Saturday, March 31, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Rumsfeld torture suit dismissed
But Judge Thomas Hogan ruled the five Iraqis and four Afghans did not have US constitutional rights, and also that Mr Rumsfeld was immune from such suits.
Two human rights groups brought the suit against him and three officers...
...In a ruling stretching to nearly 60 pages, the chief judge of the US district court for the District of Columbia said the allegations of torture were "horrifying".
The nine men suffered abuse including being:
hung upside-down and slapped until they lost consciousness
stabbed with knives
subjected to electric shocks
deprived of sleep by loud noises and bright lights
grabbed by aggressive dogs
They also were subjected to sexual humiliation.
None was ever charged with a crime.
All were released after detentions of one month to one year. Some were detained multiple times.
Read the full article at the Source
It seems that not having constitutional rights also prevents you from having human rights. You may expect this kind of abhorrent behaviour from a dictatorship but coming out of the 'land of liberty' makes this ruling especially disgusting.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Impeachment threat is real
"Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough had me on his MSNBC show Monday night to talk about impeachment,", "It was smart, civil discussion that treated the prospect of impeaching the president as a serious matter."
According to Nichols : " Scarborough is not jumping on the impeachment bandwagon", "He is simply treating the prospect seriously, as did CNN's Wolf Blitzer earlier in the day" , "We are nearing an impeachment moment."
"The Alberto Gonzales scandal, the under-covered but very real controversy involving abuses of the Patriot Act and the President's increasingly belligerent refusals to treat Congress as a co-equal branch of government are putting the discussion of presidential accountability onto the table from which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tried to remove it."
Read the full article here.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Lancet survey 'was robust' claims chief MOD adviser
The British government was advised against publicly criticising a report estimating that 655,000 Iraqis had died due to the war, the BBC has learnt.
...The researchers spoke to nearly 1,850 families, comprising more than 12,800 people. In nearly 92% of cases family members produced death certificates to support their answers. The survey estimated that 601,000 deaths were the result of violence, mostly gunfire...
Shortly after the publication of the survey in October last year Tony Blair's official spokesperson said the Lancet's figure was not anywhere near accurate.
He said the survey had used an extrapolation technique, from a relatively small sample from an area of Iraq that was not representative of the country as a whole.
President Bush said: "I don't consider it a credible report."
But a memo by the MoD's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, on 13 October, states: "The study design is robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to "best practice" in this area, given the difficulties of data collection and verification in the present circumstances in Iraq."...
...If the Lancet survey is right, then 2.5% of the Iraqi population - an average of more than 500 people a day - have been killed since the start of the war...
Read the full article here.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Tony Benn Beats Bolton To A Pulp
Friday, March 23, 2007
Gates Argued for Closing Guantánamo
Mr. Gates’s appeal was an effort to turn Mr. Bush’s publicly stated desire to close Guantánamo into a specific plan for action, the officials said. In particular, Mr. Gates urged that trials of terrorism suspects be moved to the United States, both to make them more credible and because Guantánamo’s continued existence hampered the broader war effort, administration officials said.
Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.
As Mr. Gates was making his case, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined him in urging that the detention facility be shut down, administration officials said. But the high-level discussions about closing Guantánamo came to a halt after Mr. Bush rejected the approach, although officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department continue to analyze options for the detention of terrorism suspects.
Read the full article at the source.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Iraq: Four years later
Yep, you did it, George--mission impossible accomplished. Unbelievably, four years of a bungled occupation have managed to make Saddam Hussein's tyranny look good in comparison with "liberated Iraq."
At least, that is the view of the Iraqi weightlifter made famous through a video of him taking a sledgehammer to Saddam Hussein's statue.
"I really regret bringing down the statue," Kadhim al-Jubouri said on British television this week. "The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day."
That's the judgment of a man who spent nine years in Hussein's jails, and, unfortunately, it is one shared by a majority of his countrymen, according to an authoritative poll sponsored jointly by ABC, BBC and USA Today: Only 38 percent of Iraqis believe that the country is better off today than under Hussein, while nearly four out of five oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq.
Even more disturbing is that 51 percent of Iraqis think it is OK to attack coalition troops--triple the number that thought that way in a 2004 survey. Square that with our president's assurances, offered since the first month of this unnecessary adventure, that the insurgency represents a small handful of terrorists. While most of the antipathy is registered among Sunnis, 94 percent of whom favor attacks on coalition forces, and by only 7 percent of Kurds, a surprising 35 percent of Shiites endorse that sort of violence.
Given the number of Kurds and Shiites who originally welcomed the invasion, it is also startling that 53 percent of all Iraqis polled agreed that "from today's perspective, and all things considered," it was "wrong that U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in spring 2003."
The poll, part of a series conducted each of the past three years at great risk to 150 pollsters, reveals a sharp rise in anti-American feeling and disapproval of the 2003 invasion.
Read the full article at the source.
Click here (pdf file) for the complete poll data.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Many thousands of Iraqis believed in the cause. They signed on as drivers, construction workers and office workers. But now they and their families are being hunted down by insurgents bent on killing them for collaborating. No wonder many are fleeing Iraq, desperate for asylum. But as they appeal to the U.S., many feel they’re being left behind.
As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, they’re finding that America, which was so eager for their help in the beginning, is not so eager to save them now.
Read the full 3 page article here.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Confessions of a Torturer
He’s lived a footloose life unconstrained by a desire for professional advancement, for the approval of superiors, even for a comfortable home. A freethinker, he read the great works of Western civilization in college and mastered classical languages. It was his desire to learn Arabic as well that took him to Iraq.
And there, as an army interrogator, he tortured detainees for information he admits they rarely had. Since leaving Iraq he’s taken this story public, doing battle on national television against the war’s architects for giving him the orders he regrets he obeyed.
Read the full article here.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Why Does The Times Recognize Israel's 'Right to Exist'?
by Saree Makdisi
'AS SOON AS certain topics are raised," George Orwell once wrote, "the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse." Such a combination of vagueness and sheer incompetence in language, Orwell warned, leads to political conformity.
No issue better illustrates Orwell's point than coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States. Consider, for example, the editorial in The Times on Feb. 9 demanding that the Palestinians "recognize Israel" and its "right to exist." This is a common enough sentiment — even a cliche. Yet many observers (most recently the international lawyer John Whitbeck) have pointed out that this proposition, assiduously propagated by Israel's advocates and uncritically reiterated by American politicians and journalists, is — at best — utterly nonsensical.
First, the formal diplomatic language of "recognition" is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to "recognize" a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).
Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to "recognize?" Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, "Israel" is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years — and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of "Israel"?
For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?
If none of these questions are easy to answer, why are such demands being made of the Palestinians? And why is nothing demanded of Israel in turn?
Orwell was right. It is much easier to recycle meaningless phrases than to ask — let alone to answer — difficult questions. But recycling these empty phrases serves a purpose. Endlessly repeating the mantra that the Palestinians don't recognize Israel helps paint Israel as an innocent victim, politely asking to be recognized but being rebuffed by its cruel enemies.
Actually, it asks even more. Israel wants the Palestinians, half of whom were driven from their homeland so that a Jewish state could be created in 1948, to recognize not merely that it exists (which is undeniable) but that it is "right" that it exists — that it was right for them to have been dispossessed of their homes, their property and their livelihoods so that a Jewish state could be created on their land. The Palestinians are not the world's first dispossessed people, but they are the first to be asked to legitimize what happened to them.
A just peace will require Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile and recognize each other's rights. It will not require that Palestinians give their moral seal of approval to the catastrophe that befell them. Meaningless at best, cynical and manipulative at worst, such a demand may suit Israel's purposes, but it does not serve The Times or its readers.
And yet The Times consistently adopts Israel's language and, hence, its point of view. For example, a recent article on Israel's Palestinian minority referred to that minority not as "Palestinian" but as generically "Arab," Israel's official term for a population whose full political and human rights it refuses to recognize. To fail to acknowledge the living Palestinian presence inside Israel (and its enduring continuity with the rest of the Palestinian people) is to elide the history at the heart of the conflict — and to deny the legitimacy of Palestinian claims and rights.
This is exactly what Israel wants. Indeed, its demand that its "right to exist" be recognized reflects its own anxiety, not about its existence but about its failure to successfully eliminate the Palestinians' presence inside their homeland — a failure for which verbal recognition would serve merely a palliative and therapeutic function.
In uncritically adopting Israel's own fraught terminology — a form of verbal erasure designed to extend the physical destruction of Palestine — The Times is taking sides.
