Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Monday, May 30, 2011

World Leaders Oppose Libya Cease-Fire

May 30 2011

Below is much of an encouragingly sane (or naïve?) take, run in the prominent UK Guardian, on NATO's Libya campaign and the range of desirable (or acceptable, or even possible) outcomes. Some rather encouraging comments (and a few frustrating ones), worth a read, also follow the piece.

Why no mention of a ceasefire for Libya, Obama?
The best way to protect desperate Libyan civilians is for Nato to reverse its mistake of taking sides
Jonathan Steele
guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 May 2011 23.00 BST

Beware ministers' claims that a military campaign is making slow but steady progress. It nearly always means the opposite. If "progress" was really being made in Libya, why would it be necessary for Britain and France to send attack helicopters? Why would General Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff, call for Nato to bomb infrastructure in Tripoli?

Above all, why has Barack Obama used his European tour this week to abandon his public caution and make it clear that regime change is now the western objective in Libya? The more Nato escalates in word and deed, the clearer it is that the campaign has stalled. What is going on in Libya is civil war but one that is stalemated, and has been so for at least a month. Gaddafi's forces will not be able to recapture Benghazi and the other major cities of eastern Libya just as the rebels will not be able to capture Tripoli. In light of this, Nato is doing all it can to assassinate Gaddafi in the fragile hope his death will lead to his regime's implosion and rebel victory by a different route.
On the bolded, NATO: "How dare you, sir! We never target individuals! However, if we happen to carefully target a building with him and/or his family inside it, or religious leaders seeking a peaceful resolution inside of it, it's not our fault if we then call it a 'command and control bunker.'"

The word absent from Obama's remarks this week, as well as from Sarkozy and Cameron, is "ceasefire". An "immediate ceasefire" was one of the main demands of the UN security council resolution, which also authorised a no-fly zone at the start of the crisis, but it has been consistently ignored by Nato. On Thursday, almost unreported anywhere, an African Union summit called for a halt to Nato's airstrikes as well as a ceasefire and negotiations on transforming Libya into a democracy.

The same evening the Libyan prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, said for the first time that his government was ready to talk to rebel leaders to prepare a new constitution. Meanwhile, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the UN secretary general's special envoy on Libya, has been quietly shuttling between Tripoli and Benghazi, trying to broker a ceasefire and talks.

The obstacles are mainly on the rebels' side. Flushed with military support from Nato, they insist that Gaddafi must leave power before any ceasefire. Sending Apache helicopters and escalating Nato's offensive role only hardens the rebels' intransigence and further delays a political resolution.
This is nothing new, really. Many efforts have been made, but neither side has been able to meet the other's mutually exclusive demands. And the rebels and the NATO bloc has just watched these flitting efforts die, with quiet pleasure, like tiny moths in a bug zapper.
Nato officials promptly kicked the Libyan government's offer of a ceasefire into the long grass, insisting it is "not credible". How can they know that? They claim previous ceasefire offers were shams since Gaddafi's forces never acted on them. But if they are to stick, ceasefires have to be mutual and the rebel side has never offered one. First, they wanted to be saved from defeat, and the initial Nato strikes achieved this for them. Then they thought Nato would help them win so they saw no value in stopping fighting.

The time has come to test the latest ceasefire offer by accepting it in principle and working out a monitoring mechanism. The best way to protect Libya's desperate civilians is for Nato to reverse its mistaken policy of taking sides. It should declare support for the talks on transition that the Libyan government now says it favours.
Fat chance. That does NOT meet the main objective - the subduction and restructuring of Libya and the looting of its wealth. Watch this effort to fail too, even if it shouldn't.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Russia "Fires" Gaddafi, MIGHT Be Able To Help Save Libya

May 29/30 2011

It appears now that the Libyan government has lost its most powerful, if rather half-hearted, defender on the world stage: the mighty Russian Federation. It was at the G8 summit in France, of all places, where turnaround seems to have happened.

US President Obama used the event to, as Jonathan Steele put it in The Guardian, "abandon his public caution and make it clear that regime change is now the western objective in Libya." Russia started out by heightening their opposition to that into the following unprecedented, but still muted, criticism:
Russia’s ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, told The Associated Press that the NATO campaign has gone too far. As a result, he said, Russia feels "burned" and doesn’t want to support a U.N. resolution warning Syria about its crackdown on anti-government protesters.  "We will be very careful," he said in an interview at Deauville. [source]
By the end of the conference, they agreed with the other leaders that, however it happened, Gaddafi had in fact "lost legitimacy" and must step down. And they're taking the lead in talks to makeit happen, if possible. I'm still parsing this, but I'd venture that the Russians' thinking to that end seems more mechanistic and based on cold reality than the pseudo-moralistic and free-floating proclamations of their belligerent counterparts in the NATO bloc. There's room for something interesting here, as well as for more predictable failure.

Russia 'Fires' Qaddafi
By Elizabeth Surnacheva
Gazeta, Russia
Translated By Yekaterina Blinova
May 27, 2011
http://worldmeets.us/ http://worldmeets.us/gazetaru000026.shtml#ixzz1Nhpd2JHI
As a result of the G8 summit in Deauville, it has fallen on Russia to resolve the problem of Muammar Qaddafi. Dmitry Medvedev said he supported the desire of Western countries to remove the Libyan leader and has sent his special envoy to Benghazi for negotiations.

In French Deauville, one of the busiest G8 summits in terms of agreements has come to an end. The final statement took up 25 pages. But the key agreement turned out to be one on Libya. The Kremlin, which spoke skeptically at first about the operation in that country, has finally agreed with the West that the Jamahiriya political regime must be changed.
Russia has been the most powerful (if not the most incisive) critic of NATO's deceptive regime change campaign in Libya. But here, even Russia's elites have finally joined the pod people it seems, in the apparent global consensus (among white, northern elites) that can turn any twisted notion into the accepted truth.

This is, however, the first time I'm aware of where it was openly specified that the whole governmental and economic system ("the Jamahiriya political regime") must be changed, beyond the simple "departure" of Gaddafi and his sons that has been demanded. That's potentially interesting. I've suspected from the outset that was the real target, and the relevant gripes against the Jamahiriya pre-date by far any 2011 atrocities. Surnacheva continues to the summit's final, bold, and rather philosophical conclusions:
The unified position on Libya was recorded in the final declaration. The leaders of Group of Eight stated that Muammar Qaddafi has lost his right to govern.

The document notes that the Libyan government was unable to fulfill its duty to protect the population of its country, and has lost its legitimacy. "Qaddafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go," says the document. Russia backed the statement and at the request of its partners, has sent its envoy.
The government has lost its ability "to protect the Libyan population." Indeed, something about not being allowed to shoot its own guns, spend its own money, or do anything, really, has hampered Libya's ability to protect its people from the rebel uprising and its racist, terrorist actions. Nor by a mile can they prevent the relentless bombs of the rebellion's NATO benefactors. Now that these things are fact, obviously, he can't govern the country he sort-of built, and he must ... I dunno, go somewhere else.
The president announced at the conclusion of the summit that he was sending Mikhail Margelov to Benghazi. Medvedev said, “I have decided to dispatch my special envoy to Africa, Mr. Margelov. He is flying out to Libya immediately.” According to the Russian leader, if the colonel steps down voluntarily, “then we can discuss how to go about it, what country might take him in, on what terms, what he can keep and what he must lose.” Medvedev said that Russia would not be the country that takes Qaddafi. According to the president, the global community no longer sees Qaddafi as the recognized leader of Libya.
Keep? The government, the whole system, just as illegitimate as HE is? HE will have to leave, and what? Keep the system, take it with him? What do the people get to keep, IN LIBYA? (more on the trade-offs here)
Russia said May 27 it’s seeking to negotiate Qaddafi’s departure, for the first time supporting the goals of the military campaign led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 
Qaddafi has forfeited his right to govern and Russia is using its contacts with the Libyan regime to persuade him to step down, President Dmitry Medvedev said in Deauville, France, after a Group of Eight summit.
Fact is, right or wrong, it's happening. May as well cash in, right? Might score a few brownie points with the new management, which NATO member France selected late last year. And they can use the brownie points; the upstarts have been less than favorable to Moscow in the past. For even abstaining from the vote on a "no-fly zone" (no govern zone, really) at the UNSC, they were told they'd get no oil contracts in Libya, ever.
AFP - A former top minister in Moamer Kadhafi's regime who has fled to Europe in a fishing trawler told AFP in an interview that he believes China and Russia have "lost" the race for oil in Libya. "Kadhafi has no future now," said Fathi Ben Shatwan, a former Kadhafi ally whose last government post was as energy minister and who made a dramatic escape from the besieged city of Misrata under fire from government troops.
"The new democracy will deal very well with the people who helped us" including with oil sector rewards for Italy and France, which have officially recognised the opposition interim national council in Benghazi. "Russia and China lost. They shouldn't have done this," he said, referring to the abstention of Moscow and Beijing from a UN Security Council vote that authorised military intervention by international powers in Libya.

