26.11.05

Torture, American-Style

Torture, American-Style:

"A quick glossary of the unique Bush administration definitions might help.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading. In the Bush lexicon, these words have no meaning outside U.S. territory because we have no obligation to prevent such methods from being used in interrogations performed outside the United States and its possessions. That was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's startling argument at his confirmation hearing, and it goes like this: Before the Senate ratified the torture convention, it added the reservation that CID means the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment forbidden by our Constitution. But the Supreme Court has held, in other unrelated contexts, that the Constitution does not apply outside U.S. territory. Therefore, the administration maintains, outside U.S. territory (including the U.S. military base in Guantanamo, on the island of Cuba) anything goes except outright torture."

In Terror Cases, Administration Sets Own Rules

In Terror Cases, Administration Sets Own Rules - New York Times:

"'The position of the executive branch,' said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, 'is that it can be judge, jury and executioner.'"

Abuse worse than under Saddam, says Iraqi leader

The Observer | International | Abuse worse than under Saddam, says Iraqi leader:

"Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime."

`Dishonest and reprehensible' words from Dick Cheney

KR Washington Bureau | 11/23/2005 | `Dishonest and reprehensible' words from Dick Cheney:

"Why is it no surprise that it is Vice President Cheney who has lobbied hard for an exemption for the CIA to any anti-torture legislation? After all, what's the point of maintaining a secret gulag of overseas prisons where persons suspected of being al-Qaeda operatives can disappear forever if the CIA can't water-board them or jolt them with some high-voltage juice to loosen their tongues?

In the end, the distortion of intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq may be the lesser of Cheney's sins. He rammed his friend Ahmad Chalabi's version of reality in Iraq down everyone's throats and made it impossible for anyone in the Pentagon to properly plan for postwar occupation and reconstruction.

Then, when it all threatened to come undone and American soldiers were dying at the rate of three or four per day in Iraq, Cheney poked his finger in Powell's chest outside a principals meeting in the White House, according to a senior administration official, and yelled: 'It's all YOUR fault. If you had let us put Chalabi in charge none of this would have happened.'"

Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth - UN Security Council - Global Policy Forum

Extraordinary Renditionsgate

Iraqis losing out on oil fortune

Aljazeera.Net - Report: Iraqis losing out on oil fortune:

"Up to $113 billion in Iraqi oil revenues are going to multinational oil companies under long-term contracts, and not to the Iraqi people, says a social and environmental group"

The Man Who Sold the War

RollingStone.com: The Man Who Sold the War : Politics:

"The INC's choice for the worldwide print exclusive was equally easy: Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times. Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration, had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years. Not long after the CIA polygraph expert slipped the straps and electrodes off al-Haideri and declared him a liar, Miller flew to Bangkok to interview him under the watchful supervision of his INC handlers. Miller later made perfunctory calls to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, but despite her vaunted intelligence sources, she claimed not to know about the results of al-Haideri's lie-detector test. Instead, she reported that unnamed 'government experts' called his information 'reliable and significant' -- thus adding a veneer of truth to the lies.

Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December 20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been hired to provide. AN IRAQI DEFECTOR TELLS OF WORK ON AT LEAST 20 HIDDEN WEAPONS SITES, declared the headline. 'An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer,' Miller wrote, 'said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago.' If verified, she noted, 'his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so.'

For months, hawks inside and outside the administration had been pressing for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Now, thanks to Miller's story, they could point to 'proof' of Saddam's 'nuclear threat.' The story, reinforced by Moran's on-camera interview with al-Haideri on the giant Australian Broadcasting Corp., was soon being trumpeted by the White House and repeated by newspapers and television networks around the world. It was the first in a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq -- the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media."

25.11.05

Bush v. Al-Jazeera: Fact or Fancy?


http://www.guardian.co.uk/cartoons/martinrowson/0,7371,1367426,00.html

Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera?

Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera?:

"REPORTER: Can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?
RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
REPORTER: Do you have a civilian casualty count?
RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense. It's disgraceful what that station is doing."

