• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 28 november 2015

Climate Treaty

World urges climate treaty as some nations balk
November 28, 2015, 1:39 pm 

There have been global demonstrations, such as this one in Dhaka, Bangladesh, calling for industrialized nations to do more to save the planet from overheating [Xinhua]
There have been global demonstrations, such as this one in Dhaka, Bangladesh, calling for industrialized nations to do more to save the planet from overheating [Xinhua]

Even before the Paris Climate Change (COP21) summit officially begins in Paris on Monday, tens of thousands of demonstrators have already taken to the streets of many capitals calling for concrete decisions to effectively minimize the impact of global warming and climate change.
A global network known as the People’s Climate March launched a number of demonstrations in Australia and New Zealand today.
Hours later, thousands marched in unison in Tokyo and Dhaka, Bangladesh, to name a few.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators there called on their governments as well as world leaders to quickly work toward a worldwide legally binding climate treaty which imposes rapid and drastic curbing of carbon emissions and deforestation, among other environmental challenges.
Planet hot
There is an urgency to the Paris conferences because previous such meetings have failed to achieve global consensus – and time is running out.
The planet we call home is growing less and less healthy thanks to rapid industrialization, rising global temperatures, pollution, overfishing, decline in freshwater, infiltration of chemicals into agricultural land, carbon emissions and “loss of biosphere integrity” and human consumption.
Earlier in the year, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre were among a group of organizations which released data that 2014 was the hottest year on record – since temperatures were registered in the 1880s.
The burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions are significant contributing factors in how quickly, and drastically, the planet is warming up.
NASA scientists say that the majority of the global warming in temperatures has occurred in the past three decades.
The United Nations has warned that global temperatures will rise by at least 2 degrees Celsius within the next 80 years.
This will have a devastating effect on the way of life for billions of people around the world because even a 1.5 Celsius rise is likely to wipe out many ecosystems and hundreds of inhabited islands.
Do more, do now
The UN has repeatedly called on industrialized nations, emerging economies and developing countries to move toward a global climate change agreement that sufficiently reduces carbon emissions to offset any increase.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report in November last year that carbon emissions will reach 59 billion tonnes by 2020 – 25 billion tonnes above the threshold for a 2C global rise in temperature.
And then there are national economic interests which appear to outweigh the need to protect the environment.
Developing nations, which see a growing demand for energy and fuel, are unable to comply with carbon emissions curbs.
The Philippines, for example, says it will begin building 25 coal plants to meet energy demands as its population and economy grows.
Earlier this year, a G7 environment meeting failed to reach consensus on ways to end subsidies given to coal exports when Japan said it need more time.
For the past four years, Japan has had to rely on coal as an alternative fuel source following its suspension of nuclear energy programs in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima plant disaster.
Two years ago, Poland, the host country for COP19, as well as some other European countries like Germany held that recent EU efforts to change formerly agreed reduction targets are overambitious, particularly when it comes to automotive emissions.
Poland, which generates most of its electricity from coal and is considered one of the continent’s worst polluters, has refused to comply with European emission quotas.
A year ago, EU leaders agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.
While this may appear to be a step in the right direction, it means the Earth could be warmed by as much as 3 degrees Celsius – much higher than the current threshold to avoid catastrophic climate change as predicted by scientists.
Still, Poland has refused to comply.
Last week, its Environment Minister Jan Szyszko said the proposed cuts do not work in favor of Poland’s interests and that he would use the Paris conference to argue that Warsaw is under no obligation to sign a global climate treaty.
By Firas Al-Atraqchi for The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies



Israel Too Finances ISIS

Raqqa's Rockefellers: How Islamic State oil flows to Israel
The Islamic State group's oil earns the 'caliphate' $19million a month through international markets [al-Araby]

Raqqa's Rockefellers: How Islamic State oil flows to Israel

By: Al-Araby al-Jadeed staffDate of publication: 26 November, 2015
Oil produced by the Islamic State group finances its bloodlust. But how is it extracted, transported and sold? Who is buying it, and how does it reach Israel?
Oil produced from fields under the control of the Islamic State group is at the heart of a new investigation by al-Araby al-Jadeed. The black gold is extracted, transported and sold, providing the armed group with a vital financial lifeline.

