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April 20, 2010

Is the US Embassy in Lebanon squandering its diplomatic immunity?

By Franklin P. Lamb

Is the US Embassy in Lebanon squandering its diplomatic immunity?


US Embassy in Lebanon

Picnicking on Mount Vesuvius?

Tensions are rising in Lebanon between elected representatives in Parliament, "Unity' Cabinet members and the American Embassy, as the 27th anniversary of the 1983 attack on the US Embassy approaches and the Embassy issues another warning for Americans to leave Lebanon.

On March 29, 2010 the US Embassy instructed Americans not to travel to Lebanon citing "safety and security concerns." Simultaneously it warned those who are in Lebanon to seriously consider leaving.

Advising that Lebanon, placed on a US list of 14 countries "linked to Terrorism" following the Christmas Day attempted aircraft bombing near Detroit, has "the potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence, US citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks, as Embassy personnel may not be able to aid them in case of conflict." The "Warder Warning" to American citizens follows a series of recent efforts by the Embassy to pressure the National Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah, currently shaping the new Unity' government with its work in Parliament and the Cabinet. It comes following Opposition charges, emphasized by Hezbollah's Secretary Hassan Nasrallah the preceding week, that the US Embassy in Beirut engages in espionage activities for Israel and cautioning that the collaboration was very dangerous for Lebanon.

According to Nasrallah during an interview with Al Manar channel:
"All the information which the US embassy gathers in Beirut reaches Israel. Here we are not speaking about a normal foreign embassy which is gathering information for its own government "

"When it comes to the American embassy in Beirut, it is a different story"And so what is given to the US Embassy and what reaches the Israelis, the information, all of these leads to the destruction of Lebanon.This helps the Israeli enemy to understand what is going on in Lebanon, to use this information against Lebanon and to take revenge against our country" What is the difference between espionage networks, which give information directly, or giving information by mediation, meaning giving it to the US embassy who then gives it to the Israeli side?"

Nasrallah was speaking to an audience estimated at more than 100 million viewers around the region.

April 2010 and April 1983 parallels?

The Hezbollah Secretary-General is not the only one questioning whether the US Embassy operates as "a normal foreign embassy" with acceptable "mild spying and information gathering" or operates as "an espionage network" for Israel and passing it intelligence reports from US assets throughout Lebanon who monitor all roads and paths from Syria as well as South Lebanon and South Beirut.

What increasingly concerns many in Lebanon is the US Embassy role in recent projects including a "security agreement between the US and the Lebanese Internal Security Force' (ISF) which the Embassy and their allies described as "an American donation" to train and equip the ISF and make Lebanon stronger.

The "donation" resulted from the January 25, 2007 Paris-3 International Conference on the support for Lebanon. As far as security is concerned, [the] March 14 [opposition] charges that the then pro-American-pro-Saudi Fuad Saniora government "gave away the store" to U.S. intelligence by placing data related to Lebanon's two mobile phone networks at the disposal of the United States, that it is believed would allow the Embassy and Israel to tap Lebanese phones. There is a widely held belief in Lebanon that all information the Embassy receives goes to Israel. Also protested was the adopting of the American interpretation of "terrorism" which as applied by the Embassy means that no ISF member who is a Hezbollah member could receive any training to due various US Terrorism lists issues.

According to the Lebanese Ministry of Communications, the US embassy in Beirut filed a request to install reception devices in two positions in Lebanon located in mountainous areas in Aley and overlooking most of the Lebanese regions. The first is 22 kilometers away from Beirut, 760 meters above sea level and stretching over 251 hectares, while the second is 29 kilometers away from Beirut, 540 meters above sea level and stretching over 643 hectares. The US Embassy position is that its tower demand falls under the headline of technical assistance stipulated in the "donation" agreement.

Suspicions were also raised that the commando units the US wanted to train might be intended for use against the National Lebanese Resistance during a future conflict with Israel.

On March 16, 2010, the Syrian daily Al Watan asked Lebanese MP Nawaf
Mousawi about the growing concern in Parliament. Mousawi, one of Hezbollah's most popular and sought after interlocutors with American and other foreign delegations visiting Lebanon, replied:

"If the reports we read in the Lebanese papers are true, this would be a horrid scandal since it would mean that the American embassy was violating Lebanon's sovereignty and that the American security apparatuses were trying to infiltrate personal and national security in
Lebanon. This would constitute an Israeli security infiltration since there is a security agreement between Israel and America in regard to the exchange of information"

"Moreover, I say that today the American embassy in Lebanon has a private militia called the embassy's guard, arresting each suspected citizen in the massive area surrounding the embassy that has become an isolated geography within the Lebanese geography. It has become a state within a state with tapping devices violating the intimacy of the Lebanese people and intelligence officers monitoring all that goes on in the ministries and public administrations. We in Lebanon now need to liberate our land from the occupation of the American militia and to liberate part of our decisions from the American occupation by limiting the relations of the American embassy to the Foreign Ministry and preventing the American apparatuses from acquiring information in

Crossing the boundaries of Diplomatic protection?
The Embassy's intense and escalating campaign against the Opposition, a main pillar of Lebanon's government, is also raising questions among International lawyers and government officials whether the Embassy has squandered its diplomatic status under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. A study in underway in Lebanon to determine the extent of the US Embassy abuse of Diplomatic Immunity. Opinions among scholars and analysts range from a raft of challenges to allowing Israel to have an "illegal outpost" in Lebanon to sanctioning the Embassy for violations of the Vienna Convention, specifically under Art. 41 which requires that foreign Embassies, "respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State and not interfere in the internal affairs of the receiving State."

Researchers point out that 27 years ago this month, on April 17, 1983 the American Embassy was attacked as a direct and foreseeable result of the Embassy's involvement as a command and control center on behalf of Israel against the majority population of Lebanon.

According to former CIA agent Robert Baer, the CIA never did determine who was behind the bombing (there were a few dozen upstart resistance groups wanting to expel Israel in those days) but understood that it was the result of hostile US actions against Lebanon.

Food for thought

Legal experts at the State Department privately admit that despite years of public statements to the contrary, the April 17, 1983 attack cannot be accurately labeled "terrorism' because by bringing in and housing the command center staffed by at least 8 CIA agents and various "special ops' units who were running a network of pro-Israel assets and providing targeting information to the USS New Jersey offshore and Israel forces in the mountains and Chouf the Embassy lost its claim to diplomatic immunity.

The Embassy actions enabled the shelling of Lebanon and the killing of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians, among many other activities.

Consequently, the Embassy became a legitimate military target under the international laws of armed conflict. Lebanese resistance forces, who opposed the Israeli occupation of their country and their American and French allies who had abandoned their claimed role as "peacekeepers" and in fact had taken sides in the conflict were legally within their right and duty to neutralize the threat presented. The specific and legitimate military target of the April 18,1983 attack on the US Embassy is Beirut were the eight CIA agents and their teams who had been identified by Soviet sources and the information sent to allies in Lebanon.

While no reasonable person might suggest that the Embassy is currently subject to a third attack, despite regular salafist and al Qaeda wannabe threats, observers point out the irony that it has been Hezbollah, incessantly attacked by the Embassy and its allies in the Lebanese Forces and Phalange party, (the same groups who held power in 1983 and sponsored the giveaway May 17, 1983 Agreement with Israel), that has invisibly protected the Embassy several times over the past two decades, just as it quietly provided security in south Beirut during last spring's visit of President Carter with Lebanon's Senior Shia cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, still on a US Terrorism list for purely political reasons.

Lebanon's recourse

Lebanon currently has few practical or easy diplomatic options. The ultimate sanction and prevention measure available for Lebanon is the severance of diplomatic relations. That is unlikely unless Israel attacks Lebanon for the 6th time with the predictable American "green light'. The doctrines of self defense and self preservation are also available to Lebanon in order to prevent a foreign Embassy from facilitating aggressor against it.

Additional activities viewed as arguably incompatible with its legitimate diplomatic functions is the drum beat of attacks on certain parties in
Parliament (those allied with Hezbollah) including the current - widely believed to be fake - "Syria gives Scuds to Hezbollah" charges. On April 15,
2010, Syria emphatically denied the charge and asked for evidence while claiming that Israel was paving the way for new military action in the region with its false allegation.

On April 17, 2010 Hezbollah MP Dr. Ali Fayyad protested that U.S. claims about the Scuds serves to encourage Israel to attack Lebanon. "With this position, (the Americans) are encouraging Israel to carry out an aggression against Lebanon that they are trying to endorse at the international level," "The United States is thus placing itself in a position of complicity in the event of aggression and it will have to take responsibility," Dr. Fayyad told Agence France Press.

No evidence has been offered by Washington or the Embassy to support this rumor, which like so many these days, originated with Israel's President
Shimon Peres and given credence in the US Congress and now the American Embassy. Inquiries of the American Ambassador at yesterday's talk by former
US Senator Bob Graham (R-Fla.) at the American University of Beirut, as to why the Embassy offered no satellite photos for the large easily detected outdated missiles were met mutely with a radiant and wide smile.

The US Embassy is further accused of feeding certain politicians including the Phalange and Lebanese Forces parties with disinformation to attack the Lebanese Resistance. For example, MP Samir Geagea regularly meets and communicates with Embassy personnel and the next day invariably launches another attack aimed at lowering the high 84% polling statistics showing the level of Lebanese support for the Resistance, led by Hezbollah, deterrence capability against Israel.

