Sri Lankan Army Follow The Israeli Trend & Shell a Hospital

At least 20 people were killed and nearly 300 injured yesterday when a hospital in the last area of Sri Lanka held by the Tamil Tigers was shelled in what one doctor described as the worst day of bloodshed since the start of the military campaign.

The doctor, Thangamutha Sathiyamorthy, blamed the Sri Lankan army for firing shells that landed next to two health facilities in Putumattalan, on the northern end of the tiny strip of the Sri Lankan coastline where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped by the fighting. The military strenuously denied the allegation.

Sathiyamorthy said 22 people, including an 18-month-old child and a medical worker, were killed and 283 injured in the attack, which started soon after dawn yesterday. He described how he found dead and wounded civilians on the site of the first blasts, which occurred as about 500 people queued beside a mother and baby clinic to receive milk powder and food rations.

Since stepping up the military campaign since the start of the year the Sri Lankan armed forces have driven the last remnants of the once-powerful Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) into a narrow strip of land estimated to be no larger than 20 sq km. Estimates of the number of civilians trapped alongside them vary, with the UN putting the figure at about 100,000 and Sri Lankan authorities claiming it is no more than 40,000.

Yesterday Sathiyamorthy said conditions inside the no-fire zone were now desperate, with 13 people dead from starvation and 69% of children below the age of five showing signs of malnutrition.

“Of course the food supply is inadequate. Many children are at risk. Yesterday we distributed milk powder and I saw very thin children coming to the clinic,” he said. He estimated that more than 5,000 people had died since the start of the latest offensive. “Every day they expect some solution because everybody was asked to go to the no-fire zone, but actually the people reached this area and unfortunately the government is shelling this area,” he said. “It is a real disaster. We didn’t expect this amount of disaster.”

Torture From The Top

Edited excerpts from the Vanity Fair piece The Green Light by Phillippe Sands, go read the whole piece here, it’s quite a polite article to say the least. Here are some of the main perpetrators, people who should be tried for war crimes, over torture, also many are responsible for the supreme crime- the invasion of Iraq:

  • George W. Bush, Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld.
  • David Addington
  • Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver
  • Jay Bybee
  • Lieutenant General Bantz Craddock
  • Daniel Dell’Orto
  • Major General Michael E. Dunlavey
  • Douglas Feith
  • Alberto Gonzales
  • Jim Haynes
  • General Tom Hill
  • Major General Geoffrey Miller
  • General Richard Myers
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jerald Phifer
  • Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez
  • George Tenet
  • Paul Wolfowitz
  • John Yoo

John Yoo is a law professor at  Berkley in California, Larisa Alexandrovna has all the details to contact his employer and make them aware of your feelings that they are tolerating a war criminal in their midst. Here is his shit eating defence of some of his actions in a Wall Street Journal opinion column providing an illuminating insight into the self serving delusional worldview him and maybe many of the people listed above maintain.

In my efforts to get to the heart of this story, and its possible consequences, I visited a judge and a prosecutor in a major European city, and guided them through all the materials pertaining to the Guantánamo case. The judge and prosecutor were particularly struck by the immunity from prosecution provided by the Military Commissions Act. “That is very stupid,” said the prosecutor, explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the United States to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed by the justice system in the home country—one of the trip wires enabling foreign courts to intervene. For some of those involved in the Guantánamo decisions, prudence may well dictate a more cautious approach to international travel. And for some the future may hold a tap on the shoulder. 

The real story, pieced together from many hours of interviews with most of the people involved in the decisions about interrogation, goes something like this: The Geneva decision was not a case of following the logic of the law but rather was designed to give effect to a prior decision to take the gloves off and allow coercive interrogation; it deliberately created a legal black hole into which the detainees were meant to fall. The new interrogation techniques did not arise spontaneously from the field but came about as a direct result of intense pressure and input from Rumsfeld’s office. The Yoo-Bybee Memo was not simply some theoretical document, an academic exercise in blue-sky hypothesizing, but rather played a crucial role in giving those at the top the confidence to put pressure on those at the bottom.

The fingerprints of the most senior lawyers in the administration were all over the design and implementation of the abusive interrogation policies. Addington, Bybee, Gonzales, Haynes, and Yoo became, in effect, a torture team of lawyers, freeing the administration from the constraints of all international rules prohibiting abuse. Read the rest of this entry »

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28 Daze Later

While we fight an extension to detention (oh yeah!) without charge to 42 days/six weeks (maybe they think 42 days will give them the answer to life, the universe & everything- or in other words 41 days of torture and one day to sign the piece of paper they put in front of you), let’s not forget it already is 28 days/4 weeks which puts us in line with…Burma and Ming the Merciless probably. At the end of all this the best we have achieved is not to have a 42 day/6 week limit. We are still busily building ourselves a real world theme park based on the hit film Brazil.

So Dear Establishment-

I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law. Please stop overreacting. I understand that it will not be possible to stop all terrorist acts. I accept that. I am not afraid.

Let ‘em know- They Work For You.

Paddington Gitmo

They want 42 days detention without charge, what that means is six weeks of interrogation, here is what they did in just 12 days to one woman, it might seem familiar-

When Farrah arrived at Paddington Green, her clothes were taken from her. Suffering from diarrhoea, she was in constant pain. She described the basic washing and hygiene facilities in detention. “There was no toilet roll and only paper towels for body drying. I wasn’t even allowed to comb my hair.”

Exercise consisted of walking around in a circle in a small yard behind the station for five minutes while officers held guard dogs in each corner. Farrah said: “I was frightened of the dogs so rather than getting any exercise, I just found these exercise periods really frightening.”

She became unwell, suffering from diabetes, and a doctor was called on numerous occasions. He confirmed that an existing condition had been exacerbated by the stress of her arrest and detention.

She was not allowed to speak with her family for four days. Eight days had passed before the police disclosed the reason she was being held.

Farrah claimed the guards were constantly rude and aggressive when dealing with her. She was effectively held in solitary confinement and not allowed to communicate with or pass another prisoner when being taken to and from her cell between questioning. After four days, she was permitted to make a telephone call to her parents. They speak English but she was told to make sure she spoke in English and not in “your language”.

After 12 days of 24-hour detention in a cell and repeated questioning in a room with no natural light, Farrah was released without charge. No explanation was given and no apology made. She had no way of travelling home and was not offered assistance; her solicitor organised a taxi. She said she felt “tired, shocked and exhausted”, and had thought she was never going to get out. Her clothes were never returned.

After release, Farrah said she became increasingly paranoid, not wanting to leave the house alone. Her employers were understanding but the pressure of colleagues knowing what had happened to her, the increasing paranoia and her poor health forced her to quit her job. Friends and family stopped visiting, terrified they would become suspects by association.

War Pimp Of The Week- Michael Hayden

Yes come on down you Nazi scientist/Dick Cheney’s uglier little brother looking motherfucker, the Air Force General who heads the CIA Michael Hayden is this weeks War Pimp Supreme™.

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Yes this loyal and bloodthirsty Imperial General is taking no ‘enemy combatants’ with his ‘fear up’ appearance on teevee. First he sets those nationalist militarist hearts a pumping with his sexy uniform (the CIA symbolically now the fourth armed service, yet hey, no accountability, kerching!). Then he pours fourth his cloak & dagger ‘I don’t have to source any claim I make cos it’s like all secret ‘n’ shit, thou shalt not question me, why do you hate the troops/America/freedom so much. Believe my words of fearwar!’. And he hits all the main pimps du jour, take it away Mikey you bald pig eyed war criminal you-

The situation in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan where al-Qaida has established a safe haven presents a “clear and present danger” to the West.

Michael Hayden cited the belief by intelligence agencies that Osama bin Laden is hiding there in arguing that the U.S. has an interest in targeting the border region. If there were another terrorist attack against Americans, Hayden said, it would most certainly originate from that region

Hayden added that that those operatives “wouldn’t attract your attention if they were going through the customs line at Dulles (airport, outside Washington) with you when you’re coming back from overseas — who look Western.”

ZOMG!!!! They are amongst us, Pod People Turrists!!!!AAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Good job this vital intelligence hasn’t been blabbedy blabbed on nationwide TV thus alerting the turrists to change their plans! You don’t think he’s making this shit up to gain authority through fear do you? Pinko scum!

Scaredy ‘turrist’ paranoia and fear incitement while subtly justifying a police state- ✓Check. 

On Iraq, Hayden said it could be “years” before the central government might be able to function on its own without the aid of U.S. combat forces. Hayden said he would defer to the specific assessments of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad, who return to Washington next month to report to Congress.

Permanent occupation based on criteria from other hand picked Bush appointees, lucky no one in the media ever says ‘Imperialism’ ain’t it?- ✓Check! 

CIA chief Michael Hayden expressed his personal belief Sunday that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but also stood by the agency’s assessment that the program was suspended in 2003. “Personal belief, yes. It’s hard for me to explain. This is not court of law stuff,” the Central Intelligence Agency director said on NBC television.

Faith based approach to intelligence (or fraud as some filthy pinkos call it) to promote the next attack, its Q-2-N time! -✓Check!

Well in the fading months of the Bush regime he’s certainly set a high bar of achievement in pimping bloody imperialist aggression. I’ll warrant(less wiretapping!) he’ll be a tough one to beat although thankfully given the depth of hate, stupidity, arrogance and avarice among the imperial ruling class there’s never any shortage of contenders!

War is Peace! Goodnight!

The Border and Immigration Agency In Denial

Today-

The most comprehensive examination of the UK’s asylum system ever conducted has found it “marred by inhumanity” and “not yet fit for purpose”.

The report, published by the Independent Asylum Commission, is a damning indictment of the Home Office’s failure to deal fairly with those applying for sanctuary in this country.

The commission found that Britain’s treatment of asylum-seekers “falls seriously below the standards to be expected of a humane and civilised society“. Its interim report will be delivered to the Home Office today by a delegation of asylum-seekers.

The report details how the “adversarial” system is failing applicants from the very first point of interview, with officials accused of stacking the odds against genuine claimants. “A ‘culture of disbelief’ persists among decision-makers,” it said. “Along with lack of access to legal advice for applicants this is leading to perverse and unjust decisions.

The findings are the result of the most thorough look at the system in history, with testimonies from every sphere of society, including three former home secretaries, more than 100 NGOs, 90 asylum-seekers, the police, local authorities, and hundreds of citizens.

All-day hearings were held in seven major cities, where hundreds of people gave evidence, from those who brand the system too lenient to those who think it is a blot on the country’s human rights record.

As well as this current information, an independent academic body was tasked to gather all documents already published on the issue in the past five years, from both sides of the political spectrum.

But the Border and Immigration Agency has rejected the report, claiming it operates a “firm but humane” system.

Cognitive dissonance much BIA? To say the least the BIA’s response is totally unacceptable (I’m being awfully fucking polite here). It’s nice of the Independent Asylum Commission to catch up though, below are two previous posts that detail that the Border and Immigration Agency is a big stinking pile of arrogant, cruel, racist shit (in that way one might reflect it is the perfect institutional embodiment of the ignorant spiteful racism of the gutter press and their imbecilic fucking readers)-

Buried Alive, The Migrant Gulag

Chief Exec Lin Homer (more of whom in those links) says-

“I totally refute any suggestion that we treat asylum applicants without care and compassion. We have a proud tradition in Britain of offering sanctuary to those who truly need our protection. We operate a firm but humane system, supporting those who are vulnerable with accommodation and assistance. But we expect those that a court says have no genuine need for asylum to return home voluntarily, saving taxpayers the expense of enforcing their return. We will enforce the removal of those who refuse to comply, always ensuring first that it is safe to do so.”

Well here are your choices Lin, you are either-
a/. a big fat liar…or
b/. mentally ill.
I’m sorry but those are your only choices here in reality. Either way you should not be holding your current position (something Birmingham people can appreciate after her NuLabour vote rigging exploits there, ahem. Oh look, we just found the reason she keeps failing upwards). This would be the agency that recently deported a cancer patient who then died, I would call that corporate manslaughter and is now trying to deport people to…Iraq (you honestly can’t make this shit up). So Lin, you should be fired and prosecuted. But in the post Blair -hey what’s so wrong with being a war criminal- Britain we have no such standards of ethical behaviour, that is another consequence of this war, an epidemic corruption at the heart of the state with no end in sight.

Fight the scum in the BIA- National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

Goons Meet Lawyer, Goons Lose

This is excellent, via Citizen Orange some immigration goons throwing their weight around think they can just arrogantly threaten and storm into this man’s apartment, except…he’s a veteran immigration lawyer and he knows his rights and the law, from Immigration Prof Blog, enjoy-

Please accept this letter as a complaint against Officers “John Doe” and Caroline Hum of USICE-San Francisco, who came to my private residence on the morning of February 4, 2008 at 8:15 a.m. My home address is ——————–, Apt 2, San Francisco, California.
I am a citizen of the United States and an attorney at law. I practice immigration law exclusively, with a particular focus on removal defense. I consequently have frequent interactions with employees of USICE and USCIS in San Francisco.
So, it was an interesting coincidence that two ICE officers rang my doorbell this morning–having bypassed the street security gate and buzzer that most people understand to be an indication that the 12-unit apartment building is not open to the general public. At 8:15 a.m., as I happened to be discussing case strategy on the phone with co-counsel regarding a bond hearing the same day, my apartment doorbell rang.
I opened the door and was greeted by Officer Hum. She identified herself as an ICE officer. She was accompanied by a male officer, who did not identify himself. Officer Hum stated that she was looking for an individual, but she had difficulty articulating the individual’s name.
I inquired whether the officers possessed a judicial warrant to enter the premises. The officers did not respond. I then stated to the officers that I declined to answer any questions, and I stated to them that they needed to leave. Officer Hum then stated “that’s fine, we’re just going to wait here until you come out.”
After I closed the door, the unidentified male officer stated, “I’m going to kick your door down.” He also threatened me with prosecution for alien harboring.
I continued to speak to the officers through my closed door. I again inquired whether the officers had a judicial warrant to enter my premises, as the male officer had stated he would forcibly enter my residence. They did not respond. I stated to the officers that they were not entitled to forcibly enter my home without a judicial warrant.
I next instructed the officers to leave the common space of my apartment building, unless they had other business at the building. The officers refused to promptly leave. I informed them that they must leave private property when requested if they did not possess a judicial warrant. I stated that I would call the San Francisco Police Department.
The male officer inquired whether I was the manager of the apartment building. I informed him that I was not the manager, but that I had a right to possession of the common area, and that I chose to exclude the officers from the common areas of the building. I further stated to the officers that they had no claim to possession of the property. The male officer stated that “your claim is not valid.” He stated that he would contact the apartment building manager, which I invited him to do. There is no on-site building manager. Control of the premises is exercised by the residents.
The officers then continued to loiter directly in front of my apartment door for approximately 15 minutes. This made it difficult to continue my phone conversation with co-counsel regarding the bond hearing. Due to the lay-out of my apartment, it is easy to overhear conversations through my front door. The doors are also made of shaded glass. Out of courtesy, the residents do not loiter in front of each others doors because of the invasion of privacy this causes.
Towards the end of the exchange, I asked the officers why they were at my residence, to which they did not respond. At this point, I disclosed to the officers that I am an immigration defense attorney and that I would therefore decline to answer any questions related to their enforcement efforts. Officer Hum then gave me her contact information and I believe the officers left, although they may have been lurking about the building.
As an American citizen, I feel that it is very important that the representatives of my own government respect the law rather than break it. The conduct of the unidentified officer in threatening to kick down my door, though he obviously lacked the legal authority to do so, is indefensible. Such behavior is unbecoming a federal law enforcement agent. The officer’s threat placed me in fear of my physical safety.
But for my training as a lawyer, I have little doubt that my rights would have been completely brushed aside. By making criminal threats against my home and physical safety, threatening prosecution without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, and refusing to respect my property rights, the officers clearly sought to dissuade the exercise of my constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
I also object to the officers trespassing on private property. Federal officers may violate state law only where federal law preempts that law. No federal law authorizes officers to enter and remain in the common access areas of an apartment building pursuant to an investigation without warrant, after having been requested to leave by the person in possession thereof. Because no federal law authorizes the officers’ conduct, they are subject to state laws regulating that conduct.
California Penal Code Section 602(o) defines as trespass the “[r]efusing or failing to leave land, real property, or structures belonging to or lawfully occupied by another and not open to the general public, upon being requested to leave by … the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession … however, this subdivision shall not apply to persons on the premises who are engaging in activities protected by the California or United States Constitution, or to persons who are on the premises at the request of a resident or management and who are not loitering or otherwise suspected of violating or actually violating any law or ordinance.”
Cal. P.C. § 602(o).
Whether as the person in possession of the common area, or the agent of the owner for the purpose of excluding unauthorized persons from the premises, I was authorized to exclude the officers from the building.
ICE officers undergo extensive training on immigration and constitutional law. I have no doubt that the conduct of the above officers was knowing and willful. This incident also appears to be just one example of a pattern of constitutional violations in recent times by ICE officers, suggesting the agency has adopted a policy of aggressive violations of constitutional rights in its enforcement efforts.
I request acknowledgment of this complaint, and disclosure of the identity of the male officer (or at a minimum confirmation that you have identified him and are able to investigate this complaint). I appreciate your attention to this matter. If I can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me in writing at the address above.
Sincerely,
Kevin M. Crabtree
Attorney at Law

This bit is key “ICE officers undergo extensive training on immigration and constitutional law. I have no doubt that the conduct of the above officers was knowing and willful.” They are banking on people being intimidated and not knowing their rights and they are widely abusing their power-

New York City residents, take note: I’ve now heard reports in NYC of Long Island-style random ICE raids on apartment buildings where ICE agents kick down the door ostensibly looking for a particular individual but then sweep up everyone in sight who “looks illegal” and can’t produce immigration papers. As far as I know, this is a recent development—before, ICE raids within the five boroughs were more limited, with agents going to homes and businesses looking for particular individuals.

But at least in this one incident they got more than they bargained for. Is that bacon I can smell frying?

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Drones, The Cost Effective Killer

This report backs up what Naomi Klein wrote, that the Israeli weapons industry benefits from using attacks on Palestine as a testing ground for new technology. Which becomes another incentive against peace.

Palestinians say they know when an Israeli drone is in the air: Cell phones stop working, TV reception falters and they can hear a distant buzzing. They also know what’s likely to come next — a devastating explosion on the ground.

“Our experience is that the drone missile is successful in hitting its targets, and it’s deadly,” said Dr. Mahmoud Assali, a Palestinian physician who works in the emergency room of a northern Gaza Strip hospital that has often treated Palestinian gunmen hit by Israeli drones.

“The drone has a zone of around 15 meters (50 feet) where it decimates everything. It targets people and leaves them in pieces,” Assali said.

Israel is at the forefront of the drone technology that is increasingly being used in hotspots around the world. The unmanned craft provide a deadly and cost-effective alternative for armies to target enemies

A militant from the southern Gaza Strip who belongs to the Islamic Jihad group said drones were mostly used to target individuals, and not structures. He said they often hovered at much higher altitudes than manned aircraft and their missiles were frequently more destructive, leaving deep gashes where they landed.

The militant said the drones usually targeted slow-moving targets, like people walking, or cars slowing down to avoid potholes in a road.

“It looks like it makes small circles in the sky, but before it’s about to fire a missile, it slows down,” the militant said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared being identified by Israel. “It’s not like any other plane. You don’t see the missile leaving, it’s very quiet.”

Israel has long been considered the world leader in drone technology and proudly exhibits its products at international air shows. But it maintains its drones are for surveillance purposes, and refuses to confirm using them in airstrikes.

Doron Suslik, a top official at the Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures drones, said the company has customers from all over the world, including Switzerland, France and India, with annual sales of $500 million to $600 million.

He refused to divulge the drone’s military capabilities, citing his clients’ desire for confidentiality. Government and army officials also refused to comment on the drone’s firing capabilities.

The use of drones is shrouded in secrecy, and Israeli defense officials refuse to comment publicly on whether they are being used in airstrikes in Gaza. However, Israeli officers in private conversations have confirmed use of the weapons.

Dirty War Scumbag To Face Trial

Spain has agreed to extradite a former Argentine navy officer accused of torturing and killing thousands of dissidents during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War. Ricardo Miguel Cavallo was arrested in Mexico in 2000 and extradited to Spain in 2003 on genocide and terrorism charges.

Now then Cavallo, what a lovely man he is, let’s count the ways-

The former naval officer was known as “Serpico” (for his resemblance to Al Pacino) when he worked at the Navy Mechanics School–often called the “Argentine Auschwitz” or the “Harvard of Death” — where he was famous both for executing and teaching the art of torture.

According to the indictment issued by the Spanish Court, Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, also known by the pseudonyms “Miguel Angel Cavallo,” “Serpico,” or “Marcelo,” was part of ESMA’s Task Group 3.3.2. The procedures used by ESMA Task Group 3.3.2 included, among others, kidnapping specific targets, torture, murder, disappearances, servitude, and selection of prisoners for “recovery,” a practice designed to recruit persons thought to have betrayed their former friends. These recruits were intended to form the base of a political party to launch Admiral Massera’s political ambitions. Cavallo served in the intelligence sector of ESMA from 1976 until early 1979, when he became responsible for kidnapped people who were in the process of “recovery.” According to the indictment and survivors, Cavallo was a “Capitan de Corbeta,” a relatively high-ranking position in ESMA, ultimately under Massera’s command. Cavallo, in addition to committing torture himself, made operational decisions such as identifying targets for torture. He also contributed to the decisions of his superiors regarding the final disposition of the victims.

According to Judge Garzón, Ricardo Miguel Cavallo is accused of having participated in 227 kidnappings and acts of torture concerning 110 people, as well as in the kidnapping of 16 babies who had been removed from their mothers who were in prison. The Judge’s investigation also mentions the cases of 248 individuals who had been arrested, detained and finally freed.

Now then about that Al Pacino thing:-

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Um, not seeing it myself, maybe when he was younger he was not such a pasty, pig-eyed, sack of -torturing- shit. And in case you forget let Chalmers Johnson remind you of US involvement and support of the torture regimes.

It is said that dead men tell no tales, but in Latin America they are speaking with exceptional clarity– revealing the sordid details of U.S. Cold War foreign policy toward the area. In 1992, in AsunciÑn, Paraguay, a survivor of the regime of former dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner stumbled on five tons of reports and photographs left over from Operation Condor. This was the cooperative effort from 1975 on among military and police officials of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia to identify, torture, and kill as many representatives of workers and advocates of democracy as they could find.

The “methods” that the CIA contends are too delicate to reveal to the American public are its routine practice of turning over the names of people it wants executed to military and police authorities that it has trained and helped put in power. It can then pretend that it had nothing to do with their subsequent deaths, even expressing shock and disappointment at the excesses of its former pupils. This was the pattern of American operations in Indonesia from Gen. Suharto’s rise to power in 1965 to the American refusal in the autumn of 1999 to get involved in rescuing the victims of Indonesian army terror in East Timor.34 The CIA employed these same methods in bringing Pinochet to power and in its relations with Operation Condor.

UK Court Gags Ben Griffin, SAS Torture Whistleblower

Ben Griffin who made this speech, excerpted here on the 27th has been silenced by the British establishment-

A former SAS soldier was served with a high court order yesterday preventing him from making fresh disclosures about how hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans captured by British and American special forces were rendered to prisons where they faced torture.

Ben Griffin could be jailed if he makes further disclosures about how people seized by special forces were allegedly mistreated and ended up in secret prisons in breach of the Geneva conventions and international law. Griffin, 29, left the British army in 2005 after three months in Baghdad, saying he disagreed with the “illegal” tactics of US troops.

This is disgraceful but not unsurprising for an administration guilty of war crimes and subservient to the Bush regime. I include below the full text of his statement and urge others to copy and paste the text as well-

This statement was prepared and read by Ben Griffin, ex-SAS soldier, at a press conference on Monday 25 February 2008.

Our government would have us believe that our involvement in the process known as Extraordinary Rendition is limited to two occasions on which planes carrying detainees landed to refuel on the British Indian Ocean Territory, Diego Garcia. David Miliband has stated that the British Government expects the Government of the United States to “seek permission to render detainees via UK territory and airspace, including Overseas Territories; that we will grant that permission only if we are satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations; and how we understand our obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture¹.” (Taken from a statement given to the House of Commons by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday 21 February 2008)

The use of British Territory and airspace pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it has been British soldiers detaining the victims of Extraordinary Rendition in the first place. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 UKSF has operated within a joint US/UK Task Force. This Task Force has been responsible for the detention of hundreds if not thousands of individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Individuals detained by British soldiers within this Task force have ended up in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Bagram Theatre Internment Facility, Balad Special Forces Base, Camp Nama BIAP and Abu Ghraib Prison.

Whilst the government has stated its desire that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp be closed, it has remained silent over these other secretive prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. These secretive prisons are part of a global network in which individuals face torture and are held indefinately without charge. All of this is in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, International Law and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Early involvement of UKSF in the process of Extraordinary Rendition centres around operations carried out in Afghanistan in late 2001. Of note is an incident at the Qalai Janghi fortress, near Mazar-i-Sharif. UKSF fought alongside their US counterparts to put down a bloody revolt by captured Taliban fighters. The surviving Taliban fighters were then rendered to Guantanamo Bay.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 this joint US/UK task force appeared. Its primary mission was to kill or capture high value targets. Individuals detained by this Task Force often included non-combatants caught up in the search for high value targets. The use of secret detention centres within Iraq has negated the need to use Guantanamo Bay whilst allowing similar practice to go unnoticed.

I have here an account taken from an interpreter interviewed by the organisation Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/reports/2006/us0706/2.htm). He was based at the detention and interrogation facility within Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport during 2004. This facility was used to interrogate individuals captured by the joint US/UK Task Force. In it are the details of numerous breaches of the Geneva Convention and accounts of torture. These breaches were not the actions of rogue elements the abuse was systematic and sanctioned through the chain of command. This account is corroborated by an investigation carried out by NYT reporters into Camp Nama and the US/UK Task Force, which appeared in the New York Times on March 19 2006. Throughout my time in Iraq I was in no doubt that individuals detained by UKSF and handed over to our American colleagues would be tortured. During my time as member of the US/UK Task Force, three soldiers recounted to me an incident in which they had witnessed the brutal interrogation of two detainees. Partial drowning and an electric cattle prod were used during this interrogation and this amounted to torture. It was the widely held assumption that this would be the fate of any individuals handed over to our America colleagues. My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming “the secret police of Baghdad”.

As UK soldiers within this Task Force a policy that we would detain individuals but not arrest them was continually enforced. Since it was commonly assumed by my colleagues that anyone we detained would subsequently be tortured this policy of detention and not arrest was regarded as a clumsy legal tool used to distance British soldiers from the whole process.

During the many operations conducted to apprehend high value targets numerous non-combatants were detained and interrogated in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of civilians in occupied territories. I have no doubt in my mind that non-combatants I personally detained were handed over to the Americans and subsequently tortured.

The joint US/UK Task Force has broken International Law, contravened The Geneva Conventions and disregarded the UN Convention Against Torture. British soldiers are intimately involved in the actions of this Task Force. Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett David Miliband, Geoff Hoon, Des Browne, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown. In their respective positions over the last five years they must know that British soldiers have been operating within this joint US/UK task force. They must have been briefed on the actions of this unit.

As the occupiers of Iraq we have a duty to uphold the law, to abide by the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture. We are also responsible for securing the borders of Iraq on all counts we have failed. The British Army once had a reputation for playing by the rules. That reputation has been tarnished over the last seven years. We have accepted illegality as the norm. I have no doubt that over the coming months and years increasing amounts of information concerning the actions of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will be become public.

Whilst the majority of British Forces have been withdrawn from Iraq, UKSF remain within the US/UK Task Force.

¹Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.”

Ben Griffin
25 February 2008

www.stopwar.org.uk

Another Journalist Swallowed Into The Gulag

Jawed Ahmad. A journalist for a Canadian TV network who has been held for four months without being charged has been designated an unlawful enemy combatant, the U.S. military said Wednesday.Ahmad, 22, who is also known as Jojo Yazemi, was detained Oct. 26 at a NATO air base in the southern city of Kandahar, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group. He was later transferred to a detention center at the U.S. military base in Bagram, north of Kabul.

“CTV news continues to be deeply concerned about Jojo Yazemi’s well-being and we are continuing to work all diplomatic channels available to find out additional information and get Jojo his due process,” Robert Hurst, president of CTV News, said in a statement.

PJ, which said Tuesday that it received a letter from the Pentagon on Feb. 22 about Ahmad being held as an enemy combatant, demanded that U.S. authorities disclose evidence and specify charges against him.

“Although the Pentagon has made a very serious assertion, it has yet to disclose any supporting evidence. And despite holding Jawed Ahmad for four months, authorities have yet to charge him with a crime,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We urge military officials to either charge Jawed Ahmad with a recognizable criminal offense or, if they have no intention of doing so, to release him immediately.”

One moment he was a human being with rights, now he is an”unlawful enemy combatant” some mysterious undefined state of unbeing the Empire uses to turn human beings into…what exactly? Puppets for the rack? Gulag livestock? What stops them from doing it to us?

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War Criminal Loses Job

After this-

“I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.’

Scumbag war criminal Haynes got the boot-

Having thoroughly exposed the preconceived notion of guilt in the Commissions, which infects the whole of the administration’s post-9/11 detention policies (in the tribunals at Guantánamo, for example, condemned by former insiders for being designed to rubberstamp the detainees’ designation as “enemy combatants” without testing the “evidence”), Col. Davis’ next trick was to declare, the day after, that he would appear as a defense witness for Salim Hamdan at his next pre-trial hearing in April. “I expect to be called as a witness,” he explained, adding, “I’m more than happy to testify,” and describing his decision, ominously for the administration, as “an opportunity to tell the truth.”

The final blow to the Commissions — for now, at least — came yesterday, when, without even attempting to address Col. Davis’ allegations, the Pentagon abruptly announced that William Haynes was resigning as Chief Counsel, “to return to private life.” A spokeswoman said that he had discussed leaving the administration “some months ago” and had “decided to accept an offer to work in the private sector.”

I don’t think because he was revealed to be an evil man, but because his exposure revealed the evil of a lot of other criminals.

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Ex SAS Soldier Reveals Extent Of Torture

Throughout my time in Iraq I was in no doubt that individuals detained by UKSF and handed over to our American colleagues would be tortured. During my time as member of the US/UK Task Force, three soldiers recounted to me an incident in which they had witnessed the brutal interrogation of two detainees. Partial drowning and an electric cattle prod were used during this interrogation and this amounted to torture. It was the widely held assumption that this would be the fate of any individuals handed over to our America colleagues. My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming “the secret police of Baghdad”.

Via Lenin. Here are excerpts of the statement read by Ben Griffin, ex-SAS soldier, at a press conference on Monday 25 February 2008-

Our government would have us believe that our involvement in the process known as Extraordinary Rendition is limited to two occasions on which planes carrying detainees landed to refuel on the British Indian Ocean Territory, Diego Garcia.

The use of British Territory and airspace pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it has been British soldiers detaining the victims of Extraordinary Rendition in the first place. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 UKSF has operated within a joint US/UK Task Force. This Task Force has been responsible for the detention of hundreds if not thousands of individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq. Individuals detained by British soldiers within this Task force have ended up in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Bagram Theatre Internment Facility, Balad Special Forces Base, Camp Nama BIAP and Abu Ghraib Prison.

Whilst the government has stated its desire that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp be closed, it has remained silent over these other secretive prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. These secretive prisons are part of a global network in which individuals face torture and are held indefinately without charge. All of this is in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, International Law and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Early involvement of UKSF in the process of Extraordinary Rendition centres around operations carried out in Afghanistan in late 2001. Of note is an incident at the Qalai Janghi fortress, near Mazar-i-Sharif. UKSF fought alongside their US counterparts to put down a bloody revolt by captured Taliban fighters. The surviving Taliban fighters were then rendered to Guantanamo Bay.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 this joint US/UK task force appeared. Its primary mission was to kill or capture high value targets. Individuals detained by this Task Force often included non-combatants caught up in the search for high value targets. The use of secret detention centres within Iraq has negated the need to use Guantanamo Bay whilst allowing similar practice to go unnoticed.

As UK soldiers within this Task Force a policy that we would detain individuals but not arrest them was continually enforced. Since it was commonly assumed by my colleagues that anyone we detained would subsequently be tortured this policy of detention and not arrest was regarded as a clumsy legal tool used to distance British soldiers from the whole process.

During the many operations conducted to apprehend high value targets numerous non-combatants were detained and interrogated in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of civilians in occupied territories. I have no doubt in my mind that non-combatants I personally detained were handed over to the Americans and subsequently tortured.

The joint US/UK Task Force has broken International Law, contravened The Geneva Conventions and disregarded the UN Convention Against Torture. British soldiers are intimately involved in the actions of this Task Force. Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett David Miliband, Geoff Hoon, Des Browne, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown. In their respective positions over the last five years they must know that British soldiers have been operating within this joint US/UK task force. They must have been briefed on the actions of this unit.

Gitmo- Torturer’s Blues

The guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp are the “overlooked victims” of America’s controversial detention facility in Cuba, according to a psychiatrist who has treated some of them.Professor John Smith, a retired US Air Force captain, treated a patient who was a guard at the camp. “I think the guards of Guantánamo are an overlooked group of victims,” Smith told the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in Washington DC on Saturday. “They do not complain a lot. You do not hear about them.”

The patient (‘Mr H’) is a national guardsman in his early 40s who was sent to Guantánamo in the first months of its operation, when prisoners captured in Afghanistan were beginning to flood into the camp. Mr H reported that he found conditions at the camp extremely disturbing. For example, in the first month two detainees and two prison guards committed suicide.

The taunts of prisoners and the things his superiors required him to do to them had a severe psychological impact on Mr H. “He was called upon to bring detainees, enemy combatants, to certain places and to see that they were handcuffed in particularly painful and difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of their interrogation,” said Smith.

On occasion he was told to make prisoners kneel, naked and handcuffed, on sharp stones. To avoid interrogation the prisoners would often rub their wounds afterwards to make them worse so that they would be taken to hospital. Some of the techniques used by interrogators resulted in detainees defecating, urinating, vomiting and screaming.

Mr H told Smith he felt profoundly guilty about his participation. “It was wrong what we did,” he said.

Well it’s good he now realises that and it is good he is getting treatment, but he did as he was told and followed orders, such is the effectiveness of military psychological conditioning, such was the lack of character and independent moral activism of the people they selected to staff the camp. It also is a function of the worship of militarism found in all empires, it is a cultural phenomenon, it is not good to make people into order following objects. Sometimes that might be necessary in self defence (cf. suicide bombers perhaps) but that certainly is not the case with any western state, blind obedience and authoritarianism are not desirable in a person or a culture. The correct and admirable and honourable action is to refuse such orders and to support organisations that help legal and moral personnel think critically and resist a corrupt military & political establishment.

www.couragetoresist.org

Iraq Veterans Against the War

War Resistors UK

The IVAW are have organised new winter soldier hearings in March as the 5th anniversary of the Iraq invasion arrives, GodlessLiberal Homo went to a fund raiser and reported-

- The US has 731 military bases throughout the world.

- In the attacks on Fallujah in 2004, over 12,000 Iraqis were killed and ID’d as “insurgents.”

- Although we usually hear the term “enemy combatant” in the context of the Gulag at Guantanamo, the phrase is commonly used by the military in Iraq to describe insurgents and people who get killed who may not be insurgents.

- Returning veterans from the Iraq War reported seeing no rebuilding of the country and that construction by contractors was limited to US military installations.

- National Guard members at Fort Dix in New Jersey have been trained to run over little children in the middle of the road on the grounds that they may have explosives strapped to their bodies.

- Soldiers in Vietnam were given no training regarding the treatments of civilians and prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

- Throwing Vietnamese people out of helicopters was so common that soldiers were ordered to do prisoner counts after the helicopters had landed, not before.

Over 150 people attended the event in Manhattan and saw a truly disturbing video from the Winter Soldier project. It started with horrific house and business destruction in Iraq by the US military, and then went on to the horribly mutilated bodies of people killed in bombing attacks ordered by the Bush regime. The video footage was shot by veterans when they were in Iraq.

One of the speakers at the event said, “We went easy with the video.” Yet, the images in the video were so repulsive and frightening that I had to keep forcing my eyes open. Psychological services were offered for veterans who might be traumatized by reliving what they saw in Iraq. I just don’t know how our troops cope with the terrible things they see and are ordered to do in Iraq.

There was a group of chickenhawks protesting outside, misappropriating American flags for their pandering to Big Oil, corrupt mercenary companies, and defense contractors. They attempted to look intimidating, but they didn’t harass me as I went in. (Being male and over 6 feet tall does have its advantages.) However, they did harass and try to intimidate an Iraqi woman who went in anyway. The vets running the fundraiser pointed out that none of the people outside were veterans.

Join the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War

Also Dave @ Complex System of Pipes has an in depth review of Nick Broomfield’s The Battle For Haditha-

Watching the Haditha massacre after a feature-length introduction to the victims and perpetrators made me feel so rotten inside that I wanted to vomit and, in that sense, this was far and away the worst film I’ve ever seen. But then that’s the only correct reaction to war. It’s been said that it’s impossible to make a truly antiwar movie, because any cinematic depiction of war is fundamentally pretty exciting. TBFH tears that conceit to shreds like so much Iraqi flesh; it captures horror and confusion and serves them up on a cold, documentarian plate.

Occupied Haditha is no more exciting a place than occupied Warsaw, and if we’d all seen this in school it would have taken a bit more than implausible hyperbole to sell the invasion. In that sense, it’s among the best and most important films I’ve ever seen; little golden statues or no, everyone should go and see this.

Gitmo Torture Tapes Not Wiped

The claim they were wiped was a deliberate misdirection, the tapes wiped were standard CCTV security tapes not the recordings of interrogations, but the Admiral they wheeled out deliberately blurred the distinction to give the impression the torture tapes were wiped.

Cernig @ Atlargely:-

Just over a week ago, the Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy and Research published a report that said military records and statements showed over 24,000 tapes had been made of interrogations carried out at Guantánamo Bay. The same day, a Washington Post article following up on that report said that many of those recordings might have been taped over, destroying valuable evidence. That article was based upon a court filing “by Guantanamo’s commander, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, who said video surveillance recordings in several areas of the facility have been automatically overwritten and no longer exist”.

However, in an email and a comment to my posts on the subject, Michael Ricciardelli – one of the co-authors of the Seton Hall Law report – wrote -

There seems to be some confusion stemming from the Military (there’s a surprise) and the press concerning the “automatic over-writes” on the video recorders in hallways and common areas in Guantanamo. These cameras (think in terms of the video cameras in convenience stores– but more sophisticated) were said to have recorded “day-to-day” “mundane” life at Guantanamo. According to the Military, every certain number of days these “hallway” and “common area” monitor recording systems automatically taped over themselves( i.e., were “overwritten”).

These statements came from a declaration of Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, United States Navy on February 8, 2008 (case 1:05-cv-00023-RWR Document84-4; Washington Post, February 14, 2008). Importantly, these “hallway” and “common area” monitor recordings are specifically NOT video recordings of interrogations– And the Rear Admiral is exceedingly careful to NOT say that they are in his declaration; though, perhaps, it could be anticipated that because of the way the declaration was made the media would confuse the two separate and distinct issues. Which is to say, that the responsive statement’s by Rear Admiral Buzby have misdirected and now obfuscate the issue. As such, some of the media reporting has failed to make clear this distinction between the “day-to-day” video recording and the video recording of interrogations. This distinction, however, is readily apparent if one looks to the partially redacted text of Rear Admiral Buzby’s declaration.

So copious evidence of war crimes exists in the possession of the perpetrators, if they are not seized soon and investigated (and impeachment of the Commander in Chief and the co-conspirators in creating the legal ‘gray ‘ framework for torture and the medical professionals who also took part) then they get away with war crimes previously the United States has convicted people for. And the journey into the abyss continues.

There are key stages in a descent into this depravity, points at which the correct action, pressure applied, leverage utilised can turn course, points that once you go beyond it becomes much harder to change course. Iraq was a key one, a tipping point of the project and let’s forget the 911 excuses, it was planned before that, the warrantless wiretap program began before that, American torture manuals were written before that. All the tools were available, the empire was already far reaching and corrupt when the Bush project took power through his brother’s state Florida and a biased packed Supreme Court. And with the means, the motive & the opportunity, they got to work. Time to make some choices people. Time for action.

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