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Kerry Group
17 марта 2016, 20:12

Will This Ireland ETF Bring Luck on St. Patrick's Day?

With St. Patricks Day celebrations and the centennial of the Easter Rising ahead the Ireland ETF is expected to be in focus.

08 января 2016, 22:06

Warm Up to These Europe ETFs This Winter

A strong finish to 2015 and improvement in the recent manufacturing PMI put these Europe ETFs in focus.

21 марта 2014, 22:54

Самые успешные стартапы: топ-40!

Стартапы уже давно стали одним из основных движителей современной экономики. По количеству успешных компаний, раскрученных с нуля, можно судить об уровне развития бизнес-пространства стран. И хотя очевидно, что большая часть стартапов, оцененных в $1 млрд, имеет американскую прописку, некоторые успешные компании работают в Европе и КНР. Предлагаем вашему вниманию список. Это не совсем рейтинг: все 40 стартапов можно считать победителями по умолчанию.  40. Evernote, $1 млрд Cервис и набор программного обеспечения для создания и хранения заметок Evernote стоит как минимум $1 млрд. Он попал в элитный клуб самых дорогих стартапов в мае 2012 г., когда смог привлечь $70 млн в рамках раунда D-финансирования. С тех пор компания привлекла $240 млн. Интересен список инвесторов: Allen & Co., China Broadband Capital Partners, DoCoMo Capital, Harbor Pacific Capital, m8 Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, m8 Capital, Morgenthaler Ventures, Sequoia Capital, T. Rowe Price и Valiant Capital Partners.   39. Eventbrite, $1 млрд Сервис по продаже билетов и организации маркетинговых кампаний для распродаж билетов в социальных сетях, Eventbrite вошел в список всего месяц назад. Компании недавно удалось привлечь финансирование в объеме $60 млрд. После этого весь стартап, который, разумеется, пока не торгует акциями на бирже, эксперты оценили в $1 млрд. Общий объем финансирования Eventbrite на данный момент составляет $197 млн. Отметим, что компания была основана достаточно давно - в 2006 г., однако на тот момент не смогла быстро раскрутиться, ведь социальные сети нового поколения находились в зачаточном состоянии. Facebook, например, только начинала глобальную экспансию.   38. Nutanix, $1 млрд Первый представитель облачных систем для бизнеса в нашем списке. Nutanix предоставляет компаниям облачные хранилища данных. Компании удалось привлечь внушительный объем финансирования, который на данный момент составляет $1 млрд. Но на фоне жесткой конкуренции в данной нише эксперты оценивают общую стоимость стартапа в те же $1 млрд.   37. Dianping.com, $2 млрд Первый китайский стартап, добравшийся до рейтинга "миллиардера". Портал, на котором публикуются рецензии на рестораны, оценивают в $1,8 или даже в $2 млрд. За время своего существования он сумел привлечь $164 млн. По сообщениям инсайдеров, в прошлом году Dianping.com отклонил предложение о поглощении со стороны Google China. Кроме того, известно, что телекоммуникационная компания из Поднебесной, Tencent, ранее в этом году вложила в Dianping.com крупную сумму денег - те самые $1,8 млрд либо $2 млрд.   36. Beats Electronics, $1 млрд Рэппер Dr. Dre и продюсер Джимми Йовин создали один из наиболее успешных музыкальных стартапов, который постепенно осваивает новые ниши и превращается в полноценную крупную компанию. Beats начали с производства наушников, доказав всему миру, что "басяка качает", а затем организовали собственный музыкальный интернет-сервис, на котором можно слушать любую музыку, но лучше, конечно, это делать именно в наушниках Beats. Beats Electronics привлекла финансирование на $560 млн и стоит около $1 млрд.   35. Xunlei Network Technologies, $1 млрд Китайский пиринговый сервис Xunlei Network Technologies, который получает поддержку от интернет-гиганта Google, превратился в один из крупнейших в мире файлообменников нового поколения. Компания была основана в 2003 г., когда весь мир постепенно переходил на Soulseek, Bear Share и прочие пиринговые сети первого поколения. Но китайцы решили пойти эволюционным путем, что позволило выжить в условиях появления новых типов пиринговых платформ, таких как торрент-трекеры. Xunlei поддерживает огромное количество протоколов и работает в том числе и с торрентами. Стартапу удалось привлечь $111 млн, и сегодня компания оценивается в $1 млрд. Среди инвесторов Ceyuan Ventures, Fidelity Growth Partners Asia, Google, IDG Capital Partners, Morningside Group, Primavera Capital Group и RW Investments.   34. Good Technology, $1 млрд Американская компания Good Technology специализируется на системах безопасности для мобильных устройств. Ее основные клиенты - компании, которые хотят обеспечить защиту внутренних потоков данных. Стартап уже приступил к поглощениям более мелких игроков и недавно приобрел BoxTone, расширив список своих возможностей в области мобильных вычислений. В апреле компания получила финансирование в объеме $50 млн. А в общей сложности она получила от инвесторов $396 млн - это с 1996 г. Теперь Good Technology стоит порядка $1 млрд.   33. Coupons.com, $1 млрд Скидочный сервис Coupons.com недавно подал заявку на IPO. Компания помогает магазинам привлечь покупателей, распространяя скидочные купоны. Несмотря на то что подобных Coupons.com порталов в мире не один десяток, стартап привлек внимание инвесторов. В 2013 г. он получил $115 млн, что и подтолкнуло основателей успешного бизнеса к проведению первичного размещения.   32. Pure Storage, $1 млрд Pure Storage предлагает необычный продукт для хранения данных, ориентированный на бизнес. Речь идет о своеобразных твердотельных накопителях для корпоративного использования, основанных на флеш-памяти. Ускорение работы компьютерных систем позволяет компаниям уменьшать издержки, поэтому продукция Pure Storage продается очень успешно. С момента своего основания в 2009 г. стартап привлек $245 млн. Среди инвесторов Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Samsung Venture Investment и Sutter Hill Ventures.   31. CloudFlare, $1 млрд CloudFlare - система, позволяющая ускорить работу сайтов и защитить их от внешних угроз. Этот стартап пришелся по вкусу не только компаниям, но даже властям некоторых стран, среди которых Турция. В декабре 2012 г. CloudFare привлек финансирование в объеме $50 млн. Общая сумма финансирования составляет $72 млн. Среди инвесторов Greenspring Associates, New Enterprise Associates, Pelion Venture Partners, Union Square Ventures и Venrock.   30. Tango, $1,1 млрд Бесплатный мессенджер Tango работает в непростых условиях. Его конкуренты, например WhatsApp и Viber, гораздо более популярны и уже продались более крупным игрокам за миллиарды (в случае WhatsApp - десятки миллиардов) долларов. Тем не менее Tango получил финансирование от китайского интернет-гиганта Alibaba в размере $250 млн. На таком фоне инвесторы верят в светлое будущее стартапа. Эксперты оценивают его стоимость в $1,1 млрд. С 2009 г. Tango получил от инвесторов $367 млн.   29. LaShou Group, $1,1 млрд Китайский сервис LaShou Group процветает не в последнюю очередь потому, что он китайский. Это еще один портал, предоставляющий клиентам скидки, но модель его работы, в рамках которой скидки предоставляются на ограниченное время, то есть действуют постоянно сменяющиеся "предложения дня", полностью скопирована с американского Groupon. Закрытость китайского рынка обеспечила LaShou Group финансирование в размере $166 млн и оценку общей стоимости в $1,1 млрд.   28. Gilt Groupe, $1 млрд Gilt Groupe - американский онлайн-магазин. Торговой площадкой для самых разных товаров пользуются 6 млн человек. Для того чтобы что-то купить, обязательно нужно зарегистрироваться. Кроме того, количество брендов и время действия предложений ограничено. В 2011 г. стартап получил дополнительное финансирование в размере $138 млн. Эксперты оценивают стоимость Gilt Groupe в $1,1 млрд. Инсайдеры утверждают, что в этом году компания может провести IPO.   27. Fab, $1,2 млрд Fab - еще более успешная площадка интернет-торговли. С 175 тыс. участников в 2011 г. ее аудитория увеличилась до 10 млн, а количество посетителей в месяц достигает 6 млн. Компании удалось продать 7 млн товаров, работает она уже в трех странах и на двух языках - английском и немецком. Стартап привлек $335 млн от инвесторов. Среди них Andreessen Horowitz, Atomico, Baroda Ventures, Docomo Capital, First Round Capital, German Startups Group Berlin, ITOCHU, Mayfield Fund, Menlo Ventures, Phenomen Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, RTP Ventures, ru-Net Ventures, SingTel Innov8, SoftTech VC, Tencent Holdings, "ВТБ Капитал", Washington Post, Zelkova Ventures, A-Grade Investments и SV Angel.   26. MongoDB, $1,2 млрд MongoDB предоставляет своим клиентам возможности для создания баз данных типа NoSQL. Услугами стартапа пользуются такие крупные корпоративные игроки, как интернет-магазин eBay, страховщик MetLife и газета The New York Times. Технология MongoDB позволяет им упорядочивать огромные потоки данных. В прошлом году MongoDB привлекла финансирование в размере $150 млн, после чего была оценена в $1,2 млрд. В общей сложности стартап получил от инвесторов $231 млн и, вполне возможно, скоро проведет IPO.   25. Sogou, $1,2 млрд Sogou - поисковик, о котором почти ничего неизвестно за пределами Китая, но который в Поднебесной чрезвычайно популярен. Сайт помогает найти информацию любого типа, а самое главное, способен идентифицировать страницы, на которых содержится потенциальная угроза и не будет отображать их. Такие "чистые" результаты настолько нравятся китайским пользователям, что они уже нашли с помощью Sogou 10 млрд страниц. В результате стоимость Sogou сегодня оценивается в $1,2 млрд.   24. Deem, $1,4 млрд Программное обеспечение, разрабатываемое Deem, позволяет компаниям оценить затраты на командировки и другие дополнительные издержки. Услугами Deem пользуются, в частности, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs и Siemens. Стоимость стартапа оценивается в $1,4 млрд, и ему удалось привлечь внушительный объем финансирования: $424 млн. Среди инвесторов American Express, Charter Venture Capital, Citigroup, Empire Capital Partners, Foundation Capital, Jafco America Ventures, JPMorgan & Chase, Micro Cap Partners и Oak Investment Partners.   23. Mobileye, $1,5 млрд Mobileye сотрудничает с ведущими автопроизводителями мира. Технологии, разработанные стартапом, помогают BMW, General Motors и другим крупным игрокам сектора создавать системы безопасности, отслеживающие и предотвращающие аварии. Компания основана в 1998 г. и сегодня оценивается в $1,5 млрд. Объем финансирования деятельности Mobileye составляет $487 млн. Среди инвесторов такие акулы финансового рынка, как BlackRock и Goldman Sachs.   22. Fanatics, $1,5 млрд Стартап, получивший своеобразное название Fanatics, был основан еще в 1995 г. По разным оценкам, он стоит от $1,5 млрд до $3 млрд, однако подтвержденной авторитетными источниками информации насчет второй цифры нет. Fanatics поставляет лицензированную спортивную экипировку и другие вещи для фанатов. Аналитики положительно оценивают перспективы в данной нише, поэтому в этом году стоит ожидать роста бизнеса Fanatics. Интересно, что среди инвесторов, вложивших деньги в компанию, есть и китайская Alibaba Group.   21. Stripe, $1,8 млрд Stripe - платежная система, бросившая вызов знаменитой PayPal. Удобство использования виртуальных терминалов, разработанных Stripe, по мнению многих экспертов, ставит доминирующее положение PayPal на рынке под угрозу. В прошлом месяце стартап привлек $80 млн, а общий объем финансирования за четыре года составляет $120 млн. На таком фоне аналитики оценили стоимость бизнеса в $1,8, что позволило ему стать одним из самых молодых участников нашего списка.   20. Snapchat, $2 млрд Студенты Стэнфорда Эван Шпигель и Роберт Мерфи создали необычный мессенджер, в котором сообщения, подобно приведениям, появляются и исчезают бесследно. Можно рассылать видео, звуковые файлы и, конечно, тексты определенному списку пользователей и выставлять таймер. Это заставляет людей пристально следить за обновлением сообщений, которые могут в любой момент исчезнуть. Отличной рекламой для стартапа стали новости о том, что Google предлагала купить его за $4 млрд, а Facebook - за $3 млрд. Создатели Snapchat тогда отклонили предложения гигантов и решили сохранить независимость. Возможно, это верное решение, так как сервис с каждым днем привлекает все больше пользователей.   19. Trendy Group, $2 млрд Французские производители одежды завоевывают Китай. Гигант LVMH влил $200 млн в стартап Trendy Group, который производит недорогие вещи для жителей Поднебесной. Узнав об этой инвестиции, эксперты оценили бизнес Trendy Group в $2 млрд. Отметим, что сам Trendy Group был основан китайцем, но крупная доля французов заставляет поверить, что они могут влиять на стратегию компании. Стартап был основан в 1999 г. Китайский рынок одежды непрерывно развивается, так что Trendy Group и LVMH оказались в удачном месте в удачное время.   18. Box, $2 млрд Box - это еще один поставщик облачных услуг, в первую очередь для корпоративных клиентов. Система позволяет хранить данные в облаке и быстро делиться ими. Интересна бизнес-модель Box. Для персональных аккаунтов доступно бесплатное дисковое пространство в размере 50 гигабайт, но стартап подталкивает клиентов к покупке дополнительного места для хранения данных. Более того, даже для получения 50 гигабайт приходится скачивать специальное приложение, разработанное для iOS. В декабре Box привлекла финансирование в размере $100 млн, после чего была оценена в $2 млрд. Инсайдеры сообщают, что стартап подал заявку на проведение IPO, но не хочет это афишировать.   17. Wayfair, более $2 млрд Онлайн-магазин товаров для дома, который специализируется на мебели и предметах декора, недавно получил финансирование в размере $157 млн, после чего стартап оценили в $2 млрд. Общий объем финансирования деятельности компании из Бостона, основанной в 2002 г., на данный момент составляет $358 млн. Среди инвесторов Battery Ventures, Great Hill Partners, HarbourVest Partners и Spark Capital.   16. Woodman Labs, разработчик камер GoPro, $2,3 млрд Один из самых известных стартапов в нашем списке. Далеко не все знают, что компания была основана еще в 2002 г. Поначалу бизнес рос медленно, но в последние годы рынок оценил устройства, разрабатываемые калифорнийской компанией, которые отлично подходят для съемки высококачественного видео в экстремальных условиях. В прошлом году выручка GoPro достигла $1 млрд, и теперь стартап планирует провести IPO в июне или мае. Среди инвесторов Foxconn, Riverwood Capital, Sageview Capital, Steamboat Ventures, USVP Management и Walden International.   15. Airbnb, $2,5 млрд Airbnb - сервис, помогающий путешественникам и владельцам домов, желающих сдать их в аренду, найти друг друга. В 2012 г. компания получила финансирование в объеме $200 млн и довела общий объем инвестиций в свой бизнес до $526 млн. В топ-40 Airbnb попала еще в 2011 г., когда сумела привлечь $112 млн. С тех пор ее позиции только укрепились. Инсайдеры утверждают, что после нового раунда финансирования оценочная стоимость стартапа вырастет до $10 млрд.   14. Bloom Energy, $2,9 млрд Стартап Bloom Energy производит твердооксидные топливные элементы, наборы которых получили название Bloom Box. Эти решения в своих энергетических системах используют такие гиганты, как Wal-Mart, Federal Express и Coca-Cola. Каждый Bloom Box стоит $750 тыс., и даже по такой цене клиенты готовы покупать инновационную продукцию Bloom Energy. Но всего за 10 лет разработчики обещают снизить стоимость "Цветущих коробок" до $3 тыс.   13. Legendary Entertainment, $3 млрд Legendary Entertainment - продакшн-компания, которая вместе с Warner Brothers работала над новой серией фильмов о Бэтмене. Стартап одним из первых рискнул объединить усилия с хедж-фондами для совместного финансирования фильмопроизводства. Контракт Legendary Entertainment с Warner Brothers был выполнен, и теперь компания собирается поработать с Universal Studios. Стартап был основан в 2005 г.   12. VANCL, $3 млрд Еще один игрок китайского рынка одежды: онлайн-магазин VANCL был создан в 2005 г., и уже в 2011 г. его оценили в $3 млрд. Изначально площадка специализировалась на продаже недорогой одежды, но в последнее время заключает партнерские соглашения с люксовыми брендами. Общий объем финансирования ее деятельности достиг $472 млн. Среди инвесторов Ceyuan Ventures, CITIC Private Equity Funds Management, F&H Fund Management, IDG Capital Partners, Kerry Group, Qiming Venture Partners, SAIF Partners, Temasek Holdings и Tiger Management.   11. Square, $3.3 млрд Необычный стартап Square производит одновременно и программное обеспечение, и платежные терминалы для корпоративных клиентов. Один из самых знаменитых партнеров компании - сеть кофеен Starbucks, которая, по мнению экспертов, может обогнать на бирже McDonald's. В 2012 г. Square получил от инвесторов $200 млн. Общий объем привлеченных средств составляет $345 млн. Инвесторы: Citi Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Rizvi Traverse Management, Sequoia Capital, Starbucks, и Tiger Global Management.   10. Jawbone, $3,3 млрд Jawbone производит наушники и беспроводные динамики, которые можно подключать к мобильным устройствам. Они пользуются популярностью как у меломанов (из-за хорошего качества звука), так и у людей, занимающихся спортом (потому что удобны в использовании и не мешают). Интересно, что изначально Jawbone работал с военными, создавая технологии шумоподавления. Но наработки стартапа пригодились и на широком рынке потребительской электроники. Стоимость бизнеса в результате оценена в $3,3 млрд.   9. Uber, $3,8 млрд Система поиска такси Uber действует в нескольких десятках городов США. Она способна устанавливать цены на рынке в зависимости от спроса и предложения. В августе стартап получил финансирование в объеме $258 млн, что позволило довести общую сумму привлеченных инвестиций до $405 млн. Эксперты оценивают стоимость Uber в $3,8 млрд. И это неудивительно, если учитывать, что в удачные недели компания способна получать выручку в $20 млн. Среди инвесторов Benchmark Capital, Bezos Expeditions, First Round Capital, Founder Collective, Goldman Sachs, Google Ventures, Jumpstart Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures и TPG Growth.   8. Pinterest, $3,8 млрд Pinterest - портал, позволяющий пользователям общаться, размещая изображения в различных тематических коллекциях и "пришпиливая" их на "доски" для обсуждения. Компания попала в список стартапов-миллиардеров в мае 2012 г., когда получила от консорциума инвесторов с Rakuten во главе $100 млн. А после еще одного раунда, принесшего $225 млн и завершившегося в октябре 2013 г., оценочная стоимость Pinterest выросла более чем вдвое с $1,5 млрд до $3,8 млрд.   7. Spotify, $4 млрд Европейский участник нашего элитного клуба. Шведский стриминговый музыкальный сервис Spotify привлек 24 млн пользователей "за спасибо" и еще 6 млн за $10 в месяц. Неудивительно, что компания с такими внушительными показателями привлекла в общей сложности уже $521 млн от инвесторов, среди которых и Coca-Cola, и хорошо известная нам Digital Sky Technologies. По итогам последнего раунда финансирования на $250 млн, завершившегося в прошлом ноябре, компанию оценили в $4 млрд.   6. SpaceX, $4,8 млрд Ну куда же мы без Элона Маска - одного из самых известных и самых спорных "стартаперов". Фирма SpaceX, цель которой - покорение космоса уже не за счет государства а в сугубо коммерческих целях, сегодня стоит порядка $4,8 млрд. При этом инвесторы влили в бизнес Элона Маска лишь $115 млн. Но он все равно обещает избавить Америку от необходимости пользоваться российскими ракетами и ракетными двигателями. Более того, это одно из самых скромных обещаний. Многие верят, ведь еще один проект Маска, Tesla, уже приносит реальную прибыль.   5. Zalando, $4,9 млрд Еще один европейский игрок, на этот раз из Германии. Онлайн-ритейлер Zalando продает одежду и другие "стильные" товары в 14 странах Европы. Изначально компания продавала только обувь, а теперь распространяет даже фирменные журналы, в которых клиенты могут найти информацию о новой продукции и скидках. Общая сумма инвестиций в Zalando составляет лишь $49 млн, а вот ее оценочная стоимость в 100 раз больше!   4. Jingdong, $7,3 млрд И снова в Китай: Jingdong, ранее известный под брендом 360Buy, является одним из крупнейших онлайн-магазинов Поднебесной по стоимости товарооборота. Jingdong называют "китайским Amazon", и он пользуется популярностью не только у покупателей, но и у инвесторов. Общий объем финансирования достиг $2,2 млрд, что позволило оценить компанию в $7,3 млрд. Основан Jingdong был в Пекине в 2004 г.   3. Palantir, $9 млрд "Палантир" - устройство, с помощью которого в книге "Властелин колец" Толкиена главный злодей Саурон следил за своими ставленниками и раздавал приказы. А еще это отличное название для стартапа, который позволяет спецслужбам США подглядывать за населением. С помощью технологий Palantir ФБР и ЦРУ фильтруют потоки информации. Бизнес успешно развивается: стартап привлек уже $594 млн, а его оценочная стоимость достигла $9 млрд еще в сентябре 2013 г.   2. Dropbox, $10 млрд Сверхпопулярное облачное хранилище данных Dropbox привлекло уже более 200 млн активных пользователей. Следующая цель - корпоративные клиенты. Создатели стартапа когда-то решили бросить вызов традиционной электронной почте, которая не позволяла пересылать большие файлы. Они создали сервис, который позволяет хранить контент и моментально пересылать его любому человеку вне зависимости от ограничений, которые накладывает почтовый клиент. Одна из инноваций Dropbox: пользователь может создать специальную папку прямо на рабочем столе и кидать туда файлы, которые хочет отправить в интернет. Примеру Dropbox последовали многие облачные сервисы, но именно он остается самым популярным. 200 млн человек активно используют эту систему. Общая сумма привлеченных Dropbox инвестиций составляет $507 млн.   1. Xiaomi $10 млрд Китайский производитель гаджетов Xiaomi покорил родной рынок, установив рекордно низкие цены на свои устройства не в ущерб качеству. В прошлом году компания продала 18,7 млн одних только смартфонов, а ведь в ее обойме широкий спектр потребительской электроники и даже приложений фирменного производства. В прошлом один из топ-менеджеров, руководивших разработкой Android, Хьюго Барра, перешел в Xiaomi и теперь помогает китайскому игроку отвоевывать у конкурентов мировой рынок гаджетов. Объем привлеченных Xiaomi инвестиций составляет $507 млн на фоне оценочной стоимости компании в $10 млрд.  

