I’m Back

Well rattling the cage in the forum (apparently haunted by the cast of a daytime soap opera) seemed to have worked, or maybe seeing other blogs taking notice tipped the scales, so far all is back working although without explanation…gremlins? Thank you to EarwicgaJotman, The Selfish Site & Godless Liberal Homo, [wannabe] Librarian, Kevin Blowe, Phil ChamberlainHarpymarx for their concern & support, if I have I missed someone out (I was also without a phone line for 36 hours due to weather meeting rusty old BT wires) please do correct me! Whatever the issue (and it’s probable the dramatic free speech narrative  is actually more a- some software bug happened?!?!- but still when it comes to the Hollywood version it’ll be some authoritarian state imposed by occupying alien zombie vampires who will be suspiciously similar to whatever enemy of US foreign policy is currently in the Pentagon’s cross hairs, hey how else do you get all the free military cooperation huh producers?), I am yet to receive an explanation on top of the apology. I think as others have said WordPress need to change their procedure, you don’t restrict a blog without a human person actually telling the blogger they have an issue and allowing for a resolution first, jumping straight to restriction and not communicating is not a policy designed to impress. I do now have to think about going to a hosted service, it will cost some money but will allow for a lovely makeover and will not run into this issue again, I will be shopping around, glad to receive advice and at some point this year finally do it!

Anyways, anything happen this week? No…nothing? Hmmmm, Hey wait a minute didn’t a lying unrepentant war criminal waste everyone’s time & money with a well rehearsed appearance before a population management exercise with no legal power to compel witnesses under oath? And before that his cowardly legal lapdog who will call anything legal if he is sufficiently in fear of his status, career and bank balance? Or was that all some kind of bad nightmare… Hang on I’ll just ask Iraq if a million plus people are not dead and 6 million aren’t displaced…Hmm no, that’s all real so it must be true that the UK protects war criminals even as the lying murdering torturing scum proclaim they would do it all again (Hello Iran!). I mean it takes a kind of evil genius to take an inquiry into one war crime to incite the commission of another. Still, all praise to Grace McCann for attempting a citizen’s arrest, guess who the police helped, her or Blair? Go on it’s almost fun pretending there’s even a 1% doubt as to the who the fuzz chose to assist and who they chose to detain.

So who has seen the inside of a courtroom, well in New York Aafia Siddiqui is on trial, now I say trial but, it might be an overused term but…..Kafkaesque pantomime would be nearer the mark none of the witnesses against her (all US govt employees either FBI or military) even with lots of time to concoct their stories (y’know like UK police do, all being able to confer before a statement is taken) none of their testimonies agree even to the point of not being able to agree who was there or not. Then there is the mysterious where was she for five years and where are her two children and I am reminded of Jose Padilla whose mind was so damaged by his time in the tender care of the new torture paradigm he didn’t trust his own lawyers (in Siddiqui’s case the government of Pakistan is part funding her defence). She is strip searched every time she goes to court, a process which is basically a state sanctioned  sexual assault by someone in uniform. It is also notable journalists from outside the US were not credentialed for the courtroom and were instead made to sit outside and watch via video feed that omits various aspects of the trial. Day by day coverage at CagePrsioners by Petra Bartosiewicz, here are some excerpts that give the flavour of what is going on-

Day 1

Before the jurors were brought in Siddiqui once again protested against being forcibly brought to the courthouse. Judge Richard Berman gave her two options: come to the courthouse and be present during the proceedings, or come to the courthouse and remain in a holding cell next to the courtroom where she could view the proceedings via a television monitor with adjustable volume. But either way, she must come to the courthouse each day, which means undergoing a daily strip search. Despite pleas from both the defense and prosecution to excuse Siddiqui, the judge did not change his position.

Day 2

Jefferson assisted Negron in subduing Siddiqui and cuffed her hands and her ankles. Jefferson said a stretcher was brought up to the room (an account that differs from that of Captain Snyder, who testified yesterday that the stairs were too narrow and so he had personally carried Siddiqui down to the Humvee)

The thumb drive, which had apparently gotten misplaced while in Ghazni was delivered to Bagram shortly after he arrived with Siddiqui.

