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Daily Archives: 17/03/2011

(guardian.co.uk) WikiLeaks disclosure of classified US files claims first Obama administration scalp as state department spokesman quits

PJ Crowley, the official spokesman at the state department, has fallen on his sword after calling the treatment of Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the WikiLeaks files, “counterproductive and stupid”.

The resignation followed Crowley’s remarks to an MIT seminar last week about Manning’s treatment in military prison.

Crowley had said: “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”

The remarks forced President Obama to address for the first time the issue of Manning’s handling at Quantico marine base in Virginia. Obama defended the way Manning is being treated, saying he had been reassured by the Pentagon that his confinement was appropriate.

In a resignation letter, Crowley said he took full responsibility for his remarks. Though he attacked the leaking of classified information, which he called “a serious crime under US law”, he stood by his earlier criticism of the Pentagon.

In words that could cause further difficulty for Obama, Crowley said his comments “were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”

When Obama entered the White House, he made improving the global standing of the US one of the key aims of his administration. He also denounced the extreme treatment of detainees by George W Bush as running counter to the national interest.

In her letter, Hilary Clinton said that “with regret” she had accepted Crowley’s departure. “PJ has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian,” she said.

The resignation means that the furore over Manning has reached inner circles of the Obama administration. Manning has been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 months. He is being subjected to a prevention of injury order, which sees him kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and stripped naked at night.

The maximum security regime he is under in Quantico has been denounced by many, including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war, as a form of torture. The UN is also investigating.

Commentators have pointed out the apparent double standards behind Crowley’s departure. Glenn Greenwald, a Salon reporter who has been outspoken about Manning’s detention, tweeted that “detainee abuse is allowed, speaking out against it isn’t”.

Last week, Manning gave his own account of how he is being held, saying that it was harsh treatment designed to punish him even before he was put on trial. He said he was stripped naked every night after he made a sarcastic comment to guards about the absurdity of the regime he was under.

Manning has been charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of thousands of secret US embassy cables, as well as videos and warlogs from Afghanistan and Iraq. He was arrested last May at a US military base outside Baghdad, where he had been working as an intelligence specialist.

by Ed Pilkington

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/13/pj-crowley-resigns-bradley-manning-remarks

(DawnWires) Gadhafi days are counted. The man who threatened to kill his own people if the world moved against him now has very little time left as the US military does what it does best, which is to fire.

AFP

UN Security Council members agreed on a draft resolution that will impose a no-fly zone over Libya, diplomats in New York said. The decision will be brought up for a vote later in the day.

Earlier, American ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters that the UN may need to contemplate steps that go beyond the no-fly zone

In an e-mail interview, Yiftah Shapir, senior research fellow and director of the Military Balance Project at the Institute for National Security Studies, discussed the capabilities of Middle Eastern and North African air forces. Reproduced from world politics review(WPR)

WPR: Which countries in the Middle East and North Africa have significant air forces?

Yiftah Shapir: There are two large air forces in the region, and two more that could be called “considerable.” If you consider Turkey as part of the Middle East, that makes yet another.

The largest and best-trained air force in the region is Israel’s, but for obvious reasons, it would not take part in a Libyan no-fly zone.

The region’s second-largest air force is that of Egypt, with some 505 aircraft, of which 229 are F-16C/Ds. The Egyptians also have airborne intelligence and early warning assets, in addition to large numbers of older, less useful aircraft.

Next comes Saudi Arabia’s smaller but still considerable air force, equipped exclusively with advanced combat aircraft. These include Tornados and F-15s, of which the newest are F-15Ss developed according to Saudi specifications. Saudi Arabia is now in the process of acquiring 72 new Typhoons from the U.K., but it is doubtful that those aircraft are already operational.

The United Arab Emirates also possesses a considerable air force, with some 129 combat aircraft. These are also very advanced, consisting of F-16E/Fs developed according to Emirati demands and Mirage 2000-9s.

WPR: How well-trained are those forces, and how much combat experience do their pilots have?

Shapir: All three Arab air forces are very well-equipped, and they receive a great deal of support and training as part of their procurement contracts. They regularly train with Western forces — the U.S., U.K. or France — and have access to the most up-to-date combat tactics.

The big question is their readiness.

All these forces are fully capable of participating in a multinational task force, such as the one needed to impose a no-fly zone in Libya, and they do have good experience conducting joint maneuvers with foreign forces. But I doubt that they are capable of independently conducting a major operation against a strong rival. They probably don’t have the capability to maintain complicated operations that involve real-time intelligence-gathering to the point of “total intelligence control of the battle space,” or real-time command and control that would enable them to engage immediately any target within that battle space.

The last time the Egyptian air force saw active combat was 37 years ago, against Israel. Neither the Emirati nor the Saudi air force has any such experience. Also, much of their maintenance and support is run by foreign contractors who, in the event of war, might pack up and go home.

WPR: What is the likelihood that any of those states would participate in a no-fly zone in Libya?

Shapir: That is a tough question. Technically, they are well-capable of doing so. The real question is political, not military. If Saudi Arabia or the UAE supported an opposition force against a longtime ruler like Moammar Gadhafi, it could have unwanted implications in terms of their own domestic opposition movements. So chances are they would not take part in such an operation.

Even Egypt would probably not participate, as the situation there following the fall of Hosni Mubarak remains fluid. Mubarak might be gone, but the people at the helm in Cairo share his cautious approach to regional dynamics, and it is unlikely they would want to join a no-fly operation.

Source: http://dawnwires.com/politics/no-fly-zone-over-libya-imposed/

Fellow Workers – Students – Supporters
International Capital is confronting International Labor on the world stage. Our neighbors in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia have recently shown the world how to bring governments and rulers to their knees. As the struggle unfolds, we are learning from each other minute-to-minute.

Despotic rule and repression take many forms
In Madison, The Industrial Workers of the World are active in a fight against Governor Scott Walker, who serves the infamous Koch brothers and the wider corporate interests. We believe it will take a General Strike to stop Walker’s legislation and strengthen the labor movement.

Governor Walker and conservative legislators have pushed through a plan that will virtually destroy all unions for public employees, except for firefighters, police, and the state patrol. They also plan to severely cut welfare and medical programs, and reduce rights for immigrants.

Before the deal could pass, rank-and-file union members and supporters occupied the capitol en masse and protested outside, teachers staged sick-outs, students walked out and occupied buildings. This is a level of sustained militancy that has not been seen for a long time in the US. Furthermore, the labor federation in Madison endorsed a general strike and no concessions, putting the idea of a general strike into the public debate. This mobilization continued for weeks while opposition lawmakers fled the state, preventing the bill from being approved.

However, despite the outpouring of support for Wisconsin public workers, Walker and his supporters found a parliamentary loophole that allowed them to bypass this stalemate. There is a strong push to recall the politicians who supported the bill. However, we believe that this course of action will only neutralize the righteous anger of the people. In order to produce actual change, we must commit to using the strength that we hold as workers: the power to stop work.

Therefore, the Industrial Workers of the World is calling for a General Strike as the first step to combating these austerity measures. Through cross-racial unity we can smash the divisions that divide us. Through a general strike, workers and students can maximize this movement.

We need to let union and non-union workers, the unemployed, and all disenfranchised people of the world know that true power does not rest in the marble halls of the capitol building or corporate boardrooms. It is through unity and action that our hearts and minds become the pathways of power and resistance.

Today and for the struggle ahead, we are asking for your support
● Write letters of support for the rank-and-file militancy and mobilization.
● Hold solidarity rallies. Look for days of mobilization. Remember us on May 1.
● Donate for organizing: http://donate.iww.org

Solidarity
Through solidarity and direct action, we can stop this legislation and reinvigorate the working class worldwide. We hope you will come to our aid in the battle we are fighting today, and we will never forget the unity and spirit that you show us.

Madison IWW
PO Box 2442
Madison, WI, 53703
http://madison.iww.org/

Source: http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/14239