If the paper wants its readers to understand the nature of this conflict, however, it should not go on acting as though only one side has a story to tell.
Saree Makdisi, a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA, writes frequently about the Middle East.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Israeli soldiers use Palestinian children as human shields
The allegations are based on testimony from a 15-year-old boy, his 24-year-old cousin and also an 11-year-old girl. They said that soldiers had forced them to enter houses ahead of the troops during the raid in Nablus.
The use of human shields is illegal under Israeli and international law.
Read the full report here.
Click here to watch a video testimony from the eleven year old girl. (Windows media player required.)
Note: The Image used in this article is from the archive of images that show the use of human shields by the Israeli army. It is not directly related the current accusations.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
A Conservative's Strategy.
Enter the former Reagan Administration official and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and contributing editor to the National Review:
How the World Can Stop Bush
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
What would be the consequences of a US or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear energy sites?
At the 2006 Perdana Global Peace Forum, Australian medical scientist Dr. Helen Caldicott provided an authoritative analysis of the devastating impact on human life that would result from the radiation release from such an attack.
Dr. Caldicott described the catastrophic deaths that would result from a conventional attack on nuclear facilities and the long-term increase in cancer deaths from the radiation release.
Should the attack be made with nuclear weapons--as some of Bush's criminally insane neoconservative advisers advocate--the populations of many countries would suffer for generations from radioactive particles in air, water, and food chains. Deaths would number in the many millions.
Such an attack justified in the name of "American security" and "American hegemony" would constitute the rawest form of evil the world has ever seen, far surpassing in evil the atrocities of the Nazi and Communist regimes.
Dr. Caldicott detailed the horrible long-term consequences for the Iraqi population from the US military's current use of depleted uranium in explosive ammunition used in Iraq. Caldicott explained that "depleted" does not mean depleted of radiation. She explained that each time such ammunition is used, radioactive particles are released in the air and are absorbed into people's lungs. We are yet to see the horrific civilian casualty rate of the American invasion--or the true casualty rate among US troops.
Dr. Caldicott expressed bewilderment why the rest of the world does not stand up to the US and force a halt to its crimes against humanity.
One man heard her--Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.
On February 10 at the 43rd Munich Security Conference, President Putin told the world's assembled political leaders that the US was trying to establish a "uni-polar world," which he defined as "one single center of power, one single center of force and one single master."
This goal, Putin said, was a "formula for disaster."
"The United States," Putin said, truthfully, "has overstepped its borders in all spheres" and "has imposed itself on other states."
The Russian leader declared: "We see no kind of restraint--a hyper-inflated use of force."
To avoid catastrophe, Putin said a reconsideration of the entire existing architecture of global security was necessary.
Putin's words of truth fell on many deaf ears. US Senator John McCain, America's most idiotic and dangerous "leader" after Bush and Cheney, equated Putin's legitimate criticism of the US with "confrontation."
America's new puppets--the states of central and Eastern Europe and the secretary general of NATO, no longer a treaty for the defense of Europe but a military force enlisted in America's quest for empire--lined up with McCain's argument that Russia was in fundamental conflict "with the core values of Euro-Atlantic democracies."
Even the BBC's defense and security correspondent, Rob Watson, jumped on the American propaganda bandwagon, tagging Putin's speech a revival of the cold war.
No delegate at the security conference stood up to state the obvious fact that it is not Russia that is invading countries under pretexts as false as Hitler's and setting up weapons systems on foreign soil in order to achieve military hegemony.
The reception given to Putin's words made it clear to Russia, China, and every country not bribed, threatened or purchased into participation in America's drive for world hegemony that the US has no interest whatsoever in peace. Intelligent people realize that American claims to be a moral and democratic force are mere pretense behind which hides a policy of military aggression.
The US, Putin said, has gone "from one conflict to another without achieving a fully-fledged solution to any of them."
Putin has repeatedly stressed Russia's peaceful intentions and desire to focus on its economy and to avoid a new arms race. In his speech on the 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, Putin said: "I am convinced that there is no alternative to our friendship and our fraternity. With our closest neighbors and all countries of the world, Russia is prepared to build a kind of relationship which is not only based on lessons of the past but is also directed into a shared future."
In his 2006 state of the nation speech, Putin noted that America's military budget is 25 times larger than Russia's. He compared the Bush Regime to a wolf who eats whom he wants without listening. Putin is being demonized by US propagandists, because he insists upon Russia being a politically and economically independent state.