We're Prepared To Pay The Price Of Freedom, Are You? - Blairwatch

Boris Johnson MP: Bush and Al-Jazeera

Boris Johnson MP: Bush and Al-Jazeera

This story may be buried in the US press, but, I am glad to see the UK will not let it die so quickly...

'War on terror' tactics pull US into a legal minefield

FT.com / World / US - 'War on terror' tactics pull US into a legal minefield:

YOu know things are BAD when Scalia is to the left of bush & co. on an issue:


"''The very core of liberty,'' Justice Scalia said, ''has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the executive.''"

Secret CIA Flights Won't Go Away

SPIEGEL's Daily Take: Secret CIA Flights Won't Go Away - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

"On Tuesday, the Berliner Zeitung reported that American airbases in Germany had been used as pit stops for at least six secret flights, including the two most high-profile missions in the unfolding story of so-called 'extraordinary renditions.' For some time it's been suspected that a high-profile terrorist named Abu Omar -- spirited off the streets of Milan by CIA agents in early 2003, according to criminal charges in an Italian court -- was transferred from one plane to another at the Ramstein base, en route to Cairo. This week the Berlin paper reported that a Hercules C-130 landed at Frankfurt around the same time, refuelled, and took off for Baku, Azerbaijan. That flight led to an official complaint from Vienna after it showed up unexpectedly on Austrian radar.

German officials assumed this rash of flights had ended; but on Friday the business daily Handelsblatt quotes a U.S. intelligence source claiming that 'nothing has changed.' Handelsblatt adds that American intelligence sources have also confirmed the existence of two secret prisons in Romania and Poland, where suspected terrorists were interrogated by CIA agents. (EU investigators are looking for satellite pictures of those camps.) 'Similar 'black sites' reportedly exist in other European countries,' writes the paper"

NPR Takes on Washington: Battling for the Airwaves in Berlin

NPR Takes on Washington: Battling for the Airwaves in Berlin - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

"The Berlin frequency 87.9 FM has been in American government hands since the end of World War II. But the frequency is now up for renewal and venerated US public broadcaster National Public Radio is mounting serious competition for the government propaganda channel. The battle has exposed the ugly underbelly of the Bush Administration's public relations strategy."

24.11.05

Torture claims 'forced US to cut terror charges'

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Torture claims 'forced US to cut terror charges':

"Mr Padilla was handed over last week to the justice department for civilian proceedings, avoiding a potentially embarrassing supreme court showdown over how long the US government could hold one of its citizens in military custody without charges."

Protests at 'bomb Jazeera' memo

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online:

"Protestors also called for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to intervene 'to bring the American administration and the British government to explain their attitude to this matter.'

Hussein Abdel Ghani, the Chief Cairo correspondent, said:'We’re asking the United Nations and the international community for this story to be investigated. It’s unacceptable to shut down freedom of speech. It’s crazy that the threat came from a country that we used to consider as a model for us in the Arab world.'"

23.11.05

MPs push for fresh inquiry into Iraq conflict

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | MPs push for fresh inquiry into Iraq conflict:

"A cross-party group of MPs launched a fresh attempt yesterday to stage a parliamentary review of the government's conduct of the Iraq war - before, during and since the 2003 invasion - as critics of the conflict again pressed for the Commons and Lords to control powers of war-making."

Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel (11/22/05)

"Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter."

moveon.org thanksgiving video

Director for Torture

Director for Torture:

A Washington Post editorial on Porter Goss, the animal that now runs the CIA:

"Are these techniques 'not torture,' as Mr. Goss claims? In fact, several of them have been practiced by repressive regimes around the world, and they once were routinely condemned by the State Department in its annual human rights reports. By insisting that they are not torture, Mr. Goss sets a new standard -- both for the treatment of detainees by other governments and for the handling of captive Americans. If an American pilot is captured in the Middle East, then beaten, held naked in a cold cell and subjected to simulated drowning, will Mr. Goss say that he has not been tortured?

