Saturday, March 31, 2012

Minion Of The Empire

By Muhammad Sahimi, 
March 26, 2012 
Courtesy Of "Anti-War"

On Dec. 1, 2009, Yukiya Amano began his tenure as the director general (DG) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after a bitter election in which he narrowly defeated the South African diplomat Abdul Minty. On Feb. 18, 2010, Amano issued his first report on Iran’s nuclear program. Analyzing the report in a piecepublished by this website on March 13, 2010, I wrote,
The tone of the latest [IAEA] report, as well as its speculations and unfounded allegations, are in sharp contrast with those in the past issued under the former IAEA DG Mohamed ElBaradei. … Yukiya Amano has set aside ElBaradei’s cautious approach and measured tone and uses blunt language. But, while the blunt language is not a problem, the fact is that, as the latest report indicates, the IAEA is being transformed [by Amano] from an objective international organization to a politicized one to be used by the United States and its allies to advance their agenda regarding Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Two years later the assertion has turned out to be completely correct. Amano has demonstrated that he is nothing but a minion of the United States whose reports on Iran have contributed significantly to hysteria about Iran and its nuclear program, which has remained completely peaceful. Most importantly, Amano is no longer viewed as a puppet of the West by only antiwar activists such as this author, but also by a broad spectrum of experts. I shall come back to this point shortly.
Here’s an example of Amano’s baseless allegations against Iran (see my original article and my analysis of the IAEA latest report on Iran for many more examples). In article 46 of its February 2010 report, the IAEA made a most outrageous statement:
While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.
He repeated the same allegation in his November 2011 report:
Although now declared and currently under safeguards, a number of facilities dedicated to uranium enrichment … were covertly built by Iran and only declared once the Agency was made aware of their existence by sources other than Iran. This, taken together with the past efforts by Iran to conceal activities involving nuclear material, creates more concern about the possible existence of undeclared nuclear facilities and material in Iran.
This is pure innuendo and insinuation. The Natanz enrichment facility was declared to the IAEA when it was supposed to be — in February 2003, 180 days prior to the introduction of nuclear materials into it. Whether the timing of Iran’s declaration of the Fordow enrichment facility on Sept. 21, 2009, was in accordance with its obligations is a matter of dispute. I discussed this in a previous article and argued that Iran did not violate its safeguard obligations. A ridiculous assertion that is always made is that Iran informed the IAEA about the Fordow facility, only after it learned that the U.S. knew about it, but it is never stated how Iran became aware of this. In addition, both the Fordow and Natanz facilities were incomplete at the time of their declaration and therefore could not have been used for producing enriched uranium in secret. There is no evidence of any other uranium-enrichment facility anywhere in Iran. Regardless, Amano alleges that there are undeclared nuclear materials in Iran.
But months before my article the evidence that Amano is nothing but a political dwarf in the service of the United States was in a document that was publicized later by WikiLeaks. In a July 9, 2009, cable the U.S. chargĂ© d’affaires, Geoffrey Pyatt, stated, “Amano attributed his election to support from the U.S., Australia, and France, and cited U.S. intervention with Argentina as particularly decisive,” and  his primary goal was “implementing safeguards and UNSC [United Nations Security Council]/[IAEA] Board resolutions” to impose economic sanctions against Iran, as dictated by the United States. The United States had also complained to Amano about some IAEA experts under ElBaradei who “have not always been helpful to U.S. positions.” Once in office, Amano removed those “unhelpful” experts from key positions. He eliminatedthe Agency’s office of external relations and policy coordination that, under ElBaradei, had questioned some of the judgments made by the safeguards department inspectors.
