Clinton statement celebrates ‘civil society’ in Middle East

on 45 Comments
Combined Tactical Systems headquarters in Jamestown, PA flies the American and Israeli flags. The tear gas they produce was used in Tunisia, Egypt and the occupied territories.

I think we should welcome Hillary Clinton’s statement on Egypt. She spoke of the tremendous grievances of the demonstrators and said Egypt must become a democracy. Most of all, she spoke of the great ideas coming out of civil society. Twice she referred to civil society in the Middle East. This means the democratic movement in Palestine too.

Jane Harman was just on Andrea Mitchell’s show on MSNBC. She scolded the Arab governments for not heeding Obama’s call to them at Cairo in 6/09 then spoke of the need to honor “human rights” and the legitimate demands of the “youth bulge” in Arab societies. All these issues apply to Israel. In Cairo, Obama said the settlements must end and the humiliation of the Palestinians must end. But Israel continues to trample human rights in Gaza and the West Bank, and as Brian Baird frequently states, there are 600,000 people under 18 in Gaza. Inevitably, the Cairo wave will come further east.

And here’s another echo. Adalah-NY recently posted on American-made tear gas made by Combined Tactical Systems (CTS), a part of Combined Systems Inc.,  being shot at protesters across the West Bank. Now this theme is at last being echoed in the mainstream press, about Egypt and the same US tear gas company. From the Telegraph:

A stark contrast, however, to the US’s calls for calm has come from protesters angry at the fact that the tear gas canisters being fired at them by security forces seem to be made in America – via AFP: “Egyptians staging anti-government protests on Friday vented anger at the fact that the tear gas security forces are firing at them is US-manufactured, probably part of a massive military aid package. “‘The American taxpayer should know how their money is being spent,’ shouted one young male protester who declined to give his name, brandishing a spent tear gas canister marked ‘Made in USA.’

“Dozens of the canisters made by Combined Tactical Systems in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, were fired at crowds on one Cairo street on Friday, littering the road surface along with rubble and spent shotgun cartridges. “Many protesters have been injured through tear gas inhalation and by being hit by the canisters themselves, with the security forces sometimes firing them straight at demonstrators.”

[Original post referred to this pale tweet from Obama administration (Rob’t Gibbs):

Very concerned about violence in Egypt – government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet]

45 Responses

  1. Jim Haygood
    January 28, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Three ancient cities on the Mediterranean rim: Athens, Cairo, Jerusalem.

    Athens was aflame with riots last May in the debt crisis. This week Cairo has ignited. And what signal does that send to East Jerusalem, where decades of polite negotiations to end the occupation have led nowhere?

    This revolution is rewinding back into the cultural origins of civilization.

    • sherbrsi
      January 28, 2011, 12:54 pm

      This week Cairo has ignited. And what signal does that send to East Jerusalem, where decades of polite negotiations to end the occupation have led nowhere?

      “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

      – John F. Kennedy

  2. Citizen
    January 28, 2011, 12:19 pm

    I doubt Hillary was thinkng of the Palestinians when she talked about supporting civil society.

    • Donald
      January 28, 2011, 12:41 pm

      Yeah, I doubt it myself. There are organizations like the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which is critical of Israel, Hamas, and the PA, but I don’t she has them in mind.

  3. Frances
    January 28, 2011, 12:28 pm

    I think we should welcome Hillary Clinton’s statement on Egypt.
    No, we shouldn’t. She’s a disgusting, unprincipled hack who blithely talks out of both sides of her mouth. Spare me, Hillary. Government officials SAY these things to soothe our justifiable rage, and then do all they can to subvert the will of the people. Everything Mubarak has inflicted upon his people was bankrolled by her and her ilk. The leopard hasn’t changed his spots.

    • Colin Murray
      January 28, 2011, 12:33 pm

      I think we should. While I agree that she is an “unprincipled hack who blithely talks out of both sides of her mouth,” her statement is a public declaration about which way she thinks the wind is blowing.

      • Citizen
        January 28, 2011, 12:44 pm

        Pretty hard to miss, the wind blowing. At best, her voiced for the suppressed masses might be used to point out her hypocrisy- yes, I guess that’s better than nothing.

      • sherbrsi
        January 28, 2011, 12:51 pm

        her statement is a public declaration about which way she thinks the wind is blowing.

        Is it a sign of changing times or changing attitudes in the US establishment?

        It’s hard to spin the shutting down of popular social services as anything but dictatorial. When Clinton puts the money where her mouth is, she can get some credit.

