Obama Admin Repeats Bush War Rhetoric To Justify Drone Assassinations

(AFP) – The US government for the first time has offered a legal justification of its drone strikes against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, citing the right to “self-defense” under international law. The CIA attacks by unmanned aircraft in Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere have sharply increased under President Barack Obama’s administration but have remained shrouded in secrecy, with some human rights groups charging the bombing raids amount to illegal assassinations. Broaching a subject that has been off-limits for official comment, State Department legal advisor Harold Koh laid out the legal argument for the strikes in a speech late Thursday, referring to “targeting” of Al-Qaeda and Taliban figures without mentioning Pakistan or where the raids are carried out.

The United States was in “an armed conflict” with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its affiliates as a result of the September 11 attacks, Koh said, “and may use force consistent with its inherent right to self-defense under international law. With respect to the subject of targeting, which has been much commented upon in the media and international legal circles, there are obviously limits to what I can say publicly,” he told a conference of the American Society of International Law. What I can say is that it is the considered view of this administration — and it has certainly been my experience during my time as legal adviser — that US targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.”

The CIA would not comment on the speech, posted on the State Department website, but told AFP: “The Agency?s counterterrorism operations are conducted in strict accord with the law.” Rights activists and some legal experts charge the drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries, outside of a traditional battlefield, amount to extrajudicial executions that violate both international and US law.

Koh, a fierce critic of former president George W. Bush’s policies before he took his post, disagreed — saying a US ban on government sanctioned assassinations did not apply. Under US law, “the use of lawful weapons systems — consistent with the applicable laws of war — for precision targeting of specific high-level belligerent leaders when acting in self-defense or during an armed conflict is not unlawful, and hence does not constitute ‘assassination,'” he said. He also argued that the US government was not obliged to offer legal rights to the militant figures targeted in the strikes as the United States was at war and acting in self-defense.

Also, American Society of International Law Press release. Yes the only empire on Earth, that spends more than all other nations together on its military, with approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories (the unofficial figure is far greater)…is acting in self defence. Koh in 2002-

Still, some national security lawyers said the practice of drawing up lists of people who are subject to lethal force might blur the lines drawn by government’s ban on assassinations. That prohibition was first ordered by President Gerald Ford, and in the view of some lawyers, it applies not only to foreign leaders but to civilians. (American officials have said in the past that Saddam Hussein would be a legitimate target in a war, as he is a military commander as well as Iraq’s president.)

“The inevitable complication of a politically declared but legally undeclared war is the blurring of the distinction between enemy combatants and other nonstate actors,” said Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale University and a former State Department official in President Bill Clinton’s administration. “The question is, what factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?”

He’s a great lawyer, says whatever the guy paying him wants.

Globalised Torture Inc.

The intelligence factory:
How America makes its enemies disappear By Petra Bartosiewicz:-

The continued political appetite for a global war on terror has led to a commodification of “actionable intelligence,” which is a product, chiefly, of human prisoners like Aafia Siddiqui. Because this war, by definition, has no physical or temporal boundaries, the demand for such intelligence has no limit. But the world contains a relatively small number of terrorists and an even smaller number of terrorist plots. Our demand for intelligence far outstrips the supply of prisoners. Where the United States itself has been unable to meet that demand, therefore, it has embraced a solution that is the essence of globalization. We outsource the work to countries, like Pakistan, whose political circumstances allow them to produce prisoners with far greater efficiency.

What the CIA and the FBI understand as an acquisition solution, however, others see as a human-rights debacle. Just as thousands of political dissidents, suspected criminals, and enemies of the state were “disappeared” from Latin America over the course of several decades of CIA-funded dirty wars, so too have hundreds of “persons of interest” around the world begun to disappear as a consequence of the global war on terror, which in many ways has become a globalized version of those earlier, regional failures of democracy.

One of the chief conveniences of outsourcing is that certain costs are externalized. Pollution, for instance, is expensive. Manufacturers that pollute in the United States are required to bear its cost by paying a fine. If they outsource to a country where the cost of the pollution is borne directly by the people, they make more money. Such a transfer is obviously desirable from the point of view of the manufacturer, but it often generates political unrest in the host country, for reasons that are equally obvious. This phenomenon applies as well when the external cost of manufacturing intelligence is paid in freedom. The governments that did the outsourced work of U.S. intelligence agencies in previous dirty wars—in Argentina and Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay—eventually were toppled by popular protest, in large part because the people became aware that their leaders had profited from their suffering. Pakistanis today appear no less aware that this type of transaction is occurring in their country. Indeed, a recent poll found that the only nation they find more threatening than India, whose nuclear missiles point directly at them, is the United States. And they have begun to hold their leaders accountable for the association.

More on Siddiqui, follow her farcical fake trial here (ht2 Earwicga) and keep asking, where are her two children? Where was she for five years? And…for every one prisoner we know about, what of the disappeared we never hear of?