But who buys it? Who finances the murderous brutality that has taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria? How does it get from the ground to the petrol tank, and who profits along the way?

The Islamic State group uses millions of dollars in oil revenues to expand and manage vast areas under its control, home to around five million civilians.

IS sells Iraqi and Syrian oil for a very low price to Kurdish and Turkish smuggling networks and mafias, who label it and sell it on as barrels from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

It is then most frequently transported from Turkey to Israel, via knowing or unknowing middlemen, according to al-Araby's investigation.

The Islamic State group has told al-Araby that it did not intentionally sell oil to Israel, blaming agents along the route to international markets.

Oil fields

All around IS-controlled oil fields in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, there are signs that read: "Photography is strictly forbidden - violators risk their safety." They have been signed in the name of the IS group. 
Black gold: IS and the Middle East's oil trade
US airstrikes focus on destroying IS oil infrastructure
Comment: Debating hard power against ISAnalysis: Never mind the Russians, IS is destroying itself
Comment: Who's afraid of low oil prices?
Video: Iraqi forces retake Baiji oil refinery from IS
Analysis: Another Iranian oil shipment to Assad
Russian company begins oil exploration off Syrian coast


These oil fields are in production between seven and nine hours a day, from sunset to sunrise, while production is mostly supervised by the Iraqi workers and engineers who had previously been running operations, kept on in their jobs by IS after it captured the territory.

IS is heavily dependent on its oil revenues. Its other income, such as from donations and kidnap ransoms has slowly dwindled. Workers in IS oil fields and their families are well looked after, because they are very important to the group's financial survival.

IS oil extraction capacity developed further in 2015 when it obtained hydraulic machines and electric pumps after taking control of the Allas and Ajeel oil fields near the Iraqi city of Tikrit.

The group also seized the equipment of a small Asian oil company that was developing an oil field close to the Iraqi city of Mosul before IS overran the area last June.

IS oil production in Syria is focused on the Conoco and al-Taim oil fields, west and northwest of Deir Ezzor, while in Iraq the group uses al-Najma and al-Qayara fields near Mosul. A number of smaller fields in both Iraq and Syria are used by the group for local energy needs.

According to estimates based on the number of oil tankers that leave Iraq, in addition to al-Araby's sources in the Turkish town of Sirnak on the border with Iraq, through which smuggled oil transits, IS is producing an average of 30,000 barrels a day from the Iraqi and Syrian oil fields it controls.

The export trek

Al-Araby
 has obtained information about how IS smuggles oil from a colonel in the Iraqi Intelligence Services who we are keeping anonymous for his security.

The information was verified by Kurdish security officials, employees at the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, and an official at one of three oil companies that deal in IS-smuggled oil.

The Iraqi colonel, who along with US investigators is working on a way to stop terrorist finance streams, told al-Araby about the stages that the smuggled oil goes through from the points of extraction in Iraqi oil fields to its destination - notably including the port of Ashdod, Israel.

"After the oil is extracted and loaded, the oil tankers leave Nineveh province and head north to the city of Zakho, 88km north of Mosul," the colonel said. Zakho is a Kurdish city in Iraqi Kurdistan, right on the border with Turkey.

"After IS oil lorries arrive in Zakho - normally 70 to 100 of them at a time - they are met by oil smuggling mafias, a mix of Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, in addition to some Turks and Iranians," the colonel continued.

"The person in charge of the oil shipment sells the oil to the highest bidder," the colonel added. Competition between organised gangs has reached fever pitch, and the assassination of mafia leaders has become commonplace.