He dismissed Kadhafi's threats to grant oil contracts to Russia and China as "a sort of game" by a desperate man.

A game perhaps, but Gaddafi's team has been outplayed here by mr. Shatwan's. Now that Russia has turned around some to their own number one sticking point, the rebel attitude has followed. Surnacheva continues:
In Benghazi, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya’s Interim Transitional National Council, welcomed the Russian offer. “Free Libya is looking forward to building and strengthening its relations with the Russian Federation,” he said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
He also expressed interest in discussing a cease-fire under anyone's leadership, so long as the Gaddafis first just went away somewhere. It's hoped the whole government would then collapse, which it might, having failed to create a strong enough identity of its own (despite some trying).

All this said, agreeing against Gaddafi does give the Russians something they haven't had yet - a currency, if token, with the NATO bloc and "the world community." And their recent forays into a negotiated solution do, to me, show at least glimmers of the basic world sanity entirely lacking in NATO's our-way-by-all-means approach.

Russia's new activism on Libya
Vladimir RadyuhinThe Hindu, May 26
Ahead of the G8 summit in France on May 26-27, Russia has stepped up diplomatic activity in the Arab world in an effort to recapture the initiative it lost to the West in the recent turmoil in the region.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week met in Moscow with a delegation of the Libyan opposition led by former Libyan Foreign Minister Abdurraham Muhamed Shalgham. The meeting took place less than a week after representatives of the Libyan government and the special UN Secretary General's envoy for Libya Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib visited Moscow.

Mr. Lavrov said Moscow's main goal in engaging the two warring sides was “to promote an immediate end to the bloodshed, to the military activities.”

“It is important at this stage to help define the participants in future talks… that would represent the interests of all political forces [and] all tribes in Libya,” Mr. Lavrov said adding that a concrete list should be the result of an “all-Libya consensus.”
The bolded parts are those NATO and the rebels are dead-set against. A peaceful, non-pressured, democratic approach in Libya will not produce the desired outcome. And that, in turn, would deflate their illusions about what the people of Libya really want. But this is the right place to look and the right way to do it, whether Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron like it or not. What this means next to the announcement Medvedev signed just after is unclear at the moment, but hopefully something positive can come of this turn as far as saving the best of the revolution, rather than the none of it currently planned.

Sorry, Col. Gaddafi, Libyans who love him ... there are no ways forward, barring miracles, that will be easy. Something big must give. Even the Russians, and even I, can see this. It's not right, but it's real.  Think on that long and hard. If there's one thing you seem really bad at, it's being realistic. Get better quick, my advice.

'Katiba Victim' Spouting Ridiculous Rubbish

May 29 2011

There was in fact an underground prison used at the Katiba base in Benghazi. Or at least I'm willing to accept that, in itself, that makes sense. An entrance to some underground chamber is shown, and it was said prisoners were found in there after rebel forces blasted their way in. But the number of them and their conditions are not entirely clear.

I can see a few reasons, good and not so good, the government would decide to jail quite a few people during the uprising in Benghazi. One source (huge page, slow to load) claims
9:30 PM Reports of 1500 (some reports of 300) young men found trapped in an underground prison in Benghazi, left without food or water from the 15th of February to the 22nd. Reportedly still all alive.
The linked source has the 1500 number "confirmed" by "a caller." I'm not sure who said 300. Another report spoke of seven rescued from an improvised chamber with no food, water, windows, or even doors - buried alive, basically, in a little space with an air tube (the space is shown). It's not clear if they were to be dug out later or what, That would be rather inhumane, if true.

But the following account is almost certainly a bunch of crap, exaggerated into the type of horrifying catacombs rumored beneath the McMartin preeschool in the early 1980s. Here, in chambers that don't really exist, children were allegedly abused, with ceremonial regularity, in a sexual, satanic, and downright ridiculous manners. This more geo-politicaly relevant reincarnation comes from a self-described prisoner. The young man, comforted by another with an arm around him, is shown telling all in a Youtube video with English subtitles. These I've re-typed below, changing the spelling of Senusi to the Senoussi I'm familiar with, and fixing some punctuation, etc.

After taking our clothes off, they took us to an underground cell. We were about 70 men. I recognized a couple of them.

They whipped and tortured us. Saadi Gaddafi and Abdullah Senoussi were there. What were they doing? They were telling the guards to rape us.

We were naked by then and the guads were harrassing us... I can't tell you what they did to us. Then they tied our hands and feet and blindfolded us and left us in those cells. No food, no water. They came often to piss on us. They were from Tripoli and Benghazi too.

One of us, a very old man, was begging for respect, but Senoussi abused him, putting a stick in his ... He hung himself later in the cell.

They kept on beating us up for five days. Two soldiers helped us by giving us mobiles to call our families and tell them where we are.

Later on, Senoussi came back with black African mercenaries to execute us on the gallows. They managed to hang three of us but they were interrupted. The protesters blew up the gates. As for Senoussi and his men, they were busy fleeing the compound. Some ran, some were killed, and some took us as hostages. We looked death in the eye.
Wow, what a dramatic conclusion - only the suicide bombing of the north gate and an influx of Islamist rebels was able, at the last moment, to save all but three of the remaining prisoners. And according to this kid, the über-villain Abdullah Senoussi was among those running just ahead of the crowd. For those unaware (the video also pauses to explain), he's col. Gaddafi's brother-in-law, and after the leader, his sons, and perhaps Moussa Koussa, the most senior official accused of a huge range of atrocities, within Libya and without. He was actually convicted, in absentia, for planning the destruction of an airliner (UTA 772) - as if that means much as far as what really happened. It's possible.

And here Senoussi is in person, allegedly, sodomizing old men in an underground prison, alongside African mercenaries. And with Gaddafi's son, Saadi, who was in fact sent to Benghazi in the early days, ostensibly to negotiate with the rebels at large. But here he is, allegedly in the same dungeon, taking the time to order guards to rape these prisoners.

Yeeeaaaah... This FLV fairytale has been widely re-posted and repeated as "shocking," and joins the heap of thousands of such urban legends the world seems to just want to believe.

The final line in the video is spliced in out-of-order so it can close on the political implications, for the Gaddafi regime and family, of this extremely impure - alleged - behavior.
Saadi Gaddafi pushed his shoe in my mouth and told me "my father's honor is purer than that of you and your family."
"Oh, that is such bull!", the viewer is intended to respond. And it's pretty clear that something here is. Consider the other allegations of rape hurled against the Libyan government in this three-month old campaign. Every time, it's mentioned how there'd be more such reports if it weren't for the social taboo in Libya (and, I think, in the Muslim world at large) against discussing sexual violence. Some women report being shunned by their husbands or families afterwards, and hypothetically, they could be bodily killed as the only way to cleanse the crime away. I'm not aware of that happening in Libya, but it shows how far the basic idea of sexual "dishonor" can go.

Consider too Arab attitudes towards homosexual behavior and it seems a little odd that here is this Katiba prisoner, telling the whole world of all this sexual abuse, falling silent only at the smallest, least necessary gaps ("they raped us," and "anus.") The guy next to him has his arm around him. "It's okay Buddy, we all accept you fine, it's not your fault. Raped by thugs, you need a hug. And to get it off your chest. Just tell all the world what they did to your butt, and how Gaddafi himself ordered it all right before your very ... no? We can't say that? He was live on TV in Tripoli? Well, how about ..."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

1, 2, 3, Down Sarkozy! 1, 2, 3, Up Gaddafi!

May 28 2011

A message from Libyan women, in quite good English:

The one makes a good point that echoes something I nearly wrote up once:
The funny thing, you are say for our leader Muammar Gaddafi to go out. Where out? Muammar Gaddafi in every heart, in Libyan people. If you want him to go out, you should go for every heart and take Muammar Gaddafi from them.
This of course echoes his own pronouncement to that effect a few weeks back. Countering rumors he was killed in the same raid where NATO hit a Gaddafi family home and killed three of his infant grandchildren, he said May 13:
“You could kill my body but could not kill my soul which lives in the hearts of millions.”
But the NATO are determined to destroy him wherever he lives. They don't want to target these millions of hearts with bombs, directly. But between general pressure, grief, anxiety, a bit of hunger, fear, and deep depression, start the process of targeting those hearts.