Moreno showed him a statement he gave to the FBI less than a week after the shooting, which apparently contradicted the answer he had just given her, but he said he did not remember giving the statement and later said he did remember giving the statement but that he did not telling the agents what was written there. She asked if he had read and initialed every paragraph at the time he gave the statement and he said he had. Moreno also asked Gul to elaborate on help he’s received from the U.S. since the shooting. Gul said the U.S. sponsored his visa and his flight to the U.S. was paid for. He was given money for rent, food and transportation (“less than $4,000,” he said). She also asked about his contact with the warrant officer since the shooting, which includes emails and phone calls. Gul said he considered the officer a “brother and a friend.”

Day 3

Members of the general public for the past two days have also been required to show photo identifications and court security guards have noted the name and address of each individual. At the conclusion of today’s proceedings, defense attorney Charles Swift made note of the identification requirement and said that it is not in keeping with Siddiqui’s right to a free and open trial. The judge said he would look into it, though attendees at the trial said a member of the court security detail told them the measures were on the direct order of the judge.

Day 4

[Judge] Berman said he had not specifically ordered the names and addresses of attendees to be noted, but that he had instead merely agreed to the addition of the metal detector as a standard screening measure. Berman suggested that the U.S. Marshals had interpreted this instruction to include identification checks.

Day 5

On cross examination by defense attorney Charles Swift, the warrant officer was asked about several sworn statements he gave in the days following the shooting in which he said that he saw Siddiqui “lunge for her weapon,” which was in contrast to his earlier testimony during the day when he said Siddiqui was already holding the rifle and pointing it in his direction when he first saw her. “I must have wrote it incorrectly,” he said. “She had the weapon system.” When asked why he noted that she “lunged” in two separate statements, the officer said, “It all all happened fast.”

During the morning session two jurors were dismissed after reporting to Judge Richard Berman that a man in the spectator gallery had motioned to them in an intimidating fashion. The man was questioned and later released.

After jurors were dismissed for the day, defense attorney Linda Moreno once again asked for a mistrial, saying that the U.S. Marshals had removed Siddiqui roughly from the courtroom in front of the jury in a manner that “denigrates the presumption of innocence.” The judge declined Moreno’s request and said that perhaps the defense should focus more on “reigning in” their client. “Dr. Siddiqui doesn’t talk to us,” Moreno said in reference to herself and the other members of the defense team. “I tried to talk to her today,” said Moreno. “She indicated if I didn’t leave immediately she was going to accuse me of harassment.”

The judge also rejected a defense motion regarding the added security measures outside the courtroom. After the first day of proceedings last week, U.S. Marshals installed a metal detector and began to require all individuals entering the courtroom to show photo identification. Their names and addresses were then logged by court security officials. The judge today said the measures were “totally appropriate,” citing prior cases like the Martha Stewart trial which had instituted similar security measures.

Day 6

During court proceedings today Siddiqui once again signaled to the spectator gallery that she does not recognize her legal team, two of whom are court appointed attorneys and three of whom have been retained on her behalf by the government of Pakistan.

In a letter submitted earlier today to Judge Berman, the attorneys argued that Siddiqui “suffers from diminished capacity,” and that if she is permitted to “continue her irrational and bewildering insistence that she has the power to influence the Taliban, she will invite jurors to infer that she has terrorist associations.”

Negron said that after Siddiqui was shot by the warrant officer he helped restrain her, but she fought back. “I had to strike her several times with a closed fist across the face,” he said. After she was subdued Siddiqui “either fainted or faked that she had fainted,” and was handcuffed.

Once outside the Afghan National Police headquarters, Negron said the Americans encountered what he estimated were 50-70 armed Afghans in aggressive postures. He noticed one Afghan walking nearby with a handgun and told his interpreter to tell the man “to holster his weapon or I will kill him.” The man turned and laughed, recalled Negron, but obeyed the order.

On cross examination by defense attorney Charles Swift, Williams said that just after he heard shots fired a number of individuals in the room came running out. But Williams said he did not recall that the U.S. Army medic, Dawn Card, was among them. Williams’ testimony was in sharp contrast to Card’s own testimony in court yesterday, when she said she was present in the room but ran out as soon as the shooting started. Williams, who stood at the only exit to the room, said he did not remember seeing Card enter the room before the incident or exit after.

Day 7

Siddiqui’s defense attorneys have received a reported $2 million from the government of Pakistan for the case, and greeted the ambassador as the day’s proceedings began.

On cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rody, Tobin said he didn’t find it credible that two rounds from an M-4 could be fired in an enclosed space and not leave any forensic evidence.

Prosecutors asked the judge uphold Siddiqui’s Fifth Amendment right to testify and argued that any statements she made while at Bagram should be admissible. “Defense counsel recognize, as they must, that the decision to testify is a ‘personal right’ that is waivable only by the defendant,” prosecutors wrote. “Nonetheless, they claim that the Court should take what they acknowledge to be the ‘unprecedented’ step of preventing the defendant from testifying on her own behalf.” Prosecutors also argued that the issue of Siddiqui’s diminished mental capacity should not come into play since the court deemed Siddiqui competent to stand trial after a lengthy court-ordered psychiatric evaluation last year. They agreed with the defense, however, that the judge should speak with Siddiqui before he makes a final decision.

Day 8

After days of vowing to boycott her own trial, Siddiqui voluntarily took the stand today and testified in her own defense. Her testimony came over the strenuous objections of her attorneys, who filed an application with Judge Richard Berman asking that he block her from taking the witness stand due to what they say is her mental instability and “diminished capacity.” One of the primary concerns was that Siddiqui’s rambling answers would give the government an opportunity to introduce incriminating statements she allegedly made to FBI agents while recuperating from gunshot wounds incurred in Ghazni. Prosecutors, meanwhile, urged the judge to permit Siddiqui to exercise her Fifth Amendment right to testify.

Also at issue during the hearing was whether prosecutors could use statements she made to FBI agents while she was in custody at Bagram Air Base following her arrest in Ghazni. Her defense attorneys argued any such statements would have been while she was in a drug-induced post-operative haze and before she was formally arrested and read her rights.

Defense attorney Charles Swift questioned how voluntary Siddiqui’s statements were given that she was held in four-point restraints and dependent on the agent. “If she wanted food she had to ask you,” said Swift.

“Correct,” said Serser.

“If she wanted water she had to ask you,” said Swift.

“Correct,” said Serser.

“If she wanted to go to the bathroom she had to ask you,” said Swift.

“Correct,” said Serser.

On cross examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna Dabbs asked Siddiqui about a number of the documents she was allegedly found with in Ghazni at the time of her arrest. “I didn’t check my bags. I didn’t prepare them,” said Siddiqui. She said that some of the materials had been “copied from a magazine in the secret prison. I didn’t write this stuff.”

At one point during the cross examination, Dabbs asked Siddiqui whether she told FBI agents in Bagram that she had been in hiding. Defense attorneys immediately called for a mistrial, saying that information about where Siddiqui was during her five missing years is classified.

Yeah, open and shut case…

And Zelaya left Honduras and the US says of the laundered coup ‘The new president of Honduras has taken the country in the right direction,’ as they look at restoring full financial support. Honduras coup blog has launched a new project Honduras Culture and Politics, given the human rights history of US allies in the region attention should remain on what the Honduran elite think they can get away with now. Speaking of which I notice someone at Crooks & Liars has jumped on the nationalist bandwagon and lump Chavez in with other ‘enemies’ of Uncle Sam, missing the point it was the ruling class that have handed fuller control to corporations not ‘foreigners’ who they actually share some of their politics with (as did Think Progress when St Obama got criticised by him for occupying Haiti, oh yes and No he didn’t say the US caused the earthquake). Israel has now left Haiti fuelling the suspicion that the medical effort was more to do with the government’s PR efforts than anything else, Cuba’s doctors who were there very quickly remain there, not that US media will tell you that. Best ways to help are Partners in Health orHaiti Emergency Relief Fund or Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP).

Meanwhile in ethno religious militarism and colonisation is not a good thing news, Breaking the Silence has now released testimony from female IDF soldiers-

Most of the female soldiers say that they sensed there was a problem during their service, but did nothing.

Another female soldier’s testimony, who served at the Erez checkpoint, indicates how violence was deeply rooted in the daily routine: “There was a procedure in which before you release a Palestinian back into the Strip – you take him inside the tent and beat him.”

That was a procedure?

“Yes, together with the commanders.”

How long did it last?

“Not very long; within 20 minutes they would be back in the base, but the soldiers would stop at the post to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes while the guys from the command post would beat them up.”

This happened with every illegal alien?

“There weren’t that many…it’s not something you do everyday, but sort of a procedure. I don’t know if they strictly enforced it each and every time…it took me a while to realize that if I release an illegal alien on my end, by the time he gets back to Gaza he will go through hell… two or three hours can pass by the time he gets into the Strip. In the case of the kid, it was a whole night. That’s insane, since it’s a ten minute walk. They would stop them on their way; each soldier would give them a ‘pet’, including the commanders.”

Sometimes an entire “production” was necessary to satisfy the violent urges. “There’s a sense of violence,” a border policewoman in the Jenin area said. “And yes, it’s boring, so we’d create some action. We’d get on the radio, and say they threw stones at us, then someone would be arrested, they’d start investigating him… There was a policewoman, she was bored, so okay, she said they threw stones at her. They asked her who threw them. ‘I don’t know, two in grey shirts, I didn’t manage to see them.’ They catch two guys with grey shirts… beat them. Is it them? ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Okay, a whole incident, people get beaten up. Nothing happened that day.”

Other testimonies raise concerns as to the procedures of opening fire in the territories, particularly crowd control weapons. A female Border Guard detailed to protocol she called “dismantling rubber” – the dismantling of rubber bullets from clusters of three to single bullets, and peeling the rubber off of them. She also said that, despite the clear orders to fire in the air or at the demonstrators’ feet, it was common procedure to fire at the abdomen.

A female Border Guard officer in Jenin spoke of an incident in which a nine-year-old Palestinian, who tried to climb the fence, failed, and fled – was shot to death: “They fired… when he was already in the territories and posed no danger. The hit was in the abdomen area, they claimed he was on a bicycle and so they were unable to hit him in the legs.”

Some of the testimonies from Hebron deal with the difficult position the soldiers find themselves in, between Palestinians and settlers – who they say are even harder to handle. Some of the female soldiers were shocked with the level of violence the settlers’ children used against the Palestinians. “They would throw stones at them, the Jewish kids,” a Nahal female soldier said, “and the parents would say anything… you see this every day in Tel Rumeida.”

Doesn’t it seem strange to you that one child throws a stone at another child?

“Because the one child is Jewish and the other is Palestinians, it’s somehow okay… and it was obvious that there would be a mess afterwards. And you also don’t really know which side you are on…I have to make a switch in my head and keep hating the Arabs and justify the Jews.”

In her frustration, the same female soldier told of how she once spit on a Palestinian in the street: “I don’t think he even did anything. But again, it was cool and it was the only thing I could do to… you know, I couldn’t take brag that I caught a terrorists… But I could spit on them and degrade them and laugh at them.”

Another female Sachlav soldier told the story of the time an eight-year-old settler girl in Hebron decided to bash a stone into the head of a Palestinian adult crossing her passing by her in the street. “Boom! She jumped on him, and gave it to him right here in the head… then she started screaming ‘Yuck, yuck, his blood is on me'”.

The soldier said the Palestinian then turned in the girl’s direction – a move that was interpreted as a threat by one of the soldiers in the area, who added a punch of his own: “And I stood there horrified… an innocent little girl in her Shabbat dress… the Arab covered the wound with his hand and ran.” She recalled another incident with the same child: “I remember she had her brother in the stroller, a baby. She was giving him stones and telling him: ‘Throw them at the Arab’.”

And some other things probably happened… Anyways, I think I will import my Friday post at the backup blogger blog to here, a once only bit of retro posting, have a nice weekend everybody!


Friday! The Sound of Silence

Hello to anyone who makes it here from the wordpress blog, this will get you up to speed-

I first became aware of the message ‘ Warning: We have a concern about some of the content on your blog. Please click here to contact us as soon as possible to resolve the issue and re-enable posting.‘ on 26th January 19:00GMT, I have sent four messages through the linked reply form and one through support, as of this date I have received no reply and the restrictions remain on my blog. I am posting this as a topic to try and force some resolution as clearly the established route is failing.
YES I used the linked reply form linked in that message.
YES I have checked my spam folders for admin messages.
I have no idea what the issue is although as I blog on human rights and abuses of power quite often, sometimes with an irreverent satirical approach that might have a bearing. Also in the week Tony Blair gives evidence and Aafia Siddiqui is on ‘trial’ in NY this has silenced me at an important moment. For those unaware of the English legal landscape this blog post by former ambassador Craig Murray (who resigned from the UK Government because it endorsed the use of torture) will give you an idea of the censorious climate-

Of course this might have nothing to do with such issues, but as it is Friday and the restrictions were placed sometime on Monday/Tuesday and I have yet to receive a reply from WP it is not unreasonable to take this measure to elicit some response.

That is a forum message I have posted tonight, I am completely in the dark about this, all I know for sure is I cannot at the moment author new posts to my wordpress blog, instead of ‘Publish’ the button says ‘Submit for Review’ I have sent one post to that on Tuesday, it has yet to appear on my blog.
Anyways, it is Friday and I hate to miss one so take it away fellas-

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