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Weasel Zippers Responds to the Execution of Majid Jamali Fashi in Iran

9:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Andy Greenberg, editorializing at Forbes, sums it:

Since WikiLeaks first released its flood of classified State Department memos in December of 2010, the secret-spilling site’s critics have been searching for evidence that Julian Assange’s disregard for official secrecy would directly hurt some innocent bystander. On Wednesday, those critics seemed to have found their best evidence yet of that harm. Nevermind that the facts didn’t agree with them.

In a story Wednesday morning, The Daily Mail headlined a story“WikiLeaks cable ‘led Iran to hang kick-boxer it claims was Israeli spy who assassinated nuclear scientist,’” a story that was soon picked up by other sites in Israel and around the world, finally ending up on the Drudge Report with the headline “REPORT: ‘Mossad spy’ hanged by Iran was doomed by WIKILEAKS…” linking to a story at the Times of Israel.

Those stories point to the execution of Majid Jamali Fashi, a kick-boxer who was hanged in Iran Tuesday for allegedly assassinating Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali-Mohammadi in January of 2010. The Daily Mail story cited a redacted cable released by Der Spiegel and WikiLeaks in December 2010 described a briefing between a State Department official in the Iranian town of Baku and an unnamed ‘licensed martial arts coach and trainer’ who opposed the Iranian government’s attempts to recruit local militiamen. Though the cable doesn’t mention Israel or any assassinations, Fashi, a martial artist who had been in the town of Baku days before the cable was released, was soon arrested.

But here’s where the Mail’s story falls apart: The unredacted State Department memo, released after WikiLeaks’ and the Guardian’s notorious snafu last summer that led to the accidental publication of its entire database, names that martial arts trainer and State Department informant. His name, though I won’t cite it here, is not Majid Jamali Fashi. And his branch of martial arts, which was also redacted in the initial release, is not kick boxing.

Listening to midweek coverage of the story of why Fashi was hanged, there has been a noticeable absence of denial from the Israeli government of any relationship to Fashi.  Take it for what it is worth.

The Drudge Report coverage of this inspired commenters at blogs hooked on Ziocane to go nuts.

One commenter at Weasel Zippers seems to want Manning’s and Assange’s flayed skins, uh, available to be crafted into something that has been made lampshade by others:

Would love to remove his skin with a pair of pliers, then let him bleed to death. The Mossad should take him out as an enemy of the people.

Another commenter was more detailed in his loathing:

I hope bridget Manning and Ass-flang both get put down for dirtnaps. Lil fag boy was pissed off he couldn’t be openly flaming, so he’ll have hundreds or thousands of other people killed, indirectly to soothe his ego. As I said before, most faggots are narcissists. Please, let’s put this chocolate cha cha dancer in general population in leavenworth. I’m trying to figure out how the guys in his unit didn’t deal with him “indirectly” before it got to this point. I know some of the stories I”ve been told by my brother of things that happened during his 2 tours in Iraq and 2 in Afghan, NCOs have been known to be creative in their NJP. Now, all that said.. Manning should have been room temperature a long time ago and the morons in his chain of command who enabled him and toleratd him sitting in prison.

Too bad they ddn’t leave him at the Marine disciplinary barracks. I knew 2 guys when I was in the military who were busted in Turkey. We didn’t have a Correcional Custody Facility and the one in Germany was too far away, so they were sent to the one in Spain… run by the Marines. They came back “changed men” in more ways than one.

As for Assange, I’m sure he’s one of Oblowhole’s secret campaign contributors. It’s the only reason he hasn’t been extraordinarly renditioned. Nothing would make me happier to see him in an orange jumpsuit on trial in Cuba.

The comments at the post lack charity, let alone common sense.  It is appalling how many consecutive remarks propose illegal responses to the premise that Assange or Manning might have had a role in how this has played out.

Lack of interest in the illegal war the United States and Israel are actually carrying out against Iran in news reports and blog posts on this from the Right isn’t surprising.  Nor is incuriosity by the legacy corporate media.

More progressive outlets need to beat back against the meme that Assange or Manning are responsible for the execution of Majid Jamali Fashi.