      • Frances
        January 28, 2011, 3:07 pm

        “Disgusting”, you forgot “disgusting”. I can’t welcome it when I know that evil shrew and her minions are frantically working behind the scenes to keep Mubarak in power, or install an equally “friendly” dictator in his place.

    • Psychopathic god
      January 28, 2011, 1:20 pm

      link to

      “Hillary forgot to mention that the tear gas, tanks, concussion grenades are Made in the USA.”

      who sez US no longer has a manufacturing base?

      • Potsherd2
        January 28, 2011, 11:16 pm

        This is where our tax dollars are redirected from Israel. We’re paying for that flag.

  4. Jim Haygood
    January 28, 2011, 12:31 pm

    From Senator Kerry’s statement:


    We know that repression will not remedy the problems that leave people in Egypt and across the Middle East feeling hopeless and frustrated. In the final analysis, it is not with rubber bullets and water cannons that order will be restored.

    The time has come for governments in the region to urgently improve governance and transparency, open the field to true opposition and new political identities, create real avenues for listening to and considering the wants and needs of their citizens, and demonstrate to younger generations that they will have better opportunities tomorrow than they do today.

    In the case of Egypt, President Mubarak has the opportunity to quell the unrest by guaranteeing that a free and open democratic process will be in place when the time comes to choose the country’s next leader later this year


    Kerry is talking openly of regime change, leaving Hillary still defending the abandoned, burning (literally) fort of the discredited Mubarak regime. You’ve been outflanked, dear.

  5. Leper Colonialist
    January 28, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Civil society? Oh, like an indispensible prerecquisite to a liberal-democratic political order? An indispensible part of which are free and fair and open elections conducted with a high degree of transparency? Like the ones which brought Hamas to power in Gaza? And from which results the US has fled like a rat of off a sinking ship?

    Yeah, we’ll applaude Madame Secretary, once she starts replacing prevarication with probity. One doubts she’s capable of that, however. My question is if it’s a congenital failure or just areally bad habit she’s picked up over the decades from her spouse.

  6. Citizen
    January 28, 2011, 12:40 pm

    We, the people, never really matter, whether it’s over here, or over there. Obama’s reforms of the Federal Reserve system are nill; the set-up for Wall St continues unabated; all reform is just window dressing, tinkering around the edges. Obama is Bush Jr with some social skills. The Berlin Airlift and Marshall Plan were not done for the Germans, but against the USSR- otherwise the Germans would have received Morgenthau’s plan to turn Germany back to a barely viable agricultural land of serfs. Similarly, all our support for petty S American dictators, and for same across the Arab lands. Hillary could care less about the Arabs, or about you or me. Chelsea’s got her Goldman-Sachs marriage. End of story.

  7. Citizen
    January 28, 2011, 12:52 pm

    I imagine all the neocons and PEPS that make up our government in matters of foreign policy are worried about a repeat of the fall of the Shah of Iran, our puppet set up against the democratic elect of the time in Iran. How often has it been in the news over the last 30 years that we were really pressing Mubarak to set his people free? For once, the answer is not that our MSM didn’t allow this information, but rather that it never happened. All Uncle Same cared about is Egypt would play nice with Israel–nothing else mattered. That’s why we’ve paid him in so much foreign aid for so long.

    • Citizen
      January 28, 2011, 12:56 pm

      Obama faces his Jimmy Carter moment in Egypt: link to

      • annie
        January 28, 2011, 1:01 pm

        thanks citizen, important call.

      • Lydda Four Eight
        January 28, 2011, 2:02 pm

        Meanwhile some still don’t know anything about the Middle East, here’s a comment from the article Citizen linked, “whip out the nukes” oh my!:
        10:08 AM on January 28, 2011
        This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore Informed One. Show Details
        I am afraid most analysts misunderstand the current events, which to me look like the muslims worldwide, emboldened by weakness of the US and Europe, are establishing Caliphate as prescribed in the quran.
        The muslim states have been heavily armed by the confused and misguided Western (and Eastern) governments. Their muslim population is now emboldened and convinced that it’s time to conquer Dar Al Harb once and for all, but for that they have to depose the pro-western leaders, join into a worldwide islamic nation ‘umma’ and elect a caliph.
        Whip out the nukes or we are SOL.
        4 replies

        Read more: link to

  8. pabelmont
    January 28, 2011, 1:40 pm

    America (and Obama with us) really believe in “democracy”. Wow! Of course. And export it energetically, nay fiercely. However, what we mean by “democracy” is a system in which the oligarchs (CEOs of huge corporations) run everything they care to run, leaving to the elected legislators (and thus to the voters) all other matters, such as abortion, gun-control.

    However, the CEOs happen to care about taxation-of-the-rich (not, mind you AS CEOs, hardly, but AS rich guys with high potential individual tax bills, using the power of the huge corporation to get individual favors for themselves). They also care about GLOBAL WARMING, mostly to prevent anything being done about it. Shortsighted? Sure, but corporations take a short (say 3 month, 12-month, 60-month time-line on economic things, and GLOBAL WARMING is a long-range threat). And the CEOs believe in STABILITY, often dictator-protected, so business-as-usual can be conducted without surprises.

    So, if it be time for Barack to protect Mubarack — or to step aside — he is sure to have helpful advice from the powers that be (for whom he works).

  9. Sumud
    January 28, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I haven’t seen the clip but there were tweets that Rachel Maddow had shown one of the tear gas canisters being used in Egypt with it’s “Made in USA” tag. Anyone see it?

  10. Scott
    January 28, 2011, 3:02 pm

    I’m sorry for not responding to the thread. I’m gobsmacked by the photo. The two flags–for a tear gas factory. It should go global.

    • Surcouf
      January 28, 2011, 4:30 pm

      Gobsmacked! Ditto!

      Now full disclosure – I am not American.
      Where I live, companies own by foreign interests will sometimes fly their national flag along with our own national flag. It is not very common but it happens. No problem there. Now is this Combined Tactical Systems Inc. an American company? or an Israeli company? If it is an Israeli company I see no problem with this picture. However, if it is an American company why would they fly the flag of a foreign country, and an Israeli flag at that. Why not a Mexican flag? or a French flag? or a Chinese flag? Is this a case of Sarah Palin with an Israeli flag on her lapel? Please enlighten me!

      • Ellen
        January 28, 2011, 7:41 pm

        Founded in 1996 by boyhood friends Michael Brunn, president, and Jacob Kravel, vice president, the facility is the extreme in the manufacturing and engineering industry. Among 14 buildings situated on 150 acres, the ISO 9001:2000 certified company manufactures its own designs of less-lethal munitions used to defend and protect its sole customers — military, law enforcement and government personnel.

        “If we make mistakes,” explains General Manager Joe Schrecengost, “an officer or a military person could lose their life.”

        Combined Tactical, which has 15 patents and produces nearly a million products a year for such agencies as the police, ATF, FBI, U.S. Customs, Army and Marine Corps, as well as Special Operations Forces, has had steady growth in the past few years. Now employing nearly 130 workers and running two shifts, five days a week, at its Greene Township facility, the plant is a leading provider of sting balls, known for their powerful emission of BB-sized pellets and tear gas spray, and the fuses used in hand grenades.

        “Growth in the company is due to the development of new products, not necessarily 9/11,” Kravel says of the demand for less-lethal munitions. “We are really proud of the products that we manufacture here.”

        link to

      • Surcouf
        January 28, 2011, 10:06 pm

        Thanks Ellen!
        So an American company simply flying the flag of one of its most important customer. I guess no shame there.

      • annie
        January 28, 2011, 10:11 pm

        simply? you guess? a US weapons manufacturer was flying a foreign flag. if you see no shame in it just say so,

      • Potsherd2
        January 28, 2011, 11:11 pm

        annie – recalibrate irony detector

      • Surcouf
        January 29, 2011, 1:39 pm

        This is a retype as I believe my last comment did not go through.

        Thank you Potsherd2. My irony and humor is sometimes even missed by my own spouse and does get me into trouble!

      • annie
        January 29, 2011, 3:00 pm

        with pleasure potsherd!

    • Jim Haygood
      January 28, 2011, 7:25 pm

      Me too. That is an absolutely incendiary photo. Not merely US teargas, but US-Israeli teargas being used to subdue and kill protesters in Egypt and the West Bank.

      Is Combined Tactical Systems an Israeli-owned company? Or just an ‘American’ company owned by a zionist billionaire who funds illegal settlements in his spare time?

      Beyond disgraceful. Like the Egyptian kids in the street, I want my country back.

      • MRW
        January 31, 2011, 2:56 pm

        Save this photo for the next time you hear complaints about Mexican-Americans holding up the Mexican flag with the American flag in their hands during a MayDay demonstration.

        The biggest complainers are the neocons, and so-called protectors of the American Way writing in The Forward.

