Mar 072020
 

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/lawyers-september-11-victims-saudi-targeting-witnesses

Legal team also reveals that murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ‘potential witness’ in lawsuit

By MEE staff in Washington
Published date: 5 March 2020 20:39 UTC | Last update: 2 days 1 hour ago

A legal team representing survivors and families of victims of the 9/11 attacks has accused Saudi authorities of trying to silence several witnesses.

An almost two-decades-old lawsuit brought to court by thousands of victims and their families accuses Saudi officials of having ties to the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. About 3,000 people were killed.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing the families said that four of their witnesses in the case had been threatened or intimidated by alleged Saudi agents.

On those grounds, the plaintiffs’ legal team requested that the identities of the witnesses in the drawn-out legal battle be protected and kept secret.

Lawyers representing the Saudi government denied the allegations of witness tampering, saying the claims were “based on hearsay within hearsay”.

The defense also accused the plaintiffs’ lawyers of trying to gain a “tactical advantage” in legal deposition interviews with witnesses set to be organised later this month.

Jamal Khashoggi: ‘A potential witness’
The lawyers of the 9/11 victims invoked the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials in Turkey as evidence of the kingdom’s potential threat against their witnesses.

The 9/11 lawsuit looming over Saudi Arabia’s ambitions

Andrew Maloney, one of several attorneys representing the plaintiffs, also for the first time revealed that Khashoggi, an ardent critic of the Saudi government, had been “a potential witness” before he was murdered.

“He had valuable information,” Maloney told the judge on Wednesday.

Maloney, during the emergency hearing that took place at a federal court in lower Manhattan, did not provide further details regarding what that information might have been.

US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said she was “troubled by the allegations” and asked for a submission from the plaintiffs’ lawyers detailing the claims to be turned in by 18 March.

“I take these allegations incredibly seriously,” Netburn said.

‘Absolutely false’
In court papers, Maloney described some of the allegations made by the four witnesses who said they feared they were being targeted by Saudi officials.

One witness said his family had been approached and “directly threatened by Saudi government officials” within the past year, Maloney wrote. He said the witness was given to understand that he or his relatives “would be murdered” if he spoke out.

Another potential witness said that relatives in Saudi Arabia “feared for their lives”, Maloney said. A third reported being stalked, and another was reportedly thinking of buying a bulletproof vest.

He added that law enforcement authorities had been notified of the alleged threats.

“We categorically deny these allegations,” said Michael Kellogg, a DC-based lawyer representing Saudi Arabia.

Kellogg accused the plaintiff’s legal team of trying to “pick and choose which witnesses will testify”.

“We should be allowed to know who these witnesses are,” Kellogg told Judge Netburn. “We think these allegations are absolutely false.”

Following Kellogg’s statements, the plaintiffs’ lawyer accused the defense of wanting to know the identities of the witnesses so that Saudi officials could be notified and “dissuade them from testifying”.

“[No] Saudi Arabian government official, employee, agent, or anyone acting on Saudi Arabia’s behalf has attempted to threaten any potential witness or any witness’s family members in this proceeding,” a Saudi government minister said in court papers.

Saudi diplomat linked to 9/11
The US government has never released documentation indicating that the Saudi government was involved in 9/11.

US judge allows 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia to proceed

Still, last year during a meeting at the White House with victims’ families on the anniversary of the attacks, US President Donald Trump promised the visitors that he would order the attorney general to release the name of a Saudi diplomat who had apparently been linked to 9/11 in an FBI report years earlier.

The next day those hopes were dashed, as Attorney General William Barr said the release of such records would not be possible.

Their disclosure risked “significant harm to the national security,” Barr said at the time.

The Saudi government has long denied involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

In March 2018, a US judge in New York rejected Saudi Arabia’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Feb 022020
 

New Zealand’s Hidden Role at the Biggest US Bombing Base in the Middle East


January 28th, 2020
By Darius Shahtahmasebi

Last month the coalition government declared the end of New Zealand Defence Force deployments in Iraq. The announcement was silent, however, about the future of another deployment of New Zealand personnel, to a U.S. military base in the Middle East that has attracted controversy thanks to its role at the center of a large proportion of U.S. bombing missions in the region.