The highest bidder pays between 10 and 25 percent of the oil's value in cash - US dollars - and the remainder is paid later, according to the colonel.


The drivers hand over their vehicles to other drivers who carry permits and papers to cross the border into Turkey with the shipment, the Iraqi intelligence officer said. The original drivers are given empty lorries to drive back to IS-controlled areas.

According to the colonel, these transactions usually take place in a variety of locations on the outskirts of Zakho. The locations are agreed by phone.

Before crossing any borders, the mafias transfer the crude oil to privately owned rudimentary refineries, where the oil is heated and again loaded onto lorries to transfer them across the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing into Turkey.

The rudimentary refining, according to the colonel, is performed because Turkish authorities do not allow crude oil to cross the border if it is not licensed by the Iraqi government.

The initial refining stage is conducted to obtain documents that would pass the oil off as oil by-products, which are allowed through the border.

According to the intelligence officer, border officials receive large bribes from local Iraqi smuggling gangs and privately owned refineries.

Once in Turkey, the lorries continue to the town of Silopi, where the oil is delivered to a person who goes by the aliases of Dr Farid, Hajji Farid and Uncle Farid.

Uncle Farid is an Israeli-Greek dual national in his fifties. He is usually accompanied by two strong-built men in a black Jeep Cherokee. Because of the risk involved in taking a photo of Uncle Farid, a representative drawing was made of him.

An artists' impression of Dr Farid (Uncle Farid), the Israeli-Greek oil broker


Once inside Turkey, IS oil is indistinguishable from oil sold by the Kurdistan Regional Government, as both are sold as "illegal", "source unknown" or "unlicensed" oil.

The companies that buy the KRG oil also buy IS-smuggled oil, according to the colonel.

The route to Israel

After paying drivers, middlemen and bribes, IS' profit is $15 to $18 a barrel. The group currently makes $19 million on average each month, according to the intelligence officer.

Uncle Farid owns a licensed import-export business that he uses to broker deals between the smuggling mafias that buy IS oil and the three oil companies that export the oil to Israel.

Al-Araby has the names of these companies and details of their illegal trades. One of these companies is also supported by a very high-profile Western official.

The companies compete to buy the smuggled oil and then transfer it to Israel through the Turkish ports of Mersin, Dortyol and Ceyhan, according to the colonel.



Al-Araby has discovered several brokers who work in the same business as Uncle Farid - but he remains the most influential and effective broker when it comes to marketing smuggled oil.

paper written by marine engineers George Kioukstsolou and Dr Alec D Coutroubis at the University of Greenwich tracked the oil trade through Ceyhan port, and found some correlation between IS military successes and spikes in the oil output at the port.

In August, the Financial Times reported that Israel obtained up to 75 percent of its oil supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan. More than a third of such exports go through the port of Ceyhan.


Kioukstsolou told al-Araby al-Jadeed that this suggests corruption by middlemen and those at the lower end of the trade hierarchy - rather than institutional abuse by multinational businesses or governments.

According to a European official at an international oil company who met with al-Araby in a Gulf capital, Israel refines the oil only "once or twice" because it does not have advanced refineries. It exports the oil to Mediterranean countries - where the oil "gains a semi-legitimate status" - for $30 to $35 a barrel.

"The oil is sold within a day or two to a number of private companies, while the majority goes to an Italian refinery owned by one of the largest shareholders in an Italian football club [name removed] where the oil is refined and used locally," added the European oil official.

"Israel has in one way or another become the main marketer of IS oil. Without them, most IS-produced oil would have remained going between Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Even the three companies would not receive the oil if they did not have a buyer in Israel," said the industry official.

According to him, most countries avoid dealing in this type of smuggled oil, despite its alluring price, due to legal implications and the war against the Islamic State group.

Delivery and payment

Al-Araby
 has discovered that IS uses a variety of ways to receive payments for its smuggled oil - in a manner similar to other international criminal networks.

