After weeks of buildup, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally delivered his long-planned speech to a joint meeting of Congress, attacking President Obama’s deal with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. Asserting that the agreement would only empower Iran to become nuclear armed, and painting the regime as a murderous cabal set on wiping Israel from the face of the earth, the speech fit neatly with the basic gist of Netanyahu’s public pronouncements over the previous 20 or so years.
The speech was the subject of a firestorm of controversy from the very moment it was announced. In total, more than 50 Democratic Congressmen and women ended up boycotting the speech, while National Security Adviser Susan Rice told Charlie Rose it was "destructive of the fabric of the relationship" between the US and Israel. Meanwhile, as reported by Al Jazeera, a number of former and current military officers earlier suggested that Netanyahu’s decision to accept House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to speak to Congress had infuriated the US military, which was beginning to view Israel as a strategic liability.
It is interesting that this is what seems to have soured the normally subservient US political establishment on Israel and Netanyahu. After all, it could easily be argued that Israel was a strategic liability for the US long before this. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid since World War II, receiving billions of dollars military assistance a year over the last ten years, and many more billions over the decades prior. What does the US get in return for this assistance? For one, it’s dragged into supporting any and every war fought (and started) by Israel, including its last three wars in Gaza, which killed a total of more than 3,500 Palestinians, the vast majority of which were civilians, or its adventure in Lebanon which left more than 1000 Lebanese dead. The casualty figures don’t quite capture the brutality of conflicts, which also involved the maiming and large-scale displacement of civilians, the destruction of homes, and the evisceration of essential infrastructure like health care facilities and running water.
The leniency shown former CIA Director (and retired General) David Petraeus by the Justice Department in sparing him prison time for the serious crimes that he has committed puts him in the same preferential, immune-from-incarceration category as those running the financial institutions of Wall Street, where, incidentally, Petraeus now makes millions. By contrast, “lesser” folks – and particularly the brave men and women who disclose government crimes – get to serve time, even decades, in jail.
Petraeus is now a partner at KKR, a firm specializing in large leveraged buyouts, and his hand-slap guilty plea to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets should not interfere from his continued service at the firm. KKR’s founders originally worked at Bear Stearns, the institution that failed in early 2008 at the beginning of the meltdown of the investment banking industry later that year.
Despite manifestly corrupt practices like those of subprime mortgage lenders, none of those responsible went to jail after the 2008-09 financial collapse which cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes. The bailed-out banks were judged “too big to fail” and the bankers “too big to jail.”
Two years ago, in a highly revealing slip of the tongue, Attorney General Eric Holder explained to Congress that it can “become difficult” to prosecute major financial institutions because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to the economy – or perhaps what he meant was an even bigger threat to the economy.
Western media are constantly reporting a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine as an undisputed fact. That no one ever sees these troops is just one of life’s little mysteries, as seemingly ever article just shows a couple of pictures of single unidentified camouflage vehicles or a handful of random people with the caption “pro-Russian separatists.”
DW.de is going for the gold with their latest “evidence mounting” about Russian troops today, which reports some putative fighters from the eastern Ukrainian rebel factions were miners who claimed they’d been paid by the Russian government.
Even if we take this claim as absolute fact, calling out-of-work miners who are paid to fight “troops” is a big stretch, and calling Ukrainians “Russians” is an even bigger stretch.
Though there have been cases of actual Russians with actual military backgrounds going to eastern Ukraine to fight, these are isolated cases, and the ongoing claims of direct Russian military involvement remain unproven.
If we’re using this standard set by this claim, we might as well call Ukraine’s military “US troops,” since the US helped bankroll the bailout of the Ukrainian government, and has been providing military aid to them.
Watch, laugh – and cry. (It is preceded by a 15-second commercial in Hebrew.)
Now let’s be serious.
First, the Congress is completely humiliated, dancing to the tune of Netanyahu who is the representative of a foreign power. That humiliation extends to every American who cast a vote, expecting the Congresspeople to represent the voters, the American voters – not the Israeli ones.
As a supine Congress sitting inside a scaffolded dome applauded Benjamin Netanyahu calling to reject a peace deal with Iran, DOJ quietly announced it had reached a plea deal with former CIA Director David Petraeus for leaking Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information materials to his mistress, Paula Broadwell.
Among the materials in the eight “Black Books” Petraeus shared with Broadwell were:
…classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’s discussions with the President of the United States of America.
The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret/SCI and code word information.
Petraeus kept those Black Books full of code word information including covert identities and conversations with the President “in a rucksack up there somewhere.”
Petreaus retained those Black Books after he signed his debriefing agreement upon leaving DOD, in which he attested “I give my assurance that there is no classified material in my possession, custody, or control at this time.” He kept those Black Books in an unlocked desk drawer.
When was the last time you heard of a major speech to Congress taking place in the morning? It rarely happens.
Why is Netanyahu speaking so early?
The answer is that the speech is mostly aimed at the Israeli public, who are headed to the polls in two weeks to elect a new parliament that will decide whether or not to re-elect Netanyahu as Prime Minister. The incumbent PM is addressing Israelis sitting who are sitting down to dinner.
The government of Israel recognizes the speech as a political message. The Israeli Central Elections Committee has placed the broadcast under a 5-minute delay, to review and possibly censor the speech for content that could be construed as “campaigning.”