Rachel Corrie Civil Suit – D-9 Driver Won’t Be Able to be Seen in Testimony

11:16 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The concluding phase of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Corrie family, over the death Rachel Corrie in March 2003 began in Haifa Thursday, with the Government of Israel being granted their request to have some testimony in this phase shielded from view from the audience, and from the plaintiffs:

The Haifa District Court on Thursday granted a government request to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza.

The order includes the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, who is slated to testify later this month. However, Judge Oded Gershon ruled that both the commander of the unit and the second soldier in the bulldozer that hit Rachel would testify in plain view, because their faces were already publicly known.

In asking for the highly unusual protective measures, state attorneys argued that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. They based the request on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, but did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They asked to dismiss the request, filed just 48 hours before the first soldier’s testimony. Alternatively, the lawyers asked the court to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not, but their request was denied. Lawyers for the Corrie family plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Israel.

The irony of this situation was not missed by Rachel Corrie’s father, Craig:

"While Rachel stood in front of a wall to protect the two families huddled behind it, the state is now making the soldiers hide behind a wall that denies us the opportunity to see them," said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother. "The State of Israel has been hiding for over seven years. Where is the justice?"

Where is the justice, indeed? I have to say, though, that I’m somewhat surprised the Israeli government hasn’t managed to quash this trial. I’m becoming more convinced every day that the Government of Israel has considered itself at war with the United States of America since July 14th, 1954, when Israeli agents firebombed the U.S. Information Agency libraries in Cairo and Alexandria.

I’m just finishing reading James Scott’s definitive book, The Attack on the Liberty. The number of U.S. officials who believed then and still believe the attack on that ship was intentional is overwhelming. Just one of many examples:

[Secretary of State Dean] Rusk channeled his hostility over the attack into a stinging three-page letter to the Ambassador [of Israel, Avraham Harman]. Aided by Katzenbach and Walt Rostow, Rusk left no doubt he didn’t believe Israel’s assertion that its forces had attacked in error.

Elsewhere (in his memoir), Rusk has been cited:

I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.

Every surviving member of the U.S.S. Liberty’s crew believes that the attack was deliberate, and meant to kill everyone on the ship.

In 1983, the Israeli Government had pre-knowledge of the impending attack on the U.S. Marine barracks near Beirut airport, but intentionally failed to pass it on:

On October 23, 1983 – at 6:20 a.m. – A truck packed with explosives slammed into US Marine barracks at Beirut Internation Airport – killing 241 Marines, mostly aseleep. A few minutes later, a similar explosion blew up a French military barracks – killing 56 French soldiers. Israeli Mossad acknowledged that it had prior information on these terrorist activities – but its chief Nahum Admony – decided not to warn Israel’s ally in details: “No. We are not going to protect the Americans. They’re a big country. Send only the regular information.”

Consistent with this sort of M.O. – that of a nation at war with the U.S. and its citizens – in the matter of this ongoing trial, is the way the IDF handled the surveillance of the area where Corrie was killed, at the time she was killed:

Also testifying on Thursday was the head of the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, Shalom Michaeli, who oversaw the investigation into Rachel’s killing. He told the court that he stood by his 2003 investigation and saw no reason that anyone should have been prosecuted.

Michaeli was also in charge of the investigation into the killing of Iman al Hams, a 13-year-old Gaza school girl who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Rafah as she lay injured on the ground in October 2004. A military police internal investigation subsequently found major failures in Michaeli’s investigation, saying it was conducted unprofessionally and with negligence. The solider who killed al Hams was court-martialed but subsequently acquitted – in part because of this flawed investigation.

Michaeli’s cross-examination revealed similar flaws in the Corrie investigation. These flaws support the family’s claim of government negligence, for allowing soldiers and their commanders to act recklessly using armored military bulldozers without due regard for the presence of civilians.

Michaeli said that he ordered only a partial transcript of radio transmissions because he did not think it important to transcribe the full audio.

He said he did not go to the site of Rachel’s killing because it was dangerous, the terrain had already been altered, and the vehicles removed by the Israeli military. He acknowledged that he could have gone to the scene in an armored vehicle, but chose not to.

