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Turkey’s Hidden War Against the Kurds

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29turkey1-superJumbo-v2On Wednesday, the noted Turkish author and poet Zülfü Livaneli resigned as Turkey’s only UNESCO goodwill ambassador.

Livaneli posted a statement on Twitter, noting “UNESCO’s silence on human rights violations and lack of fundamental freedoms.” The statement noted that he had refused to take part in what was billed as a World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul earlier this week.

Wrote Livaneli: “When [Kurdish region] Sur’s historical heritage is being destroyed, I can’t with a straight face urge people to protect the historical heritage of Istanbul.” [In English]

ROBERT WORTH, rfworth atgmail.com
A contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Worth just wrote a piece from his most recent visit to the Kurdish regions of Turkey — “Behind the Barricades of Turkey’s Hidden War” — for the magazine.

The piece states: “The battle against the Islamic State had made the downtrodden Kurds into heroes. … [F]ighters aligned with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K. — long branded a terrorist group by Turkey and the United States — became the central protagonists in the defense of Kobani. The P.K.K.’s Syrian affiliate worked closely with the American military, identifying ISIS targets for airstrikes. …

“Turkish tanks are now blasting the ancient cities of the Kurdish southeast, where young P.K.K.-supported rebels have built barricades and declared ‘liberated zones.’ More than a thousand people have been killed and as many as 350,000 displaced, according to figures from the International Crisis Group. The fighting, which intensified last fall, has spread to Ankara, the Turkish capital, where two suicide bombings by Kurdish militants in February and March killed 66 people. Another sharp escalation came in mid-May, when P.K.K. supporters released a video online seeming to show one of the group’s fighters bringing down a Turkish attack helicopter with a shoulder-fired missile, a weapon to which the Kurds have rarely had access. Yet much of the violence has been hidden from public view by state censorship and military ‘curfews’ — a government word that scarcely conveys the reality of tanks encircling a Kurdish town and drilling it with shellfire for weeks or months on end.”

Worth is author of A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS, which came out last month.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz out as Head of DNC?

wasserman shultzCNN reports: “Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is on increasingly thin ice as she risks losing key support to stay in her job.”

HOWIE KLEIN, howieklein at aol.com, @downwithtyranny
Klein is a retired music executive. His career included a dozen years as president of Reprise Records. He now blogs at downwithtyranny.blogspot.com and has closely followed the career of Wasserman Schultz. He highlights:

“1 – Her role as DCCC’s [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] Red-to-Blue chairman and why she got fired

“2 – Her role, as a state senator, in drawing Florida electoral maps that favored the GOP in return for a sweetly gerrymandered district for herself

“3 – Her role in making the Democratic Party more a servant of wealthy elites, lobbyists and special interests and her contempt for the working class and how that has reshaped the party itself

“4 – ‘New Dem’ policy positions that run counter to Democratic values, from support for Pay Day lenders and private prisons, to unfair trade policies, continued criminalization of marijuana (including medical marijuana), the Cuba embargo, etc.

“5 – That although Congress gets to redefine ‘bribery’ to exclude their own criminal activities, Debbie is a bribe-taker by any reasonable definition of the word outside the Beltway.

The group RootsAction.org has launched a petition, now with 36,000 signers: “Remove Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC Chair.” The petition states: “In addition to her attempt to deny the Bernie Sanders campaign access to its own voter files, Wasserman Schultz has tried in other ways to minimize competition for her candidate, Hillary Clinton. She has done this by scheduling very few primary debates, and scheduling them at times of low TV viewing.

“In Congress, she has served as a pro-militarist and corporatist tool of the high bidders. Among recent disgraceful acts was her vote to enable racial discrimination in car buying.”

Hiroshima Trip Myths: A-bomb Ended War; Obama’s Against Nuclear Weapons

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.33.24 AMThe White House claims that President Obama’s trip to Hiroshima “highlights his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

The New York Times refers to the bombing as a “decision that many historians even today believe, on balance, saved lives.” See Gar Alperovitz’s “Obama’s Hiroshima Visit Is a Reminder that Atomic Bombs Weren’t What Won the War.”

JAMES BRADLEY, james at jamesbradley.com
Bradley is author of the bestsellers Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers and a son of one of the men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima.

