Showing posts with label military-industrial complex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military-industrial complex. Show all posts

Monday, February 19, 2018

This is Who Trump Wants To Sell Weapons To


Communists and capitalists are laughing all the way to the bank while their useful idiots argue over the trivial details of their respective fiefdoms.

Mongabay: 14 Year Sentence For Vietnamese Activist Over Chemical Spill Protest

Refresher: Trump Pursues Weapons Deal With Totalitarian Communist Regime

During the APEC conference in Hanoi last year, Trump aggressively tried to sell U.S. missiles to Vietnam’s communist regime and oversaw the signing of two memorandums of understanding between Vietnam’s state owned gas company, PetroVietnam Gas, and two American gas companies: AES Corp and Alaska Gasline Development Corp. These events transpired as the result of Obama lifting the arms embargo against the country in 2016. Relations between the two governments have been thawing after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Congress began providing foreign aid to Vietnam in 1991 and Clinton ended the trade embargo against Vietnam in 1994. USAID currently spends about $68M per year on the country (as of FY 2016).

We are once again met with crickets on Capitol Hill in the face of intolerable human rights abuses, but since they are being committed by a government that currently has profitable business partnerships with major U.S. industries, they apparently don’t matter. Of course, the same could be said of the Chinese government’s persecution of religious minorities and organ harvesting of political prisoners.

On February 6th, Hoang Duc Binh was given a 14 year prison sentence for the heinous crime of vlogging about and protesting the government’s hesitant response to the 2016 Formosa chemical spill, or as the kangaroo court put it ‘slandering authorities and abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on state interests (in the same way that a slave may infringe on the interests of a slaver). During the same trial, a fellow activist was given a 2 year stint for ‘opposing officers on duty’. Six other activists have also been convicted of similar thought crimes related to the chemical spill. Perhaps the most famous case, which received temporary corporate media coverage, was that of journalist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who went by the pseudonym Mother Mushroom. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection to her coverage of human rights abuses and environmental issues in Vietnam. Since Trump doesn’t really believe in free speech I doubt he would take issue with anything the communist regime has done. He probably wishes he could emulate that here, but for now he is consigned to calling unfavorable coverage of himself fake news and threatening to revoke broadcasting licenses on twitter.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

America's Secret Police Unveiled (part 3)


Source: Texas Observer

Texas National Guard Using Airborne Stingrays for Domestic Surveillance


Last year, the Texas National Guard spent $373,000 in asset forfeiture funds to install stingray devices, called DRT boxes, on two RC-26 surveillance planes. For anyone unfamiliar with the subject, stingrays, also known as cell site simulators, are used to track people’s locations by intercepting their cell phone signals. The higher end ones can even be configured to eavesdrop on people’s phone calls and pickup the content of their text messages. The problem with law enforcement using this technology is that it doesn’t just target ‘the bad guys’ they’re looking for. Stingrays intercept every cellphone within a ⅓ mile radius. It’s a form of dragnet surveillance that treats the perps and innocent bystanders the same. This presents a challenge to two of our fundamental constitutional rights: our 4th amendment right to not be subject to arbitrary/warrantless searches and our 6th amendment right to know the nature of the charges and the evidence used against us. You see, stingray devices don’t just allow police to conduct dragnet and in many instances, warrantless surveillance, it also creates a dilemma for prosecutors who have to use the evidence gathered through these devices in court. As I noted in America’s Secret Police Unveiled (part 1) state and municipal law enforcement agencies get these devices through federal grant programs such as those run by the DOJ and DHS. As a condition of using this technology, state and municipal law enforcement agencies must adhere to non-disclosure agreements, which forbid them from revealing any information concerning the purchase or use of stingray devices to the general public, including during the course of criminal trials. As you can already guess, abiding by these non-disclosure agreements would entail either omitting the evidence entirely or using the evidence in a backhanded manner that keeps the defendant in the dark about the totality of the circumstances used to convict him, which is a violation of his 6th amendment right to know the nature of the charges and evidence used against him.