Michaeli testified in his written affidavit that when he inspected the bulldozer he did not find any signs of blood or other evidence that the vehicle had injured anyone. However, in court testimony he said the bulldozer could have been washed “or even painted” before he inspected it.

Michaeli said he knew, prior to opening the investigation, there was a video camera recording the area around the clock. But he failed to obtain the tape until March 23, a week after the incident, because it had been previously taken by senior commanders.

When questioned about his failure to interrogate the camera operator, who panned away from the scene only minutes before Rachel was killed, he said he did not think it was relevant.

When asked whether he questioned the bulldozer crews about an Israeli military manual for low intensity conflict that states bulldozers should not be operated near people, Michaeli said the manuals were not relevant. He added that bulldozer operators could not be expected to follow such procedures in this zone. He went on to say that he believed the Israeli army was “at war” with everyone in the area, including the ISM peace activists.

Michaeli still heads the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, but has since been promoted from Sergeant Major to Warrant Officer.

“Today I was struck by the lead investigator’s failures – his failure to look for evidence, to secure evidence, to resolve conflicting evidence, and to turn evidence over to this court,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “This is not what we and the U.S. government were promised by the government of Israel when Rachel was killed and it is not what we will accept now.” [emphases added]

The IDF clearly states here, that it considered itself to be at war with U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie. I suppose that is how the IDF considered itself to be with U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, when he was murdered in cold blood for merely attempting to document IDF atrocities:

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." [emphases added]

Quite troubling in this context, is the information – covered at The Seminal yesterday by CTuttle, of apparent attempts by Israeli agents, fueled by a new report by the Reut Institute, that will probably target blogs like firedoglake and diarists here such as CTuttle, Markfromireland and me as "existential threats":

The evolution of the Delegitimization Network. This network aims to turn Israel into a pariah state so it will ultimately cease to exist. It is based in a number of metropolitan cities (US!), within which a relatively small number of individuals and organizations mobilize the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. The Delegitimization Network’s success lies in its ability to harness the Western liberal and progressive elite. It does so by employing a variety of means aimed at blurring its true intentions; [...]

11. These groups are leading a systemic and systematic attack against Israel’s political and economic model, which has already had strategic consequences and may become existential if ignored or inadequately addressed.

40. It takes a network to fight a network – The delegitimization campaign against Israel is carried out by a network of NGOs based in a number of international metropolitan cities. Disrupting this network should become the main anti-delegitimization focus.

60. The Reut Institute contends that combined, these forces represent a political-diplomatic strategic threat that may become existential. Resistance Network leaders repeatedly and publicly declare their goal of causing Israel’s implosion inspired by precedents set by the Soviet Union, South Africa, and other countries. This logic is ripening into a strategy that is yielding tangible gains. [emphases added]

While not clearly targeting pro-Palestinian rights bloggers, this document, along with others that have leaked out of Israel over the past year, indicate that efforts to delegitimize the delegitimizers is increasingly being linked to the Israeli model of total war.

As the delightful IDF Col. Yossi declared last month, "There are no civilians in wartime!"

Will the Late June Gaza Flotilla Result in Another Israeli Invasion of Lebanon?

1:18 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

A lot is happening in the eastern Mediterranean Sea this week and weekend. Boats, ships and fleets are coming and going. Friday, the biggest U.S. Naval task force in decades passed out of the Med through the Suez Canal, on its way to the Persian Gulf:

More than twelve United States Naval warships and at least one Israeli ship crossed the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea on Friday, British Arabic Language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Saturday.

According to the report, thousands of Egyptian soldiers were deployed along the Suez Canal guarding the ships’ passage, which included a U.S. aircraft carrier.

The Suez Canal is a strategic Egyptian waterway which connects between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

According to eyewitnesses, the U.S. battleships [sic] were the largest to have crossed the Canal in many years, Al-Quds reported.

And in the Eastern Mediterranean itself, the Lebanese contingent of the next flotilla is leaving port today and tomorrow, headed first to Cyprus, and then on to Gaza, or to its likely confrontation with the Israeli Navy:

Some 50 Christian and Muslim Lebanese women as well as foreigners are preparing to leave Lebanon on Sunday on board of the Miriam.