The base is called the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) and it is located at the Al-Udeid airbase in the small Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Bombing missions that have been controlled from the base – where aircraft take off and land every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day – are implicated in large numbers of civilian casualties.

A recent issue of Air Force News revealed that a senior air force officer, Group Captain Shaun Sexton, served a six-month posting at the Qatar base; placing New Zealanders at the heart of the main targeting and bombing center in that region. The presence of New Zealand staff at the base has been kept largely quiet by the New Zealand military before now.

Last month, the New Zealand government delivered its decision to withdraw NZDF personnel from Iraq by next year. But what of Qatar? A spokesperson for NZDF told the Spinoff that “NZDF personnel based in the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) operate under a separate mandate to the NZDF personnel in Iraq. This mandate has been approved until 2020.” Whether they intend to maintain the postings to the Qatar base after 2020 remains unclear.

Read rest of article here

Jan 082020
 

Keith Locke: NZ’s response to Soleimani assassination is shamefully timid

New Zealand’s response to the Soleimani assassination is shamefully timid

Opinion – How can New Zealand claim to have an independent foreign policy when it won’t even criticise America’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian leader? The furthest foreign minister Winston

Peters went was to express “strong concern” at the “heightening tensions in Iraq and the region”.

Peters’ statement could also be read as a justification for the drone killing when he acknowledged “strong US concerns about Iran” and said “the US took action on the basis of information they had”.

In fact, the assassination took place against a background of falsehoods, reminding us of the lies previously peddled to justify the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. President Donald Trump even blamed Soleimani for “terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London” while Vice President Mike Pence fancifully claimed Soleimani “assisted in the clandestine travel” of those involved in the 11 September, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

All we have from the United States are vague assertions that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US interests. More credible is the assertion of the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that Soleimani was in Bagdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government – for negotiations. His visit was apparently not a secret and he was at Baghdad airport in the presence of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a pro-government Iraqi militia leader, who was also assassinated.

Considering New Zealand has soldiers in Iraq, you would think Peters might have shown some interest in what his counterparts in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry thought about the assassination. They said it was “a flagrant breach of Iraq’s sovereignty and of all international laws and norms that regulate relations between countries and prohibit the use of their lands to carry out attacks on neighbouring countries”.

The Iraqi Parliament followed this up with a resolution calling for an end to “the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil”, a resolution targeted particularly at the US military presence.

If he respects Iraqi sovereignty, our foreign minister should set in motion the quick withdrawal of New Zealand soldiers from Iraq. Or will he be supporting Donald Trump, who says that if US troops are forced out he’ll slap sanctions on Iraq, which will “make the Iranian sanctions somewhat tame”?

Add to that Trump’s repeated threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites, which is a clear war crime. How can New Zealand withhold criticism of such madness?

Read full article here

Jan 062020
 

By Prince Kapone
Global Research, January 05, 2020

In 2000, the Project for a New American Century published a report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century,” which was extended and adopted as official national security policy in 2005. Drawing on the themes of the first Bush administration and Brzezinski, the report recommends that U.S. military forces become “strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.”[16] As noted above, there was nothing new in this goal of American hegemony per se, but what was new was the emphasis placed on “transforming” the political landscape of the Middle East. Due to the rise of Islamic terrorism and the stubborn existence of “rogue states,” the “stability” of the Middle East, North Africa, and their oil reserves were deemed to be essential objectives of U.S. national security and foreign policy.

Using the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a pretext for this grand imperial project, the Bush administration outlined a list of seven “rogue states” targeted for regime change in order to secure de facto U.S. control over global oil supplies. Those seven countries were Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.[17] Of course, Iraq was invaded, occupied and democratized by the U.S. in 2003. The threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon has been satisfactorily neutralized as a result of Israel’s 2006 invasion, the Jamahariya government of Libya was utterly destroyed by NATO and Al Qaeda in 2011, the Assad regime of Syria is on the verge of collapse today as it is under attack from NATO and its Islamic mercenary forces, while there are ongoing covert military operations being conducted against Somalia and the Sudan. Only Iran remains intact as a nation-state out of the seven countries targeted by the U.S. for regime change.