Pyatt also reported that Amano had consulted with Israeli ambassador Israel Michaeli “immediately after his appointment,” that Michaeli “was fully confident of the priority Amano accords verification issues,” that Michaeli discounted some of Amano’s public remarks about there being “no evidence of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapons capability” as mere words that Amano had to say “to persuade those who did not support him about his ‘impartiality,’” and that Amano wanted to have “consultations” with the head of the Atomic Energy Commission of Israel, a nation that has at least 200 nuclear warheads and has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but has been threatening Iran with military attacks for years.
In another cable on Oct. 16, 2009, the U.S. mission to the IAEA reported that Amano “took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded ambassador [Glyn Davies] on several occasions that … he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. More candidly, Amano noted the importance of maintaining a certain ‘constructive ambiguity’ about his plans, at least until he took over for DG ElBaradei in December [2009],” so that he could fool the world that he would be an independent and objective DG.
In view of such irrefutable documents, it becomes clear why Amano makes baseless allegations about undeclared nuclear materials in Iran. If such materials did exist, they would represent a gross violation of Iran’s safeguards obligations. Thus, Amano alleges their existence to provide ammunition to the West in its confrontation with Iran, even though he has no evidence to support his outrageous claim. Such allegations have become a pattern in Amano’s reports on Iran.
The latest episode took place after a team of IAEA inspectors led by Olli Heinonen’s replacement, Herman Nackaerts, visited Iran twice to see Parchin, southeast of Tehran, where Iran has been producing conventional ammunition for its military for decades. Parchin has never been, nor been declared, a nuclear site, and therefore Iran is under no obligation to allow the IAEA to inspect it. The Agency can demand a visit only in the framework of the Additional Protocol of the Safeguards Agreement. Iran stopped carrying out the provisions of the protocol after doing so voluntarily from October 2003 to January 2006 because the European Union reneged on its promises. Iran did allow two IAEA visits to Parchin, one in January and a second in November 2005, each time allowing the IAEA inspectors to visit five sites within the facilities of their own choosing. According to the Iranian press, during the second visit, Heinonen, who was then deputy director general for safeguards, asked to make surprise visits to two more sites within Parchin, which Iran allowed. The inspectors did not find anything, and the Iranian press reported that Heinonen said at that time that “Parchin’s case has become history,” meaning that there was no case to pursue anymore.
Amano has revived the old allegations without presenting any new evidence — not that there was any to begin with — making it a major issue in his November 2011 report. During the Jan. 29-31 visit, Iran and the IAEA agreed that inspectors can visit Parchin later on during the negotiation process. But during the second visit of Feb. 20-21, the inspectors demanded again to visit Parchin, in violation of the agreement. Iran asked them to extend their visit for one more day to finalize the agreement so that the visit could take place, but on Amano’s order they refused and left Iran. The mainstream media then claimed that Iran “was refusing to cooperate with the IAEA,” which is a complete fabrication.
First, even if Iran does not allow any visit to Parchin at all, it is still acting within its rights (see above). Second, the IAEA’s demand to visit Parchin during its second trip to Tehran violated a previous agreement with Iran that the visit would come later in the process. Third, in fact, Iran offered to allow the IAEA inspectors to visit another site in Marivan in western Iran, about which the IAEA report had expressed concerns, but on Amano’s instructions the inspectors turned down the offer.
As Gareth Porter, as well as the media within Iran, reported, the allegation about Iran’s intransigence prompted Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, to go public with these facts, suggesting strongly that Amano had reversed the earlier agreement with Iran after consulting with the United States. In fact, the only reason Iran and IAEA did not finalize the agreement in January was the IAEA’s insistence on reserving the right to reopen the issue even after the visit and the resolution of the issue, as it had done after the visits in 2005. Soltanieh’s revelations blunted the attempt to issue the resolution by the Board and were so convincing that even P5+1 did not fault Iran for the non-visit to Parchin.
Why did Amano reverse the agreement? Because, once again, he wanted to serve the U.S. government, helping it to make a case for a resolution by the IAEA’s Board of Governors to condemn Iran’s imaginary intransigence, so that the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UNSC plus Germany — can increase diplomatic pressure on Iran before a new round of negotiations that is to take place soon between the two sides in Turkey.
But the episode did not stop there. Suddenly, it was alleged, based on some satellite images, that Iran was trying to “clean up” a site in Parchin, as if it had something to hide. Built in a 60-square-kilometer area, Parchin is a sprawling complex with over 1,000 large buildings, next to a major highway. There is no scientific way of discerning the type of activity seen in a satellite image. In addition, the allegation was first made by Associated Press correspondent George Jahn, quoting the usual suspects — two unnamed diplomats from one unidentified country, most likely Israel. Jahnhas a history of making allegations based on “information” fed to him by anonymous sources — Israeli and Western intelligence agencies. The allegations and the reason for making them lack any credibility.
In response to Jahn’s report, Amano said that there was “evidence of activity” at Parchin. What kind of activity? He did not specify, but he suggested at a briefing for the Board of Governors that the alleged activity made a visit to Parchin a “matter of urgency.” He did not, however, provide any evidence for the allegation, nor did he explain why he broke the agreement with Iran, if a visit to Parchin is so “urgent.”
So once again the U.S. government is using international organizations to advance its imperial ambitions. It is helped by Yukiya Amano, who has demonstrated that he is willing to be a minion of the empire, and by the mainstream media, which accepts Amano’s allegations about Iran’s nuclear program without examining them critically and thereby contributes significantly to the hysteria over Iran’s nuclear program. Only a sustained public campaign of informing the people and pressuring the mainstream media to report the truth, rather than propaganda, can reverse this trend, and there are already signs that the tide is turning.
For years The New York Times’ David Sanger and William Broad have routinely referred to Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapon program, but they took a particularly hawkish position on the issue after the IAEA latest report on Iran’s nuclear program in November, describing the report, which was simply a rehashing of the unfounded old allegations, as full of “chilling” details. Another Times reporter, Steven Erlanger,brazenly lied when he claimed that “recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency” has concluded that “Iran’s nuclear program has a military objective.” The work of Sanger, Broad, and Erlanger, hyping and propagating Amano’s politicized reports and unfounded allegations, got so bad that ombudsman Arthur S. Brisbanehad to intervene, expressing the view that the paper’s coverage of Iran’s nuclear program had been unbalanced. This apparently forced the Times to have reporters other than the trio to write on Iran’s nuclear program.
And Amano’s have not gone unnoticed. The Guardian reported that several experts and former senior officials have accused him of “pro-Western bias, over-reliance on unverified intelligence, and sidelining skeptics.” Among them were Robert Kelly, a former U.S. weapons scientist who ran the IAEA action team on Iraq in 2002-2003, who accused Amano of “falling into the [Dick] Cheney trap,” meaning “relying on a very small group of people [whose] opinions are not being checked.” Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a non-proliferation organization, was quoted as saying, “The main beneficiaries of the Amano reign have been U.S. policy [toward Iran]. … On Iran, the difference is like night and day. ElBaradei constantly sought a diplomatic solution, while Amano wields a big stick and has hit Iran hard and repeatedly.” MIT’s Jim Walsh, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program, was quoted saying, “I think if the Agency is going to be a neutral player in this — and we [do] need a neutral player to make the sort of judgments that have to be made — it will have to be more conservative than the national governments on this,” referring to that fact that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate has concluded that Iran ended its nuclear program in 2003 (if, in fact, it had one), whereas Amano is still pretending that the program is ongoing.
Yukiya Amano is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. If his antics continue, the IAEA will be a prime culprit in starting a war with Iran.

DHS Turns Over Occupy Wall Street Documents To TruthOut

Department of Homeland Security
(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: Wesley Fryer, Allie_Caulfield)

By Jason Leopold 
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 19:18 
Courtesy Of "Truth Out"

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) closely monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement, providing agency officials with threat assessments, regular updates about protests taking place throughout the country, responding to internal requests for intelligence on the group and mining Twitter and other social media for information about Occupy's activities, according to hundreds of pages of internal documents DHS released to Truthout in response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Eric Neuschaefer, a DHS FOIA program specialist, said the agency expects to release a second set of OWS-related documents to Truthout, the first news organization to file a FOIA request with DHS for OWS records, sometime in mid-April. He added that DHS will release files on a "rolling" basis once they are processed and cleared by DHS component offices.

While the nearly 400 pages of documents DHS released to Truthout Wednesday do not contain any smoking-guns showing that DHS worked with local law enforcement and local government officials "in any wholesale manner," as noted by one DHS official, on the coordinated crackdown of Occupy encampments throughout the country last October, the materials provide deep insight into the agency's interest in OWS and also highlight fears by some officials that DHS's actions in certain cases may have been unconstitutional.

For example, documents show that senior DHS officials in the agency's Intelligence, Security, and Information Sharing (ISIS) Section prepared a threat assessment on Occupy Pittsburgh last October, about a week prior to an October 15 protest in the city. But at least two agency officials believed the intelligence bulletin agency officials prepared on Occupy Pittsburgh blurred the lines of monitoring protesters constitutionally protected speech.

"There is attached to this email a threat bulletin being disseminated by the Office of Emergency Management in Pittsburgh in which it discusses the threat posed by the Occupy Pittsburgh campaign and the hackers' group: Anonymous," states an October 7 email written by a DHS official whose name was redacted. "Both myself and [redacted]...are somewhat concerned that several items contained in this Intel Bulletin might be advocating surveillance and other countermeasures to be employed against activities protected under the 1st Amendment. Would either one or both of you be able to see what could be developed from this document that [redacted] could take back to the Intel staff that produced this so that in the future they have a greater awareness of how to develop intelligence assessments that don't undermine Constitutionally protected speech and assembly rights?"

DHS's early monitoring of OWS also included the preparation and distribution of an intelligence report on the movement. The report was cited in an email distributed internally by the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), an intelligence sharing partnership between the FBI, DHS and the private sector. That report advised DHS officials to pay close attention to any threats associated with the growth of the Occupy movement. But the document, referred to as an intelligence "product," was apparently unauthorized and quickly scrubbed from the agency's internal intelligence sharing database because of concerns that it rose to the level of unconstitutional surveillance, according to internal emails.

"How Would We Describe Our Activities?"

The documents also show how DHS spokespeople struggled over how to respond to media inquries about whether the agency played a hands-on role in suppressing the Occupy movement a month or so after it was launched. Indeed, when queried by reporters in mid-November about the agency's role, DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler sent an email to DHS official Robert Davis inquiring about the agency's "relationship with cities dealing with 'occupy protestors.'"

"[H]ow would we describe our activities?" Chandler asked.

Davis told Chandler DHS is "treating all 'Occupy' demonstrations as peaceful."

"We are working with [General Services Administration, the agency that approves permits for protests on federal property] and each city government to ensure that all parties concerned are safe and secure," Davis said in an email reply to Chandler. DHS has held "standard coordination calls and face-to-face meetings with our partners to ensure that the proper resources are available for operations such as street closures, etc."

Chandler was then advised to provide reporters with certain information on background only, meaning that it could be used but not attributed to DHS.

In response to one such query from the Huffington Post, Chandler told reporter Sean McCormack, on background, November 18 that Federal Protective Services (FPS) "has only been involved in one instance in removing protestors, in Portland, OR."

"FPS was assisting Portland Police Bureau at the federally-owned Terry Schrunk Plaza where FPS arrested several people," Chandler wrote after receiving guidance on the preparation of an official statement from senior DHS officials.

FPS is part of DHS. It is a "federal law enforcement agency [that] provides integrated security and law enforcement services to federally owned and leased buildings, facilities, properties and other assets," DHS's website says.

In a November 16 email to nearly a dozen DHS officials, Kris Cline, deputy director for operations of FPS, was asked to elaborate on the incident in Portland. He replied by stating, "[On] November 1, 2011 at approximately  4:30 a.m. FPS and Portland Police Bureau officers moved into Terry Shrunk [sic] Park in downtown Portland to evict a number of 'Occupy Portland' protesters who had set up tents in the federal park."

"Approximately 12 tents had been set up and about 20 protesters were present," Cline wrote to DHS officials after the agency received an inquiry from CBS News about its role in the crackdowns and dismantling of encampments. "FPS personnel ordered the protesters to depart since overnight camping is not allowed in the park and about half of the people present complied and departed. 10 protesters refused to leave and were arrested for failure to comply with the lawful order of a Federal police officer." [emphasis in document.]

FPS "inspectors" were also "on site at an October 30 Occupy demonstration at Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, Missouri, according to a "Spot Report" email written that day by a DHS official stationed at the agency's Battle Creek MegaCenter in Michigan. Additionally, an October 5 "Spot Report" email FPS spokesman Rob Winchester forwarded to DHS spokesman Chris Ortman from the Philadelphia MegaCenter noted that a protest was taking place in New York City at Foley Square and states that besides the New York Police Department (NYPD), [redacted] "are also present," indicating the possibility of federal law enforcement on the scene.

Chandler added in his email to the Huffington Post that DHS "is not actively coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and/or city governments concerning the evictions of Occupy encampments writ large."

McCormack used DHS's statement, minus the background points, and attributed to Chandler in a report he published last November refuting a news story by an journalist, who claimed to have received information from unnamed sources within the federal government confirming DHS played a role in the Occupy crackdown.

Truthout cited DHS's statement to the Huffington Post in a report we published last November and noted the agency's response was "carefully worded."

DHS disseminated identical statements and background information to numerous other journalists who sought comment from the agency about whether it played a role in the dismantling of Occupy encampments, the documents show.

One DHS official told Chandler to emphasize one of the background bullet points pertaining to the Portland incident, in which FPS arrested protesters, and "make it clear how rare the federal involvement is."

Yet Andrew Lluberes, DHS's director of communications for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), added, according to another internal email, that the agency could not say whether fusion centers or other DHS divisions coordinated with local law enforcement and/or local government officials on a coordinated crackdown of Occupy encampments and protests.

On its website, I&A says its mission is supported by "four strategic goals":

However, with regard to OWS, I&A "scrupulously avoided any connection with the Occupy movement/protests/dismantlings," Lluberes wrote in a November 16 email. "We cannot speak for any individual fusion center or other departmental component, but we issued no product to our customers and held no conf calls with our field [intelligence offices] on the subject."

Fusion centers are located throughout the country and "serve as primary focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners," according to a fact sheet on DHS's website.

Secret Service Reports

There are also several documents identified as "Prism Demonstrations Abstract" from the US Secret Service's Intelligence Division describing OWS activities last September 17, when the group staged its first protest, and in November following a protest that took place in New York City during an appearance at Goldman Sachs headquarters by former President George W. Bush.
"On 11/02/2011, one hundred (100) individuals associated with 'Occupy Wall Street' 
demonstrated at a [Former President of the United States] George W. Bush site in New York City," states the November 3 Secret Service report. "The demonstrators were peaceful and protested corporate interests in US government. It should be noted demonstrators spread word of Bush's presence at the site via Twitter. There was some media attention to the protest and use of Twitter by demonstrators."

Another Secret Service report, which described Occupy's first week of activities, noted, "this record was subject of FOIA request."

In addition to OWS documents, Truthout also sought internal DHS documents related to "US Day of Rage," a movement that preceded OWS. US Day of Rage coordinated a day of protests on Wall Street last September against the use of corporate money in US elections. DHS turned over documents that show the agency monitored US Day of Rage's activities prior to last September's protest.

First Official Release of OWS Documents

This is the first official release of government documents related to OWS since the launch of the movement last year. In our FOIA request filed with DHS last October, we requested:

"All records, including emails, memoranda, letters, audio/video, transcripts, reports, including Threat Assessments, related to the protest movement known as "Occupy Wall  Street.'"

A DHS FOIA officer asked Truthout if we could narrow "the scope of [our FOIA] request to include responsive records from senior DHS officials only" due to numerous requests for OWS documents the agency received, which had "overwhelmed" DHS staff.

Narrowing the scope of our request, the DHS officer said, would speed up the response time. We agreed. However, Truthout has since filed a separate FOIA request for all OWS-related documents from DHS field offices as well as a separate FOIA request for DHS's "processing notes" to determine how the agency's FOIA analysts handled our records request.

In a letter to Truthout, James Holzer, the director of DHS's Disclosure and FOIA Operations, said "a search for documents responsive to your [FOIA] request produced a total of 408 pages."

"I have determined that 58 pages of the records are releasable in their entirety, 340 pages are partially releasable, and 10 pages are withheld in full" under certain FOIA exemptions, Holzer wrote.

Those exemptions include (read the letter DHS sent to Truthout for a full description of exemptions cited):

Exemption 7 – Protects records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes the release of which could reasonably be expected:

7(C) – to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a third party/parties (in some instances by revealing an investigative interest in them).

7(E) – would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.

Example of information the Department of Homeland Security may withhold using 7(E): Law enforcement manuals, records pertaining to Watch Lists.

In preparing these documents for release, DHS worked with, among other divisions, its Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), according to that component's 2012 FOIA logs, which identifies requests for OWS documents this reporter filed. CRCL, whose officials prepared guidelines on how internal requests for information on Occupy should be handled, according to the documents Truthout received, cited two exemptions to justify the withholding of certain information in response to our FOIA request.

Exemption 5 – Protects the integrity of the deliberative or policy-making processes within the agency by exempting from mandatory disclosure opinion, conclusions, and recommendations included within inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters.
Example of information the Department of Homeland Security may withhold using 5: Draft documents and recommendations or other documents that reflect the personal opinion of the author rather than official agency position.

Exemption 6 – Protects information that would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the individuals involved.

Example of information the Department of Homeland Security may withhold using 6: Social Security Numbers, home addresses and telephone numbers, certain identifying information regarding Department employees.

FBI Denies Truthout's Appeal for OWS Documents

Meanwhile, the FBI maintains it still cannot locate any OWS records responsive to a FOIA request Truthout filed with the agency last October, despite the fact that DHS documents released to Truthout show some intelligence sharing between the two agencies.

As Truthout previously reported, the FBI responded to our FOIA request two weeks after we filed it by stating the agency was "unable to identify main file records responsive to the FOIA."
We immediately appealed the decision to the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy (OIP) and requested the FBI conduct a broader search for documents given that a report published last October by Gawkein other that Jordan T. Lloyd, a member of the FBI's cybersecurity team in New York, received dozens of emails about Occupy Wall Street and that Loyd responded to at least one of the messages.

On February 7, Justice Department attorney Sean R. O'Neill, denied our appeal and affirmed the FBI's position that the agency could not locate responsive records on OWS.

"After carefully considering your appeal, I am affirming the FBI's action on your request," O'Neill wrote in a letter to Truthout. "I have determined tha tthe FBI's action was correct and that it conducted an adequate, reasonable search for responsive records."

Truthout has since filed a separate FOIA request with the FBI for processing notes to determine how the agency handled our FOIA request for OWS documents. Furthermore, we also requested a copy of the administrative file from OIP related to the denial of our appeal.

OWS Records Also Sought From NYPD

Finally, on January 29, Truthout filed, under New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), a wide-ranging request for OWS documents, including video, audio, photographs, emails and threat assessments, with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and its Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The most violent crackdowns on OWS have taken place in New York City.

In a February 13 letter sent to Truthout, Lt. Richard Mantellino, a records access officer in NYPD's legal bureau, said, "Before a determination can be rendered, further review is necessary to assess the potential applicability of exemptions set forth in FOIL, and whether the records can be located."