He said today: “There are two great myths we’re seeing play out: One is that use of atomic bombs ended World War II. It’s not true — we killed far more people dropping napalm on Tokyo and other Japanese cities than we killed with the nuclear attacks. I’ve lived in Japan for years, my favorite teacher’s husband died of Hiroshima disease. Even Japanese people are not aware of how many people were killed in Tokyo since we were defacto dictators of Japan for eight years after the war and controlled the media there.

“The other great myth we’re seeing play out is that of Obama as some kind of peaceful guy who’s trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. He’s the biggest nuclear warrior there is. He’s committed us to a ruinous course of spending a trillion dollars on more nuclear weapons. Somehow, people live in this fantasy that because he gives vague news conferences and speeches and feel-good photo-ops that somehow that’s attached to actual policy. It isn’t.”

KAI BIRD,  kaibird at mac.com
Bird won the Pulitzer Prize for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which he co-authored. He said today: “I think the important theme here is that historians now realize that there is no simple narrative to explain or justify [President Harry] Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb — but that everyone agrees that nuclear weapons should never be used again — and that many of us have concluded that this means they must be outlawed, banned and entirely dismantled. And finally, perhaps it is sobering to remember that Oppenheimer said just three months after Hiroshima that this weapon had been used on an ‘essentially already defeated enemy.'” See his piece “The Myths of Hiroshima.”

Sr. MEGAN RICE, [in D.C.]  mrice12 at gmail.com
Rice, an 86-year-old nun, is one of the Transform Now Plowshares, a group of three activists who were convicted of allegedly intending to harm national security by entering into a nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. in 2012. The activists — who poured blood and painted “The Fruit of Justice is Peace” — spent two years in prison before their sentences were finally overturned last year. Rice was featured on the recent IPA news release “‘Nuclear Security Summit’ — Hypocrisy, Profiteering, Spectacle,” in which she said: “The reality is that the rewards of the nuclear weapons industrial complex are so vast, unaccountable and surely at this stage, ‘a dark hole’ — how can anyone account for close to $10 trillion dollars in 70 years, let alone the next three decades for $1 trillion plus more? The ultimate in profiteering.”

Her uncle — Walter G. Hooke — was a Marine who drove around Nagasaki for five months after the bomb was dropped there. He became a pacifist atomic vet.

Will Obama Renounce His $1 Trillion Nuclear Buildup?

obama at nuclear summit
President Obama is scheduled to visit Hiroshima on Friday. See upcoming events at accuracy.org/calendar.

HIROSHI TAKA, taka at antiatom.org, @gensuikyo
RIEKO ASATO, rieko at antiatom.org, [13 hours ahead of U.S. ET] Hiroshi Taka and Rieko Asato are with the the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo), which recently released a statement: “It is significant that President Obama will visit the A-bombed city of Hiroshima as the first U.S. President, which many Hibakusha, the A-bomb survivors, have long called for.

“Now that he is set to visit Hiroshima, he should look with his own eyes at the inhuman consequences of the use of the A-bomb by visiting the Peace Memorial Museum, listen to the voices of the Hibakusha, and meet their wishes without delay.

“Changing his past position to turn his back on the total prohibition of nuclear weapons on the ground of the ‘need for nuclear deterrence,’ he should take concrete steps for the start of negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.”

JOSEPH GERSON, JGerson at afsc.org
Director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England, Gerson’s books include With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination and Empire and the Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World.

He is an initiator of “Over 70 Prominent Activists and Scholars Urge Action by Obama in Hiroshima,” which urges Obama to meet “with all Hibakusha who are able to attend,” and announce “the end of U.S. plans to spend $1 trillion for the new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.” Gerson was recently featured on the Institute for Public Accuracy news release “‘Orwellian’ Visit to Hiroshima as Obama Modernizes U.S. Nuclear Weapons.”

New Brazil Minister Out After Revelations of Coup Plotting

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 8.32.04 AMBBC is reporting: “Planning Minister Romero Jucá was caught on tape allegedly conspiring to obstruct the country’s biggest-ever corruption investigation.

“In the tapes, leaked by a newspaper, he appears to talk of stopping the probe at oil giant Petrobras by impeaching suspended President Dilma Rousseff.”