The problem with the military using this technology against U.S. citizens is even worse. The framers of the constitution knew all too well from history that civilian oversight of the military was crucial to preventing a military junta from taking over. In this case, the DRT boxes were supposedly used for counternarcotics operations in conjunction with the DEA, but the vice chairman of the Texas House committee that oversees the Texas National Guard didn’t even know they had been purchased. What’s more, these DRT boxes are the higher end stingrays I mentioned earlier that can be used to eavesdrop on phone calls and pickup text message content. So we potentially have a situation in Texas where a military force is conducting warrantless surveillance against U.S. citizens, because there are no policy guidelines on how and when they can be used.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Remember This When the Police Apologists Tell You - He Was Armed, Most Cops Are Ex Forces


Disclaimer: This video brought to you courtesy of Studio New Network. I am not the creator of this video.

It makes you wonder how many people police have murdered and then planted a gun on to make it look like justifiable homicide. We are already familiar with police sometimes planting drugs on suspects to embellish their own record and meet quotas, so planting guns on people isn't too much of a long shot (no pun intended), but it's one of those things the government will never tell us.

Monday, November 27, 2017

France Tells Stateless Libya To Solve A Problem France Helped Create

Fox News, of all places reported that France has taken the moral high ground and demanded that Libya's warlords come together and end the new African slave trade that was precipitated by the French led Nato bombing campaign against Qaddafi in 2011. As anyone with half a brain could have predicted, this created a power vacuum for terrorist groups, like ISIS, and human traffickers to operate. It also opened up the flood gates of Europe to African migrants, exercerbating the so called 'migrant crisis'. This is one of those rare instances where corporate media actually provides the historical context.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trump Pursues Weapons Deals With Totalitarian Communist Regime


Source: Bloomberg

It's never been about principles. Politicians like to grandstand about spreading 'democracy' and 'freedom', and protecting 'human rights' but that's never their MO; only naive morons believe them. Nothing about the big lie has changed under the Trump admin. We still have a president that pays lip service to the ideas of 'freedom' and 'democracy' and all that other hurrah while gladhanding foreign dictators and repressive police states that are partial to U.S. business interests, allowing U.S. industries, particularly energy and defense, to expand into foreign markets. The only difference now is that the president is completely transparent about it (Trump doesn't have a filter). During his 2 week Asia Tour, Trump basically went to the APEC conference in Vietnam as an outside salesman for the defense industry. Obama lifted the arms embargo on Vietnam last year, but the communist regime still buys its weapons from Russia. Yet, Trump sought to capitalize on the thawing relations between the two governments by asking them to buy military equipment from the U.S. and overseeing the signing of two memorandums of understanding between Vietnam's state owned gas company, PetroVietnam Gas, AES Corp and Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Under the agreement signed in Hanoi, AES will work with PV Gas on its Son My liquefied natural gas terminal project in Binh Thuan Province, in southern Vietnam.....Alaska Gasline Development and PV Gas, meanwhile, have agreed to cooperate in LNG supply and upstream investment, opening the door for the U.S. company to sell liquefied natural gas to Vietnam.


As I noted last year, the U.S. already gives the communist regime $122M in foreign aid annually. If the sycophants in Washington cared about 'freedom' and 'human rights', as they pretend to when it comes to other countries, then they could at the very least make not throwing bloggers in prison for thought crimes against the regime a condition of receiving foreign aid. They could use their enormous economic leverage to put a gradual end to the state's slave labor camps and allow fair elections, but we all know what their real agenda is.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The DOD Paid NFL Teams For Patriotic Pony Shows


Source: New Jersey Local News

Initially, I didn't plan to respond to the trivial debate raging on social media over what position football players should assume while the national anthem is being played. In my opinion, their only offense is being attention whores. I couldn't care any less about the ritual protocols Trumpbots have established for us. That being said, there is a real story under the veneer of virtue signaling and patriotic hand waving. If you are cognizant of recent history, you know that NFL players did not stand for the national anthem prior to 2009; in fact, they didn't even leave the locker room. The NFL's recent interest in promoting patriotic fervor, over the course of the last few years, is largely an advertising campaign paid for by the Department of Defense. Back in 2015, senator Jeff Flake revealed, in an investigation into wasteful spending, that the Department of Defense, through the Army National Guard, had established multiple advertising contracts with various teams for ad space and other marketing services. The Department of Defense doled out a total of $6M to 16 NFL teams between 2011 and 2014 (it probably began in 2009) for such things as big screen announcements like the Hometown Heroes segment and a kickoff video message from the National Guard as well as events like annual team luncheons that include photo ops with the players and charity events hosted by the teams. One of those 16 teams was my home state's own New Orleans saints. From 2011 until 2014, the Army and Louisiana National Guard paid Tom Benson's franchise, which is already subsidized by Louisiana taxpayers, $572,875 for fulfilling their advertising contract. Other franchises that contracted with the National Guard included the New York Jets, the Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens, the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns, the Green Bay Packers, the Indianapolis Colts, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Minnesota Vikings, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the St.Louis Rams (for one year), the Dallas Cowboys (for one year), the Miami Dolphins (for one year), and the San Francisco 49ers for a year. The most disturbing part of this story is not the fact that the patriotic pony shows resulted from a business deal between the NFL and the federal government as an effort to recruit more soldiers and retain those already enlisted, but that the general public is blissfully ignorant of it. And that is the problem with America, most people don't know what their government does with their money. As long as Americans are accustomed to straining at gnats and swallowing camels this won't change.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Will Washington Attempt Another Coup In Venezuela?


If you are not up to par, the Trump admin imposed more sanctions against officials in Maduro's cabinet. This is subsquent to the sanctions introduced against 13 Venezuelan officials in July and previous months. The Obama admin began imposing sanctions on Venezuelan officials shortly after Maduro was elected in 2013 and opposition began rioting in the streets, first in 2014, less than a year later, and subsquently in 2015 and 2016. In addition to continuing the sanctions of Obama, Trump has threatened to possibly invade Venezuela, presumably without congressional approval under the specious pretext of promoting freedom and democracy abroad while oddly crushing it at home. However, despite recent developments, hostilities between Washington and Caracas go back to the beginning of the Bolvarian revolution that gave army lieutenant Hugo Chavez a 15 year popular reign. As per usual the media strip everything of its historical context so they can push their talking points that just so happen to align with the Pentagon's agenda. In 2002, the Bush admin supported a coup attempt against Chavez, in which the military arrested Chavez, forced him to resign under duress, and installed the more corporate friendly Pedro Camanoa who immediately abolished the national assembly and supreme court, yet the state department only criticized Chavez for acting undemocratically. At this time, a similar coup plot against Maduro is even more likley with the Venezuelan economy still reeling from all time low global oil prices.

The mainstream media also seems to be setting the stage for a coup de'tat in their narrative which refers to Maduro as a dictator, implicitly blames him for all deaths in Venezuela, accuses him of human rights abuses, and perpetuates the lie that the national constituent assembly gives him unlimited power. Of course, Maduro isn't a dictator. Authoritarian? Yes, but socialism is authoritarian by its very nature. Unfortunately for the MSM, words have definite meanings and you can't just misapply them when it suits your interests. Webster defines dictator as a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained power by force. Maduro was elected by popular vote, and as bad as his policies are he's still not a dictator. Not surprisingly the same people who accuse Maduro of being a dictator also accuse Erdogan and Putin of being a dictator, even though all three are ElECTED officials. Furthermore, rioting, looting, throwing molotov cocktails at police, and blockading roads are not human rights and using police brutality to stop these things are not human rights abuses. The national constituent assembly is also not something new nor does it give Maduro unlimited power. Here again the media have stripped the event of its historical context. Venezula has experienced nine prior constitutional reforms in its brief history; the last one was initiated by Chavez and led to the drafting and adoption of the constitution of the Bolvarian Republic. The national constituent assembly is in charge of drafting a new constitution or amending an existing one and its members are chosen through national elections; it is not Maduro acting unilaterally. The 545 delegates are chosen through a complex electoral system which allocates eight seats to indigenous peoples and divides the rest between different sectors of the economy, municipalities, and rural areas. You can read more about it here

None of this is an endorsement of Maduro. I am no fan of Bolvarian socialism or socialism in general. I find it odd that the liberal media will not mention the real cause of the crisis in Venezuela. It is not a political crisis as the media pretends, but an economic one just as it is in Syria. A lack of democracy and human rights abuses didn't lead to the hyperinflation and commodity shortages that sparked the rioting and looting. In fact, democracy is what created this disaster in the first place. It wasn't until democracy was introduced to Venezula, in the mid 20th century, that its government began nationalizing companies and whole industries cumulating in the nationalization of the petroleum industry in 1976. The real culprit which the media will not name is Venezuela’s undying love for socialism and by socialism I mean the Webster definition of 'governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.' A military invasion will not change that, only a change in national character will. A shift away from class warfare and central planning towards class cooperation and market liberalization is what is needed.

Friday, June 30, 2017

White House Claims To Have 'Stopped' Chemical Weapon Attack On The Same Day That They Killed 82 Iraqi Civilians

Source: airwars.org

On June 29th, Trump boasted about stopping Assad from carrying out a chemical weapons attack on the same day that the U.S. coalition killed 82 civilians in Iraq, which is equivalent to the death toll that supposedly resulted from Assad's last 'chemical weapons' attack in April, and a bit less than the number of civilians killed by the U.S. coalition's chemical weapons attack, using white phosphorus, in Raqqa at the beginning of June. On June 29th, U.S. coalition strikes on Mosul and Nineveh killed 82 civilians.

Summary: Local residents and press sources said that at least 80 civilians were killed and others injured – mostly children and women – after shelling and airstrikes hit their houses near the Nuri Mosque in the ongoing battle for the liberation of Old Mosul.Half of the civilians died as a result of air strikes, said Alaraby news.
Yaqein Agency put the death toll at 82 civilians and said this was the work of the Joint Forces and their militias.

Of course, to call this contested is patently absurd. ISIS does not have an air force, so if airstrikes killed these people then only the U.S. coalition could possibly be responsible for their deaths. While this high of a death toll is unusual, it is excepted that civilians will always die in war zones; this is why wars cannot logically be waged for 'humanitarian reasons'. Anyone who claims a 'humanitarian' motive is either a low IQ dupe who trusts the government in almost every matter or a defense industry shill who knows they're full of shit but maintains the lie anyway because it's profitable.

Monday, June 19, 2017

U.S. Coalition Commits Another War Crime Killing 75 Civilians In Raqqa Using Chemical Weapons

Sources: Amnesty International and AirWars

Multiple sources and video evidence from Raqqa confirm that the U.S. Coalition is using white phosphorous munitions in densely populated residential areas of Raqqa. While white phosphorous is not banned outright by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 it becomes a chemical weapon when deployed directly against personnel targets. Its only permitted use is as a flare to illuminate targets or a smoke screen to hide people. Its use as a chemical weapon on a target within a concentration of civilians is prohibited by the 1980 Protocol on Incendiary Weapons, under Protocol III. In fact, U.S. intelligence first classified White Phosphorous as a chemical weapon in 1991 after Saddam (a Washington backed dictator gone rogue) used WP munitions to put down a Kurdish uprising. Of course, the fact that the federal government would violate its on rules and international law in pursuit of a supposedly noble cause is not a new development. The Army used white phosphorous munitions during the second battle of Fallujah. More recently, the U.S. Coalition in Syria targeted Al-Hason internet cafe in Raqqa with WP munitions, killing 14 civilians who were trying to contact relatives that had successfully fled the city. An additional 15 civilians were killed by U.S. air strikes on the 16th street and Al Jazra junction nearby. From Thursday June 8th until Friday June 9th, the U.S. Coalition carried out 25 raids using WP munitions on eastern and western neighborhoods of the city destroying 8 shops and killing 75 civilians.

The problem with having the most powerful military in the world is that you will also have a government that is above the law and the victims of their tyranny will be left without recourse. A republican form of government, as envisioned by our founders, necessitates definite constitutional limitations on the exercise of political power such as requiring a declaration of war by congress before going to war. They say they invaded Syria to eradicate ISIS and have no intentions of fighting the Syrian Arab Army or Russia, but as usual you can never take a politician's word at face value. ISIS is just a white phosphorus smoke screen. Their true intent, as John Kerry had let slipped last year, is to balkanize Syria along ethnic and religious lines, making it a failed state like Libya, which includes destroying the infrastructure, destroying businesses and demoralizing the populace.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Chlorine, Not Sarin Was Initially Reported As Agent Used In Khan Sheikhun Bombing

Source: Moon Of Alabama

I was skeptical of the news reports that the Syrian air force used sarin gas against the people of Idlib, as any rational person should have, since the primary source for information on the incident came from the highly censored and government controlled Turkish media. It is illegal to criticize the government in Turkey and any journalist that doesn't tow Erdogan's agenda will quickly find himself in a 6x8 cell. I trust reporting from the Turkish media as much as I trust the Wahabbi terrorist state or the maniac across the sea of Japan. It turns out the Turkish state press initially reported chlorine gas, not Sarin, as the chemical agent that killed civilians in southern Idlib on Tuesday, April 4th, but by Thursday they had changed their narrative to Sarin gas. Chlorine is not designated as a chemical weapon under Geneva protocols on chemical warfare, so perhaps they cooked up the sarin narrative to make the situation more shocking. Chlorine gas would certainly fit the facts on the ground better since witnesses reported seeing and smelling the gas (Sarin is orderless and colorless), the so called first responders of the White Helmets were pictured wearing dusk masks and touching victims without gloves a couple hours after the incident (a dust mask will not protect you from Sarin), and the symptoms listed fit the toxic effects of chlorine gas. Symptoms of sarin poisoning include diarrhea, Nausea, vomiting, and convulsions. Victims would be defecating and puking all over the place if they survived but none of this was shown in the White Helmet's neatly edited photography. The Turkish Justice Minister was also caught lying about the World Health Organization conducting autopsies, which WHO rebutted. Evidence from the first sarin incident in 2013 pointed to the 'moderate' Al Qaeda rebels as the perpetrators, so who actually possessed the Chlorine at the time of the incident is yet to be seen.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Amnesty Internation Publishes Shoddy Propaganda Piece on Syrian Prisons

Source: Moon of Alabama

A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title "Human Slaughterhouse" down to the last paragraph.

But the Amnesty report is still not propagandish enough for the anti-Syrian media. Inevitably only the highest number in the range Amnesty claims is quoted. For some even that is not yet enough. The Associate Press agency, copied by many outlets, headlines: Report: At least 13,000 hanged in Syrian prison since 2011:
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as "the slaughterhouse," Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.

How does "at least 13,000" conforms to an already questionable report which claims "13,000" as the top number of a very wide range?

Here is a link to the report.

Before we look into some details this from the "Executive Summary":
From December 2015 to December 2016, Amnesty International researched the patterns, sequence and scale of violations carried out at Saydnaya Military Prison (Saydnaya). In the course of this investigation, the organization interviewed 31 men who were detained at Saydnaya, four prison officials or guards who previously worked at Saydnaya, three former Syrian judges, three doctors who worked at Tishreen Military Hospital, four Syrian lawyers, 17 international and national experts on detention in Syria and 22 family members of people who were or still are detained at Saydnaya.
...
On the basis of evidence from people who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya and witness testimony from detainees, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.

There are several difficulties with this report.

1. Most of the witnesses are identified as opposition figures and "former" officials who do not live in Syria. Some are said to have been remotely interviewed in Syria but it is not clear if those were living in government or insurgent held areas. Page 9:
The majority of these interviews took place in person in southern Turkey. The remaining interviews were conducted by telephone or through other remote means with interviewees still in Syria, or with individuals based in Lebanon, Jordan, European countries and the USA.

It is well known that the Syrian insurgency is financed with several billion dollars per years from foreign state governments. It runs sophisticated propaganda operations. These witnesses all seem to have interests in condemning the Syrian government. Not once is an attempt made to provide a possibly divergent view. Amnesty found the persons it questioned by contacting international NGOs like itself and known foreign financed opposition (propaganda) groups:
These groups include Urnammu for Justice and Human Rights, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability.

2. The numbers Amnesty provides are in a very wide range. None are documented in lists or similar exhibits. They are solely based on hearsay and guesstimates of two witnesses:
People who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya told Amnesty International that extrajudicial executions related to the crisis in Syria first began in September 2011. Since that time, the frequency with which they have been carried out has varied and increased. For the first four months, it was usual for between seven and 20 people to be executed every 10-15 days. For the following 11 months, between 20 and 50 people were executed once a week, usually on Monday nights. For the subsequent six months, groups of between 20 and 50 people were executed once or twice a week, usually on Monday and/or Wednesday nights. Witness testimony from detainees suggests that the executions were conducted at a similar – or even higher – rate at least until December 2015. Assuming that the death rate remained the same as the preceding period, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.

From "between x and y", "once or twice a week", "suggests" and "assuming" the headline numbers are simply extrapolated in footnote 40 in a back-of-the-envelope calculation; "If A were true then B would be X":
These estimates were based on the following calculations. If between seven and 20 were killed every 10-15 days from September to December 2011, the total figure would be between 56 people and 240 people for that period. If between 20 and 50 were killed every week between January and November 2012, the total figure would be between 880 and 2,200 for that period. If between 20 and 50 people were killed in 222 execution sessions (assuming the executions were carried out twice a week twice a month and once a week once a month) between December 2012 and December 2015, the total figure would be between 4,400 and 11,100 for that period. These calculations produce a minimum figure of 5,336, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 5,000, and 13,540, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 13,000.

2. I will not go into the details of witness statements on which the report is build. They seem at least exaggerated and are not verifiable at all. In the end it is pure hearsay on which Amnesty sets it conclusions. One example from page 25:
“Hamid”, a former military officer when he was arrested in 2012, recalled the sounds he heard at night during an execution:
"There was a sound of something being pulled out – like a piece of wood, I’m not sure – and then you would hear the sound of them being strangled… If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes… We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then."

A court might accept 'sound of "I'm not sure" "kind of gurgling" noise through concrete' as proof that a shower was running somewhere. But as proof of executions?

Of all the witnesses Amnesty says it interviewed only two, a former prison official and a former judge, who describe actual executions (page 25). From the wording of their statements it is unclear if they have witnessed any hangings themselves or just describe something they have been told of.

3. The numbers of people Amnesty claims were executed are - at best - a wild ass guess. How come that Amnesty can name only very few of those? On page 30 of its report it says:
Former detainees from the red building at Saydnaya provided Amnesty International with the names of 59 individuals who they witnessed being taken from their cells in the afternoon, being told that they were being transferred to civilian prisons in Syria. The evidence contained in this report strongly suggests that in fact, these individuals were extrajudicially executed.

and
Former prison guards and a former prison official from Saydnaya also provided Amnesty International with the names of 36 detainees who had been extrajudicially executed in Saydnaya since 2011.

Those 95, some of whom may have been "executed" - or not, are the only ones Amnesty claims to be able to name. That is less than 1-2% of the reports central claim of 5,000 to 13,000 executed. All those witnesses could provide no more details of persons allegedly killed?

Amnesty acknowledges that its numbers are bogus. Under the headline "Documented Deaths" on page 40 it then adds additional names and numbers to those above but these are not from executions:
the exact number of deaths in Saydnaya is impossible to specify. However, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has verified and shared with Amnesty International the names of 375 individuals who have died in Saydnaya as a result of torture and other ill-treatment between March 2011 and October 2016. Of these, 317 were civilians at the time of their arrest, 39 were members of the Syrian military and 19 were members of non-state armed groups. In the course of the research for this report, Amnesty International obtained the names of 36 additional individuals who died as a result of torture and other ill-treatment in Saydnaya. These names were provided to Amnesty International by former detainees who witnessed the deaths in their cells

The "Syrian Network for Human Rights" (SNHR) is a group in the UK probably connected to British foreign intelligence and with dubious monetary sources. It only says:
SNHR funds its work and activities through unconditional grants and donations from individuals and institutions.

Now that is true transparency.

SNHR is known for rather ridiculous claims about casualties caused by various sides of the conflict. It is not know what SNHR qualifies as civilians - do these include armed civil militia? But note that none of the mostly civilians SNHR claims to have died in the prison are said to have been executed. How is it possible that a organization frequently quoted in the media as detailed source of casualties in Syria has no record of the 5,000 to 13,000 Amnesty claims were executed?

4. The report is padded up with before/after satellite pictures of enlarged graveyards in Syria. It claims that these expansions are a sign of mass graves of government opponents. But there is zero evidence for that. Many people have died in Syria throughout the war on all sides of the conflict. The enlargement, for example, of the Martyrs Cemetery south of Damascus (p.29/30) is hardly a sign of mass killing of anti-government insurgents. Would those be honored as martyrs by the government side?

5. The report talks of "extrajudicially executed" prisoners but then describes (military) court procedures and a necessary higher up approval of the judgement. One may not like the laws that govern the Syrian state but the courts and the procedures Amnesty describes seem to follow Syrian laws and legal processes. They are thereby - by definition - not extrajudicial.

6. In its Executive Summary the Amnesty report says that "Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria and ...". But there is no evidence provided of "approval" by the Grand Mufti in the details of the report. On page 19 it claims, based on two former prison and court officials:
The judgement is sent by military post to the Grand Mufti of Syria and to either the Minister of Defence or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to sign for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and who specify the date of the execution.


It is very doubtful that the Syrian government would "deputize" or even inform the Grand Mufti in cases of military or criminal legal proceedings. Amnesty International may dislike the fact but Syria is a secular state. The Grand Mufti in Syria is a civil legal authority for some followers of the Sunni Muslim religion in Syria but he has no official judiciary role. From the 2010 Swiss dissertation Models of Religious Freedom: Switzerland, the United States, and Syria quoted here:
In Syria a mufti is a legal and religious expert (faqih and ‘alim) who has the power to give legally non-binding recommendations (sing. fatwa, pl. fatawa) in matters of Islamic law. ...
Queries which are either sought by a shari‘a judge or private individuals regard the personal status laws of the Muslim community only. In the Arab Republic fatawa are given neither to public authorities nor to individual civil servants, ..

Neither the Syrian constitution nor any Syrian law I can find refers to a role of the Grand Mufti in any military or civil criminal court proceding. The Amnesty claim "approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria"is not recorded anywhere else. It is very likely false. The Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, is a moderate, recognized and accomplished scholar. He should sue Amnesty for this slander.

Syrian law includes a death penalty for certain severe and violent crimes. Before 2011 actual executions in Syria were very rare, most death sentences were commuted. Allegedly the laws were amended in late 2011, after the war in Syria had started, to include the death penalty as possible punishment for directly arming terrorists.

It is quite likely that the Syrian military and/or civil judiciary hand out some death penalties against captured foreign and domestic "rebels" it finds them guilty of very severe crimes. It is fighting the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other extreme groups well known for mass murder and other extreme atrocities. It is likely that some of those sentences are applied. But the Syrian government has also provided amnesty to ten-thousands of "rebels" who fought the government but have laid down their arms.

The claims in the Amnesty report are based on spurious and biased opposition accounts from outside of the country. The headline numbers of 5,000 to 13,000 are calculated on the base of unfounded hypotheticals. The report itself states that only 36 names of allegedly executed persons are known to Amnesty, less than the number of "witnesses" Amnesty claims to have interviewed. The high number of claimed execution together with the very low number of names is not plausible.

The report does not even meet the lowest mark of scientific or legal veracity. It is pure biased propaganda.