To Those Who Resist The Idea of a Ruling Class

This is how it works.

Update: More.

Honour Among Thieves

Predictably the rapists, murderers and torturers profiteering off the Iraq war turn out to be falling upon each other like animals now the spoils are not so easy to come by and hide. Would it be wrong to start taking bets on Erik Prince dying by his own hand, being whacked by his colleagues or Cheney/Bush, er I mean some shadowy third party eager to keep things quiet. Yes it would… still… profiteering off death, it’s a growing industry.

Connecting The Tortured Dots

The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al-Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. This act, the committee found, cleared the way for a new interrogation program to be developed in-part based on “Chinese communist” tactics used against Americans during the Korean War, mainly to elicit false confessions for propaganda purposes.

Full Senate Armed Services Report [pdf].

Equal Justice

While even Truth & Reconciliation ideas which would involve no prosecutions over crimes including- kidnap, rape, murder, torture, war of aggression causing over 1 million deaths are given a luke warm non-committal pass, the journalist who threw a shoe at Bush faces 15 years in jail.


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)

7 Years of Gitmo

Andy Worthington marks seven years since Gitmo began operating as a concentration camp outside of the law, that is slowly coming to an end, perhaps… he also notes the more secret legal black holes-

Disturbingly, the three foreign prisoners seem to have spent time in secret CIA prisons before ending up at Bagram, but what is also disturbing about their cases is that there seems to be no distinction between these prisoners and others who were transferred to Guantánamo, except, of course, that the Bagram prisoners continue to have no rights whatsoever, and the government intends to make sure that they never do.

According to SCOTUSblog, which reports on significant court cases in the United States, Judge Bates appeared to recognize this discrepancy, as he “voic[ed] some concern over the government creating a ‘black hole’ for detainees in a ‘law-free zone’” at Bagram, and “hinted” that he may allow some of the prisoners to file court cases to challenge the basis of their imprisonment.

Everyone concerned with the exercise of justice must hope that Judge Bates will indeed grant habeas rights to prisoners like Haji Wazir, Redha al-Najar, Amin al-Bakri, Fadi al-Maqalah, and, in due course, to others — also held for years — whose identities are either completely unknown or only suspected. Anything less, and Bagram will indeed remain a law-free black hole, even as plans move ahead to close Guantánamo.

Just today though noises emerged from the Obama camp that indicate they will not be pursuing torturers and will in fact negate the principles established at the Nuremberg trials, they were only following orders-

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein told The Associated Press in an interview this week that there is a clear distinction between policymakers and those who execute the policy. “They (the CIA) carry out orders and the orders come from the (National Security Council) and the White House, so there’s not a lot of policy debate that goes on there,” said Feinstein, D-Calif. “We’re going to continue our looking into the situation and I think that is up to the administration and the director.”

“The men and women of the intelligence community have been on the front lines in this world of new and evolving dangers,” he [Obama] said. “They have served in the shadows, saved American lives, advanced our interests, and earned the respect of a grateful nation.”

So just how far away are they from the Bybee excuse for crime-

All that is required to avoid prosecution is a CIA agent’s “good faith belief” that his actions will not cause torturous pain and suffering. Such a belief “need not be reasonable,” Bybee writes.

Change, Hope, blah blah blah.

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Blair Gets Golden Brown Nose At Last

8565tFormer UK Prime Minister Tony Blair will receive the highest civilian award in the US – the Presidential Medal of Freedom – next week.In his last week in office, President Bush will award the medal to Mr Blair, former Australian PM John Howard and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Such distinguished company, reads more like a perp walk, or should. This is his second erm, honour

Mr Blair was awarded the congressional gold medal in July 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, but he has yet to collect it. There was some speculation that unease over the Iraq war and Mr Blair’s close friendship with Mr Bush made him reluctant to accept it while in office. But each medal is individually designed and minted and it was reported it was taking some time to decide on the words and images. The office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives told the Sunday Telegraph this week that Mr Blair was taking a keen interest in the medal’s design, before it was specially made by the US Federal Mint.

Now some may ask what Blair The Peace Envoy is doing with Gaza being flattened under his nose, you might also ask why Bush is sending massive resources to Darfur in his twilight days. Some victims are deemed worthy or convenient, or…AFRICOM needing a hand (shame on me for doubting George Bush’s humanitarian impulses!)-

WASHINGTON —President Bush has authorized an immediate airlift of vehicles and equipment to bolster the international peace-keeping mission in the conflict-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, the White House announced on Monday.

