A Good Question

James @ Mahatma X Files pondered-

Will there be a blogswarm to mark the 6th anniversary of the current phase of the US war against and occupation of Iraq – much like last year’s? Or did the election of the Pope of Hope usher in a new era of complacency? I wonder.

The 5th Anniversary Blogswarm grew from the idea of Godless Liberal Homo (and I helped) who is no slouch when calling the current situation-

Barack Obama has broken his most important campaign promise. He has pushed an even smaller withdrawal out to 20 months, instead of the larger withdrawal promised in 16. Given our economic crises, we need to get all of our troops out of the war on Iraq ASAP. We cannot afford to divert hundreds of billions of dollars to destroying another company’s economy and slaughtering its people.

The blogswarm was very successful although it became a lot more work than we had anticipated. My thoughts are, yes it should happen again, but more people administering it and it needs to also involve Afghanistan in some way perhaps. It’s very dangerous in a recession/depression to let governments get away with using wars to distract and to ‘regenerate’ the economy because by definition it means other people are gonna die and schools, hospitals, infrastructure, welfare all are further weakened in order to wage state terror on others. It is also notable that the longer Iraq remains occupied the greater the cost so that sooner or later the idea of needing to be repaid for that ‘largesse’ gains greater credence, throw in the crisis of capitalism and it will be very easy to get a majority of people to support Iraq’s resources being exploited more to repay the invader’s costs rather than paying reparations. Simultaneously further entrenching hydrocarbons at a time we should be reducing their use. The subtler point of Jame’s question remains to be answered, have people either through blind faith/hope abandoned their critical distance from government and/or are some now locked into the two party puppet show that they take it as a zero sum game and any criticism of ‘their team’ is helping the enemy so they remain quiet even as that becomes de facto support for actions identical to those they attacked the other side for. And bottom line, leaving up to 50,000 troops in a country does not sound all that withdrawal-y to me.

PS. I saw a BBC report on this and while it noted disputed casualty figures the journo only presented IBC’s under 100,000 figure. Is that what Obama means, because he’s likable we will not mind being bullshitted so much?

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Friday! Underworld- Good Morning Cockerel

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New Labour Admits Lies About Rendition & Torture, Time To Ungag Ben Griffin

The government admitted today that British troops in Iraq handed over terror suspects to the US, which then secretly rendered them to a prison in Afghanistan.

After a year of allegations and repeated ministerial assurances to the contrary, the admission was made in the Commons by John Hutton, the defence secretary, who apologised to MPs for inaccurate information ministers had previously given them.

He said British soldiers, believed to have been SAS troops, handed over two terrorist suspects to the US in Iraq in February 2004. The men had been captured outside the UK-controlled zone covering south-eastern Iraq.

But Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said damaging “secrets about British complicity in rendition and torture continue to seep out” and a judicial public inquiry into was the “only hope for lancing the boil and moving on”.

The call was echoed by Human Rights Watch, which described the internal review announced by Hutton as an apparent “bureaucratic and documentary exercise designed not to get at the truth but to cover tracks by ring-fencing any incriminating evidence in official records”.

In the Commons, Crispin Blunt, the Tory security spokesman, welcomed the information about the two detainees but said Hutton had left open the “glaring hole” of wider UK complicity in torture. Fellow Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, told Hutton that as ministers had previously denied a number of allegations that turned out to be true, he hoped he could “understand that we have less confidence than we did in assurances being made now”.

In March 2006, Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier, revealed that Iraqis and Afghans had been captured by British and American special forces and rendered to prisons where they faced torture. The MoD said at the time that it did not comment on the activities of special forces.

The government subsequently obtained a gagging order in the courts preventing Griffin from saying any more.

Not burdened with the wisdom or responsibility of a newspaper I am quite happy to say- they have been lying to cover up their role in torture and continue to do so. Isn’t lying to the House meant to be bit of a no-no? Yet this is odd, no one seems too upset, are they all pretty comfortable with facilitating torture? Resignations, prosecutions, hello? Anyone giving a fuck, or is the new Obama era leading the way, appear contrite while not actually doing that much different. Time for the gagging order to be challenged/lifted and for Ben Griffin to get national exposure for his testimony, or does the mainstream media only like SAS troopers when they write shitty books about ‘slotting ragheads’. Mother hating psycho Hutton (formerly in charge of destroying welfare. See how it goes, you despise the poor then you get to play with torture, oh yeah baby you better believe it’s all connected, sadism abides) peddles this shit-

Hutton said the pair, believed to be Pakistanis, were still being held in Afghanistan. He said they were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned organisation that he said was linked to al-Qaida. The US had assured Britain the two continued to represent “significant security concerns” and it was “neither possible or desirable to transfer them to either their country of detention or country of origin”, Hutton told MPs.

