Archive for category Iran
Posted by Larry Bergan in 4th Estate (Media), Activist groups, Afghanistan, American History, Barack Obama, censorship, Crimes, Democracy, Dick Cheney, Egypt, Free Speech, George W. Bush, Guantanamo, Human Rights, Hypocrisy, Iran, Iraq, Joe Biden, Military Industrial Complex, Occupy SLC, Occupy Wall Street, Peace, Veterans, War on December 18, 2011
I really hate associating myself with Michael Moore or Bradley Manning with an insignificant post, because I’m not anywhere near worthy, but:
From Michael Moore:
A Man in Tunisia, a Movement on Wall Street, and the Soldier Who Ignited the Fuse
Protesters chant slogans against the political party of former President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, on January 21, 2011. The city was where Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, had a confrontation with a municipal inspector that eventually led to his self-immolation in front of the governor’s office in protest. The act fatally burned Bouazizi and is said to have sparked the protests that toppled President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali’s government.
It’s Saturday night and I didn’t want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.
One year ago on December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.
Three months ago on December 17th, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York’s Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks — and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions — has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% — and now there is no turning back.
Twenty-four years ago on December 17th, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial — simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush’s State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’)
The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business — and clearly those who don’t want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.
Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption — cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire — well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.
People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods — the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep — and in just a year’s time! When anyone asks me, “Who started Occupy Wall Street?” sometimes I say “Goldman Sachs” or “Chase” but mostly I just say, “Bradley Manning.” It was his courageous action that was the tipping point — and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning’s gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.
And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he’s received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin’ medal. He did what great Americans have always done — he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.
The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.
The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war — and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.
But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.
I know, I know, c’mon Mike — it’s the holiday season, there’s presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We’ve done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.
On November 12, 2011, Israel’s Mossad bombed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps missile site which killed among others, Maj. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, chief architect of Iran’s ballistic missile program.
On November 22, a gaggle of pretty Hobbits put on make-up and played ‘pretend president time.’ They filled a big room with as many greasy Bubba Hobbits as they could find. Then they and huffed and they puffed and pounded their chests and the Bubba Hobbits clapped and cheered. It was a glorious time and laughter rang throughout Middle Earth.
When the subject of the evil kingdom of Iran came up, the pretty Hobbits grew serious and the Bubba Hobbits got scared. Each of the pretty Hobbits attempted to out-boast the other about how tough they are and the Bubba Hobbits clapped with joy.
One by one, the pretty Hobbits contemplated the idea of supporting the Israelis should they decide to bomb Iran. None of them seemed to know that Israel had been bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities and killing their nuclear scientists, most recently, the week before. Even Fox News had pictures.
This is the picture of the missile site, close to Tehran before the explosion on November 12, 2011.
Iranian authorities will not admit this was an air strike but responded by launching missile from Lebanon into Israel.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two Americans captured and held by Iran since 2009, had an interesting point to make at their news conference yesterday in New York (via Think Progress):
According to Bauer and Fattal, Iranian prison guards repeatedly used the harsh conditions of Guantanamo Bay and CIA prisons around the world to justify their own human rights violations:
BAUER: In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay. They would remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world, and the conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S. We do not believe that such human rights violations on the part of our government justify what has been done to us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran, to act in kind.
According to the hikers, extended solitary confinement “was the worst experience of all our lives.”
It was already a well-known fact that torture and inhumane treatment of detainees by the USA helps other governments try to justify similar acts. In violation of the U.S. Constitution and international treaties, the Obama administration continues to hold people indefinitely without any charges being brought against them, under conditions similar to the Iranian prison Bauer and Fattal experienced.
As I mentioned almost a year ago, in the last decade the U.S has been directly involved in military attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen (including two full-scale invasions and occupations). Our closest ally Israel has attacked Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, plus Turkish civilian vessels on international waters.
What national security consequences can we expect from these attacks on Muslim countries? Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who pled guilty to an attempt to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square, tells us:
“Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow.”
The very idea that we’re going to spend an entire decade dropping a constant stream of bombs and other munitions on and in multiple Muslim countries and otherwise interfere in their governments — and then expect that nobody will try to attack us back — evinces such a child-like sense of imperial entitlement that it’s hard to put into words. And yet this is exactly the mindset that pervades our discussions of Terrorism: why would anyone possibly want to do something as heinous and senseless as placing a bomb in the United States? I just don’t understand it. What kind of an irrational fanatic and monster would even think of something like that? Of course, the people who say such things rarely apply the same language to our own political leaders…
Our foreign and national security policy is irrational. We are provoking a threat that the Pentagon cannot defend us against, even with a budget that exceeds military spending in all other countries put together.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald: They hate us for our occupations
Related One Utah post:
Why Do ‘They’ Hate Us? (October 20, 2009)
The Bush administration proposed a missile defense system that doesn’t work, to be deployed to the Czech Republic and Poland to (supposedly) counter Iranian ICBM’s that don’t exist. Eastern Europeans didn’t want it. Our Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff don’t want it. It pissed off the Russians. The Obama administration just canceled it. It was an easy call if there ever was one. Naturally the neocons are screaming about it.
On Faux News Charles Krauthammer complained that Russia can now take over all of eastern Europe, and the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes warned hysterically that Obama’s decision might lead to a situation worse than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Originally proposed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, ballistic missile defense (aka “Star Wars”) is an enormous waste of money. It’s supposed to work like the scene in “Wanted” (2008) when a gunfight culminates in both shooters’ bullets colliding in mid-air, twice! That just doesn’t happen without Hollywood special effects. The Missile Defense Agency has spent well over $120 billion to prove that the system Reagan envisioned can’t work in the real world.
The right wants us to at great expense build a missile shield that doesn’t work, in places it’s not wanted, to protect Western Europe from Iranian missiles that don’t exist, in order to antagonize the Russians.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that criticism of the Obama plan is “not yet connected to the facts. We are not, quote, ’shelving’ missile defense. We are deploying missile defense sooner than the Bush administration planned to do so.”
Rather than building huge, fixed ground-based interceptor (GBI) complexes in Eastern Europe, President Obama wants to buy more small, mobile Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) weapon systems and place them, initially, on the U.S. Navy’s Aegis cruisers. The SM-3s are capable of shooting down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, unlike the GBI, which is designed to shoot down ICBMs (but can’t).
More info: Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy.
Well, it looks like Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei has a problem. The same kind of popular resentment that overthrew the Shah’s regime 30 years ago is now aimed at him and President Ahmadinejad. The theocrats who still support the “Supreme Leader” are not going down without a fight, and they might even succeed in clinging to power for now.
Khamenei has essentially declared all protesters enemies of the state. Security forces were deployed to stop demonstrations in the streets, escalating the violence. Regime opponents and reporters are being arrested. The million-strong Basij militia is tracking dissidents by day and beating and killing them by night, hoping as time goes on that the constant threat of violence will intimidate everybody.
Yesterday, thousands of people continued to march, shouting, “Don’t be afraid– we are together. Death to the dictator.” Today, the streets of Tehran were reported to be quiet.
The world is watching, as President Obama has pointed out. Thanks to courageous people with cameras and Internet access, we can see some of what’s happening. But there’s not much that we can do, for two reasons:
- The U.S. is going to have to deal with whatever Iranian regime emerges from the crisis. It would be foolish to take sides in their politics. Even if Mousavi was our friend (he’s not), public or covert support for him would simply add substance to the constant accusations of foreign involvement in Iran’s internal affairs.
- Americans are in no position to lecture Iranians on democracy, honest elections, and human rights. We’re the country that intervened to subvert Iran’s democratic government in 1953. Our recent presidential elections haven’t exactly been a model for the world. Worst of all, our own war crimes and human rights violations are serious and ongoing. Prosecutions have been few, most of those guilty haven’t even been fired from their government jobs.
Some have demonstrated in sympathy with the Iranian opposition. Yesterday on the steps of the Utah state capitol, ironically, there were more Utahns angry about Iran’s stolen election than we ever saw come out against our own stolen elections in 2000 and 2004.
The Iranian crisis has become an occasion for stomach-churning hypocrisy by American politicians in general, and Republicans in particular.
For example, last Friday enthusiastic defender of torture Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) treated the House to emotional rhetoric about “America’s moral responsibility to speak out on the protection of human rights wherever they are violated.” He went on to criticize President Obama’s lack of verbal commitment to Iranian rights, as if hot air were the answer.
Matt Yglesias: “It’s worth keeping in mind that the people trying to loudly position themselves as the Iranian people’s greatest friends are the exact same people who wanted to drop bombs on Iranians just a couple of weeks ago.”
UPDATE: A small gathering in Tehran today was attacked by Iranian government security forces.
Helicopters hovered overhead as about 200 protesters gathered at Haft-e-Tir Square Monday. Hundreds of anti-riot police quickly put an end to the demonstration.
UPDATE: At last count, 33 journalists are being held in Iranian jails.
This post is currently on the DailyKos recommended Diaries. Thought you should know, there is a coup happening in Iran.
Update V: I’ve lost my translator (Payman) for the night. He promised a birthday dinner to a Bosnian friend. We’ll be back at it very early tomorrow. People are finding ‘other’ ways to get the news out, so we hope to have more news by morning.
Link: A committee of respected Ayatollahs (the spiritual fighters) have requested that the election be invalidated for the purpose of restoring the people’s trust in the Islamic Republic. “We request the people to stay calm and not to provoke the government agents.”
Pyknet: Mousavi has been place under house arrest. He was arrested on his way to Khamenei’s house. All communication has been shut off. Khamenei has issued a statement claiming that HE that he is leading this coup to SAVE the Islamic Government (Nezam)
Update: Sianat az ara (Protectors of Votes) Iran’ Election Commission, have called the result fraud and are calling for new election. They pointed to the suspension of text messaging Thursday night and the disruption of phone service for the campaigns and pthers, and ballot shortages. Sianat az ara is a group of election monitors chosen by the four candidates. Ahmadinejad campaign is rejecting the claim of fraud and dismissed the committee as pro-Mousavi.
Rafsanjani has resigned all duties in protest to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s endorsement of Ahmadinejad as winner of yesterday’s election.
This article from Forbes on Thursday provides recent background on Rafsanjani’s case.
Rafsanjani, known in many circles as the Godfather, responded in kind with an open letter to the supreme leader demanding punishment for the aggression. That was perhaps the fuel on the fire for the streets. The anti-Ahmadinejad protesters felt more secure and confident after the division among the ruling elite became public and the streets went wild with human chains and slogans demanding Ahmadinejad’s resignation.
****** First Diary from this morning ***** Just uploaded to YouTube, this video shows Iranian police and Revolutionary Guards (Bassiji) CLEARLY running away from the protesters. From a video from a popular independent Iranian website Peykieran.com
Cliff here reporting for famous (around here :)) Iranian exile and writer Payman here in Salt Lake City. The title of the video is “Demonstrators Election Announcement.”
The guy in the white shirt in the center of the frame at 7 seconds in is ‘plain clothes guard.’
We will continue to post video from ‘the inside’ as they come up.
American news outlets such as NBC are reporting that the police are keeping things under control, but we are hearing and seeing otherwise. Iranians expect Khamenei will begin rounding up the more visible activist but also current public officials who did not support Ahmadinejad.
U.S. Navy special forces and Marines on an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat, conducting maritime interception operations in the northern Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Peterson)
The Jerusalem Post reports that the U.S. Navy intercepted an Iranian-owned merchant vessel last week in the Red Sea. This operation was one of a number of interceptions and searches being carried out on the basis of the memorandum of understanding signed between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on January 16, aimed at halting arms smuggling into Gaza. The Bush administration committed to helping Israel enforce a blockade of the Gaza Strip.
What possible justification is there for using American resources — the American military — to patrol the Red Sea in order to ensure that Gazans remain defenseless? That question is particularly pronounced given that the U.S. is already shoveling, and will continue to shovel, billions and billions of dollars to Israel in military and other aid. Why, on top of all of that, are increasingly scarce American resources, rather than Israeli resources, being used to bar Palestinians from obtaining weapons?
So here we are, directly involved in an armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, with no declaration of war or even a congressional authorization for the use of military force. Not to mention we’re increasing tensions between the U.S. and Iran at the very moment when the Iranians are helping to keep the lid on Shiite insurgent activity in Iraq. Thank you, former President Bush. And wake up, President Obama– you’ve been punked.
UPDATE: President Obama, in an interview yesterday with al Arabiya television, said: “Americans are not your enemy… But ultimately, people are going to judge me not by my words but by my actions and my administration’s actions.” So, what about the U.S. Navy blockading Gaza?
UPDATE: Amnesty International investigates the undisciplined behavior of Israeli troops who invaded the Gaza Strip. These are our allies in the new war Bush bequeathed to President Obama.
Chris Cobb-Smith, a military expert and part of Amnesty International’s team, was an officer in the British Army for almost 20 years. He said he was staggered by what he saw and by the behaviour and apparent lack of discipline of the Israeli soldiers. “Gazans have had their houses looted, vandalized and desecrated. As well, the Israeli soldiers have left behind not only mounds of litter and excrement but ammunition and other military equipment. It’s not the behaviour one would expect from a professional army,” he said.
In most cases, the families had fled or were expelled by the soldiers. In some cases, however, the soldiers prevented the families from leaving, using them as “human shields”.
UPDATE: Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the Red Sea interception but said the ship was searched with permission. “We were not authorized to seize the weapons or do anything like that.”
You may have already seen this, but it bears re-posting far and wide: The inimitable Seymour Hersh gave truly disturbing details, during the Campus Progress journalism conference in July, expounding upon his article from that month’s New Yorker about the Bush administration’s attempts to find a cause for war against Iran in late 2007.
Sorry, this has nothing to do with President Bush’s upcoming visit to Utah, later this month. Instead, it’s a remarkable glimpse of a mind that is fixated on what I would call the opposite of reality. Back in April 2003, Josh Marshall warned that the neocon strategy for the entire Middle East could best be described as “whacking the hornet’s nest” (BTW this was a prescient article, well worth reading today). “Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks’ nightmare scenario,” wrote Marshall. “It’s their plan.”
During an interview with NBC’s Richard Engel in Egypt, President Bush expounded on this theme– except he called it “a beehive theory.” And yes, our commander-in-chief thinks that the USA ought to give the Middle East a good whacking.
ENGEL: If you look back over the last several years, the middle east that you’ll be handing over to the next president is deeply problematic. You have Hamas in power, Hezbollah empowered, taking to the streets, Iran empowered, Iraq still at war. What region are you handing over?
BUSH: Richard, those folks were always around. They were here. What we’re handing over is a Middle East that one recognizes the problems and the world recognizes them. There’s clarity as to what the problems are.
ENGEL: The war on terrorism has been the centerpiece of your presidency. Many people say that it has not made the world safer, that it has created more radicals, that there are more people in this part of the world who want to attack the United States.
BUSH: It’s just a beehive theory. We should have just let the beehive sit there and hope the bees don’t come out of the hive? My attitude is, the United States must stay on the offense against al Qaeda two ways —
ENGEL: Smash the beehive and let them spread?
BUSH: Richard, two ways. One, find them and bring them to justice — what we’re doing — and two, offer freedom as an alternative for their vision. And somehow, to suggest that bees would stay in the hive is naive. They didn’t stay in the hive when they came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.
Of course, the Bush administration’s global war on terror has been a costly flop. During World War II, America defeated both the Nazis and the Japanese in less than four years. After nearly eight years, Al Qaeda is not defeated, and intelligence reports say they are doing better than ever.
Video after the jump…
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