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21 марта 2014, 14:59

Is More Good News Ahead for Recent Winner Kerry Group (KRYAY)? - Tale of the Tape

The stock of Kerry Group has seen its Zacks Rank surge over the past four weeks, moving from Sell territory to its current position as a Buy.

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17 сентября 2013, 21:48

Netanyahu to visit White House on Sept. 30

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama will meet at the White House on Sept. 30 to discuss the status of Israeli-Palestinian talks, the White House said Tuesday. Netanyahu's visit will come during a trip to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly, which begins next week. The two last met in March, during Obama's first trip to Israel since taking office. On the same day as their meeting, Vice President Joe Biden will address J Street, a group that describes itself as pro-Israel but that critics say is less than supportive of the Jewish state. (PHOTOS: Obama's Israel trip) Secretary of State John Kerry was briefly in Israel over the weekend and met with Netanyahu on Syria.

13 сентября 2013, 05:58

10 Reasons Why A Diplomatic Solution To The Syria Crisis Is Extremely Unlikely

war is comingMichael Snyder Activist Post Over the past few days, there has been a tremendous wave of optimism that it may be possible for war with Syria to be averted.  Unfortunately, it appears that a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria is extremely unlikely.  Assad is certainly willing to give up his chemical weapons, but he wants the U.S. to accept a bunch of concessions that it will never agree to.  And it certainly sounds like the Obama administration has already decided that “diplomacy” is going to fail, and they continue to position military assets for the upcoming conflict with Syria. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are all going to continue to heavily pressure the Obama administration.  They have invested a huge amount of time and resources into the conflict in Syria, and they desperately want the U.S. military to intervene. Fortunately, overwhelming domestic and global opposition to an attack on Syria has slowed down the march toward war for the moment, but unfortunately that probably will not be enough to stop it completely.  The following are ten reasons why war is almost certainly coming… #1 Assad wants a guarantee that he will not be attacked by the United States or by anyone else before he will give up his chemical weapons. That is extremely unlikely to happen. #2 Assad is not going to agree to any chemical weapons deal unless the U.S. stops giving weapons to al-Qaeda terrorists and other jihadist rebels that are fighting against the Syrian government. That is extremely unlikely to happen. In fact, according to the Washington Post, the U.S. has been ramping up the delivery of weapons to jihadist rebels in Syria… The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  #3 Assad is suggesting that the Israelis should give up their weapons of mass destruction. That is extremely unlikely to happen. #4 The Syrian “rebels” desperately want the U.S. military to intervene in the war in Syria.  In fact, that was the entire reason for the false flag chemical weapon attack in the first place. The “top rebel commander” is now declaring that the Free Syrian Army “categorically rejects the Russian initiative”, and he is calling on the United States to strike the Assad regime immediately. #5 Saudi Arabia desperately wants the U.S. military to intervene in Syria.  The Saudis have spent billions of dollars to support the rebels in Syria, and they have been lobbying very hard for an attack. #6 Qatar desperately wants the U.S. military to intervene in Syria.  Qatar has also spent billions of dollars to support the rebels in Syria, and it has been reported that “Arab countries” have even offered to pay for all of the costs of a U.S. military operation that would remove Assad. #7 Turkey has wanted a war which would remove Assad for a very long time.  And CNN is reporting that Turkey has moved troops to the border with Syria in anticipation of an upcoming attack. #8 Many members of the U.S. Congress want this war.  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are virtually foaming at the mouth, and Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he “almost wanted to vomit” after reading Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plea for peace in the New York Times. #9 Obama does not want to look weak, and he seems absolutely obsessed with starting a war with Syria.  For the moment, he has been backed into a corner diplomatically by Russia, but the Obama administration is already laying the groundwork for making it look like “diplomacy has failed”.  According to CNN, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is already talking about the “consequences” that will happen when the Syria deal falls apart… Any agreement reached must be “comprehensive,” “verifiable,” “credible” and “able to be implemented in a timely fashion,” Kerry said, adding that “there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.”#10 There have been reports that U.S. soldiers are now receiving orders to deploy to Syria.  For example, the following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson… Venture capitalist Dan Bubalo claims he was told by a source close to Ft. Hood that US troops have been ordered to deploy to Syria. Writing for conservative columnist Mychal Massie’s website, Bubalo cites a “close and verifiable source” who told him that a friend at Ft. Hood had received news that he was to be sent to Egypt for the next nine months. “This particular soldier said that while he was not really thrilled about the assignment to Egypt, it was better than the soldiers that remained at the military base BECAUSE THEY HAD JUST RECEIVED THEIR DEPLOYMENT ORDERS TO GO TO SYRIA,” writes Bubalo.If you want to read the original report, you can find it right here. For the moment, Obama and Kerry will dance around and make it look like they are considering peace.  They will try to get Congress to authorize a strike “if diplomacy fails”. But they already know that diplomacy is going to fail.  Once they are ready, Obama will declare that the conditions for war set forth in the congressional authorization have been fulfilled and then he will start raining cruise missiles down on Syria. When that happens, will Obama have your support?  The video posted below is one of the funniest that I have seen in a long time…  And when Obama does strike Syria, he will officially be allying the United States with al-Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups. Middle Eastern expert Jonathan Spyer has spent a lot of time on the ground among the Syrian rebels recently.  The following is what he has to say about who they are… “Undoubtedly outside of Syria, and in the Syrian opposition structures, there are civilian political activists and leaders who are opposed to al-Qaida and opposed to Islamism,” Spyer explained to TheDC in an email interview. “There are also civilian activists and structures within the country which are opposed to al-Qaida and Islamism. But when one looks at the armed rebel groups, one finds an obvious vast majority there who are adherents of Islamism of one kind or another — stretching from Muslim Brotherhood-type formations all the way across to groups openly aligned with al-Qaida central and with al-Zawahiri.” “The ‘moderate’ force which we are told about supposedly consists of those rebel brigades aligned with the Supreme Military Command, of Major-General Salim Edriss,” he continued. ”Most of the units aligned with the SMC actually come from a 20-unit strong bloc called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. This includes some powerful brigades, such as Liwa al-Islam in the Damascus area, Liwa al Farouq and Liwa al Tawhid. These and the overwhelming majority of the units aligned with the SMC are Islamist formations, who adhere to a Muslim Brotherhood-type outlook.”And as NBC News recently pointed out, a high percentage of these “rebels” have come in from outside Syria… Abu Abdul Rahman, a 22-year-old from Tunisia, sat in a safe house earlier this week in Antakya — a southern Turkey town that’s fast becoming a smugglers transit route. He was waiting for a smuggler to take him across the border to fight in Syria. “Almighty Allah has made Jihad a duty on us. When our Muslim brethren are oppressed, it is a duty to support them wherever they are, because Muslims are not separated by countries,” he said. Abdul Rahman is one of thousands of al-Qaeda volunteers who are flocking to Syria to join what they see as a battle to defend Muslims no one is bothering to help. “This was a dream for me, to wage jihad for Allah’s sake, because this is one of the greatest deeds in Islam, to lift aggression off my brothers, to bleed for Allah and no other,” he said.Is this really who Obama intends for us to become “allies” with? Is he insane? In article after article, I have documented how Obama’s Syrian rebels have been ruthlessly murdering Christians, using chemical weapons and dismembering little girls. Today, I found an account from a Time Magazine reporter that chillingly describes the brutality of these fanatics… I don’t know how old the victim was but he was young. He was forced to his knees. The rebels around him read out his crimes from a sheet of paper. They stood around him. The young man was on his knees on the ground, his hands tied. He seemed frozen. Two rebels whispered something into his ear and the young man replied in an innocent and sad manner, but I couldn’t understand what he said because I don’t speak Arabic. At the moment of execution the rebels grasped his throat. The young man put up a struggle. Three or four rebels pinned him down. The man tried to protect his throat with his hands, which were still tied together. He tried to resist but they were stronger than he was and they cut his throat. They raised his head into the air. People waved their guns and cheered. Everyone was happy that the execution had gone ahead.Should the U.S. military be used to help those jihadist thugs take control of Syria? If Obama gets us into this war, it has the potential to spin totally out of control very rapidly. Let us hope and pray that it does not happen.  Because if we do go to war in Syria, it could ultimately lead us down the road to World War III. This article first appeared here at the American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here. 

13 сентября 2013, 01:01

Syria crisis: Kerry cautiously optimistic over chemical weapons surrender

Secretary of state begins Geneva talks with Russian counterpart and says: 'We do believe there is a way to get this done'The US secretary of state, John Kerry, on Thursday expressed cautious optimism that a deal could be reached to guarantee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, as he began talks on the issue in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.Appearing alongside Lavrov, shortly after the beginning of two days of negotiations, Kerry acknowledged that expectations were high but said: "We do believe there is a way to get this done."As the talks got under way in Geneva, the United Nations announced that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had signed a legislative decree making his country party to the chemical weapons convention."In their letter, the Syrian authorities have expressed their commitment to observe the obligations entailed by the convention even before its entry into force for Syria," a UN spokesperson said. "Given recent events, he hopes that the current talks in Geneva will lead to speedy agreement on a way forward which will be endorsed and assisted by the international community."Kerry insisted that the threat of military action against Syria, over a chemical weapons attack in the country on 21 August, remained an option. He also rejected Assad's suggestion that he would have 30 days, under the standard terms of the chemical weapons treaty, to declare his stockpiles.  "We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved," Kerry said. "And the words of the Syrian regime, in our judgment, are simply not enough."The joint press conference between Kerry and Lavrov marked the start of an uncomfortable alliance between the US and Russia, after the two countries unexpectedly converged around a proposal to disarm Syria of its chemical stockpiles. Delegations of Russian and American technical experts are in the Swiss capital to discuss the mechanics of the disarmament plan, which would involve Syria identifying the locations of its stockpiles and handing over control to the international community. Washington is seeking to shift responsibility for the success of any weapons destruction programme to Moscow. US officials argue that the plans for dealing with Syria's chemical weapons were put forward by Russia, and says its "prestige" is now at stake. "This is not a game. It has to be real," Kerry said in Geneva.Earlier on Thursday, Assad told Russian television Syria would submit documents to the UN for an agreement governing the handover of its chemical arsenal. "Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision," Interfax said, quoting the state-run Rossiya-24 channel's yet-to-be-aired interview.The White House and State Department both indicated on Thursday that the US was treating Assad's promise with scepticism. In Geneva, Kerry said: "It is too early to tell whether these efforts will succeed, but the technical challenges of trying to do this in the context of the civil war are obviously immense. But despite how difficult this is, with the collaboration of our experts, and only with the compliance of the Assad regime, we do believe there is a way to get this done."A senior state department official accompanying the Kerry delegation said the US and Russia both had technical expertise in chemical weapons destruction because of the two-decade process – which is still ongoing – to destroy cold war-era stockpiles. "We also have experience in doing destruction of chemical weapons in the face of a resistant environment," the official said. "That is Iraq in the 1990s. And we have recent and ongoing experience, successful experience, in the case of a cooperative government. That is Libya, which we expect within the next few months will complete the destruction of its stockpiles left over from the previous regime." The senior official spoke on the condition of anonymity, as occurs routinely in US administration briefings. Kerry said Syrian weapons destruction would need to be credible, comprehensive, verifiable and implemented quickly, and added that there would need to be "consequences" for Assad if he did not comply with his obligations. He did not specify whether such consequences would involve the use of force against Syria. However, he also said that the credible threat of military action had forced Syria into conceding that it possessed chemical weapons and agreeing to their destruction, and maintained that the threat of strikes remained. Lavrov said that the securing of Syria's chemical weapons "will make unnecessary any strike against the Syrian Arab Republic".After Kerry spoke, Lavrorv appeared to admonish him for making political comments. "Diplomacy likes silence," Lavrov said. Kerry did not hear the translation and asked for it to be repeated. Lavrov said in English: "It's okay, John." Kerry laughed and replied: "You want me to take your word for it. It's a little early for that."Aside from the jokes, Kerry adopted softer language than has recently been used by the Obama administration, saying only that "force might be necessary" to deter Assad from using his weapons if the diplomatic route failed.The question over whether force could be authorised, in the event that Syria did not comply with chemical weapons actions, is at the centre of negotiations at the UN in New York, where a possible resolution is being drafted. Lavrov added that Russia's position on Syria had been laid out in president Vladimir Putin's op-ed article in the New York Times. "I am convinced that all of you have read this article," Lavrov said.In the article, Putin welcomed the new diplomatic initiative over Syria but condemned a US tendency toward unilateral "brute force" and sharply criticised America's belief in its own "exceptionalism". The article caused consternation in Washington.The Republican senator John McCain said the article was "an insult to the intelligence of every American", while the Democratic chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Robert Menendez, said of reading the piece: "I almost wanted to vomit."The US administration chose more diplomatic language. A State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said the time had come for Putin to "put forward actions now, not just words".The White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "The important thing is that both in his op-ed and in his statements and actions, president Putin has invested his credibility in the transfer of Assad's chemical weapons."He added: "[Nevertheless] there's a great irony in the placement of an op-ed like this because it reflects the truly exceptional tradition in this country of freedom of expression – something on the decrease in the last dozen or so years in Russia."Carney said the White House would not tolerate any delay by the Syrian government and would continue to provide military assistance to rebel groups throughout the process.United StatesSyriaChemical weaponsMiddle East and North AfricaUnited NationsUS foreign policyObama administrationJohn KerryRussiaVladimir PutinBashar al-AssadArab and Middle East unrestDan RobertsPaul Lewis theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

12 сентября 2013, 22:30

Syria takes UN step to surrender chemical weapons as US keeps up pressure

Secretary of state John Kerry discusses US-Russia talks in Geneva and says: 'This is not a game. It has to be real'Syria took the first formal step towards surrendering its chemical weapons on Thursday, sending the United Nations an application to join the international convention prohibiting the production and use of such arms.The UN secretary general's office confirmed receipt of the letter, hours after the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, had admitted the existence of the arsenal for the first time, and said he was ready to transfer it to international control.At the same time, talks between the US and Russia on how to implement the transfer got under way in Geneva. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said at a news conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that both sides were serious about the negotiations despite some differences over the plan. But he warned: "This is not a game. It has to be real."With its letter to the UN, Syria was poised to become the the 190th member of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), leaving a small group of nations outside the treaty: Israel, Burma, Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan. Syrian membership will take effect 30 days after the delivery of the letter. After that Syria would be legally committed to ridding itself of its chemical arsenal.However, in a Russian television interview, Assad also appeared to put conditions on Syria's chemical disarmament, saying the US would have to reciprocate by ceasing military threats against his government and the arming of "terrorists".Assad's comments emphasised the significant diplomatic obstacles facing US and Russian diplomats and chemical weapons experts as they began meetings in Geneva to discuss Moscow's plan to disarm the Syrian government. According to the Russian Kommersant newspaper, the plan would involve four stages: Syria would sign the CWC, then declare its stockpile and production facilities, invite weapons inspectors in, and cooperate with them in drawing up a plan to destroy the stockpile.That arsenal, according to a French intelligence estimate this month, amounts to more than 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents and precursors, including mustard gas as well as sarin and VX nerve agents.Speaking in Geneva, Kerry acknowledged that there would be "immense technical challenges" in implementing the plan. But he told Lavrov: "We are serious, as you are, about engaging in substantive, meaningful negotiations." He repeated Washington's position that there had to be "consequences" if Syria failed to follow through on its commitments and said that US military assets would remain in place.In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Wednesday night, Russian president Vladimir Putin restated Moscow's claim that the chemical attacks in Damascus on 21 August which triggered the current global crisis were the work of rebel forces, but he did not cite evidence.A UN investigation into the attack is expected to produce a report early next week. The Foreign Policy online magazine quoted a senior western official as saying the report, by Swedish scientist Åke Sellström, would include a "wealth" of evidence pointing at the culpability of the Assad regime. American officials said that they would insist on a brisk timetable to ensure the plan did not become a time-buying ploy.While the diplomats talked in Geneva, the US and Russia continued to build up their naval forces in the Mediterranean. Russia has dispatched a "carrier killer" missile cruiser and other ships to the eastern Mediterranean, in its largest naval deployment since Soviet times.The destroyer Smetlivy left a naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Tuesday, on a mission to the Syrian coast, a military source told the state news agency Interfax on Thursday. The source said the Smetlivy would travel to the Mediterranean with the amphibious assault ship Nikolai Filchenkov, which left Novorossiysk on Monday carrying unidentified supplies for the Damascus government. The missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, is also on its way to the Syrian coast to lead the Russian force there. The ship is reportedly known as a "carrier-killer" because it is outfitted with Vulkan missiles, which are designed to destroy large ships.The former Democratic US senator Sam Nunn, who is one of the world's leading arms-control campaigners, said the disarmament process would have a chance of succeeding only if the Syrian army is in charge of the arsenal."We hope that the Syrian army is in control. The US government believes it is. The Russians disagree. If the Russians are right and some of the rebels have control, the nightmare's just started," said Nunn, speaking to The Guardian in Brussels.United StatesSyriaChemical weaponsUnited NationsMiddle East and North AfricaRussiaJohn KerryBashar al-AssadVladimir PutinUS militaryUS foreign policyJulian BorgerAlec LuhnIan Traynor theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