The US had assured him the men were being held in humane conditions and had access to the Red Cross, Hutton said.

Thing is Johnny boy there is ample evidence the US tortures and lies about it, therefore these assurances are worthless and anyone taking them at face value is similarly likely to be seen as co-conspirator in war crimes. Clearly no one fears they will ever have to explain themselves in a court of law and the whole lying to Parliament bit, hey what does it matter, it’s only torture.

Get used to it, that’s where we live now- Hey what does it matter, it’s only torture.

Umff

I’m afraid I have such debilitating lurgi of my respiratory bits (sorry if I’ve lost you with the medical jargon there) that breathing poorly and moaning softly have taken up all my time (maybe trying to act surprised at the continuing cover up of Iraq war crimes has affected my immune system, Straw!). Anyways in the meantime check Peter Tatchell on Hicham Yezza and below Mark Steel’s current column which again has not shown up in The Independent-
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Ho-Hum

Chris Hedges– There is a lot riding on whom President Obama names as his special envoy to Iran. If, as expected, it is Dennis Ross, a former official of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, we will be in deep trouble. Ross, who is expected to be placed in charge of the Iranian portfolio this week, is a vocal supporter of Israel’s call for increased pressure on Iran. He is distrusted, even despised, in the Muslim world and especially in Tehran. With good reason, he is not viewed as an impartial broker.

And ta-da!

(Reuters) – U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross has been appointed special advisor on the Gulf and southwest Asia, which includes Iran, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department announced on Monday.

Burmese Junta Releases Prisoners In PR Move

The headline figure is over 6,000 released with a whopping, er… 23 being political prisoners, hmmm-

(Mizzima) – The Assistant Association for Political Prisoners Burma, an activist group, has said that at least 23 political prisoners were included among the 6313 prisoners, who have been given amnesty by Burma’s ruling junta on Saturday.

The Thailand-based AAPP-B, which monitors the situation of political prisoners in Burma, said so far the junta had released over 6,000 prisoners, including only 23 political prisoners, a few monks, members of the opposition party – National League for Democracy, and other activists.

Burma’s ruling military junta, which has persistently denied the presence of political prisoners in Burma, on Friday said, it would grant amnesty to prisoners, who had a record of good conduct as a second chance to rebuild their lives and prepare themselves to participate in the upcoming 2010 elections.

However, critics and opposition parties said there might be other reasons for the release than merely granting the prisoners a second chance, as the junta, which has a history of making moves to decrease mounting international pressure, cannot be trusted.

Tate Naing, General Secretary of AAPP-B said, the prisoners release was a part of the junta’s efforts to ease off pressure mounting on them, and was a show case, as there were few political prisoners included, among those released.

“It is very much evident, the junta wants to ease pressure from the international community and this is the way they act, whenever they face mounting pressure,” Tate Naing said.

The announcement of the release of 6,313 prisoners across the country came a day after the United Nations Human Rights envoy wound up a six-day visit to the country. During the visit, Tomas Ojea Quintana said he had suggested to Burma’s military authorities to implement progressive release of political prisoners.

Pascal Khoo-Thwe Feb 23, 2009 (DVB)…the generals only release a few political prisoners when they have major political gains to make, such as the time when it wanted to sell its new constitution to the international community last year and now ahead of the proposed 2010 election. The junta is like people who give only the smallest amount and the poorest quality to other people and want to get all the best things from them. When I checked the numbers of other prisoners released I noticed that they don’t add up, and I started to doubt whether 9002 prisoners were actually released last year or 6313 this year. The junta has never released the list of prisoners released from each jail or allowed independent groups to monitor the releases.

UK Police State Coming Along Nicely

Ooh look the plod predict a ‘summer of rage’ how agent provocateur status quo of them-

Police are preparing for a “summer of rage” as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions, the Guardian has learned.

Britain’s most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming “footsoldiers” in a wave of potentially violent mass protests.

Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police’s public order branch, told the Guardian that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.

He’s an idea, try investigating the City of London instead of protecting it.

It’s also interesting that while many suggest a national bank utilising Post Offices for its branches, New Labour and its corporate chums are looking to use the crisis (and proposal) to privatise it quickly and lay off workers to forestall a truly public owned bank despite its rosy rhetoric.