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  • Saturday, January 29, 2005

    "Good" against "Evil"

    According to Bush, upon launching his crusades he declared they were engaged in a fight of "good" against "evil", in that ever so familiar knuckle dragging style. Well I hardly think what his regime has condoned so far equates to anything approaching good whatsoever. Take a look at some of the following links, and read about the "good guys" for yourself: Timeline of US Torture in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq In a March 2003 legal memorandum, Bush administration lawyers wrote: "In order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign" the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority." US torture: the exception or the rule? Over and over again the public is assured by the military, the government and the corporate media that these are extreme acts carried out by a few bad apples and are universally deplored. These crimes will be rooted out and stopped, they say, through scrupulous military inquiries, congressional hearings or even a special commission. Suddenly forgotten is the role of the media after September 11. It whipped up a climate of racism and actively encouraged torture as a necessary part of the "war on terror." The senior editor of Newsweek, Jonathan Alter, helped open a public campaign with a commentary entitled, "Time to Think about Torture," published in the magazine on Nov. 5, 2001. CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and others then picked up the theme. US military 'still failing to protect journalists in Iraq' Iraq: dozens of journalists and media workers have died during the conflict Independent journalists operating in Iraq face arrest and even torture at the hands of the US military and the authorities are failing to act on promises to do more to protect them, news organisations have warned. Iraq TV will be Top Target A CLAIM that television transmitters in Iraq will be amongst the first targets in the attack has been made by Euro-MP Chris Davies. He fears that military strategists will aim to win the propaganda battle before they win the battle on the ground. "Truth is always a casualty of war," said Mr Davies. "A news blackout will be imposed because those responsible will want to ensure that people in Britain hear talk of smart bombs and limited 'collateral' damage, not see pictures of innocent people being mutilated by our weapons. Speaking on Irish radio, Ms Adie claimed that a senior Pentagon officer had threatened to fire on independent journalists in Iraq using satellite dishes to transmit their reports First documentation of alleged torture jolts Chile A massive official report containing 35,000 testimonials of alleged political imprisonment or torture during Chile's long right-wing dictatorship caused a stir Wednesday when President Ricardo Lagos received it, the first government-sponsored recounting. The Duke University-educated Lagos, a socialist leading a centrist coalition, is the first Chilean president to investigate fully and seek redress for victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, which began Sept. 11, 1973, with U.S. help and lasted until 1990. US should be held accountable for actions "He’s faking he’s [expletive] dead,” says the marine in the video, pointing his rifle at the head of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi insurgent in a Fallujah mosque. The frame freezes, but the audio continues with the sharp crack of a rifle. “Well,” says one of his companions, “He’s dead now.” The military is investigating the alleged execution and likely will report that this was an isolated incident, and that the marine, rightly or wrongly, made a questionable decision under the unimaginable stress of combat. And Americans will be shocked at the scene but relieved that it was only an isolated incident. Just like we were after the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Just like we were when an army reservist unit refused a convoy mission. Just like we were when American soldiers were charged with forcing Iraqi detainees to jump off a bridge into the Tigris River. The problem is, after a while, all these isolated incidents cease to be ... well, isolated. The Road to Abu Gharib: Paved With the Legal Opinion of Alberto R. Gonzales As Gonzales followed this line of thinking, he ran into a problem: the War Crimes Act. That U.S. statute criminalizes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, whether or not the prisoner is a POW. Gonzales worried in his memo that "it is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsel in the future." Therefore, he concluded, a presidential determination not to apply the conventions "would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution." This part of Gonzales' memorandum makes clear that the Bush administration, as early as January 2002, was planning on using (or already had used) interrogation techniques that it thought might constitute "inhuman treatment" and violate the conventions, thereby opening itself up to criminal prosecutions. In fact, as we now know, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did authorize techniques for use against prisoners in Guantanamo that would never pass muster under the Geneva Conventions. These techniques of interrogation were then brought to Iraq in the effort to "Gitmoize" interrogations. The scandal of Abu Gharib was the result. Can multinationals be held accountable? In a San Francisco courtroom, a trial is underway that will determine whether a multinational corporation can be held accountable in the US for alleged human rights abuses committed in foreign countries. The test case pits the energy giant Unocal against a group of 14 poor Myanmar villagers and charges that in the 1990s the Myanmar government forced the villagers to help build the $1.7 billion Yadana natural gas pipeline in eastern Myanmar. According to court papers filed by the plaintiffs' lawyers, the Myanmar military forced villagers living along the pipeline to build roads and army camps and carry heavy loads miles through the jungles. The military shot workers who moved too slowly and even used them as human mine sweepers. Unocal hired Myanmar troops to provide protection for the project, but it denies any knowledge of human rights abuses. "Unocal is going to have to stand before a jury of 12 people and defend the despicable conduct which literary destroyed the lives of tens of thousands," said Dan Stormer, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture It’s not enough that Rumsfeld and probably Bush not just tacitly condoned but actively encouraged studies of optimal torture regimes, creating a climate in which undeniable and disgusting torture was used against Iraqi civilians, including children. And at Guantanamo (more). Even they at least had the hypocrisy to attempt to do the Iraq torture planning under wraps. (Hypocrisy being “the tribute vice pays to virtue”.) Meanwhile, at home, being too delicate to torture domestically, the Administration quietly subcontracted the job to Syria. (See my post almost exactly a year ago, Maher Arar Affair: What is the Pluperfect of ‘Cynic’?.) US silent on torturing children The Pentagon says around 60 teens, "primarily aged 16 and 17," are still being detained, though unnamed sources at the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command (CentCom) said some prisoners are as young as 14 years old, according to Scotland's Sunday Herald. The British Ministry of Defense also admitted that it had interned minors, and that one was still in custody. Torturing children A German TV magazine called 'Report Mainz' recently aired accusations from the International Red Cross, to the effect that over 100 children are imprisoned in U.S.- controlled detention centers, including Abu Ghraib. "Between January and May of this year, we've registered 107 children, during 19 visits in 6 different detention locations," said Red Cross representative Florian Westphal in the report. The report also outlined eyewitness testimony of the abuse of these children. Staff Sergeant Samuel Provance, who was stationed at Abu Ghraib, said that interrogating officers had gotten their hands on a 15 or 16 year old girl. Military police only stopped the interrogation when the girl was half undressed. A separate incident described a 16 year old being soaked with water, driven through the cold, smeared with mud, and then presented before his weeping father, who was also a prisoner. Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker reporter who first broke the story of torture at Abu Ghraib, recently spoke at an ACLU convention. He has seen the pictures and the videotapes the American media has not yet shown. "The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking," said Hersh. "And this is your government at war." White House Counsel Gonzales' Role in Torture Scandal Merits Close Scrutiny As part of the confirmation process, Amnesty International calls for the full disclosure of any unpublished measures, directives or memoranda authored by Mr. Gonzales or his staff that discuss the legality of "disappearances," torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or extrajudicial executions. The organization would also welcome an absolute and unequivocal statement by Mr. Gonzales, that in accordance with US and international law, he opposes torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances, including war and any other public emergency. U.N. Report Slams Use of Torture to Beat Terror No country can justify torture, the humiliation of prisoners or violation of international conventions in the guise of fighting terrorism, says a U.N. report released here. The 19-page study, which is likely to go before the current session of the U.N. General Assembly in December, does not identify the United States by name but catalogues the widely publicised torture and humiliation of prisoners and detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. troops waging the so-called ”war on terrorism.” The hard line taken by the United Nations comes amidst the controversial appointment of a new U.S. attorney general, who has implicitly defended the use of torture against ''terrorists'' and ''terror suspects''. Salvadoran says US school tied to torture Activists and members of Congress have tried unsuccessfully for years to close down the facility on grounds that it has trained some Latin American military members who have been implicated in acts of torture and genocide. The Army has contended that the overall worth of the training program justifies continuing the school's operations. Mauricio and his caravan expect to join about 10,000 protesters, among them the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest from Lutcher, who has been at the head of the protest effort since 1990 and has done time in prison for his efforts to shut down the school. Members of the Colombian military are now studying at the institute, said Mauricio, who fears that, in attempting to maintain public order in their home country, they will maim and slaughter Colombian civilians and fighters, replicating Salvador's experience in the 1980s. (find out more about the School of the Americas here.) US military in torture scandal Use of private contractors in Iraqi jail interrogations highlighted by inquiry into abuse of prisoners Julian Borger in Washington Friday April 30, 2004 Torture Policy SLOWLY, AND IN spite of systematic stonewalling by the Bush administration, it is becoming clearer why a group of military guards at Abu Ghraib prison tortured Iraqis in the ways depicted in those infamous photographs. President Bush and his spokesmen shamefully cling to the myth that the guards were rogues acting on their own. Yet over the past month we have learned that much of what the guards did -- from threatening prisoners with dogs, to stripping them naked, to forcing them to wear women's underwear -- had been practiced at U.S. military prisons elsewhere in the world. Moreover, most of these techniques were sanctioned by senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Iraqi theater command under Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. Many were imported to Iraq by another senior officer, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller. Abuse, torture and rape reported at unlisted US run prisons in Iraq American legal investigators have discovered evidence of abuse, torture and rape throughout the US-run prison system in Iraq. A Michigan legal team meeting with former detainees in Baghdad during an August fact-finding mission gathered evidence supporting claims of prisoner abuse at some 25 US-run detention centers, most of them so far not publicly mentioned as being embroiled in the Iraq torture scandal. US hires private jet to take detainees to be tortured More is known about the Gulfstream, which can carry 14 passengers. Movements detailed in the logs can be matched with several sightings of the Gulfstream at airports when terrorist suspects have been bundled away by US counter-terrorist agents. Analysis of the plane's flight plans, covering more than two years, shows that it always departs from Washington DC. It has flown to 49 destinations outside the US, including the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba and other US military bases, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya and Uzbekistan. The CIA interrogated and roughed up Iraqi prisoners in a "romper room" The CIA interrogated and roughed up Iraqi prisoners in a "romper room" where a handcuffed and hooded terror suspect was kicked, slapped and punched shortly before he died last year at the Abu Ghraib prison, a Navy SEAL testified Monday. Blood was visible on the hood worn by the prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, as he was led into the interrogation room at Baghdad International Airport in November 2003, the Navy commando said at a military pretrial hearing for another SEAL accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners. Further abuse at Abu Ghraib detailed WASHINGTON -- Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They include incidents in which a female prisoner was sexually humiliated by US military intelligence officers and a male inmate was shot at to force cooperation. Pentagon rewards generals, corporations tied to Abu Ghraib scandal Instead of reprimands or dismissals, one general tied to the torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison will probably receive a promotion and another has been recommended for a new command position. At the same time, both US corporations with direct ties to the abuse scandal have been rewarded with lucrative contracts valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Monster of a lawyer Alberto Gonzales, on the other hand, possesses one of the most twisted minds the American legal system has ever produced. If Bush gets his way, the nation's chief law enforcement official will be a man whose warped interpretation of presidential power, contempt for due process and gleeful deconstruction of fundamental human values puts him at odds with every patriotic American. Gonzales is the author of the infamous August 2002 "Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," a legal opinion issued while on his current job as White House Counsel. The 50-page "torture memo," which provides government interrogators justification to torture suspects in the war on terrorism, isn't just another memo. It's a benchmark position paper, a document that Administration figures from Bush and Rumsfeld down to CIA (news - web sites) interrogators at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib still rely upon to protect themselves from possible future prosecution for war crimes. First and foremost, Gonzales argues for a definition of "torture" that omits the most commonly used tactics banned by the Geneva Conventions. (Gonzales calls Geneva as a "quaint" anachronism.) To qualify as torture, he writes, the agony "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Abuses previously banned by the Army--"pain induced by chemicals or bondage, forcing an individual to stand, sit or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time, food deprivation, mock executions, sleep deprivation and chemically induced psychosis," according to The Washington Post--are now A-OK, according to Gonzales. As long as Bush orders it. Even the extreme mistreatment Gonzales still calls "torture," says Gonzales, is permitted--up to and including the death of the victim. This is because a post-9/11 torturer "would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by...Al Qaeda." The military's judge advocate generals (JAGs), not known for squishy liberalism, say that Gonzales is nuts. "It's really unprecedented," says a senior military attorney. "For almost 30 years we've taught the Geneva Convention one way. Once you start telling people it's okay to break the law, there's no telling where they might stop." Gonzales' torture memo has already cost the lives of innocent--i.e., never convicted, never charged and likely totally unconnected to terrorism--detainees. Two Afghan detainees died in U.S. custody at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan during the same week of December 2002; though their deaths were ruled homicides, no one has been charged. In April 2004, a captured Iraqi general was murdered by "blunt force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia." The Pentagon (news - web sites) says that there have been at least 127 homicides of POW detainees. Taking his cue from the Nazis' "führer principle," Gonzales posits that Bush, by virtue of his "commander-in-chief authority," can authorize torture. But American law doesn't include any such concept.


    At 1/30/2005 03:32:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    torture torture torture....you seem to think that this is what we are all about. i didn't know we held the patent.

    how about the 50 million that have now been freed (no longer in the torture chambers) from the Taliban and from the Baath Party? you don't have any problems with their torture do you? only with the ones that put a stop to it? so i ask you...do you really support no torture? it doesn't seem so.

    At 1/30/2005 04:12:00 pm, Blogger Voice 1 said...

    I don't believe I have stated that any "evil" regime is "civilised". I haven't set the standards.

    At 1/30/2005 05:31:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    50 million people in a torture chamber? Where was that? That's one big-ass torture chamber! It must be bigger than the Silver Dome!


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