Are the techniques 'legal'? In 1994 the Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment; in doing so, it defined 'cruel, inhuman or degrading' as anything that would violate the Fifth, Eighth, or 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The Bush administration has never been clear about whether it considers the CIA's techniques legal by that standard. If it does -- as Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has suggested -- then it has opened the way for the FBI to use cold cells and waterboarding on Americans. But the administration also claims a technical loophole: Since the Constitution doesn't apply to foreigners outside the United States, the administration argues that by the Senate's standard, the CIA can use cruel and inhuman methods on foreign detainees held abroad.

Few legal experts outside the administration agree that this loophole exists. To make sure, senators led by Republican John McCain of Arizona are fighting, by means of amendments to the current defense authorization and appropriations bills, to bar the use of 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' methods. But Mr. Goss's statements suggest a deeper problem. Even if the legislation passes -- and Mr. Bush has threatened a veto -- the CIA will be led by an administration that has redefined standard torture techniques as 'unique and innovative ways' of collecting information. No one beyond Mr. Goss and a handful of senior officials accepts that spin: not the agencies' professionals, or 90 members of the Senate, or the rest of the democratic world. Yet now that the Bush administration has so loosened and degraded the torture standard, the abuse of detainees will become far harder to prevent -- not only in the CIA's clandestine cells but around the world."

Iraq conflict still in early stages, report says

FT.com / Middle East & Africa / Iraq - Iraq conflict still in early stages, report says:

"The report by Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University provides a detailed month-by-month assessment of the developing insurgency for a year between May 2004 and April this year.

It points to the growing numbers of civilian casualties, as well as the failure to control the insurgency, even with the use of overwhelming firepower, as with the assault on Fallujah last November, and concludes that the war in Iraq has been a ‘gift’ for al-Qaeda.

Iraq has become a magnet for young jihadists, replacing Afghanistan as a combat training zone, even to the extent that jihadists from that country now travel to Iraq to gain combat experience, taking their skills back to Afghanistan to use against western forces there, it says.

Contrary to some claims, the insurgency is not diminishing and it is likely to prove very difficult to withdraw all the British troops from Iraq unless there is a major change of policy by the British government, risking a break with the United States, says the report."



Link to the Report

Qatar shock at al-Jazeera bombing report

FT.com / World / Middle East & Africa - Qatar shock at al-Jazeera bombing report:

"On Wednesday the International Federation of Journalists said reports of a plan to attack al-Jazeera raised concerns that the US attack on the station’s Baghdad office in April 2003, in which a reporter was killed, was deliberate targeting of the media.

“It is time for the United States to tell the truth about this attack and to take responsibility for its actions, which appear to be [a] gross violation of international humanitarian law,” said Aidan White, general secretary of the IFJ.

The IFJ said it supported full disclosure of the alleged Blair-Bush conversation and a reopening of the investigation into the 2003 bombing of the al-Jazeera offices in Baghdad."

The Forgotten Prisoner: A Tale of Extraordinary Renditions and Double-Standards

The Forgotten Prisoner: A Tale of Extraordinary Renditions and Double-Standards - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News:

"The Zammar case typifies the 'war on terror,' in which the US government seems to believe that almost any means are justified, even torture in a country like Syria, a country that, ironically, the Americans have branded a 'rogue state.' The case is also symbolic, raising, as it does, the issue of just how far a state governed by the rule of law can go, especially when the division between right and wrong is so murky."

22.11.05

bob woodward is a stunning cunt

village voice > news > Press Clips by Sydney H. Schanberg: "Here, from page 423 of Plan of Attack, is an example of Woodward's agreement not to publish right away. It comes after a long interview with Bush in his office in the White House residence on December 10, 2003:

The president said he wanted to make sure that his acknowledgment that no weapons of mass destruction had been found so far would not be published in The Washington Post until the book was released. 'In other words, I'm not going to read a headline, 'Bush Says No Weapons.' ' I promised he would not . . .