See also from the Guardian: “Brazil minister ousted after secret tape reveals plot to topple President Rousseff,” which states: “The credibility of Brazil’s interim government was rocked on Monday when a senior minister was forced to step aside amid further revelations about the Machiavellian plot to impeach president Dilma Rousseff.

“Just 10 days after taking office, the planning minister, Romero Jucá, announced that he would ‘go on leave’ following the release of a secretly taped telephone conversation in which he said Rousseff needed to be removed to quash a vast corruption investigation that implicated him and other members of the country’s political elite. … Romero Jucá, the recently appointed planning minister, was recorded saying: ‘We have to stop this shit. We have to change the government to be able to stop this bleeding.’”

MARIA LUISA MENDONÇA, marialuisam222 at gmail.com
Currently in the U.S., Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also a professor in the international relations department at the University of Rio De Janeiro.

She was on “Democracy Now!” this morning and stated: “This new information confirms what we’ve been saying: This is a coup.”

She recently wrote the piece “Brazil’s Parliamentary Vote Is a Coup” for The Progressive. The piece states: “Mainstream media in Brazil has created the illusion that Rousseff’s removal from office was needed to solve corruption and an economic crisis. For more than a year, the main television networks called for demonstrations against the government and dedicated day after day of live coverage to them. At the same time, these media ignored large demonstrations in defense of the democratic process that re-elected Rousseff in 2014 with 51 percent of the vote. A key player is Globo TV, which is known for supporting the military dictatorship that lasted more than 20 years in Brazil. …

“More than half of the members of Brazil’s Congress face serious investigations of corruption. Former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who orchestrated and conducted the impeachment vote on April 17, has since been forced to step down by the Supreme Court on charges of corruption and maintaining illegal Swiss bank accounts. The interim president, Michel Temer, along with seven ministers all appointed by him, are also under investigation for corruption charges.

“Worse, only five hours after taking power, Temer eliminated the Controladoria Geral da Uniāo, a federal agency responsible for monitoring governmental contracts with private businesses, which was key to investigating corruption. That same day, he also eliminated the Ministers of Culture, of Communications, of Human Rights and Racial Equality, of Women, of Agriculture Development, and the Secretary of Control of Ports and Airports.”

State Dept. Emails: How Clinton Pushed Fracking

hillary-clinton002-article-header-1Fracking promises to be an issue in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primaries, including California and New Mexico. See accuracy.org/calendar for upcoming events.

STEVE HORN, steve at desmogblog.com, @SteveAHorn
Horn just co-wrote the piece, “Hillary Clinton’s Energy Initiative Pressed Countries to Embrace Fracking, New Emails Reveal,” for The Intercept. He is an independent investigative journalist and research fellow with DeSmogBlog.

The piece states: “Back in April, just before the New York primary, Hillary Clinton’s campaign aired a commercial on upstate television stations touting her work as secretary of state forcing ‘China, India, some of the world’s worst polluters’ to make ‘real change.’ She promised to ‘stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say “no.”‘

“The television spot, which was not announced and does not appear on the official campaign YouTube page with most of Clinton’s other ads, implied a history of opposition to fracking, here and abroad. But emails obtained by The Intercept from the Department of State reveal new details of behind-the-scenes efforts by Clinton and her close aides to export American-style hydraulic fracturing — the horizontal drilling technique best known as fracking — to countries all over the world. …

“The Global Shale Gas Initiative, Clinton’s program for promoting fracking, was announced on April 7, 2010, by David Goldwyn, the State Department’s special envoy for energy affairs, at the United States Energy Association (USEA), whose members include Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. …

“Goldwyn emphasized that the shale gas initiative was not designed to help the private sector and instead should be seen as ‘a really very modest government-to-government.’
“But the emails show an aggressive effort to engage private energy companies and use Poland as part of a larger campaign to sell fracking throughout the region.

“An email dated December 3, 2010, shows that the State Department had Poland firmly in its bull’s-eye and that companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Marathon Oil, Canadian firm BNK Petroleum and Italian energy company Eni expressed interest in tapping into Polish shale.”

“Putting the Lie” to Clinton and Obama’s Deceit on Snowden

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 1.23.15 PMMARK HERTSGAARD, [currently in NYC] mark at markhertsgaard.com, @markhertsgaard
The Guardian just published Hertsgaard’s piece “How the Pentagon Punished NSA Whistleblowers.” His latest book is the just-released Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden.