12 сентября 2013, 13:32

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 9/12/2013

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 1:56 P.M. EDT MR. CARNEY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you for your patience today.  The Cabinet meeting ran a little long, and then, obviously, as I think some of you saw, Secretary Kerry and his counterpart spoke in Geneva.  I wanted to allow you the opportunity to see that before I came out.  Before I take your questions I wanted to make two statements.  First, on Wednesday -- this coming Wednesday, at 10:45 a.m., the President will address business leaders at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable.  The event will take place in D.C. at the Business Roundtable office.  Secondly, if I may, I'd like to point you to a new report that was released today by the Department of Health and Human Services, showing that 6.8 million consumers saved an estimated $1.2 billion on health insurance premiums in 2012 because of the part of the Affordable Care Act called rate review that brings sunlight and scrutiny to insurance premiums.  Now, in every state, insurance companies are required to submit for review and justify any proposed health insurance premium increase of 10 percent or more.  In other words, the days when insurers could post double-digit insurance premium increases without transparency and accountability are over. Now, this is one of many ways that American families are saving under the health law.  For example, the 80/20 rule, which requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care or provide rebates to their customers, saved 77.8 million consumers $3.4 billion up front on premiums last year.  This is separate from and in addition to the savings I mentioned at the top.  Also, insurers that did not meet the 80/20 rule provided 8.5 million Americans with $500 million in rebates, averaging $100 per household. So today’s news is the latest example of how the Affordable Care Act, along with state efforts, continues to bring scrutiny to health insurance rate increases and is saving consumers real money as a result. Now I will take your questions.  Jim. Q    Thanks, Jay.  I wanted to ask you about two issues, one on Syria and the other one on the budget.  On Syria, I wonder what the President’s reaction was to President Putin’s op-ed piece in The New York Times today.  The Speaker called it insulting.  I wonder what the President thought of it. MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me say this.  Both in his op-ed and in the statements and actions that we've seen from President Putin and his foreign minister, it is clear that President Putin has invested his credibility in transferring Assad’s chemical weapons to international control and ultimately destroying them. This is significant.  Russia is Assad’s patron and protector, and the world will note whether Russia can follow through on the commitments that it’s made. As for the editorial, we're not surprised by President Putin’s words.  But the fact is that Russia offers a stark contrast that demonstrates why America is exceptional.  Unlike Russia, the United States stands up for democratic values and human rights in our own country and around the world.  And we believe that our global security is advanced when children cannot be gassed to death by a dictator. It is also worth noting that Russia is isolated and alone in blaming the opposition for the chemical weapons attack on August 21st.  There is no credible reporting -- and we have seen no credible reporting -- that the opposition has used chemical weapons in Syria.  And we have been joined by now 34 countries in declaring that the Assad regime is responsible for the use of chemical weapons on that night.  Even Iran, which is fighting on Assad’s behalf in Syria, has publicly blamed the Assad regime for the August 21 attack. In addition to the intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for the attack and our post-attack observations, it is common sense that the opposition does not have the capabilities to have carried out such a large-scale coordinated rocket and artillery attack from a regime-held neighborhood, targeting opposition neighborhoods.  And I think it’s worth also pointing out that there’s a great irony in the placement of an op-ed like this because it reflects the truly exceptional tradition in this country of freedom of expression, and that is not a tradition shared in Russia, by Russia.  And it is fact freedom of expression has been on the decrease over the past dozen or so years in Russia. Having said that, the point I made at the top is the most important point.  Russia, as we saw just now in Geneva, has put its prestige and credibility on the line in backing this proposal to have Syria, the Assad regime, give up the chemical weapons that until two days ago it claimed it did not have, turn them over to international supervision with the purpose of eventually destroying them.  And we are going to work with the Russians to see if this diplomatic avenue to resolving this problem can bear fruit.  And that is absolutely worthwhile and the right thing to do. Q    As you mentioned, Secretary Kerry just spoke.  These talks that he’s conducting in Geneva are occurring on the same day that there are reports of increased U.S. military assistance to the opposition forces.  Do those two tracks kind of cancel each other out?  Is there a chance that that additional military support actually undermines the diplomatic track that Secretary Kerry is pursuing? MR. CARNEY:  Well, without confirming specific reports, we have said for quite some time -- the President on down has said that we have been stepping up our assistance to the Syrian military opposition; no question.  And in June, the administration announced that following credible evidence that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against the Syrian people -- this is prior to the massive attack on August 21st -- the President had authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council in Syria -- that’s the opposition’s military arm. The expansion of assistance has been aimed at strengthening the cohesion of the opposition and the effectiveness of the SMC on the ground, as well as assisting their efforts to defend themselves against a regime that has shown no boundaries in its willingness to kill civilians. So I think it’s an important distinction to make, as we have all along, in the wake of the August 21 attacks and in our response to them, that the issue of Assad’s chemical weapons is distinctly problematic and is separate from -- although it is part of the civil war, it is separate from our policy response to the civil war in Syria.  And that response is built around humanitarian support for the Syrian people; assistance to the opposition, including assistance to the Supreme Military Council; as well as an effort with a broad range of allies and partners, including Russia, to bring about a resolution of that civil war through a political settlement -- because that is the only way to end that war. So these are distinct tracks.  The problem that confronts us by the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons needs to be addressed, and we are addressing that.  The President has spoken clearly about his views on it.  We are exploring this diplomatic avenue, this opportunity that exists potentially to resolve this by removing from Assad’s possession chemical weapons.  But we will continue our policy of supporting the opposition in an effort to bring about a political settlement in the Syrian conflict. Q    On the budget, and I won’t belabor the point because you addressed it a little bit yesterday, but the House leadership is still trying to find a way to get a continuing resolution that funds the government beyond October 1st through the House.  They wanted to do it yesterday and pulled it.  And the Obamacare question aside, I’m wondering does the White House support continuing spending levels at 2013 sequester levels?  I think the number is something at the rate of $986 billion over the year.  Is that a number that the White House is satisfied with and would tell Democrats to accept if that's what the continuing resolution -- MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me step back a little bit and explain our position on this.  First of all -- and this pertains to legislation that we haven’t seen, but is clearly under discussion -- we will not accept anything that delays or defunds Obamacare. Congress needs to pass a budget and not attach politically motivated riders to their funding bills -- part of a persistent effort to refight old battles to overcome the fact that this is a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court; a law that has already provided enormous benefits and savings to millions and millions of Americans, and that will, when fully implemented, allow for millions of Americans who could not afford insurance in the past to be insured, for millions of Americans who have preexisting conditions to have the security of health insurance that they did not have in the past.  These are significant benefits that are provided by this law passed by Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court. Secondly, we will not accept anything that further cuts the investments we need to grow our economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class.  We will not, absolutely, accept the Republican budget approach that further slashes these investments in our economy and the American families need. The Republican leadership has said that -- at the very least, setting aside all the policy significance of these decisions, the Republican leadership itself has said that it would be politically damaging to them to allow the government to shut down.  And we agree; they should not do it.  And they should not do it for a host of reasons.  So Congress needs to act on this.  When it comes to how that plays itself out, we want Congress to responsibly fund government.  We have drawn the lines that we’ve drawn, and we will see what they produce. Q    But are current spending levels something that you would accept? MR. CARNEY:  Again, when you're talking about short-term extensions, we would consider a clean CR that prevents a shutdown and allows time for Congress to find a long-term solution to its budget challenges when it comes to avoiding a shutdown, but there are bigger issues that need to be resolved here, as we all know. Q    Today President Assad said that his government will wait for a month after it joins the Chemical Weapons Convention before handing over information or data about its chemical weapons stockpiles.  Is this an acceptable timeline? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would point you to what Secretary Kerry said about this.  He outranks me.  And we believe that this needs to be done very quickly.  And words don't count when it comes to the Assad regime; actions count.  The Assad regime in the past has committed itself to a U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons, and for months and months and months refused to allow inspectors in.  Even in the wake of the appalling August 21st attacks, having said that they would allow inspectors in, they waited five days before they let those inspectors in and then shot up their convoy on the way in.  So, again, action is what matters here.  And delays are not something that we can accept. Q    Secondly, today General Idriss said his opposition forces have not received any military support/weapons support from the United States.  And I know there have been reports that you don't want to confirm to the contrary.  But can you help clear this up?  MR. CARNEY:  So you want me to confirm the counter-contrary? Q    But has the United States sent the support?  Is it on its way? MR. CARNEY:  Here's what I can tell you.  As I mentioned in answer to a previous question, in June the administration announced that following credible evidence that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against the Syrian people the President had authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Syrian Military Council.  The expansion of assistance has been aimed at strengthening the cohesion of the opposition and the effectiveness of the SMC on the ground, and their efforts to defend themselves against a repressive regime that has shown no boundaries in its willingness to kill civilians. We cannot detail every single type of support that we are providing to the opposition or discuss timelines for delivery.  But it is important to note that both the political and the military opposition are, and will be, receiving this assistance. Q    Does it concern you that he is out here saying we haven't got any? MR. CARNEY:  It's important to note that both the political and the military opposition are, and will be, receiving this assistance.  Jim. Q    You were just saying that you want this done quickly.  Why not set a timeline so you can hold their feet to the fire? MR. CARNEY:  We are in the process of meeting with the Russians in Geneva -- not just Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov, but also substantial teams with a great deal of technical expertise -- to work on this issue.  And I will leave it to them to discuss and explain all of the technical and logistical aspects that would be involved in securing Assad's -- identifying and securing Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles.  The objective there is to have a serious discussion about the mechanics of identifying, verifying, securing and ultimately destroying Assad's chemical weapons.  And concurrently with that process in Geneva, there is a process underway in New York at the United Nations Security Council where we are working very closely with our allies, very close allies, the United Kingdom and France, on this effort and a United Nations Security Council resolution that would be part of it.  Obviously, we're also working with the Russians and the Chinese on that effort. So these teams in New York and Geneva will be better able to talk about how this will work if it is agreed to and what times and durations would be a part of an agreement.  But we're not at an agreement yet.  And, as I said yesterday, we're approaching this with open eyes.  We understand that -- and it's important for everybody to remember where we are now.  Three weeks ago, U.N. inspectors were stymied in Syria; Syria would not admit that it possessed chemical weapons; and we had two years of complete lack of cooperation with Russia on the United Nations Security Council when it came to dealing with Syria.  Even on resolutions and initiatives that contained no element of force, simply holding Assad accountable for what he was doing to his own people -- those efforts, those resolutions were blocked by the Russians and the Chinese. Three weeks later -- three weeks later -- and there’s no question that there have been some curves in the road as we’ve arrived to where we are now.  But three weeks later, United Nations inspectors not only have inspected the sites that were bombed with chemical weapons on August 21st, but they will be releasing a report about that inspection.  Syria, which as recently as three days ago was denying it had chemical weapons, has admitted that it has chemical weapons, has said that it will transfer them to international control and that it is prepared to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.  And Russia is putting its credibility on the line behind a proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.  That’s a lot of distance traveled in a very short period of time, and it’s significant to note that even as we concede upfront that this diplomatic road may or may not prove successful.  But it is absolutely worth exploring. Q    And getting back to President Putin’s op-ed in The New York Times, he says in that op-ed that “we have every reason to believe that opposition forces used chemical weapons.”  How do you negotiate with somebody who doesn’t even agree with you on the facts? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think there’s an inherent contradiction in the fact that Russia has acknowledged, and I assume prodded Syria into acknowledging, that Assad has these chemical weapon stockpiles; has put forward a proposal that we are glad to see that Syria -- the Assad regime give up its chemical weapons stockpile, that they be played under international control and ultimately destroyed, on the one hand -- and this is all in the wake of the August 21st attacks -- and on the other is making a claim unsupported by any shred of evidence that the opposition could be responsible for those attacks.  There’s not a lot of logic that connects those two assertions.  And as I mentioned earlier -- Q    So that’s an issue that Putin would say that? MR. CARNEY:  Well, it’s not necessarily an issue in securing and disposing of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile.  It’s an issue of a claim in its relationship to the truth and to the facts, but that’s one for others to resolve.  And I think it goes to sort of the general differences that we’ve had on this matter. But it’s certainly not an obstacle in our view to pursuing this diplomatic avenue. It’s safe to say that if there were evidence to support that assertion, The New York Times would have provided a little more space to include it in that article.  But there is no evidence.  And that’s because there also is no logic to the assertion that the opposition that did not have the capability to do this, did not have the weapons to do it, could not have in any imaginable scenario gone to regime-controlled areas of Damascus to fire rockets into opposition-controlled areas or contested areas.  It defies logic and probability. But having said that, the most important part of this is the fact that Russia has put its credibility on the line in pursuing this with us and others.  And it’s an important objective and we are very pleased to see it, and we are working -- as you saw, Secretary Kerry with his counterpart -- very closely and collaboratively with the Russians to try to see if we can get this done. Q    And very quickly, just to follow up on that -- you and the President and others have said this week, “trust but verify.” The phrase “trust but verify” has been thrown around Washington a lot this week.  Does President Obama trust President Putin? MR. CARNEY:  I think the point of that is that actions speak louder than words, and that we will -- Q    So he doesn’t trust him? MR. CARNEY:  Look, I think that the -- the fact is if we can resolve this without resorting to military force, if we can relieve a dictator of his stockpiles of chemical weapons so that he can never use them against innocent civilians again, then credit will be due to the Russians and to everyone else who participates in that process to make it happen.  We’ll see if it happens. Jon. Q    Jay, just first a quick clarification.  You said that the Iranians have blamed the Syrian government -- MR. CARNEY:  The former President of Iran acknowledged that the Syrian government was responsible for that attack. Q    Okay, so then the current -- the government of Iran has not made that -- okay.  So, first of all, your reaction to the fact that the very rebels that the United States is supporting have issued a statement saying that they categorically reject the Russian initiative.  These are our allies -- MR. CARNEY:  No, I understand that, but it goes to the point that we have been making that there is an ongoing sectarian civil war in Syria.  We have been appalled by, as many of our allies and partners have been, by the wholesale and brutal assault that Assad has waged against his own people.  But the President has made clear that even as we step up assistance to the Syrian people and we step up direct assistance to the opposition’s Military Council, that we are not putting boots on the ground and we are not engaging militarily in an effort to take sides, to try to resolve someone else’s civil war. But when it comes to chemical weapons, which pose a threat to the region and the world, including the United States, and the violation of a century-old prohibition against their use, we absolutely believe that we have to take action. Q    But I’m asking you to directly respond to the rebel groups that the United States is supporting saying that the United States is essentially selling them out by going forward with this Russian proposal.  What is your response to that? MR. CARNEY:  My response to that is that we continue to support the opposition, and we are supporting the opposition in tangible ways through substantial and stepped-up assistance.  But when it comes to how we resolve the disposition of these very dangerous weapons and how we ensure that a dictator does not use them again against innocent civilians, including children, we will pursue a diplomatic course to see if it can bear fruit, to see if it can produce the result that we desire.  In the meantime, as the President has said, we remain ready and our military remains ready to engage in a military strike if necessary. Q    How can you expect the Russians to be operating in good faith on this when even this morning in The New York Times Vladimir Putin is saying it was the rebels that used the chemical weapons? MR. CARNEY:  I just answered this, Jon. Q    Well, not really.  I didn't hear a direct answer to this.  MR. CARNEY:  I said that what Russia has committed itself to and put its credibility and prestige on the line in doing so is the proposition that it supports and will help bring about the removal from Assad’s control of a substantial stockpile of chemical weapons, the transference of that stockpile to international control for the ultimate destruction of that stockpile.  That is a significant piece of business and it would represent a significant accomplishment by the international community and by Russia.  So we will pursue that. We obviously disagree with the wholly unsupported assertion that the opposition could have or did commit this atrocity.  And we have a substantial body of facts to prove our point, and we have more than 30 countries that have already agreed to that proposition.  And we have obviously -- I think there’s not a member of Congress who disagrees with us on the basic facts, which is that the chemical weapons attack occurred and Assad was responsible. Q    But can you explain how, if you have an agreement with Assad to turn over his weapons and that starts to happen with the Russians -- under Russian supervision, do you still support rebel groups that are fighting to overthrow the government that you are working with to turn over their chemical weapons?  How does that work? MR. CARNEY:  We will continue to support the opposition because -- Q    Even as you’re working with the government to turn over their weapons, you're going to support their -- MR. CARNEY:  We are working to secure chemical weapons that need to be secured to prevent a dictator from using them again against his own people, and he has shown himself more than willing to do that. Q    And just one last.  Is it still U.S. policy that Assad must go? MR. CARNEY:  It is still our policy and our view that Syria’s future cannot have Assad in the picture.  It’s inconceivable, given what he has done to his own people.  But this is something that we have said all along needs to be decided in a political settlement.  It is not something that will be decided militarily. Q    If you promise to come back, I defer to my colleagues behind me. MR. CARNEY:  Major Garrett gets some credit there.  Mara. Q    I just have a quick question.  Diplomats always choose their words carefully, and today Kerry said, “should diplomacy fail, force might be necessary.”  Everything that the President has said up until now made it seem like if diplomacy fails, force will be necessary, and that's what he’s trying to get Congress to authorize him to do. MR. CARNEY:  Well, look, you saw a sustained debate here in the United States about the use of force.  You saw the President speak about it on numerous occasions.  I think the formulation Secretary Kerry uses is allowing that -- as we’ve seen in the last few weeks, there are always developments that we can't anticipate.  What he is saying -- and let me be clear -- is that we retain the option of using a military strike in response to Assad’s attack with chemical weapons on his own people -- the murder of more than 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children -- because of the profound ramifications of not holding Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons. In the meantime, we are pursuing this potential diplomatic path to resolving this problem by seeing if we can prevent Assad from using chemical weapons again by relieving him of his chemical weapons without the use of force.  Q    Are you saying it’s a hypothetical that if diplomacy fails, you don't know whether force is going to be necessary or not? MR. CARNEY:  Well, again -- Q    Because he didn't say it hypothetically. MR. CARNEY:  He said “might.”  And I think that that allows for a variety of things that could happen in the next days and weeks with regard to this matter.  I think we have seen even this week that this situation is fairly fluid.  What is clear from what Secretary Kerry said and what I am saying here in the White House and what the President said the other day to the American people is that he believes absent a diplomatic success here that a military option is important to maintain, and that it is the mere pressure, it is the credible threat of military force that has resulted in these rather remarkable changes in position that we've seen this week.  And we need to maintain the pressure.  I think I said April.  Yes. Q    Jay, in reading this op-ed to the American people what were the messages that you got out of this op-ed from Putin?  And also, could you tell us about the message that that hand was in when -- MR. CARNEY:  Sorry? Q    The hand, the picture of the hand in the article -- the op-ed rather from Putin. MR. CARNEY:  I saw it online.  I'm not sure -- Q    I'm talking about the definition of the hand.  In looking up the hand on that article it meant terrorism, and also it was a signal about World War I.  MR. CARNEY:  I'm sorry, I confess, April, I'm not sure what you're referring to, because I just read the text.  And our response is what I said, which is the single most important thing about it is the continued assertion by the President of Russia as well as his foreign minister that Russia believes and will support and pursue this effort to secure Assad's chemical weapons, place them under international supervision with the ultimate goal of seeing them destroyed.  And that is a very important, significant development.  Now, we have to work with the Russians, as well as the United Nations Security Council, to see if we can turn that proposition into reality. Q    Russia is not alone.  China was there saying they do not want to see this to a military strike from the U.S. on Syria. With that, what are the conversations that are taking place now with the United States and China -- as the Russian situation is public, especially as the relationship with China is still complicated as well? MR. CARNEY:  I would say that you're absolutely right that when we have tried to bring this matter before the United Nations Security Council in the past, not just Russia but China have blocked those efforts that have been supported by a broad coalition of nations.  But it is also the case that when it comes to Syria, Russia is certainly Syria's premiere patron and protector.  And so we will engage with both nations.  But I think that Russia is a major player when it comes to Syria, specifically. Q    But can you give us any information on -- MR. CARNEY:  I don't have any specifics on conversations in New York with the Chinese.  I'm sure Ambassador Power or her office might have more on that.  Major, you want me to come back to you? Q    In our conversation yesterday, Jay, you said it was too early for the United States to say whether or not it would require the threat of military force to be an enforcing mechanism at the United Nations.  It's still to be determined.  Secretary of State Kerry, in Geneva, standing next to the Russian foreign minister, added the word "might" to the idea of military action as an enforcing mechanism.  Isn't it now fair to conclude that the threat of military action is becoming less a part of this conversation as the diplomacy moves forward? MR. CARNEY:  Well, we are certainly focusing on the diplomacy right now.  The President made that clear in his address to the nation, that he asked Congress to pause in its deliberations, to postpone a vote on authorization.  But that option -- there are two aspects here.  There's the potential congressional vote on authorization and actions by the United States; then there’s the potential United Nations Security Council resolution and the contents of that.  These are related but distinct enterprises.  The basic position, as the President described in this address to the nation, of the United States is that the military remains in a position to execute a plan around holding Assad accountable for his appalling use of chemical weapons against civilians.  And that remains true today.  Meanwhile, we are obviously focused, as you’ve seen with Secretary Kerry’s activities and the activities in New York at the United Nations, on pursuing this diplomatic option.  I think that is the right thing to do.  It is certainly the responsible thing to explore this avenue and to see if it is possible to resolve this peacefully or diplomatically. Q    Now, you mentioned that you retain the ability to carry out a military strike, but as the Pentagon has noted, maintaining all of the destroyers in the Eastern Med is costly at times, and there are operational decisions that are going to have to be made in a couple, three weeks about rotations for vessels that are due back.  One of them is already two weeks overdue.  Are those factors part of the calculus as to how long this administration will wait to determine whether or not this diplomacy is -- MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t heard that discussed.  I think that the frame is more about testing whether or not there is seriousness here, and whether or not we can devise a plan agreed to by the relevant parties here that can bring about the transfer of those chemical weapon stockpiles to international control.  And I think that a lot depends on that process, and that would include some of what you’re discussing. Q    Can you help us understand the definitions of “seriousness” -- the benchmarks this administration has in mind when it is determining whether or not this process is serious and moving forward? MR. CARNEY:   I think we’ve seen thus far a degree of seriousness about this that we have not seen before, and that is welcomed.  And having said that, actions, concrete actions speak much more loudly than -- Q    (Inaudible.) MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m not going to negotiate the way forward from here.  That would be counterproductive. Q    You’ll know it when you see it, in other words? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think those negotiating will know it when they see it.  And I will simply say from here that this, understandably, will take some time, and there should not be an expectation, as I said yesterday, that we’re going to know everything we need to know right away.  But you saw Secretary Kerry and his counterpart in Geneva discuss what they were looking forward to trying to achieve in their meetings.  And we will look for results from those meetings as we move forward and assess the level of seriousness and the commitment here to get this done. Q    Last question.  Your goal is to remove all chemical weapons from Syria, correct? MR. CARNEY:  The goal here, as stated, is to relieve -- is to remove from Assad’s possession chemical weapons that he has maintained.  It has been our assessment -- we’ve gone through this in the past -- that throughout this conflict, because of the disposition of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles have been a concern of ours, it has been our assessment that his regime has maintained control of those stockpiles throughout the conflict.  And I think that’s probably where you’re going. Q    We’ve talked to people who are experts in this who spend a good deal of time analyzing not just the chemical weapons question internationally, but in Syria, and they describe our intelligence about all the possible locations as imperfect; that we may not know where everything is and we may not be able to catalogue -- MR. CARNEY:  Again, without not commenting on intelligence matters, I certainly accept that this is a relatively complicated piece of business, A; B, it is still our assessment that Assad’s stockpiles have been in Assad’s control throughout this conflict. So I can only point you to that. Obviously, the Assad regime, if it’s going to be cooperative in this effort, knows better than anyone where those stockpiles are and, in the process of identifying and verifying the chemical weapons, needs to be cooperative. Q    So we, in the end, need to trust this regime? MR. CARNEY:  Well, no, we’re going to verify -- if this process moves forward, we’re not going to only trust, we’re going to verify.  Verification is a key element of that process. Yes, sir. Q    Thank you, Jay.  How would you convince the opposition that rejected this proposal that you still intend to hold Assad accountable for gassing more than 1,000 people? MR. CARNEY:  Our objective -- you’re again conflating two objectives here.  Our objective when it comes to chemical weapons use, whether through military action limited in time and duration and scope -- time and duration being the same thing -- limited in duration and scope, or through a diplomatic success here would be to prevent -- to deter Assad from using those weapons again, or, if the diplomatic initiative succeeds, preventing him from using them again by taking them all away.  So that is separate.  And that’s what we mean and have meant by holding him accountable for the use of those weapons. Second, when it comes to supporting the opposition, we have and will continue to provide assistance to the opposition, both humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and direct assistance to the opposition, including to the Supreme Military Council. Q    But I quote here General Idriss; he literally accused the United States for -- MR. CARNEY:  I just got this question, and all I can say -- you know the parameters of what I can say here and I will say it again.  It’s important to note that both the political and the military opposition are and will be receiving this assistance. Q    He accused the United States for giving a pass to a criminal just for surrendering the weapon of the crime. MR. CARNEY:  Again, I’ve explained our policy on numerous occasions; so has the President.  We are not sending American troops into Syria to fight somebody else’s civil war.  We are supporting the opposition.  When it comes to the use and abuse of chemical weapons, the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians, it is incumbent upon the United States and other members of the international community and all the signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention to hold accountable the regime that used them.  And that’s obviously something we’ve been in engaged in. Q    Last question.  Would you also agree that the United States’ prestige and credibility is also on the line, not only the Russians’, by accepting this proposal? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would agree that the United States, in part because it is an exceptional nation, is called upon to lead in circumstances like this, often when it's unpopular, often when it's uncomfortable.  And that is what this President and this country has been doing.  And part of that is accepting that when circumstances change, as they did this week, and diplomatic avenues that had been closed reopen, that we explore them, because resolving this peacefully would be a better alternative, even as we approach this with a fair amount of skepticism and with wide-open eyes.  But there's no question that dealing with these issues is important and it's not always easy and it's not always popular either at home or abroad.  Q    To clarify on the whole rebel question, you said earlier about helping the Syrian opposition that one of the things we're doing is helping with cohesion on the ground.  So whose boots are on the ground helping them if we're helping them on the ground? MR. CARNEY:  Ed, we don't have boots on the ground. Q    We don't.  So are we working with Jordanians or others? MR. CARNEY:  For the fourth time in this press conference I'm going to say that what I can say about the assistance we provide is that I cannot detail every single type of support, but that we are providing assistance to the opposition, and that it's important to note that both the political and the military opposition are and will be receiving this assistance.  And that assistance has been stepped up, at the President's direction, in the wake of the initial findings of high confidence by the United States that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against its own people. Q    On the issue of trust with Putin, he is scheduled to meet I think on Friday with the new Iranian President.  And there are reports that Putin is offering to sell five ground-to-air missile systems to the Iranians and also is offering to build a second reactor at their nuclear plant.  Does this raise any alarm at the White House? MR. CARNEY:  I haven't seen those reports.  Obviously, we continue to be focused on and engaged in the effort to have Iran forsake its nuclear weapons program and we hope that there's an opportunity for progress in that effort.  But it remains the case that Iran has flouted its obligations under a variety of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and we are going to work with our partners to help ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Q    Last one.  Can you react to Republican Senator Bob Corker?  Even though he is a Republican, he has worked with the President on a grand bargain, sat down for dinner with him, as I recall; has said positive things earlier in the Syria debate, and then, yesterday told CNN that he is disappointed in how the President has approached Syria, and at one point said he doesn't think the President is comfortable as Commander-in-Chief.  How do you respond? MR. CARNEY:  I'm not going to respond specifically to any individual who might have been offering an observation.  I would simply say a couple of things.  One, when it comes to our approach to this problem in Syria, the President has been very clear about the need to respond and why it's important that Assad be held accountable.  It is somewhat ironic when some members of Congress are critical -- after having asked for the President to ask Congress for authorization to then be critical of that effort, which as I think everyone here reported, has involved an enormous amount of outreach, an enormous amount of information provided, both classified and unclassified, to members, as well as a very public effort to inform and educate the American people. And then, I would simply say that when it comes to being Commander-in-Chief, I think that the American people, at least in my assessment, appreciate a Commander-in-Chief who takes in new information and doesn't celebrate decisiveness for the sake of decisiveness.  And in this case, the President's objectives are clear.  And he believes that the American people would certainly support the proposition that if there's a diplomatic opportunity here to remove from Assad's control these chemical weapons stockpiles that we ought to pursue it.  And that's what he is doing. Margaret. Q    On domestic politics, does the President or does the White House see the House decision to pull a vote on the funding as sort of raising the specter of a possible government shutdown? Are you concerned that the likelihood of that is growing in the light of the latest? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would simply say that the leaders in Congress of the Republican Party have made clear that they understand that allowing a shutdown would create an unnecessary headwind to the economy and I think cause political problems for them.  And I assume that the combination of those two incentives would compel them to come up with a solution, so that we can fund the government responsibly, and not engage in these games that inflict unnecessary wounds on our economy right when it's growing and creating jobs and we're continuing to move out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Q    Is it primarily Boehner who the White House is negotiating with on budget and debt ceiling, or are there some other -- MR. CARNEY:  I don't have a list of engagements.  We're speaking obviously with a number of leaders and members in Congress on this matter.  We're obviously working with our Democratic allies on this matter in both the House and the Senate.  But again, Congress has a few basic responsibilities, and one of them is to fund the government; another is to pay the bills that it's incurred.  And we simply ask that Congress own those responsibilities. Q    What are your thoughts on -- MR. CARNEY:  I'm not going to put a -- Q    Can I do a quick foreign policy one? MR. CARNEY:  Yes. Q    Have you spoken with the President actually about the Putin piece?  And here's what I want to ask.  It just seemed that he hit on so many hot-button things that in theory would get under the President's skin -- not a lot of democracy, but a whole lot of al Qaeda; you're either with us or against us, comparing him to President Bush; there's no exceptionalism.  You've said exceptionalism from the podium like eight times now.  MR. CARNEY:  I think I said it once. Q    No, like six.  Well, I lost count after five.  So does the President think that President Putin was trying to get under his skin?  MR. CARNEY:  The reaction that I gave you is a reaction of the White House from the President on down.  The most important thing about this is that Russia has committed itself and, in doing that, has put its prestige on the line, including the individual prestige of its President, behind this proposition that we can resolve this by having the Syrian regime, the Assad regime give up its chemical weapons stockpile to international control.  And that is important. And we hope that Russia and, through Russia, Syria keeps the commitments that they're making this week.  And we will work very closely with Russia in trying to bring this about.  And if it is achieved, it would be a significant accomplishment for the international community broadly and for Russia.  So we hope that these commitments are kept. Yes, Kirsten. Q    Jay, but this is not the main point. Q    Jay, thanks.  I want to go back -- MR. CARNEY:  You don't think it’s the main point? Q    No, I don't. MR. CARNEY:  Shocked. Q    I want to go back to the interview that Assad gave today.  He said that any agreement would require the United States to stop arming the rebel forces.  I know you won’t get specific about the type of assistance that the U.S. is giving to rebel forces, but would the United States consider at all scaling back that assistance -- MR. CARNEY:  We are and will continue, as I’ve said a number of times here, to support -- to provide assistance to the political and military opposition. Q    Would you consider scaling it back as a part of it? MR. CARNEY:  Again, I’m not going to negotiate this.  But our position is that we are providing assistance to the opposition, both the military and the political opposition. Q    So that won’t change? MR. CARNEY:  And again, conditions and demands placed by someone who a few weeks ago blithely used chemical weapons against innocent children so that we could all watch them die in videos are a little hard to take. Q    And Richard Engle, who is reporting from the region, has reported that thousands of al Qaeda members are joining with rebel forces while these diplomatic talks are going on.  Does that square with your understanding?  And how much does that complicate your efforts to assist -- MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don't have specific numbers to attach to the assertion that we’ve made for some time that there are elements of the opposition that are extremists and are not friendly to the United States.  And that's why we have throughout this process worked to identify the moderate elements of the opposition and to support the moderate elements of the opposition.  But I think Secretary Kerry and others have spoken about this directly. Q    And I guess going back to that, several months ago you said you felt confident that you were able to identify who those moderate elements are.  Are you still confident about that given that there seems to be an uptick in the number of al Qaeda forces who have joined -- MR. CARNEY:  I believe that's the case.  We are very deliberate in the process of identifying moderate elements of the opposition for precisely this reason. Carol. Q    Can you give us a sense of what the President’s message is going to be on Wednesday when he speaks to the Business Roundtable? MR. CARNEY:  I am sure he will discuss at that meeting the efforts that we all need to engage in to help the economy continue to grow and help it grow in a way that makes the middle class more secure -- because we have always been at our strongest economically when the middle class is growing -- when the middle class is secure and expanding.  So I’m sure that economy and economic policies will be the focus of that discussion. Q    Anything on -- MR. CARNEY:  I don't have anything specific for you at this time. Q    Jay, on one point? MR. CARNEY:  Yes, Andrei. Q    Thank you.  The main point I think in Putin’s piece is nobody is above the law.  I personally admire it -- that he is being consistent that nobody is above the law. My question to you is very simple.  Does this principle apply internationally:  Nobody is above the international law as it stands?  Does this apply to the United States? MR. CARNEY:  Andrei, Russia blocked at the United Nations Security Council multiple resolutions to hold Assad accountable that did not even have force attached to them.  True or false? Q    They did it deliberately.  They did it deliberately. MR. CARNEY:  Yes, they did. Q    Because it was the law. MR. CARNEY:  It’s the law to block holding people accountable?  I think that that's a fine position to take, and I understand that that's the position the Russian government has taken, but it is not the position that we think is the right position when it comes to the agreement by 98 percent of the world’s population that chemical weapons ought not to be used and should be prohibited and should be banned.  And to support a regime that uses them against its own people is a terrible thing. Q    Is the United States above the law?  Jay, yes or no?  MR. CARNEY:  That's not even a serious question, Andrei. Christi. Q    Jay, the congressional picnic, can you say why that was canceled?  Q    It is a serious question. Q    And does that say anything about the state of relations between the White House and the -- MR. CARNEY:  It does not.  The picnic was -- decisions had to be made about holding it when we thought that there was going to be an enormous amount of activity on Syria.  What we are doing is offering a change in the way that the holiday parties are constructed so that members of Congress can bring their families to those parties. Q    Could you address the question of the state of relations between the White House and the Hill going into your fall discussions and preparations? MR. CARNEY:  We obviously have divided government.  We have sometimes contentious, sometimes very effective relations with Congress.  We work with Congress to get the business of the American people done.  And whether it’s shutting down the government or engaging in ideological battles like threatening to default over defunding Obamacare, these are not constructive approaches to getting the business of the American people done. But we keep at it.  And we believe the American people want their elected representatives to focus on helping the economy, helping the middle class, and certainly avoiding self-inflicted wounds. Q    So where do you think you are now on that spectrum between constructive and contentious and -- what did you say -- effective? MR. CARNEY:  I think that as has been true ever since I got to Washington under the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, this is a contested business.  And parties hold different positions; individual lawmakers hold different positions.  Congress and the occupant of the Oval Office sometimes are at odds.  And that's out system and you work within the system. Q    Jay, can you say did the White House get a heads-up on this Putin op-ed from the Times before it was published?  And you haven’t -- it hasn’t quite been clear whether the President himself has read it. MR. CARNEY:  I think I’ve given the White House response.  The President reads widely, including The New York Times.  Our response is what I’ve said about it. Q    What about the President’s response? MR. CARNEY:  He’s the head of the White House. Q    And did he get any -- did he or the White House get a heads-up? MR. CARNEY:  I’m not aware of any heads-up, but I’m not -- I didn't talk to everyone about it. Mark. Q    In that op-ed, at the very end, President Putin said that over time there’s been growing trust in his relationship with the President.  A month ago the White House canceled a visit to Moscow on the rationale that there wasn’t much worth talking about with the President on a whole range of issues, not just Syria.  Would President Obama share that characterization? MR. CARNEY:  I think what President Obama would say is that his conversations, even when we have not been able to see eye-to-eye with President Putin, have always been direct and constructive and with each President making his views clear.  And that was the case in St. Petersburg.  And as we’ve noted, one of the topics of the conversation that the two Presidents had in St. Petersburg was the possibility of pursuing a diplomatic initiative to take away from Assad his chemical weapons. Now, it’s certainly the case that this is a conversation that had been engaged in periodically both at the presidential level and the foreign minister level over the last many months without action.  And it was a new and welcome development to see a public initiative to see if this could be achieved, and that is a good thing.  And look, our approach -- and this is why I think I and others have tried to answer questions about the state of the reset this way -- is that the whole point of the reset was to explore opportunities to advance each country’s interest in our conversations with the Russians, even as we acknowledged that we would not agree on everything.  And even during the early period of the so-called reset, there were areas of serious disagreement, including on missile defense, but we were able to accomplish a number of things that were in the interest of the United States and our national security and in the interest of Russia, and I think that’s why Russia pursued the reset. Now, it’s also, as the President said, the case that we had run into a wall in our efforts to reach agreement with the Russians on other areas like Syria, like some other things, some economic things, but even in that circumstance, the fact is on some of these other issues where we have found agreement with the Russians we’ve continued to work with them.  And it’s important to acknowledge that. The relationship is not all hot or all cold; it’s one where we agree on some issues and make progress, and disagree on some others.  And hopefully where we have seen enormous disagreement on Syria, we have now found potentially an avenue of agreement, where success, if it comes -- and we’re certainly a long way from that at this point -- if it comes, that would represent a real breakthrough. Q    Do you think canceling the Moscow stop got his attention? MR. CARNEY:  You’d have to ask the Russians. Last one. Q    I’ve got one question but it has two parts. MR. CARNEY:  That’s fair.  Thanks for the forewarning. Q    The first part being on Syria -- who is in the driver’s seat now, diplomatically -- Russia or the United States? MR. CARNEY:  We’re working directly with Russia.  John Kerry is with his Russian counterpart.  We’re working in New York with all members of the United Nations Security Council, including the other four permanent members, one of which is Russia.  And because Assad and the Syrian regime has been a patron of Russia, protected by Russia, obviously Russia plays a huge role in bringing about this change in Syria’s handling of its chemical weapons, and even its admittance that it has chemical weapons.  And that means -- that is very significant. Moving this forward requires the joint effort of the United States and Russia, and the consensus effort of nations on the United Nations Security Council.  So this is -- it’s not one nation; it’s many.  But there’s no question that the United States and Russia are key players. Q    And then just allow me to play devil’s advocate here.  Has the United States, by accepting Putin’s gambit here, put him in the arguably ironic position of claiming to be the peacemaker in this, which if his op-ed is any indication, would be what he apparently believes? MR. CARNEY:  Here is what I would say -- and we’re a long way from there and I do not, through this briefing or any other, want to convey anything but a sober assessment of the potential for success, because we are understandably skeptical -- but if we were to see a situation unfold where Assad were to give up his chemical weapons, all of them, to international supervision, that would be an enormous accomplishment and it would represent a wholesale change from where Syria and Russia were as recently as three weeks ago.  And I think that would be due significantly to the decisions made by the Russian leadership, but also the decisions made by the United States, by the President to take the approach that he has taken in response to the horrifying use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on its own people. Thank you all very much. END 2:55 P.M. EDT

