Skip to content

Podcast: ‘Ferguson October’ & How Community Continues to Stand Up to Police Aggression

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gozstola and I speak with Montague Simmons, the chair of the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) and founder of Hands Up United, about the latest developments in Ferguson, Missouri, where police continue to harass and arrests protesters and journalists in the aftermath of the execution of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here).

More from Kevin’s blog:

Police action against protestors in Ferguson escalated again this past week. According to those who continue to organize for justice in the aftermath of Mike Brown being gunned down by a Ferguson police officer, the police are now engaging in a process similar to hostage-taking, where they arrest people and agree to release those individuals if protests are stopped. It seemed police arrested 13 people, including a CNN freelancer, to discourage people from protesting.

Also, it was reported on October 3 that the St. Louis County Police are once more in charge of policing protests. The handover of control comes a week ahead of an upcoming weekend of resistance, “Ferguson October,” that will take place October 10-13. St. Louis County police will be in charge of handling arrests and communicating to news media about events on the ground.

And, on Saturday night, people interrupted the St. Louis Symphony in the middle of Brahms Requiem to unfurled banners from the balcony while singing a “Requiem for Mike Brown.”

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast the guest is Montague Simmons, the chair of the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) and founder of Hands Up United. He provides an update on recent aggressive action by police against protestors in Ferguson. He talks about helping community residents feel they will be secure when they participate in actions and how “jail support” is being handled. Simmons also shares a preview of what to expect with “Ferguson October.”

During the discussion portion, Gosztola and Khalek talk a bit about Ebola (they don’t have it). Then, the war in Syria and Iraq is highlighted, particularly how Obama has abandoned the “near-certainty” standard, which was developed to prevent civilian casualties in the administration’s covert drone war. We talk NSA spying and how the government has its own definition of “collection” that does not mean what you might think. And the show wraps with Khalek reflecting on a hashtag she and journalist Max Blumenthal started, which garnered quite a bit of attention: #JSIL.

Podcast: Obama the ‘Reluctant Warrior’ & Other Myths in Media Coverage of War in Iraq & Syria

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gozstola and I speak with Peter Hart, the activism director for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), about the corporate pro-war media’s shameful portrayal of Obama’s bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here).

Kevin has the details:

US news media were excited this past week. US-led military forces began to launch air strikes in Syria, which is what they had been anxiously waiting to see happen for weeks.

But with that eagerness to get on with another US war, there have been a set of myths. One fundamental myth involves President Barack Obama being cast as the “Reluctant Warrior.” He did not choose this war. The war chose him. How could Obama shirk from his duty to defend the “homeland”?

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast the guest is Peter Hart, the activism director for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Hart discusses these myths in media coverage of the escalated war in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. He talks about Obama being treated as a “Reluctant Warrior” and the effect that has on news reports. He also addresses the fear mongering that has been ongoing and the absence of antiwar voices on television.

The discussion segment highlights Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation and how Holder presided over a Justice Department that is still investigating antiwar activists. Then, an Alabama judge suspending the First Amendment for a newspaper for a little over a week is highlighted. And, finally, the show covers what has been happeningin Ferguson with an escalation in police targeting community organizers

Podcast: As Congress Buys Into More War, CODEPINK Becomes the Conscience of America

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gozstola and I speak with retired Army colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright of CODEPINK Women for Peace about the group’s protests against the Obama administration’s ISIS bombing campaign.  (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here).

More about the episode from Kevin:

The past week was filled with officials coming before members of Congress to sell President Barack Obama’s strategy for escalating war in Iraq and Syria. It worked. Congress approved the arming and training of rebel forces in Syria to fight ISIS. However, this did not take place without members of Congress hearing some voices of dissent loud and clear.

CODEPINK Women for Peace managed to convince a group of people to be at almost all of the hearings on combating ISIS. They held up pink signs that could be seen behind officials like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry. The group even provoked a lecture from Kerry, who scolded them for protesting the administration’s war plans.

