An excerpt from the above linked-to article, by John Otis, follows:
The drug scopolamine is also known as “the devil’s breath” or “burundanga.” The late salsa diva Celia Cruz sang about it. In a recent documentary, Vice called it “the world’s scariest drug.”
That’s because scopolamine provides a potent weapon to Colombian criminals. The drug puts people into a zombie-like state in which they lose both their memory and free will and can be convinced to empty their bank accounts or hand over the keys to their apartments and cars…
Scopolamine comes from the seeds of a family of plants that includes angel’s trumpets and corkwood. They grow in many areas and can be found in the Botanical Garden in Bogota.
My online response to the above linked-to article follows:
Sophisticated propaganda from the state and compliant media is dangerous too. It results in untold misery and destruction when yet another country is attacked and occupied by the corporatocracy’s (not people’s) armies. The same terrorist states that make the people into an enemy, and that conveniently view the people (with valuable resources under their feet), in many places, as the enemy, also use the drug trade to destabilize populations and maintain a level of chaos that elites and their political partners use to keep people from organizing and pushing back against those exploiters and assorted criminals. No, The war on drugs, as South America has come to realize, is not about the health of the people. Nor is war.
It’s impossible to ignore John Kerry’s face on the same page, in two places, that the above linked-to article appears on. And it’s impossible to not be bothered by that imperialist’s hypocrisy and the way the media, exercising the kind of ‘objectivity’ it is notorious for, juxtaposes the three reports (main article about Devil’s Breath and two Kerry videos). Many readers, and the average person who doesn’t do much reading of anything, who encounter this will assume that the situation is just as it appears when it in fact isn’t. John Kerry et al are not focussed on protecting American, or any, citizens from dangerous criminals and their products and related crimes. Not even close.
Here’s a screen shot of the Toronto Star web page with the Reuters Kerry videos on either side of the article about Devil’s Breath. On the left side of the Devil’s Breath article you’ll see the Kerry video in which he declares Colombia, and it’s war on drugs, to be a success. On the right side of the screen is a video of Kerry telling fibs about Syria while treating the public, again, to the state’s idea of ‘credibility’. Below you’ll find links to the YouTube videos of the same, while they last:
Noam Chomsky explains how the state uses the word ‘credibility’. Kerry makes a weak effort to link it to the conventional meaning that most of us would take, but it’s clear enough that these mobsters simply mean that they must act in such a way as to show the world that uncle Sam means business and will do what he wants, when he wants, period. And what can you do about it?
From “War on Drugs in Latin America Is to Advance US Economic Interests, Not Reduce Drug Trafficking,” by Mark Karlin, the following:
Readers of Truthout know that the site ran a ten part series last year: Truthout on the Mexican Border. The last installment of a very complicated journalistic journey into the dark underside of US Latin America policy concluded, “How the Militarized War on Drugs in Latin America Benefits Transnational Corporations and Undermines Democracy.”
The Latin America-watch website “UpsideDownWorld” offers analysis of a recent report with this headline, “US Spends $20 Billion Over 10 Years on Increasingly Bloody Drug ‘War’ in Latin America; Rejects Drug Policy Reform.” “UpsideDownWorld” describes the Associated Press investigation:
The article, authored by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Martha Mendoza, describes how the U.S. has “spent more than $20 billion [BuzzFlash on Truthout believes $20 billion is on the extreme low end of actual expenditures] in the past decade” and deployed U.S. army, marine and navy troops to support a heavily militarized campaign to fight drug trafficking throughout the region. The fact that the efforts have been accompanied by soaring violence – with, for example, 70,000 Mexican lives lost in the last six years [actually it is likely to have exceeded a death toll of 120,000 under former President Calderon through the end of his term last November, as detailed in a Truthout article, “Fueled by War on Drugs, Mexican Death Toll Could Exceed 120,000 As Calderon Ends Six-Year Reign” – doesn’t seem to trouble the U.S. officials in charge of implementing U.S. drug policy internationally. In fact, they seem to consider spikes in violence to be a sign that the “strategy is working.”…
As “UpsideDownWorld” – which focuses on issues relating to Latin America – also notes:
Particularly worrying is the fact that the administration seems to be unable to account for enormous sums that have been authorized to be spent on military equipment. The article notes that, “neither the State Department nor the Pentagon could provide details explaining a 2011 $1.3 billion authorization for exports of military electronics to Honduras — although that would amount to almost half of all U.S. arms exports for the entire Western Hemisphere.”….
Today Central America is increasingly the focus of U.S. militarized counternarcotics programs. As the New York Times revealed in early May of last year, tactics and personnel that were previously used in Iraq and Afghanistan have been transferred to Central America, including the DEA’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) that first operated in Afghanistan.
The word “militarized” in relation to counternarcotics is important, because as the Truthout series reported the goal of the US may not at all relate to reducing the flow of illegal narcotics. The actual aim is more likely to be the US insertion of militarized activity into south of the border nations that are playing an increasingly important role in the expansion of global corporations based in the US, cheap labor markets, and expanded markets for US-based companies such as Walmart. In addition, by creating an excuse for expanded US military and intelligence agency and law enforcement involvement in cooperative Latin American nations, the US is attempting to preserve hemispheric hegemony.
John Kerry, and his scumbag boss, would have a lot more credibility when Kerry’s pitching for support for intervening militarily in Syria if his admin could point to a rational goal (which, although it’s still evil, at least John McCain would prefer) for bombing (which will kill indiscriminately), if we didn’t know that ‘sources’ (intelligence signals), or some of them, that are cited for the reports about the Assad regime using chemical attacks were Israeli, if there wasn’t a lag (which I know nothing more about at this point) in the UN’s request to the Assad regime for inspectors to go in and test for chemical weapons use, if experts in chemical weapons didn’t disagree with the US about being able to do their job, if the US admin didn’t brazenly tell the inspectors in Syria to stop examining evidence and leave, if the ‘rebels’ who the US and other governments are assisting didn’t include Al Qaeda, if there wasn’t a history of US admins lying about weapons of mass destruction as a means of providing a pretext to engage in military aggression (always, ultimately, for the benefit of the 1% only) and if the murderous Obama wasn’t prepared to spit on the Constitution he’s alread pissed on, as evidenced by Kerry’s bold assertion that whether it’s (Congressional approval) the law or not, Obama will attack Syria if he wants to. You can’t claim to be protecting the people against lawless killers when that’s what you are, proudly.
1. “Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?” by Robert Fisk
If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida…
The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.
This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.
Maybe the Americans should ask al-Qa’ida for intelligence help – after all, this is the group with “boots on the ground”, something the Americans have no interest in doing. And maybe al-Qa’ida could offer some target information facilities to the country which usually claims that the supporters of al-Qa’ida, rather than the Syrians, are the most wanted men in the world.
There will be some ironies, of course. While the Americans drone al-Qa’ida to death in Yemen and Pakistan – along, of course, with the usual flock of civilians – they will be giving them, with the help of Messrs Cameron, Hollande and the other Little General-politicians, material assistance in Syria by hitting al-Qa’ida’s enemies. Indeed, you can bet your bottom dollar that the one target the Americans will not strike in Syria will be al-Qa’ida or the Nusra front.
2. “Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible?” by Jim Naureckas
Let’s compare a couple of accounts of the mass deaths apparently caused by chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21. One account comes from the U.S. government (8/30/13), introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry. The other was published by a Minnesota-based news site called Mint Press News (8/29/13)…
Unlike the U.S. government, Mint does not have much of a track record, having been founded only about a year and a half ago (CJR, 3/28/12). The founder of the for-profit startup is Mnar Muhawesh, a 24-year-old Palestinian-American woman who believes, reasonably enough, that “our media has absolutely failed our country” (MinnPost, 1/18/12). One of its two reporters on its Syrian chemical weapons piece, Dale Gavlak, is a longtime Associated Press Mideast stringer who has also done work for NPR and the BBC. AP was one of the few US corporate media outlets to question official assertions about Iraqi WMDs, contrasting Powell’s assertions with what could be discerned from on-the-ground reporting (Extra!, 3-4/06).
Mint takes a similar approach to the Syrian story, with a reporter in Ghouta–not Gavlak but Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian freelancer and journalism grad student–who “spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.” The article reports that “many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out” the chemical attack. The recipients of the chemical weapons are said to be Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda-linked rebel faction that was caught possessing sarin nerve gas in Turkey, according to Turkish press reports (OE Watch, 7/13).
Mint quotes Abu Abdel-Moneim, described as the father of a rebel killed in the chemical weapons attacks, as saying that his son had described carrying unconventional weapons provided by Saudi Arabia to underground storage tunnels–a “tubelike structure” and a “huge gas bottle.” A rebel leader identified as J describes the release of toxic weaponry as accidental, saying, “Some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.” Another rebel referred to as K complains, “When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them.”
3. “In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe” by Gareth Porter
After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation…
The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the U.N. investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the U.N. as hindering its plans for an attack…
But Ban, who has generally been regarded as a pliable instrument of U.S. policy, refused to withdraw the U.N. team and instead “stood firm on principle”, the Journal reported. He was said to have ordered the U.N. inspectors to “continue their work”.
The Journal said “U.S. officials” also told the secretary-general that the United States “didn’t think the inspectors would be able to collect viable evidence due to the passage of time and damage from subsequent shelling.”…
Despite the U.S. effort to portray the Syrian government policy as one of “delay”, the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York Tuesday.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in a press conference Tuesday that Syria had not been asked by the United Nations for access to the East Ghouta area until Kane presented it on Saturday. Syria agreed to provide access and to a ceasefire the following day.
Haq sharply disagreed with the argument made by Kerry and the State Department that it was too late to obtain evidence of the nature of the Aug. 21 incident.
“Sarin can be detected for up to months after its use,” he said.
Specialists on chemical weapons also suggested in interviews with IPS that the U.N. investigating team, under a highly regarded Swedish specialist Ake Sellstom and including several experts borrowed from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, should be able to either confirm or disprove the charge of an attack with nerve or another chemical weapon within a matter of days.
Ralph Trapp, a consultant on proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, said he was “reasonably confident” that the U.N. team could clarify what had happened.
“They can definitely answer the question [of] whether there was a chemical attack, and they can tell which chemical was used,” he said, by collecting samples from blood, urine and hair of victims. There was even “some chance” of finding chemical residue from ammunition pieces or craters where they landed.
4. “In Syria, the Other Target Is Iran” by Ray McGovern
Amid the increased likelihood that President Barack Obama will cave in to pressure from foreign policy hawks to “Libya-ize” Syria and to accord Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the same treatment meted out to Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi, the main question is WHY? Obviously, there is concern about the human rights catastrophe in Syria, but is the main target Syria’s main ally, Iran, as many suspect?…
“A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a policy document prepared in 1996 for Benjamin Netanyahu by a study group led by American neocons, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, laid out a new approach to solving Israel’s principal security challenges. Essentially, the point was to shatter the frustrating cycle of negotiations with the Palestinians and instead force regime change on hostile states in the region, thus isolating Israel’s close-in adversaries.
Among the plan’s features was “the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare and highlighting their possession of ‘weapons of mass destruction.’” The following “Clean-Break” paragraph is, no doubt, part of the discussion in Iran’s leadership councils:
“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]…
No one knows all this better than the Iranians themselves. But, for Israel, Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani poses a more subtle threat than the easier-to-demonize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The more moderate and polished Rouhani – IF he can calm those Iranians who consider Washington a Siamese twin to Tel Aviv – may be able to enter renewed talks on the nuclear issue with concessions that the West would find difficult to refuse…
The Israeli position vis a vis its Muslim adversaries is also improved by the spreading of sectarian conflicts pitting Sunni vs. Shiite, a rift that was turned into a chasm – and made much bloodier – by the neocon-inspired U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Now, similar divisions are shattering Syria in a chaotic civil war with the growing likelihood that the Obama administration will soon weigh in militarily against the Alawite-dominated regime of Bashar al-Assad, which is being challenged by a Sunni-led rebellion. Alawites stem from the Shiite branch of Islam and Assad is allied with Shiite-ruled Iran.
The more the Sunni and Shiite are fighting each other – and thus expending their resources on internecine warfare – the better for Israel, at least in the view of neocon hardliners like those who crafted Netanyahu’s “clean-break” strategy in the 1990s. That strategy would see the snuffing out of the Syrian regime as a signature accomplishment.
5. “UN’s Del Ponte says evidence Syria rebels ‘used sarin'” by Bridget Kendall
In an interview with Swiss-Italian TV on Sunday, Ms Del Ponte, who serves as a commissioner on the panel, said: “Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals.
“According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.”
Sarin, a colourless, odourless liquid or gas which can cause respiratory arrest and death, is classed as a weapon of mass destruction and is banned under international law.
Ms Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general and prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), did not rule out the possibility that troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad might also have used chemical weapons, but said further investigation was needed.
“I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got… they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” she said.
Ms Del Ponte gave no details of when or where sarin may have been used.
6. “Iraq Redux? Obama says ‘Trust Us’ as UN Retreats from Syria” by John Queally
An early withdrawal of the UN investigative team that is trying to determine exactly what happened during a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last week is offering an eery reminder of events that took place before the US began its invasion of Iraq in 2003, with the fear that once international observers have gone a US/NATO attack on Syria would be greenlighted for later in the weekend or early next week.
Though speculation based on anonymous reporting from high level officials in the US and Europe indicated a US-led campaign might start as early as Thursday, indications from both the US and UK show that though the rush to attack has been slowed by political opposition, the push for war continues.
As the Guardian reports, domestic politics in the UK have slowed Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes that approval for military action could sidestep Parliament.
Meanwhile, in a televised interview on PBS news on Wednesday night, President Obama said “no decision” has been made on attacking Syria though he spent the majority of the interview laying out his administration’s case for why the US and its NATO and Gulf state allies may soon launch such an attack.
Asked what US military action — at this point still assumed to be a volley of cruise missiles from US warships in the Mediterranean or an aerial bombing campaign — would accomplish, Obama said that it would give the government of President Bashar al-Assad “a pretty strong signal not to do it again,” meaning using chemical weapons.
Though the US has now repeatedly says it “knows” that the Assad regime was directly behind the attacks, they have offered no verifiable evidence to the public.
Obama can't successfully lay out his case for bombing Syria, as the video of the above mentioned tv show will demonstrate, nor does he offer a comprehensible objective (for public consumption) for bombing Syria. He, like his Secretary of State, can only talk trash. Please read the above article, in which Obama gives a nonsense answer to the question of what he hopes to accomplish by bombing, and compare his trash answer to the proposal put forth by Hans Blix, who is quoted in the same article.
A final look, below, at Obama’s incredible Secretary of State is in order. The bolding is mine.
“US Embassy, DEA Obstructing Investigation into Drug War Killings in Honduras” by Sandra Cuffe and Karen Spring
An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:
More than a year has passed since a DEA-assisted drug war operation in the Honduran Moskitia killed four indigenous Miskitu civilians, and relatives of the victims are still looking for answers.
Responses have been few and far between. Honduran judicial authorities highlight a lack of cooperation from the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, impeding their investigation. A leaked State Department memo suggests high-level interference in the United States’ own investigation. And a local police official in the remote Moskitia region in northeastern Honduras told Truthout that destruction of evidence by the DEA is a regular occurrence in the area…
At a June 13, 2012, meeting, John Cesar Mejia, coordinator of the office of the special attorney for human rights, the office in charge of the investigation, told Truthout, that the US embassy has been asked to hand over the names of the DEA agents involved in the Ahuas killings, but have refused. The embassy also has not allowed ballistic tests on the weapons of the foreign agents that participated, Mejia said.
The bodies were buried in three locations in the Moskitia – Barra Patuca, Ahuas and Puerto Lempira. On June 22 and 23, 2012, a forensic pathologist and Honduran judicial authorities, accompanied by several soldiers from the Honduran Air Force, traveled to the grave sites to exhume the cadavers of the four victims to autopsy the bodies. The autopsies were conducted right at the gravesites in broad daylight while a large crowd that had congregated looked on. Relatives of the victims were horrified. Armando Perez, a former Texas police detective working with the US embassy in Honduras, was present, providing technical support, according to Collateral Damage of a Drug War, a report by Annie Bird of Rights Action and Alex Main of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).
Clara Woods Rivas was on the boat on May 11, 2012, when it was fired upon. She survived, but her youngest child, 14-year-old Hasked Brooks Wood, was killed. The autopsy was yet another traumatic experience, she told Truthout in an interview, struggling with Spanish, her second language after Miskito.
“If it had been known that they would not respond after the autopsy, we wouldn’t have allowed them to take the body out, out in the open, in front of people,” said Wood Rivas. “It hurt me so much. I cried and cried.”
Zelaya Jackson also regrets giving permission, in retrospect, but the families were not notified before the day of the autopsy. When the forensic pathologist and accompanying team were finished, body parts were left outside of the grave.
“We wouldn’t have permitted that, but I don’t know,” she said. “At the time, when they were doing it, I don’t know why I gave permission for them to do it. So we allowed all that to happen in front of everyone. Like a dog, they did it, and now they don’t even give answers.”
The official Honduran government report of the incident was conducted by the 0ffice of the special attorney for human rights and released more than a year after Zelaya Jackson lost her sister. Testimonies from key witnesses from the community of Ahuas, DEA agents and US private contractors were neither gathered nor included in the Honduran government’s report.
Shortly after the official Honduran government report was presented to the US State Department by the Honduran attorney general, 58 members of US Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, noting “inquiries into the matter have been perfunctory, and deeply flawed.” The letter, dated January 30, 2013, calls for an investigation, but behind the scenes, a State Department investigation may have been suppressed.
On June 12, 2013, the New York Post reported that an internal memo leaked by State Department whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn, citing attempts to quash State Department investigations, was included in the investigation into the Ahuas killings. According to the section of the October 2012 memo published online by the CEPR, a “case agent interviewed Assistant Secretary [of State] for INL [the Bureau of International Narcotics and Legal Enforcement Affairs], William Brownfield, who reportedly was not forthcoming and gave the impression he believed [the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security] should not pursue the investigation.”
Brownfield has vehemently denied the allegations. “The issue was never whether the incident would be investigated, but rather which US government organization would review the involvement of US law enforcement support of a foreign police operation overseas,” he told Foreign Policy blog The Cable.
The memo concludes that, “to date DEA has not cooperated with DS and the investigation cannot proceed further,” but it isn’t the first time investigators have had trouble with the DEA.
According to Oswaldo Perez Suazo, departmental chief of police in Puerto Lempira, the departmental capital of Gracias a Dios, the mess left for Honduran investigators by the DEA in the case of the Ahuas killings is par for the course. Commanding a total of 59 police officers deployed throughout the department, the police station is in front of an unpaved landing strip utilized as the regional airport and run by the Honduran military. Sitting in his air-conditioned office to escape the tropical heat, Perez Suazo read from police files, commenting on the DEA’s conduct in drug interdiction operations in the region.
“[The plane] was burned by members of the DEA. They themselves lit the plane on fire,” he said, referring to a plane carrying a cocaine shipment. “It could have been used for the investigation, but the truth is in that moment, what I have observed is an empowerment on the part of the DEA agents during their operations, and despite the fact that police officials and members of the national police are with them, they do not share information with the national police. They are empowered as if they are in their own territory. I have seen that what interests them is the drugs. They confiscate the drugs and take them with them. Then they take off and leave us there with the bodies, with the people that have been arrested, with everything.”
When asked about the four civilians killed in Ahuas, Perez Suazo admitted that the boat and its passengers were simply traveling on the river, one of the principal modes of transportation in the Moskitia. “Here there are only two ways to get around: by air or by boat. People that have money or can pay for a plane, arrive by taxi here to go and visit other municipalities,” he said at a July 15, 2012, meeting in Puerto Lempira, as he pointed in the direction of the regional airport. “But individuals who do not have money utilize boats to move around and that is how the [death of four Moskitia residents] occurred … resulting in four deceased people that had nothing to do [with drug trafficking]. It appears that the [joint US-Honduran forces] were confused because, in general, they use night-vision goggles and from the air it is difficult to determine [those involved].”
Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) pdf: Collateral Damage Of A Drug War – The May 11 Killings in Ahuas and the Impact of the U.S. War on Drugs in La Moskitia, Honduras
From “Colombia Is A World-Class Success Story, Kerry Says,” by Jane Morse, the following:
Kerry, in response to questions from the press, said that over the years the United States, beginning with Plan Colombia, “has made it as clear as we know how that we are on the side of the Colombian people in this effort to try to find peace. And the American people, the American taxpayer, have gladly shared billions of dollars in an effort to try to help make peace by supporting your efforts through your government, by supporting your training and police and border and security and other kinds of issues, in an effort to grow the capacity of Colombia.” Colombia, he added, “has shown an unbelievable ability to use this to the best of ability and to make a difference.”
Colombia has been able to rein in narcotics trafficking as well, and Kerry took time during his one-day official visit to stop in at Colombia’s Counter-Narcotics Directorate headquarters, where he thanked those law enforcement officers “who have been wounded or have sacrificed their lives in the effort to try to make the world safe from narcotics traffickers, criminals and terrorists.”
There’s plenty of information – as well as propaganda – about Plan Colombia online. Here’s one example: “The Colombia Plan: April 2000” by Noam Chomsky