First, IS receives a cash payment worth 10 to 25 percent of the oil's value upon sale to the criminal gangs operating around the Turkish border.

Second, payments from oil trading companies are deposited in a private Turkish bank account belonging to an anonymous Iraqi person, through someone such as Uncle Farid, and then transferred to Mosul and Raqqa, laundered through a number of currency exchange companies.

Third, oil payments are used to buy cars that are exported to Iraq, where they are sold by IS operatives in Baghdad and southern cities, and the funds transferred internally to the IS treasury.

IS responds

Hours before this investigation report was concluded, al-Araby was able to talk via Skype to someone close to IS in the self-acclaimed capital of the "caliphate," Raqqa, in Syria.

"To be fair, the [IS] organisation sells oil from caliphate territories but does not aim to sell it to Israel or any other country," he said. "It produces and sells it via mediators, then companies, who decide whom to sell it to."



Editor's note: An earlier published version of this article included an incorrect reference to Financial Times reporters describing the port of Ceyhan as a "potential gateway for IS-smuggled crude". Al-Araby al-Jadeed recognises this was reported in error and apologises for any confusion.




- See more at: http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/features/2015/11/26/raqqas-rockefellers-how-islamic-state-oil-flows-to-israel/#sthash.jeEVjedZ.dpuf

http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/features/2015/11/26/raqqas-rockefellers-how-islamic-state-oil-flows-to-israel/


Turkish Stream

Impacts of Turkey’s Aggression against Russia. The “Turkish Stream” is Dead. Disruption of Gas Pipeline Routes to the EU. Russia’s Economy in Crisis?

 5807 

erdogan-poutine
“Regime change” in Ukraine engineered by the US State Department was largely responsible for the collapse of the “South Stream” gas pipeline project. Washington’s intent was to establish a de facto blockade which would prevent the flow of Russian gas to the European Union. 
“The South Stream gas pipeline worth €15.5 billion was intended to pump 67 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Europe annually. 
The pipeline’s underwater section 900 km (559 miles) long was intended to run along the bed of the Black Sea from the Russkaya compressor station on the Russian shore to the Bulgarian coast.” (TASS, January 14, 2015)
On December 1, 2014, President Vladimir Putin announced that the project to build the South Stream gas pipeline “was closed due to the European Union’s unconstructive approach to cooperation, including Bulgaria’s decision [pressured by the US] to stop the construction of the pipeline’s stretch on its territory.”
South Stream Pipeline Route Options, source TASS
The South Stream was replaced by the “Turkish Stream”. The scrapping of the South Stream was coupled with the signing in Ankara of a historic December 2014 deal between presidents Vladimir Putin and Recyyp Erdogan.
Under the Russian-Turkish agreement pertaining to gas pipeline routes, Turkey was slated to become a major hub and transit route for the export of Russian natural gas to both Southern and Western Europe.
Russia’s Gazprom in a historical announcement by CEO Alexey Miller in January 2015 confirmed that: The Turkish Stream gas pipeline project was considered “the sole route for Russia’s future supplies of 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Western Europe… The Gazprom head made this statement in response to a question about the fate of Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project.” (Tass, January 14, 2015)
“The [South Stream] project is closed. The Turkish Stream is the sole route, which can deliver 63 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas. … There are no other options,” Miller said. (Ibid)
 November 24 2015: Turkey’s Act of Aggression against Russia marks the Disruption of the Turkish Stream Project 
Back in January, the Moscow-Ankara deal was considered to be a slap in the face for Washington.  Today, the Turkish Stream (sponsored by Moscow) is in jeopardy.
The downing of the SU-24 plane engineered by US-NATO has contributed to destabilizing the Russia-Turkey deal. It was by not means the only objective.
In January following the abandonment of the South Stream, the Turkish pipeline was announced as the “sole route”.
What next?
Following the downing of Russia’s SU-24 plane and the collapse of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Ankara,  that “sole route”  is no longer there, leading not only to a potential crisis in the supply of natural gas to the European Union, but also a major blow to Russia’s national economy, which depends heavily on the energy sector.
From the point of view of Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon: “War is good for business”.

U.S. Drone Terrorism

Exclusive: Air Force Whistleblowers Risk Prosecution to Warn Drone War Kills Civilians, Fuels Terror

NOVEMBER 20, 2015
STORY
WATCH FULL SHOW


GUESTS

JESSELYN RADACK
head of Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts. She is former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice. She is an attorney representing several former drone operators.
BRANDON BRYANT
a former sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program.
MICHAEL HAAS
a former sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program and combat instructor for drone operations.

Has the U.S. drone war "fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS"? That’s the conclusion of four former Air Force servicemembers who are speaking out together for the first time. They’ve issued a letter to President Obama warning the U.S. drone program is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism. They accuse the administration of lying about the effectiveness of the drone program, saying it is good at killing people—just not the right ones. The four drone war veterans risk prosecution by an administration that has been unprecedented in its targeting of government whistleblowers. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, they join us in their first extended broadcast interview.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Since the Paris attacks one week ago, France has escalated bombings of Syria, and the U.S. has vowed an intensification of its war on the Islamic State. With only a small number of U.S. special forces on the ground, Iraq and Syria have become new fronts in a global drone war that has launched thousands of strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
But now an unprecedented group is calling for the drone war to stop. In an open letter to President Obama, four U.S. Air Force servicemembers who took part in the drone campaign say targeted killings and remote control bombings fuel the very terrorism the government says it’s trying to destroy. The four whistleblowers write, quote, "We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."
They continue, saying, quote, "We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program. We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home."
AMY GOODMAN: On top of the toll on civilian victims, the letter also addresses the personal impact of waging remote war. All four say they have suffered PTSD and feel abandoned by the military they served, with some now homeless or barely getting by. The letter brings together the largest group of whistleblowers in the drone war’s history. Three of the signatories operated the visual sensors that guide U.S. Predator drone missiles to their targets. Two are speaking out for the first time; three in a TV broadcast, they’ve never done it before. The other two have previously raised their concerns about the drone program, including in the documentary, Drone. The film, premiering in New York City and Toronto today, reveals how a regular U.S. Air Force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike program in Pakistan.
BRANDON BRYANT: We are the ultimate voyeurs, the ultimate peeping Toms. I’m watching this person, and this person has no clue what’s going on. No one’s going to catch us. And we’re getting orders to take these people’s lives.
MICHAEL HAAS: You never know who you’re killing, because you never actually see a face. You just have a silhouette. They don’t have to take a shot. They don’t have to bear that burden. I’m the one that has to bear that burden.
P.W. SINGER: There’s always been a connection between the world of war and the world of entertainment. The military has invested in creating video games that they’re using as recruiting tools.
UNIDENTIFIED: War is an unbelievably profitable business.
CHRIS WALLACE: The drones have been terrifically effective. They’ve taken out a lot of the al-Qaeda leadership. It’s cheap. It doesn’t involve putting troops on the ground.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe the United States of America must remain a standard-bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight.
UNIDENTIFIED: United States is violating one of the most fundamental rights of all: the right to life.
UNIDENTIFIED: There’s a large number of innocent civilians who are being killed, and that has to be reported.
CHRIS WOODS: The majority of the secret drone strikes that have taken place have, we have always understood, been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency.
BRANDON BRYANT: There is a lie hidden within that truth.
AMY GOODMAN: The trailer for the documentary Drone, premiering today in New York City and Toronto. In speaking out together, the four former servicemembers risk prosecution under the Espionage Act by an administration that’s waged an unprecedented campaign against government whistleblowers. They also set their sights on a cornerstone of President Obama’s national security policy just as it threatens to escalate in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. After being elected to office on a platform of Iraq War opposition and a vow to bring the troops home, President Obama has quietly expanded the drone war far beyond its size and lethality under President George W. Bush.
Today, in this Democracy Now! exclusive, these four war whistleblowers join us in their first extended broadcast interview. We’re joined by Brandon Bryant and Michael Haas, who have spoken out to a certain extent before, both former sensor operators for the U.S. Air Force Predator program. Stephen Lewis, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, is also a former sensor operator for the Air Force Predator program and this week is speaking out for the first time. Also going public for the first time is Cian Westmoreland, a former Air Force technician who helped build a station in Afghanistan used to relay drone data.
But first, I want to turn to Jesselyn Radack, national security and human rights director at the Government Accountability Project, former ethics adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice. As an attorney, she is representing several former drone operators, including this group of four young men who are speaking out today.
Jesselyn Radack, how much do they risk in speaking out on Democracy Now! today?
JESSELYN RADACK: They’re taking an enormous and very brave public risk in speaking out. I have clients in the national security and intelligence communities who have done nothing more than tell the truth about some of America’s darkest secrets, like torture and secret surveillance—and now, in this case, drones—and those clients, a number of them, have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act—and Edward Snowden, of course, another one, is living in exile—not because they’ve done anything wrong or even revealed classified information, which they’re not here to do today, but because they have embarrassed the U.S. government. All of these men—a number of them, half of them, have complained internally, to no avail. They have gone through internal channels.
And we’re hoping that today, by going public, that this will have more of an influence in the debate, because somehow there’s a complete disconnect between these terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere and the fact that the drone program has fueled ISIS and al-Qaeda and a number of terrorist groups, and that really needs to be addressed.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’d like to ask Brandon Bryant—we’ve had you on Democracy Now! a couple of years ago, and these guys here worked with you, as well. Could you talk about the decision to come out as a group, how you came to that and why at this particular point?
BRANDON BRYANT: Well, you know, when I first started talking out about my experiences, it was more to get a bunch of stuff off my chest and to actually try to come clean with what I have done and reveal what exactly is going on. And I’m actually really honored to be with these gentlemen right here, is that I trust them. And this is their decision to come out, and I’m here to support them, because I’ve already been doing this for three years, and it’s time that we just get a bigger coalition of people together to attack this issue.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you sign this letter? And what are you calling on President Obama to do?
BRANDON BRYANT: We want the president to have more transparency in this issue, and we want the American people to understand exactly what’s being done in their name. And I think that all this fear and hatred that keeps going on is just out of control, and we need to stop it somewhere.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Michael Haas, I wanted to ask you, in terms of your experience in the drone program and the culture that the military basically allowed to flourish in the drone program, you’ve talked about how your fellow servicemembers talked about the children that they were targeting, as well.
MICHAEL HAAS: Yes, the term "fun-sized terrorists" was used to just sort of denote children that we’d see on screen.
AMY GOODMAN: What was it?
MICHAEL HAAS: "Fun-sized terrorists."
AMY GOODMAN: "Fun-sized terrorists"?
MICHAEL HAAS: Yes. Other terms we’d use would be "cutting the grass before it grows too long," just doing whatever you can to try to make it easier to kill whatever’s on screen. And the culture is—that mentality is very much nurtured within the drone community, because these—every Hellfire shot is sort of lauded and applauded, and we don’t really examine who exactly was killed, but just that it was an effective shot and the missile hit its target.
AMY GOODMAN: When did you start to have questions?
MICHAEL HAAS: Shortly after I became an instructor and I started to see how much the mentality had shifted since I had been in. And the 11th hadn’t really changed how they had trained their sensor operators from a basic-level standpoint.
AMY GOODMAN: The 11th is?
MICHAEL HAAS: The basic training squadron up at Creech. They train all the sensor operators.
AMY GOODMAN: This is at Creech in Nevada.
MICHAEL HAAS: Yes.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you were a video game addict as you were growing up. Can you talk about this whole impact of sort of the video game approach to war?
MICHAEL HAAS: The thing that makes the gamers a prime target for this job field is that ability to just multitask and do a lot of things subconsciously and just sort of out of reflex. And you don’t really even have to think about it, which is, you know, paramount to doing this job. But a lot of it is getting used to just seeing something on screen, killing it and then going about your business as though you don’t really—you don’t really pay it a second thought. It was just an objective to be completed.