It has been much more difficult to get people to protest than in 2005, when liberals were willing to flock to Washington, DC, to protest President George W. Bush’s administration. Although Obama’s war plans risk some of the same dangers Bush risked, there has been no massive demonstration in the streets.

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast retired Army colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in 2003 in protest against the Iraq War, is the show’s guest. She discusses her organizing with CODEPINK, which spent the past week demonstrating in congressional hearings on Capitol Hill on the Obama administration’s plans to combat ISIS. She reacts to Secretary of State John Kerry calling out CODEPINK and also discusses an op-ed written by Chelsea Manning on what the US should do to fight ISIS.

During the discussion portion of the show, we acknowledge the votes in Congress giving Obama the go-ahead to train and arm Syrian rebels. Co-host Rania Khalek highlights a story she wrote this week on an Israeli drone conference. We talk about Israel’s NSA scandal with Unit 8200 members blowing the whistle on spying against innocent Palestinians. Then, we move on to the Justice Department invoking the state secrets privilege to protect an anti-Iran advocacy group and wrap up our show covering the US responseto the spread of Ebola in north African countries.

Israeli drone conference features weapons used to kill Gaza’s children

Less than one month after killing more than 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza, including over 500 children, Israel is hosting its annual drone conference.

Organized in partnership with the US embassy in Tel Aviv, “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” offers Israeli military firms an opportunity to flaunt the performance of their products, many of which were tested on Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip this summer.

Palestine has long served as a laboratory for Israel’s ballooning “homeland security” industry to test and perfect weapons of domination and control, with disenfranchised and stateless Palestinians serving as their lab rats.

Speaking to the German magazine Der Spiegel last month, Avner Benzaken, head of the Israeli army’s “technology and logistics” division — a unit “comprised largely of academics who also happen to be officers” — explained the benefits of this occupation.

“If I develop a product and want to test it in the field, I only have to go five or ten kilometers from my base and I can look and see what is happening with the equipment,” said Benzaken. “I get feedback, so it makes the development process faster and much more efficient.”

Easy access to a captive population to experiment on allows Israeli weapons manufacturers to market their products as “combat-proven,” a coveted label that gives Israel a competitive edge in the international arms trade. Israel’s suppression technology is then exported to regimes that are similarly invested in subjugating the poor and marginalized.

This dystopian arrangement has paved the way for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, to rank among the globe’s top five largest arms exporters and to become the world’s number one exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones.

“Combat-proven”

One of the sponsors of this year’s drone conference is G-NIUS. Formed as a joint venture between two of Israel’s largest arms companies — Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) — G-NIUS develops unmanned ground vehicles for the Israeli army.

Thanks to the Gaza assault, G-NIUS can now add “combat-proven” to the resumé of its unmanned Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), which was deployed operationally in Gaza this summer, marking the first time a remote controlled and unmanned APC has ever “participated in combat,” according to Israel Defense.

Those attending the drone conference were scheduled to visit G-NIUS on Monday 15 September to get a first-hand look at the machines used to assist in Gaza’s destruction.

They were also scheduled to visit Israel’s largest developer of military technology, Elbit Systems, which benefited enormously from the summertime offensive.

Elbit’s stock jumped to its highest level since 2010 during the Gaza slaughter, a phenomenon Bloomberg Businessweek attributed to investor speculation that the Haifa-based company would see increasing demand for its products from governments impressed by its blood-soaked performance.

One product likely to use the Gaza bloodshed as a selling point is Elbit’s Hermes 900, which was deployed operationally for the first time during Operation Protective Edge.

The Hermes 900 is a larger and more advanced version of the Hermes 450, an aerial attack and surveillance drone that was used by the Israeli army to deliberately target civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-2009 onslaught, according to Human Rights Watch.

Elbit drones were also used to kill civilians in Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, including Red Cross workers, ambulance drivers and dozens of people fleeing their homes for refuge from relentless Israeli bombardment.

Even before it helped Israeli soldiers reduce Gaza to rubble, the Hermes 900 was winning lucrative contracts.

In July, the Swiss government purchased the Hermes 900 system for $280 million. And earlier this year, the Brazilian government purchased a fleet of Hermes drones, including the Hermes 900, to help crush the massive protests that erupted across Brazil against the World Cup.