  11. Larry
    January 28, 2011, 4:33 pm

    America – your pants are down and you can’t pull them up again…

  12. syvanen
    January 28, 2011, 5:05 pm

    This must be the worst 10 days of American foreign policy ever.

    1. Of course Egypt is story number 1 today and it could very well herald the collapse of another US puppet. But this has over shaddowed :

    2. The Palestinian papers which has pretty much thoroughly discredited the PA to such a point that they cannot today even contemplate further negotiations with the Zionists. Abbas, the US/Israeli tool is today a greatly weakened tool. Another puppet down the drain.

    3. Tunisia of course another lost lackey for US interests.

    4. But the one piece of news that seems to have been completely overshadowed by events is from Lebanon with the collapse of the Hariri government and its replacement by one approved by Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. And what I find absolutely incredible about this collapse is that the Clinton herself forced Hariri into taking the action that resulted in his governments collapse, even though he tried to resist US pressure to take that action.

    It is not clear how the US should manage the Egyptian crisis other than to stay out of the way, but the Palestinian papers and Lebanon fiascos are clearly made in Washington and the Lebanon outcome lies directly in Clinton’s hands. If this happened in a European nation the FM would offer his/hers resignation immediately.

    These events have moved so fast that even usually insightful Israeli press has been left speechless. I cannot even imagine the Panglossian perspective that could spin any of these stories as positive for Israel.

    • Kathleen
      January 29, 2011, 2:56 pm

      Unless of course they see this as one of the only ways to get to Israel? Could be

  13. radii
    January 28, 2011, 5:33 pm

    If you wish to complain to Combined Systems (as I did) about their association with israel (particularly flying their flag in front of their headquarters) … here extensive contact information from their website:

    link to

    • Jim Haygood
      January 28, 2011, 8:22 pm

      ‘Founded in 1996 by boyhood friends Michael Brunn, president, and Jacob Kravel, vice president’

      So what’s the deal? These guys are dual citizens, or merely ‘dual loyalty’?

  14. yourstruly
    January 28, 2011, 10:48 pm

    the secretary of state’s words?

    are they really credible?

    has she or our president demanded that the egyptian police stop using u.s. made and supplied tear gas?

    has she or our president called for the u.s. backed settler-entity israel to respect the human rights of palestinians?

    so what, if on the eve of great social upheavals in the ME she talks as if she’s serious about the need for governments to be responsive to the demands of the people

    where were you, ms secretary of state, when you could have helped the people of tunisia and egypt – during the decades-long period in which they were in chains?

    too easy now, while they’re smashing those chains, to say something like “Please, mr. dictator, no more violence against the people.”

    so keep away america

    you can’t be trusted

    never could

    since the pilgrims landed

    • Kathleen
      January 29, 2011, 2:54 pm

      Did you hear her demand that Israel open up communication lines to the Gaza flotilla? Did you hear her demand that our MSM open up their air waves to Palestinian protesters?

      Have you ever heard her mention the dead, injured, displaced in Iraq?

  15. stevelaudig
    January 29, 2011, 12:20 am

    Trujillo, Marcos, Batista, Karzai, Diem, Chiang Kai Shek, South Korea for decades, Thieu, Mubarak, Pahlavi, Franco, the Greek Generals, the Brazilian Generals, the Portuguese Generals, Pinochet, the Argentinian Generals, Suharto, the Indonesian Generals, apartheid, Savimbi, Rhodesia, Hussein and then abh [anybody but Hussein]; Haiti since 1803, the Guatemalan generals, Honduras now, Panama since 1903, and on and on and on…

  16. Kathleen
    January 29, 2011, 2:52 pm

    Andrea Mitchell, Jane “waddling on over to interfere in the Aipac espionage investigation and trial” Harman are so blinded by their commitment to Israel no matter what they can not see straight and certainly are unable to tell the truth about the situation in the middle east.

    Richard Engel has voiced some twisted views on Iran and he has repeated unsubstantiated claims about Iran. Along with Rachel Maddow Have you ever heard him touch the I/P conflict honestly? Not.

    MSNBC is tied up in an Israeli knot.

    “I think we should welcome Hillary Clinton’s statement on Egypt. ”
    It’s tough to listen to Hillary “voted for the Iraq war resolution” Clinton.

  17. matter
    January 31, 2011, 11:16 am

    CTS has “no comment” on why the Israeli flag is there. The receptionist, “Patty” was rather grim-sounding on this point and absolutely refused to say anything. She offered to refer to the voicemail of Don Smith, “CEO” of the company, but one suspects that he won’t be returning any calls on this matter.

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