The group of women, who announced that they do not belong to any political group, will sail from the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli to Cyprus and then to Gaza, between June 23 and 25.

The ship, which will be loaded with medical supplies for cancer patients, would be the latest bid to break Israel’s four-year blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned the Lebanese government that it would be held responsible for ships sailing from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.

Samar al-Hajj, who is organizing the Miriam voyage to Gaza, thanked Israel "for its threats which only strengthened these women’s willpower to make the trip. I tell the Israelis we are not afraid and we are going on with our plans."

When the IDF boarded the MV Mavi Marmara in late May, the Turkish government registered protests, but took no military action. Since then, although the Turks have voiced interest in issuing naval protection to any new forays by Turkish-flagged vessels, there doesn’t appear to be any gathering of warships from their navy.

The Mossad-connected news source, Debka File, reports today that it may be likely, should the IDF intercept and board the Lebanese flotilla, Hizbollah will react with rocket attacks upon Israel, from across the southern Lebanese border:

Officers of Hizballah’s Iranian-trained marine arm and surface rocket units were sighted Saturday, June 19, going in an out of the small Lebanese Navy’s bases in Beirut and Juniya. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report the Lebanese army and Hizballah are pooling their military resources to be ready for any Israeli action against Lebanese ships heading for Gaza.

The tiny Lebanese Navy, no more than a handful of fast coastal guard boats, has been placed on alert, as have Hizballah’s coastal rocket positions. The Shiite terrorist group has also deployed marines in Beirut harbour against a possible Israeli naval commando raid.
Lebanese ship or ships bound for Gaza are potentially a more dangerous spark for a regional conflagration than even the convoys Ankara and Tehran – although all of them are pledged to the same mission of busting the Israeli blockade of Gaza and may mount a concerted assault.

All three are clearly coordinated: The two-ship Lebanese convoy planning to sail 70 women from different countries to Gaza is funded by Yasser Qaslaq, a Palestinian who in the guise of a Lebanese businessman acts as money courier between Tehran, Hizballah and extremist Palestinian organizations.

Israel’s UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev warned Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Israel reserves the right to use "all necessary means" to stop the Lebanese boats. Attempts to sail from Lebanon, which maintains a state of war with Israel, she said, would raise regional tensions.

But instead of dealing with the mounting crisis, Ban again demanded that Israel accept an international investigation of its raid of a Turkish ship on May 31 and the nine deaths aboard.

Anxious to keep its head down, Hizballah claimed Saturday that it was not involved in the Lebanese flotilla, thereby trying to pass the buck to Beirut and Jerusalem. But its spokesmen pointedly avoided a guarantee to stay out of it if the Israel navy boarded Lebanese ships. The Iranian-backed terrorists, who in the name of "resistance" maintain a separate armed force armed with advanced weapons in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions, could not stand aside if Beirut accused Israel of an act of war.
The first Lebanese boat heading out for Gaza waters therefore holds the potential of scuppering the Lebanese-Israel truce under the UN Security Council Resolution which cut short the 2006 war, required the Hizballah militia to disarm, and posted UN-flagged German, Spanish and Italian naval units opposite Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast.

Their mission was – and is – to prevent Hizballah receiving weapons smuggled by sea or taking up an active presence in Lebanese ports and anchorages. However, the peacekeepers have never proved able to stop Hizballah building up one of the biggest rocket and missile arsenal in the Middle East – by sea and by land.

Today, the Lebanese army is reverting to its 2006 collaboration with Lebanon that permitted Hizballah missile teams to use its coastal radar stations to fire the Silkworm C-802 missiles which crippled the Israeli Hanit missile boat.

That’s the Debka File, which is often used by the Mossad or IDF to plant the seeds of paranoia. However, the situation, especially should the Iranians, Lebanese, Turks and Europeans unite before making a run to the Gaza coast, is fraught with potential danger. The reality in the eastern Mediterranean, come mid-week, might be rather different from that of the MV Mavi Marmara-MV Rachel Corrie episodes of late May and early June.