After participating in Israel’s 51-days of terror on Gaza this summer, the Hermes 900 can join its predecessors in the “combat-proven” camp, which is sure to boost demand.

Also likely to profit from its role in turning Gaza into a graveyard is Elbit’s Skylark mini-UAV, a hand-launched surveillance drone. Though it’s been used in Gaza in the past, Operation Protective Edge was the first time the Skylark was deployed in large numbers to assist the invading ground forces.

Roy Riftin, a general and chief artillery officer in the Israeli army, told Defense Newsthat the Skylark was instrumental in “serving up targets of opportunity” for Israeli gunners.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Podcast: ‘Urban Shield’ & the Ramping Up of Police Militarization in the United States

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gozstola and I speak with Shane Bauer, a reporter with Mother Jones, about Urban Shield, an annual police gathering that epitomizes the militarization of US law enforcement. (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here)

More about the episode from Kevin:

One week ago, Alameda County in California hosted an annual major police gathering supported by corporations and law enforcement and security agencies from the local, state and federal level. Corporations displayed their military-grade equipment available for police departments to purchase, and training exercises or competitions played out in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anyone observing the gathering called “Urban Shield” could see clearly how police militarization has been ramping up in recent years.

The annual police gathering took on additional significance in the aftermath of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, with police deploying military-grade equipment against a community of mostly people of color to control protest against a white police officer who gunned down an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.

Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer had media credentials and used his access to go around to vendors and ask them their thoughts about Americans who believe this country is becoming or has become a police state. He tried to get people to talk to him about Ferguson and asked about why they would need some of the equipment being shown at the expo. Bauer and a Mother Jones filmmaker also observed some of the training exercises, many which involved scenarios that sound like they came from Michael Bay movies because they’re so implausible and overwrought.

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast Bauer is the show’s guest. He discusses what he saw at “Urban Shield,” what he learned about police, and how he came to understand the culture of policing that convinces officers they need this military-grade equipment even if they are simply a university police department. He also recounts how he had his media credentials revoked by police for supposedly recording in an “unauthorized location” and gives a preview of what is to come in his feature story, which will be in a forthcoming issue of Mother Jones.

During the discussion portion, we talk about going to President Barack Obama’s announcement that America is going to war against ISIS—and how the Obama administration won’t call it a a war on ISIS. Khalek highlights a report she wrote on a religious zealot Israeli general, who ordered a lethal strike against an Israeli soldier so he would not be captured by Hamas. The episode concludes with some talk about District Attorney Sam Sutter. Sutter stunned environmental activists this past week when he had criminal charges against two men who engaged in direct action dropped because he sympathizes with their view that climate change is a serious crisis.

Israeli officer admits ordering lethal strike on own soldier during Gaza massacre

The civilian population in Gaza is “a partner of terror” that “gets what they choose,” the top commander of the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade told the Israeli press recently, after orchestrating some of the deadliest episodes of butchery visited upon the Gaza Strip this summer.

Colonel Ofer Winter also admitted to ordering the mass-bombardment of an area where an Israeli soldier was know to be in order to prevent his capture alive by Palestinian resistance fighters — an army policy known as the Hannibal Directive.

These are just two of the many incriminating comments made by Winter in a lengthy and candid interview published in a paper-only edition of the Hebrew-language Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot on 15 August.

The interview took place near the end of Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign which killed more than 2,100 people in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians — including more than 500 children. Israel expert Dena Shunra translated the interview for The Electronic Intifada.

In addition to justifying the mass killing of civilians in Gaza, Winter applauded the carpet bombing he ordered in Rafah as a necessary punishment and repeatedly invoked religious supremacy as a leading factor in what he views as a Jewish victory in Gaza.

Rafah massacre

Just as a temporary three-day humanitarian ceasefire negotiated by Egypt and the United States went into effect on the morning of Friday 1 August, a unit of soldiers from the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade conducted a tunnel incursion in Rafah, provoking fire from Palestinian resistance fighters.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the ensuing firefight and another, Hadar Goldin, went missing. It was later determined that Goldin died in the battle, but in the immediate aftermath the Israeli army operated under the assumption that he had been captured.