To me, giving such assurances is the opposite of what journalists are taught and trained to do. The creed says you publish when the story has been properly confirmed, so that the public can make informed decisions."

Terry Waite: Were my captors worse than the Guantanamo jailers?

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Terry Waite: Were my captors worse than the Guantanamo jailers?:

"The moral framework of the nation is shaky and it is little use political leaders lecturing the young on morality when their own conduct is so dubious. As a member of the church I am obliged to say that, although some have spoken out against the matters to which I have referred, the church as a body has hardly been vociferous about them. In case any critic accuses me of displaying an anti-western bias, let me say I believe that as a member of a free society one has the responsibility to look at the beam in one's own eye first. Having lived in most parts of the world I am not ignorant of the defects of others. I recognise that there are states that are corrupt. There are evil dictators and brutal regimes. I am aware of the economic imbalance in many Arab states and elsewhere.

But I do not believe the world's wrongs will be resolved by warfare or economic dominance by one nation over another. We must grow into a world community where difference can be celebrated rather than seen as divisive. To progress we need people of stature who will be able to demonstrate compassionate wisdom and political acumen that brings hope to those in despair.

It is likely that such people will have been forged in the crucible of suffering, and through that experience will have learned that suffering need not destroy. They are the ones who can bring hope to this world and enable us to regain the moral dignity that is an essential part of our heritage as human beings."

Growing corruption scandal threatens to engulf Republicans

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Growing corruption scandal threatens to engulf Republicans:

"'The potential is huge,' said Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution. 'We've never seen an example as egregious as this with these sums of money, the bilking, the cynicism and linkages... I think you're going to see a string of indictments.'"

Legal gag on Bush-Blair war row

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Legal gag on Bush-Blair war row:

Another bastion of democracy and free speech says 'eh, maybe not this time...'

"The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq."

White House Shifts on Combatants

Newsview: White House Shifts on Combatants:

"[W]hat concerns Padilla's lawyers and others who believe the government has overstepped its bounds: Without a legal precedent, what's to stop the government from classifying Americans as enemy combatants and holding them until the case reaches the high court?"

Talabani aide says insurgents seeking dialogue

Talabani aide says insurgents seeking dialogue - Conflict in Iraq:

"President Jalal Talabani’s security adviser said Tuesday he had received a call from a man claiming to be an insurgent official who wants to talk with the government.

The statement comes two days after Talabani said in Egypt he was ready for talks with anti-government opposition figures and members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. He called on the Sunni-led insurgents to lay down their weapons and join the political process."

Axioms of the world and the bush dictatorship

Axioms of the world - PRAVDA.Ru:

"When future historians examine the legacy of the Bush dictatorship, they will discover a time of death and destruction throughout the world, from disasters both natural and humanly created: The attacks of September 11th, 2001, that permitted the Bush dictatorship to decimate the Bill of Rights and America's already precarious 'check-and-balance' system; Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, which exposed the ineptness of the Bush dictatorship; The Tsunami that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths; The floods in the Northeastern United States; The deadly tornados in Indiana; Hurricane Wilma in Florida; The devastating earthquake in Pakistan; and, of course, the Iraqi war.

There are some Bush apologists who argue that his dictatorship cannot be held responsible for these occurrences, particularly those that resulted from 'natural' phenomena. But others have argued that Bush's environmental policies created or contributed to the conditions that spawned these destructive acts of nature, and that his failure to strengthen the levees surrounding the City of New Orleans amplified Katrina's devastating impact"

EU to query US on secret prisons

Bush Talked of Bombing Al-Jazeera

ABC News: Report: Bush Talked of Bombing Al-Jazeera:

So much for that part of democracy that assures freedom of the press

"A civil servant has been charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments."

21.11.05

Torture chief gets nod from Beijing not the US

Torture chief gets nod from Beijing - World - smh.com.au

"Dr Nowak's visit to China comes a few days after he rejected the terms offered by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, for a visit to Guantanamo Bay.