Hertsgaard’s new piece for the first time tells the story of John Crane, a top Pentagon official who was fighting to protect NSA whistleblowers — who himself became a whistleblower.

On the program “Democracy Now!” today, Hertsgaard said Crane’s story “puts the lie to what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are saying and have been saying about Edward Snowden from the beginning.”

At a presidential debate last year, Clinton claimed Snowden “broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.”

Said Hertsgaard: “Well, I would just like to invite Sec. Clinton, tell that to Thomas Drake, tell that to John Crane, that you would have gotten a good reception by following the whistleblower law inside of the Pentagon.”

Hertsgaard’s piece lays out the case of several NSA whistleblowers, including “Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same NSA activities 10 years before Snowden did. Drake was a much higher-ranking NSA official than Snowden, and he obeyed U.S. whistleblower laws, raising his concerns through official channels. And he got crushed. …

“During dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake’s identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge.” Hertsgaard’s piece documents how Crane tried to confront this, but notes that Crane himself was forced “to resign his post in January 2013.”

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said of Snowden: “I think he’s a total traitor. And I would deal with him harshly. And if I were president, Putin would give him over.”

Realities of “Terrorism”

Strategic TerrorThe New York Times lead headline today reads: “EgyptAir Jet Crashed After Erratic Turns, Officials Say” — with the subhead: “France’s president said ‘no hypothesis was being ruled out,’ including terrorism.”

BEAU GROSSCUP, bgrosscup at csuchico.edu
Grosscup is author of several books including The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and, most recently, Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment.

He argues that, regardless of the causes of the EgyptAir crash, there are a series of problems and hypocrisies that lead to a totally skewed discussion of terrorism.

He said today: “The regular assumption that Iran is the major sponsor of state terrorism shows that the U.S. and its Western allies ‘own’ (i.e. have the power to give meaning to and enforce that meaning) the word terrorism. This has been expressed and unchallenged at at least one of the Democratic Party debates (and throughout the Republican debates).” Grosscup noted this is particularly ironic, since Iran has been totally opposed to the so-called Islamic State.

“For decades they have constructed a politically correct discourse where U.S. leaders in particular determine who the terrorists and freedom fighters are and enforce that distinction in public debate and public policy. Despite GOP complaints of ‘political correctness run amuck,’ the most politically incorrect thing one can do is assert the U.S. is or has ever been a terrorist state. The current epitome of political correctness is that the major perpetrators of wholesale Middle East violence (U.S. and its principal Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia) are never to be linked to the terrorism scourge.

“The strength of this enforced consensus is clear in Hillary Clinton’s assertion (again unchallenged by Senator Sanders or any GOP candidates) that it is Iran that is de-stabilizing the Middle East. This politically enforced claim disregards the horrendous material/ecological devastation and civilian suffering the U.S.-led war machine’s ‘regime change’ policy has caused on its way to destabilizing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, the Palestinian Occupied Territories and Syria (with threats that Iran is next). It ignores the intentional use of wholesale weapons of terror, principally strategic bombing, drones, chemicals, cluster bombs, etc. That they do so with impunity is further evidence of a U.S. monopolized terrorism discourse to serve its own political ends.

“The U.S. can ‘Shock and Awe’ (bomb major cities), ‘double tap’ (intentionally hit rescue teams with a second missile after its first attack killed and wounded civilians), or abandon its policy to not bomb combat areas if there’s a near certainty of harming civilians, yet the word terrorism is never invoked. Israel can apply it’s Dahya Doctrine that justifies the wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure (as in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories), employing disproportionate force, use white phosphorus on Palestinian civilians or assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran, yet it is Palestinians and Iranians who are called terrorists.

“Saudi Arabia can ‘Shock and Awe’ Yemen, killing civilians by the score, give material and financial support to U.S.-designated Sunni terrorists (Saudi freedom fighters) including ISIS and Al Qaeda, yet never be labeled a terrorist state. The U.S., which supplies and re-supplies Saudi Arabia’s and Israel’s ‘Shock and Awe’ arsenals is never designated a state sponsor of terrorism in either political or media discourse. To the millions on the ground — whom the U.S.- designated (enforced) ‘freedom fighters’ are bombing back to the stone age — the absurdity of it all is painfully clear. It is they who understand that when President George W. Bush said, ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists,’ know what he really meant was, ‘Either you are with our terrorists or theirs.’ It is a reality that is enforced as ‘politically incorrect’ for the rest of us.”