Ofer Winter was napping when he woke up to news of Goldin’s possible capture. He told Yediot Ahronot’s Yossi Yehoshua:

At 9 am, half an hour after I put my head down, the Deputy Brigade Commander woke me up: “come quickly, it’s best you be here.” We asked for a snapshot, we wanted information. We didn’t think there was an abduction yet. While inquiring if everyone was there, I commanded Sagiv, the Armored Forces Commander operating under my orders, to start moving from Hirbat Hiza’a, which was where he was, toward Rafah. Just then I got the message “it’s not green in our eyes” – in other words, not everyone had been found. We were missing a soldier. At 9:36, after inquiries with the battalion commander on site, I announced on the communication system the word that no one wants to say – “Hannibal.” In other words, there had been an abduction. I instructed all the forces to move forward, to occupy space, so the abductors would not be able to move.

The Hannibal Directive is an unwritten Israeli military protocol for executing captured Israeli soldiers to avoid politically painful prisoner swaps. Although its existence has been reported in the Israeli press since the 1980s, this interview with Winter appears to be the most frank acknowledgement of its use.

The idea is to prevent the captors from taking the soldier alive, effectively denying Palestinian or other Arab resistance groups a bargaining chip down the line and relieving Israeli leaders of the political fallout from having to make concessions (such as prisoner swaps) to secure the soldier’s release.

Executing their own

According to blogger Richard Silverstein, the Israeli army has implemented the Hannibal Directive on at least three occasions during this latest war on Gaza, deploying massive firepower with the intention of executing three of their own.

For the following several hours, residents of Rafah, many having just returned to their homes for what they were told would be a three-day ceasefire, were subjected to a carpet bombing campaign that left the town in ruins and 190 people dead.

An Israeli army officer told the Associated Press that soldiers pounded Rafah with 500 artillery shells in just eight hours and launched an estimated 100 airstrikes within two days.

Acting on Winter’s “Hannibal” order, the Israeli army sealed off Rafah to prevent the alleged captors from escaping with Goldin alive. Homes were flattened on top of families sheltering inside. Civilians who attempted to flee the inferno were torn to shreds by artillery. Vehicles trying desperately to evacuate the wounded were fired upon.

By 2 August, the Israeli army had killed 190 Palestinians in Rafah, including 55 children. With the morgues full to capacity, medical workers were forced to store corpses in vegetable refrigerators to accommodate the high volume of dead bodies.

As Israel laid waste to Rafah, the Obama administration called the alleged capture of Goldin, an invading Israeli soldier engaged in armed hostilities against Gaza, a“barbaric” and “outrageous” act.

“They messed with the wrong brigade”

“A lot of criticism was heard about the force you employed in Rafah, directly after the abduction,” said interviewer Yossi Yehoshua to Winter.

“Everything we did was from the understanding that we could return Hadar Goldin alive,” responded Winter. “Stop the abduction event. Come from above to the places he could come out of. That’s what we employed all the force for,” he insisted.

These claims are totally inconsistent with the reality on the ground, where the only possible intended outcome of bombing everything was to kill Goldin and his captors while collectively punishing the surrounding population in the process.

Winter continued with an even more contradictory remark, hinting that the response in Rafah was partly an act of retribution. “Anyone who abducts should know that he will pay a price. This was not revenge. They simply messed with the wrong brigade,” he said.

Then, in a stunning display of hypocrisy, Winter (who relies on airstrikes and indiscriminate artillery fire to avoid face to face confrontations with the supposed enemy and who had to be woken up from a nap to be informed that his soldiers were killed in Rafah) tried to portray Palestinian resistance fighters as cowards.

“We fought against two Hamas brigades. Where were their brigade commanders?” he asked indignantly. “I hoped they would come face to face with us, but they chickened out. They sent their men forward, causing more evil and killing. That’s not combat. There were very few places where there were fighting retreats. They left everything and escaped.”