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/11/20/exclusive_air_force_whistleblowers_risk_prosecution

Drone Pilots have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds for Exposing US Murder

For having the courage to come forward and expose the drone program for the indiscriminate murder that it is, 4 vets are under attack from the government they once served.
The U.S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack.
. My went public this wk & now their + are . Advice?
Permalink voor ingesloten afbeelding

“My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,” Radack lamented on her Twitter feed (the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense – but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State.
Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.
“We are former Air Force service members,” the letter begins. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”
Elsewhere the former drone operators have described how their colleagues dismissed children as “fun-sized terrorists” and compared killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long.” Children who live in countries targeted by the drone program are in a state of constant terror, according to Westmoreland: “There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what’s going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.”
By reliable estimates, ninety percent of those killed in drone strikes are entirely harmless people, making the program a singularly effective method of producing anti-American terrorism. “We kill four and create ten,” Bryant said during a November 19 press conference, referring to potential terrorists. “If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.”
Haas explained that the institutional culture of the drone program emphasized and encouraged the dehumanization of the targeted populations. “There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,” he recalled. “Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.”
Unable to repress his conscience or choke down his moral disgust, Haas took refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, which he says is predictably commonplace among drone operators. At least a half-dozen members of his unit were using bath salts and could be found “impaired” while on duty, Haas testifies.
Among the burdens Bryant now bears is the knowledge that he participated in the mission that killed a fellow U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Identified as a radical cleric and accused of offering material support for al-Qaeda, al-Awlaki was executed by a drone strike in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate drone strike a few weeks later while sitting down to dinner at the home of a family friend. Asked about the killing of a native-born U.S. citizen – who, at age 16, was legally still a child – former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to justify that act by blaming it on the irresponsibility of the innocent child’s father.
As Bryant points out, as a matter of law the elder al-Awlaki was innocent, as well.
“We were told that al-Awlaki deserved to die, he deserved to be killed as a traitor, but article 3 of section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that even a traitor deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers,” Bryant notes, lamenting that his role in the “targeted killing” of a U.S. citizen without a trial was a violation of his constitutional oath.
Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has produced evidence suggesting that the White House-approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s son may have been carried out as retaliation against the family for refusing to cooperate in the search for the cleric. There are indications that the government has tried to intimidate the whistleblowers by intimidating their families.
In October, while Brandon Bryant was preparing to testify about the drone program before a German parliamentary committee, his mother LanAnn received a visit in her Missoula, Montana home from two representatives of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. The men claimed that her personal information was in the hands of the Islamic State, which had placed her name on a “hit list.” She was also told not to share that disclosure with anyone – a directive she promptly ignored by informing Ms. Radack, who represents Brandon and the other whistleblowers.
According to Radack, a very similar episode occurred last March in which the stepparent of another whistleblower received a nearly identical visit from agents of the Air Force OSI. “This is the US government wasting taxpayer dollars trying to silence, intimidate and shut up people. It’s a very amateurish way to shut up a whistleblower … by intimidating and scaring their parents. This would be laughable if it weren’t so frightening.”
Given the role played by the U.S. government in fomenting, equipping, and abetting the growth of ISIS, such warnings have to be perceived as credible, albeit, indirect death threats.

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/drone-pilots-bank-accounts-credit-cards-frozen-feds-exposing-murder/#iocK1H5Z0vU9PStw.99