Because of the urgency of the situation, the president is waiving the normal 15-day period to notify Congress of his intentions “because failing to do so would pose a substantial risk to human health and welfare,” Stephen Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, said in a statement.

The airlift to aid the peace mission, formally known as the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, is a significant step up in American involvement in the region, even though it will not involve military action. The region has long been riven by ethnic and sectarian strife, which has claimed thousands of lives.

Email From The ICRC in Iraq

We would like to thank you for your recent correspondence addressed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with regard to the situation of Mr Muntadar Al-Zaidi.

Please note that the ICRC is in contact with the relevant Iraqi mechanism for the monitoring of Human Rights and will follow the situation. We have taken due note of the accounts received with regard to Mr Muntadar Al-Zaidi and would like to thank you for this information. We can assure you that we will follow up on these concerns.
Yours faithfully,
Laurent Saugy
Protection Coordinator

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Montather Al-Zaidi, Beaten & Tortured

I guess this must be the blossoming democracy so many hacks mentioned and how under Saddam he’d never dare to do this, blah blah blabbedy blah. Via Raed Jarrar

From Al-Baghdadia’s website:

(rough translation)

Uday Al-Zeidi, the older brother of the Al-Baghdadia’s correspondent who was detained a week ago, met with Montather today. Montather told his brother that after the incident, he was beaten and kicked by the Iraqi security forces until he fainted.

Uday told Al-Baghdadia channel during an exclusive interview this morning that the Iraqi justice system allowed him to meet his brother for more than an hour and a quarter. He confirmed that Montather told him that he was tortured with electric shock after being stripped naked, and that he was continuously humiliated and tortured throughout the period of detention, and that he had bruises all over his face and body, and that members of the Iraqi security forces disfigured his face through beatings and cigarette burns. Montather also told his brother Uday that confessions were extracted from him by force, and that he would like to bring a lawsuit against everyone who participated in his torture. Montather told Uday that he did what he did for all the Iraqi orphans, widows, children and for all the Iraqi people who where wronged.

Montather said that if he could go back in time he would still do what he did to Bush again. Montather confirmed that he does not belong to any political parties, and that no insult was intended toward the Iraqi PM Al-Maliki.

Al-Zaidi’s brother speculated that the reason behind denying his family access to Montather during the past days was because the authorities were trying to hide what has happened to Montather because of torture.

Finally, Uday Al-Ziedi demanded a fair neutral medical evaluation of Montather’s health in detention.

Raed has written to the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for them to attend to Montather- requesting a “neutral medical evaluation” of his health. So take time out from all the shoe mashups and hijinks and actually help the man who did this- You can contact Mr Hisham Hassan at iraq.iqs at and Ms. Dorothea Krimitsas at dkrimitsas.gva at icrc.orgto [replace  at  with @, you know the drill]

Al Zaidi- Beaten, Hidden, Jailed

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mahmoud Othman, an Iraqi member of parliament, said it had been argued that keeping an Iraqi journalist in jail while debating immunity for foreign forces in Iraq was unjust.

Muntather al-Zaidi did not appear in court today, instead the judge visited him in his cell which basically means they beat the ever living shit our of him and they can’t let anyone see. Bush and his gang say they have ‘moved on’ I’m sure they have, they are confident he is being tortured so don’t have to worry about it. If they hold no hard feelings and this is a wonderful free speaking democracy this would not be happening, and if they truly believed in those things they would be ensuring his welfare and a brief hearing to determine a breach of the peace and a small fine to save face. They are not. Just like other war pimping hacks (The Times), they take the incident as proof of success in Iraq while ignoring the treatment of the man who provided this media moment because it negates all their talking points.

It is also demonstrating the war-on-terror ™ for what it really is, a new brand name for old authoritarianism to help new global corporatism, we’ll all be obedient little drones before they are done-

Bangalore,Dec17 (PTI) An employee of a company here who reportedly lauded the Iraqi journalist for hurling his shoes at President George Bush, landed in trouble as he is being questioned by police. Jameel, working in Motor Industry Corporation now taken over by BOSCH, was taken in for questioning yesterday after his colleagues complained that his comments supporting the journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi, raised suspicion.

“He has not been taken into custody. We are asking him some questions,” said Gopal Hosur, Joint Commissioner, Crime.

“There are no charges against him as of now. We are interrogating him to remove possibility of any doubt,” he said.

Sign Free Muntather

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Phillipe Sands On 24’s Pro-Torture Role

This relates to Careerists about a Dutch singer who prospered under the Nazis, who believed he has done nothing wrong. It is what he did not do, he did not stand against it. People involved in 24 bear some moral culpability for the torture the US has engaged in… and those who enjoy watching it also need to reflect-

Redemption, the 24 prequel, hits British screens this evening, on Sky 1 — “the first new material from 24 producers in nearly two years”, according to the Sky preview.

But what Sky doesn’t tell you is this: during that period information has emerged to confirm the real, negative effects of the series, which spins the pernicious message that “torture works” and is a legitimate tool in the fight to protect national security. Nor does the preview tell us if the next series of 24 (Day 7) will stay on message or shift direction. The impacts of 24 on real events – for example on the abuse of detainees at Guantánamo and at Abu Ghraib – had long been a matter of speculation. It was explored in detail in an important article by Jane Mayer published in the New Yorker magazine in February 2007. Mayer described a conversation with Joel Surnow, the co-creator and executive producer of 24. “There are not a lot of measures short of extreme measures that will get it done,” he told her, adding: “America wants the war on terror fought by Jack Bauer. He’s a patriot.”

I accidentally stumbled across the connection between fiction and reality, and wrote about it in my book Torture Team and a related article for Vanity Fair magazine. In early 2007 I interviewed Diane Beaver, the lawyer who had been the staff judge advocate down at Guantánamo when, in the autumn of 2002, decisions were being taken on the authorisation of 18 new techniques of interrogation for a detainee who was thought to be the 20th hijacker. The second series of 24 went to air on October 29 2002, at the very time these decisions were being taken. Beaver described to me how the series was shown at Guantánamo. I noted what she described to me, writing on a pad “24 – Becker”. It didn’t ring any bells, I’d never seen the programme.

Later, I went back to my hotel and typed up my notes. Not recognising the words I’d written down, I put them into the Google search engine, which responded “Did you mean: 24 – Bauer”, and directed me to the Fox TV website. Bauer had many friends at Guantánamo Bay, Beaver told me the next time we met, and “gave people lots of ideas”. “We saw it on cable,” she explained. “People had already seen the first series, it was hugely popular.” Others who were at Guantánamo at the time confirmed her account. Some described to me how the series contributed directly to an environment encouraging those in the interrogation facility to see themselves as being on the front line, and to go further than they otherwise might have. 24 also made it more difficult for those who objected to the abuse to stop it.

My writings on this subject have generated a decent mailbag over the past few months. But the most interesting correspondence came just last week. “I’m a US actor, living in Los Angeles,” wrote the author. “In September of 2007, I was offered a role on 24.” The actor told his agent to reject the offer, because he objected to the programme’s message. His agent told him that Howard Gordon, the principal executive producer, wanted to speak. The actor sent Gordon an email, expressing his concerns about the positive depictions of torture on the programme. Apparently, a lengthy exchange followed, in which the two debated the morality of torture and the potential impact of 24 on the moral sentiments of its millions of viewers. The actor offered to make the dialogue public, and Gordon apparently responded with “some enthusiasm”, until Fox’s publicity department stepped in and warned him against any exposure of the exchanges.

The actor shared with me some extracts of Gordon’s views. He told the actor that “I lack the conviction that torture is, under any circumstances, an unacceptable option”. He lacked that conviction because “I lack the knowledge, I just don’t know enough about the efficacy of torture”. I’ve no reason to doubt that Gordon is a thoroughly decent man. He’s smart; he went to Princeton. Through his work he would have access to a great number of lawyers, any one of whom would have told him, if he had cared to enquire, that torture is illegal in all circumstances. His own convictions, or lack of knowledge, are a total irrelevance.

Gordon also told the actor about his belief that it was “essentially true that … 24 posits that torture is a necessary evil that works and is therefore acceptable”. There was also an indication of concern. “I would hate to think,” wrote Gordon, “that I’ve somehow been the midwife to some public acceptance of torture.”

Well, the reality for Gordon, on the account given to me by Diane Beaver as well as others, is that he seems to have become the very midwife he feared. And not just to the public acceptance of torture, but to its actual use on real, living human beings.

Perhaps this might give Gordon and his colleagues some pause for thought. Perhaps this might encourage a rethinking of the entire thrust of the programme. Perhaps Day 7 might do the right thing and embrace reality: that torture is not justified, that it can never be lawful, that it produces unreliable information, and that it serves as one of the best recruiting tools for those who seek to do us serious harm. In short, torture doesn’t work, and it’s not a legitimate tool in the fight to protect national security.

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(AFP) — George W. Bush hopes history will see him as a president who liberated millions of Iraqis and Afghans, who worked towards peace and who never sold his soul for political ends.

“I’d like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace,” Bush said in excerpts of a recent interview released by the White House Friday.

“I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values.”

UNASUR Investigate The Pando Massacre

With tears in her eyes, she remembered how a group of “men from the city” burned alive one of her colleagues last September 11th. Next to the burned body, the woman’s baby was crying hysterically, she narrated. Enboldened by the wails and discontrol, they picked the baby up by the legs and shook it and, as it wouldn’t stop crying, shot it in the head.

More details at Otto’s place. And remember, the perpetrators of this are the ones backed by Washington. So there’s the answer before you ask- Why is this not in the news?

PS. Also on what the media hide Otto reports Bloomberg and Reuters only allow high paying people to know the Venezuelan unemployment figures they have, why might this be? Because evil socialist Chavez actually has dropping figures while neoliberal hellholes see huge increases perchance?


Then we can move on to what lies behind Guantánamo: the unaccountable prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, which hold an estimated 39,000 prisoners, and the unknown number of prisoners still held in secret CIA custody, or rendered to torture in third countries, who constitute “America’s Disappeared.”

Andy Worthington

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Jacqui Smith Shocked To Find Gambling In The Casino

Call me cynical but this looks like CYA now the torture cat is exiting the bag, especially with a Bush regime in its dotage and as Mohamed’s lawyer says it’s really an obligation under the convention against torture now. And Baroness Scotland… well former Home office minister who has performed odious work for Smith previously.

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, has asked the attorney general to investigate possible “criminal wrongdoing” by the MI5 and the CIA over its treatment of a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay, it was revealed tonight.

The dramatic development over allegations of collusion in torture and inhuman treatment follows a high court judgment which found that an MI5 officer participated in the unlawful interrogation of Binyam Mohamed. The MI5 officer interrogated Mohamed while he was being held in Pakistan in 2002.

It emerged tonight that lawyers acting for Smith have sent the attorney general, Baroness Scotland, evidence about MI5 and CIA involvement in the case, which was heard behind closed doors in high court hearings. In a letter seen by the Guardian, they have asked Scotland – as an independent law officer – to investigate “possible criminal wrongdoing”. The move could lead to a criminal prosecution.

The evidence was suppressed following gagging orders demanded by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and the US authorities. The action by Smith, the minister responsible for MI5 activities, is believed to be unprecedented.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed tonight that the letter and closed evidence had been sent to the attorney. It had no further comment.

Tonight Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve, which represents Guantanamo detainees, welcomed the move. He said: “This is a welcome recognition that the CIA cannot just go rendering British residents to secret torture chambers without any consequences, and British agents cannot take part in American crimes without facing the music”.

He added: “Reprieve will be making submissions to the attorney general to ensure that those involved in these crimes – from the US, Pakistan, Morocco, Britain, and elsewhere – are held responsible.”

Richard Stein of Leigh Day, which is acting for Mohamed in the British courts, said: “Ultimately the British government had little choice in the matter, once they conceded that a case had been made out that Binyam Mohamed was tortured.”

“The Convention Against Torture rightly imposes an obligation on signatory states to investigate cases of torture, and we look forward to a full and open airing of the crimes committed against Mr Mohamed and a thorough investigation by the Police and Crown Prosecution Service into this case.”

Reprieve has argued that the case against Mohamed should be dropped by the US government, and that he should be returned to the UK, as the British Government requested in August 2007. It says Mohamed is a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture.