Obligated

Echoing what Glenn Greenwald wrote- Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture–  there is no room for equivocation. Via Counterpunch

Harper’s Scott Horton:- In an interview on Tuesday evening with the German television program “Frontal 21,” on channel ZDF Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteur responsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bush’s head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bush’s torture practices.

“The evidence is sitting on the table,” he stated. “There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture.” He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court,” Nowak said.

Manfred Nowak, an internationally renowned law professor at the University of Vienna, currently serves as an independent expert for the United Nations looking at allegations of torture affecting member states. In 2006, he undertook a special investigation of conditions at the U.S. detention facilities at Guantánamo in which he concluded that practices approved by the Bush Administration violated human rights norms, including the prohibition against torture.

The ZDF piece also includes an interview with attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, who brought charges against Rumsfeld before German prosecutors. He states that the Obama administration is “off to a good beginning” with its explicit renunciation of torture, but it still has not shown how it will hold Bush, Rumsfeld, and others to account for their crimes, nor has it demonstrated its legally obligated duty to provide compensation to torture victims.

Law professor Dietmar Herz clarifies that under U.S. and international law, George W. Bush bears personal responsibility for the introduction of torture. From the point of his departure from office, head of state immunity terminates, and under clear principles of international law, the United States is obligated to commence a criminal investigation and then a prosecution.

(ht2 Mike in comments)

Remembering Genocide

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, in Remembrance of…well here it is people, numerous genocides. Get it, no one offs, not accidents, it’s something we do.

They just keep happening! Still it must be like the weather, who knows why!

That, I think, is the sentimentalist denial of the truths that lay the groundwork for genocide, then the othering begins and it’s a hop, skip and a jump to over a 1 million dead Iraqis… for example. Truth is people, it seeps into being every second of every day, so must our resistance to it be ongoing and constant.

The way our Border agency operates, that’s laying the groundwork.

The way ‘terrorist’ is used to label people, that’s laying the groundwork.

The denial of language when torture becomes interrogation and war crimes are not prosecuted, that is laying the groundwork.

The denial that within all of us to some degree or another lies the potential for absolute evil, that is laying the groundwork.

The reduction of human existence to profit & loss, that is laying the groundwork. That is an ongoing genocide never mentioned, the millions killed because to enable them to live would not have made financial sense, clean water, food, shelter, medicine, a healthy environment. Fuck it, I want a fifth house.

Not thinking for yourself, critically questioning authority and challenging prejudice on a daily basis, that is laying the groundwork.

As for WWII, hatred exterminated Jews, Roma & Sinti, Black and Mixed Race Europeans, GLBT, Mentally & Physically Disabled people, Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Trade Union leaders, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Dissenters & Activists, Poles & Slavic Prisoners of War-

Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet civilian deaths, would produce a death toll of 17 million. [1] Estimates of the death toll of non-Jewish victims vary by millions, partly because the boundary between death by persecution and death by starvation and other means in a context of total war is unclear. Overall, about 5.7 million (78 percent) of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe perished (Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust 1988, pp. 242-244). Compared to five to 11 million (1.4 percent to 3.0 percent) of the 360 million non-Jews in German-dominated Europe. Small, Melvin and J. David Singer. Resort to Arms: International and civil Wars 1816-1980 and Berenbaum, Michael. A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. New York: New York University Press, 1990

Malcolm Balen, Hutton, Iraq & The DEC Ban

2003 and relations between the BBC and the Israeli government had broken down, concurrently relations between the BBC and the British government of Tony Blair were also strained over the lies of the Iraq war. The Jewish Chronicle-

14/11/2003 THE BBC’s appointment this week of a top broadcasting figure to oversee its Mideast coverage was welcomed by Israeli and Jewish community leaders as a recognition of their protests over alleged anti-Israel bias.

In an unprecedented move, the corporation named Malcolm Balen, a former editor of the “Nine O’Clock News,” to monitor its coverage of the region.

A BBC spokesman said Mr Balen, appointed by head of news Richard Sambrook and World Service chief Mark Byford, would “build our relations with all people in the Middle East.” He would also be a “point of contact” for viewers and listeners.

The move came in the wake of a series of meetings in recent months, in both London and Jerusalem, involving Israeli officials, figures from the British Jewish community, and top BBC representatives.

Relations have been increasingly strained amid accusations that BBC coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Iraq war, and other Middle East issues has been slanted against Israel.

Relations hit a low earlier this year when BBC representatives were barred from briefings during Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s London visit, and Israeli leaders refused to appear on BBC programmes.

The Chronicle are excited by the post Hutton tamed BBC and by the new Balen brand-

14/11/2003 WHAT exactly prodded the BBC’s extraordinary move to name Malcolm Balen, a respected broadcasting veteran, to oversee its Mideast coverage is impossible to say with certainty. Israeli and Jewish community spokesmen clearly see the appointment as a sign that their long campaign against “Beeb bias” has borne fruit — that the corporation recognises that its coverage has been slanted against Israel.

BBC officials, by contrast, seem at pains to portray the move as an effort to address concerns on all sides of the conflict. Unspoken, but not necessarily unimportant, is a third possible catalyst: complaints from the British government over BBC broadcasts on the war in Iraq, the debates that preceded it, and the controversies which have followed. Whatever the origin of the BBC decision, it is welcome.

How nice, the cowed BBC simultaneously less antagonistic towards Blair (now of course peace envoy to the region, a peace envoy who has yet to visit Gaza) and Israel. The BBC have fought long to keep the report Malcolm Balen wrote about BBC coverage of Israel & Palestine secret, the idea put about by Israel friendly/BBC antagonistic media is that it found the BBC biased against Israel, at least in Balen’s eyes. We don’t know though, some vague mentions of context being more important could point either way. Although his judgement when asked about an independent report –Bad News from Israel– that found BBC bias in favour of Israel was to dismiss it before even reading it. So that and subsequent BBC coverage suggest the rumoured appraisal is correct. Then there is the hush-hush trip BBC director general Mark Thompson made to Israel to hang with Ariel Sharon (in fairness he ‘held talks’ with Abbas, although should the BBC DG follow the US & UK lead at the time and not talk to Hamas? Now that’s an interesting understanding of independence and impartiality). It’s possible to see BBC management becoming too accommodating to Israel (and its US and UK elite allies) a blindness which is resulting in the shameful banning of the DEC appeal.

Alex Brummer in 2003, the city editor of the Daily Mail also earning a crust writing opinion in the Jewish Chronicle, displays the allegiances of those who have pushed the BBC to this shameful state of affairs-

Slowly but surely we are moving towards a new BBC. In the year or so since government scientist and Iraq-expert David Kelly took his own life, sparking an official inquiry, the corporation has been turned on its head.

Listeners and viewers may yet find it difficult to detect changes. It may also be that the politically correct views of BBC reporters take time to adjust. But, as a result of the changes to management and news leadership, there could be, over time, a return to the Reithian values of quality and fairness which many ob-servers feared had been abandoned.

Ooh, just feel the Daily Mailian pomposity and flowery prose (Reithian, give me strength) of pretending doing the warmongering governments of the world’s bidding is quality and fairness. He goes on (oh does he ever)-

But as head of the World Service, with its reach into the developing countries, Sambrook’s new role will be equally important. We know from the UN General Assembly vote on implementation of the International Court of Justice ruling on Israel’s security barrier how much work there is to be done if a more balanced interpretation of Israel’s objectives is to be achieved.

It is an uphill task. The disputed barrier is still routinely referred to on BBC news output as a security “wall,” even though only a few of the hundreds of kilometres are solid concrete. In a recent “World This Weekend” broadcast on Radio 4, the presenter referred to the barrier as “Ariel Sharon’s wall.” Yet the plans for the barrier were first drawn up by the IDF and the intelligence services when Labour was in power.

In the struggles which the BBC faces as the charter review looms in 2006, coverage of the broader Middle East is likely to play an important role. After all, it was Alastair Campbell’s war of attrition during the Iraq war, when he bombarded Dyke and the governors with a series of complaints about the failure of the Beeb to provide full-on support for the war effort, which triggered the events which eventually led to the Kelly tragedy and the shake-up at the top.

Oh and he, er, likes the Dubya-

21/11/2003 He [Roger Mosey] regards being “impartial about President George Bush,” this week’s state visitor to Britain, as something to crow about. The assumption in this is that it is having to bend over backwards to be fair to the American leader.

But why? Mr Bush is, after all, the elected leader of the free world, the protector of Britain’s security through NATO, and a vitally important economic partner. There is no need to work on impartiality — just report the US President as he is, unadorned.

It must be love! The Blair lies of Iraq and the pressure to acquiesce to the Israeli lobby and to the Bush cabal (counter)-revolutionised the BBC. Such that in 2009 management were able to convince themselves airing a charity appeal for the casualties of war is a bias against the poor beleagueredaggressor.

PS. The ‘Kelly tragedy’ was found likely a homicide after an investigation by Norman Baker MP.

Not Anti Beeb

Update: And here is the ad they banned, shown on all the other terrestrial channels only the BBC and Murdoch’s Sky helped cover up the damage of the attack on Gaza.

Donate to the DEC appeal, details below or here.

Is the BBC a news channel? It is not, it is public broadcaster who as well as news makes and broadcasts all manner of radio and television shows available in various media. They have shows about surreal puppets who live in the woods, they have shows about time travellers and their enmity towards malicious dustbins, they have shows about quaint EastEnd folk and their inability to act very well or ever have even a halfway happy life. They have music shows, DIY shows, gardening shows, cooking shows, look you get the idea. So the BBC as a whole is not a news organisation that is only one of its functions, therefore to air the DEC appeal does not immediately mean its news operations are synonymous with the appeal, in fact it doesn’t mean the BBC is, they are simply doing their job as public broadcaster to give leading charities a platform to raise money for a region in dire need. That the DEC saw fit to focus on this the BBC should respect their expertise and assessment of needs, people at the BBC are not more expert than personnel from the charities making up the DEC. Claims this impacts impartiality is like claiming because Have I Got News for You ridicules public figures the current affairs department can no longer do its job as the BBC clearly takes a stance all politician’s are feckless grifters.

There is only one answer as to why the DEC appeal is banned from the BBC, and make no mistake banned is an appropriate word. The answer is they are overly open and sensitive to the partisan concerns of pro-Israeli parties, be they lobbyists, Zionist organisations or the Israeli government itself. The result is the BBC is now, by banning the ad, reducing help to people Israel has only recently stopped killing. By default that makes this decision not impartial but actually a helpful part of the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza. Only looking at it from a partisan pro-Israel position does the decision even approach appearing ‘impartial’. One can only assume the military forces in the Congo neglected to spend money on effective lobbying of the BBC as that appeal was broadcast without the BBC panicking what Hutu militia’s thought about ‘bias’. It is also extremely offensive to the peace groups and human rights organisations in Israel who themselves opposed the attacks and are trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza. The BBC is lining up with the pro-war faction in one nation on Earth against the needs of a starved and bombed populace. That is not impartial. Humanitarianism trumps political and religious factions, perhaps the most recent and well known precedence for ignoring such basic ethical approaches was given by the Bush regime in denying Red Cross access to prisoners they were torturing, that is no example to follow.

On screen talent at the BBC now have an opportunity, presenters, chat show hosts, DJ’s can use their allotted broadcast time to give out the details of the DEC appeal. Those that do should be lauded for their integrity and professional courage, those who choose not to, well we can make our own choices about whether to include them in the media we consume from now on.

Those details-

Online: Click here to donate online

CAF Card: Click here to donate by CAF Card

Phone: Call our automated 24 hour credit card hotline 0370 60 60 900

Post: Make
cheques payable to DEC Gaza Crisis and post to DEC Gaza Crisis, PO Box
999, London EC3A 3AA or go to any Post Office quoting Freepay
number: 1210

You can also download our Gaza Donation by Post form to make your donation payment and send it to PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA

I think like many I have great affection, even loyalty to the BBC, it’s an institution that does make me proud. A long time ago working for it freelance it was thrilling to be in the same places The Goon Show was made, or On The Hour. And as a viewer, it makes some of the best programmes on Earth (Two Pints of Lager notwithstanding). So, much like a friend or family member who makes some appalling choices it makes it all the more acutely felt because of the relationship you have with the transgressor. From all accounts it is a tiny cabal of management who are holding firm in this decision while BBC staff find it appalling, so this is more of an intervention for a loved one who has gone astray, ended up in bad company and needs help, than an attack on the institution. It’s always difficult when you dig yourself into a hole hanging on for pride’s sake to the insistence you are right to admit you are wrong, it feels like defeat more than what it is- the intelligent and responsible admittance of reason. It takes a lot of ego to be head of a large institution which means reversing this decision will be even harder for those in power, but they must recognise they serve the BBC not that it serves their personal need to be ‘right’. The damage of continuing this ban to the BBC will be immense, another nail from the same batch that Hutton came from. Only one side is praising this ‘impartiality’ which of course by definition makes it not impartial at all.

Evo Doing It Again

Despite fasicts and racists and their US support (natch) the New Constitution vote in Bolivia is again showing a majority for Evo Morales. Early exit polling is-

“yes” at between 60% and 62% of the total vote, (“no” at 39% to 40%)

And of course the nutjob Santa Cruz-ers are claiming fraud, which is predictable despite-

Amidst charges of fraud from Morales opponents, the OAS, which has 68 election observers out in the field today, has issued its first statement.

The OAS says it looks to it that the voting took place with full regularity. But that preliminary analysis is based simply on a finding that most all of the nation’s polling places has the required equipment and materials so that people could vote. It is doubtful that MAS opponents, especially if they lose as expected, will drop their charges of pressure on voters. But if they believe that Morales support in the rural areas of the country is manufactured rather than valid, they haven’t spent much time talking to people in the countryside.

The efforts to fight Evo included -try to act shocked- right wing religious institutions (like for example a Catholic church also currently readmitting Holocaust deniers, whoever could have seen that happening) and the ads in typical conservative fashion operate on the level of spite, fear and obedience while projecting a sugary image wildly at variance with the reality of their far right elimnationist attacks. Corporatist media will not like this further approval of Morales governance, but really they are running out of bullshit as Abiding in Bolivia documents. It’s remarkable to have countries where neoliberal governments claim massive support with barely above 50% of the vote (if that) in low turnout elections painting Morales as dangerously undemocratic, which is a clue to the real regard for democracy in the minds of our elites.

PS. Via Otto @ Inca Kola News check out El Gaviero blogging from the belly of the beast- Santa Cruz, reports with 60% votes in, a lower number- 51 % vote in favour. At this early stage I don’t know if that shows a discrepancy with exit polls giving results that are kinder (but still mean they lose) to rightists, like that could ever happen!

Pressure on BBC is Working

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has said it is open to reconsidering its earlier decision not to telecast a charity appeal for funds for Palestinians in Gaza. The chief operating officer of the BBC, under fire for its refusal to air the appeal, said a reversal of the decision was possible if another request to air the appeal was made.

“We never say never and clearly, if the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) came to us with another request when things have calmed down and we didn’t have the same worries about the controversial nature of this, we would look at it again in that light,” Caroline Thompson told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

So if you haven’t already. Complain via web-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

By phone-

03700 100 222

& text 03700 100 212

Posted in Israel-Palestine. Tags: , . Comments Off on Pressure on BBC is Working

BBC HQ in Glasgow Occupied & Tony Benn Rocks the Mic!

Donate online to the DEC’s Gaza Crisis nowGaza Crisis

Stop the War Coalition press release

Stop the War Coalition
Press Release
Saturday 25 January 2009
Immediate
http://www.stopwar.org.uk

Contact: Keith Boyd: 07912348366

BBC HEADQUARTERS OCCUPIED IN SCOTLAND

Over 100 supporters of Scottish Stop the War Coalition and Palestinian groups have occupied the BBC headquaters in Glasgow. They say they will not end their occupation until the BBC has reversed its decision not to broadcast an emergency aid appeal for Gaza. The protestors are demanding to meet with a senior representative of the BBC.

Keith Boyd, one of the protesters occupying BBC Scotland’s HQ, can be contacted
on: 07912348366

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Andrew Burgin
07939 242 229
Press Office
Stop the War Coalition
27 Britannia Street
London WC1X 9JP
http://www.stopwar.org.uk

Also Tony Benn was on the BBC and launched into an impromptu appeal for the DEC appeal with the careerist presenter (ps it looks to me like Maxine Mawhinney -is she the daughter of the former tory minister and football league suit Brian?-) trying to stop him. Also have Murdoch/Sky still refused hoping no one notices with all the attention on the Beeb?