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B.C. First Nations serve eviction notice to CN Rail, logging companies and fishermen | National Post about 1 hour ago
B.C. First Nations serve eviction notice to CN Rail, logging companies and fishermen
Dene Moore, Canadian Press | July 11, 2014
VANCOUVER — British Columbia First Nations are wasting no time in enforcing their claim on traditional lands in light of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing aboriginal land title.
The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nations served notice Thursday to CN Rail, logging companies and sport fishermen to leave their territory along the Skeena River in a dispute with the federal and provincial governments over treaty talks.
And the Gitxaala First Nation, with territory on islands off the North Coast, announced plan to file a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Appeal on Friday challenging Ottawa’s recent approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation also added its voice to the growing list, claiming title to all lands associated with now-closed Riverview Hospital in Metro Vancouver along with other areas of its traditional territory.
They cite the recent high court ruling in Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia.
“It’s given us a bit of confidence that things are going to be going our way,” said Clarence Innis, acting chief of the Gitxaala. “I think that is a very strong message to Canada … not to ignore First Nations any more but to consult.”
The court application argues that the federal Conservative cabinet did not consider the Gitxaala’s aboriginal rights and title in approving the oil pipeline proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge. The Tsilhqot’in decision bolsters their case, said Rosanne Kyle, the band’s lawyer.
“The Northern Gateway project is going to be the first case where the implications of Tsilhqot’in will crystallize,” she said. “The court has provided a lot more clarity for everyone involved, including government, as to what needs to be done to achieve reconciliation.”
About 250 kilometres northeast of the Gitxaala, the Gitxsan have given companies operating on their land until Aug. 4 to leave the 33,000 square kilometres of their territory along the Skeena River.
Because the band was not consulted by government, the companies the governments licensed are trespassing, said Gwaans Bev Clifton Percival, chief negotiator for the Gitxsan.
“The Supreme Court has come down with yet another ruling that advances our right and title,” she said. “They (government) have to abide by the laws. We’re prepared to negotiate.”
It was Gitxsan hereditary chief Delgamuukw whose 1997 legal victory recognized aboriginal title to unceded land in B.C.
The band has tried since then to negotiate with the Crown but hasn’t made any progress, Clifton Percival said. A short-term forestry agreement with the province expired in 2011 and there’s been none since, she said.
Then in 2012, lands awarded to the Gitxsan in an earlier court ruling were included in a treaty agreement-in-principle with the neighbouring Kitsumkalum and Kitselas nations, she said.
“B.C. has been silent yet they want to have all this activity on Gitxsan land, so we need to get their attention and this is the only way the chiefs saw forward,” Clifton Percival said.
CN Rail did not return a call for comment, but issued a brief email statement.
“We have long standing, co-operative relationships with Gitxsan hereditary chiefs and we are currently in discussion with them about this matter,” said Mark Hallman, director of communications.
B.C. Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad was travelling and unavailable for an interview. In an emailed statement, Rustad said the Liberal government takes the courts’ direction on consultation very seriously.
In the Gitxsan case, the ministry has been working with the communities to try and resolve the territorial dispute, he said.
“We are continuing to work in partnership with Kitselas, Kitsumkalum and other B.C. First Nations to secure long-term treaties that provide economic benefit, security and certainty on the land for all British Columbians,” Rustad said.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation issued its claim of aboriginal title interests in a news release.
“The Kwikwetlem First Nation have thousands of years of traditions tied to the Riverview Lands, including the use and occupation of the land itself.”
The high court decision is the first time aboriginal title has been recognized in Canada. The court recognized the Tsilhqot’in’s title to over 1,700 square kilometres of land in the B.C. Interior.
A report released Thursday by the Fraser Institute warned that the ruling may encourage more lawsuits.
It’s a decision that will be felt throughout Canada, said the analysis by the right-leaning think tank based in Vancouver.
In the short term, the ruling will impact treaty negotiations and development in the westernmost province, where there are few historic or modern treaties and where 200 plus aboriginal bands have overlapping claims accounting for every square metre of land and then some.