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11 сентября 2013, 18:49

First Poland, Now Russia Take Credit For "Obama's Diplomatic Solution"

With Obama's initial punt to Congress backfiring terribly, as there was no way the president's Syrian attack proposal would garner the required majority in the House, the time came for damage control. And the White House, ever expedient, decided to spin the backtracking as Obama's original idea from the offset, and make it seem that a diplomatic "solution" in which the Syrian chemical weapons were contained was the whole point of the intervention. This, of course, ignores some quite blatantly obvious admissions by the White House itself, namely that the ultimate goal was always regime change in Syria: Rice: "Our overarching goal is to end the underlying conflict through a negotiated, political transition in which Assad leaves power" #Syria — White House Live (@WHLive) September 9, 2013 Oops. Nonetheless, stuck in a corner, that was the White House' story, and they are sticking with it. What is ironic, is that almost concurrently with the shift in narrative, others promptly came up demanding credit for the "diplomatic "solution." First Poland: Radek Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, first put the idea to John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and unnamed Russian officials in August. Russia was initially skeptical of his suggestion that Moscow assumed responsibility for Syria’s chemical weapons stocks. A Twitter message from Mr Sikorski revealed he was “pleased that Russia has taken up Poland’s suggestion of her role in dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal”. He added that he had “proposed the ultimatum” to John Kerry, the US secretary of state, after getting the support of the European People’s Party, a grouping in the European parliament, during a meeting on Saturday. Officials from the grouping said that Mr Sikorski had met Mr Kerry in Vilnius to promote the inspections. Another tweet contained a link to a news story on how Russia was now urging Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent destruction, and so avoid a military strike. In a television interview on Tuesday night, the Polish foreign minister said at first that Russia had failed to appreciate the proposal.  “But now they have changed their mind, and that is good because in Syria there are no good solutions,” he added. “I’m pleased we now have a faint path that could help us solve the problem of Syria’s chemical weapon’s arsenal without the use of force.” And now, not surprisingly, Russia jumps at the opportunity to take credit for what it deems its response to a tiny slip uttered by John Kerry on Monday: RUSSIA HAS GIVEN THE UNITED STATES ITS PLAN FOR PLACING SYRIA'S CHEMICAL WEAPONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL CONTROL -INTERFAX CITES SOURCE In other words: what was sure to be a war with potential unpredictable escalation now that the Mediterranean is a parking lot for US and Russian warships, has devolved into a political pissing contest. The good news is that no people will have to die as a result, and no matter how it is spun, Putin is still the winner if only for the time being: after all it is his gas, not Qatar's, that will heat Europe this winter. As for a potential re-escalation? Well, Obama can still push the button. Although with every passing day, the reverse Cuban Missile Crisis, in which it was Russia's turn to call the US bluff this time, seems increasingly less likely.        

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11 сентября 2013, 03:38

Congressman Promises to Hold Chemtrail Hearing

Melissa Melton Activist Post Representative Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) has recently promised to hold a hearing to investigate whether or not there is a secret program to spray a chemical soup of heavy metals and other toxins — better known as ‘chemtrails’ — into the skies above America without disclosure to the American people. While an airplane contrail fades and disappears behind the plane after just a few minutes, chemtrails do not disappear like the typical vapor trails do. Instead, chemtrails, typically found to contain heavy metals such as barium and aluminum, spread out and hang in the air for hours before settling as a murky haze on the horizon. Many people have attributed illnesses, including everything from asthma to Morgellons disease, to the chemtrail phenomenon. While fellow Republicans have dubbed Rep. Bentivolio ‘Krazy Kerry’ for telling his constituents he will call meetings such as this one, Bentivolio made the promise at an Aug. 21 town hall: "We’ll bring in some Air Force folks right here in our district. We can have an oversight reform committee hearing right here and we’ll investigate,” said Bentivolio in response to an audience question. “I’d like to find out about it too.” google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  According to the online publication Deadline Detroit, “Chemtrails, like FEMA is building concentration camps, vaccines cause autism, juice boxes make you gay, and 9/11 was a government plot, is one of those paranoid claims that can be believed only if you’re an idiot”.  Deadline Detroit writer Jeff Wattrick expounds on his astute observations: The chemtrail theory, for those of you who don’t speak crazy, asserts that some nefarious force (the government, the Trilaterial Commission, the Bildeberger Group, the communists, the bankers, corporate interests, or possibly all of them together) have spiked jet plane contrails — airplane exhaust, in lay terms — with chemicals designed to do, well, something. And it’s bad. Scientists have thoroughly and repeatedly debunked this theory, but it persists because maybe all the scientists are part of the conspiracy. Of course, they are.Opinions aside, scientists all across the globe have openly and repeatedly called for aerosols to be sprayed in the air under the guise of geoengineering — a supposed plan to save the Earth from anthropogenic global warming. According to Reuters, “Geo-engineering options include adding sun-reflecting chemicals to the upper atmosphere to mimic the effect of big volcanic eruptions that mask the sun.” A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters last year found, “The development of new, specialized aircraft appeared to be the cheapest option” to deliver a million tonnes of sunlight-dimming sulfates into the upper atmosphere for roughly $5 billion a year. Billionaire Bill Gates is even financially backing his own geoengineering initiatives and lobbying for wide-scale geoengineering projects. Further, a 2008 KSLA news investigation revealed heavy metals detected in high altitude chemtrails included lead, barium and arsenic among other potentially toxic substances; KSLA found test samples included more than six times the toxic level of Barium than what has been set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, the idea of using planes to spray heavy metals and chemicals into the air to manipulate the weather is not fiction or a conspiracy theory. In fact, the U.S. government has been working on weather manipulation with cloud seeding since at least the early '60s with Project Stormfury. More recently, the Central Intelligence Agency signed to the tune of $630,000 for a geoengineering study that would include, “solar radiation management — a fancy term for pumping particles into the stratosphere to reflect incoming sunlight away from the planet.” It looks like ‘Krazy Kerry’ isn’t so crazy after all. To say geoengineering is a conspiracy theory is just silly at this point considering the overwhelming evidence this is already going on over our heads as we speak. None of us are being told where and when it is happening, nor are the full health risks of tinkering with our environment and the air we breathe being divulged to us even though we have every right to know. Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple and a co-creator of Truthstream Media. Wake the flock up! 

10 сентября 2013, 22:32

Syria pledges to sign chemical weapons treaty and reveal scale of stockpile

Assad government offers measure as Russia and western powers wrangle at UN over necessity of military threatSyria said on Tuesday night it would sign an international chemical weapons treaty and admit the scale of its chemical weapons stockpile for the first time.The foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said his country would halt production of chemical arms, disclose the location of its existing arsenal and allow access to UN inspectors in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.Joining the convention implied a commitment to destroy the poison gases and nerve agents thought to be in Syria's possession, but a battle was looming at the UN over whether the timetable for Syrian disarmament should be enforced by the threat of military action.The US, Britain and France are preparing a hard-edged security council resolution backed by the possible use of force. Russia is proposing a much milder non-binding council declaration. As both sides manoeuvred for tactical advantage, Russia first summoned an emergency council meeting for 4pm on Tuesday then abruptly cancelled it.Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, insisted the disarmament process would work "only if the US and those who support it on this issue pledge to renounce the use of force, because it is difficult to make any country – Syria or any other country in the world – unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration".Russia proposes to work with the Assad regime and the UN secretariat to lay out a "workable, precise and concrete" disarmament plan with a timetable but no enforcement mechanism.After a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, admitted: "As I understood, the Russians at this stage were not necessarily enthusiastic – and I'm using a euphemism – to put all that into the framework of a UN binding resolution."The US, UK and France all stressed that they would not allow Russia or Damascus to play for time. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, told a hearing of the House of Representatives armed services committee that the US was waiting for details of the Russian proposal, "but we're not waiting for long".He said: "President Obama will take a hard look at it. But it has to be swift, it has to be real, it has to be verifiable. We have to show Syria, Russia and the world we are not going to fall for stalling tactics."US officials later said that Kerry would meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday for further talks. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Lavrov and Kerry spoke by telephone and the two "agreed to continue contacts, including the possibility of holding a personal meeting in the coming days."David Cameron delivered the same message in Westminster, saying the UK did not want the Russian disarmament proposal to be "some delaying tactic, some ruse to buy time for a regime that must act on chemical weapons".Referring to the planned UN resolution, the prime minister said "there would have to be consequences" if it wasn't done.However, the western powers' tough rhetoric is weakened by the lack of enthusiasm at home for military action. Parliament has ruled out British involvement in punitive strikes, and Barack Obama faces stiff resistance in Congress."I think there is a high risk of another car crash at the security council," said Richard Gowan of the centre for international co-operation at New York University. "It will be very, very difficult for Obama to accept a resolution that doesn't involve a threat to Assad. Putin is daring him to walk away from the UN and go back to Washington, knowing he can't count on support there. The Russians hope that when he's faced with that trap he will climb down."The White House abandoned its earlier plan to seek open-ended authorisation for punitive air strikes in response to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in a civilian massacre in eastern Damascus on 21 August. Instead, the Obama administration was working with a bipartisan group of eight senators to craft a new resolution that would set a deadline for Syrian co-operation with the UN on disarmament, and authorise the use of force if that deadline was broken.The Senate suspended plans to vote on military authorisation after meeting with Obama to discuss the proposed Russian deal. The majority leader, Harry Reid, said "it's important we do this well, not quickly" but called on Syria to show that its offer to hand over chemical weapons to international observers was "not a ploy".A fellow Democrat, Joe Manchin, who has opposed military action, said he was heartened by the meeting and said he would pursue a separate resolution giving the Syrians time to comply.On Tuesday Human Rights Watch said evidence from the massacre of civilians in eastern Damascus last month strongly suggested the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attacks.The report based its conclusions on testimony from witnesses and medical staff as well analysis of the armaments used, which HRW said were of a type used only by the Syrian military. The effect on the victims pointed to a nerve agent, "most likely sarin".It said it was impossible so far to give an exact death toll, but noted that the estimate in just one district was over 700 and that Médecins Sans Frontières had reported that at least 3,600 people were treated for symptoms consistent with exposure to neurotoxins.SyriaUnited NationsChemical weaponsRussiaMiddle East and North AfricaEuropeUnited StatesFranceForeign policyUS foreign policyJulian BorgerDan RobertsSpencer AckermanNicholas Watt theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds 

10 сентября 2013, 19:02

Cooking the Intelligence for War on Syria

Anthony Freda ArtStephen Lendman Activist Post All wars are based on lies. Truth is the ally of peace. It's the enemy of war. History repeats with disturbing regularity. It's doing so writ large now. It bears eerie resemblance to events preceding Bush's Iraq war. Pretexts are needed to sell wars. When none exist they're invented. Lies substitute for truth. So-called intelligence is cooked to fit policy. Ahead of Bush's Iraq war, Colin Powell knew Saddam had no WMDs. He lied claiming otherwise. He faked evidence to justify the unjustifiable. He claimed "facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction." (E)very statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are the facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world.No threat whatever existed. Powell lied claiming otherwise. John Kerry replicated his infamous moment. He did so four times. He's making the rounds abroad selling war. He's doing it based on lies. Lying is official US policy. Kerry lied blaming Assad for the August 21 suburban Damascus chemical weapons attack.  google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  "We can tell you beyond any reasonable doubt that our evidence proves the Assad regime prepared for this attack, issued instructions to prepare for this attack, warned its own forces to use gas masks," he said. We have physical evidence of where the rockets came from and when. Not one rocket landed in regime-controlled territory. Not one. All of them landed in opposition-controlled or contested territory.No evidence whatever exists. Kerry lied. Ghouta civilians were killed while they slept. Insurgents were responsible. Rockets were launched from territory they held. Credible evidence proves it. A previous article said the following: On August 29, Mint Press News headlined "Exclusive: Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack," saying: Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.Abu Abdel-Moneim lives in Ghouta. He's the father of an insurgent fighter. "My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry," he said. Some were "tube-like" in structure. Others were like a "huge gas bottle." They were stored in tunnels. Mint Press reported: Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault. More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.Prince Bandar bin Sultan's directly involved. He's Washington's point man against Syria. He's advancing the kingdom's top goal - destroying Assad, Iran's government and Hezbollah. Doing it involves arming and funding some of the most extremist elements. They're cutthroat killers. They're committing outrageous atrocities. They brag about them. Media scoundrels give them short shrift. Most often their crimes go unreported. Assad's wrongfully blamed repeatedly. He had nothing to do with attacking Ghouta. So-called intelligence claiming otherwise is fake. It's cooked. It's manufactured out of whole cloth. It's pretext for lawless aggression. US and UK intelligence officials admitted they're unsure who's responsible for attacking Ghouta. What motive could Assad have to kill Syrian civilians? Why would he do it while UN inspectors were investigating evidence of chemical weapons use? Why would he launch an attack close to where they were working? Why would he shoot himself in the foot? Kerry's "undeniable" proof doesn't exist. It's fake to fit policy. On September 8, London's Guardian headlined "Assad did not order Syria chemical weapons attack, says German press." Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper cited "high-level national security sources" saying Assad didn't order Ghouta's chemical weapons attack. Bild said German naval reconnaissance close to Syria's coast intercepted radio communications. It absolved Assad of responsibility. No evidence links him to it. Germany's foreign intelligence agency (BND) couldn't be reached for comment. Assad told CBS News: "There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people." Correspondent Charlie Rose interviewed him. On CBS News Face the Nation, he said: (H)e denied that he had anything to do with the attack. He denied that he knew, in fact, that there was a chemical attack. He suggested, as he has before, that perhaps the rebels had something to do with it. The most important thing as he basically says is that there has no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people. There is no evidence of that."(I)f the evidence (exists), then they should show (it) and make their case," he said. (H)e was calm. He knew the situation he was in. In fact, Damascus seemed relatively calm, the places that I was today. But there's a clear sense they are closely watching what is happening in Washington. I think the reason they did this interview today - we've been trying for a long time, but did it today because they're watching what happens in Washington."White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough appeared on five Sunday talk shows. He was selling war. He repeated the official lie. He equivocated, saying: Proof links Assad to attacking Ghouta. It's based on a "common sense test" rather than "irrefutable, beyond a reasonable doubt evidence." We've seen the video proof of the outcome of those attacks. All of that leads to a quite strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence that suggests that the regime carried this out. Now do we have a picture or do we have irrefutable beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence? This is not a court of law and intelligence does not work that way. "Nobody is rebutting the intelligence. Nobody doubts" it, he claimed. Attacking Assad creates "an opportunity to be bold with the Iranians," he added. Fact check Syria is prelude to attacking Iran. It bears repeating. The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. Iran is Washington's prime target. It's Israel's main regional rival. At issue is toppling Assad, isolating Iran, then pursuing regime change belligerently. It's longstanding US policy. McDonough practically admitted it. He cited fake evidence against Assad. He lied claiming "nobody doubts it." Overwhelming domestic and world opinion rejects it. Hundreds, perhaps a majority, on Capitol Hill do. On August 30, Infowars headlined "Bombshell: Kerry Caught Using Fake Photos to Fuel Syrian War," saying: He "referenced a photograph used by the BBC illustrating a child jumping over hundreds of dead bodies covered in white shrouds." "We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood," he said. The photo was fake. It's unrelated to Syria. It was taken in Iraq. It was in 2003. It was recycled. It's used against Assad. Kerry did so to justify war. It bears repeating. All wars are based on lies. Truth defeats the purpose of waging them. McDonough followed John Kerry's lead. He repeated Big Lies on five Sunday talk shows. Expect lots more ahead of Obama's 9/11 anniversary nationally televised address. He's selling war. He's going all out to do it. So are other administration officials. They're conducting a PR blitz. National Security Advisor Susan Rice will address a hawkish Washington think tank. Obama's "hitting the airwaves," said AP. "Top administration officials are heading to Capitol Hill for more classified briefings." Scores of AIPAC lobbyists are doing the same thing. Kerry's in Europe selling war. He appeared with UK Foreign Minister William Hague in London, saying: We know (Assad's) regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack. We know they deployed forces. (We know) where the rockets came from and where they landed and it was no accident that they all came from regime-controlled territory and all landed" in opposition-held territory. So the evidence is powerful and the question for all of us is what are we going to do about it. Turn our backs? Have a moment of silence?Fact check Credible evidence proved rockets were fired from insurgent held territory. Defenseless civilians were attacked. Doing so was a classic false flag. Assad's wrongfully blamed for Western-enlisted death squad crimes. They admitted responsibility for Ghouta's incident. Claiming it was accidental doesn't wash. It was well-planned and executed. If Kerry had verifiable proof otherwise, he'd reveal it. He can't. None exists. Lies substitute. So-called classified Capitol Hill briefings repeat them. Many, perhaps most, senators and congressmen aren't buying them. Some outspokenly said so. Heavy pressure's being applied to sway them. Obama wants congressional authorization for war. He'll wage it whether or not he gets it. Without it his plans may be delayed. They won't be deterred. Perhaps another major false flag is planned. Toppling Assad is policy. Obama wants him dead. He wants Syrian sovereignty destroyed. He wants pro-Western vassal governance replacing it. He wants Iran isolated. He wants Shah era harshness restored. Longstanding war plans are readied to be implemented. Obama intends destroying the Islamic Republic. Doing so may ignite conflict globally. It doesn't matter. US imperial priorities come first. Sacrificing humanity is a small price to pay. Washington policymakers think this way. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."  http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html    Visit his blog site at http://www.sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour  

10 сентября 2013, 01:33

Daily Briefing by the Press Secretary

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 1:30 P.M. EDT MR. CARNEY:  Thank you for being here.  We wanted to wait for Ambassador Rice to finish her remarks before starting this briefing.  Today I have with me at the top of this briefing the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor, Tony Blinken, whom many of you know.  Tony is here today because while many of us were traveling last week with the President, Tony and other senior administration officials were engaged in the effort to provide detailed information to members of Congress about the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21st.  He was a part of a group that provided classified briefings to I believe 185 members of the House and Senate, and is engaged in the overall outreach effort that so much of the administration is participating in now. So what I’d like to do is ask Tony to provide to you at the top here a summation of the presentation that he’s making, together with other officials.  And then he can stay and take a few questions, and then I’ve got to let him go to continue that effort and I’ll take your questions on Syria and other matters after that. With that, here’s Tony Blinken. MR. BLINKEN:  Jay, thanks very much.  Good afternoon.  Since the events of August 21st and this use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against its own people, we reached out almost immediately to members of Congress, who at that point were spread across the country, and we sought their views on what we should do.  And we heard different views, as you continue to hear today.  But one of the things we heard with near unanimity was a desire by Congress to have its voice heard and its vote counted in this matter.  And, of course, the President believes that we’re much stronger and more effective if we can act together, especially on matters of national security. So the President went out and made the announcement about his intent to take action, but also to seek Congress’s authorization to do so.  Since then, we’ve been engaged in a very deliberate and detailed process of trying to provide Congress all of the information we have so that they can make the best informed decision possible.  And as Jay said, we’ve conducted over the past week or 10 days a series of briefings -- many of them classified, some of them unclassified -- many conversations, as well on an individual basis with members. The classified briefings that I took part in, along with senior officials from the intelligence community, the Defense Department, the State Department, and the Joint Chiefs, I believe had about 185 members -- Republicans and Democrats, both Houses -- take part.  And we’ve had individual conversations coming out of those briefings as well. As we were doing that, we, of course, we’re working to build strong international support.  The President at the G20 worked on a joint statement on the need to reinforce the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons.  At that time, 11 countries, including the United States, signed on.  We now have an additional 15 who joined that statement.  Secretary Kerry was in Europe as well, working with Europeans and Arabs.  And we’ve been working every day at the United Nations and country by country. But in terms of what we’ve provided Congress let me just describe the top lines of the briefings -- obviously I won’t get into the classified part.  But the bottom line, as told Congress in these briefings, is that we concluded with high confidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on August 21st with rockets and artillery against its own civilians.  We told them that we concluded that well over a thousand have been killed, including hundreds of children. We ran through in detail the intelligence that we have -- intelligence that shows preparation for the attack; intelligence that shows the attack itself and its effects; post-attack observations by key participants; and then more recently, various physiological samples -- blood, skin, as well as soil -- that show that sarin was used. There’s also been, as you all know, an extraordinary body of contemporaneous public information that's come out about this incident -- videos, social media, much of which has been shown recently on television, eyewitness accounts, reports from NGOs, from doctors, from hospitals, from other countries.  And all of this taken together, we told Congress, led us to the conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that Assad had poisoned his own people with gas on August 21st. We made the case that it was very important to stand up for the international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, a prohibition that I think all of you know has been in place basically since the end of World War I.  We saw the terrible effects of poison gas being used on soldiers in World War I.  The Geneva Protocol emerged saying you can't do this again.  One of the very positive benefits of that is that since World War I, not a single U.S. soldier on the battlefield has been exposed to poison gas. And, of course, we noted for Congress its own strong stances in the recent past on this prohibition -- the Senate overwhelmingly passing the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly passing the Syria Accountability Act in 2003.  That was motivated in part by concern that Syria had chemical weapons.  Now Syria has used them. We made the case that enforcing this prohibition and this norm is profoundly in the national interest, first and foremost, to deter Assad from using these weapons again and making it more difficult for him to do so; to prevent the threshold against use from dropping lower, lower and lower to the point where our own soldiers and citizens could well be exposed; to make a political settlement in Syria more likely, not less likely; and of course to stop the threat to the neighbors, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, which as Secretary Kerry said about a week ago, are just a stiff breeze away from Syria.  And, finally, we made the case because others are watching.  Iran is watching what we're doing.  North Korea is watching what we're doing.  Hezbollah is watching what we're doing.  If we don't stand up and enforce this prohibition, they will take the wrong lesson from it.  Many members asked how what we proposed to do fit into our larger strategy for Syria.  And we explained that as we act to deal with the chemical weapons problem, it's in the context of a broader strategy that we've been pursuing for some time to try and bring the civil war in Syria to an end, to a negotiated political transition.  We believe that's the best way to do it because it offers the greatest prospect for their not being a vacuum after Assad leaves that could be filled by things as bad, if not worse, and also the best prospect for keeping the country and its institutions together. And so that broader strategy to deal with the underlying conflict has involved putting pressure on the Assad regime, isolating it, denying it resources.  It's involved building up the opposition.  It's involved a humanitarian program, the largest in the world by any single country.  And it's involved a diplomatic track to get agreement on basically what the principles for a political transition would look like.  What we're proposing to do to deal with the use of chemical weapons on August 21st is taking place in the context of that larger strategy.  It's separate from it, but it's happening simultaneous to it.  And of course, the primary objective of the force that we propose to use is to deter Assad from using the weapons again, is to degrade his ability to do so.  But it could also have the additional benefit of advancing the broader strategy of ending the civil war by making it clear to Assad that we can hold at risk things that he holds very dear. Finally, the last two points that we made in our briefings to Congress, along with some of the -- again, the details of the intelligence and some of the military plan that we're looking at, is we thought it was very important to say what this is and what this isn’t, because what we found in our engagement with members is that many of them had just returned from their home states and their home districts, and they were going to state fairs, they were going to town halls, and they were hearing from their constituents.  And it is perfectly normal and understandable that when an American hears in the news a headline, or on television hears military action in Syria, they immediately think of the last 10 years.  The frame that they process that through is a decade of war -- Iraq, Afghanistan -- 100,000 American troops in one, 150,000 American troops in the other. So we made it very clear to the members of Congress we were engaged with what this is and what this isn’t.  What this is, is a limited, tailored, but effective military action to deal with the use of chemical weapons.  What it is not is open-ended.  It is not boots on the ground.  It’s not Iraq.  It’s not Afghanistan.  It’s not even Libya. Finally, the case we made to members of Congress involved balancing the risks of action against the risks of inaction.  We made it clear that there are always risks in taking military action, and we spend many hours trying to game them out, to take steps to prevent them, and to mitigate them.  But it’s our judgment that the consequences of inaction are much greater and graver still.  If we don’t act, the international norm against the use of chemical weapons would be dangerously weakened.  The threshold for the use of these weapons would get lower and lower. The message to Assad would be that he can act with impunity -- and he’ll do it again.  It would make a political settlement in Syria less likely.  It would send a message to our partners and allies that we don’t mean what we say.  And it would send a message to Iran, North Korea, and other groups that it’s safe to pursue and indeed even use these weapons with impunity.  So that’s the case we made.  And we, of course, asked Congress to support a limited but decisive response to the use of chemical weapons. And let me stop with that. MR. CARNEY:  With that, we’ll start with a few questions for Tony.  Julie. Q    Thank you.  Thanks for doing this today.  One of the other questions that some lawmakers have is whether the President plans to proceed with a strike regardless of how they vote.  They don’t want to take sort of a meaningless vote here.  And you said over the weekend that it’s neither the President’s desire, nor his intention to use his authority without congressional backing. Do you stand by that statement that he’s not going to -- he has no intention of striking without congressional authority? MR. BLINKEN:  So I think what’s important here is that, again, we heard at the very outset in our earliest consultations with members of Congress that they wanted their voices heard and their votes counted in this.  And that’s the reason that the President went to Congress, because he believes we’re stronger when we act together.  And we heard clearly from them, including a letter signed by nearly 200 members of Congress early on that they wanted to be in on this debate.  I’m not going to jump ahead of the process.  I didn't speak very artfully.  The President -- it is clearly his desire and intent to secure the support of Congress for this action, but I don't want to get into any hypotheticals about what will or will not happen after the vote. Q    So you’re not necessarily standing by that? MR. BLINKEN:  I’m saying that there’s no point in jumping ahead of where we are now. Q    Tony, as you gather more evidence, this physiological evidence that you said, have you moved passed having simply a high degree of confidence to 100 percent certitude that this happened? MR. BLINKEN:  So here’s what’s important to understand.  The intelligence community has different levels of confidence that it expresses in any given assessment:  low, medium and high.  High is as high as they can go.  They will not tell you with 100 percent guarantee that anything has happened in terms of the assessment that they make.  They put together the facts, and we have certitude in the facts, and you put those facts together and you make an assessment, and then you evaluate that assessment, you grade it. And their grade is “high confidence.” That is well beyond “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a standard that I think many Americans are familiar with, and that is the standard that we’ve been using. Q    Tony, did this decision go all the way up to Assad himself? MR. BLINKEN:  Assad, we believe and we have the intelligence and evidence to back this up, is in control of the chemical weapons program and would have -- let me put it this way -- any standing orders to use these weapons would have been issued by Assad.  And our colleagues in the intelligence community showed in great detail the different individuals in the chain of command who were engaged in the activities of August 21st. Q    Tony, a couple of things.  Charlie Rose interviewed President Assad and said several things.  I won't go all through them.  But among the things he said, there will be repercussions if there is a United States military strike, and that the United States should be fearful of that -- direct and indirect repercussions.  He made a couple of veiled references to 9/11.  I’d like get your reaction to that. Secondly, today the Syrians and the Russians have announced this concept of international supervision and control of or maintenance of the chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria.  Do you have a reaction to that?  Or is that something that the administration would regard as a favorable move, or not?  And lastly, you’ve had the briefings, but you’ve lost ground in the Senate.  There are more Senate Democrats saying they don't want to support this than do.  Why are you losing ground? MR. BLINKEN:  First question with regard to Assad’s comments, let me just say this.  First of all, we take every possible precaution to make sure that we can prevent and defend against anything that might arise from the use of military action, and we've done that and will continue to do that.  And it is our judgment that President Assad and Syria would have very little interest in picking a fight with the United States of America.  So I don't think that is likely at all. Second, with regard to the reports today about this Russian initiative, we have seen the reports.  We want to take a hard look at the proposal.  We'll obviously discuss the idea with the Russians.  And of course, we would welcome a decision and action by Syria to give up its chemical weapons.  The whole point of what we're doing is to stop Syria from using these weapons again.  But I think it’s important to keep a few things in mind.  First of all, the international community has tried for 20 years to get Syria to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention, joining 189 other countries in doing so.  Now it is one of only five countries that haven't done it.  And just last week President Assad wouldn't even say whether he had chemical weapons despite overwhelming evidence he’s actually used them -- Q    Actually, in the interview -- MR. BLINKEN:  Well, exactly.  And of course, we've also tried to work with the Russians at the United Nations repeatedly on Syria and chemical weapons for months.  And until now they have blocked all of our initiatives including simple press statements, never mind a Security Council resolution.  So that's the background.  It’s also important to note that Syria has one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world; it’s spread across the country.  It would certainly take time, resources, and probably a peaceful environment to deal with this. All of that said, we're going to take a hard look at this.  We'll talk to the Russians about it.  But I think it’s very important to note that it’s clear that this proposal comes in the context of the threat of U.S. action and the pressure that the President is exerting.  So it’s even more important that we don't take the pressure off and that Congress give the President the authority he’s requested. Finally, in terms of where we are with Congress, my sense is this from all these briefings -- my sense is that when members of Congress have a chance to see the intelligence, to read it, to get the briefings, to ask questions, they come away convinced of two things:  Chemical weapons were used on August 21st against civilians in Syria, and the Assad regime is the one that used them.  Many, many members have yet to get this classified brief. And now, as they’re coming back today and this week, they’ll have the opportunity to do that.  And we have senior officials going out to provide the same briefing we gave last week.  And I believe that when they see the evidence, it is compelling, it’s overwhelming. And then it comes down to a pretty basic question:  Are we or are we not going to do anything about the fact that Assad poisoned his own people with gas, including hundreds of children? That’s the question before the members of Congress.  And when they have the evidence, when they see the facts, I think they’ll come to the right conclusion. Q    You said you’re taking a hard look -- the administration is taking a hard look at what the Russians have offered.  Does that mean that the Secretary of State, when he mentioned this idea in Britain earlier today, that that was a proposal coming from this administration? MR. BLINKEN:  No, no, no -- we literally just heard about this as you did some hours ago.  So we haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.  We haven’t had a chance to talk to the Russians about it yet.  We will. Q    But you’re aware that the Secretary said that Assad could turn it over, all of it, without delay.  That was not -- I mean, that seemed to set off this -- MR. BLINKEN:  No, I think he was speaking -- I believe he was answering questions, speaking hypothetically about what if Assad were to do this.  And, of course, we would welcome Assad giving up his chemical weapons, doing it in a verifiable manner, so that we can account for them and destroy them.  That’s the whole purpose of what we’re trying to achieve -- to make sure that he can’t use them again.  That would be terrific. But, unfortunately, the track record to date, including recent statements by Assad not even acknowledging that he has chemical weapons, doesn’t give you a lot of confidence.  But that said, we want to look hard at what the Russians have proposed, and we will. Q    I just want to make sure -- so is this an ultimatum coming from this White House to Bashar al-Assad?  This is an escape hatch for him? MR. BLINKEN:  Again, we will look at what the Russians have proposed.  We’ll talk to them about it, and we’ll see where it goes. Q    If I can, just within the last hour, Susan Rice said that failing to respond would increase instability in that region.  For a lot of Americans, the concern is that the opposite would take place.  In fact, if we did respond, that would create further instability in the region.  How can you assure Americans and Congress members that that’s not what would take place -- there would be further instability if we took action? MR. BLINKEN:  I think the case is very compelling that a failure to take action would produce all sorts of very, very negative consequences in terms of the interests of countries in the region, many of whom are our partners and allies, and in terms of the United States.  First and foremost, we know with some degree of certitude that the failure to take action would say to Assad, you can use these weapons again and again and again, and do it with impunity. And the more you have chemical weapons used in Syria, the chances of it spilling over to other countries and affecting them, eventually affecting us, goes higher and higher. Second, as you know, we have a real concern that countries that either have these kinds of weapons or aspire to get them will watch, and if we don’t take action, they’ll conclude that they can seek to acquire them and, indeed, use them with impunity.  So all of that adds to the level of risk and danger and threat to the United States.  In terms of taking action, again, what we’re talking about, it’s very important to understand:  This is limited, it’s focused, but we believe effective in terms of telling Assad, don’t use this again, and also making it more difficult for him to do so in a very practical way.  It is not going to war with Syria.  It is not Iraq.  It is not Afghanistan.  It’s not boots on the ground.  And so I think the chances of the action we propose to take leading to greater instability are very, very, very small.  To the contrary, a failure to act offers the real prospect of greater instability. Q    So then for Americans that fear after the first few days of strikes -- these limited, targeted, though effective strikes -- what happens on day four, five, and six?  What is the plan in that vacuum that could be created as a result? MR. BLINKEN:  So you’ll understand I can’t get into the details or the plan.  We’ve had an opportunity to get into this with members of Congress in a classified setting.  Ultimately, they have to make a judgment.  They’re the people’s representatives.  And I wish we could go into more detail with everyone, but that’s why you have elected representatives.  That’s their responsibility to make that judgment as well. Q    Did Putin discuss this with the President in St. Petersburg -- this idea of international control of the chemical weapons stockpiles? MR. BLINKEN:  So I was not in St. Petersburg.  I was back home, so I defer that to Jay. MR. CARNEY:  Perfect segue.  Thank you, Tony. MR. BLINKEN:  Thanks very much. MR. CARNEY:  Major, in answer to your question, we’ve been having conversations with the Russians for a long time about the chemical weapons in Syria, the threat they pose to the region, especially in an environment as we’ve seen in Syria of civil conflict and war.  And this has been an ongoing conversation.  I don’t have a specific conversation to -- Q    -- in the pull-aside in St. Petersburg? MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have any more of a readout of that conversation than we provided so far except to say that Syria was, as it has been for quite some time, a subject of conversation between the two leaders and all the various counterparts who have engaged in conversation between the U.S. and the Russians over these past several weeks and months. Q    Tony wouldn’t, but can you explain why the American people should believe -- absent the classified information you’re not going to give us -- that you can effectively persuade Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons again with a military strike without targeting the chemical weapons stockpiles? MR. CARNEY:  What we can say, Wendell, is that in a effective but limited way, we can degrade Assad’s capabilities -- specifically his capabilities to deploy again chemical weapons, and make clear to Assad the significant consequences of using those weapons.  And I think it’s important, within the context of some of the questions that Tony just answered, that the only reason why we have a dynamic today where the Russians have proffered a proposal and there’s been some response from the Syrians with regards to stockpiles of chemical weapons that they have heretofore not even acknowledged they have is because of the intense pressure being placed on Assad by the prospect of the United States engaging in military force in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people on August 21st.  And that is why it is so important to continue to put that pressure on Assad and to make clear to him that a prohibition that has been in place in many ways for a hundred years should not be violated without consequence.  And when you talk about not putting forth classified information -- of course, there is some information that we cannot, but there has been an enormous amount of information put forward to members of Congress and the public, and that is continuing to this day, that demonstrate that chemical weapons were used on August 21st to horrifying effect.  I really think it is something that everyone should do -- every adult, certainly, should do who has a concern about this -- to view those images that were shown over the weekend and I believe are available now, that demonstrate the horrific consequences of that attack on civilians and, in particular, children, and then ask themselves if they agree, as every member of Congress who’s had this briefing agrees, that chemical weapons were used on August 21st and that the Assad regime is responsible, and that that is in violation of a longstanding international prohibition -- should we do something about it?  Should there be consequences for it?  And if not, what the result of that inaction would be. Q    If I could follow that.  Are you saying, then, that this proposal the Russians have announced to try and pressure Assad to put his chemical weapons under international supervision is a result of the U.S. determination, the U.S. push for military action?  And in light of that, how do you respond to -- MR. CARNEY:  I think it has very explicitly been stated -- Q    If I can finish -- from lawmakers who say that the President got to this too late? MR. CARNEY:  The use of chemical weapons on a wide-scale basis occurred on August 21st, a few weeks ago.  The President decided that it was entirely appropriate in a circumstance like this to seek authorization from Congress, because we are stronger and more effective when we act in a unified manner.  So I do not think that this has been a question of responding too slowly.  In fact, in response to, as Tony said, the demands and suggestions of members of Congress that their voices be heard and their votes be counted, the President agreed.  And we have engaged in an effort to present facts to members of Congress so that they can make their own assessment about whether or not this international prohibition should be backed up, and that a violation of it should have consequences, because as Tony just said in response to Peter, the alternative is greater instability.  If there are no consequences, Assad gets the message that he’s free to use these weapons going forward.  And what you have potentially is an unraveling of that international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons with potentially even more devastating consequences in the region and the world. Q    And the Russian proposal growing out of this push for military action? MR. CARNEY:  I think it has been explicitly stated by Russian officials that this is an effort to avert action being taken by the United States with the support of many nations and hopefully with the support of Congress.  And so I think it's explicitly in reaction to the threat of a retaliation for this use of chemical weapons against civilians.  Mara, and then Julie. Q    Today, John McCain, who’s been one of your real allies in this, joined the kind of chorus of critics of your lobbying effort.  And specifically, he took exception to Secretary Kerry's remark that the strike would be "unbelievably small."  He said that was "unbelievably unhelpful."  Can you explain what Kerry meant by saying it was "unbelievably small"? MR. CARNEY:  Certainly.  I think that Secretary Kerry clearly was referring to that in the context of what the United States and the American people have experienced over this past 10, 12 years, which includes large-scale, long-term, and as it seemed at least prior to President Obama coming into office, open-ended military engagements with boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.  And that is the contrast that Secretary Kerry was making.  I don't think that the phrasing reflects some error.  It's a fact that by comparison this is certainly much more limited and of a smaller duration and size. Q    He wasn't talking about the results with the "unbelievably small."  He was talking about the operation itself, right? MR. CARNEY:  We said very clearly that if implemented that the action would in important ways degrade Assad's capabilities and certainly deter him from further use of chemical weapons.  Q    But wait, Jay, are you saying -- does the White House  -- MR. CARNEY:  Jon, I did call on Julie.  And then I'll get to you.  Thanks.  Q    I think we all get that this chemical weapons security proposal from the Russians may be an effort on their part to try to avert military action.  But I think the question is, is it also a U.S. effort to try to avert military action?  Did John Kerry purposefully raise this possibility this morning as a way to try to find another option here besides a strike? MR. CARNEY:  I think you can accept that it is our position, and has been for some time, that the Syrian regime not only should not use but should not possess stockpiles of chemical weapons.  And we would welcome any development -- and would have for some time now -- that would result in the international control of and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. What I think you're seeing in a very fluid environment is with the threat of military action, Syria and Russia -- which has clearly been an ally of Syria -- coming up with potential proposals that might, if implemented, avert military action. Now, I think it's important to say that we will study this. We will work with the Russians and speak with them.  But it is also important to note, of course, that we would have some skepticism about the Assad regime's credibility -- as was noted by Major I think, even as recently as in the last 24 hours Assad has refused to even acknowledge that he possesses chemical weapons, which, of course, the whole world knows that he does.  The whole world knows that he uses them. Q    Was this a coordinated thing today with Kerry saying this, as far as raising this possibility and then the Russians coming out with a proposal? MR. CARNEY:  I’m not going to -- I think what I will only say is that there are ongoing conversations on this matter at the highest levels, and obviously that includes conversations with the Russians.  And we will study that proposal that, as Tony said, has just come forward and see if there is action that can be taken upon it. But we have to be mindful of the failure of the Assad regime for so long now, 20 years, to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention; for the last several years to allow for -- or at least the last year -- to allow for U.N. inspectors until the last moment in the wake of the August 21st attack, and only then after they stalled U.N. inspectors for days while they bombarded the neighborhood.  So this is not a history of promises being kept. Having said that, we’ll certainly look at this and we’ll certainly discuss it with the Russians.  It is important to note, as I’ve said, that we would not be having this conversation, that any positive reaction to the suggestion that they would forsake their chemical weapons by the Syrian government would never have been forthcoming if it weren’t for the fact that there is the credible threat of U.S. military action in response to their use of those weapons. Jon, I think I said, and then Scott. Q    All right, so to follow up on both those -- would the administration be willing to delay military action while taking a hard look at this Russian proposal? MR. CARNEY:  Well, we’ll have discussions with the Russians. We’ll have discussions with others.  I think the Secretary General has made some statements today that are related in the broader sense to this disposition of Syrian chemical weapons. Meanwhile, we are engaged in an effort to discuss and provide information -- discuss with and provide information to lawmakers here in Congress, as many more of them make their way back to Washington, and avail themselves of the kinds of briefings that Tony discussed in our effort to secure authorization from Congress.  So this is not -- this effort is ongoing, and I’m sure that on a parallel track, that conversations will take place with Russians and others with regards to this possible proposal. Q    So was that a yes, that while you’re having -- would the administration delay military action while taking a hard look at this proposal, while having those discussions you just -- I mean you’re not going to start bombing Syria while you’re negotiating with the Russians, are you? MR. CARNEY:  But you’re spinning forward here.  We’ve just had a proposal articulated by the Russians with a response of sorts by the Syrian Foreign Minister, as reported anyway, and we’ll engage in conversations about that.  But we are -- in terms of military action, we are obviously engaged with Congress at this point.  So while we have these discussions with the Russians and others, we will continue in the effort with Congress. I think I said Scott -- Jon and then Scott, yes. Q    But is this notion of an “unbelievably small effort” were the words of the Secretary of State -- does the White House stand by that characterization that this would be an unbelievably small effort? MR. CARNEY:  I think it’s important here -- and this goes to I think Julie’s first question, too, to Tony Blinken -- that you guys -- we’re spending a lot of time making the case in public and with members of Congress.  I think it’s very clear what that case is.  You can focus on phrases that a senator might take issue with, but you know exactly what Secretary Kerry was referring to, just as I think Tony made clear what he was referring to in terms of the President’s focus right now.  The size and scope of the contemplated military action is small in comparison to what we have been engaged in, in this country for the past dozen years -- large-scale, open-ended military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with enormous costs to military families, enormous sacrifice and bravery and courage, and obviously enormous financial cost.  The President committed, when he ran for office, to end the war in Iraq responsibly, and he has done that.  He has committed  -- after making sure that we focused in an appropriate way on the effort in Afghanistan, and that included plusing up our forces -- to winding down that war, and he is keeping that commitment. This is something quite different.  This is a response to the violation of an international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons that would be limited in scope, would involve no boots on the ground -- no American troops serving on the ground in Syria -- in an operation that would be limited in scope and duration, but would have a specific impact on Assad’s capabilities, in response to this abominable violation of the international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons. In the meantime, we would engage with the Russians and with others in the effort to bring about the only possible outcome in Syria in terms of the civil war, and that is a political settlement. Scott. Q    Thanks, Jay.  You’ve talked about the need to act now to deter future chemical weapons use.  Is there regret inside the White House that a swifter, more forceful White House response the last time chemical weapons were used in Syria eight months ago may have deterred this use this time? MR. CARNEY:  There is a significant difference in terms of the size and scope and impact of the use that we saw on August 21st and the prior instances that we assessed and the intelligence community assessed with high confidence represented the use of these weapons by the Assad regime.  And it is because of the overwhelming scope of this use -- the amount of chemical weapons used, the breadth of the consequences when it comes to civilian casualties -- that it is the President’s view and the view of many others that this must be responded to, that Assad has to be held accountable. And in response to those earlier uses, we obviously took action, as did other members of the international community, in terms of stepping up our assistance to the Syrian opposition, including the military opposition.  But this case is obviously far more egregious, as anybody who has seen those videos and other evidence knows. Q    But that’s not so much comparing apples to apples. MR. CARNEY:  The answer to your question is, no, we obviously took action in response to those much smaller-scale uses of chemical weapons.  This is qualitatively, in the most horrific way -- Q    It was handled correctly and would not have been able to prevent this no matter how you reacted? MR. CARNEY:  I believe that we took appropriate action then. And in seeking congressional authorization for limited military now, we’re doing the right thing.  Q    You made a slight reference to this earlier.  The U.N. Secretary General is thinking about taking this to the Security Council of transferring Syria’s chemical weapons to safe sites where they can be stored and destroyed.  Is that something you want? MR. CARNEY:  I was just simply responding to the fact that the Secretary General, as I saw on television before I came out here, was also discussing the issue of the disposition of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, to say that these conversations are taking place in the context of the threat of U.S. military action in response to the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Syria on a massive scale that led to the agonizing deaths of more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children. How this plays out will obviously depend on the conversations we have with the Russians and the level of seriousness in response to those proposals that the Syrian government brings to the discussions.  There’s not a great history here when it comes to Syrian credibility or the Assad regime’s credibility.  But we would certainly discuss this with the Russians as well as with the Secretary General. Let me give others -- Major and then I’ll get to the back, Carol. Q    Do you want Congress to wait while you assess the credibility of this Russian-Syrian proposal? MR. CARNEY:  No.  As I think Tony said and others have said even in the last couple of hours, that it’s precisely because of the process we’ve undertaken in enlisting international support and the process we are undertaking in making the case to members of Congress, and the resulting threat of military force that that has produced, we are seeing these proposals, we’re seeing this potential avenue put forward.  And it is because that pressure exists that we cannot let up in applying that pressure.  And we need to make clear to Assad, as well as the Russians and others, that we’re very serious about the need to respond to the violation of this important prohibition. And we also need to make clear that there are consequences to inaction when it comes to our national security:  more instability in the region; the threat of further use of chemical weapons; the threat of proliferation of these weapons around the region and the world; and the signal that failing to hold Assad accountable would send to Tehran and Hezbollah and other potential bad actors when it comes to the use of these kinds of weapons. Q    The only reason I ask is, as you know, Senator Manchin and Senator Heitkamp had this proposal -- I asked the President about it in St. Petersburg on Friday -- about a 45-day period to give the Syrians a chance to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, hand over their chemical weapon stockpiles.  These things now appear to be merging in public.  Is that an alternative that the administration would support?  Or would it prefer the Senate only deal with the authorization before it and consider no other matters? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would refer to specific timetables in the Senate to the Senate Majority Leader’s office.  What we are focused on is making the substantive case to lawmakers, as well as to the public -- and we’re engaged in a broad effort from the President on down to do that -- about what happened on August 21st, the incontrovertible fact that weapons were used that night -- chemical weapons were used that night to horrifying effect, and the fact that beyond a reasonable doubt, the Assad regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons on that night, and we need to -- as a matter of our own national security interest  -- take action, with the support of many nations around the world and with the support of Congress.  And that’s why we’re making the case. Q    One last thing.  To the degree you’re aware of it, Charlie Rose had this interview with Assad.  Do you have any comment on some of the many things that Assad said about his regime, about his chemical weapons, about other elements of possible repercussions if there are attacks?  Has the President been made aware or briefed on the contents?  Because it’s kind of -- we haven’t heard from Assad in this kind of extensive format. I wonder if you had any overall assessments or to the degree the President has been briefed. MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President, obviously, is being briefed regularly on situations with regard -- with matters with regard to the situation in Syria.  And I don’t know specifically what he was briefed on when it came to the Assad interview, but I’m very confident he’s aware of it.  What Tony said in terms of the threat of repercussions is what I will echo, which is that we obviously assess what kind of reactions or actions might be taken in response to the kind of action we’re contemplating.  I think Tony’s assessment that we do not believe it would be -- that the Assad regime would view it as in their interest to engage in a war with the United States. Q    Or Hezbollah. MR. CARNEY:  And I think that's true there, too.  But we will take every precaution necessary.  We are very confident that we are more than capable of responding to or handling any reaction to that action.  Carol. Q    Last Friday, Samantha Power said that the administration had exhausted all alternatives to military force in regards to Syria.  Does the White House believe that the administration has exhausted all alternatives to military force? MR. CARNEY:  We have spent the two years that there has been a civil war in Syria engaging the international community, trying to get the United Nations Security Council to act and hold Assad accountable.  Russia and China have blocked those efforts. We have worked in a concerted way with the opposition and with many partners around the world in providing support to the moderate opposition, as well as significant humanitarian relief to the Syrian people who have been so horribly affected by this conflict.  When it comes to the use of chemical weapons, we have made clear again and again to the Assad regime -- from the President on down -- that there would be consequences.  And there must be consequences for the use of chemical weapons.  And that was deliberate because it was -- in our view, it would be a terrible thing, a terrible precedent if Assad were to use those weapons in this conflict.  Now he has done so, and he has done so on a massive scale with all the horror as a result that we've seen.  Now, that is why we are where we are, and that is why the President has been making this case internationally and why he has been making this case domestically. We will obviously, in response to what we've talked about here, assess proposals put forward by the Russians, assess other proposals.  But the fact is Assad used these weapons against his own people, murdering more than 1,400 -- including more than 400 children.  And if everyone acknowledges that that's the case, as every lawmaker who has had this briefing has acknowledged is the case, then the question only becomes, should there be consequences for that.  And that is the question we're asking every lawmaker as they contemplate this vote. Q    So the answer is, no, you haven't exhausted all -- MR. CARNEY:  I'm not sure.  I mean, this is --  Q    I mean, if you're reviewing the Russian proposal, then you're essentially saying that -- MR. CARNEY:  When she said that, the Russian proposal hadn't been proffered.  I think it was proffered in the last couple of hours.  Q    Right.  So what I'm asking is -- I’m asking has that changed.  Is your view right now -- the White House's view -- that you have exhausted all other options besides the military force, or you haven't? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think we've answered this question -- because there is now this new statement by the Russians, the Foreign Minister, as well as a response by the Syrian Foreign Minister, and we are going to study it and engage with the Russians and others on it.  But we must continue to keep the pressure on the Assad regime with the threat of U.S. military action, because it is precisely that threat that has even led to this kind of proposal.  I think that's clear to anybody who is watching this.  Emel. Q    Nadia. MR. CARNEY:  Nadia, sorry.  Q    Do you see the Syrian government acceptance of the Russian proposal as an admission from the Syrian government they actually have chemical weapons?  Because they never admitted it before?  And, second, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition dismissed the Russian proposal as a gimmick.  And the State Department already says that they have doubts about the Russian proposal.  What the White House is saying now is that they're willing to give it a consideration.  Is this contradictory?  MR. CARNEY:  No.  I think we've made clear that we're highly skeptical of the credibility of the Syrian regime.  And I think that as early as this morning, at least when it was broadcast, and so I think within the last couple of days, Bashar al-Assad would not even acknowledge that his country had stockpiles of chemical weapons, let alone acknowledge that his regime used them on multiple occasions, most significantly on August 21st. So that is just the beginning of a case for why there should be ample skepticism -- and there is.  But there is no question, because of the potential for U.S. military action, that we have seen some at least indications of a potential acceptance of this proposal.  But this is a very early stage.  And we're obviously going to discuss this with the Russians.  We're obviously going to study it.  But we will do so with a certain amount of skepticism, for obvious reasons. And I think the response that I've seen anyway, the public response that I've seen from the Syrian government, the Assad government, so far falls fairly short of even acknowledging that they have these weapons.  Q    Jay, just a quick follow-up.  The German government seems also to be on board with the Russian proposal.  MR. CARNEY:  I'm sorry? Q    The German government seems to be on board with the Russians in the same proposal that apparently has been discussed during the G20, that actually there is a political solution whereby Assad will exit before 2014 election, which is -- MR. CARNEY:  Well, that's separate from -- Q    -- to the chemical weapons MR. CARNEY:  Right, so you're talking about -- there's the matter of the use of chemical weapons and the disposition of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile.  Separate from that, there is an ongoing effort -- and we work with the Russians on this -- within the context of the Geneva system that has been in place where we are trying to bring about a political resolution to the Syrian conflict.  That is the only resolution achievable that would allow for the Syrian state to remain in place, for institutions to remain in place, and that would allow for a semblance of stability in the aftermath of this conflict. And it is our strongly held view that a leader who has massacred his own people, and who has gone so far as to fire chemical weapons -- sarin gas -- and gassed his own people to death has long ago forsaken any opportunity or credibility he might have to continue to lead his people.  But that is -- we are absolutely engaged in that process, and we have had that discussion and will continue to have that discussion with the Russians, as well as many other nations that understand that the only resolution to this conflict in the long term has to be through a political negotiation. Alexis, and then Anita. Q    Jay, can I just follow up on two things?  Can I just clarify -- for those senators who are either unsure right now how they would vote this week, or reluctant to vote for approval based on the resolution they’ve seen so far, and they come and they talk to the administration and they're interested in this potential avenue that you’ve described here that we’ve discussed, what is the White House going to tell them if they say they’d like to know more about the outcome of that potential avenue before they cast a vote this week?  What’s the answer? MR. CARNEY:  Well, again I think we need to note, as Tony did, that this proposal has only recently been put forward, first of all.  And we are going to study it, and we’re going to speak with the Russians, and we’ll speak with others about it and assess it.  Two, we will explain to lawmakers -- and I think it a fairly easy case to make -- that the only reason why we are seeing this proposal is because of the threat of U.S. military action in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons.  Heretofore, the Russians have not been very helpful when it comes to -- at all helpful when it comes to holding Assad accountable for either his use of chemical weapons or his wholesale slaughter of his own people.  And certainly, the Assad regime has not been cooperative when it comes to U.N. inspections into their use of chemical weapons or even acknowledging the fact that they have these stockpiles, let alone that they used them.  So it is precisely because of this very public discussion and presentation of evidence we’re engaged in, and because of the accumulating international support for action, and the pressure that all of that has brought to bear on Assad and the Russians and others, that we are seeing this.  So we will make the case to lawmakers that we need to keep the pressure up for that reason. Q    But just to follow up, you would want them to cast their vote without knowing exactly how this plays out? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think to -- yes, because the vote -- the authorization continues to put pressure on Assad and is the only reason why a proposition like this would have any chance of bearing fruit.  If Assad believes that there’s no threat of retaliation for his use of chemical weapons, it’s hard to imagine that he will suddenly volunteer to give them up. Q    And my second follow-up or question was, in referring to the discussions with the Russians about the potential avenue, I’m not sure -- what would prevent the President of the United States right now issuing an ultimatum of his own to Assad, to the Syrian regime, and saying, here’s what we want to see, do this on this timetable, follow it out, follow it through? MR. CARNEY:  That’s a hypothetical.  What we’re seeing now is reaction to the possibility of a U.S. military action and a proposal put forward by the Russians, and we will study it and engage with the Russians, as well as others, to see how serious it is and how credible the Syrian reaction is.  In the meantime, we need to make sure that we keep the pressure on, through the engagement with the international community that we’ve undertaken and through the case that we’re making to both Congress and the American people about why in a very limited way but an effective way we must respond to the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. Anita. Q    Can you just talk a little bit about tomorrow’s speech? Obviously, you can’t give us copies yet, but could you just talk about -- there’s been a few polls in the last day or two that show the American people are -- many are opposed, a lot of people not paying attention, not sure what’s going on.  The President obviously can’t release classified information, so what can he share with them tomorrow that might help them understand what’s going on? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I appreciate the question and I’d say a couple of things.  One is, it is entirely understandable that the American people and their representatives would be and are weary and wary of military engagement.  They have every reason to be after the sustained military action that this country has taken over the past dozen years.  As a starting point, that is an entirely understandable place to be. I think that, while we here in Washington all consume high quantities of the same information all the time, and we hear all of you who cover him, and all of us who work with him and for him hear the President make this case, and think, well, then, everybody has heard it -- the fact is, as you noted, many people haven’t.  And they may know only the headline they read or the snippet they heard on the news that President Obama is making the case for a military strike in Syria.  And that, understandably, might raise some concern, given where we’ve been over these past 12 years.  And that is why it is important, A, to make the case about what happened; about the horrific consequences of the use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians in Syria, including children; about why this is in our national security interest to respond to make sure that this prohibition against chemical weapons use is maintained; and why it’s important to have the Congress join the President in support of that action. So that’s what the American people will hear from the President tomorrow night.  It’s what those who heard him in his press conference the other day heard him say, and it’s what, when he gives interviews, they’ll hear him say again.  And we understand that we need to make the case and explain the facts more than once, because that’s the only way to reach as many people as we can.  So that’s what we’ll be undertaking today, tomorrow and beyond as we engage with Congress and the American public and the international community on this issue. Jen, last one. Q    Does the President think it would be legal to launch a military strike in Syria? MR. CARNEY:  I think you saw that Kathy Ruemmler addressed this is in an article today.  The answer is, yes, in a legitimate response.  And what I can tell you is the President believes that congressional authorization enhances the argument; that it’s important in this case, because of the facts based on the assessment given by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs that we can act militarily in a day or a week or a month, as the President said, and have the desired impact that we seek.  And, therefore, given that, he felt it was very important to get congressional approval.  But he’s also made clear that he believes he has the authority as Commander-in-Chief and President to take action.  But we are better and stronger if we, in these circumstances, seek and receive authorization from Congress. Q    When you say “legitimate,” you mean legal?  MR. CARNEY:  Again, I would point you to what White House Counsel said, since she addressed this and others have.  Obviously -- I mean, we have a circumstance here, because Assad is a client of the Russians, that we have not been able to achieve action from the United Nations Security Council.  And it simply cannot be the case that in a circumstance like that, a violation of a prohibition against chemical weapons use should be ignored with all the consequences of ignoring that.  And so the President is making his case. We obviously have received international support for taking action, and that international support continues to increase.  And the President is very mindful of and we understand the weariness about this kind of action in the public and in Congress, and that’s why we’re making the case that we’re making.   Thanks, all. END 2:24 P.M. EDT

10 сентября 2013, 00:16

Saudis, Israel Lobbying U.S. for Attack on Syria

America to serve as mercenary army in attack on Syria funded by Middle Eastern client states? Aaron Dykes Activist Post The two strongest voices pushing for war with Syria come from two nations that typically prefer to remain in the shadows – Saudi Arabia, who’ve recently negotiated openly with John Kerry to bankroll the proposed bombing campaign, and Israel, via AIPAC, who have launched a high-pressure lobbying campaign to gain support from Congress. The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), self-proclaimed to be one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, is descending on Capitol Hill to make a hard push to authorize strikes on Syria – with future action against Iran in view, even as Congress is poised to vote no on Obama’s authorization for Syrian strikes. According to Politico: Officials say that some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. They are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress, arguing that “barbarism” by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated, and that failing to act would “send a message” to Tehran that the U.S. won’t stand up to hostile countries’ efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, according to a source with the group.The lobbying effort is so great that it led one White House official to make a comment that would later be cut from the New York Times: “One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC ‘the 800-pound gorilla in the room,’ and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, ‘If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line’ against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, ‘we’re in trouble.’ Meanwhile, over the weekend, the White House announced that it had “won the backing of Saudi Arabia for a strike while still laboring to persuade a deeply reluctant Congress.” Support from Qatar and other Arab players was also confirmed in benignly worded reports like CNN’s Kerry: Saudi Arabia OK with international military strike on Syria. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  But that diplomatically toned statement underplayed reports that show the Saudis have been leading the charge. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Arabia has outright offered to pay for the strikes, even agreeing to fund a full-scale invasion. So who who stands to benefit from that?  ‘With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assist, the answer is profoundly yes,’ Kerry said. ‘They have. That offer is on the table.’ Asked what the specific figures were, Secretary of State John Kerry replied: “We don’t know what action we [will be] engaged in right now but they have been quite significant. I mean, very significant.” [emphasis added] “In fact, some of them have said that if the U.S. is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost. That’s how dedicated they are to this,” Kerry stated. Over the weekend, Sec. Kerry met with members of the Arab League Peace Initiative in Paris, including Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal and looked quite chummy and downright ecstatic over agreements to support the attack on Syria. Do these photos reveal genuine concern over the deaths of civilians by a chemical attack or the grin of big business churning its wheels? Again, who stands to gain from this bombing? What justice would it possibly serve? You guys are about to bomb Syria, what's so funny? Sec. John Kerry meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal. (Used under fair use for critique and analysis...17 USC § 107Historian Webster Griffin Tarpley has further asserted that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are attempting to bribe U.S. officials into agreeing to action against Syria. Tarpley told Press TV that “The Saudis and the Qataris are reported to be deploying huge amounts of money for bribery, bribery to the families and political and business interests of these members of Congress.” “Hillary Clinton has received 500,000 dollars in jewelry from the king of Saudi Arabia and Hillary Clinton just came out for war,” according to Tarpley. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have officially had a vested interest in the Syrian “civil war” since 2012 when the Arab states announced their funding for the Syrian rebel army. More recently, Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, reportedly confronted Putin with a bare proposal to receive oil in return for dropping its support for Syria, while simultaneously making implicit threats to unleash Chechen terrorists on Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics. Bandar further acknowledged his country’s control over the Chechen terrorists already operating to destabilize the Assad regime inside Syria. For their part, the AIPAC lobby is in the process of persuading Congress to support Syrian military action, using their purported weight in campaigns and elections as leverage. Author M.J. Rosenberg, a former writer for AIPAC’s newsletter and later critic of the organization’s influence, outlined the modus operandi for their lobbying effort, arguing that the group’s reputation for making or breaking campaigns for election/reelection make their influence on Syria difficult for many in Washington to ignore: AIPAC and its cutouts are the only lobbying forces supporting the administration’s plans for war and Congress will make the decision. It should be a good moment for AIPAC to make its case. Members of Congress are now in intense fund raising mode for the 2014 primaries and general election. When AIPAC visits in the next week or two, it will make the case for war with that looming overhead. [...] And that is why AIPAC should win. If it doesn’t and if the Members of Congress who voted “no” are re-elected anyway, then the #1 tool AIPAC has going for it will be broken. That is the belief that it is invincible because of the campaign donations its directs both to those who support it and to defeat those who don’t.In the final analysis, it becomes alarmingly clear that U.S. leaders are NOT acting on behalf of the interests of the American people, nor are they acting out of “humanitarian” concerns for civilians killed by dictators. Instead, there is ample evidence of sworn U.S. officials partnering with foreign entities who stand to gain significant leverage in the region by taking out Syria. President Obama has urged to Congress to vote in favor of bombing Syria (and opening the door to a larger military action) despite clearly recognizing the voice of the American people to rejectthis action. Melissa Melton reported for the Daily Sheeple on Obama’s startling comments: Obama is telling our Congress — the people duly elected by the citizens of the United States to represent them in their government — to vote for bombing Syria even if the American people are overwhelmingly against any military action whatsoever in Syria. "One of your closest allies in the House said yesterday, when you’ve got 97% of your Constituents saying no it’s kind of hard saying yes,” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl told President Obama, asking bluntly, “Why should members of Congress go against the will of their constituents and support your decision on this?”Obama responded: Each member of Congress is going to have to decide if [they] think it’s the right thing to do for America’s national security and the world’s national security. Ultimately, you listen to your constituents, but you’ve got to make some decisions about what you believe is right for America.With the potential to spark a wider war via Iran, Russia or other players, Americans have ever reason to reject military action in Syria. There are no good guys, and even creating a net balance for the U.S. role in world power seems nebulous at best. It appears that this once great nation has fallen under the yoke of foreign influence. It’s military might little more than a mercenary army for hire. Our officials are telling the American public it must brace for another war, and muster support for Western-backed al Qaeda groups working as Syrian rebels, all while the economy and jobs at home continue to undermine our freedom and security. It’s not too late to call Congress and insist that the United States look after its own interests rather than submit to counterproductive entanglements with no clear objectives and little, if anything, to benefit U.S. involvement. Foreign lobbyists must not come before Constitutional limits, moral imperatives and the will of the American people, no matter how much money is dangled in front of bought off leaders. We have created a Twitter campaign to easily retweet your opposition (or customize your message) to all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and have called numerous leaders in Washington both for and against war in Syria, as well as numerous individuals reportedly undecided or ‘on the fence.’ Please consider voicing your concerns as well! Aaron Dykes is a co-founder of TruthstreamMedia.com, where this first appeared. As a writer, researcher and video producer who has worked on numerous documentaries and investigative reports, he uses history as a guide to decode current events, uncover obscure agendas and contrast them with the dignity afforded individuals as recognized in documents like the Bill of Rights.

09 сентября 2013, 05:25

Syria and the Swinging Pendulum

The Tide Has Changed Robert Bonomo Activist Post Since 9/11 the state’s power has grown exponentially and its ability to wage war and infiltrate a digitized populace has reached epic proportions, but the pendulum has reached its apogee. The Obama Administration has made a terrible miscalculation regarding the public’s reaction to its proposed military intervention in Syria and it appears the President will not be able to garner the votes needed in Congress to pass the resolution in support of his plan to attack Assad. As Private Manning sits in a prison cell and Edward Snowden lives in exile, AIPAC is working tirelessly to lobby Congress to pass the war resolution, but the public’s heart is with Snowden and Manning, not Netanyahu. If Obama and AIPAC lose this vote their grand plan to confront Iran’s nuclear aspirations will crumble. If Americans reject a military intervention in order to punish Assad for his supposed use of WMDs, how will they ever support taking on the Iranian regime for just having them? This is not the same America that re-elected George Bush in 2004. Kerry’s Case Secretary of State John Kerry made a forceful argument in favor of intervention: In an increasingly complicated world of sectarian and religious extremist violence, what we choose to do -- or not do -- matters in real ways to our own security. Some cite the risk of doing things. We need to ask what is the risk of doing nothing. It matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity even after the United States and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  Many Americans would have rallied to this call for war in the early years of this century, but not now. They know that President Obama has killed hundreds of innocent civilians with drones, some of them even Americans. They know that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed under false pretenses. Not only were innocents killed and money wasted, but strategically Iraq has moved under the influence of supposed arch enemy Iran, while the Taliban are simply waiting for the NATO troops to leave before making their final assault on the puppet government installed in Afghanistan. What was also conspicuous in Mr. Kerry’s speech was what he didn't mention. Are the Saudis, the Qataris, and the CIA also ‘thugs’ for financing, training and facilitating a civil war that has killed over a hundred thousand people? And why are the Saudis and Qataris doing this and why don’t we stop them? Apparently Mr. Kerry believes there is something ‘sectarian and religious’ about bringing natural gas from Qatar to Europe through a proposed pipeline through Syria. Since almost 25% of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia’s Gazprom, the Russian angle becomes clear. But if Americans aren't buying the WMD story, it’s even more unlikely they would support a war to reduce Gazprom’s market share in Europe. The Danger Democracy is a messy business; and if we had one, we would be reminded of it constantly. However, we live in a plutocracy where public opinion is created through corporate media. The fabricated message being sent is that Muslims are the enemy and Israel is our closest ally. Israel, however, does have a real problem with its Muslim neighbors - especially Syria, Iran, Lebanon and the Palestinian state it occupies. In a democracy there would be a stormy debate as to whether Israel’s security has any bearing on America's well being, and it would be openly argued for America to jettison the ‘special relationship’ with Israel. This debate never occurs in America because its corporate media has a strong pro-Israel bias and questioning the 'special relationship' with Israel is taboo. Both those in and outside the US Government who strongly believe that America must stand by the Jewish state are being faced with the reality that the moment for action has passed and the pendulum is beginning a long journey back toward isolationism and cynicism regarding the state security apparatus. Syria is their last chance and it is quickly slipping through their fingers. If there is no attack on Syria, the chances of attacking Iran will quickly fade to zero. If one believes that there is a grand strategy then we have reached a critical and dangerous moment. If Obama backs down and doesn't attack, he will lose enough international credibility to make him a de facto foreign policy lame duck just as the Iranians cross the nuclear threshold. This is unacceptable to those bent on protecting Israel’s monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East. It seems highly unlikely that this group of people will allow President Putin to become the new voice of reason in the region. The absurdity of Assad committing this gassing, Putin’s argument, is now also being supported by intelligence as reported in a Huff Post article which quoted a report that seems to contradict the Obama Administration's claim that Assad was the perpetrator of the gas attack. It would be catastrophic to the US standing in the world if it were proved that this was a false flag attack by the rebels in Syria, and more importantly it would make it almost impossible to make a case for the ultimate target, Iran. No Exit It’s difficult to fathom that those who brought us the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the NSA surveillance apparatus, The Department of Homeland Security and the drone war will simply take their bows and fade away. Their only options at this point are either to force the issue in Syria and quickly escalate it through their time-honored method of rallying the home front with images of horrors committed on innocents, or throw up their hands and accept defeat. God help the innocent. Read more from Robert Bonomo at his blog, Cactus Land, which continues to explore the ideas of his novel, Cactus Land available at Amazon.

08 сентября 2013, 23:35

Guest Post: On QE, US Foreign Policy And Who Really Wins The Upcoming War In Syria

Submitted by Ain't No Fortunate Son On Quantitative Easing, American Foreign Policy, and Who REALLY Wins the Upcoming War in Syria Quantitative Easing, or QE, has as it’s raison d’etre the monetization of US Treasury debt or, put more simply, financial alchemy. Without an ever increasing calendar of Treasury debt issuance Ben Bernanke can't keep printing new money and handing it over to the jumbo insolvent (but still unindicted) Wall Street banks in order to bail out their (still) broken balance sheets. Think of the entire process as a sophisticated 3 card monte scheme (with a little money laundering thrown in for good measure) between the Treasury, the Primary Dealers (those unindicted Wall Street banks) and the Fed, whereby Treasury debt is miraculously transformed into cash (there’s the alchemy, turning water into wine and debt into Benjamins) and delivered into the hands of the bankers. This is money, by the way, that never finds it's way into productive economic use (about $4 Trillion and counting), but is simply earmarked to enrich Wall Street’s elite via the four- year liquidity-induced ramp in world financial asset prices (there’s the money laundering – dirty cash in on the BID, clean cash out on the ASK). Churn a billions dollars a day of freshly printed new money hundreds of times a day via algorithmic-driven trading and it’s highly unlikely that the best forensic accounting experts in the world will ever be able to track you, even if they were tasked to, which of course they’ll never be. But then again, that was always the real purpose behind QE anyway, which a tragically naïve new president never understood when the bankers ran the table on him on March 27, 2009 by threatening him with that tried and true – and very transparent - cold war inspired “Mutual Assured Destruction” ruse. One can actually imagine JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon arrogantly lecturing Barack Obama at that White House meeting a mere two months after the inauguration: “If WE go down Mr. President, then the American People go down too.” And both of Obama’s top financial guys who were in the room that day - Summers and Geithner – backed Bernanke and the bankers as well. And so it was that for the first time the wheels started falling off the carefully constructed media hype machine that had heretofore portrayed this quixotic president as the savior of the disenfranchised common man, and Obama fell for the bankers’ con hook, line, and sinker. The hip, cool, street savvy charmer turned out to be a rube, and the Fed’s been printing 24/7 ever since while the American economy is still mired in an excruciating, heart breaking recession – some would say depression - unless you’re a Wall Street banker that is. Incidentally, until his fall from grace as a result of increasing attention on an ever-increasing number of financial scandals and investigations by the DoJ, SEC, and other so-called “US and international law enforcement, regulatory and enforcement agencies” Jamie Dimon was logged into the White House visitor records at least eighteen times since Obama’s inauguration, and he had at least one solo private meeting with Obama in the Oval Office. One wonders what they could possibly have found to talk about all those times… presidential jewelry trends? Current US Treasury issuance is relatively low due to sequestration and (at least temporarily) less US warmongering in the Middle East. That's about to change, of course, now that the US is getting ready to launch a Cruise missile attack on Syria (we’re already been arming and financing the opposition rebels, including groups directly linked to al-Qaeda for several years now). Bernanke and the Fed doves would like nothing better than another “controlled” war in the Mideast, because with war comes massive debt issuance, and with massive debt issuance comes the transmission mechanism (QE) for monetizing that debt and mainlining it onto the Wall Street banks' broken balance sheets. And yes, they’re still broken, and Ben is still bailing them out at the expense of the American middle class. Make no mistake, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and every other complicit banker on the Street has no problem with this, or any other, war, regardless of whether such a conflict would destabilize the entire region and would almost assuredly pull Russia and China into the fray. The more the merrier, just keep letting that free QE monopoly money roll in from the 4X weekly Federal Reserve Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO’s). And with the significant financing needs for a large war effort in the Middle East, say good-bye to “Taper.” With John Kerry’s press conference the ten days ago so begins another in a virtual conga line of "patriotic" wars stretching back fifty years, this one sparked by another in America's long history of false flag attacks (think Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin incident and Bush/Cheney/Powell’s WMD allegations to justify the Iraq War and Occupation). A new Mideast war would also produce another major benefit for the Obama administration - it would serve to divert the American public's increasingly embarrassing attention away from the massive, unconstitutional spy activities of the NSA and Homeland Security. In fact, it would serve as perfect cover and justification for increasing the NSA's around-the-clock civilian surveillance activities. One can just hear the captive corporate sock puppet media now: "We're at war, you have to be some kind of traitor if you don’t believe the US government! It's people like you that force us to initiate these safety precautions in the first place - it's for your own good!" And make no mistake about it, our captive corporate media puppets will hammer us with variations on that lie until most Americans believe it’s the truth – simple Brainwashing 101 - and America and democracy and the greatest and most noble political experiment in the history of mankind will take one more giant step into the dustbin of history. One fears that Obama must be truly delusional to be seriously considering an invasion of Syria, because Russia is still plenty angry with the US for that entire Snowden farce, especially the incredibly ill-advised, hypocritical and infantile letter that AG Holder insulted them with. The last thing the United States needs right now is to go head to head with Russia in some totally unnecessary peeing contest with a REAL tough guy. Obama won’t be beating up on a 2nd rate buffoon like Gaddafi, or dropping bombs from drones on defenseless women and children in Pakistan, or staging a “Wag the Dog” PR campaign around the death of bin-Laden, who was kept alive by two presidents for nearly a dozen years for one reason – because a live, fire breathing monster is a hell of a lot more terrifying to the American people than a dead one. They know that a terrified population is a malleable population – and one doubts whether the NSA could have seized such control over American citizens’ privacy if bin-Laden had been taken out when US Special Forces had him in their sights in a cave in Tora Bora in 2001. He was the best thing that ever happened to the domestic spy program. His menacing visage still haunts the dreams of many millions of Americans twelve years after 9/11. That aside, Obama will now be dealing with a genuine tough guy – Vladimir Putin. Good luck with that Barack, really, good luck. Of course, if you’re part of the D.C. and Wall Street elite, the upcoming death of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians is perfectly acceptable – it’s simply known in the parlance as collateral damage. What that does to America’s rapidly deteriorating world image is a different story, but for the powers that be what's good for the Beltway is doubly good for Wall Street. There's significant evidence that the chemical attacks a few weeks ago, and those a few months ago, weren’t initiated by Assad, regardless of what Obama, Kerry, and a very disingenuous CIA (which has actually been supporting the rebels, including al-Qaeda related groups) want us to believe. In fact, would someone care to explain why anybody in his right mind, including Assad, would want to kill more than a thousand innocents in a chemical attack that’s staged to occur just a few days before the UN teams arrive to investigate the prior attack, for which he’s also been accused? Only a brain-dead idiot would do that, and whereas Assad is many things, he’s definitely not an idiot. So the jury’s still out on who last week’s real perpetrator was. What say ye, CIA? What say ye John Kerry? What say ye Qatar, which has spent $3 Billion assisting the CIA- and al-Qaeda-backed rebel forces in this civil war because a takedown of the Assad government would open the door allowing it to construct a natural gas pipeline directly through Syria to Europe? So here's who wins a war in Syria: Bernanke and the Fed doves. NSA/Homeland Security.  Russia – oh yes, most assuredly Russia, which may perversely come out looking like the voice of reason in the court of world opinion. The flag wavers from both political crime syndicates in Congress. K Street. The sock puppet media. The arms merchants. The energy traders. Qatar. Saudi Arabia. But the BIG WINNER IS: a couple of dozen jumbo insolvent (CRIMINAL but still unindicted) Wall Street and European banks that are about to get their hands on hundreds of billions more in monetized Treasury debt which YOU dear reader will, as always, be on the hook for. And who loses? Why YOU of course. The United States Constitution as we enter into another undeclared war. The real US economy (not that fairy tale one that the Federal Reserve, the Labor Dept, the Commerce Dept, and a couple dozen other bureaucratic civilian and government dream weavers fabricate every month for the benefit of the sock puppet media). And, of course, the perhaps millions of innocents who are caught in the crossfire. Oh, and there’s one more big loser– Barack Obama - for he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt where his true loyalties lie, and history, if mankind is to have one much longer - will most assuredly not be kind to him for that.    

08 сентября 2013, 20:46

Syria chemical weapons attack not ordered by Assad, says German press

Bild am Sonntag cites high-level German surveillance source suggesting Syrian president was not personally behind attacksPresident Bashar al-Assad did not personally order last month's chemical weapons attack near Damascus that has triggered calls for US military intervention, and blocked numerous requests from his military commanders to use chemical weapons against regime opponents in recent months, a German newspaper has reported , citing unidentified, high-level national security sources.The intelligence findings were based on phone calls intercepted by a German surveillance ship operated by the BND, the German intelligence service, and deployed off the Syrian coast, Bild am Sonntag said. The intercepted communications suggested Assad, who is accused of war crimes by the west, including foreign secretary William Hague, was not himself involved in last month's attack or in other instances when government forces have allegedly used chemical weapons.Assad sought to exonerate himself from the August attack in which hundreds died. "There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people," he said in an interview with CBS.But the intercepts tended to add weight to the claims of the Obama administration and Britain and France that elements of the Assad regime, and not renegade rebel groups, were responsible for the attack in the suburb of Ghouta, Bild said.President Barack Obama is urging the US Congress to approve military action to deter the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons and degrade its ability to pursue the two-and-a-half-year civil war against rebel forces.But Obama is facing stiff resistance from Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives, who fear involvement in another Middle East war, and from Assad's main ally, Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has said any military strikes conducted without prior UN approval would be illegal.Speaking in Paris on Sunday during a European tour to rally support for military action, John Kerry, US secretary of state, said Washington did not rule out a return to the UN security council to seek backing for military strikes, once UN inspectors have completed an on-the-ground investigation of the 21 August attack. Their report is expected by the end of the week.Obama's main European ally, François Hollande of France, is under increasing pressure to seek a UN mandate for any military action in the face of opinion polls suggesting up to 64% of French people oppose air strikes. In a bid to gain the support of fellow EU countries, Hollande pledged at the weekend to take the UN investigatory report into consideration before acting. Hollande also suggested he might seek a UN resolution, despite previous Russian and Chinese vetoes."On President Hollande's comments with respect to the UN, the president (Obama), and all of us, are listening carefully to all of our friends," Kerry said after meeting Arab League ministers. "No decision has been made by the president.""All of us agreed – not one dissenter – that Assad's deplorable use of chemical weapons, which we know killed hundreds of innocent people … this crosses an international, global red line," Kerry said.Kerry's meeting with Arab ministers, including from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, followed talks in Lithuania with European foreign ministers, who blamed the attack in Syria on Assad but, aware of overwhelming public hostility to an attack, refused to endorse military action. Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, who faces a general election in two weeks, led the charge to caution.Only 12 of the G20 countries which held a summit in Russia last week have backed the US position.The German intelligence findings concerning Assad's personal role may complicate US-led efforts to persuade the international community that punitive military action is justified. They could also strengthen suspicions that Assad no longer fully controls the country's security apparatus.Addressing a closed meeting of the German parliamentary committee last week, the BND chief Gerhard Schindler said his agency shared the US view that the attack had been launched by the regime and not the rebels. But he said the spy agency had not have conclusive evidence either way, German media reported.Schindler said that BND had intercepted a telephone call in which a high-ranking member of Hezbollah in Lebanon told the Iranian embassy in Damascus that Assad had made a big mistake when he gave the order to use the chemicals, the magazine Der Spiegel said.Schindler added that German intelligence believed Assad would likely remain in power for some time – irrespective of any potential US-led military intervention - and that the civil war could drag on for years.SyriaBashar al-AssadMiddle East and North AfricaGermanyEuropeWilliam HagueUS CongressUnited StatesUS politicsBarack ObamaVladimir PutinFranceFrançois HollandeJohn KerryArab and Middle East unrestSimon Tisdall theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds