Statt Steinigung: Iranerin Aschtiani soll erhängt werden

Ihr Fall hatte große Aufmerksamkeit auf sich gezogen: die zum Tod durch Steinigung verurteilte Iranerin Aschtianti soll nun durch den Strang hingerichtet werden.

Vor Jahren verurteilte Iran die angebliche Ehebrecherin Sakine Mohammadi Aschtiani. Foto: dpa

Die Iranerin Sakine Mohammadi Aschtiani, deren Schicksal seit Jahren weltweit für Entrüstung sorgt, muss weiterhin mit ihrer Hinrichtung rechnen. Die ursprünglich vorgesehene Steinigung könne in eine Hinrichtung durch Strangulieren umgewandet werden, sagte am Sonntag der Chef der Justizverwaltung in der Provinz West-Aserbaidschan, Malek Aschdar Scharifi.

Gegen Aschtiani seien wegen Ehebruchs eine Todesstrafe durch Steinigung und wegen Ermordung ihres Mannes zehn Jahre Gefängnis verhängt worden, sagte Scharifi. Da er nicht über „die Mittel zur Vollstreckung der Steinigung“ verfüge, kommen nun das Erhängen in Betracht. Er warte auf eine Entscheidung der religiösen Instanzen.

„Wir haben es nicht eilig“, sagte Scharifi.

Die Todesstrafe gegen Aschtiani wurde im Jahr 2006 verhängt. Vor einem Jahr zog ihr Schicksal in Deutschland große Aufmerksamkeit auf sich, weil im Zusammenhang mit Recherchen zu dem Thema zwei Reporter der „Bild am Sonntag“ mehrere Monate lang im Iran festgehalten wurden. Sie kamen erst nach rund vier Monaten im Februar wieder frei.

Die Reporter waren im Oktober 2010 festgenommen worden, als sie den Sohn Aschtianis interviewten. Den Reportern wurde vorgeworfen, ohne entsprechendes Visum als Journalisten gearbeitet zu haben.

(AFP: Tagesspiegel, 25.12.2011)


Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson wins online auction for dinner with Bill Ayers

Tucker Carlson wins online auction for dinner with Bill Ayers

By Jamie Weinstein Published: 10:46 PM 12/18/2011 | Updated: 5:25 PM 12/19/2011

Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson will have a very special dinner date before the end of 2012 — with Bill Ayers. Yes, that Bill Ayers.

Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (Ex-SDS & Weathermen)

Carlson donated $2,500 to the Illinois Humanities Council for the honor of supping on a home-cooked meal at the Illinois home of Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn — both unrepentant leaders of the terrorist Weather Underground.

“I bought the auction dinner because I support the important work of the Illinois Humanities Council,” Carlson emailed The Chicago Tribune. “Anything I can do to help.”

Conservatives slammed Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential race for his association with Ayers. Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, famously knocked Obama on the stump for “palling around with terrorists.” While she didn’t mention Ayers by name, it was widely understood that is who she was referring to.

Carlson’s winning dinner bid entitles him to bring up to six people. The dinner must be arranged at a mutually agreed-upon date before October 2012.

Those still itching to hang out with the Weather Underground clan still have a chance. An opportunity to go to a Chicago Cubs game with Dohrn is still up for auction through Monday.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “The humanities council is an educational nonprofit group that organizes lectures, presentations, performances, exhibits and cultural events.” It was founded in 1973 as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, but later became a private non-profit organization. It continues to receive annual funding from the federal government.


The following dispute evolved:

1.       beebop: He should take five severely
disabled American Veterans to show these disicable people what BOMBS actually
Good for Tucker.

How many bombs did the veterans drop on innocent Vietnamese peasants?


How nice of you to take a break from reciting the Vagina Monologues while
squatting over a small hand mirror to join us.

How come that Ayers is even walking around free ? How did he manage to stay
alive this long with all the people that hate him ?

Why don’t you ask a few Vets that yourself ? I don’t remember people
volunteering for that war you asshole

A lot of draftees escaped to Canada, Sweden, and elsewhere. Muhammad Ali found
a different way not to kill up to 1.5 million Vietnamese. Keep your foul
language to yourself.

Your logic is flawed; and FYI, you ASK people not to do things, you don’t TELL
them what to do.

This is just some troll. he misses the 1970’s and the weather underground
trying to blow people up .I guess Ayers is a friend of his. Maybe this is Ayers
. He can troll better than most. What A buzz kill. I was having fun

Ali was a celebrity. Who are you tell me to keep my  FUCKING foul language to myself ? You have
some sway at the DC ? Calling veterans murderers and you are put off by
profanity ?

My language is nowhere near as foul as you suggesting Vets are women & baby
killers. I had two brothers and my Uncle in that war and I promise , they did
not want to be there. Why the hell you bring up Nam ?

The USA stepped in for the French to continue their colonial war. In fact it
was the liberals: Kennedy and Johnson. You are right that the draftees didn’t
want to go there but instead of resisting they followed orders. Instead of
helping the ones who did resist Ayers and his cohorts followed the government’s
logic: Throw bombs. They, of course, believed they could prevent more bombs on
the Vietnamese this way. You can’t talk about Ayers without reference to Nam.
That was his motive. I go with Ron Paul on this. The US never should have gone
there in the first place.

Thanks for your contribution

It would have been allot of peoples motive to snap his damn neck in the 1970’s.

That is two wrongs make a right. That is nuts. The whole 18 + year old
population trying to make a break for it in the 1960’s ? Ruin their lives ?
Some people want to see their parents again or their wife and kids rather than
be a fugitive or in jail. You don’t blame the kids that were drafted. No we
shouldn’t have been there and they shouldn’t have had to go there. So this
idiot thinks he will make a statement by answering violence with violence ? A
little collateral damage ?  Ron Paul
would advocate none of that. He served in the military. If he hadn’t , he would
never have come home, be a doctor, marry his wife, have a son, and served in
congress and now running for the presidency.He would have been persona non
grata. You are one of them aren’t you ? 
Don’t be ashamed. You talk so boldly of defying the authorities and
flinging a few bombs at american citizens . I wonder if I could get a waiver
like he did to toss bombs and be accepted back into society ? Really ,Common
man. Name yourself. You live in Chicago by chance ?

I can not believe the warped mental state that allows you to justify bashing
PSTD veterans as murderers and evidently Ayers as an american hero

Man, I wish my brothers could have you for about 1 minute

I am not bashing anyone. I feel sorry for your brothers that they had to go
through this. Kennedy and Johnson, later Nixon forced them to go. They are the
real culprits. Ayers just played the same game, only with opposite aims. For me
they are all criminals. Your brothers probably were misled and they didn’t know
any better, they probably didn’t have the means to resist the draft either. Ron
Paul served in the Air Force as a doctor. He didn’t have to fight anyone but he
said that the war was wrong.

Ok, lets make the peace. You are right about the war being wrong. I hated that
war and thought we would learn from it to never do the same thing again. And
here we are the last decade doing the same stupid things. I think we both have
the same point-of-view on that. At least I have the chance now at my age to try
with everyone elses help to pressure our government to stop this insanity

Thanks for your kind words. You are right, let’s stop the insanity of more
wars. I assume from your aka that you are a Christian. So, I wish you a Merry

Thank you man & since I will wish you a happy Holidays .

Stuttgarter Erklärung der Palästina-Solidaritätskonferenz

Schlussdokument der Palästina-Solidaritätskonferenz
„Getrennte Vergangenheit – Gemeinsame Zukunft“
Stuttgart, 26.-28.11.2010

Unter dem Motto “Gleichheit – oder nichts” des Edward W. Said kamen vom 26. bis 28.11.2010   in Stuttgart über 200 TeilnehmerInnen zu einer sog. „Palästina-Solidaritätskonferenz“, einer Gruppe, die die Existenz Israels bekämpft, zusammen. Thema der dreitägigen Konferenz mit dem Titel “Getrennte Vergangenheit – Gemeinsame Zukunft” waren „Hindernisse und Perspektiven für eine gerechte Lösung“ des Konflikts zwischen dem Staat Israel und den sich als PalästinenserInnen nennenden AraberInnen.

ReferentInnen waren zumeist ehemalige Mitglieder prosowjetischer KPs oder deren Fellowtraveler Organisationen: Der israelische Historiker Prof. Ilan Pappe von der Universität Exeter (G, Prof. Haidar Eid von der Al Aqsa Universität Gaza, Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh von der Birzeit Universität Ramallah, der Mitbegründer des Internetportals Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah, die palästinensische Aktivistin Lubna Masarwa, der Hamburger Völkerrechtler Prof. Norman Paech, die Publizistin und Menschenrechtsaktivistin Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Annette Groth von der Linksfraktion des Bundestags, der Rechtsanwalt Jörg Lang, und Attia Rajab sowie Verena Rajab vom Palästinakomitee Stuttgart. Der Jazzmusiker Gilad Atzmon unterstützte die Konferenz mit seinem Grußwort. Die Schauspielerin Julianna Herzberg und Samir Mansour mit seinem Ensemble Layalina gestalteten den Kulturabend. Schirmfrau war die israelisch-deutsche Rechtsanwältin und Menschenrechtlerin Felicia Langer.

Die KonferenzteilnehmerInnen aus England, Frankreich, Österreich, der Schweiz, Schweden, USA und der BRD verständigten sich auf Strategien und Zielvorstellungen, die sie gemeinsam verfolgen wollen.

Die große Mehrheit stellte fest, dass das dogmatische Festhalten an der Zwei-Staaten-Lösung die tatsächlichen Realitäten ignoriert und von einer falschen Parität zwischen einer kolonialisierten und besetzten Bevölkerung auf der einen Seite und einem Kolonialstaat mit seiner militärischen Übermacht auf der anderen Seite ausgeht. Dies propagiert fälschlicherweise die Möglichkeit einen Frieden zu erreichen, indem den in den 1967 besetzten Gebieten lebenden PalästinenserInnen begrenzte nationale Rechte zugestanden würden, während den in den Grenzen von 1948 lebenden und den vertriebenen Menschen ihre Rechte verwehrt würden.

Das Festhalten an der Zwei-Staaten-Lösung verurteilt die PalästinenserInnen mit israelischer Staatsangehörigkeit dazu, als Bürger zweiter Klasse in ihrem angestammten Land zu leben, in einem rassistischen Staat, der ihnen nicht dieselben Rechte wie den jüdischen BürgerInnen gewährt. Außerdem würde das Fortbestehen eines zionistischen Staates den palästinensischen Flüchtlingen aus dessen Territorium das international anerkannte Recht auf Rückkehr verwehren.

Die Zwei-Staaten-Lösung kann zu nichts anderem führen als der Vertiefung und Zementierung der Ungleichheit. Das Modell zweier nach Ethnien oder Religionszugehörigkeiten getrennter Staaten bedeutet ethnische Separation oder fundamentale Ungleichheit innerhalb dieser Staaten, wie wir dies im heutigen Israel erleben.

Die Ausführungen Ilan Pappes und der palästinensischen ReferentInnen belegten schlüssig, dass der bisherige sogenannte Friedensprozess und die Verhandlungen nur einen Deckmantel für Israels Fortsetzung des Landraubs und der Entrechtung der palästinensischen Bevölkerung abgegeben haben.

Am Ende der Diskussion bestand weit gehendes Einvernehmen darüber, dass nur die Schaffung eines gemeinsamen, säkularen und demokratischen Staates auf dem historischen Palästina mit gleichen Rechten für alle Frieden und Gerechtigkeit für PalästinenserInnen und Israelis bringen kann – ein Staat, in dem alle Menschen, gleich welcher Religion und Herkunft, gleichberechtigt zusammenleben. Dies schließt selbstverständlich die aus dem Land vertriebenen PalästinenserInnen mit ein (Einlösung der Resolution 194 der UN-Vollversammlung).

Nach wie vor dulden oder unterstützen die maßgeblichen Mächte, vor allem die USA und die EU-Staaten die anhaltenden Verstöße Israels gegen internationales Recht und die Missachtung sämtlicher UN Resolutionen, die die koloniale und diskriminierende Politik Israels als illegal verurteilen. Die Regierungen der USA und der EU tolerieren die ständigen Angriffe auf die palästinensische Bevölkerung und ihre Wohngebiete. Besonders das totale Versagen der „internationalen Gemeinschaft“ während des israelischen Massakers in Gaza im Winter 2008/2009 machte vielen klar, dass allein der Druck zivilgesellschaftlicher Initiativen weltweit eine Änderung der Politik Israels und seiner UnterstützerInnen erzwingen kann.

Die Politik der Aushöhlung des internationalen Rechts durch die israelischen Verbündeten betrifft besonders die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, deren Regierungen, Parteien, Gewerkschaften und Medien, die auf ein enges Verhältnis zu Israel eingeschworen sind. Diese billigen Israels Politik der Menschenrechtsverletzungen stillschweigend und befürworten diese teilweise sogar.

Eines der aktuellen Beispiele für die Verbindung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland mit dem Apartheidstaat Israel ist die Beteiligung der Deutschen Bahn am Schnellbahnprojekt zwischen Tel Aviv und Jerusalem, das durch das Gebiet der Westbank führt, wozu das Land der dortigen Bevölkerung enteignet werden müsste, während die Palästinenser der Westbank gleichzeitig von der Nutzung der Bahn ausgeschlossen würden. Ein weiteres Beispiel ist die deutsche Unterstützung der Aktivitäten des Jewish National Fund, einer zentralen zionistischen Institution, die die Apartheid im Staat Israel sichert. Gegenwärtig vertreibt der Jewish National Fund mit seinem Aufforstungs- und Siedlungsprojekt im Negev PalästinenserInnen von ihren angestammten Gebieten, wie das Beispiel des Dorfes von Al Arakib bei Beer Sheva deutlich macht, das vor kurzem zum siebten Mal durch israelische Sicherheitskräfte zerstört worden ist.

Die KonferenzteilnehmerInnen haben Mittel und Möglichkeiten diskutiert, wie unsere Basisbewegungen in Richtung einer gemeinsamen Zukunft von PalästinenserInnen und Israelis auf der Grundlage der Gleichberechtigung wirksam werden können. Die Hindernisse sind hoch, da es mächtige Interessen für die Beibehaltung der Rolle Israels als imperialem Vorposten Europas und der USA sowie deren wirtschaftlichen und strategischen Interessen gibt. In dieser Rolle wird Israel freie Hand gegeben, Menschenrechte und internationales Recht zu brechen und auszuhöhlen.

Das wirkungsvollste Mittel ist die nach dem Vorbild des erfolgreichen Kampfes gegen die Apartheid in Südafrika organisierte Boykott-Kampagne. Die Konferenzteilnehmer -Innen erzielten Übereinstimmung über die dringende Notwendigkeit auch von Deutschland aus die internationale Kampagne für Boykott, Desinvestition und Sanktionen (BDS) gegen Israel zu unterstützen.

Sie schlossen sich damit dem von nahezu allen palästinensischen Zivilorganisationen getragenen Appell an, die diskriminierende und kolonialistische Politik der israelischen Regierung zu boykottieren und Druck auf unsere jeweiligen Regierungen und die Wirtschaft auszuüben, Embargos und Sanktionen gegen Israel zu erlassen. Boykottmaßnahmen und Desinvestment sind auch Gegenstand des von palästinensischen Christen im Dezember 2009 verabschiedeten Kairos-Papiers sowie des Kairoer Appells durch den internationalen Gaza Freedom March von Anfang diesen Jahres

Bei dieser Kampagne darf keine Zeit verloren werden, denn jeden Tag gehen die ethnische Säuberung in Palästina und der langsame Genozid an der Bevölkerung Gazas durch die menschenrechtswidrige Blockade weiter. Viele sind bereits gesto
rben und sterben täglich, weil ihnen die Ausreise zur medizinischen Behandlungen verwehrt wird. Die Verseuchung von Boden und Wasser durch die Hinterlassenschaft des Krieges gegen Gaza führt ebenfalls zu Krankheiten und Tod.

Die Kampagne bietet viele Möglichkeiten, sich als Teil eines bereits sehr erfolgreichen weltweiten Netzwerks von Solidaritätsgruppen, Gewerkschaften, antirassistischen Initiativen, globalisierungskritischen Gruppierungen, kirchlichen Gruppen, kritischen jüdischen und palästinensischen Vereinigungen und linken Parteien, überall dort aktiv einzuschalten, wo wir faktisch mit den Machtstrukturen, Institutionen und Politikern verbunden sind, die die Ungleichheit praktizieren und verfestigen. Überall da gilt es diejenigen, die vom israelischen Apartheidregime profitieren, zur Verantwortung zu ziehen. In Deutschland müssen wir uns ganz besonders der militärischen und so genannten Sicherheits-Kooperation mit Israel entgegen stellen.

„Diese gewaltlosen Strafmaßnahmen müssen“, so heißt es im Appell vom 9. Juli 2005 (Palestinian United Call for BDS against Israel), „solange aufrechterhalten bleiben, bis Israel seiner Verpflichtung nachkommt, den PalästinenserInnen das unveräußerliche Recht der Selbstbestimmung zuzugestehen, und zur Gänze den Maßstäben internationalen Rechts entspricht“.

Folgende Punkte müssen verwirklicht werden (Zitat aus dem Appell)
„Das Ende der israelischen Besatzung und der Kolonialisierung allen arabischen Landes wie auch der Abbau der Apartheid-Mauer
Israels Anerkennung der fundamentalen Rechte der arabisch-palästinensischen Bürger Israels zu voller Gleichberechtigung und
Israels Respekt, Schutz und die Unterstützung der Rechte der palästinensischen Flüchtling, in ihre Häusern und zu ihrem Eigentum zurückzukehren, wie es in der UN Resolution 194 vorgesehen ist“.

Die internationale BDS-Kampagne richtet sich selbstverständlich nicht gegen JüdInnen und auch nicht gegen israelische BürgerInnen als solche, sondern allein gegen die Unterdrückungspolitik eines Staates und gegen die Firmen und Institutionen, die an der Besatzung beteiligt sind, sie unterstützen oder davon profitieren. Sie wird daher von zahlreichen jüdischen Organisationen wie auch israelischen Persönlichkeiten unterstützt.

Boykott, Desinvestition und Sanktionen sind der Schlüsselweg, bei dem jeder – wie früher gegen das südafrikanische Apartheidregime – mithelfen kann, wirtschaftlichen und moralischen Druck aufzubauen. Die BDS-Kampagne hat vor allem eine große symbolische Wirkung, indem sie der israelischen Bevölkerung den Spiegel vorhält und sie mit der Tatsache konfrontiert, dass immer mehr Menschen auf der Welt die Politik ihres Staates als verbrecherisch ansehen.

Die zahlreichen Versuche von PalästinenserInnen, Israelis und internationalen Gruppen, die völkerrechtswidrige Blockade Gazas zu durchbrechen, stellen genauso wie BDS eine Methode dar, Unrechtsstrukturen und die Isolierung der Unterdrückten zu durchbrechen.

Die KonferenzteilnehmerInnen setzen sich dafür ein, dass weitere Freedom Flotillas und massive Aktionen zu Land und zu Wasser Blockade und Besatzung Gazas und der Westbank beenden.

Die Teilnehmer der Stuttgarter-Konferenz setzen sich außerdem ein für:
Die Freilassung der über 10.000 palästinensischen politischen Gefangenen, insbesondere der Frauen und Kinder sowie der ParlamentarierInnen
Die Beendigung der israelischen Siedlungspolitik und die Rückgabe des geraubten Bodens
Die Aufhebung aller Barrieren, Check -Points und Apartheidmauern in Palästina
Den Stopp der Häuserzerstörungen in der Westbank, in Jerusalem, im Negev, in Galiläa und im ganzen Land
Die Aberkennung der Gemeinnützigkeit des Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Deutschland, da es sich um eine Apartheidorganisation des Staates Israel handelt

Die TeilnehmerInnen appellieren an die Gewerkschaften, die Friedensbewegung, die antirassistischen Initiativen und alle Teile der Zivilgesellschaft, sich diese Positionen zu Eigen zu machen.

Es ist höchste Zeit Druck auf Israel auszuüben. Das zionistische System Israels wird nicht von sich aus die Rechte der PalästinenserInnen anerkennen. Jeder verzögerte Tag kostet die Vernichtung menschlicher Existenz. Bei allen Initiativen, die unternommen werden, darf nicht der Eindruck entstehen, als handele es sich um einen Konflikt zwischen zwei gleich starken Kontrahenten. Tatsache ist die absolute Übermacht des israelischen Militärs und Staatsapparats über eine fast wehrlose palästinensische Bevölkerung. Ziel muss es sein, Menschen weltweit schnellstmöglich aufzuklären und für die Rechte der PalästinenserInnen zu mobilisieren.

Stuttgart, 10. Dezember 2010

Organisatoren und folgende TeilnehmerInnen der
Palästina- Solidaritätskonferenz in Stuttgart
sowie UnterstützerInnen des Stuttgarter Erklärung

Source: Dort auch die Unterschriftenliste


Iraq’s vice president accuses Iran of being involved in his arrest warrant

Iraq’s vice president accuses Iran of being involved in his arrest warrant.

By Ben Birnbaum, Washington Times, 12/22/2011

Iraq’s vice president says that Iran is “definitely” behind Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s move to jail him on terror charges, saying it is “not a coincidence” that his arrest warrant was announced the day after the last U.S. troops left Iraq.

“Definitely Iran was involved,” Tariq al-Hashemi told The Washington Times in an exclusive interview, speaking by phone late Wednesday from a Kurdish town in northern Iraq. “My dear friend, they have … staff now in the government and in the parliament. They are representing Iran.”

Mr. al-Hashemi said he has been a consistent critic of the “intervention of Iran in every respect of my country.”

“They are interfering in politics, in the economy, in social life, in education, in everything,” he said of Iran’s Shiite leadership. “They are becoming a major player in political decision-making. They are threatening our country’s sovereignty, so I was one of the major protesters against this policy.”

Mr. al-Maliki, a Shiite, issued an arrest warrant for Mr. al-Hashemi, a Sunni, on Monday, accusing the vice president of running “death squads” that assassinated Shiiite government officials during sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

Mr. al-Hashemi, who is staying in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, has vehemently denied the charges, but he told The Times that he believes he could never receive a fair trial from the Iraqi judiciary.

“All Iraqis are very much aware about the nature of our judicial system,” he said. “It is not transparent, it is not neutral, it is not independent. It’s become a puppet of the government and certainly al-Maliki.”

Mr. al-Hashemi said he is willing to face trial before “a neutral and more transparent and more professional, independent court, which I think is available here” in the Kurdish region.

The charges against him have threatened the fragile unity government that Mr. al-Maliki formed after the 2009 elections, which gave his State of Law bloc two fewer seats than the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc to which Mr. al-Hashemi belongs.

Iraqiya, which has long complained of being sidelined in the government, has boycotted government sessions since the announcement of the arrest warrant.

The political crisis began the day after the last U.S. soldiers departed Iraq, bringing the eight-year operation to an end.

Mr. al-Hashemi said the timing is not accidental and said that it vindicated his repeated warnings to U.S. officials about leaving the country prematurely.

“We warned them that we are very much concerned about the future and you are going to leave the country with unbelievable interference from our neighbor Iran,” he said. “So what happened is not a coincidence. I’m not caught by surprise. I was expecting this.”

Officials in Iran’s Interests Section in Washington did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In Washington, Republicans have seized on the political crisis to claim that the Obama administration acted recklessly in pulling out troops.

“This crisis has been precipitated in large measure by the failure and unwillingness of the Obama administration to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government for a residual presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, thereby depriving Iraq of the stabilizing influence of the U.S. military and diminishing the ability of the United States to support Iraq,” Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said in a statement Monday evening.

The U.S. had been engaged in negotiations with the Iraqi government on revising the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement to allow a few thousand troops to remain, but the talks collapsed on the U.S. demand for immunity.

President Obama welcomed Mr. al-Maliki to the White House earlier this month and hailed the “impressive progress” Iraq had made on the road to democracy.

Mr. al-Hashemi said the speech was misguided.

“Unfortunately, we are building an autocratic regime, the government is consolidating power, and our judicial system is not neutral, it’s not independent. It’s become a puppet of the government,” the Iraqi vice president said.

“Either there was an unreliable report coming from Baghdad to the White House, or Mr. Obama just overlooked all these facts on the ground in Iraq. The facts on the ground contradict his speech, so I’m really disappointed about that.”


Kosovo leader speaks softly, carries big hope

President Atifete Jahjaga insists separatism set no

By Guy Taylor, Washington Times, 12/18/2011

The president of Kosovo is troubled when her 3-year-old nation is compared to other regions with separatist movements, whether in northern Spain, the Middle East, the former Soviet bloc or Asia.

“Kosovo does not set a precedent,” President Atifete Jahjaga
President Atifete Jahjaga
told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “I don’t like to see comparisons with any other case, or any other circumstances, or any other country. We are a case on our own.”

Mrs. Jahjaga is the first woman to rise to the highest office of a Balkan nation, and she is only 36. These facts have inspired headlines as well as audiences during her U.S. visit.

The firmness with which she resists having Kosovo’s independence characterized as a model for dissident movements defies the position taken by a handful of larger nations, including China, Russia and Spain.

Those countries, along with others eager to express solidarity with Serbia, remain unwilling to recognize Kosovo for fear of emboldening separatist groups operating in their own corners of the globe.

The International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Kosovo’s independence last year, dashing Serbian hopes of bringing the breakaway province back into its orbit and effectively making Kosovo the seventh nation to separate itself from the rubble of Yugoslavia.

While 85 nations officially recognize Kosovo, the U.N. Security Council is divided because China and Russia, two of the five members with veto power, remain opposed.

Russia’s resistance stems from its longtime alliance with Serbia, along with the precedent Kosovo sets for Chechnya’s independence aspirations. China’s resistance appears similarly tied to fears of Tibetan sovereignty.

Israel also rejects Kosovo, primarily out of concern that Palestinians will use it to justify their own unilateral declaration of independence.

However, lingering opposition within the European Union looms most significantly for Kosovo, which is eager to pursue EU membership.

While the EU has collectively backed the deployment of police to Kosovo, five of its 27 member countries – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain – remain unwilling to recognize the nation’s independence from Serbia.

Spain, which for years has sought to crush Basque separatists in its own northern region, may be the most influential with respect to its ability to stifle Kosovo’s EU aspirations.

Mrs. Jahjaga declined to specify whether an effort to persuade Spain to change its mind was a focus of her meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week. The Kosovar president said only that there is a “continuous lobbying” effort being “supported by our strategic partners and the friendly countries which have so far recognized our independence.”

The Basque movement’s decline over recent years could prompt a softening of Spain’s posture on Kosovo. Mrs. Jahjaga said she is “very much pleased” about recent “messages coming from Spain.”

There appears to be “an atmosphere of moving on,” she said.

Resistance from within the EU could become irrelevant if Serbia moves toward recognizing Kosovo. While Serbia’s own EU aspirations may hang in the balance, domestic politics could prevent a recognition of Kosovo.

Mrs. Jahjaga, a Muslim and ethnic Albanian, has taken an unyielding stance on the issue of Kosovo-Serb land disputes since she was elected in April by parliamentary vote.

She has publicly rejected the notion that Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic-Serb north could ever rejoin Serbia, and she has accused Serbia of provoking anarchy in the area.

Serb leaders in northern Kosovo recently circulated a draft peace initiative calling for political dialogue from both sides to ease tensions in the region.

Mrs. Jahjaga, who has trained at the FBI National Academy and served as deputy director of the Kosovar police, was optimistic Friday about the future of Kosovo’s relations with Serbia.

“We have started a process of dialogue between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia with the mediation, or facilitation, by the European Union,” she told The Times.

She emphasized the opening of a “new chapter” for Kosovo during the decade since Serbian forces violently pushed through the region, violating human rights and displacing some 800,000 ethnic Albanians.

“We have to forget the past,” Mrs. Jahjaga said. “History is something that even today we are paying the consequences, and the future is integration.

“We all as a people, as citizens, as the leadership of both countries should be looking in that direction,” she added.

Mrs. Jahjaga talked in a voice so soft that she was hard to hear even to those sitting close to her. However, her optimism spoke loudly, reflecting a forward-thinking generation of postwar Balkan politicians.

She added that her election represented a “historical moment, not only for Kosovo, but for all of the Balkans.”


6 Shocking Revelations About Wall Street’s “Secret Government”

Top officials willfully concealed the true extent of the 2008-’09 bailouts from Congress and the public. (See here and there.)
We now have concrete evidence that Wall Street and Washington are running a secret government far removed from the democratic process. Through a freedom of information request by Bloomberg News, the public now has access to over 29,000 pages of Fed documents and 21,000 additional Fed transactions that were deliberately hidden, and for good reason. 

These documents show how top government officials willfully concealed from Congress and the public the true extent of the 2008-’09 bailouts that enriched the few and enhanced the interests of giant Wall Streets firms. Here’s what we now know: 

  • The secret Wall Street bailouts totaled $7.77 trillion, 10 times more than the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed by Congress in 2008. 
  • Knowledge of the secret bailout funds was not shared with Congress even while it was drafting and debating legislation to break up the big banks.
  • The secret funding, provided at below-market rates, gave Wall Street banks an additional $13 billion in profits. (That’s enough money to hire more than 325,000 entry level teachers.)
  • The secret loans financed bank mergers so that the largest banks could grow even larger. The money also allowed banks to step up their lobbying efforts. 
    • While Henry Paulson (Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury) was informing Congress and the public that only minor reforms were needed to protect Fannie and Freddie from collapse, he met secretly with leading Wall Street hedge fund managers — among them his former colleagues at Goldman Sachs — to alert them that he was about to nationalize the giant mortgage companies – a move that would eradicate nearly all the stock value of the companies. This information was enormously valuable because it allowed these hedge funds to short Fannie and Freddie and thereby make a fortune.
    • While Timothy Geithner was head of the NY Federal Reserve, he argued against legislative efforts by Senator Ted Kaufman, D-Delaware, to limit the size of banks because the issue was “too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions,” Kaufman recalls. Meanwhile, Geithner was fully aware of the enormous secret loans while Senator Kaufman was kept in the dark. Barney Frank, who was authoring key bank reform legislation was also not informed of the secret loans. No one in Congress was told.

      So what does this all mean? 

      1. The big banks and hedge funds were in much more trouble than we were led to believe. 

      As many of us suspected, all the big banks were on their knees begging for help – secretly – while telling their investors, the public and Congress that all was well. They had gambled and lost. Under the rules of ideal capitalism, they should have suffered some “creative destruction,” and seen their shareholder value eliminated through bankruptcy, and their managers replaced. The entire banking system should have been reorganized from top to bottom as well. Instead, these colossal failures were secretly rewarded.   

      2. Wall Street’s secret government made sure the largest banks would grow even larger, aided by the secret funding. 

      While Congress was debating legislation to break up the large banks and reinstitute Glass Steagall (to separate risky investment banking from insured commercial banking,) the secret government was using public funds to grow even larger through mergers and acquisitions. Because Congress and the public were unaware of the secret funding and ill-health of all the banks, the legislation was easily defeated. As the chart below makes painfully clear, too-big-to-fail banks grew even bigger.   

      3. The bigger Wall Street becomes, the more government it can buy. 

      This part isn’t secret. As the top six banks grew larger, they spent more funds lobbying to make sure that they wouldn’t suffer any unprofitable impacts from banking reform legislation. So after the biggest banks received hundreds of billions in secret loans, they upped their lobbying funds to maintain their size and power. Read ‘em and weep:  

      4. Wall Street’s secret government protects its own.  

      At first, it’s not easy to understand how Treasury Secretary Paulson, the former head of Goldman Sachs, could risk attending a secret meeting with giant hedge fund managers, many of whom used to work at Goldman Sachs. How could the nation’s highest ranking financial official dare to tip off these hedge fund elites about the imminent government takeover of Fannie and Freddie before Congress and the public were informed? Well, one answer is that Paulson felt obliged to warn his old comrades of the impeding nationalization. Maybe, he wanted to get them out of harm’s way just in case they were heavily involved in those markets. Or maybe he also wanted to give them a very valuable tip to profit by. But the deeper explanation, I believe, is that Wall Street’s key government officials – Paulson, Summers, Geithner, Orszag (the former Obama OMB chief who now makes millions working for CitiGroup), etc. truly believe the following: 

      • Wall Street banks are the best in the world and are the cutting-edge of the American economy. They are our future.
      • Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers are enormously smarter and sharper than the rest of us. They deserve our admiration.
      • Helping Wall Street to grow and prosper is precisely the same thing as helping all Americans and the entire economy. They deserve our support.
      • Secret meetings to provide insider information are normal on Wall Street. There’s nothing wrong with warning your friends about upcoming policy decisions that might impact their profits.
      • There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with providing trillions of dollars of secret loans to the best and the brightest and not telling Congress about it.

      It’s all a closed loop of self-justification and self-deception: Wall Street is brilliant. What Wall Street does is for the good of the country. Helping Wall Street profit is good for the country. Hiding the truth from democratically elected leaders is also for the good of the country because Wall Street is brilliant and knows better. 

      And all this is deeply believed by Wall Street and its secret government, even though Wall Street, and Wall Street alone, took down the economy and killed 8 million jobs in a matter of months. Simply brilliant! 

      5. Wall Street is a clear and present danger to democracy. 

      Usually, I am not an alarmist. In fact, I often argue against facile conspiracy theories. I want to believe that our democracy still has promise. But, the Wall Street-induced crash and the government’s response to it has me very worried. The Bloomberg News revelations suggest that Wall Street’s secret government has enormous disdain for what remains of our democracy. The financial elites obviously believe that Congress cannot be trusted to do the right thing even when it is bought and paid for by the very banks it supposedly regulates. As for the rest of us? We’re just a financially illiterate mass to be manipulated through the mass media. Our minds too can be bought and sold through careful marketing. 

      This financial arrogance and corruption is enormously corrosive to our democratic values. Already, many Americans, and for good reason, no longer trust their government. Already, many Americans, and for good reason, no longer vote. Already, many Americans, and for good reason, believe that democracy as we know it is a sham. Wall Street couldn’t have written a better script to maintain its domination. 

      6. Occupy Wall Street is fundamentally correct, but we need more.

      The occupiers dramatically attacked Wall Street elites and captured the country’s imagination with their 1 percent, 99 percent framework. And the idea is sticking and spreading. But that’s only the start. To reclaim our country from Wall Street’s secret government we will need to develop an enormous movement among the 99 percent. Although we hope it just happens spontaneously through Twitter and Facebook, we all know it will require hardcore organizing involving millions of us.

      At the moment, no one knows what form it will take. But we do know this: great concentrations of power and wealth do not give up their power and wealth without an enormous fight. Wall Street’s secret government is more than ready to protect itself, even if it means subverting democracy. Our occupiers have shown great courage in helping us reclaim our democratic rights. Let’s hope it spreads…and soon.

      Source : By Les Leopold

      Les Leopold is the executive director of the Labor Institute and Public Health Institute in New York, and author of The Looting of America: How Wall Street’s Game of Fantasy Finance Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It (Chelsea Green, 2009).

Open Letter to Sean Penn: Actress Confronts Actor On Hugo Chavez

“Dear Sean, WHY?

Even though I have great respect for your artistic talent, I was appalled by a recent television interview where you vigorously showed support for the regime of Hugo Chavez. Therefore, I’ve decided to set the record straight for you regarding the Chavez regime, supporting my case based not only on my political ideologies, but on proven facts you choose to ignore. Otherwise, I believe your position would be different.

Being born in Cuba, a country where freedom of speech is non-existent, it’s startling to observe how Venezuela, where I was happily raised, is fast becoming Cuba’s mirror image: Dismantling of fundamental democratic rights deserved by its people and citizens of the world.

For example, you said that all Chavez-winning elections in Venezuela were “transparent.”

Then WHY didn’t the government allow a manual recount of the votes and computer information when doubt set in? After all, how do you explain how these votes that were strongly favoring the opposition mysteriously reflected the opposite results the morning after, thus permitting Chavez to continue on? On what are you basing your conclusions? I strongly recommend that you read a report by the U.S. State Department written in 2009 entitled “The Fraudulent Elections in Venezuela”.

We live in a Republic comprised of three autonomous branches of government: Supreme Court, Congress and Executive, thus, a true democracy.

Then WHY do you accept violations by part of the government of Venezuela to ignore its Constitution whereby one man, military-educated Chavez, controls all branches of government? His military background is revealed by his philosophy: “I order, you obey and if you disagree you’re a traitor to the country.” And your voice is silenced along with the ability of freethinking. Did you know solely the government controls 92% of media communications?

You’ve strongly criticized your own governments’ overspending and corruption, whereby the budget for We the people never ends up in the hands of those who need it most.

Then WHY do you support a government with over $100 million in oil revenue that has 71% poverty? Or don’t you know that corruption is so rampant that the rightfully deserving poor never sees a “red cent”? In addition, the fact is that Chavez gives away millions of dollars; belonging to the Venezuelan people, to other countries in order to build a false sense of philanthropy of a man whose self-proclaiming ego is blinded by power behind a communist Cuban-style revolution, expanding such regime.

We live in the U.S.A., the land of opportunity to do and say what we desire, respecting dissenting points of view, of course and without reprisals.

Then WHY do you defend a government whose stronghold upon its people is so oppressive that a big price is paid for exercising freedom of speech: Persecutions, closing of radio and television stations, jail…and even death?

You are fortunate enough to live in a country where you can buy property and claim it as your own to do whatever you want with it.

Then WHY do you promote the interests of a government that violates the Constitution by hindering the possibility of development: Land, industries, commerce, communications companies, foreign investment opportunities, financial institutions and private property? This is an everyday scenario in Venezuela.

Then WHY haven’t you informed yourself on these facts by reading Venezuelan and international newspapers exposing thousands of cases?

Given your sense of community and respect for all people, I think you would defend the security of the citizens in your country.

Then WHY do you validate a government that has converted Venezuela into the second most dangerous country in the world, where impunity is above 90% and its people live in a constant state of stress and fear of getting killed? Many wonder if this situation isn’t but a diabolic strategy by the part of the government, something to think about. Do you know that the weekend of March 13th there were 67 counted homicides only in Caracas? Furthermore, in the first 50 days of this year, there have been 140 express kidnappings for fast money (a 50% increase in 2009 versus previous years). After 11 years of the Chavez government, more than 16,000 people has been murdered by armed gangs and we’re not even at war like in the Middle East.

In the U.S.A. the arm of the law comes down hard on government or private sector where cases of fraud and corruption are discovered.

Then WHY do you defend a politician who promised to sweep corruption, but has ended up sponsoring illicit enrichment by part of his closest allies and civil servants, placing Venezuela as the most corrupt country in the Americas and in its political history? Corruption has increased 68% and inflation 31% in 2009. What a coincidence, Sean that the majority of those “corruptors” are members of the government you have chosen to embrace.

You’ve demonstrated admirable assis
tance to those in need, due to natural disasters or poverty, those with desperate pleas to get their misfortune exposed for the whole world to see.

Then WHY do you applaud the efforts of a government that has notoriously increased poverty (65% to 71%), produced scarcity of staple products and created an energy and water shortage crisis never seen in Venezuela? Not to mention the numbers of children begging in the streets. You may have missed it because the government tends to take the scenic routes for its guests. I invite you see the real Venezuela, stay for a couple of weeks without the logistics the government of said country organizes for you and you’ll be amazed with the results in your unaided observations.

Sean, you live in a country where your parents had the freedom to teach you principles and respect for entities and human beings, where education hasn’t been manipulated by political agendas of those in power.

Then WHY are you in favor of a country where day after day education isn’t plural by obligating a single-minded agenda and lack of respect for family structure? Did you know Sean that in Venezuela there is political indoctrination at a very early age, better known as “brainwashing”? And let me tell you that if parents don’t agree, they will lose custody of their children, just like in Cuba, a country you’ve placed on a pedestal.

You are a product of a Jewish father.

Then WHY is your fascination with a government that has overtly stated its hatred against the Jewish community worldwide, to the extent that the State of Israel condemned anti-Semitic attacks in Venezuela? Do you think it’s fair that many Jewish-Venezuelan families have emigrated because the Chavez government robbed their personal files when their temples and offices were under attacked in 2008?

I don’t think so, Sean, that you would support violence as a means to impose your agenda.

Then WHY do you support a government with close relationships with FARC, ETA, Cuban G-2, Government of Iran, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, among others, which are the most feared terrorist movements in the world?

You have said that you applaud the actions that Chavez has instituted for his “pueblo”.

Then WHY do you back him up when he himself has recently publicly recognized his failure for effective social programs (missions) in the areas of education, social service and hospitals; where each day the number of the uncared rises for lack of appropriate facilities and respective upkeep, and a country where the mothers give birth in the streets? This you can see on YouTube in investigative programs run on German, Swedish, Italian and Spanish television stations.

Sean, have you considered researching the existence of the growing list of political prisoners, including journalists, on your own? For your information Chile, Peru and Costa Rica has that data. Furthermore, many of these prisoners are tortured and their families persecuted and threatened, just like the Cuba you stand up for.

Is that what you support when you publicly declare that all those that say that Chavez is a dictator should go to jail?

Sean, you have the right to say what you want, but as far as I know, your statements are contradictory to “Freedom of Speech”, the same one you enjoy in this country; by coincidence, “The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

My intention isn’t to convince you, but to let you know what is truly happening in this beautiful country of noble people, Venezuela. I would encourage you to investigate in depth the “inside story” and realize for yourself the dark side behind the person you choose to idolize.

Agreed, Chavez did win his first elections, but like Hitler, he betrayed what the country gave him: The vote of confidence.”


War on Hugo Chávez

Siomara Alonso flipped through Reader’s Digest one humid May night in 2004. The 50-year-old natural beauty with caramel hair sat alone on a suburban back patio.

She couldn’t see the stars or sky.

She longed for the space of her mountain farm in Venezuela and the high-ceilinged home she had left behind. Suddenly her cousin Yoli shouted from inside the cramped three-bedroom Kendall house: “Hurry! Come quick!” Siomara bolted to the living room, where she had been crashing on a sofa bed since late February.

The 11:00 news flashed to the South American home where she and her husband had lived for two decades. Dozens of strangers appeared, trashing the couple’s handmade shutters with hammers and tearing down the oak blinds inside. The piano clanged off-key as it tumbled down a hill. Books burned in the yard.

A broadcaster explained that neighbors were enraged that Robert Alonso — Siomara’s husband — had been training terrorists. A few days before, the government had arrested more than 70 Colombians on and near the property. They were said to be paramilitaries plotting the overthrow or assassination of President Hugo Chávez.

Between Cuban coffees, Robert Alonso now plans for a mass uprising in Venezuela
Between Cuban coffees, Robert Alonso now plans for a mass uprising in Venezuela

From the couch, Yoli hurled curses at the tiny old TV set. Siomara stood silently. Shocked and numb, they watched as people in ratty clothes, some missing teeth, dumped the silk and cotton contents of Siomara’s top dresser drawer onto the brown, sun-dried Spanish tile floor. They stomped on her pink and white underwear. Those were not her neighbors.

She sobbed over what her life had become. Robert was in hiding. How would she support her two sons, ages nine and 11, who were sleeping in a spare room nearby? Home as she knew it was gone.

These days Robert and Siomara live in a secret Kendall location. He is a Venezuelan outlaw accused of urging his countrymen by radio, newspaper, and Internet to hit the streets and cause anarchy.

Robert dubs the plan that caused him to flee his homeland La Guarimba, and says it’s nonviolent. But the last time he made his pitch for revolt — in 2004 — at least 13 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded in clashes. “If you don’t follow the instructions, it’s not my fault…. When you commit yourself to something, you have to quemar los barcos, burn the ships. There’s no way out,” says the 57-year-old with a shock of white hair and an ample belly. “We’re at war.”

Robert and Siomara (“my friends call me Siomi”) Alonso are both Cuban by birth. She comes from Havana, the only child of an insurance broker and stay-at-home mother. Her family left the island in August 1960, a year after Fidel Castro’s forces overthrew President Fulgencio Batista’s regime. Her father arranged a job transfer to Caracas, and for Siomi, Cuba became nostalgia flashes — lizards in the back yard, rocking chairs, and the smells of her grandmother’s home. She’s unlike Robert, who is plagued by the unrelenting gnaw of Cuban politics.

Roberto Alonso Bustillo was born in August 1950 in the tranquil province of Cienfuegos, where, he says, the “smell of the sea filled our lungs every morning, and one car, if even, passed every half-hour.” He was a squirrelly, mischievous kid who favored horseback riding, fishing, and playing cowboys and Indians. One time the boy rubbed a piece of candy in some leaves that made it spicy-hot, then rewrapped it, and gave the sweet to a friend.

On January 3, 1959, the eight-year-old reached out to Fidel Castro during a parade. He felt hopeful about the triumph of the revolution. A couple of years later, Robert remembers, he was pedaling up to his family’s upper-middle-class home. (They belonged to a yacht club nearby.) There he saw his parents giving away their furniture, clothes, and TV sets to friends. He says his father, Ricardo, took a baseball bat to their chandelier. They didn’t want Castro’s government to inherit their possessions.

That night Ricardo, his wife Conchita, their three children, and a Pekingese dog named Chato piled into a borrowed car and left the empty home. They headed for Havana. There a veterinarian friend forged documents showing Chato was a mutt. (Castro wouldn’t let anything valuable leave the country, including pups, Robert says.) Three days later, on Robert’s 11th birthday, the family departed for Caracas with 13 suitcases aboard an old Spanish ship.

People gathered at the docks and shouted, “Gusanos! Imperialistas!” But soon those chants drifted unheard into the wind. During the trip, Conchita knelt before Robert and explained his parents were “counterrevolutionaries.” She hugged him and said Fidel was a bad man. “That morning of the 24th of August 1961, I became Cuban,” he would later write in an essay.

At the first pensión, or boarding house, in Venezuela, the family shared a bathroom with prostitutes, Robert recalls. (Robert, who has knack for storytelling, claims they drifted to 10 pensiones that year; his brother, Ricardo Jr., and sister, Maria Conchita, now a famous actress, peg it at two or three.) Soon Ricardo found a gig selling used cars. Robert and his brother passed out flyers at a stoplight.

Next their father set up a rattan-importing business. Ricardo Jr. immersed himself in student politics, but Robert wasn’t interested. When Robert was around 15 years old, his parents sent him to the United States, where he lived with family friends on a farm in Washington state. There he learned to chop wood, tend pastures, and make taffy.

His sister later joined him. Once they performed together in a talent show. She sang and Robert, an aspiring musician who resembled Elvis, accompanied her on Spanish guitar. After graduating from high school, he studied business in Spokane. In 1972 he traveled to Munich to study TV and film production, and then to Scotland for communications classes.

The following year, 23-year-old Robert returned to Venezuela, where he met Siomi, who was five years younger. Their families belonged to a Cuban social club in Caracas and pushed them together. When Siomi’s cousin invited her to an Engelbert Humperdinck concert, she needed a date. Who would want to go to that? she thought. Robert was the answer.

They didn’t talk politics. She was charmed by his compliments and jokes. They ended the night with a kiss. The next morning a bouquet of white daisies shaped as a poodle arrived at her door. Ten minutes later, Robert showed up. Seven months after that, they married. At the time, he ran a mop rental company that his father had helped him start.

But unbeknownst to his new wife, by the early Seventies, Robert had become active in la lucha against Castro. He says he collaborated with the CIA and other U.S. agencies. (Asked to confirm Alonso’s collaboration, CIA spokesman George Little responds, “We do not, as a rule, comment on these kinds of allegations.”)

Robert’s answers get murky when he is asked specifics about his work. “It’s not like it seems in the movies. There are things one can’t say.”

Like some of the most radical exiles, in 1976 he joined U.S. and South African soldiers in Angola, fighting Marxist-Leninist forces propped up by Castro in a civil war. Robert saw it as a chance to confront the dictator. Cuban deployments reached tens of thousands.

To Siomi, he explained his lengthy absences as “business trips” to places like Cleveland, where the mop company had an office. In Angola, he says, he interrogated Cuban deserters to see if their motivations were legit. “It was a party of collaboration,” he says. “And if they wanted to come to the party, they had to bring a bottle of wine or liquor, in terms of information.”

His gun of choice was a Colt .38 pistol. When pushed for details about how he used it, he says only: “The most interesting parts I can’t talk about.”

In his daily life, Robert became a fam
ily man. The couple’s first child, Carolina, was born in 1976. Siomi recalls Robert trying to snatch the baby from the hospital nursery just to hold her longer. At home he plopped her on his belly to watch Zorro. Their second child, Carlos, came in 1979. Robert started a TV production company in 1982 and launched a version of That’s Incredible! in Venezuela. He’s also a prolific writer, having penned books like Memorias de Cienfuegos (1983) and Los Generales de Cuba (1985). He talks fast, but writing seems to give his prodigious thoughts and words a chance to catch up.

The “business trips,” he says, took him to Afghanistan, Bolivia, Grenada, Guyana, Zimbabwe, the United States, and France. But the secrets wore on his marriage. He typically didn’t call home when he was on the road. Finally, in 1986, nearing divorce, Robert confessed to Siomi.

“I was angry at first because I thought he was having an affair,” she says. “Then I was furious because I wanted to know more. He expects a lot of understanding and patience…. Even though I would enjoy knowing a lot of things, I respect his wishes.”

Responds Robert: “The last person you tell is your wife. Sometimes she feels left out like the guayabera.”

Around 1988, Robert halted the trips as the Cold War wound down. The couple bought an old coffee plantation about an hour outside Caracas, where daisies grew wild. They christened it Daktari for the Sixties TV series in Africa, and retreated to a home they built there the next year. “We decided to separate from the world and lived like monks.”

The home grew to four stories. Then came a small swimming pool overlooking a jungle dotted with clouds. Later there was a piano bar, a vast library, and a stock of animals that included Colombian paso fino horses (he made money selling their sperm), German shepherds, and ostriches. Finally there was a Japanese garden with a koi pond.

Baby Alejandro arrived in 1992, followed by Eduardo in 1994.

In 1998, when Hugo Chávez ran for president on a promise to stamp out poverty, Robert warned friends about voting for the former paratrooper turned caudillo. But after Chávez was elected, Robert didn’t immediately take action. He absorbed himself in writing a novel about Cuba and stayed relatively quiet until a two-month general strike erupted in December 2002.

Then he began penning letters to newspapers and friends. He also collected tens of thousands of e-mail addresses to spread his theory about derailing the Venezuelan president. “You can say his midlife crisis hit him in his political genes,” Siomi says. “He was passionate about me and the children, but you could tell his mind was kidnapped…. He has become a different man since he has gotten himself into this craziness.”

Flaming heaps of dead trees, tires, and trash blocked the streets of Caracas and other cities at the end of February and early March 2004. Molotov cocktails rocketed toward national guard soldiers. Demonstrators swaddled their faces with Venezuelan flags to ward off tear gas. Traffic was clogged, banks were closed, and garbage collection was thwarted. Thousands couldn’t get to work. And while ashes smoldered in neighborhoods that looked like war zones, dozens of protesters nursed wounds from gunshots. At least 13 people in the streets during what came to be known the Guarimba — after a kids’ game — were dead. The Venezuelan government would issue a U.S. press statement blaming the “Guarimba plan” for “systematic acts of violent and disruptive civil disobedience designed to protest President Chávez, generate headlines, and create fear among civil society. The plan’s chief architect, a Cuban exile named Robert Alonso, is currently sought by Venezuelan authorities.” Chávez even appeared on national television to call Alonso “one of the ideologists of the so-called Operation Guarimba.”

The real genesis for the plan, Alonso says, is an 88-page booklet, From Dictatorship to Democracy, written in 1993 by former Harvard researcher Gene Sharp. It is a self-help work of sorts on how to use nonviolent, active resistance to overthrow a dictator. The booklet has been printed in 27 languages, cited by opponents credited with unseating Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, and banned in Burma. According to the now-79-year-old Sharp, strong and strategic nonviolent resistance from the people can work to paralyze society and cause a dictatorship to crumble.

Sharp has spoken to Alonso but declined to comment about the Guarimba, saying he doesn’t know its architect or the plan well enough. He says the Albert Einstein Institution, a small Boston-based think tank that he runs, doesn’t offer advice to budding revolutionaries. “We don’t tell people what they do,” he says. “If they find our work relevant, well, here it is.”

Alonso says he first read Sharp’s book on a friend’s recommendation after 19 Venezuelans were killed during an antigovernment march April 11, 2002. The next day Chávez was ousted from office. The president returned to power two days later, when an interim leader stepped down after losing military support and street protests erupted calling for Chávez’s return.

It was then that Alonso accepted Sharp as his personal savior. Soon Alonso and some other activists began hatching plans to permanently end Chávez’s reign. They discussed blocking streets in front of their homes, where they could retreat to if needed. At a meeting, Alonso recalls, one of the conspirators chipped in, “It’s like the guarimba.” Alonso explains: The term describes a traditional game in which children try to pass from one circle to another without getting caught by a person who is “it.”

Chávez was “it.” Those who joined the Guarimba would be like kids trying to dodge him.

In December 2002, Alonso began feverishly e-mailing alertas criticizing Chávez and describing future action. His contact list swelled to more than two million e-mail addresses. The Guarimba was a frequent topic. He spoke at neighborhood meetings and became known as “el padre de La Guarimba.” In a May 2003 essay, he wrote, “The only thing that this plan requires is that EVERYONE head out into the streets IN FRONT OF OUR HOMES and remain there…. La Guarimba is total anarchy. Everyone does what they want, depending on their level of frustration.”

There were three golden rules: (1) Block the street in front of your home. (2) Don’t go any farther than the front of your home. (3) Don’t confront the enemy. Alonso urged his followers to be prepared for at least one month “of battle” by stowing food and water in advance.

After more than a year of alertas, in late February 2004, he delivered cryptic news to Siomi and their two younger sons at Daktari: “You will be safer in Miami,” he said. “I cannot afford to concentrate on what I ha
ve to do and be worried about you.”

She argued against leaving and pressed for details. His answers were enigmatic. She suspected the Guarimba. They divorced — to cut legal ties. He bought them plane tickets and then vanished for two days.

Before their Friday flight, Alonso showed up Thursday night at Siomi’s parents’ home in Caracas to make sure she and the kids had left the farm. The couple and their older daughter, Carolina, embraced in the street. Siomi made the sign of the cross on his forehead before kissing him goodbye: “Be careful. Remember that you have a family that loves you.”

With two suitcases and a PlayStation, Siomi and the boys departed for MIA. On February 27, they landed in Miami and headed to her uncle’s three-bedroom Kendall home.

Then the Guarimba exploded. Alonso says it began after an anti-Chávez leader (whom he now calls a traitor) went on television and told people to block the streets. He says he had been working with others to spark the Guarimba on March 5 and cap it with a military ouster two days later.

Thousands flooded Caracas’s streets, many demanding a recall vote of President Chávez. National guard troops shot tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at protesters, who blocked entrances to Caracas neighborhoods. They pitched rocks and gasoline bombs back at forces that rolled through streets in armored tanks. Two protesters were shot dead on barricaded streets February 29.

Two days later, as expected by the opposition, the National Elections Council rejected nearly half the signatures on a petition demanding a recall. As the council claimed fraud, riots raged in Caracas, its suburbs, and at least 10 other cities. An anti-Chávez activist was shot in western Venezuela. A young opposition protester was apparently shot by a sniper. An estimated 300 people were arrested, some claiming torture. Amid the chaos, Alonso says, he took to the Caracas streets to try to quell violence. Though he went on radio to urge people to continue the Guarimba, protests slowed the first week of March, when the elections council and some opposition leaders agreed to negotiate about the signatures.

Despite the melee, Alonso declared the Guarimba a total success. In a video he made about the protest, “Amazing Grace” plays over footage of shirtless men with bleeding wounds and demonstrators cowering before military police. He encourages people to use their cars to block the streets: “Next time we will triumph!”

Then he was tipped off that the police were coming for him. Toting $2000 in cash, he went into hiding.

When Robert Alonso became a fugitive, one of his first stops was a friend’s house. But the man’s wife became so nervous she shook uncontrollably, and the ice almost fell from her whiskey on the rocks. So he considered other options.

His story from the underground days that followed sounds as if it were cribbed from an espionage thriller. (In fact Daktari and its owner appear in a 2006 spy novel, The Beast Must Die, by best-selling French author Gérard de Villiers.) One day he would board a bus bound for a Venezuelan coast and grab some shut-eye during the voyage. At the final stop, he’d board in the opposite direction. And then he’d repeat.

On layovers, Alonso says, he ducked into funeral homes and blended with grieving families. He recalls napping in beds for sleep-deprived mourners and gulping down complimentary hot chocolate. In public he wore sunglasses and contact lenses to mask his pupils, and carried a walking stick so he’d seem blind.

At some point in April 2004, he met with other activists calling themselves the “Brigade Daktari.” (A Venezuelan flag hangs on his home office wall with about 50 signatures from this mysterious meeting.) Then he left for Colombia. Carrying a GPS, Alonso says, he navigated the jungle between the two countries and then hopped a bus to Bogotá. He took a plane to Miami in late April.

He lived apart from Siomi and their two young sons in Kendall so they’d be safe. His fugitive odyssey continued. On Mother’s Day, May 9, he learned Chávez had announced a victory in “the fight against terrorism.” Seventy-seven alleged paramilitaries had been arrested and accused of a plot to overthrow Chávez’s government. In a Sunday address the Venezuelan president said, “All these arrests were made at the farm of a citizen of Cuban origin — of the Cubans known as worms, the anti-Fidel, the Cuban counterrevolution, which moves through Central America, Miami, North America, and South America — whose name is Robert Alonso, nicknamed ‘El Coronel.'”

Chávez applauded the three months of intelligence work by the government’s police for cracking the operation that yielded Colombians dressed in Venezuelan military uniforms. Alonso denies being capable of carrying out such a plot, saying he was gone long by then. “Am I Superman or 007?” he asks.

When Maria Conchita Alonso heard the Venezuelan government link her bother to terrorism, the now-50-year-old Hollywood actress thought, “Oh please. Terrorists are people who don’t care about anybody. Terrorists are killers that are not lovers of freedom and democracy and equality among people. [This is not] my brother.”

At the time, José Prado, general manager of TeleMiami, was vacationing in Caracas. He recalls seeing news of the case clog TV. “They presented his army, but the army didn’t have shoes,” he says. “That was a joke.” A day or so later, he contends, armed police stormed a plane he and some others had chartered to a nearby island. “The pilot said they were looking for Robert Alonso.”

By May 17, a Venezuelan government news release reported that more than 100 Colombian paramilitaries had been captured in connection with the Daktari plot. In another strange twist, a dead body had been found.

The men went on trial in October 2005. One Colombian suspect said he accepted work as a farm hand near Bogotá, but then was shuttled to Daktari, where Alonso greeted him. The man claimed that while he stayed on the property, he and the others did military exercises with sticks and were shown videos of armed men assaulting buses.

But apart from a pistol found on one man, no weapons were seized, and some people questioned whether the government had crafted the plot. A detainee shouted “sham” in court. Eventually only 27 of the 100-plus Colombians were convicted, and three Venezuelan officers were sentenced, for conspiring. A month and a half ago, Chávez freed the convicted Colombians. It was a way to promote peace within the neighboring nation, he said.

As to the alleged paramilitaries, Alonso and his wife say the Colombians were likely sent to his property as payback for the e-mail alerts urging chaos to
overthrow Chávez. “If it was a real crime scene, why would they let those people in our home to destroy the evidence?” Siomi says, referring to the day her underwear starred on the news.

In October 2004, Venezuela demanded Alonso’s extradition after his name popped up in a Miami newspaper report. Alonso says his family’s address was later posted online. They fled to Washington state, where he had spent time on a farm as a teen. He recalls the shabby cabin where they stayed in Onalaska, a town of a few thousand. When he told a gas station attendant he was from Venezuela, the response was “Where’s that?” Alonso’s reply: “Oh, it’s a few miles from the Mississippi, just across the river.”

The family returned to Miami, and after consulting a lawyer and quashing the extradition, the Alonsos were granted legal residence in 2005. Their Cuban nationality helped speed up the process. They rented a tiny efficiency. “The kids played PlayStation five inches from where their father was writing things against Chávez,” Siomi says.

Siomi’s saintly patience with her husband’s world of spies and freedom fighters, contras and communists, traitors and good Americans seems endless and absolute. She doesn’t blame him for losing Daktari: “[His political work is] his passion. I guess he feels that’s his calling. But it drains him. It doesn’t allow him to lead a normal life.”

For the next year or so, Alonso took various jobs, such as driving a private ambulance and shuttling elderly people to medical appointments. In 2006 he began producing and posting online videos under the tag Guarimba TV. Soon he branched out to Internet radio. In early August he was hired as editor of Venezuela Sin Mordaza (“without a gag”). He’s wrapping up another book. And on radio station La Cadena Azul 1550 AM, he cohosts La Voz de la Resistencia, a Saturday-morning show dedicated to promoting freedom in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

What does he talk about? On an Internet radio show one afternoon in early September, he said, “I spend 25 hours a day in Miami analyzing Venezuela. The country is lost. We must get it back.”

In a Don Pan bakery in Miami’s suburbs, Robert Alonso plots the next Guarimba. It’s a mid-September day, and he’s peering over his gold wire glasses at a recent edition ofVenezuela Sin Mordaza.

Some highlights: “A Communist, Me?” “Dictionary of International Castro-Stalinism,” a poem by José Marti, a piece about Sharp’s book, and “The Mission of This Traitor,” which describes the opposition leader who urged Venezuelans to stop the 2004 Guarimba and negotiate with the government.

Other newspapers and books clutter the faux-marble table where he sits as nearby customers mull over chatos, empanadas, and strawberry-topped cakes in smudged glass cases.

Alonso looks like a retiree who stopped by for an afternoon cafecito. He’s wearing blue sweatpants, tan sandals, and a turquoise T-shirt. Clamor from the espresso machine and blenders fills the room as a man in a button-down shirt carrying a briefcase strides through the bakery doors and beelines for the table. He silently drops a manila folder before Alonso.

The mystery man is Marlon Gutiérrez, a 45-year-old former Nicaraguan Contra. Alonso takes some papers from the folder and looks them over. They are bylaws for their new group, Fundación Interamericana por la Democracia, which will organize Guarimba resistance movements in Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela.

“Robert is Chávez’s strongest adversary,” Gutiérrez says.

“This is a historic moment,” says Alonso, signing the papers. “With this, we take down the tyrants.”

They discuss recent developments. A high-level Venezuelan politico mentioned the Guarimba. An anti-Guarimba law was passed in Nicaragua. Chávez in a recent speech referred to Sharp and a golpe suave — gentle coup — being planned from Miami. Alonso delights in needling the Venezuelan leader. “Chávez says, ‘We have been watching them in Miami,'” he says in a gruff voice. Then he pumps his finger in the air and breaks into snickers. “And I say, I’m watching you from there.”

These days the former fugitive scrapes by as editor of Venezuela Sin Mordaza. Siomi works as a clerk at a Coral Gables investment bank. Together they earn about $1500 a week. Friends have loaned them money for clothes. The Alonsos’ sparse three-bedroom apartment contains used furniture from street corners in Coral Gables, and bookshelves are actually stacked plastic crates. (Alonso offers his humble abode as proof he’s not being paid by the CIA.)

A Venezuelan mortgage broker, Edgard Paredes, launched Venezuela Sin Mordaza July 24, using about $20,000 of his own money. The paper has swollen from 20 to 28 pages, and Paredes claims it’s now self-sustaining. Along with radical anti-communist stories are breezy entertainment features like “The Prince of Salsa” and sports stories, such as one about car racing. Advertisers include a vegetarian restaurant, car dealers, and travel agencies.

Paredes is a 49-year-old former radio broadcaster who moved to the United States from Caracas in 1998. He started the newspaper to fend off Chávez’s power grab: “We have to move from the defensive to the offensive,” he says. “No boxer ever wins defending himself.”

Paredes and the first editor, Ricardo Guanipa, quickly parted ways because the publisher wanted a tougher anti-Chávez stance. Not a problem for Alonso. (One headline from when he first took over: “A Country on the Defensive Will Never Topple a Tyrant!”)

And the paper prints unapologetic anti-Chávez and anti-Castro cartoons. One shows Chávez in a straitjacket with the heading “Looking for an Escaped Loony!” Another includes Castro struggling under a mound of microphones and the tag Freedom of the Press and Expression. Miami’s Cuban exile community has supported the Venezuelan opposition.

The September 13 edition of the paper featured a front-page graphic titled “Resistance Cells.” It exhorted each Chávez opponent to contact five others; doing so would create an organized resistance. A quote accompanies the graphic: “Only God is more powerful than people united in a civic, active, general enduring revolt.”

Alonso contends the paper has impact. One week after the graphic in Venezuela Sin Mordaza was published, he claims, 3000 cells including 15,000 people had formed in Venezuela. Asked how he knows that, he says people report back from Venezuela. He says he’s working with others to form cells in Nicaragua and Cuba.

While her brother calls for a revolt from Miami, M
aria Conchita Alonso criticizes Chávez in other ways. The actress, who has played Eva Longoria’s character’s mother on Desperate Housewives, plans to produce and act in a film: Two Minutes of Hate, based on the April 11, 2002 events in Venezuela — which set the stage for the 2004 Guarimba. “What [Chávez] wants is to have another Cuba there,” says Maria Alonso, who moved from Venezuela to Hollywood when she was in her midtwenties.

The former Miss Venezuela believes it’s her civic duty to oppose Chávez: “Otherwise I’m an accomplice.”

Speaking from her home in Beverly Hills, she says she thinks the Guarimba could be a solution. “You’re not telling anyone to go be aggressive and kill,” she says, her voice wavering. “Venezuelans have to help themselves. We all have to do something.”


Gingrich calls Palestinians an ‘invented’ people

WASHINGTON – US Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich thrust himself into controversy on Friday by declaring that the Palestinians are an “invented” people who want to destroy Israel.

The former speaker of the US House of Representatives sided with Israel in its decades-old dispute with the Palestinians but took it a step further in an interview with the Jewish Channel.

The cable station posted online its interview with Gingrich, who has risen to the top of Republican polls with voting to start early next year to pick a nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election.

Gingrich differed with official US policy that respects the Palestinians as a people deserving of their own state based on negotiations with Israel.

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire” until the early 20th century, Gingrich said.

“I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic,” he said.

Gingrich along with other Republican candidates are seeking to attract Jewish support by vowing to bolster US ties with Israel if elected.

Gingrich said he would be willing to consider granting clemency to Jonathan Jay Pollard, who has been serving a life prison term since 1987 for passing US secrets to Israel. Successive US presidents have refused Israeli entreaties to free him.

“If we can get to a point where I’m satisfied that there’s no national security threat, and if he’s in fact served within the range of people who’ve had a similar problem, then I’d be inclined to consider clemency,” Gingrich said.

12/10/2011, JP

Criticism of Islam Could Soon be a Crime in America

When President Obama delivered his much-anticipated speech to the Muslim world at Cairo University in June 2009, the free world trembled while the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) gushed with praise and begged for a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The OIC is the largest head of state organization in the world after the United Nations (UN) itself and comprises 56 Muslim countries plus the Palestinians. It claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world,” i.e., the ummah, and speaks on its behalf in effect as the seat of the next Islamic Caliphate. In 1990, the OIC membership adopted the “Cairo Declaration ,” which officially exempted all Muslim countries from compliance with the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and replaced it with Islamic law (shariah).

One of the fundamental laws of Islam deals with “slander ,” which is defined in shariah as saying “anything concerning a person [a Muslim] that he would dislike.” At the OIC’s Third Extraordinary Session, held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in December 2005, the organization adopted a “Ten-Year Programme of Action to Meet the Challenges Facing the Muslim Ummah in the 21st Century.” A key agenda item of that meeting was “the need to counter Islamophobia” by seeking to have the UN “…adopt an international resolution to counter Islamophobia, and call upon all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments.” The word “Islamophobia” is a completely invented word, coined by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) front group. OIC adoption of the term reflects the close operational relationship between the OIC and the Ikhwan.

Six years later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to host OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in Washington, DC in mid-December 2011 to discuss how the United States can implement the OIC agenda to criminalize criticism of Islam. Cloaked in the sanctimonious language of “Resolution 16/18,” that was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in April 2011, the WDC three-day experts meeting is billed as a working session to discuss legal mechanisms to combat religious discrimination (but the only religion the Human Rights Council has ever mentioned in any previous resolution is Islam). The UN Human Rights Council, which includes such bastions of human rights as China, Cuba, Libya, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, introduced Resolution 16/18 to the UN General Assembly (UNGA), where it was passed in March 2011.

The Resolution was presented to the UNGA by Pakistan (where women get the death penalty for being raped and “blasphemy” against Islam is punished by death). Ostensibly about “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and…incitement to violence against persons based on religion or belief,” the only partnership mentioned in the text is the one with the OIC. The U.S., whose official envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussain, helped write Obama’s Cairo speech, actively collaborated in the drafting of Resolution 16/18.

Now, the OIC’s Ihsanoglu will come to Washington, DC, the capital of one of the only countries in the world with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and a judicial system that consistently defends it, with a publicized agenda to criminalize criticism of Islam. His agenda, and, apparently that of his host, the U.S. Department of State, seek to bring the U.S. into full compliance with Islamic law on slander, as noted above.

Events in the nation’s capital seemed timed to ensure Ihsanoglu a warm welcome. The Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank aligned with the Democratic Party and Obama White House, published “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” in August 2011. Disturbingly specific in naming individuals associated with speaking truth about the doctrinal foundations of Islamic terrorism, the report is a blatant assault on the First Amendment and free speech in America—at least as far as Islam is concerned.

The Justice Department soon got on board the “Islamophobia” bandwagon. In the wake of the cancellation of a number of scheduled official training sessions at national security agencies by deeply knowledgeable scholars of Islamic doctrine, law, and scriptures, such as Stephen Coughlin, Steven Emerson, William Gawthrop, John Guandolo, and Robert Spencer, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed at an 11 October 2011 press conference that the Obama administration was pulling back for review all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities in order to eliminate all references to Islam that Muslim Brotherhood groups have found offensive.

No doubt much encouraged by national capitulation at such a level, Salam Al-Marayati, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an Islamic organization that shares the jihadist agenda and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote an op-ed piece that was published in the Los Angeles Times on 19 October 2011. In his piece, Al-Marayati openly threatened the FBI with “collapse of a critical partnership with the Muslim American community.” Later that same day, the Justice Department convened a meeting with Muslim shariah advocates at George Washington University in WDC, chaired by its civil rights division chief, Tom Perez. Dwight C. Holton , the U.S. Attorney in Oregon who was also present, announced that, after speaking with Attorney General Eric Holder, he wanted “to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”

A phobia is an irrational fear. It is not irrational to give warning of an ideology resolutely committed to eradication of free belief, expression, speech, and even thought. It is suicidal for a free society willingly to collaborate with those, like the Muslim Brotherhood and the OIC, which are determined to destroy Western civilization from within—and have told us so, repeatedly, consistently, and publicly. Further, collaboration in such an anti-freedom campaign represents abrogation of the professional oath of office of every federal official who has sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Silencing those who would warn of impending catastrophe only ensures victory to the enemy and loss of our most rare and precious inheritance: the American love of liberty.

Family Security Matters Contributor Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments. Now a private consultant, Lopez is a Sr. Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and Vice President of the Intelligence Summit. She is also a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund.

By Clare M. Lopez, December 8, 2011, Family Security Matters