“Over the longer term, it will result in an environment of uncertainty for all current and future economic development projects that may end up being recognized as on aboriginal title lands,” wrote analyst Ravina Bains.
- National Security Counselors - Document Vault about 16 hours ago
Writing tips from the CIA’s ruthless style manual – Quartz about 16 hours ago
Writing tips from the CIA’s ruthless style manual
This post has been updated.+
Strunk & White, it turns out, were CIA sources. The authors of The Elements of Style, a classic American writing guide, are cited alongside Henry Fowler, Wilson Follett, and Jacques Barzun in the Directorate of Intelligence’s Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications, whose eighth edition (from 2011) was quietly posted online (pdf) by the legal nonprofit National Security Counselors a little over a year ago, following a Freedom of Information Act request. (The document first surfaced on social media late last week.) So what role do partisans in the usage wars (pdf) have in a guide produced by an intelligence agency with a hidden hand in many real-life conflicts?+
Though the CIA may dissemble as a matter of course, it speaks plainly to policymakers and operations officers—its “customers,” in the language of the manual. The foreword begins, “Good intelligence depends in large measure on clear, concise writing. The information CIA gathers and the analysis it produces mean little if we cannot convey them effectively.”
As revealed in the manual, the CIA is a prescriptivist scold, a believer in the serial comma, and a champion of “crisp and pungent” language “devoid of jargon.” It takes a firm stand against false titles used attributively and urges intelligence writers to lowercase the w in Vietnam war (“undeclared”).+
Like any style guide, whether it’s produced for a magazine or a government agency, this one reflects its authors’ environment and biases. The missile-related acronyms ABM, ICBM, IRBM, SAM, SLBM, and SRBM are all deemed well-known enough not to have to spell out. “US imperialism” gets scare quotes. Most jarring are the often bellicose usage examples, which are littered with protests, human rights positions, free enterprise, surface ship deployments, oilfields, and bombs.+
For more insight into how the CIA writes—and thinks—Quartz collected some notable entries from the 190-page document:
- Keep the language crisp and pungent; prefer the forthright to the pompous and ornate.
- Do not stray from the subject; omit the extraneous, no matter how brilliant it may seem or even be.
- Favor the active voice and shun streams of polysyllables and prepositional phrases.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short, and vary the structure of both.
- Be frugal in the use of adjectives and adverbs; let nouns and verbs show their own power.
regime: has a disparaging connotation and should not be used when referring to democratically elected governments or, generally, to governments friendly to the United States.+
tortuous (adj, twisting, devious, highly complex)
torturous (adj, causing torture, cruelly painful)+
while: as a conjunction, usually has reference to time. While the President was out of the country, the Army staged a coup. It can, with discretion, also be used in the sense of although or but. While he hated force, he recognized the need for order. Avoid using while in the sense of and.+
number of: a phrase that is too imprecise in some contexts. A number of troops were killed. (If you do not know how many, say an unknown number.)
casualties: include persons injured, captured, or missing in action as well as those killed in battle. In formulating casualty statistics, be sure to write “killed or wounded,” not “killed and wounded.” (See injuries, casualties.)+
nonconventional, unconventional: Nonconventional refers to high-tech weaponry short of nuclear explosives. Fuel-air bombs are effective nonconventional weapons. Unconventional means not bound by convention. Shirley Chisholm was an unconventional woman.+
war crimes (n)
lay, lie: Lay means to put, place, or prepare. It always takes a direct object. Both the past tense and the past participle are laid. (The President ordered his aide to lay a wreath at the unknown soldier’s tomb. The aide laid the wreath two hours later. Yesterday a wreath was laid by the defense minister.)+
affect, effect: Affect as a verb means to influence, to produce an effect upon. (The blow on the head affected John’s vision.) Effect, as a verb, means to bring about. (The assailant effected a change in John’s vision by striking him on the head.) Effect, as a noun, means result. (The effect of the blow on John’s head was blurred vision.)1
disinformation, misinformation: Disinformation refers to the deliberate planting of false reports. Misinformation equates in meaning but does not carry the same devious connotation.
celebrity copycatting: can lead one up the garden path because those emulated are not always pure of speech. A venerable newscaster persists in mispronouncing February (without the firstr r sound) and has misled a whole generation. Another Pied Piper of TV is given to saying “one of those who is”—joining many others who are deceived by the one and forget that the plural who is the subject of the verb (see one). The classic copycat phrase, at this point in time, grew out of the Watergate hearings and now is so firmly entrenched that we may never again get people to say at this time, at present, or simply now (see presently).+
Capitalize the W in October War or Six-Day War because either term as a whole is a distinguishing coined name, but 1973 Middle East war or 1967 Arab-Israeli war is distinguishing enough without the capital W. Avoid Yom Kippur war, which is slangy. Do not uppercase the w in Korean war, which was “undeclared”; the same logic applies to Vietnam war and Falklands war, and a similar convention (if not logic) to Iran-Iraq war.
die: is something we all do, even writers who relegate world leaders to a sort of Immortality Club with phrasing like the President has taken steps to ensure a peaceful transition if he should die. Reality can be recognized by inserting in office or before the end of his term, or even by saying simply when he dies.
Free World: is at best an imprecise designation. Use only in quoted matter.
Use parentheses to set off a word, phrase, clause, or sentence that is inserted by way of comment or explanation within or after a sentence but that is structurally independent of it. This style guide (unclassified) will be widely disseminated.+
This style guide was prepared by the DI[redacted]+
[This post was updated at 2:25 p.m. EDT to clarify when the manual was originally uncovered. The document first circulated on social media late last week, but it was posted online in late 2012 or early 2013 on the website of the intelligence-focused legal nonprofit National Security Counselors. The group's executive director, Kel McClanahan, received the document in early 2012 after submitting a FOIA request the previous year.]
UN removes dozens of staff from Libya - Middle East - Al Jazeera English about 16 hours ago
UN removes dozens of staff from Libya
Mission says the "temporary" measure taken for safety of its staff will be reviewed once security conditions improve.<!-- -->Megan O'Toole Last updated: 10 Jul 2014
The security situation in Libya has deteriorated sharply in recent months [AFP]
The United Nations has removed dozens of staff from Libya amid deteriorating security conditions in the strife-torn country.
Samir Ghattas, a spokesperson for the UN Support Mission in Libya, told Al Jazeera that "several dozen" of the mission's more than 200 personnel were being temporarily relocated, although he would not provide a specific number.
"The mission will continue to operate with a reduced number," Ghattas said, noting the removal, ordered this week, was continuing to take effect on Thursday.
"The reduction in presence is due to the prevailing security conditions in the country," he said. "It was taken solely out of concerns for the safety and security of the staff and after a careful consideration of the security situation on the ground in the past few months."
Libya has been gripped by instability since the toppling of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but the security situation has sharply deteriorated in recent months.
Former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was ousted in March after a no-confidence vote, and fierce fighting has flared in the eastern city of Benghazi between Libyan armed groups and forces loyal to a rogue army general.
The murder last month of prominent human-rights activist Salwa Bugaighis drew international condemnation and further inflamed tensions in the North African country.
Magda Mughrabi, a Libya researcher with Amnesty International, also pointed to a recent escalation in attacks against foreign nationals in Libya, including assassinations, arbitrary detentions and abductions.
"The authorities' failure to investigate crimes has contributed to an overall atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity that has made it increasingly difficult for activists, including aid workers, to operate in the country," Mughrabi told Al Jazeera.
Ghattas said the reduction in UN personnel would impact the support mission's operations in Libya, but staff would continue to be available to provide advice and assistance to residents.
"The measure is temporary and will be reviewed as soon as the security situation improves," he said.
Representatives for Libya's interior and information ministries did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera's requests for comment on Thursday.
Fiona Mangan, a Libya expert with the United States Institute of Peace's Governance Law and Society Center, said while it did not appear that UN buildings in Libya were deliberately targeted, they had been caught in the crossfire.
"[The violence] has moved a little bit closer to home," she told Al Jazeera, noting clashes had intensified near the UN complex in western Tripoli, where buildings had been struck by gunfire.
While there have long been violent outbursts in the area, Mangan said: "In the last few days and the last week, they have been more serious… It may have been sort of the last straw."
The world must intervene to restrain the Israeli army | Mustafa Barghouti | Commentisfree | The Guardian about 16 hours ago
Behind the fresh conflict in Gaza is the same old problem – a occupation which makes peace impossible for both Israelis and Palestinians
Thursday 10 July 2014 07.30 BST
The world watches but does nothing as yet another crisis unfolds. The tragedy of the disappearance and killing of three Israeli teenagers last month has provoked a campaign of collective punishment against Palestinian citizens across the occupied territories. Mass arrests have been carried out, whose victims include Palestinian parliamentarians. And revenge attacks have occurred, with Israeli settlers taking the law into their own hands.
In one such attack a Palestinian boy – Muhammad Abu Khdair – was kidnapped, and reportedly burned alive. Rocket attacks from Gaza that followed then allowed Israel to implement (and justify) what I believe was a pre-planned military operation. But let us be clear, this is not an attack on Hamas, nor a simple act of self-defence.
This is an attack on all Palestinians. Most of the victims have been civilians. Many of those who will die in the continuing air strikes, as well as in any ground action, will be ordinary people. And we know from past experience that a large number of those civilians will be children. In Israel's last major attack on the Gaza Strip in 2008/9, 89 children were killed by the Israeli army's own admission – and many other estimates put the total far higher.
We are seeing vivid and brutal examples of this again. Seven Palestinians, including two children, were killed and up to 25 wounded by Israeli bombs in the town of Khan Younis, in south Gaza, on Tuesday. At the time of writing, 17 civilians, including seven children, are dead. And not a single Israeli has been killed in the rocket attacks.
The last point, the asymmetry of the conflict, is perhaps the root of all of the violence. The fact remains that an illegal military occupation has been in place for 47 years. It is one that has transformed life for Palestinians into an oppressive system of apartheid. Without changing that, nothing else will change. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis will ever enjoy real peace or security.
The international community should intervene to restrain Israel's army, which has called up 40,000 reserve soldiers. World leaders must stop the escalation to protect the Palestinian people and prevent further slaughter, the like of which we have witnessed this week.
We demand an immediate meeting of the UN security council and a decision to impose a complete ceasefire with effective international protection for the Palestinian people, who have no way of matching the superpower of the mighty Israeli army. We call on the Palestinian leadership to stop its hesitation in establishing a unified Palestinian leadership and go straight to the international criminal court to hold Israel accountable. Without these measures, I fear worse may be to come.
Charities ‘muffled,’ ‘harassed’ by Canada Revenue Agency audits: study - National | Globalnews.ca about 16 hours ago
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Charities ‘muffled,’ ‘harassed’ by Canada Revenue Agency audits: study
OTTAWA – The Harper government’s “ramp-up of anti-activist rhetoric,” as it’s been called, has drawn criticism in media and academic circles since 2012, but the targets themselves – environmental charities and others – have been muted and self-censored.
That’s largely because they've been subject to new, high-stakes tax audits into their political activities that could strip them of their coveted charitable status.
But perhaps for the first time, some of their voices are being heard unfiltered.
Gareth Kirkby, a former journalist and now graduate student in communications, interviewed the leaders of 16 such groups for a master’s thesis at Victoria’s Royal Roads University, offering them anonymity in return for candid assessments of their predicaments.
Kirkby found evidence for what he called "advocacy chill" among charities who’ve been subject to some of the dozens of political-activity audits being conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency.
“The data suggest that the current federal government is corrupting Canada’s democratic processes by treating as political enemies those civil-society organizations whose contributions to public policy conversations differ from government priorities,” concludes Kirkby’s MA thesis, accepted last month by the university after vetting by academic supervisors.
“What is unprecedented is the … coupling of that rhetoric with action. This action entails specifically politicized use of the associated governmental regulatory body (the Charities Directorate at CRA) to pursue harassing actions seemingly designed to ‘muffle’ and ‘distract.”‘
The study found that many organizations have toned down their public communications in the wake of the audits, whether in brochures, on the web, public statements or elsewhere.
“There’s definitely more caution going on,” Kirkby said in an interview from his home in Vancouver.
“It’s hurting us. It’s not about what this is doing to the charities. It’s about what this is doing to what we need in society, which is vigorous policy debates about important issues that we face.”
The 16 leaders he interviewed represent a broad range of subject areas, from environment and international development, to social services, research and conservation.
“Pervading the data is the presence of strong emotions that … highlight a strong sense of confusion, fear, and vulnerability,” he wrote in the study entitled “An Uncharitable Chill.”
“There is evidence that three specific charitable sectors are being singled out for CRA attention – environmental, development and human rights, and charities receiving donations from labour unions.”
Kirkby said some organizations are contemplating joint legal action, such as a lawsuit. Many are also paying closer attention to the internal tracking systems that record whenever they engage in political activity, to ensure the 10 per cent limit is respected to the letter.
And some are creating non-charity, non-profit arms to handle political activity, insulating them from charity audits, he found.
“It says something about the health of our democracy when these moderate organizations who many people donate to and support, peaceful organizations, are demonized … as being criminal or terrorist organizations … and then find themselves under threat of audits,” he said in an interview.
Hawks for humanity | Al Jazeera America on 2014-07-10
These wars weren’t simple humanitarian interventions but attacks motivated almost entirely by national self-interest, conducted to stem massive, destabilizing influxes of foreign refugees from a bordering nation.
The human rights industry does a lot of noble work around the world. And yet many of the field’s most prominent figures and institutions have lately taken to vocally endorsing acts of war. Where does this impulse come from? On what grounds is it justified? And how’s the hawkish stance working out, given a decade of strategic and humanitarian debacles for Washington and its allies?
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and one of the country’s most celebrated human rights advocates, certainly doesn’t shrink from military action. She has supported missile strikes on the Syrian government as well as Washington’s participation in the Libya war and has called for strong-arming U.S. allies into sending more soldiers to fight in Afghanistan — all in the name of human rights, of course. Harold Koh, a former dean of Yale Law School, is best known for his scholarly work on human rights law and the War Powers Act — yet he devised the legal rationale for both Obama’s open-ended drone strikes and the war on Libya. And Michael Ignatieff, a former leader of Canada’s Liberal Party and Power’s predecessor as director of Harvard Law’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War.
It’s not just individuals, though: Institutions are just as likely to chime in. Human Rights Watch didn’t use to dabble in warfare, but that all changed when the group supported Washington’s failed military expedition into Somalia in 1992, followed by the bombardment of Belgrade in 1999 in what was then Yugoslavia. Human Rights Watch didn’t weigh in on the Iraq invasion other than to note that it did not qualify as a humanitarian mission. But by 2012, fatigues were back in style at the group’s Empire State Building suites when the organization’s executive director, Ken Roth, and chief U.S. lobbyist, Tom Malinowski, loudly applauded the NATO campaign in Libya.
Days after the Libya air strikes began, Human Rights Watch researcher Corinne Dufka called for “nothing less than the type of unified and decisive action the U.N. Security Council has brought to bear in Libya” to be replicated in Cote d’Ivoire in a Foreign Policy article titled “The Case for Intervention in the Ivory Coast”. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch has tacitly supported our longest war at every step. In 2003, Roth said human rights nonprofits should “mobilize public pressure on the (George W.) Bush administration and its European allies to take the security steps needed to deliver on the promise of greater peace and security for the Afghan people” — in other words, support the military occupation and counterinsurgency war that make the development and humanitarian work possible. More recently, Human Rights Watch condemned the possibility of amnesty for Taliban leaders, a necessary condition for any political settlement of the ongoing civil war.
To be fair, Human Rights Watch is far from alone: In 2012, Amnesty International USA went so far as to put up bus-stop advertisements in Chicago during the NATO conference to urge the military alliance to “keep the progress going” — which can only be taken as an endorsement of the military campaign. The Feminist Majority has similarly backed the escalation of the Afghan War, in the name of women’s rights. As for the U.S. media, its more prestigious branches are regular perches for humanitarian hawks, with the New York Times’ human rights guy, Nicholas Kristof, constantly recommending that Washington threaten air strikes of some nature against Sudan.
Even more aggressive than the established human rights institutions are their “mutant offspring,” says Alex de Waal, director of the Center for World Peace at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy. Celebrity-sequined advocacy groups like Save Darfur, de Waal says, “have no inhibition of mixing partisan politics, including calls for intervention, and human rights. The groups are not as grounded in human rights principles or on-the-ground humanitarian work, but they do have close ties to the Obama administration, to Samantha Power and Susan Rice.”
De Waal would know: He’s a former Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch who quit in protest of the group’s recommendation of a military expedition into Somalia in 1992. De Waal’s replacement was one John Prendergast, who now runs an anti-genocide outfit called Enough. Four years ago, Prendergast was calling for a military invasion of Zimbabwe to oust its rights-abusing government, an operation he conceded would be “messy in the short run” but, he insisted, plenty worth it.
Liberal hawks respond to skepticism over their bellicosity with an invented pedigree of successful humanitarian wars, wheeling out India’s armed intervention in East Pakistan in 1971, which halted a genocide and created Bangladesh, or Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978, which ended the Khmer Rouge, or Tanzania’s invasion of Uganda in 1979, which brought down Idi Amin. What they fail to mention is that these wars weren’t simple humanitarian interventions but attacks motivated almost entirely by national self-interest, conducted to stem massive, destabilizing influxes of foreign refugees from a bordering nation.
But the past is past. Supporters of humanitarian warfare tend not to dwell on their ventures’ failures for very long. Remember the carnage when the U.N. ventured into Somalia, with war crimes committed by both sides? The 200,000 Serbs and Roma ethnically cleansed from Kosovo during the NATO bombardment of Belgrade? The dictatorship of the militias in Libya and the excruciating pacification campaign in Afghanistan, which some have confused with a feminist Peace Corps project?
According to the Human Rights Watch press office, the group has no formal internal review process for prior endorsements of the use of force; instead there is an ongoing internal discussion whose findings are reflected in their steady stream of public statements.
Part of what makes humanitarians so comfortable with military violence is their widespread belief that war can be made surgically precise if enough lawyers are involved — that military violence can be regulated, just like mine safety or pharmaceuticals. The reality is that war is not amenable to regulation, and collaborations between humanitarian lawyers and generals usually end up altering the behavior of the former much more than the latter.
It would be a shame for the human rights industry, which does so much fine, often heroic work abroad — and increasingly, at home in the United States — to continue its metamorphosis into a high-minded appendage of official Washington. While it may have been wise for Human Rights Watch to demand targeted sanctions against members of the Syrian government, whose atrocities are well documented, such declarations put them in a situation where hypocrisy is inevitable: The rights group has never made recommended similar penalties against officials in Egypt, Israel and Bahrain, despite these regimes’ dismal human rights records.
Mass atrocity demands a response. It’s not hard to see why so much righteous thought has been expended imagining how paratroopers or other deployments could have, hypothetically, halted the Rwandan genocide. But let us note that such dreams of therapeutic violence are only rarely accompanied by any speculation about how nonmilitary diplomatic efforts could have, with forethought and diligent application of state resources, achieved the same end.
For instance, Power’s widely assigned book on genocide, “A Problem From Hell,” pays scant attention to preventive means other than military force. The Atrocity Prevention Board she founded within the National Security Council focuses mostly, as de Waal notes, on ways to put foreign soldiers in between government troops and victimized civilians rather than on diplomatic interventions that might head off such atrocities.
The itchy trigger finger of the human rights industry is symptomatic of the atrophy of diplomacy and dealmaking in favor of the militarization of statecraft. Do human rights professionals really want to be party to this? There is an ethics to nearly everything, even the violent fantasies of intellectuals. A more circumspect attitude toward the lethal force would surely boost the credibility —and the integrity — of our human rights institutions.
- Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On - The InterceptThe Intercept on 2014-07-10
APNewsBreak: Different attackers in Benghazi? - AP on 2014-07-10
APNewsBreak: Different attackers in Benghazi?
By DONNA CASSATA and BRADLEY KLAPPER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly revealed testimony from top military commanders involved in the U.S. response to the Benghazi attacks suggests that the perpetrators of a second, dawn assault on a CIA complex probably were different from those who penetrated the U.S. diplomatic mission the evening before and set it ablaze, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and another American.
The second attack, which killed two security contractors, showed clear military training, retired Gen. Carter Ham told Congress in closed-door testimony released late Wednesday. It probably was the work of a new team of militants, seizing on reports of violence at the diplomatic mission the night before and hitting the Americans while they were most vulnerable.
The testimony, which The Associated Press was able to read ahead of its release, could clarify for the first time the Sept. 11, 2012, events that have stirred bitter recriminations in the U.S., including Republican-led congressional investigations and campaign-season denunciations of the Obama administration, which made inaccurate statements about the attacks. The testimony underscores a key detail that sometimes has been lost in the debate: that the attacks were two distinct events over two days on two different buildings, perhaps by unrelated groups.
The U.S. government still has not fully characterized the first attack in which, according to Ham and eight other military officers, men who seemed familiar with the lightly protected diplomatic compound breached it and set it on fire, killing Stevens and communications specialist Sean Smith. A disorganized mob of looters then overran the facility.
In testimony to two House panels earlier this year, the officers said that commanders didn't have the information they needed to understand the nature of the attack, that they were unaware of the extent of the U.S. presence in Benghazi at the time and they were convinced erroneously for a time that they were facing a hostage crisis without the ability to move military assets into place that would be of any use.
The testimony reveals how little information the military had on which to base an urgent response.
Two House panels — the Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform committees — conducted interviews with the nine officers on separate days from January to April.
Four Americans died in Benghazi, including Stevens. To this day, despite the investigations, it's not clear if the violence resulted from a well-planned, multiphase military-type assault or from a loosely connected, escalating chain of events.
In their testimony, military officials expressed some uncertainty about the first attack, describing protests and looting in an assault that lasted about 45 minutes.
The military attache to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli told Congress the first attack showed some advance planning. The Libyan police officer guarding the diplomatic compound fled as it began.
The defense attache, whose name wasn't released, suggested the attackers "had something on the shelf" — an outline of a plan based on previously obtained information about the compound and its security measures, so they were ready to strike when the opportunity arose.
"They came in, and they had a sense of purpose, and I think it sometimes gets confused because you had looters and everyone else coming in," he said. "It was less than kind of full, thought-out, methodical."
Ham testified that the second attack, which killed security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty at the annex a mile from the diplomatic compound where the assault began the night before, showed clear military training. It was probably the work of a new team of militants, taking advantage after reports of violence at the first site and American vulnerability.
"Given the precision of the attack, it was a well-trained mortar crew, and in my estimation they probably had a well-trained observer," said Ham, who headed the U.S. command in Africa. The second attack showed "a degree of sophistication and military training that is relatively unusual and certainly, I think, indicates that this was not a pickup team. This was not a couple of guys who just found a mortar someplace."
Ham said the nearly eight-hour time lapse between the two attacks also seemed significant. "If the team (that launched the second attack) was already there, then why didn't they shoot sooner?" he asked.
"I think it's reasonable that a team came from outside of Benghazi," he said of the second attack in testimony on April 9. Violent extremists saw an opportunity "and said, 'Let's get somebody there.'" He also acknowledged that the absence of American security personnel on the ground soon enough after the first attack "allowed sufficient time for the second attack to be organized and conducted."
The attacks came as President Barack Obama was in a close re-election battle, campaigning in part on the contention that al-Qaida no longer posed a significant threat to the United States and that, blending the economy and the fight against terrorism, General Motors was alive but "Osama bin Laden is dead." A terror attack on American assets could have damaged that argument.
The administration last month apprehended its first suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, and brought him to the United States to stand trial on terrorism charges.
The Justice Department maintains in court documents that Abu Khattala was involved in both attacks. Abu Khattala's lawyer says the government has failed to show that he was connected to either one.
Ham, who happened to be in Washington the week of the attacks, briefed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. They informed the president.
Many of the military officials said they didn't even know about the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, let alone the CIA's clandestine installation nearby. Few knew of Stevens visiting the city that day. Given all of the confusion, Ham said there was one thing he clearly would have done differently: "Advise the ambassador to not go to Benghazi."
German politician wants to start spying on U.S. as revenge for alleged double agent: report on 2014-07-09
German politician wants to start spying on U.S. as revenge for alleged double agent: report
BEIJING — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that if reports that a German intelligence employee spied for the United States are proven true, it would be a clear contradiction of trust between the allies.
Speaking at a news conference in China, Merkel made her first public comments on the arrest last week of a 31-year-old man suspected of spying for foreign intelligence services.
German prosecutors say the man is suspected of handing over 218 documents between 2012 and 2014. German media, without naming sources, have reported he was an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service who says he sold his services to the U.S.
If the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting co-operation between agencies and partners, Merkel said at a news conference in Beijing with the Chinese premier.
Germany has been stepping up pressure on the United States to clarify the situation.
The White House offered no public comment, and a U.S. official said the matter did not come up during a phone call Thursday between President Barack Obama and Merkel. The phone call was scheduled beforehand to discuss other matters and Obama was not aware of the spying allegations at the time, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private call.
For the last two years, he has been sending documents to the Americans electronically once a week, according to Bild newspaper.
Investigators reportedly found an encrypted communication program hidden on his computer. The hidden program was disguised as a weather app, and activated by searching for a weather forecast for New York.
The arrested man was able to carry on most communications electronically, but met with an American contact in Austria on two or three occasions, when he allegedly received payments of euros $36,000 in cash.
Reports revealed that the man was caught after an anonymous email he sent offering to sell classified information to the Russians was intercepted.
The spying report threatens to strain German-U.S. relations again after earlier reports that the National Security Agency spied on Germans, including on Merkel’s cellphone.
The German newspaper Bild reported Monday that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere wants to include the U.S. among future German spy targets in response to the case.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said if the allegations of U.S. involvement were true, the case could change the routine for the two countries in unspecified ways.
Should the suspicions be confirmed that American intelligence agencies were involved, then that’s also a political matter where one can’t just go back to the daily routine, Steinmeier said during a visit to Mongolia, according to his office.
We will work hard to answer the outstanding questions and then decide how to react, he said. I hope that the U.S. can contribute to resolving this matter as quickly as possible.
Deputy German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told reporters in Berlin that the U.S. one of Germany’s most important partners. But that doesn’t mean one has to accept without criticism whatever these partners do, she said. She stressed that any consequences would wait until the investigation is concluded.
In Berlin, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview with Der Spiegel, posted online Monday, that the United States would never sign a commitment with any other nation not to spy on them.
The U.S. will never sign a no-spy agreement (as demanded by Germany) with any other countries, not with you, not with Britain or Canada, Clinton was quoted as saying. But that doesn’t mean that the two countries and their intelligence agencies shouldn’t clarify what’s appropriate and what isn’t.