It's hoped there will be a total conquest by "pro-democracy forces," who already have a full slate of free-market, pro-West reforms and candidate in mind to chose from. Following this, the recalcitrant sentiments of the old-school masses, there will have to be extensive re-education and de-programming. When we find a majority of the country is unhappy to be liberated for their own benefit, well, they must be thinking wrong.

The "real" Libyan people, the rebels - outnumbered as they are within Libya - can see clearly. These are the Libyans with radical imams and al Qaeda recruiters so prominent in their cities, piles of Gulf Cash and al Jazeera propaganda greasing along their civil war disguuised as protest, French plotting months in advance and recognition after, American bombers and drones, and all the imperialists of Europe seizing money and slapping sanctions against the legitimate government on their behalf. Only with all this, plus their native hate of Gaddafi (he's in their hearts, all right - the hate section), is this minority finally able to think clearly and show the future - what NATO hopes it will "prove" is the real Libya beneath the green muck.

Congressional Opposition - Finally!

May 28 2011

Opposition and Lack Thereof

David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, May 25
Friday was the 60th day since Obama notified Congress that U.S. forces were joining in attacks on Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. Under the War Powers Resolution, he was supposed to obtain Congress’s authorization by that point or stop the operation.

He did neither. Instead, Obama sent a letter to Congress urging that it pass a resolution of support. The Senate is considering such a resolution, but it won’t be voted on until after the week-long Memorial Day recess.

Other NATO members are conducting most of the airstrikes in Libya, while U.S. forces are flying the bulk of the missions related to reconnaissance, surveillance and refueling. In all, American aircraft account for about a quarter of the roughly 150 missions flown each day by NATO forces.

David Dayen, Fire Dog Lake News

Today marks the 60th day of US operations in Libya. Under the War Powers resolution, this should trigger a Congressional authorization for the war. The idea that the President could unilaterally attack in Libya, a country that did not threaten the United States, is dubious in its own right. But the War Powers resolution is pretty clear that after the 60-day period, the executive must come to Congress.

Well, they’re not. But I would cast a wider blame here than my friend Glenn Greenwald. I agree that the Administration’s theories for why they don’t need Congressional authorization are specious. The idea that this is now a NATO mission and therefore has nothing to do with the United States is kind of nutty; we are NATO, after all. The Administration also said this wasn’t a war because it was “time-limited, well defined and discrete.” Well, we’re 60 days in with no end in sight, the mission has moved from protecting civilians to bombing the Gadhafi compound and Libyan ships in the port of Tripoli, and none of those above terms now apply to the conflict.

Mike Lillis and John T. Bennett, The Hill, May 20:
Congress did not authorize the mission — which includes a no-fly zone, bombing raids, a sea blockade and civilian-protection operations — but the deadline has stirred little sense of urgency on Capitol Hill.

House lawmakers are in the midst of a weeklong recess. And the Senate, which stuck around, is also unlikely to address the issue this week, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, warned earlier in the month, however, that such a resolution would likely be shot down in the Senate.

Others, including Levin, simply think that formal congressional authorization for the Libyan intervention is unnecessary. Still, he left open the possibility that the upper chamber could eventually act on a Libya resolution — if “a number of legal questions” are ironed out.

Breaching the 60-day deadline sets a bad precedent for administrations to come, according to critics on and off of Capitol Hill, who are calling on Congress to push back against the president’s war-waging powers.

Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale University, said the Libya war is “a classic case of what could go wrong with executive war-making.”
“My concern is not this relatively small war,” Ackerman said in a phone interview. “This is going to be a precedent for the next president.”

The Critics in Congress
- Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan)
May 25: “The undeniable conclusion is that the president is breaking the law by continuing the unilateral offensive war against Libya,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a conservative freshman testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Amash has proposed a bill that would cut off funding for U.S. efforts in Libya until Obama obtains congressional authorization.

“The tragedy, for our system of self-government, would be if Congress continued to do nothing,” he said.

- Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana):
May 25: “The president is not a king, and he shouldn’t act like a king."

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey)
WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2011 - Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chairman of the Congressional Constitution Caucus, today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 to clarify that the NDAA does not in any way authorize military action for the current conflict in Libya. Garrett’s amendment was adopted by a voice vote on the House floor.

“My amendment is simple and straightforward. It clarifies that the National Defense Authorization Act contains no language to provide for the authorization of combat in Libya and ensures that such an authorization must be considered as stand-alone legislation if we are to continue any military operations in Libya,” said Garrett. “President Obama contends that congressional authorization in Libya is not necessary because we are merely supporting NATO efforts. However, as mandated by the Constitution and pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, congressional authorization is required regardless of whether military action is supported by the NATO alliance or sanctioned by the United Nations.”

Rep. Chris Gibson (R-New York)
May 26: [Gibson] urged Congress Wednesday to reform the War Powers Act by tightening requirements that a president must seek legislative approval before sending forces into combat.
"If the President wants to act, he must come here," Gibson said. "There is enough authorization for the President to act to defend us, but beyond that, the President should have to wait until he comes to the American people by way of their representatives."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
While the White House spins its intervention as protecting the civilians of Libya, a no-fly-zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya and Gaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. Although the United States by far pays the largest percentage of NATO's military bills (25 percent), the President wants to depict this as NATO's action.

You decide which country has the ability to stop this war: The Guardian UK datablog just published information that shows that 93 percent of all cruise missiles used to attack Libya come from the US. A full 66 percent of personnel involved in the war against Libya come from the US. 50 percent of all war ships off the Libyan coast come from the U.S.

Fifty percent of all aircrafts used to attack Libya come from the U.S.. War from the air is still war. And whether the UN and NATO support our intervention is irrelevant -- the President still needs to follow our Constitution. And Congress must end this war.

I have said this clearly in the past, and I'll say it again: Violating the Constitution is an impeachable offense. Whether its President Bush or President Obama, it's that simple. That Congress will not attempt to impeach the President does not eliminate the considerable political consequences that his administration will bear over the coming months. Especially when it becomes fully understood that the war was not necessary and that both sides in Iraq [sic?] are prepared to move toward a peace agreement. (More about that later). In the meantime we must come together as a nation to end the war against Libya and stop the expansion of war in the region.

This war is not only unconstitutional; it's not in America's interest. Why would the Administration, during the current contentious debate over deficits and budget cutting plunge America into still another war, especially since America will spend trillions in total for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and incursions into Pakistan?

Senaor Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)
March 28: In 2007, then-candidate Obama said that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

I agree with candidate Obama. Unfortunately, President Obama has failed to heed his own advice. He has ignored our constitution and engaged us in a military conflict without congressional debate and approval

What imminent threat did Gadhafi or Libya pose to the United States? Obviously, the decision to take military action of this magnitude is something that should not be taken lightly, and should first require determining whether it is in the United States’ vital national interest.

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA
May 25: Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, said the administration was treating lawmakers as “irrelevant” by failing to acknowledge that the deadline had passed or to explain itself.

“It’s time for Congress to step forward,” said Mr. Sherman. “It’s time to stop shredding the U.S. Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional rule of law to Libya.”

Still, he added that he thought Congress should probably approve continuing the Libyan operation.

She's no longer on capitol hill, but congressional alumnus Cynthia McKinney (Rep., D-South Carolina) has gone a couple thousand miles further than any of these in opposing the war (although Mr. Kucinich has shown some serious insight, by Washington standards). All the way to Tripoli!
"I think that it's very important that people understand what is happening here. And it's important that people all over the world see the truth. And that is why I am here ... to understand the truth," former Rep. Cynthia McKinney said during a live interview.

She said she was invited to Libya by the "nongovernmental organization for fact-finding," adding that she intends to bring more people to the country soon so that "they too can understand."

Seven Frenchmen Escape Benghazi

May 28 2011

Super Pumas Reach Malta
February 21 - after six days of protests bleeding into open conflict, Benghazi had fallen to the rebels, anchoring all of eastern Libya under their control. 400 miles to the northwest, on the tiny island nation of Malta, two Libyan Air Force Mirage fighter jets famously landed with a tale of being ordered to bomb the protester/jihadists. This crucial claim started the talk of a no-fly zone, which eventually led to the current international bombardment, mostly by the US, UK, and France.