Obama, Clinton, Malcolm X, and the Novocaine Effect

imgres-1Thursday, May 19 is the birthday of Malcolm X (Malcolm Shabazz). For upcoming events,
see accuracy.org/calendar.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at gmail.com, @kevinagray
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. His books include The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama (2008). He has also contributed to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (2012) and Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence (2014). CounterPunch recently republished his 2002 essay “Soul Brother? Bill Clinton and Black Americans.”

In his 2009 essay “Obama and Black America,” Gray invoked a Malcolm X quote to explain the effect of Obama: “It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ’Cause someone has taught you to suffer — peacefully.”

Gray said today: “This has been the role played by Obama. Many people — but especially black people — have silently suffered his policies because he has had the effect of novocaine. This is partly because, certainly, some rightwing attacks on Obama have been racial. But most of his core policies have been corporate and neoliberal. From a pro-corporate health insurance plan, to drone warfare, to not closing the wealth gap, to continuous wars, to trade deals and on and on. There’s been progress on gay rights, he deserves some credit for that. But he — like Hillary Clinton now — pretends to be progressive while implementing policies that are actually regressive.

“And because people are on novocaine, they don’t agitate, and so, you get nothing. … It’s fine that some people are out there with Black Lives Matter, but that’s a brand, not a movement. It’s a top down model, which is what we don’t want. Some ‘leaders’ from BLM are now embracing corporate policies — corporatization of schools and charter schools. That’s what happens when you don’t have historical and ideological grounding to your politics. That’s what we don’t want and that’s what Malcolm X warned against.”

Excerpts from Malcolm Shabazz’s speeches in the final years of his life:

“Back during slavery, when black people like me talked to the salves, they didn’t kill them. They’d send some house Negro behind him to undo what he said. You have to read the history of slavery to understand this. There were two kinds of Negroes. There was that old house Negro and the field Negro. And the house Negro always looked out for his master. When the field Negroes got too much out of line, he held them back in check. He put ‘em back on the plantation.”
— “To Mississippi Youth,” December 31, 1964. This and many other speeches are available via YouTube.

“They have a new gimmick every year. They’re going to take one of their boys, black boys, and put him in the cabinet so he can walk around Washington with a cigar. Fire on one end and fool on the other end. And because his immediate personal problem will have been solved he will be the one to tell our people: ‘Look how much progress we’re making. I’m in Washington, D.C., I can have tea in the White House. I’m your spokesman, I’m your leader.’ While our people are still living in Harlem in the slums. Still receiving the worst form of education. …

“But how many sitting here right now feel that they could [laughs] truly identify with a struggle that was designed to eliminate the basic causes that create the conditions that exist? Not very many. They can jive, but when it comes to identifying yourself with a struggle that is not endorsed by the power structure, that is not acceptable, that the ground rules are not laid down by the society in which you live, in which you are struggling against, you can’t identify with that, you step back. …

“It’s easy to become a satellite today without even realizing it. This country can seduce God. Yes, it has that seductive power of economic dollarism. … When they drop those dollars on you, you’ll fold though.”
— “The Prospects for Freedom in 1965,” at the Militant Labor Forum, New York City, Jan. 7, 1965.
 Audio from this and other speeches here.

“While I was traveling, I had a chance to speak in Cairo, or rather Alexandria, with [Egyptian President Gamal Abdel] Nasser for about an hour and a half. He’s a very brilliant man. And I can see why they’re so afraid of him, and they are afraid of him — they know he can cut off their oil. And actually the only thing power respects is power. …

“This is a society whose government doesn’t hesitate to inflict the most brutal form of punishment and oppression upon dark-skinned people all over the world. To wit, right now what’s going on in and around Saigon and Hanoi and in the Congo and elsewhere. They are violent when their interests are at stake. But all of that violence that they display at the international level, when you and I want just a little bit of freedom, we’re supposed to be nonviolent. They’re violent. They’re violent in Korea, they’re violent in Germany, they’re violent in the South Pacific, they’re violent in Cuba, they’re violent wherever they go. But when it comes time for you and me to protect ourselves against lynchings, they tell us to be nonviolent. …

[On the Congo:] “And they’re able to take these hired killers, put them in American planes, with American bombs, and drop them on African villages, blowing to bits black men, black women, black children, black babies, and you black people sitting over here cool like it doesn’t even involve you. You’re a fool. …

“And with the press they feed these statistics to the public, primarily the white public. Because there are some well-meaning persons in the white public as well as bad-meaning persons in the white public. And whatever the government is going to do, it always wants the public on its side. … So they use the press to create images.”
— “The Last Message,” address to the Afro-American Broadcasting Company, Detroit, Michigan, Feb. 14, 1965, the night his home was firebombed and a week before his assassination; text and audio here.

How the NSA Pushed Iraq Invasion

Katharine Gun

Katharine Gun

Charlie Savage in the New York Times writes Tuesday: “On Monday, the news website The Intercept said it would publish the entire archive of the [National Security Agency’s Top Secret internal] newsletter and began by posting more than 150 articles from 2003…. For example, one article described the American and British ambassadors to the United Nations expressing thanks to the agency for providing what the latter called ‘insights into the nuances of internal divisions among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council’ during the diplomatic negotiations ahead of the Iraq War.”

The Intercept on Monday in one of their postings stated the NSA’s intelligence “during the wind-up to the Iraq War ‘played a critical role’ in the adoption of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The work with that customer was a resounding success.” The relevant document quotes John Negroponte, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: “I can’t imagine better intelligence support for a diplomatic mission.”

SAM HUSSEINI, sam at accuracy.org, @samhusseini
Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini wrote the piece “Katharine Gun’s Risky Truth-telling” about a British official who crucially leaked evidence of NSA spying against UN officials during the buildup to the Iraq invasion.

Husseini said today: “The U.S. government, through the NSA, was spying — in violation of international law — on other UN Security Council members in order to better coerce them to back the invasion of Iraq. We know this because Katharine Gun leaked a short 300-word NSA memo on this shortly before the invasion. She worked at the time at GCHQ, the British equivalent of the NSA.

“This memo was reported by The Observer in Britain and then around the world — but there was hardly a peep in the U.S. media, including the Times. Dan Ellsberg has called it the most important leak of all time. This story debunked key lies about the Iraq invasion in real time. It highlighted how the U.S. government was not — as President George W. Bush was claiming at the time — trying to find a way to avoid war. Rather, it documented that the U.S. government was going to incredible lengths to coerce other states to give it diplomatic cover for the desired invasion.

“And this has critical importance for today. This shows the NSA is not working tirelessly, as officialdom would have us believe, to protect the U.S. public. It is facilitating policies that enable horrific wars, destabilize countries and dramatically increase insecurity.

“While the Times treats what happened in 2003 rather gingerly, The Intercept is incorrect in claiming that there were Security Council ‘resolutions’ during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. There was only one — in good measure because Katharine Gun’s whistleblowing made it difficult for other members of the Security Council to go along with another resolution. This made a liar out of Negroponte, who had stated when the first resolution [1441] was adopted: ‘There’s no “automaticity” and this is a two-stage process’ — that is, the U.S. would come back to the Security Council for a second resolution before invading Iraq.”

Husseini’s piece states: “When the British reporters writing the story called the author of the memo, Frank Koza, a top official at the NSA, they were put through to his office. When they shared the nature of their phone call, they were told by an assistant they had ‘the wrong number.’ The reporters noted: ‘On protesting that the assistant had just said this was Koza’s extension, the assistant repeated that it was an erroneous extension, and hung up.’

“The story was ignored by the U.S. media, though we at the Institute for Public Accuracy put out a string of news releases about it. Gun has commented that Martin Bright, one of the reporters who broke the story for the British Observer, had been booked on several U.S. TV networks just after the story was published but they had all quickly cancelled. [See video of an interview with Gun and Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Colin Powell, on German TV.]

“However, the story did cause headlines around the world — especially in the countries on the Security Council that the memo listed as targets of the surveillance. Through whatever combination of authentic anger or embarrassment at their subservience to the U.S. government being exposed, most of these governments apparently peeled away from the U.S., and no second UN resolution was sought by the war planners.

“Rather, George W. Bush started the Iraq war with unilateral demands that Saddam Hussein and his family leave Iraq (and then indicated that the invasion would commence in any case.)”

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