself to the right of the incumbent, Rick Perry — no mean feat given that Perry has suggested that Texas could secede from the union. A state sovereignty zealot, Medina reminded those at a rally that “the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”


In the heyday of 1960s left-wing radicalism, no liberal Democratic politicians in Washington could be found endorsing groups preaching violent revolution. The right has a different history. In the months before McVeigh’s mass murder, Helen Chenoweth and Steve Stockman, then representing Idaho and Texas in Congress, publicly empathized with the conspiracy theories of the far right that fueled his anti-government obsessions.


In his Times article on the Tea Party right, Barstow profiled Pam Stout, a once apolitical Idaho retiree who cast her lot with a Tea Party group allied with Beck’s 9/12 Project, the Birch Society and the Oath Keepers, a rising militia group of veterans and former law enforcement officers who champion disregarding laws they oppose. She frets that “another civil war” may be in the offing. “I don’t see us being the ones to start it,” she told Barstow, “but I would give up my life for my country.”

Whether consciously or coincidentally, Stout was echoing Palin’s memorable final declaration during her appearance at the National Tea Party Convention earlier this month: “I will live, I will die for the people of America, whatever I can do to help.” It’s enough to make you wonder who is palling around with terrorists now.




Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Saturday, February 27, 2010

CREW Files Lawsuit, Alleges the VA Underreported Number of PTSD Cases

CREW Files Lawsuit, Alleges the VA Underreported Number of PTSD Cases

Friday 26 February 2010

by: Mary Susan Littlepage, t r u t h o u t | Report


(Photo: Bunton & Peel; Edited: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) after the VA admitted to destroying documents responding to CREW's May 2008 Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. CREW's FOIA request called for documents related to the VA's policy of underdiagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

CREW learned of the underdiagnosing of PTSD after learning of an email in which VA employee Norma Perez discussed the policy. According to CREW, the VA has resisted providing any documents; it stated that the VA claimed it had produced everything it had, even though it hasn't turned over the Perez email or any other records referring to the email.

Therefore, CREW has argued that the VA's search for documents has been inadequate, and the VA has argued that it destroyed in 2008 many emails and backup tapes, which included the Perez email. The VA has contended that it cannot produce any emails before December 9, 2008.

Anne Weismann, CREW's chief counsel, said, "There appears to be - and I don't know this for certain - a growing recognition on the part of the VA that there has been an under-diagnosis [of PTSD] and there seems to be a growing a recognition that they have a problem with high suicide rates. Obviously recognizing there is a problem is the first step toward curing it, but that's why the actions of the VA here in destroying emails is so disturbing."

What CREW hopes to achieve with the lawsuit is to get records that would confirm the extent to which there is an underdiagnosis of PTSD that's underreported, she said.

"We don't think we have all the records, and now we know that some of the key records were destroyed," she said. "I can't really speak definitively on the scope of the problem because we don't have all the records yet. Most critically we're missing some key documents surrounding this one email, which we have not because the VA gave it to us but because someone in the organization bravely decided to leak it."

In addition, Weismann said, "It is incredible that with all of the public outrage and concern over this issue, the VA took no steps to preserve important records. This smacks of a cover-up to avoid liability for a disgraceful policy that deprived our nation's veterans of appropriate health care."

Also, Weismann said, "The VA is not above the law; like all other agencies, it cannot simply destroy documents that have been requested under the FOIA just because those documents may cast the agency in a bad light."

In the brief, Weismann and Daniel S. Alcorn, counsel for CREW, stated that recent news reports indicate that thousands of veterans discharged from military service with PTSD between 2002 and 2008 are now eligible to have their disability status reviewed on an expedited basis.

The military has agreed to expedite these reviews in response to a class action lawsuit filed by seven combat veterans, who allege that the military illegally denied benefits to those discharged because of PTSD over a six-year period that ended October 14, 2008. "It is clear from these news reports that during the period 2002 to 2008 - a period covered by CREW's FOIA request - there was a widespread under-diagnosis of PTSD among U.S. military service personnel affecting thousands of discharged veterans," the brief stated.

Also, the brief stated that it is "apparent [that] the VA has not made an adequate search and release of records responsive to CREW's request." That's because the VA admitted "it purposefully destroyed responsive records during the pendency of CREW's FOIA request and this lawsuit."

In trying to account for the VA's failure to locate the Perez email central to the case, John Livornese, director of the FOIA Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said that the VA has no email history for Perez prior to December 9, 2008, because the back-up tapes for the entire system containing the Perez emails were reused and all data on those tapes was rewritten, according to the brief.

"In other words, the VA destroyed potentially responsive records after CREW made its FOIA request in this matter on May 14, 2008 - a request that expressly sought emails and other electronic records - and after CREW filed its lawsuit on August 27, 2008, in this case," the brief stated.

The brief called for the court to direct the VA to conduct additional searches, including of the email accounts of all VA employees, to find responsive records.

In the brief, Weismann and Alcorn argued that an agency is not permitted to destroy responsive records once they have been requested under the FOIA request: "An agency's intentional destruction of a document requested under the FOIA bears on the issue of whether the agency conducted an adequate search. That is because whatever search the agency did conduct 'would not be reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents,' as the FOIA requires."

Weismann and Alcorn call for the VA to be required to try to reconstruct the destroyed records or information contained in the restored records. "Although the 2008 Perez email has been destroyed from the back-up tapes on which it was stored, the email and other relevant documents and information may still reside on computer hard drives at the worksite for Ms. Perez or in hard files at that site," they stated.

In addition, the pair call for the VA to make "adequate searches for responsive records for release to CREW" because of the recent reports that thousands of veterans discharged with PTSD from 2002 to 2008 may have been denied benefits due to underscoring in a rating system used to determine benefits.

In conclusion, CREW "requests that the court order the VA to conduct renewed and broader searches and provide CREW with all responsive records not yet produced." CREW also calls for the court to hold a hearing on the issue of document destruction and to require the VA to account for its actions.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Dubious in Dubai

Dubious in Dubai


Uri Avnery



FROM TIME to time I ask myself: what would happen if

the world's governments decided to abolish all their

spy agencies simultaneously?


True, it would be a great blow to the authors and movie

producers who make their living from secret service

stories. Their products would lose their appeal.


It would be a disaster for the huge army of fans which

gobbles up spy adventures, the enthusiastic consumers

of books and movies about superhuman heroes like James

Bond and super-devious geniuses like John La Carre's Smiley.


But what would be the real damage if Washington stopped

spying on Moscow and Moscow stopped spying on

Washington, and both on Beijing? The result would be a

draw. Immense sums of money would be saved, since a

large part of the efforts of every spy agency is

devoted to obstructing the intrigues of the

competition. How many diseases could be overcome? How

many hungry people fed, how many illiterates taught to

read and write?


The popular books and movies celebrate the imaginary

successes of the intelligence agencies. Reality is much

more prosaic, and it is replete with real failures.


THE TWO classic intelligence disasters occurred during

World War II. In both, the intelligence agencies either

provided their political bosses with faulty

assessments, or the leaders ignored their accurate

assessments. As far as the results are concerned, both

amount to the same.


Comrade Stalin was totally surprised by the German

invasion of the Soviet Union, even though the Germans

needed months to assemble their huge invasion force.

President Roosevelt was totally surprised by the

Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, even though the bulk

of the Japanese Navy took part in it. The failures were

so fantastic, that spy aficionados had to resort to

conspiracy theories to explain them. One such theory

says that Stalin deliberately ignored the warnings

because he intended to surprise Hitler with an attack

of his own. Another theory asserts that Roosevelt

practically "invited" the Japanese to attack because he

was in need of a pretext to push the US into an unpopular war.


But since then, failures continued to follow each

other. All Western spy agencies were totally surprised

by the Khomeini revolution in Iran, the results of

which are still hitting the headlines today. All of

them were totally surprised by the collapse of the

Soviet Union, one of the defining events of the 20th

century. They were totally surprised by the fall of the

Berlin wall. And all of them provided wrong information

about Saddam Hussein's imaginary nuclear bomb, which

served as a pretext for the American invasion of Iraq.


AH, OUR people say, that's what's happening among the

Goyim. Not here. Our intelligence community is like no

other. The Jewish brain has invented the Mossad, which

knows everything and is capable of everything. (Mossad

- "institute" - is short for the "Institute for

Intelligence and Special Operations".)


Really? At the outbreak of the 1948 war, all the chiefs

of our intelligence community unanimously advised David

Ben-Gurion that the armies of the Arab states would not

intervene. (Fortunately, Ben-Gurion rejected their

assessment.) In May 1967, our entire intelligence

community was totally surprised by the concentration of

the Egyptian army in Sinai, the step that led to the

Six-Day war. (Our intelligence chiefs were convinced

that the bulk of the Egyptian army was busy in Yemen,

where a civil war was raging.) The Egyptian-Syrian

attack on Yom Kippur, 1973, completely surprised our

intelligence services, even though heaps of advance

warnings were available.


The intelligence agencies were totally surprised by the

first intifada, and then again by the second. They were

totally surprised by the Khomeini revolution, even

though (or because) they were deeply imbedded in the

Shah's regime. They were totally surprised by the Hamas

victory in the Palestinian elections.


The list is long and inglorious. But in one field, so

they say, our Mossad performs like no other:

assassinations. (Sorry, "eliminations".)


STEVEN SPIELBERG'S movie "Munich" describes the

assassination ("elimination") of PLO officials after

the massacre of the athletes at the Olympic Games. As a

masterpiece of kitsch it can be compared only to the

movie "Exodus", based on Leon Uris' kitschy book.


After the massacre (the main responsibility for which

falls on the incompetent and irresponsible Bavarian

police), the Mossad, on the orders of Golda Meir,

killed seven PLO officials, much to the joy of the

revenge-thirsty Israeli public. Almost all the victims

were PLO diplomats, the civilian representatives of the

organization in European capitals, who had no direct

connection with violent operations. Their activities

were public, they worked in regular offices and lived

with their families in residential buildings. They were

static targets - like the ducks in a shooting gallery.


In one of the actions - which resembled the latest

affair - a Moroccan waiter was assassinated by mistake

in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer. The Mossad

mistook him for Ali Hassan Salameh, a senior Fatah

officer who served as contact with the CIA. The Mossad

agents, including a glamorous blonde (there is always a

glamorous blonde) were identified, arrested and

sentenced to long prison terms (but released very

soon). The real Salameh was "eliminated" later on.


In 1988, five years before the Oslo agreement, Abu

Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir), the No. 2 in Fatah, was

assassinated in Tunis before the eyes of his wife and

children. Had he not been killed, he would probably be

serving today as the President of the Palestinian

Authority instead of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). He

would have enjoyed the same kind of standing among his

people as did Yasser Arafat - who was, most likely,

killed by a poison that leaves no traces.


The fiasco that most resembles the latest action was

the Mossad's attempt on the life of Khalid Mishal, a

senior Hamas leader, on orders of Prime Minister

Binyamin Netanyahu. The Mossad agents ambushed him on a

main street of Amman and sprayed a nerve toxin in his

ear - that was about to kill him without leaving

traces. They were caught on the spot. King Hussein, the

Israeli government's main ally in the Arab world, was

livid and delivered a furious ultimatum: either Israel

would immediately provide the antidote to the poison

and save Mishal's life, or the Mossad agents would be

hanged. Netanyahu, as usual, caved in, Mishal was saved

and the Israeli government, as a bonus, released Sheik

Ahmed Yassin, the main Hamas leader, from prison. He

was "eliminated" by a hellfire missile later on.


DURING THE last weeks, a deluge of words has been

poured on the assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud al-

Mabhouh, another senior Hamas officer.


Israelis agreed from the first moment that this was a

job of the Mossad. What capabilities! What talent! How

did they know, long in advance, when the man would go

to Dubai, what flight he would take, in what hotel he

would stay! What precise planning!


The "military correspondents" and "Arab affairs

correspondents" on screen were radiant. Their faces

said: oh, oh, oh, if the material were not embargoed.If

I could only tell you what I know.I can tell you only

that the Mossad has proved again that its long arm can

reach anywhere! Live in fear, oh enemies of Israel!


When the problems started to become apparent, and the

photos of the assassins appeared on TV all over the

world, the enthusiasm cooled, but only slightly. An old

and proven Israeli method was brought into play: to

take some marginal detail and discuss it passionately,

ignoring the main issue. Concentrate on one particular

tree and divert attention from the forest.


Really, why did the agents use the names of actual

people who live in Israel and have dual nationality?

Why, of all possible passports, did they use those of

friendly countries? How could they be sure that the

owners of these passports would not travel abroad at

the critical time?


Moreover, were they not aware that Dubai was full of

cameras that record every movement? Did they not

foresee that the local police would produce films of

the assassination in almost all its details?


But this did not arouse too much excitement in Israel.

Everybody understood that the British and the Irish

were obliged, pro forma, to protest, but that this was

nothing but going through the motions. Behind the

scenes, there are intimate connections between the

Mossad and the other intelligence agencies. After some

weeks, everything will be forgotten. That's how it

worked in Norway after Lillehammer, that's how it

worked in Jordan after the Mishal affair. They will

protest, rebuke, and that's that. So what is the problem?


THE PROBLEM is that the Mossad in Israel acts like an

independent fiefdom that ignores the vital long-term

political and strategic interests of Israel, enjoying

the automatic backing of an irresponsible prime

minister. It is, as the English expression goes, a

"loose cannon" - the cannon of a ship of yore which has

broken free of its mountings and is rolling around the

deck, crushing to death any unfortunate sailor who

happens to get in its way.


From the strategic point of view, the Dubai operation

causes heavy damage to the government's policy, which

defines Iran's putative nuclear bomb as an existential

threat to Israel. The campaign against Iran helps it to

divert the world's attention from the ongoing

occupation and settlement, and induces the US, Europe

and other countries to dance to its tune.


Barack Obama is in the process of trying to set up a

world-wide coalition for imposing "debilitating

sanctions" on Iran. The Israeli government serves him -

willingly - as a growling dog. He tells the Iranians:

The Israelis are crazy. They may attack you at any

moment. I am restraining them with great difficulty.

But if you don't do what I tell you, I shall let go of

the leash and may Allah have mercy on your soul!


Dubai, a Gulf country facing Iran, is an important

component of this coalition. It is an ally of Israel,

much like Egypt and Jordan. And here comes the same

Israeli government and embarrasses it, humiliates it,

arousing among the Arab masses the suspicion that Dubai

is collaborating with the Mossad.


In the past we have embarrassed Norway, then we

infuriated Jordan, now we humiliate Dubai. Is that

wise? Ask Meir Dagan, who Netanyahu has just granted an

almost unprecedented eighth year in office as chief of

the Mossad.


PERHAPS THE impact of the operation on our standing in

the world is even more significant.


Once upon a time it was possible to belittle this

aspect. Let the Goyim say what they want. But since the

Molten Lead operation, Israel has become more conscious

of its far-reaching implications. The verdict of Judge

Goldstone, the echoes of the antics of Avigdor

Lieberman, the growing world-wide campaign for

boycotting Israel - all these tend to suggest that

Thomas Jefferson was not talking through his hat when

he said that no nation can afford to ignore the opinion

of mankind.


The Dubai affair is reinforcing the image of Israel as

a bully state, a rogue nation that treats world public

opinion with contempt, a country that conducts gang

warfare, that sends mafia-like death squads abroad, a

pariah nation to be avoided by right-minded people.


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