MP Mousawi again: "the U.S. embassy in Awkar is harming national reconciliation efforts through the policy of sabotage and fragmentation it is adopting in Lebanon and the region."

By mid-day on Sunday April 18, 2010 the Embassy, faced with sharp and growing criticism for " spreading false Israeli rumors" by Syria and other countries backed off. A press release stated:

" It is Unclear if Syria Transferred Scuds to Hezbollah but we believe there is a Syrian "intent" to transfer Scud missiles to Hezbollah but there are doubts about whether the Scuds were delivered. " "We believe a transfer of some kind occurred but it is unclear if the rockets themselves have changed hands."

One hour later the State Department in Washington DC weighed in and appeared to settle the earlier false claim: " "We don't believe it happened" a senior U.S. State Department official said during a Sunday morning appearance on ABC news.

As of the afternoon of April 18, 2010 the US Embassy in Beirut, said that, "the United States is "increasingly concerned" about the transfer of more sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah." But it has now admitted that it has no proof of Scuds being transferred to anyone from Syria.

As of the afternoon of April 18, 2010 Hezbollah believes that the Lebanese government must review every bi-lateral agreement made with the US Embassy.

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in Syria.

Like Iraq, Syria is the cradle of civilization, and as such it has been a rich source of our shared global culture and historic heritage. Already endangered from illegal excavation, looting, international trafficking and iconoclasm; the theft and destruction of these sites has greatly increased as a result of the conflict in the Middle East.

Many of the endangered archeological sites and artifacts are over 7,000 years old. The oldest remains found in Syria are from the Paleolithic era (c. 800,000 BCE). The most endangered artifacts and archaeological sites currently are in Tell Halaf, the north of Syria near the Turkish border with Syria. These archaeological sites date as far back as 5,500 BCE. They include archeological sites and artifacts of the Babylonian, Sumerian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Ayyubid and Ottoman civilizations and empires.

Professor Franklin Lamb has also been working, sometimes under dangerous circumstances, to record and photograph the war damage done to religious icons, images, monuments, and ancient structures that span pre-Roman civilizations, and structures such as Islamic mosques, Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.

Professor Lamb is working tirelessly to record and photograph these sites and artifacts because they are in danger of complete destruction for religious, political and illegal trafficking reasons, especially due to the ongoing wars in the Middle East.

Professor Franklin Lamb's website and his latest book, "Syria's Endangered Heritage, an International Responsibility to Preserve and Protect" presents exclusive and never published before photographs, records, data, articles, and interviews from across the whole of Syria. His book can be purchased at his website

In addition to Dr. Lamb's urgent archaeological work he is also deeply committed to rescuing and aiding refugee children in Syria. He is a volunteer with the Lebanon, France, and USA based "Meals for Syrian Refugee Children, Lebanon (MSRCL)", which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children.

Lamb says that the goal of MSRCL is to be able to provide one meal a day to 500 children. More donors are needed in order for him to reach that goal. At $2.25 per meal x 500 children per day ($1,225), the budget for a month (30 days) requires approximately $36,000. Over 95% of each donation goes directly towards the cost of each meal. The MSCRL volunteer teams give their time, energy and even their own money to help the refugee children so that they will not become part of the "lost generation" of Syria.

Lamb's books and publications include "Pollution as a Problem of International Law"; "International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra Shatila Massacre"; "Israel's 1982 War in Lebanon: Eyewitness Chronicles of the Invasion and Occupation", "The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel's Use of American Weapons against Civilians in Lebanon in addition to the three volume set, "Palestine, Lebanon & Syria Palestine, Lebanon & Syria (Commentary and Analysis 2006-2016)." Due out during Fall 2016, in English and Arabic, is "The Case for Palestinian Civil Rights in Lebanon: Why the Resistance Sleeps."

Dr. Lamb's most recent book is "Syria's Endangered Heritage: An International Responsibility to Preserve and Protect".

Lamb's Academic Credentials include: BA, and Law Degrees from Boston University, Master of Law (LLM) Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from the London School of Economics (LSE); Diploma in International Air & Space Law from the University College of London; Post-Doctoral Studies at Harvard University Law School of East Asian Legal Studies Center, specializing in Chinese Law; International Legal Studies at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Studied Public International Law at The Hague Academy of international Law, at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, Netherlands.

Lamb's Professional and Political Activities include Assistant Professor of International Law, Northwestern College of Law, Portland, Oregon and Assistant Counsel to the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, During the Administration of President Jimmy Carter, Lamb was elected for a four year term to the Democratic National Committee, representing the state of Oregon. Lamb served on the Democratic National Committee Judicial Council with California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as well as the Platform Committee on East-West Relations. Professor Lamb served on the presidential campaign staff for Presidential Candidate Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.