Although it is difficult to see other changes in the political climate concerning the international community’s regard for the Israeli government from the vantage point of reading or watching U.S. media these past three weeks, the climate in Europe has changed markedly. Yesterday, the Israelis refused to grant permission to a German cabinet member to visit Gaza to see what needs to be done to restore sewage treatment facilities to the besieged enclave:

German Development Aid Minister Dirk Niebel was denied entry into the Gaza Strip during his current visit to Israel, German officials said Saturday evening.

A ministry spokesman said talks had continued to the last moment with Israeli officials over Niebel’s aim to visit the Palestinian areas.

Niebel, who arrived in Israel earlier Saturday, had hoped to visit a sewage treatment plant being financed with German development aid.

Speaking on the second German TV network ZDF program"heute" (today) Saturday evening, Niebel expressed his anger about being denied entry.

"I would have wished for a clear political signal would be sent for an opening and for transparency," said Niebel, of Germany’s liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

"Sometimes the Israeli government does not make it easy for its friends to explain why it behaves the way it does," he added.

Niebel said that Israel’s latest announcement on easing the Gaza blockade was "not sufficient" and that Israel must "now deliver" on its pledge.

Beyond that, the government in Jerusalem should be "clear about how Israel, within an international context, wants to cooperate with
its friends in the future as well," the German minister said.

Earlier Saturday, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German parliament is to issue a cross-party demand that Israel allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip by sea.

As if to underline Niebel’s statements about Israeli "transparency," in another development between the Israeli and German governments, the Germans have refused to acquiesce to an Israeli demand that they not extradite Mossad operative Uri Brodsky from Poland to Germany, for Brodsky’s role in illegally acquiring German passports for use by the Mossad Dubai hit team last January. So much for the Israelis being able to keep their fingerprints off of that keystone cops episode, eh?

The German government has said it will not intervene to stop an investigation into a suspected Mossad spy linked to the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai, despite pressure from Israel, a German newspaper reported on Saturday.

A German official told Der Spiegel his ministry was united in the belief that any investigation into Uri Brodsky should be "dealt with according to purely judicial considerations".

Brodsky, who was wanted by German authorities, was arrested on June 4 at an airport in the Polish capital Warsaw, provoking strong protests from Israeli diplomats. He is suspected of helping to procure a German passport for the killers of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, assassinated in a Dubai hotel room on January 19.

But despite Israel’s demands, Germany will not invoke a law citing "overwhelming public interest" to halt the investigation into Brodsky’s role in the killing.

The German government has asked Poland to extradite Brodsky for trial in Germany, something Israel had sought to prevent.

This is going to be a terrible summer for Israeli diplomacy, perhaps the worst since the Sinai invasion of 1956. Perhaps, even more than the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of the Sinai and seizure of the Suez Canal from Egypt had the potential to end in an out-of-control scenario:

The operation, aimed at taking the Suez Canal, was highly successful from a military point of view but was a political disaster as a result of external forces. Along with the Suez crisis, the United States was also dealing with the near-simultaneous Hungarian revolution, and decided it could not criticise Hungary’s suppression of the revolutionaries and simultaneously avoid opposing its two principal European allies’ actions. The United States also feared a wider war after the Soviet Union threatened to intervene on the Egyptian side and make rocket attacks on Britain, France and Israel. Despite having no commercial or military interest in the area, many countries were concerned with what might be a growing rift between Western allied nations.

Nasser requested help from the USA on November 1, without requesting Russian assistance, and was at first skeptical of the efficacy of US diplomatic efforts at the UN, but later gave full credit to Eisenhower’s role in stopping the war.

With reports of more groups preparing for more future flotillas, one might ask, "How many of these will occur before something really bad happens, or the Israelis, somehow, do the right thing for a change – whatever that might be?"

The late Abba Eban is often misquoted as having said "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." He actually used the term "Arabs," not "Palestinians." One can’t help wondering, though, as we watch Israel begin to come more and more unhinged and unglued, how many more opportunities the Israelis will have to miss to act humanely, before they truly do become a full-fledged pariah state.

The Lebanese should be very careful. They are Israel’s favorite target.