News Release Archive - Foreign Policy

Israeli Killing of Palestinian Journalist a “Calculated Act of Savagery”

MOUIN RABBANI, [currently in Oman] mail@mouinrabbani.net, @mouinrabbani
Rabbani is co-editor of Jadaliyya.

He said today: “The only appropriate response to the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, which is not only a crime but a calculated act of savagery, is justice. Justice is only achievable through proper accountability. The Israeli occupier has repeatedly demonstrated that its priority is impunity, and it cannot be entrusted with either investigation, accountability, or justice for either Shireen or those whom it has deprived of their fundamental rights for more than half a century. But there will be no justice, only an impunity which set the stage for this murder and will set the stage for the next one.”

Rabbani has published and commented widely on Palestinian affairs, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the contemporary Middle East. He was previously senior analyst and special advisor on Israel-Palestine with the International Crisis Group, and head of political affairs with the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria.

Background: “Al Jazeera’s iconic ‘Voice of Palestine’ killed during Israeli raid” from the Electronic Intifada.

Facing Starvation and Sanctions, How Does Afghanistan Move Forward?

 via Wikimedia Commons

Jim Lobe’s “Out of sight, out of mind: Afghanistan vanishes from U.S. news” in Responsible Statecraft states: “New data shows stunning plunge in coverage, just as the humanitarian crisis — much of it caused by Washington sanctions — peaks.” See accuracy.org news release: “As Afghans Face Starvation, U.S. and UN Sanctions Tighten the Screws.”

ZAHER WAHAB, zwahab@lclark.edu
Professor emeritus at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education, Wahab was senior adviser to the education ministry from 2002 to 2006.

He states that the U.S. government’s goal in Afghanistan was “not progress or nation-building” but rather “ideological, geopolitical, hegemonic, imperial.”

“The 20-year occupation was run with massive corruption and cronyism” leading to a hollowed state which “allowed the president and his gang to betray the nation.” Former president Ashraf Ghani recently denied widespread reports that he fled the country with over $100 million.

Wahab outlines a plan to rescue Afghanistan by forming a “really inclusive and meritocratic government,” “open the banks, reactivate the healthcare system,” expel foreign fighters and a host of other steps.

He stated that the U.S. government must take steps including:

* “Engage and recognize the Afghan government
* “Unfreeze ALL Afghan assets.
* “End ALL sanctions.
* “Cease all political, economic, diplomatic, psychological, drone, and proxy warfare against Afghanistan.
* “Provide immediate massive humanitarian assistance.
* “Return all the assets stolen in different forms by Afghans, Afghan-Americans, Americans NGOs, others.”

Hawkish Outcries for Russia Sanctions “Exceedingly Dangerous”

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, kat@thenation.com@KatrinaNation
Publisher and editorial director of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel is president of the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord.

She said today: “While there is no question that Russia has contributed to tensions, the West should have understood that an attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO would spark deep, historical divisions within Ukraine and escalate Russian concerns. What is essentially a civil war has become a proxy war, a site of dangerous geopolitical focus.

“The hawkish outcry for more sanctions, more weapons, NATO membership for Ukraine, and an even more confrontational stance toward Russia is exceedingly dangerous and is not in our security or national interests.

“It is imperative that we embrace sober reasoning and diplomacy to end the conflict — more than 14,000 lives have already been taken. Make no mistake: There is no military solution to this conflict. Only reasoned dialogue and political settlement can put Ukraine on the path to long term stability and some semblance of peace.”

Why is the U.S. Government Making Nuclear War More Likely?

The New York Times recently reported: “Hundreds of Scientists Ask Biden to Cut the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal.”

Norman Solomon recently wrote in Salon: “Some policy technocrats for the U.S. nuclear arsenal and some advocates for arms control are locked in a heated dispute over the future of ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles. It’s an argument between the ‘national security’ establishment — hell-bent on ‘modernizing’ ICBMs — and various nuclear-policy critics, who prefer to keep the current ICBMs in place. Both sides are refusing to acknowledge the profound need to get rid of them entirely.

“Elimination of ICBMs would substantially reduce the chances of a worldwide nuclear holocaust. ICBMs are uniquely vulnerable to effective attack, and thus have no deterrent value. Instead of being a ‘deterrent,’ ICBMs are actually land-based sitting ducks, and for that reason are set up for ‘launch on warning.’ …

“An enormous ICBM lobbying apparatus remains in high gear, with huge corporate profits at stake. Northrop Grumman has landed a $13.3 billion contract to proceed with developing a new ICBM system, misleadingly named the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.” (Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)

DAVE LINDORFF, dlindorff@gmail.com,

Lindorff wrote the piece “The U.S. is Set to Make Nuclear War More Likely,” which states: “The U.S. is about to move towards a far more likely first use of nuclear weapons, with word that the Air Force has ‘completed flight testing’ of the cost-and-performance-plagued F35A Lightning fighter, all units of which are being ‘upgraded’ to carry thermonuclear weapons.
“What this means, as explained in a new article in Popular Mechanics, is that the world’s most costly weapons program (at $1.7 trillion), a fifth-generation fighter, supposedly ‘invisible’ to radar (that actually cannot fight and is not invisible to advanced radars), now has a new mission to justify its existence and continued production: dropping dial-able ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons that can be as small as 0.3 kilotons or up to 50 kilotons in explosive power. …

“Bernie Sanders, the independent self-described ‘socialist’ senator from Vermont, now needs to finally end his own dogged and cynical support for the basing of 18 F-35A planes at the Burlington International Airport, where pilots of the Vermont Air National Guard are now training for exactly the kinds of bombing scenario described above. …

“Sanders has insisted that while he ‘opposes’ the ‘wasteful’ F35 program, it is a ‘done deal’ and so he wants Vermont’s Air National Guard unit to get a piece of the ‘benefits’ of having it and the ‘jobs’ it supposedly brings with it in his state. He has continued to dissemble, claiming that the Vermont F35As will not carry nuclear weapons or be used in nuclear war. In fact, his office was caught altering a document from the Pentagon to hide the fact that the Vermont Guard’s planes would in fact definitely be upgraded with the ‘block four’ alterations so they can carry nukes just like all F-35As in the Air Force fleet.”

Pentagon “Cover-up” in Kabul Drone Killing of Family Continues

No U.S. Troops Will Be Punished for Deadly Kabul Strike, Pentagon Chief Decides,” the New York Times reports this afternoon. “The military initially defended the August strike, which killed 10 civilians including seven children, in the days afterward, but ultimately called it a tragic mistake.”

The group BanKillerDrones.org responded: “Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, in declining to punish any military personnel for the August 29 drone slaughter of 10 members of the Ahmadi family in Kabul, Afghanistan, is continuing the Biden administration’s cover-up of who and what technology was indeed responsible for the attack, including, possibly, protecting the White House if the President was involved.”

“If the Pentagon wants to come clean about this horrific event,” said Nick Mottern, a co-coordinator of BanKillerDrones.org, “it will release documents and video tapes that show who was responsible for key decisions and what technological failings were responsible. If President Biden was involved in the decision, we must know that.”

The Air Force’s inspector general, Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said, insisted that the strike has to be considered in the context of the moment, with American officials at a heightened state of alert after a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport three days earlier killed about 170 civilians and 13 U.S. troops. “The broader context the Pentagon should acknowledge was clarified by Daniel Hale, the drone whistleblower who disclosed that innocent Afghan civilians were killed in 90 percent of the U.S. drone attacks during a five month period,” said Kathy Kelly, also with BanKillerDrones. “U.S. attacks slaughtering civilians have been routine,” Kelly added. “The unusual aspect of the August 29th attack was that international media exposed the murder of civilians and the pernicious initial claim that this was a ‘righteous attack.’”

Daniel Hale, sentenced to 45 months in prison, is serving time at U.S. Penitentiary Marion. In his own words, the only thing that Daniel Hale did wrong is that he “stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life. I couldn’t keep living in a world in which people pretend things weren’t happening that were. Please, your honor, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”

“Austin’s announcement indicates that the slaughter in Kabul on August 29 was business as usual,” said Brian Terrell, also with the group. “The slaughter of the Ahmadi family is what happens when all the proper protocols are followed, and this was not a matter of botches by individuals who were properly doing their jobs that day, as Secretary Austin indicates, but of gross failures within the system, human and technological, that have been routinely accepted. If this happens when the system is working as it should, then it is not a problem that can be fixed short of shutting down the weaponized drone program altogether.”“It is also shocking that the U.S. government has still not enabled the Ahmadi family to come to the U.S. and guaranteed them reparations,” Mottern said. BanKillerDrones has called on the U.S. government to compensate the family $3 million for each family member killed, based on the $3 million that the U.S. gave to the family of Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian citizen killed in a mistaken U.S. drone attack in Pakistan in 2015.

BanKillerDrones.org is working to achieve an international treaty banning weaponized drones and military and police drone surveillance.

Contact: Kathy Kelly, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com

Nick Mottern, nickmottern@gmail.com
Brian Terrell, brian1956Terrell@gmail.com

Activists Go on Trial for Protesting Power Grab in Honduras as El Salvador Prepares to Follow Suit 

ADRIENNE PINE, adrienne@quotha.net@adriennepine
Currently in Honduras, anthropologist Pine is available for interviews and can also connect media to bilingual Hondurans closely involved with the Espinal and Álvarez trial.

She said today: “This Monday and Tuesday, former political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez will go on trial in Honduras on trumped-up charges related to their participation in protests during the 2017 Honduran electoral crisis.

“Protests had erupted nationwide after the blatant theft of the November 2017 presidential elections by Juan Orlando Hernández, who had previously orchestrated an illegal takeover of the country’s Supreme Court in order to obtain permission to run for a consecutive second term, in violation of the Honduran constitution. State security forces shot into crowds. Espinal and Álvarez were among over 180 Hondurans who were arrested for exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed right to protest, and 22 who were illegally imprisoned without trial in dangerous maximum security prisons. If found guilty, they face sentences of 15-30 years.

Pine, who is in Tegucigalpa to accompany Espinal and Alvarez and document their trial, added: “The illegitimate and unelected Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández is able to persecute and torture his opponents thanks primarily to unfailing U.S. support for his regime and complicity in its systemic human rights abuses. Hernández’s major involvement in drug trafficking has been thoroughly demonstrated by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the majority of Hondurans would like to see him tried in court. Instead, Edwin and Raúl are being persecuted for standing up for Honduran democracy and sovereignty.”

Meanwhile in neighboring El Salvador, the right-wing populist, president Nayib Bukele, has increasingly consolidated power.

ALEXIS STOUMBELIS, alexis@cispes.org@CISPES

Co-director of Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Stoumbelis recently wrote the recent article “Ruling by loyalist court upends Constitution to allow Bukele to run for reelection.”

She said today: “In El Salvador, the recent ruling by the court that President Bukele’s party illegally installed to allow him to run for reelection — despite multiple prohibitions in the Constitution on consecutive terms — is a page straight out of Hernández’ playbook. And it’s no surprise that Bukele is persecuting his political opponents, either.

“Many Salvadorans have been saying all along that Bukele’s goal was to take complete control over the Salvadoran state — that should be abundantly clear by now.”

9/11 Family Members: U.S. Gov Wages War; Covers up; Blocks Justice

Biden executive order demands disclosure of 9/11 files and ...DAVID POTORTI, via Katharina Feil, katharina@peacefultomorrows.org@PeacefulTomorro
Potorti’s brother Jim was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He helped found September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows in the aftermath of the attacks. The group has recently filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in U.S. v Abu Zubaydah charging that the judiciary is “serving as a gatekeeper to prevent unjustified invocations of the state secrets privilege, which may otherwise suppress information that is not privileged or is merely embarrassing to the government.” Members of the group have traveled to Afghanistan and to Guantanamo to observe pre-trial hearings of the 9/11 accused. The group is also holding a film festival. Potorti is co-editor of the recent 9/11 poetry anthology Crossing the Rift and is working with the Forgiveness Project. Feil is project coordinator for the group and can connect media to various members of the group.

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, kdianbreit@aol.com
One of the “Jersey Girls,” Breitweiser is a lawyer and co-founder of September 11 Advocates. She just wrote the piece “My Husband Died on 9/11. I Am Still Waiting for a Trial of His Killers” for The Intercept which states: “For a country that invokes 9/11 so freely to start wars … such use of the 9/11 tagline abruptly halts at the courthouse steps. …
“When a person looks at the facts and circumstances of the 9/11 attacks, taken as a whole, it would seem implausible that not one individual, entity, bank, or business has been fully prosecuted and found criminally responsible as a co-conspirator for the crime that took place. I say a crime, because my husband’s death certificate, like every other 9/11 victim’s, lists the manner of his death as ‘homicide,’ not ‘war.’ And yet our nation, a democracy based upon the rule of law, that supposedly protects and entitles all of its citizens with a Constitution and clear Bill of Rights (and certainly the most basic universal human right to live and not be blown up in a building) has not found, and will not ever find, it necessary to hold any co-conspirator of the 9/11 hijackers accountable in a court of criminal law. The typically exceedingly easy-to-meet thresholds for who and what qualifies as a criminal ‘co-conspirator’ and ‘conspiracy’ have never quite been met by the screaming facts and circumstances of 9/11 — and I’d argue that’s by systemic prosecutorial choice to look the other way for matters of political expediency, cover-up, or in the best-case scenario, sheer embarrassment. …

“Horrifically, some U.S. prosecutors literally sit on the side of the defendants (in this case, Saudi Arabia) and help the key evidence we need stay secret.”

Report: $21 Trillion Financial Cost of Militarization Since 9/11

LINDSAY KOSHGARIAN, lkoshgarian@nationalpriorities.org@lindsaykosh
    Program director of the National Priorities Project, Koshgarian is co-author of the just released report: “State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11,” which states: “Over the 20 years since 9/11, the U.S. has spent $21 trillion on foreign and domestic militarization.

    “Of that total, $16 trillion went to the military — including at least $7.2 trillion for military contracts.

    “Another $3 trillion went to veterans’ programs, $949 billion went to Homeland Security, and $732 billion went to federal law enforcement. …

    “Spending on the DoD totaled $14 trillion over the last 20 years, including $1.9 trillion in funds appropriated specifically for wars through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Even though in recent years the fund was increasingly used for routine military expenses (or ‘base requirements’), this total falls short of estimating the true costs of the War on Terror. More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s $14 trillion in spending over the last 20 years was for operations, purchasing and research and development. Operations and maintenance ($5.7 trillion) includes costs for operating, deploying, and maintaining weapons systems, including the military’s nearly 300 ships and more than 13,000 aircraft, and facilities, as well as training and other costs. Procurement ($2.8 trillion) includes the purchases and upgrades of major weapons systems such as ships and aircraft, as well as land vehicles, missiles, and ammunition.”

U.S. Government Illegally Killing Civilians in Afghanistan

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
After a U.S. government drone strike in Afghanistan, many cheered. On Sunday, Charlie Savage of the New York Times wrote: “The U.S. clearly has remarkable intelligence line of sight into ISIS-K right now.”

Today, the Washington Post reports: “10 civilians, including children, reported killed in U.S. drone strike; rockets fired at Kabul airport.”

Biden had vowed to “hunt down” those responsible for the Kabul airport attack, with his press secretary Jennifer Psaki explaining: “I think he made clear yesterday that he does not want them to live on the Earth anymore.”

Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle said today the entire enterprise was illegal: “Retaliation is not self-defense under international law, but only more aggression.”

On Aug. 16, Boyle was warning: “U.S. forces at the Kabul Airport remind me of the Marines at the Beirut Airport who were blown up — sitting ducks.” Boyle had worked with members of Congress to prevent the disaster in Beirut, urging them to force then-President Reagan to withdraw the Marines using the War Powers Resolution. Boyle has noted: “Unfortunately, a ‘compromise’ was struck and predictably led to disaster with the Marine barracks bombing.” See New York Times report from Sept. 21, 1983: “Congress And Reagan Back Compromise On War Powers Keeping Marines In Lebanon.”

Also, see: “Did the U.S. Support the Growth of ISIS-K?” by Alex Rubinstein.

Why Won’t Biden — and Others — Admit Israel Has Nuclear Weapons?

America Needs to Start Telling the Truth About Israel’s Nukes” by Peter Beinart in Wednesday’s New York Times states: “American politicians sometimes say an Iranian bomb would pose an ‘existential’ threat to Israel. That’s a dubious claim, given that Israel possesses a nuclear deterrent it can deploy on air, land and sea. But many Americans find the claim plausible because, according to recent polling conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, barely 50 percent know Israel has nuclear weapons. A higher percentage thinks Tehran has the bomb.”

SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini@gmail.com, @samhusseini
An independent journalist now writing at Substack, Husseini has questioned numerous U.S. officials who have refused to acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. See “The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial.” He notes that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a piece shortly before Biden became president: “Joe Biden should end the U.S. pretence over Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.” Husseini is also senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Grant Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and has written extensively on U.S. policy on Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal including the piece “Challenging the secret ‘Israel Nuclear Weapons Gag Order’ WNP-136.”

Smith notes of the Beinart piece: “The key point is missed: If the U.S. acknowledges Israel’s nuclear weapons, it also acknowledges it has been supplying unlawful foreign aid to Israel since the mid-1970’s.” Grant estimates this totals nearly $300 billion.

Last year he wrote letters to several members of Congress who have voiced criticism of Israel, noting: “I believe your coalition has far more influence on the matter of foreign aid than it may realize. In 2016 and 2017 we sued the administration(s) over violations of the Arms Export Control Act, but did not prevail for lack of standing. Your coalition does not have such issues.”

See IPA news release: “Could Congress Cut off Funding to Israel by Acknowledging its Nuclear Weapons?