Read full article here

Nov 052019
 

Tulsi Gabbard: U.S. Government ‘Is Hiding The Truth’ About 9/11 Terror Attacks
By Ryan Saavedra

November 04, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said during a Fox News interview on Thursday night that the United States government is “hiding the truth” about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Gabbard, a Representative from Hawaii, told Tucker Carlson that she believes that the U.S. government is covering up Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks which killed thousands of Americans.

“This story that we’re hearing from the families of those who were killed on 9/11 pushes this issue to the forefront where, for so long, leaders in our government have said, ‘well, Saudi Arabia is our great ally, they’re a partner in counterterrorism’ — turning a blind eye or completely walking away from the reality that Saudi Arabia time and again, has proven to be the opposite,” Gabbard said.

“They’re undermining our national security interests … they are the number one exporter of this Wahhabi extremist ideology,” Gabbard continued. “They’re a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists, like al Qaeda and ISIS around the world. They’re directly providing arms and assistance to al Qaeda, in places like Yemen, and in Syria.”

“And as we are seeing here, it is our government, our own government that is hiding the truth … and the many other families of those who were killed on 9/11,” Gabbard concluded. “For what? Where do the loyalties really lie?”

Gabbard concluded her remarks by saying that people should “follow the money trail. It goes back to the military-industrial complex.

Read article here

Jun 062019
 

t’s been 16 years since the start of the Iraq War, and New Zealand still has troops in Iraq.

It’s far past time to end New Zealand’s military occupation in Iraq. Deployment is scheduled to end on June 30, but we’re not confident that it will. NZ has extended deployment twice already, and is currently talking about extending it again. Enough is enough.

Send an email to your elected officials to urge NZ to get troops out now!

Simply put, the invasion of Iraq has been catastrophic. Iraq lost 1.4 million lives, 5% of its population. On top of that, the war injured 4.2 million people and created 4.5 million refugees. The U.S. military and its allies have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including water supplies, hospitals, and power plants. Birth defects, cancer, and infant mortality rates have skyrocketed.

New Zealand has a responsibility to maintain its independent non-aligned status and be a leader for peace. NZ must not prop up U.S. war-making, and that starts by withdrawing troops from Iraq. Click here to send a message to your elected officials to demand an end to NZ’s military role in Iraq!
For a world beyond war,

Greta Zarro
Organizing Director
World BEYOND War
greta@worldbeyondwar.org

Jun 042019
 

FBI evidence supports prior knowledge or complicity

By Philip Giraldi

June 03, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – The tale of 9/11 will just not go away, largely because it is clear to anyone who reads the lengthy 9/11 Commission Report that many issues that should have been subject to inquiry were ignored for what would appear to be political reasons. The George W. Bush Administration quite obviously did not want to assume any blame for what had happened and that bias also extended to providing cover for U.S. “allies,” most particularly Saudi Arabia and Israel. Those who have sought the truth about 9/11 have been persistent in their attempts to find out information that was suppressed but they have been blocked repeatedly in spite of numerous FOIA requests.

Now, eighteen years after the event, there has been something like a breakthrough, penetrating the wall of silence erected by the government. FBI reports on the possible Israeli role in 9/11 were released on May 7th and they serve to support speculation by myself and other former intelligence officers that Israel, at a minimum, had detailed prior knowledge of what was to take place. More than that, Israeli intelligence officers working in the United States might well have enabled certain aspects of the conspiracy.

To recount some of what is already known and suspected, one should first examine the 2016 release of a heavily edited and redacted 28 pages long annex to the 9/11 Commission Report that explored the Saudi Arabian role in the terrorist attack . The section concluded that the Saudi government may have played a direct role in 9/11 by assisting two of the hijackers, including a dry run exercise intended to learn how to get into a plane’s cockpit. There was also considerable evidence suggesting that wealthy Saudis and even members of the Royal Family had been supporting and funding al-Qaeda.

But far exceeding the Saudi role is the involvement of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, which was not subject to any serious inquiry or investigation by U.S. intelligence or police agencies. Israel, in spite of obvious involvement in 9/11, was not included in the 9/11 Commission Report despite the existence of an enormous Israeli intelligence operation freely working in the United States that was known to the FBI. Some of those Mossad officers were notably filmed celebrating as the Twin Towers were burning and collapsing.

Read full article here

Nov 162018
 

The Cost Of Post 9/11 Wars Hit $5.9 Trillion
By Claudia Grisales

November 15, 2018 “Information Clearing House” – WASHINGTON — The price for America’s longest wars has surpassed more than $5.9 trillion and at least 480,000 lost lives, according to a new study released by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

The figures highlight the toll of U.S. war operations around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the study projects the numbers could rise.

“It’s important for the American people to understand the true costs of war, both the moral and monetary costs,” said Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, who helped introduce the report Wednesday at a meeting on Capitol Hill. “Our nation continues to finance wars and military operations through borrowing, rather than asking people to contribute to the national defense directly, and the result is a serious fiscal drag that we’re not really accounting for or factoring into deliberations about fiscal policy or military policy.”

The study’s death estimates include nearly 7,000 U.S. service members, nearly 8,000 U.S. contractors, more than 100,0000 military and police members from other countries, more than 244,000 civilians and more than 100,000 opposition fighters.

The $5.9 trillion U.S. cost includes Pentagon spending through fiscal year 2019, such as direct and indirect spending as well as future war-related costs for post-9/11 war veterans. It represents U.S. spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other locations designated as “overseas contingency operations.”

It also includes war-related spending by other agencies, such as the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, costs of veterans care as well as debt used to pay for the wars.

“Veterans benefits and disability spending, and the cost of interest on borrowing to pay for the wars, will comprise an increasingly large share of the costs,” said Neta Crawford, a political science professor at the institute, who authored the study.

The institute’s “Costs of War” project, with 35 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners and physicians, began tracking the costs of the post-9/11 wars in 2011 and continues to release updated reports. The group, which does its work through Brown University, said it uses research and public data to facilitate greater transparency of the actual toll of the wars.

Even if the wars were to end by 2023, the United States is on track to spend an additional $808 billion, bringing the overall tally to at least $6.7 trillion, according to the study. That doesn’t include future interest payments on the spending.

War appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan are funded by deficit spending and borrowing, and not new taxes or war bonds, the study notes. This adds to interest costs, it concludes.

Those interest payments could shift with the winds of the economy and other factors, with some pundits estimating those fees alone could total trillions.

“The U.S. continues to fund the wars by borrowing, so this is a conservative estimate of the consequences of funding the war as if on a credit card, in which we are only paying interest even as we continue to spend,” Crawford said.

Tracking an overall cost for the post-9/11 wars is challenging because different departments take part in the spending.

In March 2018, the Defense Department estimated it had spent $1.5 trillion in war-related appropriations, but that only includes a portion of all war spending, the study argued.

With no single number for the budgetary costs of the wars, it makes assessing costs, risks and benefits difficult, Crawford said. Because taxpayers tend to focus on direct military spending, it discounts the larger budgetary costs of the wars and underestimates its greater significance, she added.

“In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” Crawford said. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

The study also tallied the number of soldiers and sailors injured in the wars. Since 2001, more than 53,700 U.S. servicemembers have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those injuries, 62 percent were hurt in Iraq, while 38 percent were injured in Afghanistan.

Though the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has been less intense than in recent years, the toll of civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2018 is on track to be one of the highest death tolls of the war, Crawford said in her study.

Most of these war deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have been caused by militants, but some of them are at the hands of the United States and its coalition partners, Crawford said.

Yet, the tally remains incomplete, and there are efforts by the United Nations to track and identify perpetrators of those deaths and injuries, she noted. Other organizations, such as the Congressional Research Service and the news media, are also attempting to track these figures.

“Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars,” she said.

In addition, this tally does not include “indirect deaths” — people harmed as a result of long-term damage left in the war zones, such as lost access to food and water.

“This update just scratches the surface of the human consequences of 17 years of war,” Crawford said. “There are a number of areas — the number of civilians killed and injured, and the number of U.S. military and veteran suicides, for instance — where greater transparency would lead to greater accountability and could lead to better policy.”

grisales.claudia@stripes.com – Twitter: @cgrisales

BY THE NUMBERS
A Brown University study has found the human and financial costs of the post-9/11 wars continue to rise. These are some statistics highlighted in the report:

The U.S. government is conducting counterterrorism activities in 76 countries
More than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting
More than 480,000 have died due to direct war violence, and several times as many indirectly
The wars have created 10.1 million refugees and displaced persons
The U.S. cost for the post-9/11 wars is more than $5.9 trillion