Archive for the ‘war on terror’ Category

Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he was directly involved in approving severe interrogation methods used by the CIA, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open indefinitely….

“I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared,” Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.

Asked whether he still believes it was appropriate to use the waterboarding method on terrorism suspects, Cheney said: “I do.”

His comments come on the heels of disclosures by a Senate committee showing that high-level officials in the Bush administration were intimately involved in reviewing and approving interrogation methods that have since been explicitly outlawed and that have been condemned internationally as torture.


The Senate committee report also indicates that Bush himself was involved in the authorization of torture tactics.

So Cheney (still) thinks Waterboarding is appropriate? Too bad U.S. law doesn’t agree with him.

Torture is prohibited under 18 U.S.C. § 2340.

Torture in all forms is banned by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which the United States participated in drafting. The United States is a party to the following conventions (international treaties) which prohibit torture: the American Convention on Human Rights (signed 1977) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed 1977; ratified 1992).

…International law defines torture during an armed conflict as a war crime. It also mandates that any person involved in ordering, allowing and even insuffuciently preventing and prosecuting war crimes is criminally liable under the command responsibility doctrine.


Even the 2006 U.S. Army field manual mentions waterboarding as a prohibited act and defines it as torture:

In late 2006, the military issued updated field manuals on intelligence collection (FM 2-22.3. Human Intelligence Collector Operations, September 2006) and counterinsurgency (FM 3-24. Counterinsurgency, December 2006). Both manuals reiterated that “no person in the custody or under the control of DOD, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, in accordance with and as defined in US law.”[9] Specific techniques described as prohibited in the intelligence collection manual include:

* Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner.
* Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee; using duct tape over the eyes.
* Applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or other forms of physical pain.
* Waterboarding
* Using military working dogs.
* Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.
* Conducting mock executions.
* Depriving the detainee of necessary food, water, or medical care

So the question is… will our newly elected politicians, especially Obama and crew, live up to their moral obligations? Will the American people keep them in check if they falter?


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While Obama promises to simmer things down in Iraq, he has been calling for refocusing our troops towards Afghanistan… the supposed “good” war. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is only a “good” war in the sense that it is slightly less horrendous than Iraq by comparison. Slightly. Like Iraq, it is still unjustified carnage against the completely wrong target(s). Here’s a piece by John Pilger I thought especially poignant.

Obama, The Prince Of Bait-And-Switch

On 12 July, the London Times devoted two pages to Afghanistan. It was mostly a complaint about the heat. The reporter, Magnus Linklater, described in detail his discomfort and how he had needed to be sprayed with iced water. He also described the “high drama” and “meticulously practised routine” of evacuating another overheated journalist. For her US Marine rescuers, wrote Linklater, “saving a life took precedence over [their] security”. Alongside this was a report whose final paragraph offered the only mention that “47 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed when a US aircraft bombed a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday”.

Slaughters on this scale are common, and mostly unknown to the British public. I interviewed a woman who had lost eight members of her family, including six children. A 500lb US Mk82 bomb was dropped on her mud, stone and straw house. There was no “enemy” nearby. I interviewed a headmaster whose house disappeared in a fireball caused by another “precision” bomb. Inside were nine people – his wife, his four sons, his brother and his wife, and his sister and her husband. Neither of these mass murders was news. As Harold Pinter wrote of such crimes: “Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

A total of 64 civilians were bombed to death while The Times man was discomforted. Most were guests at the wedding party. Wedding parties are a “coalition” speciality. At least four of them have been obliterated – at Mazar and in Khost, Uruzgan and Nangarhar provinces. Many of the details, including the names of victims, have been compiled by a New Hampshire professor, Marc Herold, whose Afghan Victim Memorial Project is a meticulous work of journalism that shames those who are paid to keep the record straight and report almost everything about the Afghan War through the public relations facilities of the British and American military.

The US and its allies are dropping record numbers of bombs on Afghanistan. This is not news. In the first half of this year, 1,853 bombs were dropped: more than all the bombs of 2006 and most of 2007. “The most frequently used bombs,” the Air Force Times reports, “are the 500lb and 2,000lb satellite-guided . . .” Without this one-sided onslaught, the resurgence of the Taliban, it is clear, might not have happened. Even Hamid Karzai, America’s and Britain’s puppet, has said so. The presence and the aggression of foreigners have all but united a resistance that now includes former warlords once on the CIA’s payroll.

The scandal of this would be headline news, were it not for what George W Bush’s former spokesman Scott McClellan has called “complicit enablers” – journalists who serve as little more than official amplifiers. Having declared Afghanistan a “good war”, the complicit enablers are now anointing Barack Obama as he tours the bloodfests in Afghanistan and Iraq. What they never say is that Obama is a bomber.

In the New York Times on 14 July, in an article spun to appear as if he is ending the war in Iraq, Obama demanded more war in Afghanistan and, in effect, an invasion of Pakistan. He wants more combat troops, more helicopters, more bombs. Bush may be on his way out, but the Republicans have built an ideological machine that transcends the loss of electoral power – because their collaborators are, as the American writer Mike Whitney put it succinctly, “bait-and-switch” Democrats, of whom Obama is the prince.

Those who write of Obama that “when it comes to international affairs, he will be a huge improvement on Bush” demonstrate the same wilful naivety that backed the bait-and-switch of Bill Clinton – and Tony Blair. Of Blair, wrote the late Hugo Young in 1997, “ideology has surrendered entirely to ‘values’ . . . there are no sacred cows [and] no fossilised limits to the ground over which the mind might range in search of a better Britain . . .”

Eleven years and five wars later, at least a million people lie dead. Barack Obama is the American Blair. That he is a smooth operator and a black man is irrelevant. He is of an enduring, rampant system whose drum majors and cheer squads never see, or want to see, the consequences of 500lb bombs dropped unerringly on mud, stone and straw houses.

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I just finished reading a NYT Op-Ed by Obama that I found particularly refreshing. While he didn’t address the fact that his plans for troop draw-downs and redeployments don’t include the thousands upon thousands of privately hired mercs that flesh out the battlefield, he did say a few things that address some of the most fundamental apprehensions that I have had about this “Mess-O-Potamia.”

I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face. — Barak Obama (source)

This simple declaration, if carried out, will undoubtedly save thousands of lives on both sides of this war.

One of the critical components to understanding “why they hate us” is the fact that we have been uninvited guests in the Middle East for decades now, and our presence there is viewed as the utmost of insults. Unlike us, the folks in the Middle East haven’t forgotten that we overthrew the democratically elected government in Iran in 1953. Folks there haven’t forgotten that we supplied both sides of the Iran-Iraq war until we decided to tip the scales and bet on Saddam… and then subsequently made Saddam one of our biggest allies right up to and after the first incursion into Iraq. And perhaps the most poignant sting in the minds of the Middle Eastern people would be our unwavering and active support of the immeasurable number of atrocities committed by Israel over the last forty or fifty years.

To hear a politician talk about rejecting American Imperialist ambitions is a wonderful sound indeed. Of course, now we’ll need to see if he can stick to his words and put them into concrete action… a much harder feat.

Read the full Op-Ed

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Hot from the presses folks… now that habeas corpus has been restored for the detainees at Gitmo, the first cases are being heard and guess what? The government’s evidence is pure bullshit, or as the New York Times put it, “based on bare and unverifiable claims” (source).

…A three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that the detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant (source).

The sad part of this story… sadder than the fact that it has taken six fucking years to finally return the rights that should have been afforded to these people in the first place… is that the man in question in this case has already told his wife to remarry because he considered himself “already dead” or at least unlikely to ever see the light of day outside of Guantanamo. But even worse than that is that he probably cannot return to China and over 100 countries have rejected taking him in.

So, as these cases are reviewed, we’re likely to see those who are freed also have no where to go… so not only have we wasted 6 years of their lives by locking them away for no reason, stripping them of their humanity (because these detainees still lack the rights that we afford to even our worst enemies under the UN charter–assuming we still follow it, anyway), no, robbing them of 6 years wasn’t enough. We’ve created a class of “untouchables” that no country wants. These people have nothing. Their lives have been completely severed and tattered… and for what reason?

Well, in this case, it was simply because the Bush administration went Snark hunting: statements about this man were repeated in 3 documents and that was enough “evidence” to destroy his life.

I can’t express the anger and shame I feel right now to live in a land that has been so derailed from its once noble ideals of justice and fairness. I thank god that we seem to have finally come to our senses. What a pity that it has taken so long and damaged so many in the meantime.

The first step is to set the innocent free. The second step must be taken by people like you and me… we must hold these treasonous fearmongers accountable for the lives they have destroyed on a whim. We have allowed them to betray the spirit of democracy and justice for far too long. If we have any sense of justice, we’ll stand up and speak for all those that remain unjustly shackled and languishing.

We must face our own cowardice. It’s so easy to sit there and shrug our shoulders because we haven’t been tossed behind bars. Our families haven’t been torn asunder. We don’t have the power to do anything about this… right? Are you sure? How many lives must be uprooted, displaced, bombed, dismembered, disabled, blown up, shot up, hacked up, or severed before it becomes wrong enough for us to muster the courage to act?

Shit like this will only stop when we make it stop.

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Because the post was rather long, I put it on its own page. It contains a rundown of the United States’ involvement in Nicaragua in the post-WWII era, with special attention paid to the acts of U.S. terror committed against Nicaragua for which the U.S. was found guilty in the World Court.

Read more.

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Moved this post to a separate page.

Click here.

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