The Bush Regime has taken the US outside the boundaries of international law and is acting unilaterally, falsely declaring American military aggression to be "defensive" and in the interests of peace. Much of the world realizes the hypocrisy and danger in the Bush Regime's justification of the unbridled use of US military power, but no countries except other nuclear powers can challenge American aggression, and then only at the risk of all life on earth.
The solution is nonmilitary challenge.
The Bush Regime's ability to wage war is dependent upon foreign financing. The Regime's wars are financed with red ink, which means the hundreds of billions of dollars must be borrowed. As American consumers are spending more than they earn on consumption, the money cannot be borrowed from Americans.
The US is totally dependent upon foreigners to finance its budget and trade deficits. By financing these deficits, foreign governments are complicit in the Bush Regime's military aggressions and war crimes. The Bush Regime's two largest lenders are China and Japan. It is ironic that Japan, the only nation to experience nuclear attack by the US, is banker to the Bush Regime as it prepares a possible nuclear attack on Iran.
If the rest of the world would simply stop purchasing US Treasuries, and instead dump their surplus dollars into the foreign exchange market, the Bush Regime would be overwhelmed with economic crisis and unable to wage war. The arrogant hubris associated with the "sole superpower" myth would burst like the bubble it is.
The collapse of the dollar would also end the US government's ability to subvert other countries by purchasing their leaders to do America's will.
The demise of the US dollar is only a question of time. It would save the world from war and devastation if the dollar is brought to its demise before the Bush Regime launches its planned attack on Iran.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.
This editorian was originally published on Counterpunch
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Special Message from a Wombat
(Sorry, I couldn't get the video upload to take on Blogger.)
Friday, March 02, 2007
Secretary of State Cowardly Rice
Just as a refresher, on July 29, 2001, Rice said on CNN that, "We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt. This [the sanctions regime] has been a successful period..." And here is what she said on CNN on September 8th, 2002 during the gear up to war:
...We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. [lie] We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance -- into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. [lie]
We know that he has the infrastructure [lie], nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.
The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Without further ado, here is what would happen if a reporter confronted Rice regarding these statements:
Thursday, March 01, 2007
We Face a Vietnam-Style Collapse
An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.
The officers - combat veterans who are experts in counter-insurgency - are charged with implementing the "new way forward" strategy announced by George Bush on January 10. The plan includes a controversial "surge" of 21,500 additional American troops to establish security in the Iraqi capital and Anbar province.
But the team, known as the "Baghdad brains trust" and ensconced in the heavily fortified Green Zone, is struggling to overcome a range of entrenched problems in what has become a race against time, according to a former senior administration official familiar with their deliberations.
"They know they are operating under a clock. They know they are going to hear a lot more talk in Washington about 'Plan B' by the autumn - meaning withdrawal. They know the next six-month period is their opportunity. And they say it's getting harder every day," he said.
We assess that Iran seeks to develop a nuclear weapon. The information is incomplete, but we assess that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon early-to-mid-next decade.Hence the rush to bomb now, considering that Iran offered to fully comply on its nuclear program, recognise Israel, and cease all support for militant groups targeting Israel. But then again, that offer doesn't count because it is embarrassing to the U.S. and because the U.S. brushed the offer aside (then attacked the messenger conveying the offer).
But back to the Director's words. Because it is the government, it is important to know, not so much what they said, but what they think the words they used mean. Take "assess," for example. What does that mean. Here is how it has been defined by the government at the time of their last brilliant "assess"ment:
When we use words such as 'we assess,' we are trying to convey an analytical assessment or judgment. These assessments, which are based on incomplete or at times fragmentary information are not a fact, proof, or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are based directly on collected information; others rest on previous judgments, which serve as building blocks. In either type of judgment, we do not have ‘evidence’ that shows something to be a fact.
So, Iran has a nuclear weapons program, but that there is no "'evidence' that shows [that] to be a fact," and there is no "fact, proof, or knowledge" to show that there is. The total lack of a nuclear weapons program found after 1400 days of IAEA go anywhere, anytime inspections remains the only reliable source of information.
One should really take any U.S. "assessments" with a truckload of salt. Here's a blast from the past: in 1995, the "assessment" was that Iran would have a bomb "within five years."