Divine intervention

As an orthodox Jew firmly in Israel’s religious nationalist camp, Winter is making a career of mixing his brand of messianic Zionism with military aggression.

As a graduate of Bnei David, a religious pre-military academy located in Eli, an illegal Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank, Winter epitomizes the mainstreaming of religiously motivated brutalityin the Israeli army. Bnei David’s goal is to replace Israel’s largely secular military elite with religious Zionists, like Winter.

On the eve of Israel’s ground invasion, Winter declared in a letter to his troops that they were fighting a Jewish holy war to punish the blasphemous Palestinians of Gaza.

Responding to criticism of the letter, Winter doubled down, telling Yediot Ahronot, “if I had to do so, I would write the same letter again, without batting an eyelid.”

The impact of Winter’s fanaticism on Palestinians in Gaza was nothing short of catastrophic.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Israel’s extermination of whole families in Gaza reflects genocidal impulse

Eighty-nine families that existed seven weeks ago in Gaza have been exterminated by Israel.

On Sunday 24 August an Israeli missile tore through the home of Issam Jouda in Gaza’s Tal al-Zatar neighborhood east of Jabaliya without warning, killing Issam’s wife Rawiya and their four children—Taghrid, Tasnim, Usama and 
Muhammad.

According to the Palestinian health ministry , the Joudas were the eighty-ninth family wiped out in Gaza since the Israeli army started bombarding the besieged coastal enclave on 7 July.

ceasefire that took effect on Tuesday evening may stop the flow of blood, but it will not heal the raw wounds of the families of more than 2,100 people killed, nor of the more than eleven thousand injured and 100,000 whose homes were destroyed.

Between 7 July and 21 August, the UN documented 140 families in Gaza partially or completely annihilated by Israeli attacks.

Many were crushed beneath the rubble of their homes. Eight members of the Wahdan family, for instance, were killed in their house in Jabaliya refugee camp after beinginstructed by Israeli forces to stay put.

Others were summarily executed in broad daylight by invading Israeli forces in the catastrophically devastated Shujaiya neighborhood. This was the fate of several members of the Shamaly and al-Areer families according to testimony collected by journalist Max Blumenthal.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has recorded at least 990 people killed inside their homes in Israeli attacks, including 324 children. That’s almost half of all people killed in the Israeli assault.

This is no accident.

Israel’s systematic targeting of entire families in Gaza this summer is part of adeliberate military strategy that seeks to terrorize the civilian population into submission in an effort to break their will to resist Israeli conquest. In recent days, Israel escalated this practice by leveling residential high-rise apartment buildings.

But the wholesale slaughter of families is also part of Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestine.

Genocide

Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Israel’s acts in Gaza constitute more than just war crimes and crimes against humanity. He says they are genocide, adding his voice to the growing chorus of those who see the slaughter in Gaza as part of an ongoing, systematic process of annihilation.

“These are clear violations of the Geneva conventions and war crimes,” Ratner told The Electronic Intifada. “But you can’t look at this as an isolated attack on Gaza because there’s a history going back to Zionists charting out and destroying five hundred plus villages in 1947-48,” he said, referring to the Nakba — the premeditated ethnic cleansing of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist militias seeking to establish an ethnically exclusive state with a Jewish majority.

“If you look at it historically it’s hard to escape [Israeli author and historian] Ilan Pappe’sconclusion that it’s ‘incremental genocide,’” said Ratner.

Ratner noted that the common response to such accusations is that Israel has not killed enough Palestinians for its actions to qualify as genocide. However, “You don’t have to kill a large number of people to commit genocide,” he explained.

Indeed, Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defines genocide in the following terms (emphasis added):

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Israel does not have to kill millions of Palestinians to be guilty of genocide nor does it need to commit all the above atrocities, though it is undeniably guilty of (a), (b) and (c). It just has to commit any of them with the “intent” to “destroy” Palestinians “in whole or in part” as “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

The question of genocide, then, is whether by looking at decades of Israel’s practices, as well as the utterances of its leaders, we can find this intent.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59,308 other followers

%d bloggers like this: