Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy said Wednesday that she does not advocate sending U.S. ground troops to Syria to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
On Monday, Defense One, the national security and defense news outlet of Atlantic Media, reported that Flournoy had “called for ‘limited military coercion’ to help remove Assad from power in Syria, including a ‘no bombing’ zone over parts of Syria held by U.S.-backed rebels.”
Reporter Patrick Tucker interpreted those comments, which Flournoy made at a Center for New American Security conference, to mean that she “said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region.”
That report was widely cited elsewhere, including in a post by The Intercept‘s co-founding editor, Glenn Greenwald.
After publication, Flournoy wrote a letter to the editor of Defense One denying that she advocates for “putting U.S. combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power.”
Tucker told The Intercept that Defense One did not issue a correction because they felt they accurately reported Flournoy’s policy position. “Strike weapons at standoff distance is troops,” said Tucker. “Those are military personnel. That is U.S. military power – at war with the Assad regime. There is just no way around it.”
He added: “We took a very inclusive use of the word ‘troops,’ one that matched the literal definition of ‘troops,’ but nowhere do we ever suggest or say ‘ground troops.'”
Flournoy did not deny the entire report that she favors increased U.S. intervention; for instance, she acknowledged her support for U.S. “strikes using standoff weapons – to retaliate against Syrian military targets” to enforce the no-bomb zone.
She wrote that she believes this would create “more favorable conditions on the ground for a negotiated political settlement.”
The potential Pentagon chief also wrote that she wants to increase “U.S. military support to moderate Syrian opposition groups fighting ISIS and the Assad regime.”
In the comments that Defense One initially quoted, Flournoy distinguished her proposed policy from a no-fly zone – a policy Clinton endorsed in December – explaining that “you’re not having air craft drill holes in the sky. You’re not having to take out the entire civilian air defense system.” In 2015, Flournoy called the military dimensions of Obama’s strategy in Syria “under-resourced, while many of the non-military lines of operation remain underdeveloped.”
Flournoy’s stated foreign policy position would still increase U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war beyond what President Obama and top military officials have been willing to commit.
When asked in October 2015 if the U.S. was going to allow Russian forces to continue to bomb U.S.-supported moderate opposition forces, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded, “The president has made quite clear that Syria is not going to turn into a proxy war between Russia and the United States. That certainly would not be consistent with our interests.”
Flournoy’s reiterated willingness to engage directly with Syrian and proxy forces, coupled with Donald Trump’s commitment to send U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS, signals almost-inevitable military escalation in the Syrian conflict once Obama leaves office.
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The post Hillary Clinton’s Likely Defense Chief Says She Did Not Advocate U.S. Ground Troops in Syria appeared first on The Intercept.
The Empire Trilogy
By J.G. Farrell
Over the past few summers I’ve been making my way through the Empire Trilogy by J.G. Farrell. These books have it all: the wit and romantic intrigue of great English novels; characters to love, hate, pity, and laugh at; feuds and uprisings leading to horrifically gruesome clashes and blood-soaked justice. Each one is set in a different country — Troubles takes place in a crumbling hotel catering to rich Englishmen in County Wexford, Ireland; The Siege of Krishnapur in a fictional colonial British town in India; and The Singapore Grip in that city as it faces an invasion by the Japanese army. All the books share the same preoccupation: the decaying British empire, which is like a character in itself — smug, arrogant, dissolute, intoxicated with power but beset with anxiety, unable to ignore the terrifying signs that its time is almost up.
— Betsy Reed
By Elliott Colla
The best detective novels typically feature admirable but flawed heroes searching for truth in a gritty, crime-ridden city. Now suppose the flawed hero is a former Ba’athist police inspector and the place is post-invasion Baghdad. In Baghdad Central, Elliott Colla, who teaches Arabic literature at Georgetown University, turns the modern detective novel on its head by placing the action in the middle of America’s doomed efforts to remake Iraq’s police and security forces after the 2003 invasion. Muhsin al-Khafaji, a poetry-loving former police inspector, is initially mistaken for the three of diamonds in the famed “deck of cards” (used to help U.S. forces hunt down Iraq’s most wanted) and then recruited by the Americans to help remake the country’s gutted police force. Filled with misguided American bureaucrats and murdered translators, Baghdad Central reminds its readers at every turn of the human cost of war for Iraqis.
— Sharon Weinberger
World War Z
By Max Brooks
Last summer, I took my first real time off of work in many years and rediscovered the pure joy of reading fiction. My favorite book was recommended by our editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, on last year’s reading list: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. It was superb and remarkably prophetic in understanding the times in which we live, despite being set in Germany in World War II. It has much to say about surveillance and the power of the state.
What I have to offer this year is a book I stumbled upon quite by accident about five years ago when I found myself in a remote place with no computer or phone and a lot of time. It is World War Z by Max Brooks. Before you groan and tell me how awful the Brad Pitt film was, let me tell you: I agree. It was total shit — and it bore almost no resemblance to the brilliant book upon which it was supposedly based. Technically, World War Z is considered a “zombie book,” but if it was, I probably would not have read past the first chapter. It is so much more than that. It is about how different societies confront pandemics. It imagines a world ravaged by a rare strand of what is initially believed to be rabies and how nation states, weak and powerful, large and small, confront it.
There are some amazing concepts — North Korea orders all citizens to have their teeth removed; the U.S. predictably believes it can declare a military war on zombies; Cuba and Israel implement quarantines. One of the most entertaining aspects of the book is how the elite in the U.S. become the most vulnerable and pathetic. Their workers — the people who do construction and plumbing and manual labor — are more fit for survival during the apocalyptic events than those who underpaid them and systematically took their labor for granted. There is also an awesome little subplot of a bunch of B-list celebrities stuck in a mansion where they are filming a reality show; one of them seems based on Puff Daddy, or whatever he goes by these days. If you haven’t read it or were turned off by Brad Pitt being chased by CGI-created zombies who run as fast as cheetahs, pick it up.
— Jeremy Scahill
By Umberto Eco
In the post-modern newsroom of Domani (Tomorrow), nobody actually produces any “content” that readers will ever see. A collection of disrupted journalists is building a newspaper that the billionaire “Commendatore” may or may not care about. So plunged into the abyss of meaningless work, hack writer Colonna falls into the arms of Maia who teaches him a thing or three about the disaggregated life, while their colleague Braggadocio pursues conspiracies about Mussolini’s survival in hiding. Umberto Eco’s final novel combines history, mystery, and satire, but no connection to The Intercept.
— Margot Williams
Map: Collected and Last Poems
By Wislawa Szymborska
Noble Prize-winning Wislawa Szymborska’s Map: Collected and Last Poems was published in 2015, just a few years after the Polish poet’s death. I read Szymborska because of her perfect, plain language. I read her because she never shouts, she doesn’t judge, she isn’t right, and she isn’t wrong. Her poem “There Are Those Who” describes exactly what her work isn’t:
“They set their stamp on single truths,
toss unnecessary facts into the shredder
and unfamiliar persons
into previously designated files
They think as long as it takes,
not a second more,
since doubt lies lurking behind that second.”
And the poem tells you exactly what her work is: a quiet perspective on a chaotic, maddening, heartbreaking, and finely discerned world.
— Lynn Dombek
Signs Preceding the End of the World
By Yuri Herrera
One of the books that stayed with me this year is Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World. It’s a brief, crisp novel — something you can finish in a day. But it conjures a landscape. Of feeling, colors, people. A journey. Recently translated into English, Herrera’s central character, Makina, moves at the intersection of language, nation, family, and capital — destabilizing many of the easy lines drawn between us.
— Josh Begley
A Brief History of Seven Killings
By Marlon James
I picked this up before a road trip across Jamaica because I love using novels as guide books, but this is so much more than a masterful tribute to this beautiful, brutal country (though it is that, too). It’s an epic portrait of very much nonfictional Cold War politics, postcolonial violence, and the creation — for U.S. interests — of the war on drugs. Spanning across decades and countries, it has it all: corrupt CIA agents, bragging journalists, ghosts of slain politicians, Bob Marley, and rival gangs in 1970s Kingston and 1990s New York City. It’s not brief, and I lost count of the killings by the end of the first few chapters, but it’s the best book I’ve read this year.
— Alice Speri
By Viet Thanh Nguyen
This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, The Sympathizer takes us from the fall of Saigon to the Vietnamese refugee community in Southern California and back. Written in lyrical, often humorous prose, the book follows a Eurasian “bastard” sleeper agent inside the South Vietnamese government and government-in-exile. An epistolary novel in the form of a confession to the Communist commandant at the camp where the agent ultimately ends up, no one and no party looks good here, but it is a surprisingly enjoyable ride.
— Lynn Oberlander
Paths of Glory
By Humphrey Cobb
Cobb’s novel about French soldiers in World War I is a masterclass in describing how military leadership, almost by definition, fails those in its charge. Cobb, an American who fought in the war, describes its senselessness for soldiers and a fate that condemns enlisted and junior officers to the whims of vainglorious generals. David Simon has cited this novel as a blueprint for The Wire — enough of a recommendation for me — and he writes an introduction in the latest edition. The novel was also adapted for a film of the same name by Stanley Kubrick.
— Matthew Cole
By Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley’s final book, Island, doesn’t win points for subtlety, but neither did his most famous novel, Brave New World. As heavy-handed as Huxley’s writing may be, few authors can create such fascinating worlds that bring political and philosophical ideologies to life. If Brave New World is one side of Huxley’s vision of the world — a dystopian hellscape where the government controls every aspect of society — Island offers the opposite: a slice of utopia in the fictional Pacific island of Pala, where its inhabitants live in peace by blending together the best of Eastern and Western philosophies. The island of Pala is a beautiful reminder of what humanity could have looked like if colonialism and capitalism never came to pass.
— Travis Mannon
THE NONFICTION LIST
This book by a former Bloomberg reporter is richly reported and examines the flamboyant, uber-powerful and often-crazy billionaire class that has arisen, and now dominates, political and cultural life in the world’s fifth most populous country. It’s extremely entertaining and compelling on its own terms, but it also potently illustrates how billionaires generally — in the U.S. and in the Western world — have amassed extraordinary power with virtually no accountability. Particularly with the political crisis engulfing Brazil, the imminent Olympics, and the struggle for the political soul of that country, Cuadros’s book is a must-read.
— Glenn Greenwald
Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices From the Afghan War
By Svetlana Alexievich
Like many people, I found my way to the incredible work of Svetlana Alexievich after she won the Nobel Prize for Literature last year. This book is a collection of oral accounts that illuminate the disaster of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and raise some disturbing parallels with our current venture there. But what really got to me is the way Alexievich uses women’s voices; it’s so uncommon in writing about war. This summer I’m looking forward to reading her newly translated book Secondhand Time.
— Cora Currier
By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo
In Border Cantos, Richard Misrach turns his camera on the increasingly militarized and haunted landscape of the Southwest border country straddling America and Mexico. Misrach’s images of camera towers and the strangely discontinuous segments of the border fence alternate with desperate signs of flight: backpacks, shoes, toothbrushes, wallets, underwear, and baby dolls litter the dusty trails that wind through the deserts and mountains of the border zone. Scarecrow-like effigies, constructed of clothing and other artifacts discarded by migrants, rise up as reminders of the thousands who did not survive.
— Roger Hodge
The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics
By Andrew Small
The military and political relationship between China and Pakistan is one of the least examined yet most consequential geopolitical alignments in Asia. This book offers a deeply researched look at the history of these countries’ strategic ties, as well as the dynamics that have deepened their cooperation in recent years. Andrew Small is a genuine expert who draws on a range of primary source materials and interviews from the region to sketch the outlines and future direction of this alignment. He manages to do so in a way that’s accessible and engaging, which makes this book a must-read for those interested in China, Pakistan, and the dynamics of America’s forthcoming “Pivot to Asia.”
— Murtaza Hussain
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
By Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
If you wind up on Dr. Judy Melinek’s autopsy table, it’s pretty obviously not a great thing. For starters, you’re dead. But more to the point, you’ve met a demise that left questions in its wake. Certainly, the criminal justice system deals with lots of death — much of it violent and untimely. But understanding death, and particularly its manner and cause — two questions that medical examiners like Melinek are charged with answering — are crucial to the system and key to deciding which deaths are in fact the result of crimes.
In her book, Melinek (who authored the book with her husband, Mitchell) takes her readers inside the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner and into the details of the training that turned her into a medical examiner. Melinek is both intense and empathetic as she relates the stories of how the New Yorkers who wound up on her table met their demise; her retelling of the effort to identify the deceased in the wake of the 9/11 attacks is especially revealing. But Melinek is also witty (she’s a great follow on Twitter — @drjudymelinek) and blends intensity with humor in a book that takes readers on an entirely absorbing ride through the forensic science behind life and death.
— Jordan Smith
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS
By Joby Warrick
Earlier this spring, I picked up a copy of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, by journalist Joby Warrick, in hopes of better understanding the formation of the extremist group that has dominated international headlines in recent years. I was not disappointed. Black Flags, which earned Warrick a Pulitzer Prize not long after I started reading it, offers an immensely readable account of how the Jordanian-born fanatic Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the U.S. invasion of Iraq came together to lay the groundwork for the terrorist organization we know today. While no single book could be expected to capture that entire tale, Black Flags, particularly in its earlier sections, makes important contributions to filling in a crucial period in the ongoing history of the war on terror.
— Ryan Devereaux
It’s been evident for some time that America’s key institutions, and its core ostensible principles, are rapidly eroding. The brunt of this degradation is borne overwhelmingly by the nation’s marginalized, poor, and powerless communities. This book provides a comprehensive look at the effects, where police are shooting unarmed minority citizens and their drinking water is literally poisoned. How this can happen in the world’s richest country is both a mystery and a disgrace. This book seeks to solve the former while sounding a clarion call about the latter, and it succeeds in doing both. It’s a sometimes depressing read, but that’s necessary medicine. And it will constantly energize you and never bore you.
— Glenn Greenwald
Anthropologist David Vine chronicles how the Pentagon’s archipelago of 800-plus military bases worldwide has become an end unto itself — costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and achieving very little. Vine tells stories of the human cost of this global military presence — of an entire civilization forced off its island home, of sex-trafficking markets that service U.S. bases, and even of the Pentagon’s tendency to contract with the violent Sicilian mafia.
— Alex Emmons
Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil
By Timothy Mitchell
Is it possible that the particularities of coal extraction and transport — and not, say, the grip of enlightenment thought — enabled modern mass democracy? That’s the premise of Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy, which argues that the unique ability of coal workers to bring industrial society to a halt gave crucial leverage to their egalitarian demands. The transition to oil, on the other hand, established a global supply chain far more amenable to oligarchic control. Intercept readers will enjoy Mitchell’s detours through the international monetary system, the global arms market, and the U.S.’s erratic embrace and disavowal of various fundamentalist regimes in the greater Middle East.
— John Thomason
Politics and the English Language
By George Orwell
It’s not a coincidence that more people approve of torture when you call it “enhanced interrogation,” or that “targeted killing” has a better favorability rating than an assassination campaign. George Orwell attacks political phrases of this sort in his famous essay Politics and the English Language — an essential annual re-read for any consumer of the news. Orwell uses examples from his times (“bombing colonial villages” becomes “pacification”) to show that when newspapers adopt these expressions, they creep into our vocabulary and manipulate the way we think about government.
— Alex Emmons
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education
By Mychal Denzel Smith
“American racism will take some of our lives while holding others of us up as exemplars of success,” Smith writes in the introduction to Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, describing a framework that reduces black figures to either “martyrs” or “tokens.” Who might Trayvon Martin have grown up to be, he asks, had he lived to define himself on his own terms? Smith brings sharp cultural analysis to events from LeBron James’s “decision” to the election of Barack Obama and draws on defining moments of his own coming of age to open up conversations about black male identity.
— Andrea Jones
THE STREAMING LIST Mr. Robot
It was a hot summer night in Las Vegas. Thousands of hackers flooded the city, excitedly making party plans for the first night of DEF CON 23, the world’s largest annual hacker convention. But a small group of friends and I skipped out on partying that night in favor of something better: A new episode of Mr. Robot had aired the night before, and we were dying to know what happened. Mr. Robot is a cyberpunk television drama about a socially anxious, paranoid, delusional, drug-addicted, and incredibly talented hacker who, along with the anarchist hacktivist collective fsociety, works to delete the world’s debt. As a computer security engineer myself, I’m excited about Mr. Robot because it’s pioneering a brand new genre of hacker shows, where all of the vulnerabilities and exploits are authentic, and all of the tools are familiar to those of us who dabble in Kali Linux. The second season premiers July 13 in the U.S.
— Micah Lee
The best dystopian fiction is uncomfortable to consume because of what it shows us about the present. This British series explores the dark side of technology that either already exists or could in the near future. A common theme is public humiliation mixed with private turmoil. Each episode could stand alone as a short film, with a different cast and theme. It’s a disturbing piece of satire that shows how technology can be used to destroy privacy, decency, and relationships.
— Rubina Fillion
Bernardo Bertolucci’s exploration into the psychology of political affinities recounts the unraveling of Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a fascist sympathizer and member of the secret police in Mussolini’s Italy. Under the shadow of the rise and fall of Mussolini’s dictatorship, Clerici’s ambivalence toward the very political system he defends — and even kills for — provides a rich and visually singular examination of personal and societal conflict under surveillance and oppression. An all-time great of 1970s Italian cinema, The Conformist is as awe-inspiring as it is historically transcendent.
— Miriam Pensack
The Lives of Others
My colleague Peter Maass wrote an excellent piece about an NSA analyst-turned-in-house philosopher who was initially skeptical of surveillance but came to embrace full observation. The Stasi agent at the center of The Lives of Others has the opposite journey: Gerd Wiesler monitors a potentially subversive writer whose apartment is bugged, Wiesler eventually learns, only because a senior government official covets the writer’s girlfriend. Over the eavesdropping period, Wiesler learns as much about himself and the state to which he has pledged allegiance as he does about the writer whose privacy he invades.
— Charlotte Greensit
House of Cards
Netflix’s political drama House of Cards has been a hit since its premier in 2013. But fewer Americans know about its ’90s British antecedent, the three-part BBC miniseries of the same name. Both series show the brutality of realpolitik through the eyes of a monstrous (yet infuriatingly charming) main character. Both of these men treat bewitched audiences to sly wit through the fourth wall, at the expense of their woefully inadequate colleagues. But while Netflix’s House of Cards is more melodrama than anything else, the BBC’s version provides a deep and often heartbreaking look at the impacts of neoliberalism, something largely ignored by American television in general. Much like the BBC series’ sole American character, the American remake is simple, loud, bloated, without subtlety — albeit undeniably entertaining to watch.
— Moiz Syed
Eye in the Sky
Eye in the Sky is the first major cinematic release I’ve seen that attempts to confront the many legal, moral, and ethical issues raised by drone technology. It was directed by Academy Award-winner Gavin Hood, who assembled a strong cast that includes Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, and Aaron Paul (yes, Jesse from Breaking Bad). The movie revolves around a single fictional incident involving a group of al Shabaab militants who are tracked down to a compound in a busy district of Nairobi, Kenya. The militants are high on Obama’s “kill list,” but there’s a quandary: Among the group are British and American citizens. There are also many innocent bystanders in the vicinity, including young children. As a U.S. drone equipped with hellfire missiles scans the scene from above, high-ranking British and American officials debate the political consequences of approving a strike and argue over whether it would be legal and moral to do so.
There are some factual weaknesses in the storyline – a British military officer is in command of American drone pilots, which is unrealistic, as is the prospect of a U.S. drone attack in the middle of Nairobi. But nitpicking aside, the movie is well-delivered and effective, humanizing a debate about drone warfare that is often overly abstract and technocratic.
— Ryan Gallagher
Game of Thrones
All websites are legally required to talk about Game of Thrones, and I’ve been assigned to bring The Intercept into compliance. By far best thing about the show is its depiction of how people seek power (mindlessly and mechanically, like a robot flower growing toward the sun) and what power’s like after the glorious moment you seize it (boring and horrible). The subtlest moment of this went by so quickly in the second season I’ve never seen anyone mention it. Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf son of the richest lord in the country, describes how his brother was made the youngest Kingsguard in history and his sister became queen at 19 — yet because his father hated Tyrion, he put him in charge of his city’s drains and sewers. But that’s a fantastic, fascinating job, a trillion times better than being a knight or royalty. You get to think both abstractly and concretely about something of visceral, immediate importance to thousands of people — and Tyrion’s great at it. To me, Tyrion’s story will always be tragic because he doesn’t recognize this and gets willingly sucked back into the pointless, idiotic struggle for power.
— Jon Schwarz
Nostalgia for the Light
This remarkable documentary from Patricio Guzmán — the great Chilean filmmaker whose most famous work, The Battle of Chile, gave a close-up look at the CIA-backed coup that deposed Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 — follows two groups of people looking into the past in the country’s Atacama Desert: astronomers who search the skies for clues to the origins of the universe using powerful telescopes, and relatives of political prisoners disappeared by the Pinochet regime in the 1970s, using their hands to scrape the dry earth for the remains of their loved ones.
— Robert Mackey
Always for Pleasure
The Criterion Collection
Les Blank’s insistently joyful documentaries serve as an antidote to the worsening news that overwhelms our various screens. He takes the rhythms of everyday life as his primary focus: His biopics of musicians are as much about daily routines in odd corners of America as his film about garlic (Garlic Is as Good as 10 Mothers) is subtly musical. The 14 films collected in this boxset explore the streets of New Orleans and the depths of bayou country, gatherings of hippies and Polish-American polka dancers, and the craft of conga percussionists and country fiddlers with warmth, wry humor, and humanity.
— Talya Cooper
Don’t watch the trailer, don’t read any reviews — except this one! — just walk blindly into this underwatched 2015 indie gem. Director Anna Mastro, writer Paul Shoulberg, and lead Andrew West deliver a tale of a young man who is confident he knows every earthly being’s place in the hereafter, but ends up re-evaluating his place in the present. The film’s evolving plot concludes with a deeply moving message and ends up being far more relevant to the lives of its viewers than it has any right to be.
— Zaid Jilani
Drop what you’re doing and watch Occupied, a 10-part Norwegian political thriller that’s a combination of The West Wing and The Parallax View set in Oslo. In the near future, Russia gradually takes over Norway for its oil reserves. Norway’s prime minister and a variety of other characters (a reporter, a chef, a bodyguard) have to decide whether to collaborate or take to the forests in rebellion. You’ll even like the design aesthetic of this drama — cool Scandinavian. Even better, it’s based on an idea from the novelist Jo Nesbo.
— Peter Maass
The Night Manager
Most TV shows and movies in the spy genre are boringly predictable. The Night Manager is a bit different, and that’s why I enjoyed it. The
six-part British miniseries, produced by the BBC and starring Tom Hiddleston, is based on a 1993 John le Carré novel. It has all the characteristics you’d expect from a le Carré yarn: There’s a sociopathic megalomaniac, a crusading young spook, thuggish mercenaries, murder, explosions, a dangerous romance, etc. But it has been updated and set against a modern geopolitical backdrop — the Arab Spring is playing out in the background — and it has a bit more nuance and detail than conventional British spy productions. Unlike the Bond franchise, for instance, which always portrays the British government as a relentless force for good, The Night Manager tells a more complex story, with corrupt elements inside the intelligence community conspiring to help sell weapons to despots in the Middle East. As the narrative develops, an internal power struggle within the government unravels, which makes for compelling viewing.
— Ryan Gallagher
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Elio Petri’s 1970 film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is a classic satire of a police state, in which a high-ranking Italian officer decides to test the rule of law by committing a murder and leaving a clear trail to himself. It is a dark, bizarre study of bureaucratic and psychological power, set to a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (of Spaghetti Western fame).
— Cora Currier
Queue up a few Intercept articles and play Anohni’s Hopelessness. Read the Drone Papers to the tune of “Drone Bomb Me” (“Let me be the one — the one that you choose from above”). For Liliana Segura and Jordan Smith’s ongoing coverage of the Richard Glossip fiasco, try “Execution” (“Pleease don’t have mercy … Sometimes a feeling is reason enough”). And with “Manufacturing Terror,” a story about an environmental activist enamored with his FBI informant, you’ll want the track “Watch Me” (I know you love me because you’re always watchin’ me — daddy; Protectin’ me from e-vil; Protectin’ me from ter-ro-rism”). No electronic pop could better match the act of reading about state-sponsored killings by the pool.
— Alleen Brown
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Neoliberalismus ist "Politik aus einem Guß", und die SPD ist uneingeschränkt dabei!
Grundsätzliche Weichenstellungen, alle in die verkehrte Richtung!
- Erbschaftssteuer - füttere die Reichen!
- Gesundheitskarte - Deine Gesundheitsdaten Daten gehen Dich nix an
- Smart Meter - deine Privatheit werden wir schon killen, wir sind dabei, wann immer Du Strom verbrauchst
- Überwachungsgesetze en Masse, alle Schranken fallen
- Demagogen a la de Maiziere in der Regierung ..
- Straßenbau privatisieren, Geldgeschenke für Investoren zu Lasten der Allgemeinheit ..
- Fracking, der Boden ist sicher .. für Investoren
- regelmäßig neue Bundeswehreinsätze
- Neue Anfrüstung & Rekorde beim Rüstungsexport
das ist natürlich unvollständig, haben die eigentlich irgend etwas richtig gemacht?
Übrigens: bezahle ich mit meinem Glasfasertarif bei M-Net die Smartmeter-Einführung mit?
Welche Stromanbieter leisten evtl. Widerstand?
habe ich Einfluß auf die Smartmeter ..
Europarat debattiert über Griechenland und Türkei – ein Gespräch mit der Bundestagsabgeordneten Annette Groth -
Von REDAKTION, 24. Juni 2016 -Bei der diesjährigen Tagung des Europarates gehörte auch der griechische Regierungschef Alexis Tsipras hier mit dem Generalsekretär des Europarates, dem Norweger Thorbjørn Jagland zu den Hauptrednern. (Foto: twitter.com/tsipras_eu)
Die Situation für die Flüchtlinge – insbesondere für die Kinder – in Griechenland und der Türkei ist unvermindert schlimm. Das macht die Bundestagsabgeordnete der Linken, Annette Groth, aus Anlass der Jahrestagung des Europarates in Straßburg in dieser Woche deutlich. Groth
As it became clear, early Friday morning, that Britons had voted to leave the European Union, a far-right nationalist politician, Nigel Farage, told cheering supporters that the goal of his once-fringe United Kingdom Independence Party had finally been met.
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 24, 2016
“Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” Farage declared. The victory, he added, was one for “honesty, decency and belief in nation,” achieved, “without a single bullet being fired.”
That last claim struck a nerve with those for whom the defining event of the referendum campaign was the horrifying assassination, with three bullets, of Jo Cox, an internationalist, pro-European legislator whose killer shouted “Britain first” and “Keep Britain independent,” as he shot and stabbed her to death.
Farage and his colleagues were quickly congratulated by the leaders of nationalist, far-right parties in the Netherlands and France, Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen, who both called for similar referendums in their countries.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) June 24, 2016
Victoire de la liberté ! Comme je le demande depuis des années, il faut maintenant le même référendum en France et dans les pays de l'UE MLP
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) June 24, 2016
Closer to home, however, another part of Farage’s statement seemed at odds with the mood in some parts of the country. Namely, his confidant assertion that citizens of the United Kingdom comprise a single nation. As the results were tallied, it became obvious that there was a clear disparity of outcomes across the kingdom’s four nations: while England and Wales voted to leave the EU, Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to stay in it, which raised the possibility that the decision to withdraw from one union could trigger the imminent collapse of another.
— Press Association (@PA) June 24, 2016
In England, 2/3 who consider themselves “more English than British” voted L; 2/3 of “more Brit than Eng” voted R pic.twitter.com/xxZCXeGaKu
— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) June 24, 2016
England and Wales one country on these results; Scotland another
— Tom Clark (@guardian_clark) June 24, 2016
To start with, as many observers in Scotland noted, their nation, which rejected independence in another referendum just two years ago, partly out of a desire to remain in the EU, voted overwhelmingly against the decision to leave. That led to widespread speculation that the Scottish National Party, which rules the local government, could now demand a second referendum on independence soon.
Scotland voted to Remain by 62% to 38%. Every area of Scotland voted to stay. That's an overwhelming mandate. #letscotlandstay
— Adam Ramsay (@AdamRamsay) June 24, 2016
— The SNP (@theSNP) June 24, 2016
Scotland will seek independence now. Cameron's legacy will be breaking up two unions. Neither needed to happen. https://t.co/4MDj7pndcq
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 24, 2016
also the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom: Scotland should Take Its Country Back. https://t.co/E18cd0dOdw
— Simon Schama (@simon_schama) June 24, 2016
Hours later, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, told reporters that she would do everything she could to make sure that her nation’s vote to be part of the EU was honored, and “an independence referendum is now highly likely.”
— 5News (@5_News) June 24, 2016
Sturgeon also mentioned that she had spoken with the leader of another part of the UK that voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, and they promised to work together.
Nicola Sturgeon says she has spoken to London mayor Sadiq Khan and there is "clear common cause" between London and Scotland.
— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) June 24, 2016
That statement prompted a wave of jokes about London declaring its independence too, but also some serious suggestions that the pro-European forces might still fight to keep the UK in the EU in some form.
Why did Sturgeon mention Sadiq Khan in speech on post-Brexit Scottish referendum? Are we going to get a vote to make London a city-state? ????????
— Jessica S (@jess_sinc) June 24, 2016
Scotland and London (sturgeon and Khan) will join forces to try to keep UK in single Market- that's my prediction
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) June 24, 2016
As if any more fuel was needed to add to this fire, Donald Trump arrived in Scotland on Friday morning to promote one of his golf courses, and told waiting reporters that the British exit from Europe was “a great thing.”
— Mark McLaughlin (@mark_mclaughlin) June 24, 2016
Trump, whose mother was from Scotland, seemed oblivious to nationalist sentiment there, telling reporters the vote meant, “basically, they took back their country.”
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
He also displayed little sympathy for fears about the country’s economy prompted by the sharp drop in the value of the pound overnight, once the direction of the vote became clear — arguing that it would be good for business at his golf course.
Asked about market freefall, Trump says: "When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, to be honest."
— Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) June 24, 2016
WATCH: Trump is happy the stock market is crashing because it’s good for his golf course https://t.co/3MGEnH973c
— American Bridge (@American_Bridge) June 24, 2016
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, which also voted against leaving the EU by a clear majority, the nationalist Sinn Fein party called for an immediate referendum on unification with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the economic union.
— BBC Referendum (@BBCReferendum) June 24, 2016
BREAKING: Sinn Fein says "British government has forfeited any mandate to represent economic or political interests of people in N Ireland"
— Marc Mallett (@MarcMallett_UTV) June 24, 2016
Time for a border poll, just waiting on Scotland to kick off the process. I would rather be part of a United Ireland than a divided kingdom!
— Brendan Marshall (@IrishSeminarian) June 24, 2016
Martin McGuiness to Sky News:"The landscape of this island (Ireland) has changed irrevocably, both politically and economically."
— Robert Nisbet (@RobNisbetSky) June 24, 2016
“This outcome tonight dramatically changes the political landscape here in the north of Ireland and we will be intensifying our case for the calling of a border poll” on a united Ireland, the party’s chairman, Declan Kearney, said on Friday morning.
“The British government as a direct result have forfeited any mandate to represent the interests of people here in the north of Ireland in circumstances where the north is dragged out of Europe as a result of a vote to leave,” he added.
If the United Kingdom does leave the EU — after what was, legally, just an advisory referendum — Northern Ireland will be the only part of the country to share a land border with the economic bloc, reintroducing the need for immigration and customs controls with the Republic of Ireland that were phased out in recent years.
Sinn Fein was a party to the Good Friday agreement of 1998, which ended decades of violence by devolving power to a regional assembly and acknowledging that the two parts of Ireland could eventually be united. As part of that agreement, the British government’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland is obliged to call a referendum on dissolving the border between the two parts of Ireland once there is clear evidence of public opinion opinion favoring Irish unity.
As Brendan Donnolly, a former member of the European Parliament, wrote recently, “it is not by chance that in the Good Friday agreement… so much emphasis is laid on the membership of both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in the European Union.” Under that arrangement, the border has become as invisible as one between two American states.
“To install physical checkpoints along the border would instantly undermine a hard-won peace, and the psychological impact alone would be catastrophic,” Kathryn Gaw, a Belfast-based journalist wrote this week. “A return of those barricaded towers and armed checkpoints will stir up emotional memories for many Northern Irish people who witnessed years of violence in border towns such as Newry, Omagh and Derry, and there is a very real fear that they may lead to a resurgence of dissident activity.”
Although the unionist strongholds in Ulster voted to leave the EU on Thursday, the difficulty of living once again with physical barriers between the two parts of the island could make it seem more attractive to be part of a European Ireland than an inward-looking UK.
Another alternative, as the Irish journalist Peter Geoghegan suggested, is that the island of Ireland could continue to function without a border, but anyone traveling from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK would have to pass through immigration and customs checks. Such an arrangement would be short of formal unification, but help prevent backsliding in the peace process.
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) June 24, 2016
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Im kurdischen Cizre hat sich das Leben der Menschen noch lange nicht normalisiert. Die Regierung Erdoğan lässt die vom türkischen Militär zerschossenen und zerbombten Häuser abreißen – um Beweise zu zerstören und die Stadt anschließend besser unter ihre Kontrolle bringen. -
Von ANDREAS SCHMIDT und SYLVIO HOFFMANN, 24. Juni 2016
Noch immer ist die Situation der Menschen in der kurdischen Stadt Cizre gekennzeichnet durch Unsicherheit und das Fehlen jeglicher Perspektive. Sie versuchen, ihren Alltag an einen Ausnahmezustand anzupassen, der eigentlich vorüber sein sollte. Das türkische Militär hat seinen Einsatz als erfolgreich beendet erklärt – aber ein „Erfolg“ sieht anders aus:
Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have been knocking on the doors of activists and community organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, asking about their plans for the Republican National Convention in July.
As the city gears up to welcome an estimated 50,000 visitors, and an unknown number of protesters, some of the preparations and restrictions put in place by officials have angered civil rights activists. But the latest string of unannounced home visits by local and federal police mark a significant escalation in officials’ efforts to stifle protest, they say.
“The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target and others in efforts to discourage people from engaging in lawful First Amendment activities,” Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator with the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote in a statement denouncing the home visits.
More than a dozen people in the Cleveland area have reported being visited this week by local police, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service.
Michael Nelson, an attorney and the president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, said that police officers visited the parents of one of his clients, a young woman who was among 71 people arrested in May 2015 following the acquittal of a police officer in the deaths of two unarmed people.
When the parents asked whether their daughter was in trouble and why they wanted to speak with her, the officers replied that they wanted to ask “about any information she might have about anybody engaging in violence, planning violence for the RNC.” Nelson and others have asked for a meeting with the agencies involved in the door knocks.
“Maybe we need to have a discussion about the Constitution,” he told The Intercept. “Last time we heard of anything like this was when Dr. King and J. Edgar Hoover were around.”
The FBI confirmed that visits have taken place. “In preparation for the upcoming RNC the FBI along with our federal, state, and local partners has been working collaboratively with members of the community,” a spokesperson for the FBI’s Cleveland field office told The Intercept. “As part of this preparation law enforcement is reaching out to individuals known in the community who may have information that could help ensure a safe and secure environment during the RNC.” Cleveland’s police department did not respond to requests for comment.
Maggie Rice, an organizer with Food Not Bombs, said that members of her group were visited by police but felt too “rattled” to speak to a reporter. The group is not planning to stage protests but has applied for permits to be in the RNC event zone in order to feed both protesters and Cleveland residents dealing with disruptions to public transportation and services like Meals on Wheels.
“A lot of Cleveland’s most vulnerable residents will be at risk,” Rice said. “The idea that the FBI would be coming in, knocking on our doors and asking questions of people that they know are not involved in organizing any protests and that are basically a humanitarian organization is completely unacceptable and very disturbing.”
“One FBI agent and one plainclothes Cleveland police officer, both white men, showed up and started asking questions about other Food Not Bombs members and our activities,” Rice said. “I personally believe that this is an attempt to intimidate because they know we play a vital role in helping people stay out longer and have their voices heard.”
In other visits, officers asked about people’s previous addresses, political and social affiliation, and convention plans, according to the NLG. “We are concerned these visits will chill the free speech activities of individuals wishing to lawfully protest,” said Rosnick. “And that individuals who are not planning to be involved in the RNC are being harassed due to their associations.”
The group is holding free legal training sessions for local activists and residents and has been monitoring law enforcement preparations ahead of the convention. To Cleveland organizers, the recent door knocks are just a reminder that they are being watched.
“Cleveland is no stranger to FBI interference and FBI entrapment,” said Rice. “I’d say most Cleveland activists and support organizations like ours are aware that every room we’re in probably has an FBI agent in it. And we act accordingly.”
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Am Dienstag, 21. Juni sind in der Schleswig-Holsteinischen Landeshauptstadt etwa 350 Antimilitarist*innen gegen die “Kiel Conference” 2016 auf die Straße gegangen. Bei der NATO-Veranstaltung Mal im Düsternbrooker Maritim Hotel Bellevue, die in diesem Jahr zum zweiten stattfand, handelt es sich um ein hochrangiges Treffen von Militär, Wissenschaft und Politik, auf dem die Kriegsstrategien von morgen geplant werden.
Kai Schlieter hat ein wichtiges Buch über die bedrohliche Seite Künstlicher Intelligenz geschrieben -
Von THOMAS WAGNER, 23. Juni 2016 -
Auch im vergangenen Jahr gehörten Stofftiere und Puppen zu den beliebtesten Spielzeugen, die Eltern ihrem Nachwuchs unter den Weihnachtsbaum legten. Erfreulich, dass in einer rasant sich verändernden Welt doch etwas gleich bleibt, mag manch einer denken. Doch Vorsicht! Die Schattenseiten der modernen Informationstechnologien machen auch vor der vermeintlich noch heilen Kinderwelt nicht halt. So hat die Firma Mattel den Prototyp einer Barbie entwickelt, „die nicht nur schön blond ist, sondern auch tolle Ohren hat und Gespräche im Kinderzimmer aufzeichnet“.Weiterlesen...
The House Democratic sit-in calling for a vote on gun legislation ended on Thursday afternoon, with lawmakers vowing to take up the cause once more after the July 4 recess.
But if the Democrats choose to continue pursuing what has been their chief goal so far – a bill that would bar those on the federal government’s terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms — they will face opposition from some of their traditional allies.
House Speaker Paul Ryan cited the ACLU’s stand against the bill at a press conference Thursday. “In this country, we do not take away people’s constitutional rights without due process. This is not just Republicans saying this. It’s groups like the ACLU who are saying this,” he said.
The ACLU opposes the Democratic proposal on the grounds that the government’s watchlisting system “is error-prone and unreliable because it uses vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence to place individuals on blacklists without a meaningful process to correct government error and clear their names.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s leading Muslim American civil rights group, also came out against the proposal on Wednesday.
“It would seem the Senate is willing to only apply constitutional limitations on the American Muslim community, which is disproportionately impacted by federal watch lists,” CAIR wrote in a statement, adding that it does, by contrast, support gun-control measures like expanded background checks and lifting the ban on federal research on gun violence.
Although some Republicans are citing due process concerns to oppose the no-fly-no-buy proposal, few are actually supporting legislation to reform the watchlist. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., introduced a bill that would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from barring anyone not convicted of a crime from flying on an airplane or boarding a cruise ship. It has no cosponsors. A more modest bill introduced in 2013 to speed up the redress process for being placed on the list had only two sponsors, and no Republicans. Not one Republican joined a 2014 letter to DHS protesting flaws in the listing process — although the Democratic signatories to that letter now evidently think it’s good enough to use for barring gun sales.
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State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday repeatedly denied that the government of Honduras kills its own citizens, saying more than a dozen times that he has not heard “credible evidence” of “deaths ordered by the military.”
His comments came in the wake of a high-profile assassination of Honduran native-rights activist Berta Cáceres in March, and a report in the Guardian that a high-level deserter from the Honduran army said he is “100 percent certain that Berta Cáceres was killed by the [Honduran] army.”
The deserter explained that Cáceres’s name and picture appeared on a kill list including “dozens of social and environmental activists,” which had been distributed to two elite, U.S.-trained units.
Since Honduras’s right-wing regime seized power in a coup in 2009, media and human rights organizations have compiled overwhelming evidence of Honduran military and police violence.
Kirby said he was aware of “media reports alleging the existence of a Honduran activist hit list,” but noted that “at this time, there’s no specific, credible allegations of gross violations of human rights that exists in this or any other case involving the security forces that receive U.S. government assistance.”
Kirby’s comments were even at odds with the State Department’s own human rights reports on Honduras, which for the last two years have referred to “unlawful and arbitrary killings and other criminal activities by members of the security forces.”
The U.S. maintains a very close relationship with Honduran military. Since a military coup deposed leftist President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, the United States has provided nearly $200 million in military aid to the Central American nation. The U.S. also maintains a network of at least seven military bases in Honduras, which house a permanent force of more than 600 special operations troops. In February, the Wall Street Journal published a video showing American forces teaching Honduran forces how to conduct night raids.
In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played a central role in legitimizing the new coup regime. While President Obama initially called Zelaya’s ouster “illegal” and said it would set a “terrible precedent,” Clinton refused to call it a military coup, and aid continued to flow. She also pushed for a sham election to “render the question of Zelaya moot,” according to Clinton’s memoir – which was later scrubbed of references to Honduras during her presidential campaign.
Officially linking U.S.-backed Honduran forces with human rights violation would trigger legally-required reductions in aid – in addition to putting the State Department in the uncomfortable position of criticizing a client state, and casting doubt on Clinton’s wisdom in backing the coup.
After The Intercept asked Kirby to respond to the report that the U.S. trained Cáceres’s killers, he repeatedly denied the existence of “specific, credible allegations.”
After other reporters joined in the questioning, Kirby expressed frustration that he had repeat that there was “no credible evidence” of state murders more than a dozen times. “The reason you’re being asked to repeat it is because it’s kind of hard to believe,” said Associated Press diplomatic correspondent Matt Lee.
Watch the video:
Kirby also refused to outline the steps the U.S. was taking to follow up on the allegation. He insisted that the State Department took the report “seriously,” but admitted that he was “unaware” of any meetings between the Department and Honduran activists, and that the department had not followed up with The Guardian.
CNN’s Elise Labott asked: “Have you been looking for evidence or you’re just waiting for it to fall into your lap, in which case you would launch an investigation?” Kirby insisted it was the former.
The murder of Cáceres – a renowned environmental and native rights activist – drew international condemnation and prompted a U.N.-supported investigation. Cáceres won the prestigious Goldman Prize in 2015 for overcoming death threats and organizing opposition to the Agua Zarca dam – stopping the internationally bankrolled hydroelectric project that threatened the land and livelihood of the native Lenca people.
Since 2009, Honduras has seen a sharp rise in political violence. By 2012, Honduran security forces had assassinated more than 300 people, including 34 opposition leaders and 13 journalists, according to Honduran human rights organizations. In the lead up to the 2013 elections, 18 candidates from Zelaya’s party were murdered.
The A.P. reported in 2013 that in Honduras’s largest two cities, there were more than 200 “formal complaints about death squad style killings” over the previous three years. Reports included the killing of people at military checkpoints, and even police assassination of a top anti-drug government official.
In 2014, more than 100 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, raising concerns about “death-squad style killings by Honduran police” and urging him to abide by the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits aid to any military unit guilty of “gross violations of human rights.”
In the wake of Cáceres’s murder, Honduran human rights activists have traveled to D.C. to brief lawmakers about the security situation. At a congressional briefing in April, Bertha Oliva, founder of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras, told lawmakers that “it’s like going back to the past” and that “there are death squads in Honduras.” Oliva compared the situation to the 1980s, when the Reagan administration funded, armed, and trained death squads which disappeared, tortured, and killed hundreds of citizens.
At the briefing on Wednesday, the A.P.’s Lee asked Kirby how much responsibility the U.S. would share if it were true that it had trained Honduran government death squads.
“We absolutely have a responsibility to … hold them to account for those human rights abuses, and we do do that,” said Kirby. “Are we going to blame ourselves for the specific human rights violations of another human being in that regard? That’s a pretty difficult connection to make.”
While the State Department turns a blind eye to the Honduran government’s human rights record, Congress may restrict military aid on its own. Under appropriations laws, Congress can withhold 50 percent of its Honduras aid budgeted for the State Department. Last week, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., also introduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, which would cut off all military and police aid until the government’s human rights record improves.
Dana Frank, a history professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a widely published expert on Honduras, called Kirby’s remarks “mindboggling.”
“What State is saying sounds exactly like the Reagan Administration, when the State Department denied vast horrors committed by Honduran security forces for years, only to be later exposed for having known all about them and suppressed the evidence,” said Frank. “This denial of any evidence is a scary and newly aggressive counterattack.”
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Last month, a group of students at University of California at Irvine gathered to protest a screening of the film “Beneath the Helmet,” a documentary about the lives of recruits in the Israeli Defense Forces. Upset about the screening of a film they viewed as propaganda for a foreign military, the students were also protesting the presence of several IDF representatives who here holding a panel discussion at the screening.
That student protest has since become the subject of an intense controversy. The school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine is now facing the possibility of being banned from the campus. In addition, a legal representative for some of the students involved in the protest, Tarek Shawky, told The Intercept that the students were informed by the university that their cases have been referred to the district attorney for criminal investigation.
The day after the event, the school’s chancellor released a statement accusing student protestors of “crossing the line of civility.” In his statement, posted on the school website, Chancellor Howard Gillman said that “while this university will protect freedom of speech, that right is not absolute,” adding that the school would examine possible legal and administrative charges against the protestors. News reports cited claims that attendees at the film had been intimidated and blocked from exiting the event.
The protestors at the event represented a wide range of student groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Black Student Union. Students who spoke with The Intercept denied that anyone had intimidated attendees at the event or blocked access. “We held our protest in a way that reflected university guidelines, we didn’t use amplified sound and we didn’t restrict anyone’s freedom of access to the event,” says Daniel Carnie, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace who took part in the protest.
Contacted for comment, a media relations representative at UC Irvine said that it was normal practice for cases like this to be referred to the District Attorney. “It is routine for UC Irvine Police Department, when called upon to investigate an incident on campus, to forward the investigation to the District Attorney’s office,” said Cathy Lawhon. “It’s then up to the DA’s office to determine if any charges are warranted.” Lawhon added that the school investigation into banning Students for Justice in Palestine was proceeding separately.
Reached for comment, the Orange County District Attorney stated that they have yet to receive a referral on the case from the school.
The incident is only the latest in which officials at UC Irvine and other major universities around the country have taken harsh measures against pro-Palestinian activists. “There is a really ugly history of targeting student groups advocating for Palestinian issues,” says Liz Jackson, a staff attorney with Palestine Legal, a group which provides legal advice and advocacy to individuals in the U.S. advocating for Palestinian rights. “It suppresses the really important debates about U.S. foreign policy that young people need to be having. Instead of being able to engage freely and voice opinions that challenge the status quo, one side of the debate is just being crushed.”
A report issued last year by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights documented 152 incidents of free-speech suppression on U.S. campuses in 2014. These incidents have included acts of censorship, threats of legal action and even accusations of support for terrorism. Citing the threat posed to the First Amendment by such acts, the report added that they were “undermin[ing] the traditional role of universities in promoting the free expression of unpopular ideas and encouraging challenges to the orthodoxies prevalent in official political discourse.”
Threats, punishment and intimidation are all being routinely used to stifle dissenting viewpoints on Israel-Palestine, says Omar Shakir a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a co-author of the report. “University officials are erecting bureaucratic actions to make it harder to hold certain events, imposing administrative sanctions and even firing and denying tenure to professors for their views on Israel-Palestine, efforts that collectively represent a grave threat to the First Amendment.”
For instance, Native American Studies Professor Steven Salaita lost his tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois in 2014 after being accused of incivility in his online comments on Israel-Palestine. After a public legal battle, last year the school settled a lawsuit filed by Salaita for financial compensation.
In the case of UC Irvine, Shakir adds that the university’s charge of “incivility” on the part of protestors is a particularly egregious attempt to stifle protected speech. “Accusations of incivility have always been used by those in power to justify attempts to suppress changes to the status quo,” Shakir says. “The term itself, ‘civility’ represents coded language that in the past has been used to try and suppress groups deemed ‘uncivilized,’ like Native-Americans and African-Americans in the United States. It has no place being used as a basis to silence student activists today.”
Those views were partly echoed by Ari Cohn, a lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a campus free-speech organization. “If allegations that protestors at UC Irvine disrupted the event are substantiated that would not be protected speech, as it would impinge on the speech of others attending the event.” Cohn added, however, that “civility in itself cannot be mandated by schools. Incivility plays a fundamental role in much of the social activism on campuses.”
Threats to speech, have come not only from university administrations but from law enforcement as well. In 2010, Osama Shabaik was among a group of eleven students at UC Irvine who were arrested after protesting an appearance by then-Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at the school. Oren’s speaking event came roughly a year after Operation Cast Lead, a three-week Israeli military campaign against the Gaza Strip that killed hundreds of civilians. Intent on making a point about the inappropriate nature of Oren’s appearance following the attack, Shabaik and others organized a protest to disrupt the event.
In an incident that was captured on video, Shabaik and several other students repeatedly stood up in the crowd to interrupt Oren’s speech, chanting slogans against Israeli military abuses during Cast Lead. The students were detained and ejected from the event, something Shabaik says they had expected. But what came next was stunning. The school administration referred the students to the police, filing misdemeanor criminal charges against them for disrupting the event. The charges carried a maximum of one year in prison for each of those who protested.
The following year the case went to court, where Shabaik and nine other students were convicted and sentenced to three years probation.
“The administration was definitely sending a message and implicitly threatening our futures by having us charged as criminals for protesting,” reflects Shabaik today. “A lot of those who were charged were students planning to go on to medical school or law school, and they were worried that having a criminal record would prevent that from happening.”
Shabaik has since gone on to graduate from Harvard Law School, but is concerned about how his criminal record could affect his future employment prospects. Looking back at the incident, he believes it helped inaugurate a high-level campaign to silence dissent on Israel-Palestine in the United States, that has since extended to state legislatures.
Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that would force public institutions in New York to divest funds from groups supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The executive order has been criticized as a form of political blacklisting. Shabaik believes Cuomo’s proposal echoes his own experience, where powerful institutions and public figures have sought to quash dissent on this issue.
“Its important to understand duality of responses when it comes to free speech. The whole essence of free speech is to challenge power and push back against government repression,” says Shabaik. “The move to stop debate on this issue is now leading to crackdowns at state-funded colleges and universities and even at the state legislature level. People are facing serious threats to their future for speaking out against the status quo.”
In recent years, a movement has built, mostly on the political right, which charges that free speech is being endangered on American college campuses. The most prominent voices on this issue have been conservative activists like Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos and Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro. But liberal writers such as Jonathan Chait have also relentlessly fixated on the idea that “political correctness” is stifling free expression among a new generation of students.
Most of these protestations have focused on a specific type of speech: the right to “offend” by speaking against perceived left-wing orthodoxies on race, feminism and cultural issues. The charges of speech suppression in such cases have generally not been leveled at university administrators or law enforcement, but rather at students who view such speech as offensive. This differs markedly from the Israel-Palestine controversies, where state-funded bureaucracies and government officials have been involved with stifling speech on an issue directly related to American foreign policy.
“Its important to distinguish between the idea that certain views are not popular on campuses, something that may be worthy of discussion separately, and the phenomenon of public institutions and officials taking direct action to restrict speech about vital aspects of government policy,” says Shakir of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The core of the First Amendment defends the right to free speech on campuses, and we should all be concerned when McCarthey-esque tactics are being used by those in positions of power to silence debate on issues of global importance.”
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Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel will die deutschen Militärausgaben massiv erhöhen. Nach den deutsch-polnischen Regierungskonsultationen bekannte sie sich am Mittwoch ausdrücklich zu dem NATO-Ziel, zwei Prozent des Bruttoinlandsprodukts (BIP) für Verteidigung auszugeben. Angesichts neuer Bedrohungen könne dieses Ziel „auf mittlere und längere Sicht nicht nur auf dem Papier stehen“, sagte die CDU-Chefin. Derzeit gibt Deutschland 1,2 Prozent des BIP für die Bundeswehr und ihre Ausrüstung aus – Washington fordert schon seit langem eine deutliche Erhöhung des deutschen Kriegsetats.
Die NATO hatte sich bei ihrem Gipfel in Wales im September 2014 zum Ziel gesetzt, die Verteidigungsausgaben jedes einzelnen Mitgliedsstaats in den nächsten zehn Jahren
Laut örtlichen Medienberichten musste sich die syrische Terrorgruppe Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki von einer besonders kostbaren Kriegsbeute trennen. Vor zwei Wochen hatten die Kämpfer der Gruppe im Norden Aleppos einen russischen T-90 Panzer von der syrischen Armee erobert, und die Trophäe anschließend stolz auf Twitter präsentiert. Russland hatte Ende vergangenen Jahres eine begrenzte Anzahl dieser modernen Panzer nach Syrien verlegt.
Doch nun soll die vom Westen als „moderat“ bezeichnete Terrorgruppe das Kriegsgerät der Nusra-Front, der syrische al-Qaida-Ableger, ausgehändigt haben, berichtete al-Masdar News. Die Übergabe sei aufgrund eines Urteils eines für die Region zuständigen Scharia-Gerichtes erfolgt. In den von den