LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
- A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that public belief that the National Security Agency (NSA) unnecessarily intrudes on privacy rights has grown, but so has the sense that Edward Snowden damaged U.S. security by disclosing the spy agency’s activities. Forty-eight percent in the poll think the NSA intrudes without justification on some Americans’ privacy rights and 42 percent think it intrudes unjustifiably on their own privacy, both up by 8 percentage points since July. Democrats, protective of the Obama administration, are less critical of the NSA; 37 percent say it “goes too far,” for example, vs. 47 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents. And Democrats are a broad 18 points less likely than Republicans and independents to think the NSA intrudes unjustifiably on some Americans’ privacy rights. See the whole poll here
- Last month, a 102-page report by Human Rights Watch concluded that US drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Yemen’s branch of the global terror network, had a 70 percent civilian kill rate – or in other words, seven out of every 10 of their victims were civilians. Several days earlier, a UN investigator accused the US of drastically downplaying the number of civilians killed in anti-terrorist drone operations. On the same day the Human Rights Watch report was published, Amnesty International said US officials responsible for carrying out drone strikes may be responsible for war crimes.
- Rick Rozoff from the Chicago-based Stop NATO writes: After the [supposed] 2014 pullout from Afghanistan, NATO is set to stage huge European
war games involving 40,000 troops, about seven times the size of the recent
drills in the Baltic, with critics in the crisis-hit EU calling it a waste of
money. Karl Rehbaum, a former officer with the East German security services, says that “there isn’t any need to put these troops in Europe. I think they would’ve ramped up operations even if Afghanistan wasn’t coming to an end… Instead of a defensive army, they want to make an army of intervention, of aggression. NATO is responsible for three-quarters of global arms spending at a time when many of its members are flat broke.” In Berlin, for example, a group of demonstrators, known as “Mothers against War,” were downtown recently, holding banners that said “No to Intervention” – a call for Europe to stop throwing money at the military and take care of the pressing economic issues afflicting the continent on a massive scale. Rainer Rupp, a former German intelligence officer, believes that the current exercises should be examined against the background of the Afghan experience and that the upcoming games have little to do with European security or keeping everyone ready for whatever scenarios may come. There, he explains, NATO “could test its interoperability” just as well. However, now, “with NATO countries – especially the United States – leaving Afghanistan beaten like a dog with the tail between its legs, they need to project and show the world that they still have their claws sharpened.” Rupp sees the games as nothing more than “part of a continued effort of…intimidating nations that don’t follow voluntarily the US and European lead [like Russia, China, or Iran].”
- Syria's chemical weapons could be processed and destroyed out at sea. Four days after Albania rejected a U.S.
request that it host a weapons decommissioning plant, Western diplomats and an
official of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at The
Hague told Reuters the OPCW was studying whether it might carry out the work at
sea, on a ship or offshore rig. Much of Syria's stockpile is of bulk "precursor" materials that were stored in
order to manufacture weapons at a later stage. Burning these, or neutralising
them with other chemicals in a process known as hydrolysis, would produce large
amounts of toxic fluids and have obvious severe environmental consequences.
- Global Network board convener Dave Webb (Leeds, England) also serves as the web master for our web site. He just did some major updating of the home page and has posted his wonderful report on the recent Indore, India conference that he attended on behalf of the Global Network. The event was initiated and organized by another of our board members J. Narayana Rao (Nagpur). I heard the attendance was around 600 people so Dave and Rao made sure that the issues surrounding space weapons and disarmament in general were heavily covered. You can see Dave's report here.