Will the ‘Stop Arming Terrorist Act’ Force the US to Comply With International Law?
Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford says the legislation would provide legal basis for uncovering facts about US covert operations and keep arm transfers at bay
KIM BROWN: Welcome to The Real News Network in Baltimore. I’m Kim Brown. Last week, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bill in the House known as the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. It’s aimed at stopping the United States from providing arms in support to terrorist groups or to nations who support these groups.
TULSI GABBARD: Mr. Speaker, under US law, it is illegal for you or me or any American to provide any type of assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If we broke this law we’d be thrown in jail. Yet the US Government’s been violating this law for years, directly and indirectly supporting allies and partners of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, with money, weapons, intelligence and other support in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government. A recent New York Times–
KIM BROWN: Well, joining us to discuss this, is Glen Ford. Glen is the Co-Founder and the Executive Editor of The Black Agenda Report, he’s also author of The Big Lie, an analysis of US media coverage of the Grenada invasion. He’s joining us today from Plainfield, New Jersey. Glen, thanks a lot for being here.
GLEN FORD: Thanks for having me.
KIM BROWN: So, Glen, Congresswoman Gabbard’s bill, as we just heard her present it to the House floor, it already has some bipartisan support of a couple of her co-sponsors, include Congresswoman Barbara Lee, also Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and the Progressive Democrats of America have come out and expressed their support for this bill. Tell us a little bit more about it.
GLEN FORD: Well, just as the title says, it’s rather straightforward — Stop Arming Terrorists Act. It seems simple, but the problem is that the Obama Administration has been arming these terrorists in Syria for the past five years. It armed them in Libya. And it is, as a result of these massive amounts of arms that have come in — not just from the Obama Administration, but from its allies in the Mid East, the Arab autocracies, and from most of the members of NATO — it’s because of this cauldron of weaponry that’s been poured into Syria that we saw the creation, the rise of ISIS and the huge growth in al-Qaeda, through its affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front.
So what Congresswoman Gabbard’s bill tries to do, is put another piece of legislation in there that says, that bolsters previous laws, which make it a crime to give any kind of substantive help to al-Qaeda or its different iterations to put some more specific laws on the books that would require that the US Director of Intelligence, and that’s the guy who oversees all of the US Intelligence agencies, to make a list of these groups — who exactly they are. And update that list and also to make a list of all the nations that are giving any kind of aid to these groups. And that includes the United States, but also the US’s allies, aid meaning any type of assistance, whether it’s humanitarian or money or medical or in the form of weapons.
So, it tries to put another level of law on top of the laws that already exist, which are being flaunted by this administration into play, and to get some kind of list of who these groups are. And that’s real important. Because the United States in its sham of negotiations with Russia, which was supposed to lead to just this kind of list, who are the groups that the United States says it supports? Groups that the US claims are not affiliated or associated or collaborating with ISIS or with al-Qaeda, who are they? Where are they? And what kind of assistance are you giving to them to bring this all out into the open, to see if these groups and the United States and its allies actually do have a relationship?
So, it would provide the legal basis so that people could hold hearings. And the different branches of the US government would have an actual obligation to find out what the United States is doing with its covert and overt arms to deal with Jihadist Islamic terrorism.
KIM BROWN: Well, Glen, I mean you raise several interesting points. I mean, first of all, the United States Government certainly adheres to the practice of no permanent enemies, no permanent friends, just permanent interests. And the nation constantly has shifting interests. So, how would an act like this work, if it were transported back, to say 35, 40 years? ‘Cause I’m thinking obviously, of how the United States Government was responsible for funding the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight against Russia and the Mujahedeen at the time was headed by Osama bin Laden, who went on to create al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda became a terrorist organization that we engaged in a war against. And I guess, to some extent, still engaging, in war behavior with them. So how does that work exactly? Because we have a tendency to back terrorists groups or individuals and they somehow turn against us, for reasons we don’t know.
GLEN FORD: Well, you know, that is what laws are for. So that superpowers, which have interests all the time everywhere, that shift all of the time. So, that superpowers can’t just do whatever they want to do in any given situation, that they are ruled by law. There’s International Law and then there’s, of course, their own country’s laws. And the United States has broken International Law; it was breaking International Law when it and Saudi Arabia set up something that was previously non-existent in human history, and that is, an International Jihadist Network in Afghanistan for the purpose of making war against the recognized government in Afghanistan. That’s a violation of International Law.
But the United States really doesn’t pay much attention to International Law. And there should have been a law on the books in the United States as well. There are laws on the books in the United States regarding how the United States is supposed to, and all of its citizens, supposed to comport itself with regard to al-Qaeda and any of its derivatives. And ISIS is, of course, a derivative of al-Qaeda and there’s a proliferation of groups that are derivatives of al-Qaeda or collaborate on a daily military basis with al-Qaeda. That’s already against the law, as Congresswoman Gabbard has pointed out. But, apparently you need several layers of law before you can get the attention of a US administration, which thinks, as you just talked about, that the United States has interests that supersede the law.
KIM BROWN: So, you mentioned the different terrorist organizations that the US has supported directly and indirectly, but how does this apply to states? Specifically I’m thinking about Saudi Arabia of which we do provide some state support, although Saudi Arabia’s a very wealthy country, they don’t seem to need foreign aid from the United States, but you know, that’s another conversation. But this is one of our allies, one of our strategic partners in the Middle East who have been tied to numerous terrorist attacks. Even the 9/11 Report went on to strongly suggest that Saudi Arabia had a role to play in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. So I mean, how would Congresswoman Gabbard’s bill be able to circumvent, if at all, some of the strategic partnerships that we have with our allies?
GLEN FORD: The intent of the law would make it so that the United States could not, for example, have sold some $30 billion, plus, of weapons to Saudi Arabia. It would also — and this would really hurt the political feelings of lots of folks — it would also prohibit the intent of the law, at least dealing or giving aid to Israel, the greatest recipient of US aid on the planet, because Israel openly admits to treating the soldiers of ISIS, who are wounded on the battlefield in Syria, in Israeli hospitals and that certainly is giving some kind of substantive aid to al-Qaeda. So, yeah, this would throw a monkey wrench into all kinds of aspects of current US policy of using Jihadist Islamist terrorists as foot soldiers in US wars. It’s designed to do that.
KIM bROWN: The Stop Arming Terrorist Act. It has been presented to the United States House of Representatives, by Democratic Hawaiian Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard. So, we will see how this bill makes its way through the Congress and to see what kind of support or lack of support that it gets.
We’ve been speaking with Glen Ford. Glen is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Black Agenda Report. Glen, we appreciate your analysis today as always.
GLEN FORD: Thank you.
KIM BROWN: Thanks for watching The Real News Network.