Dr Nowak said he and other UN human rights specialists would not have been allowed to speak privately with inmates. This was a minimum requirement for such a visit and to accept the US terms 'would have created a disastrous precedent' he said.

The facility in the US naval base on Cuba holds 520 detainees, including the Australian David Hicks, so far without trial. In limited accounts via released detainees and lawyers, torture has been alleged. Feeding the controversy, US President George Bush is opposing a bill introduced by Senator John McCain barring the use of 'cruel, inhuman or degrading' treatment of prisoners in US custody, regardless of location.

Dr Nowak's visit may be turned into a propaganda exercise by Beijing, which has received public lectures from Mr Bush on democracy and human rights."

"get the fuck out of iraq"

Bloomberg.com: Top Worldwide:

"In a final statement, read by Arab League chief Amre Moussa, host of the three-day summit, they called for ``the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces.'' No date was specified.

``The Iraqi people look forward to the day when the foreign forces leave Iraq, when it's armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and get rid of terrorism,'' the leaders said in the statement. The session was broadcast live from the Egyptian capital by al-Jazeera."

United Press International - Cheney advocated U.S. torture

United Press International - NewsTrack - Report: Cheney advocated U.S. torture:

"The U.S. practice of using torture on terror detainees was rooted in Vice President Dick Cheney's office, a former senior State Department official claims.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, made the allegation to CNN, and said it was possible the practice was still going on.

'There's no question in my mind where the philosophical guidance and the flexibility in order to do so originated -- in the vice president of the United States' office,' he said. 'His implementer in this case was (Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department.'


Cheney is lobbying against a bill in Congress that would outlaw 'cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment' of prisoners, and wants an exception for the CIA in cases that involve a detainee who may have knowledge of an imminent attack."

20.11.05

White Phosphorus, Caged Lions, Peeling Skin: Allegations of torture, war crimes make Iraq campaign uglier yet

village voice > news > Mondo Washington by James Ridgeway: "Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician, is quoted by the Boston Globe as saying the Interior Ministry detention center has been infiltrated by Shiite militia. 'Some Iraqis are having their heads opened with drills, then their bodies are thrown in the streets,' he claimed. 'This shows that the United States should stop these acts since it is the force that occupies Iraq.’’

In addition to the ongoing controversy over torture of detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prison, the newest instances include:
# The apparent torture, including acts that left skin peeling from the body, of 173 mostly Sunni prisoners held in a secret prison by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government's Interior Ministry jail, led to a formal investigation by the Iraqi government, and the prisoners rescue by U.S. soldiers. Charges of these tortures have been made known since April, but neither the U.S. nor its Iraqi-backed regime, have done anything about them.


# The deliberate, confirmed use of chemical weapons in the form of white phosphorusagainst civilians in Falluja last year. An Italian documentary features eyewitnesses, including American military personnel who participated in them, to back up the charges. The Pentagon has admitted use of the weapons. The U.S. is not a signatory to a treaty banning their use.

# An announced investigation by the army into charges U.S. forces put prisoners into cages with lions in 2003. Charges have been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First. Two Iraqi businessmen say they were taken to lion cages on the grounds of the presidential palace, forced to enter the cages, and were pulled back only as the lions approached. Rumsfeld called these accusations 'far-fetched.'"

uk asssist in us torture

Independent Online Edition > UK Politics: "Ministers have been accused of turning a blind eye to 'torture flights' refuelling at UK airports, despite warnings that they may breach international law.

A powerful committee of MPs and peers will this week begin an inquiry into hundreds of flights through UK airports which may be carrying terror suspects to destinations where they could face torture."

on lying about the war

How U.S. Fell Under the Spell of 'Curveball' - Los Angeles Times: "According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm.

'This was not substantial evidence,' said a senior German intelligence official. 'We made clear we could not verify the things he said.'

The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. 'He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy,' said a BND official who supervised the case. 'He is not a completely normal person,' agreed a BND analyst."