The same day, just hours earlier, two helicopters had also fled Libya to make an emergency landing on Malta. The Tripoli Post reported:
On the same day police also questioned seven passengers who landed in Malta from Libya on board two French-registered helicopters, with Malta government sources saying the helicopters had left Libya without authorisation by the Libyan aviation authorities and that only one of the seven passengers - who say they are French citizens - had a passport.
Pakistani paper Dawn reported similarly:
Two French-registered Super Puma civilian helicopters also landed on the Mediterranean island around the same time, carrying seven passengers who said they were French working on oil rigs near Benghazi.

The helicopters were given permission to land in Malta but had not been given clearance to leave Libya, indicating they had escaped, the sources said.
Agence France Press describes the helicopter passengers as:
... seven people who said they were French nationals working on oil rigs near Benghazi, although only one had a passport, the sources said.
All those who have landed are being held at the airport in Malta until their identities are confirmed.
One presumes they've long since been released, but it seems that happened more quietly than how they first came into Malta's protection. One can only wonder what they found out, if anything, about these seven mysterious Frenchmen in that interim?

One of the helicopters is apparently shown in this video of the defecting aircraft filmed in the still of the night. The other is the same, as seen in a few photos, like the one here. The markings say Heli-Union, and despite the ambiguity of its name, it is apparently a French company (website in French, and English secondarily). They do specialize, among a few other things, in "air transport by helicopter on behalf of oil and gas companies."  That's consistent with airlifting out offshore oil workers, as one presumes they would be (Libya's oil is mostly off-shore or well inland, under the desert, so "near Benghazi" on the coast suggests they weren't down in the desert, like these oil workers who fled a Canadian-run station attacked by rebels on the 21st, and ran deeper into the desert.)

What French Can Mean
It's entirely possible for off-shore oil workers to lose or leave behind their passports. However, their lack of proper ID might also, possibly, suggest a more clandestine type of work back in just-conquered Benghazi. And they were from, of all nations, France.

It was in Paris where the European end of arranging the protests and takeover was allegedly based. As Italian blogger Franco Bechis reported in March, based on leaked documents, an Air Force defector in Benghazi named Gehani was contacted by the French secret service DGSE. This happened on November 18 2010, Bechis reports, on the tip of Nouri al-Mesmari, Libya's former protocol chief.

Mr. Al-Mesmari had, in his turn, fled into the arms of the French imperialists in October. He apparently made contacts with the DGSE during his brief house arrest following on embezzlement charges from Tripoli. He was of course released, and allowed to meet people in Paris - like three of the top leaders from the February 17 protest movement.

Collectively, this suggests a pre-planned design to fuse a military defection (indirect coup) with a gauze of peaceful protest, a project somehow favored or facilitated by Paris. And France sure was gung-ho to support the rebellion for full takeover, weren't they?

Despite their intense support afterwards, no outside powers were officially aware of or involved in the initial uprising itself. Any planning was limited in nature and purely Libyan, we're to presume. And it seems as if their turn to violence was just a spontaneous reaction to unexpectedly fierce government repression and - obviously - an unwillingness to just say "ow! Okay, okay, sorry, I didn't know you'd get so mad!"

That last, to me, is a clue that somehow the "protesters" suspected that someone powerful (aside from God) had their back. And of all the nations now backing the rebels with what's been called "like God's own Air Force," France has the covert people best-placed to be involved - hypothetically - in the war's initial phase.

In this context, it's worth asking who were these seven guys on the Super Pumas, and what were they doing in Libya in those days right before the no-fly discussion started.

They could be oil workers as they say. Even down to the Heli-Unon choppers, that cover - if it's cover - makes perfect sense. A well-designed cover will, of course.

Alternately ... maybe it's just a cover. They're too small and a bit too foreign to be any public fighting force. But they might have advised, or ran some narrow tactical missions at night. They might have been on stand-by only for such things, or nothing more than observers for Paris, to get their own clearer view of how the natives were handling things.

An Escort Mission?
The civilian helicopters trying to escape from a government they were helping overthrow might help explain the fighter jets that landed just after they landed safely on Malta.

These French-built Mirages would seem, by the orders they claimed to have defied, to have taken off under Libyan government command. But considering the alleged Gehani-DGSE link, it seems possible the colonels flying those birds were rebel-aligned well before "receiving" the order to bomb protesters. They might have been commissioned by the French-Rebel conduit, as escort duty on the first leg of the choppers' illegal (and slower) flight. I would suspect they all set out together from rebel-held Benghazi, despite the implication the defectors scrambled from Tripoli, or within an area of government control.

Any such protection might help explain the armaments, in case anyone tried to enforce the law that says, I would guess, that mysterious Frenchmen cannot leave a war zone without letting the government find out who they are and what they just did. And it would be a nicely efficient double-mission - cover the whole unauthorized escape of rebel helpers with their stolen defector jets, then land with with the mental seeds of the rebels' NATO air support - a false claim of a planned massacre, with the missiles in place to prove they'd been armed for it.

It also works towards giving the game up. What are the odds the colonels would happen to fly off with this order and snap to the north on winds of conscience, just as these unauthorized clandestine Frenchmen were leaving?

Why February 21?
It seems reasonable here to presume that foreigners like the oil workers they claim to be would usually work in an area during peace and stability time, leave as soon as things get crazy, and then come back when it's stable again. Now, it's true the Libyan civil war did move swiftly, but still, it's noteworthy how these guys did about the opposite of the usual.

The first protests were on Feb 15th, in Benghazi and a few other towns, with violence increasing each day and in other cities through the 17th - the pre-announced "day of rage," which doesn't bode well for any hopes for less of the same. In these first few days, order still prevailed, and it would be a good time to get out. 18th, ugly ... 19th, worse ....

Only on the 20th did things really get topsy-turvy. It seems al-Baidah at least had already come under rebel control, and in Benghazi, The Katiba barracks, a major army base, was blown open by a suicide bomber, and the spoils were quickly sent out to other cities right away. Labraq airport 100 miles east was finally taken with this boost, on the 21st. By then all of the eastern region of Cyrenaica, and even a nice buffer into the Sirte basin, was rebel-held, and armed with solely Libya stocks, untraceable to Paris.

The protest could now safely become a civil war and Gaddafi could be forced out for acting like he's fighting a civil war against "civilans" who now can do whatever they want - because they started it, briefly, as a "peaceful, homegrown protest." Their unseen work to this end complete, any French plotters might flee as described above, if possible with the disinfo defectors in their Mirages providing armed escort.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Libyan War Damages the Global Economy

May 22 2011

Via the Christian Science Monitor
Libya intervention damages global economy - CSMonitor.com
By Stefan Karlsson, Guest blogger / April 4, 2011
As I expected (to the extent I was wrong, it was because I underestimated how bad it would be), the intervention in Libya increasingly seems to create a worst case scenario where Qadaffi remains in control over western Libya while jihadist rebels are in control over eastern Libya and where the two sides continue to fight in an endless civil war.

In addition to being clueless about the nature of the rebels, the axis of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy naively thought that they could destroy the Qadaffi regime through air raids alone. Yet as the Qadaffi forces have begun to disguise themselves to look like the rebels, it becomes exceedingly difficult for bombers to bomb them without risking to bomb the rebels. (something that they have already mistakingly done).

This means that the Libyan civil war, which would likely have ended two weeks ago without the intervention, could go on for a very long time. This means that oil prices will remain high, something that will benefit a few oil exporting countries, but greatly damage oil importers and damage the world economy as a whole.

With oil (WTI) reaching $108 today, it is about 30% higher than when the civil war started in mid-February. While other factors like QE2 could have contributed to this continued increase, other factors such as the disaster in Japan have counteracted the increase, so it is not far fetched to attribute almost the entire increase to the Libyan civil war.

A short-term spike would have only created limited damage to the world economy, but the longer this persists the worse will the global economy be damaged. The half-measure policy pursued by the Obama-Cameron-Sarkozy axis has already prolonged it by two weeks. While it can't be ruled out that somehow the civil war will be quickly ended, it looks increasingly likely to be prolonged, to the detriment of the global economy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Keep on Killing, NATO! It'll Become Right Sooner or Later

May 25 2011

No detailed insights yet, but I see by the AP that NATO yesterday launched its heaviest yet air assault on Tripoli - about 20 strikes that killed dozens, at least. Again, the NATO gang - I'm coming to realize that's apt - have declaed Gaddafi illegitimate, and until HE bows to pressure, they will keep creating reconstruction jobs to bolster their failing economies once they get their way, inevitably. The NATO gang does not let itself lose. It's far too big to fail.

The ever insightful Scott Creighton at the Willy Loman blog has a great piece on this new onslaught. He compared it to the "shock and awe" phase of the Iraq bombardment eight years ago, and then turned to a parallel development:
While the skyline of Tripoli was being lit up like Baghdad in Spring of 2003, another haunting aspect of our Iraq policy was repeating itself in eastern Libya. The U.S Assistant Secretary of State for the near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, was visiting with the al Qaeda linked “rebels” in order to offer them the opportunity to open an official representative office in Washington D.C.

Jeffrey Feltman served in Iraq in the corrupt Coalition Provision Authority in early 2004 then he became our representative in Lebanon til around 2008. During and after Israel’s attack of Lebanon, Feltman did his best to install a pro-Israel government there. That only stands to reason since Feltman served in many U.S. government posts in Israel from 1995-1998 and then again from 2001-2004.
[original has links for much of this]

As it gets clearer and clearer why the NATO gang are doing this, they act surer and surer of themselves and escalate. No turning back. They've swam out past the halfway point, the opposite shore is nearer and far better than turning back. Or so they've been presuming that for weeks, and will keep doing so, it seems.

It's just sad and sick, but unless someone puts some pressure on this gang, they will have succeeded into bludgeoning a nation into slavery for some muddled "Humanitarian concern" that's a few month old by now.

Tripoli - all I can say is - sorry. There may still be a lever you can pull, a sacrifice short of total surrender. For example, it might come down to a choice of the Leader vs. the thing of value he leads. They will, if allowed and given the slightest excuse (or perhaps none), mechanically and by attrition, remove both.

Tripoli's - and most of Libya's - defiance thus far might still inspire some sleeping giant or other to flex its muscle against the gang. Who knows? Otherwise, the right thing for them to do is keep doing what they can to resist, complicate, and expose (especially the last).

But the pragmatic thing that leaves the most alive and keep the most intact (I mean of the economic system many suspect is the real target), is to look for that magic lever - the right combination of agenda exposure, major sacrifice, and ultimate refusal to surrender the most fundamental points (whatever those are decided to be). They should secure backing for the proposal, which must be genius, something the world's people cannot let their leaders refuse in favor of more bloodshed. To the extent they care about your demonized system or have the ability to force decisions at the NATO command level. And the media of the West must be compelled to convey the essence and context of it fairly, without fascist-obvious propaganda spin re-branding it as a crime against Humanity.

I don't know! It's a tight spot to be in!

But I suggest no more implausible half-measures tossed off the cuff in desperation. If you can keep your team from working in "command and control bunkers," some people should be able to brainstorm a genius plan and I guess send it in print form by ship to foreign embassies like Russia, and so on. Is that still allowed to an "illegitimate" government? Again, I don't know. I guess you could surrender like they demand. Maybe there's some passive aggressive way to guilt trip ... no, I don't suppose that'd be allowed to work either. Hmmm...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scary-Ass Video, Catchy, Probably Evil Song

May 24 2011

Inviting comments. English part about 3:00.

Desperate for Recognition / Gambia?

May 24 2011
last edits June 3 2011

Desperation in Action
It seems the pathetic puppets of the Libyan rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) are craving recognition; that is, as the legitimate government of all Libya. They're still outnumbered on the ground, in Libya, by people who reject their insane rebellion. And they still lack the official nod from the mighty US and the UK, for somewhat murky reasons, but have had for some time now that honor from a triad of large-ish players - France, Italy, and Qatar, plus a few later additions.

Perhaps hoping to start a fad out of it, the TNC has been caught stretching the truth a little as to who else was willing to call NATO's ragtag, "outunmbered" foot soldiers "the government of Libya."
Radio Australia News, May 6
Several countries have denied claims they have recognised a rebel council as the valid government of Libya.

Rebels in Benghazi have claimed that Canada, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands have become the latest states to recognise the council, which was set up to rival the regime of Colonel Moammar Gadaffi.

However three of those governments - Spain, Canada and the Netherlands - have denied the rebels' claims.
Denmark had also denied it, in a perfect four-for-four fail. Reuters, May 5
Denmark denied on Thursday that it had officially recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) of rebels, but said it did recognize the organization as a relevant partner for dialogue.
That's not how it was supposed to work. They were supposed to be so inspired the rebels' proud proclamation to go ahead and confirm the allegation by recognizing the TNC. That it failed is a somewhat bad sign for them, and something they obviously should not have tried.

The Ones Not Joined: The Triad
those who do recognize the rebels as the legitimate arbiters of Libya's future are a telling lot with each their own unstated true motives. There are six total, last I heard, and we should start with the main and original three, France, Qatar, and Italy.

France was the visionary leader in proclaiming the future of Libya. Little surprise, given they hosted a defector from late 2010 who reportedly helped France link up with and assist coup plotters at home. This was apparently sewn into the planned February protests, which did instantly turn to a suprisingly effective military campaign to take over the whole country. After this happened, the French were the first to recognize the rebels, and loudest in promoting and carrying out high-tech air support for their advance to Tripoli. They were reportedly promised a third of all Libyan oil contracts around the same time they started this little club.

The Persian Gulf Island state of Qatar is an authoritarian capitalist Islamic petro-kingdom, not unlike Bahrain where the US has given a nod to a repression of protesters worse than anything Gaddafi's forces actually did. Qatar was, I believe, the second nation to join France's club and recognizing the rebels. Qatar is reportedly helping manage the first of Eastern Libya's oil exports, and they've hosted both a top-level meeting on Libya's future, and their top defector, Moussa Koussa. This reviled but apparently immune foreign minister and longtime regime villain is reportedly, from Qatar, helping NATO identify buildings to bomb in the hopes of killing Gaddafi. Er, taking out command and control.

Qatar has also helped all along with, at the very least, the Qatari-owned Arab news juggernaut al Jazeera. The network's coverage of this uprising has been notably irresponsible and alarmist, especially at first when it mattered most and helped fuel the chaos Qatar is now profiting from.

Italy was I think the third to join, but as I recall, had been the first in all the world to declare Gaddafi's government non-existent. This really cuts more to the chase, doesn't it? Thay have a history in Libya too deep for me to touch yet, a huge current dependence on their oil, and so on. They also, it's said, have a lot to lose, many outstanding arrangements, but these were cut off with the early decision to erase the old regime. It's only the later decision to directly support the rebels, with diplomatically and militarily, that has caused problems selling the idea at home under Berlusconi's shaky leadership. A more robust involvement in line with France and Qatar, or the US and UK for that matter, is thus unlikely to come from Italy.

The Other Three
As for who else has joined the original three, I've seen two versions, but I'm going with the latter.
France, Italy, Qatar and Ghana have already recognised the National Transitional Council, which is based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
China Daily, May 4
So far six countries -- France, Italy, Qatar, Maldives, Kuwait and The Gambia -- have officially recognized the rebels' "lawful status" in Libya.
Both Ghana and Gambia are in sub-Saharan, western Africa. Either would be an odd choice, odd enough to consider the one I find better supported, Gambia, seperately below. Maldives, a nation of tiny islands south of India - I have no insights on their reasons. Sorry.

Kuwait, however, is another Gulf state like Qatar and Bahrain. It has no appetite for its own protesters, but Gaddafi's they seem to be lapping at. They have probably the same interests in oil as Qatar, and likely some plans to promote their best ideas of Islam in Libya, or whatever.

And, as the originators of the war-enabling Iraqi army baby incubators story, Kuwait's royals have to be quite impressed with one aspect of this war. A legion of impersonators of that scripted PR episode has been flowing from the rebel side in an unprecedented info war (snipers shooting kids, mass rapes by Afro-mercs on viagra, targetting the faithful at the mosque on a Friday, chemical warfare plans, etc.)

Gambia Recognizes the Rebels?
But I see no obvious reason for sub-Saharan Africans to support the rebels, and a few decent reasons for them to specifically support Gaddafi. (At least ideologically, if not in practice). To join this small club usually takes some solid interest and a little bit of risk on the world stage.

Gaddafi's pan-African vision, and generous aid to help the continent develop and, eventualy, unify, are popular in countries like Ghana and Gambia. Both are cited (Ghana perhaps in error) as recognizing the rebels, who hate Gaddafi's pan-African vision, and represent some nasty racists who - at least briefly - hated black Africans enough to kill probably hundreds. And they captured many more, nearly universally for the crime of "African mercenary."(side-note: an okay article from Gambia on the "mercenaries" allegations)

Gambia, or The Gambia, a tiny nation that's mostly a river on the western apex of Africa, is not a natural addition to the club. What interest do they have in creating the new Libya? All I'm aware of in particular linking the two countries is a number of foreign workers in Libya captured by rebels. One with an interesting story hailed from Gambia before being arrested, and then shown to Western journalists, as a foreign Gaddafi-paid mercenary. LA Times, March 23 related his account after he suddenly spoke up out of turn:
"I am a worker, not a fighter. They took me from my house and [raped] my wife," he said, gesturing with his hands. Before he could say much more, a pair of guards told him to shut up and hustled him through the steel doors of a cell block, which quickly slammed behind them.

Several reporters protested and the man was eventually brought back out. He spoke in broken, heavily accented English and it was hard to hear and understand him amid the scrum of scribes pushing closer. He said his name was Alfusainey Kambi, and again professed innocence before being confronted by an opposition official, who produced two Gambian passports. One was old and tattered and the other new. And for some reason, the official said the documents were proof positive that Kambi was a Kadafi operative.
[O]ur interpreter, a Libyan national, asked [LA Times reported David] Zucchino: "So what do you think? Should we just go ahead and kill them?"
Even when the charges are clearly unsafe, there's a possible motive for the rebel captors in such cases to stubbornly insist their wards are in fact criminal mercenaries. Guilty until proven innocent has always been the standard against Gaddafi, and the rebels know this. Those familiar with the US justice system know similar attitudes all too easily stick to people of color, and deep-east Libya seems to have the same problem.

This allows them to hold people, who want to go home and have homes that want them. That could, to a shrewd and unethical mind, present an opportunity - bargain the return of these men "guilty, er, possibly guilty of very serious crimes, punishable by death in our laws," in exchange for, "oh, say ... diplomatic recognition?"

A Precedent? The Southern Tribes
Other captured Afro-mercs, 157 of them taken en masse in and near al-Baida, were seen by an official from Human Rights Watch in early March. He found they were partly southern, black-skinned Libyans of long-native tribes, and partly Libyan dual-nationals from elsewhere in Africa. None were foreign mercenaries as claimed by the rebels. All were reportedly released, but we can't really be sure that was done without any strings attached.

The recent tribal council of May, in Tripoli, was criticized mainly for not haing all the tribes represented there.  Richard Boudreaux, Wall Street Journal:
Absent were eastern tribes and western Berber tribes, which have been hostile to the Col. Gadhafi during his four decades of rule, and tribes from the south that have sought to remain neutral in the 11-week-old uprising.
Most information I see suggests these tribes would and usually do support Gaddafi. They haven't formally embraced the rebels, but have for some reason chosen to sit things out, lessening the tribal array against NATO's upstarts. What is it about the rebels that gives them such a magic touch with their darker-skinned neighbors in and around Libya - this African country they're taking over for the Gulf Arabs and the Euro-Americans?

Target Gaddafi: Reactions to the Assassination Attempt

May 3 2011
last update May 24

Some further reactions to the strike that killed Saif (or Seif) al-Arab al Gaddafi and his three young kids, while apparently aiming for their grandpa, Muammar Gaddafi.

It's been noted Saif survived an earlier attack on a family compound, again by the US, in 1986, when he was a young boy. Less luck these days.

The Mirror seems to think Saif deserved it - he was a spoiled thug. He allegedly hired someone to kill someone once over being famously kicked out of a bar. There's a Gaddafi - always attach your darkest plots to the highhest-profile hitch you can and be sure to be seen ... involved in a weapons-smuggling probe, they say. Had a way of charges of being dropped.

No one has provided evidence he or his three children were involved in attacks on innocent civilians. Or even against the NATO-backed insurgents trying to topple the regime in a civil war. Except by cheering up Grampa Gaddafi in his murderous campaign. So score one for the protection of innocents after all.

If the morale loss angle is working, it's not evident. They're putting on strong and defiant faces in Tripoli. Washington Post on the funeral, May 2:
About 2,000 Gaddafi supporters gathered for the funeral, chanting slogans in support of the regime. There was no sign of Gaddafi, who has appeared in public infrequently since NATO warplanes took over Libya’s skies in mid-March.

Saif al-Arab’s coffin, covered in a wreath of flowers and draped in the green flag adopted by the regime since Gaddafi took over in a military coup in 1969, was carried through a throng of supporters, who chanted, “The people want revenge for the martyr” and “Revenge, revenge for you, Libya.”
The most recognizable figure at the graveside was the bespectacled Saif al-Islam, dressed in a black round hat, a white shirt and black waistcoast. He reached down to touch his younger brother’s chest for the last time and then fought back tears as the body, covered in a white shroud, was taken from a simple wooden coffin and lowered into the ground.

Swiftly regaining his composure, Saif al-Islam then left the graveside, flashing V-for-victory signs, waving at faces he recognized and shaking his fist in defiance, his every step jostled by a surging and poorly controlled crowd.

Benjamin Barber: Libya: This is Nato's dirty war
The Guardian, May 2 2011
A scathing (but not probing enough)piece by the author of Jihad vs. McWorld.

In Syria, where the government is also "killing its own people", prudent strategists urge restraint, cautioning that regime change can lead to unknown and pernicious consequences.
Here, the (intended) consequences are known, hoped for, planned for. Nothing's 100% sure, but the top people all seem ready to bet on it.

But it is the plain stupidity of the Nato commitment to assassination and violent regime change that is most disconcerting. What on earth is the endgame?
And end to the Green revolution. The expansion of McWorld. Privatizations and re-structuring.

Want to be sure that [Gaddafi] will fight to the finish at maximum cost to others? Corner him, try to kill him and his family, and warn him that he has no way out but abject surrender, certain arrest and probable execution.
Self-fulfilling prophecy. Provoke that which will "require" the desired end-game.

Alaa al-Ameri: Gaddafi is a legitimate target
The Guardian, May 3 2011

Al-Ameri offers no legal reasoning to support the title, only rhetorical ones. He cartoonish bad guy. It okay to kill him.

Gaddafi is not a head of state. He is a warlord in control of a personal army that he has tasked with the mass killing and terrorising of Libyans for the crime of wishing to live as free human beings.
It's easier to pick out the few correct words in there than to address the wrong ones. Newspeak in action here.

George Jonas, National Post:
Fancy that. Three generations of Gaddafis arriving at a known control and command centre just as NATO begins an air strike. Isn't it a small world? What a coincidence. It has to be, because the commander of NATO operations in Libya tells us we don't target individuals. As the UN's air force, we're 21st-century knights: Our quest is to rescue princesses without slaying dragons.

Or maybe NATO is lying and General Bouchard doesn't know it. Maybe NATO commanders aren't in the loop. After all, do commanders need to know? Targeted assassination is a policy matter; it's sufficient if the commander-in-chief knows about it, and judging by his speech [on the killing of Osama bin Laden], he does. He knows what targeted assassination are and why they may be necessary.

Arab Times on-line passes on details of the victims and the plea of Libya's top Catholic.
ROME, May 1, (AFP): The most senior Catholic official in Tripoli on Sunday confirmed on Italian television that Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Arab had been killed and appealed for a ceasefire.
“I confirm the death of the son of the leader,” Giovanni Martinelli, the bishop of Tripoli, told the Sky TG24 channel.
Television pictures showed him standing with other religious dignitaries in front of three bodies covered in shrouds and flags.
He said he was taken to the morgue by officials of various local churches and added that they then all said a prayer.
Martinelli said he felt the anger of all those present but added that the dignitaries thanked him for his “gesture of solidarity”.
An early critic of the Western military campaign in Libya, he appealed to NATO, the United Nations and the international community to end the bombing of Libya.
“I ask, please, out of respect for the pain due to the loss of a son, a gesture of humanity towards the leader (Gaddafi),” he said.
Al Arabiya on Sunday broadcast footage taken from Libyan Jamahiriyah TV which it said were the bodies of Saif al-Arab and the three children — two 2-year-olds and a five-month-old. They were wrapped in green cloth with their faces covered in white.
Pravda: Only Criminals try to assassinate world leaders. Moscow Times: Foreign Ministry Says NATO might be targeting Gaddafi.
"Statements by participants in the coalition that the strikes on Libya are not aimed at the physical destruction of … Gadhafi and members of his family raise serious doubts," a ministry statement said Sunday.

A State Duma deputy who often serves as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin's views on foreign affairs was less diplomatic.

"More and more facts indicate that the aim of the anti-Libyan coalition is the physical destruction of Gadhafi," said Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the Duma's International Affairs Committee.

Kosachev called on Western leaders to make their position on the airstrikes clear.

"I am totally perplexed by the total silence from the presidents of the United States, France, the leaders of other Western countries," Kosachev said in an interview, according to Interfax. "We have the right to expect their immediate, comprehensive and objective assessment of the coalition's actions."

China calls for a cease-fire (on NATO this time!). As does Venezuela, urging wider UN support.

May 8: More details on the second strike on the Gaddafi family home and the burning of empty embassy buildings, and the responses to that: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/may/08/ml-libya/

May 24: Ireal Shamir has an excellent article I missed: Did the UN Security Council Authorize Assassination? (Counterpunch, May 5). An excerpt:
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced on Thursday that he would soon stand before the United Nations and report on alleged Libyan war crimes. We can only hope that his brief will include the latest war crime, the murder of Qaddafi’s family, his son and three grandchildren, and the assassination attempt on the life of the Libyan leader on May Day, 2011. Cameron, Sarkozy, the NATO field commanders and the Danish air crew should all be indicted for this crime.
Or whomever, exactly. I heard the jets were Norwegian-flown ... But the following is highly interesting:
The date of the operation was known well beforehand, and had already been openly discussed in late April by the Russian Secret Service SVR (External Intelligence Service). On April 29th, a Russian netzine published an article by Kirill Svetitsky who quoted an anonymous source within SVR:

“There will be an attempt to kill Muammar Qaddafi on or before May 2. The governments of France, Britain and the US decided on it, for the warfare in Libya does not proceed well for the anti-Libyan alliance: the regular army has substantial gains; Bedouin tribes entered the fight on the government’s side; in Benghazi, a “second front” was opened by the armed local militias who are tired of rebels’ presence, their incessant fights and robberies.

“But the main reason for the timing is that the Italian parliament plans to discuss Italy’s involvement in Libyan campaign on May 3. Until now, decisions were taken by Berlusconi, but there are strong differences of opinion within the government coalition regarding the Libyan war, and they will probably bring the government down on May 3, and Italy will effectively leave the anti-Libyan alliance. It is likely to have a domino effect. For this reason leaders of the UK, the US and France decided to eliminate Qaddafi not later than May 2d, before the session of the Italian parliament on May 3d.”

Unlike many Internet predictions, this one turned out to be timely and exact. On May 1, the US, France and the UK made a failed attempt on the life of Muammar Qaddafi, although they did succeed in killing his son and three grandchildren. Such unusual operative foreknowledge implies that Western leaders had advised the Russians of the planned attack, and that the SVR had then leaked the plans.
Actually, as we've seen, the attack occurred about 8:30 pm the night of April 30, but obviously reports didn't really emerge as to the effects, even within Libya, until the first hours of May 1. Same difference, mostly. Either way it's not exactly "well before," but the previous day - April 29 - it had been reported based on a probably fresh leak or good guess that NATO would try to assassinate Gaddafi. That's gotta mean something - at the very least that their moves are getting more predictable.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Sniped Tykes of Misrata?

by Adam Larson
Re-posted April 23 2011
Original posting, in longer form, as Crimes Against Reality in Libya, part 3
Note May 23:As a bit of a break, I made a video version of this finding to put on Youtube. The link. The video:

(Original introduction truncated - for background on the strategic importance of Misrata, Libya's third largest city and mostly under rebel control, see the article "Why Misrata Matters")

Mystery Snipers Killing Kids?
The last few days, April 14-16, have however seen a brutal new offensive by the government's forces besieging Misrata, by rebel reports, with a few dozen more killed in rocket attacks on Misrata, indiscriminately including women, children, and elderly. Cluster bombs have reportedly been found. The harbor was attacked again. The rebels predict a total slaughter will finally befall them without more NATO involvement soon. What they really mean is Misrata will no longer be a rebel town.

Worse than the fairly indiscriminate death of distance shelling, the most incendiary new allegation is the mad tyrant Gaddafi sending snipers to Misrata to sit on rooftops, picking out children to shoot dead. Or so we hear. On April 8, a statement was issued in Switzerland:
“What we have are reliable and consistent reports of children being among the people targeted by snipers in Misrata,” UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva.  The information was based on local sources, Mercado said. She was unable to say how many children have been wounded or killed in this way. [1]
UNICEF, the United Nations wing for caring about children's health and well-being, was naturally alarmed enough by these reports to announce they existed but weren’t verified – they’d go and have a look and then, perhaps, we’d hear about corroboration.

A cynic might see in this echoes of the incubator-baby stories of 1991 Gulf War fame. The tale of an Iraqi atrocity in Kuwait, killing dozens of premature babies for no clear reason, gave massive and emotional public support to the war effort. Later, the story was proven to be a complete lie, concocted by the Kuwaiti royal family and public relations firm Hill and Knowlton, Inc. [2] Again, the first part of that is happening with this news spreading like wildfire. And we shall see, and in short order, that the second half is already coming into focus along similar lines.

There’s no great reason to doubt the presence of snipers in the city, given the situation. Rebels allege African mercenaries as usual, military snipers from elite battalions, and most recently special female sharpshooters from Colombia’s FARC army. [3] One Libyan exile with contact in Misrata said the snipers were “Libyan mercenaries,” as well as some “from Mauritania, 2 from Colombia, 2 women, some from Chad, and others from origins of which we are not sure.” (more from this expert below). [4]

As far as people capable of making bullets fly in a war-torn city, we also cannot rule out armed loyalist citizens, possibly gone loco and trying to demoralize the traitors by killing their young. That wouldn't exactly be a government strategy requiring regime change, but close enough for most. Or it could be a black-hearted rebel supporter trying to create another humanitarian disaster to be blamed on the regime. And it would be, of course, with no questions asked. The government itself claims snipers exist in Misrata – brought in by the rebels and affiliated with Hezbollah, says spokesman Khaled Kaim. Hezbollah denies this, and the evidence has yet to be shown [5]

Yousef bin Youssef on Snipers, Kids, and/or Targeting
A video from the Al Aan channel of the United Arab Emirates was posted April 9, with English subtitles, on rebel site LibyaFeb17.info. Entitled “Batallion snipers targeting children in Misurata,” the content is an interview with Yousef bin Youssef, onetime Misrata resident, in touch with others still there and amazingly informed (he’s the one with the sniper nationalities list). [4]

Asked if “children were actually being targeted by snipers there,” Youssef makes a long presentation with heavy use of the word for “targeted,” but only gives one bit of an answer to that question at the end. He starts with the government shelling of the city:
“[T]here are very serious risks when these populated zones are targeted – many injuries could occur … Families are being targeted daily … the targeting of children and civilians in large numbers … the targeting of Misrata is happening in every residential area … Gaddafi’s forces are systematically killing the entire population of the city of Misrata.”
He does get to children, noting that “a car with four children in it was targeted,” in fact a disputable incident at a check-point, killing one child an wounding another. [6] This is quite common in places like Iraq where a government is up against an insurgency. “In another neighborhood near Tripoli street,” Youssef added, “a child of two years was also targeted” in some unspecified way. He also lists several names with ages of “just a few” of the youngest “martyrs” killed by anything at all so far in this conflict.

He also brought cell-phone video footage of three injured children evacuated, from Misrata and Benghazi, to Turkey. One is a boy with his right arm amputated and the left one locked in a full cast, and one eye swollen shut. Another older boy is shown with both hands in casts. Both look more like mishaps in handling explosives than any sniper’s work. Their injuries are not explained. [4]

The Girl in Turkey: Right for the Heart
The only time in all Youssef’s interview where any sign of a sniper appears is with the third child, which he describes as:
“a small girl, no older than 4 years, who was targeted by a sniper’s bullet near the heart. But thank God, they removed the bullet, as you can see.” [4]
The hefty bullet is shown in a vial, and a precious little girl is shown curled up asleep in the hospital bed, barely saved from the government's mad designs. And as proof the two were once together, her x-ray is also shown to the camera. A rib cage is visible, with a bullet appearing in the upper center (top image). That looks like medical proof she was shot by someone or other. And certainly the whole medical clinic setting lends credence to it.

Luckily I happen to have a clearer blow-up of this same image (see below, explained further below) to get some better detail. It looks like possibly a sniper bullet, but with an odd orientation. Unless the kid was doing cartwheels at the moment of impact, it was apparently fired up from a low angle, an inherently illogical scenario.

Further, the bullet is perfectly shaped, with no apparent deformation from entry and plowing through tissues firm enough to stop it entirely only halfway through.

This in turn might have something to with absolutely no sign of entry revealed by the x-rays. Following back the apparent bullet track suggests it must have entered her body on the left side (lower right in the image). Any possible “hole” in her side would be invisible from a frontal view. We should, however, see any broken chunks or deformation to the curve of her ribs where at least one should have been shattered. But not a single arc of this delicate 4-year-old rib-cage is disturbed that we can see.

While I don’t have the expertise to credibly rule out a real gunshot here, It seems to me that this image shows two things:
1) The girl was never shot.
2) A bullet was made to appear in her chest.
The fakery could be done in any photo-editing program, then sent to a device for developing the image on transluscent film to look real. Or it could be a simple x-ray image of the child with a bullet laid on her chest. But that’s sure as hell not how it was preseted to the world at almost exactly the same time as that April 8 UNICEF report.

The Boy in Misrata with the Same X-Ray Proof
Furthermore, at the same time, there was another child with a family claiming proof of a very similar sniper shot. The April 10 Human Rights Watch dispatch related the story of a five-year-old boy. He's not in the main article for some reason, but is shown in the bottom picture with his mother and an x-ray image, with this extended caption:
Five-and-a-half year old Rakan Ahmed was playing in the street opposite the Italian Consulate on March 19 when a bullet entered his shoulder and passed by his heart, according to his parents, Hanan Faraj and Ahmed Muftah Burjid. There was fighting at the time about 500 meters away, they said, but no sound of gunfire close by. “Rakan’s uncle carried him inside,” Ahmed Muftah Burjid said. “We thought he fainted. There was no sound of a gunshot, no blood.” When the family arrived at the hospital, they saw the bullet from the x-rays, which the family shared with Human Rights Watch. “We were shocked,” Ahmed recalled. “We just thought he was tired.” [6]
This might sound strange, but is remarkably akin to what happened to WPC Yvonne Fletcher in London, 1984. Standing across from the Libyan embassy, she was shot by a high-powered bullet that entered the right shoulder at a steep angle, hit the heart, lung, and other vital organs, and passed out her lower left rib cage. [6] She died from all this within short order, but from the outside, she just collapsed, with no visible blood and officers at first acting as if she'd just fainted. [8] Gaddafi thug snipers pulled the trigger, it was decided, in both of these cases. Women and children were slaughtered, publics enraged. We have a precedent.

By the photo HRW ran (right), little Rakan does seem to be injured. He  has bandages on his left side over the owie (the exit wound after the entry on his right shoulder?). His mom helps show us by pulling up his arm and his shirt. He looks unhappy, but quite healthy and limber for only three weeks healing time after such a massive injury to the upper body.

The x-ray image shown to the right, shared by the family, reveals a bullet is or was once in there, stopped just where it was in the girl’s x-ray. It did not exit through his side or at all. Hmmm...

The bullet shown here has the same pristine profile, same orientation and implied, illogical, low-level entry. It clearly did not enter via his shoulder, as reported, in fact just stopping in the middle of him, halfway to his right shoulder. Beside the bullet match, this x-ray shows the same strange line running across, same light and dark patches, same … undisturbed rib cage.

It’s the same image, I can safely say, (aside from the circled left shoulder in Rakan's print). See the comparison at left, complicated by low-resolution video, the different angles of view, and different backgrounds behind the translucent images (these are all corrected somewhat for the left image). Clearly they are too consistent to be anything other than the same, so this is of course my source for the above blow-up of the little girl’s chest shot.

The image could still be of a genuine child shooting, as my pathologist friend Rolfe at the JREF forum points out, but as she also notes with basic logic, it can’t be evidence for both of those kids being shot. [9] Nonetheless, it was presented within the same few-days span as just that. It should of course be noted that this doubling up is enough to change “child” to “children,” and leave the public imagining just how many. Imaginations over here tend to ignore the "reported" part and presume hundreds of things like this. But we have this kind of evidence for only two, one recovering in Turkey, the other all healed up in Misrata, neither with a single broken rib, judging by the single x-ray image between them.

All I can say is I'm glad the rebels are still able to fake these things in Photoshop and have it believed. If the international agencies like UNICEF and HRW were more exacting, we might see rebels actually shooting each others' children to leverage stronger support for regime change efforts. At the moment, I wish Gaddafi would just step down and hand his country over to Wall Street and these manipulative little domestic proxies so this absurdity can finally stop.

[1] Washington Post. UNICEF: Snipers targeting children in besieged Libyan city of Misrata. April 8. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/unicef-snipers-targeting-children-in-besieged-libyan-city-of-misrata/2011/04/08/AF5jO4zC_story.html
[2] http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0906/p25s02-cogn.html
[3] Daily Mail. April 15. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1377349/Libya-16-women-children-rocket-blitz-Gaddafis-troops.html
[4] “Batallion snipers targeting children in Misurata.” April 9 posting of video interview with Yousef bin Youssef, on al Aan news. (Undated). http://feb17.info/media/video-interview-battalion-snipers-targeting-children-in-misurata-translated/
[5] Hezbollah denies any role in Libya’s uprising. Ya Libnan. April 14 2011. http://www.yalibnan.com/2011/04/14/hezbollah-denies-any-role-in-libyas-uprising/
[6] Human Rights Watch. "Libya: Government Attacks in Misrata Kill Civilians." April 10 2011. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/04/10/libya-government-attacks-misrata-kill-civilians
[8] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdg0BGzKCmc
[9] "Baby Snipers...Propaganda? Or are they just that evil?" JREF discussion forum. Thread started April 8. http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=205780

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Libya’s Money

May 22, 2011

The following is a re-post from Hermes Msafiri's Mercury Mail blog, as Libya Turmoil 142. High-lighting and bolding mine, see notes below.

Libya’s money
In Tripoli the “journalists” of ABC asked me how long Gaddafi could last financially?
I answered them much longer than the US.
They couldn’t believe me and continued: ”no seriously, how many months can he last?”
My answer, 10/20 years, brought a very big surprised expression on their faces: “NO, impossible”.

Our society of money changers and bean counters is not able anymore to think about a solid society, not based on debt or credit.

Libya has known an embargo for decades and a real ostracism for 42 years.
Gaddafi was never understood nor accepted. He was declared crazy and loony from the very beginning because he didn’t accept the orders from his “betters”. His feeling of oppression by the Western powers that be and afterwards his betrayal by the Soviets convinced him to look for an alternative solution, based on their native tribal structure.
He didn’t spend money because he couldn’t, the embargo obliged him to save money.
This frugal lifestyle wasn’t really bad for the country, they learned to live with it.
Only the Western educated and latter “revolutionaries” wanted more pieces of the cake.
I have seen governors of provinces, with budgets of billions, walking around in old army fatigues and plastic sandals, driving in old Toyota Corolla’s, with absolutely no desire for more luxury.

Gaddafi himself is of the same ilk, money doesn’t drive him, the fate of his country is his only driving force.
If that is enough to consider him a lunatic than he will proudly declare himself a lunatic.

As far as the money of the country is concerned, the calculation is rapidly made.
The total revenue during 42 years went far over a trillion dollars.
During the embargo time Libya spent only the interest of its investments, they didn’t touch their capital.
They had some amounts in foreign, US, European and Arab countries and banks.
That money was continuously siphoned off by those banks, they didn’t receive any interest on their money, the paid expenses every year on that money, pure highway robbery.

Gaddafi is a very astute investor and made several very good investments worldwide, which saved Libya a lot of money and kept their capital intact.
Today Libya is still sitting on a cash hoard of far over one trillion, the second largest after China, but safer. China has too much worthless US paper.
Because of his cash position, Libya was thinking to make Africans benefit of their commodities by introducing their own gold backed currency and their own Reserve Fund.

This would have shown the decrepit situation of the world credit system and the real abysmal situation of the Western banks.
Because the emperor had no clothes anymore Gaddafi had to disappear.

Russia and China are still hesitating what to do and whom to join. The sirene songs of Wall Street are very seductive but extremely empty. The main US corporations are already voting with their feet to Asia, just in case.

I hope Gaddafi survives the criminal onslaught and will have the chance to see his enemies crumble. The stakes are extremely high.

A fascinating viewpoint all around. I find the bolded parts most interesting, considered together. The sanctions weren't just punishment for blowing up airplanes, I suspect. Especially considering anyone in the know must know they were innocent for at least the Pan Am 103. It was more of a tool for the Western control matrix - squeeze the people with sanctions under some excuse, weaponize the population by causing enough suffering they blame the regime and hopefully figure out how to change it, or to be more receptive to outside change. Witness Eastern Libya today after two generations of this treatment. It is interesting that Msafiri finds those educated in the west were the most receptive to effects of Western sanctions. And consider the makeup and expertise of the steely-visioned rebel TNC, with quite a number of them hosting American PhDs in strategic planning, privatization, information warfare, and hostile takeovers.