Curiouser and Curiouser, Dr Aafia Siddiqui

Declan Walsh in the Guardian has done some more reporting on Dr Aafia Siddiqui, I would not say he has come to any definitive answers and reports official sources too uncritically (quite why you would take the word of US medical personnel when we know doctors & psychologists have been an integral part of an organised torture program I don’t know, or the story of ex husbands and an uncle under the watchful eye of the ISI), many questions remain, not least where are her two children Mariam & Suleman? But still, it gives further colour to the shadow world of the war-on-terror which has been a wholesale cover for increasing state power, demolishing judicial process and basic human rights. However if this is the way the corporate media are going to report on The Inquisition’s in New York then indeed this is the next chapter in destroying human liberty and protection from torture under the guise of lazy media reporting adminstration spin that it is restoring it.

Prisoner 650- The Grey Lady of Bagram
Grey Lady Revealed?
Thugs & Child Kidnappers Charge Gray Lady of Bagram

Danny Boy

Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary will tell MPs that the independent investigation will seek to establish whether the Army committed war crimes after the gunfight in 2004. Families of the Iraqis claim that some of men survived the exchange of fire only to be tortured and killed afterwards at Camp Abu Naji, a British base.

The Ministry of Defence denies the allegations, but earlier this year Mr Ainsworth accepted the need for a new inquiry after High Court judges said they did not have enough information to assess the Iraqis’ claims. In a 20-day hearing, lawyers for the Iraqis presented evidence that they said supported their contentions that captives were taken to base, where they were killed and their bodies mutilated.

Five of the six applicants say they were themselves mistreated by British forces after being caught up in the fire fight and detained. They say they were punched, threatened with violence, thrown violently against a wall, hit by guards if they fell asleep, denied water and subjected to other forms of mistreatment.


PS. Plus, no shit Sherlock…

Tony Blair, the former prime minister, misled MPs and the public throughout 2002 when he claimed that Britain’s objective was “disarmament, not regime change” and that there had been no planning for military action. In fact, British military planning for a full invasion and regime change began in February 2002.

The need to conceal this from Parliament and all but “very small numbers” of officials “constrained” the planning process. The result was a “rushed”operation “lacking in coherence and resources” which caused “significant risk” to troops and “critical failure” in the post-war period. (ht2 Bloggerheads on Twitter)

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , . Comments Off on Danny Boy

Tories, Thugs & Cheats

If you are in the practice of investigating and exposing naughty business, investigate reporting, it helps to have an organisation supporting you, not just from a financial or institutional point of view but once your work is published the people who are exposed will come after you, it’s good to have back up. Thus it takes a certain amount of courage and tenacity for individual bloggers to engage in exposing fantasists and frauds in the ‘anti-terror’ industry, when they come after you either directly or through proxies there is not the institutional protection a newspaper or TV station can provide, rather solidarity between bloggers becomes important. Tim Ireland @Bloggerheads exposed Glen Jenvey as having written terror threats under the name ‘Abu Islam‘ then reporting these same threats to create front page news gleefully propagated by Murdoch’s Sun that disgracefully played upon anti-Semitic memes. This has all now been exposed, The Sun even printed a tiny wee apology on an inside page (who knows, one day the press will get regulated –the PCC do not count– and have to give equal prominence to their mistakes and lies). But the Tory MP Patrick Mercer connected to Jenvey and the conservative bloggers (that includes that curious phenomenon ‘the -faux- libertarian’) whose elastic notion of blogging ethics is instructive, are rather relaxed now that anonymous people are publishing Tim Ireland’s home address on the web, there is no other reason to publish someone’s private details other than intimidation and incitement to violence, as Tim Ireland notes @Bloggerheads

Patrick Mercer not only knows that his office (at the very least) fumbled the ball on the Sugar matter, he also knows that I have as a direct result of my attempts to bring this to light been the subject of three attacks by two of his former associates…. and he still hasn’t stepped in to take charge.

Worse than that; he’s hiding behind un-named sources!

He is doing this even though he knows that the attacks have now escalated to a stage where (oh, you’ll love this) my home address has been repeatedly published online by an unknown number of anonymous attackers, and deliberately broadcast to supporters of Alisher Usmanov, Paul Staines [Guido Fawkes], Iain Dale and now Nadine Dorries.

This is the culmination of him beingsmeared, to have his mental health impugned, to be accused of being a paedophile, lied about, vilified, stalked. To those of us old enough to remember the previous Tory regime this bullying and dishonesty are not a surprise, but this is an exciting 21st century world, the new arena afforded by the web is uncharted territory and it is up to us to make it a place where such retarded behaviour is not the norm nor does it become acceptable. And there is the very practical matter of Tim Ireland and his family needing to be safe in their own home! I believe the police are involved and it is now up to bloggers (and responsible media) to tell this tale and to contact their MP’s and make them aware of the case and to ask what they think of Patrick Mercer’s dishonourable conduct.

There is a lot more detail on this saga on Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, Bloggerheads and this Spinwatch article.

Torturers & Their Excuses

Wonder why it’s the Torygraph that Miliband and Jonhson print their denial of guilt. But don’t waste your time reading their carefully obfuscatory bullshit, this is all you need to know-

MI5 and MI6 officers who question terrorism suspects they know are being tortured, are acting in line with a secret government interrogation policy, drawn up after the 9/11 attacks. The policy states: “we cannot be party to such ill treatment nor can we be seen to condone it” and that “it is important that you do not engage in any activity yourself that involves inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners.” It also advises intelligence officers that if detainees “are not within our custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene” to prevent torture.

Or Craig Murray-

David Miliband gave evidence on UK complicity in torture two days ago to another parliamentary committee, and not one MP mentioned the eye witness testimony I had just given, which contradicted much of what David Miliband had said.

You can only believe New Labour’s lies if you exist in a bubble that excludes all the available evidence, the Joint Human Rights Committee consistently pulled their punches-

Chairman Labour MP Mike Gapes– “we strongly recommend that the government should continue to exert as much persuasion and pressure as possible to try to ensure world-wide that torture is not employed as a method of interrogation.”

Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, said an inquiry should be held immediately. “Neither the investigation by the police into the Binyam Mohamed case nor the other civil actions brought should stand in the way of getting to the bottom of this,” he said. “It is the only way to give the public confidence that we have got to the bottom of all of this, to draw a line under it and to move on.”

I am sure every violent criminal would like to receive a sentence of -you are so ordered to draw a line under this and move on, you are free to go. What Milband & Johnson refuse to put in plain language is this- if you are in some torture dungeon and British officials visits you, you have no hope of this meaning your torture will stop, it will only pause until they have asked their questions then the mutilation of your genitals will recommence, once they are out of the room. They are colluding in this with the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton helped advance the plot in May. And now Reprieve has found our agents misled the Intelligence and Security Committee (I wouldn’t be so polite, I would say the committee is criminally credulous, it takes two to tango)-

Last week, British judges revealed that the British Secret Services fed questions to the CIA in the full knowledge that the Agency was systematically using torture in interrogations; a clear violation of international law.

It has now emerged that Secret Agents attempted to cover these crimes by neglecting to inform the Intelligence and Security Committee – to whom they are accountable – of any of the damning evidence subsequently extracted by the Court.

By comparing the judges’ revelations with the ISC Renditions Report 2007, Reprieve has drawn the Committee’s attention to the following misinformation:

1) The Secret Services falsely informed the ISC that they were ‘unaware’ that Binyam Mohamed was suffering torture in a secret prison from 2003. In fact, they knew Binyam was being held in CIA ‘covert detention’, and the judges make clear that the British knew as early as May 2002 that Binyam was being tortured.

2) The Secret Services falsely informed the ISC that all contact with Binyam Mohamed ended in 2002. In fact, the Secret Service continued to feed questions and/or receive information from the CIA on BM until at least March 2004. No questions were asked about BM’s welfare despite clear knowledge that he was in a secret prison and almost certainly being tortured.

3) The Joint Committee on Human Rights and international lawyers have clearly identified this as unlawful state complicity in torture, a serious crime of which the ISC was not informed.

It is now clear that the Intelligence and Security Committee, charged with policing Secret Service activities, was very seriously misled by its own Service on this and other matters. The conclusions in its report on Rendition are therefore erroneous and must be re-evaluated from scratch.

Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith said: “British agents seem to have committed perjury when telling the court that all efforts to question Binyam ended in February 2003 – and they also misled the Intelligence and Security Committee, to whom they are supposedly accountable. In fact, the shameful co-operation with Binyam’s torturers was still going on 15 months later –when Binyam had left the Moroccan torture chamber and arrived in the Dark Prison in Afghanistan.

“And why did the British agents not tell the ISC that their man was visiting Morocco at the time Binyam was being tortured there? We can surmise that the agent wasn’t on a Club Med vacation, so he needs to explain what he was doing.”

Patriotism, War Criminal’s Fan Club

Immigrants who take part in protests against British troops could be denied citizenship of this country under controversial new Home Office rules. The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, will launch a consultation tomorrow on a new points-based system for would-be migrants according to their behaviour, as well as skills and qualifications. Mr Johnson, writing in the News of the World, said: “Bad behaviour will be penalised, and only those with enough points will earn the right to a British passport.”

While he did not explicitly point to those who take part in anti-war demonstrations, the newspaper reported that this would be included in examples of “bad behaviour”. But there was confusion over the policy last night, as the Home Office appeared to backtrack on whether protesters would be penalised. An aide to Mr Johnson said the Home Office was consulting on what constituted bad behaviour, but refused to comment on the issue of protesters.

Gitmo In Brooklyn

From Pulse

…immediately after 9/11, hundreds of men were rounded up by the FBI and other police forces in the US and imprisoned in high security American jails: 760 in total, 184 of whom were considered especially interesting by the authorities. Just over half of them were interred at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, a former warehouse on the waterfront overlooking the harbour and the Statue of Liberty. The story was covered by the New York Times, but it was treated, mostly, as local news and carried in the ‘New York Region’ section of the paper.

 Almost all of the prisoners were held for infractions of their immigration papers; without the status of citizens, they were held indefinitely and had little recourse to lawyers. None of them was waterboarded or electrocuted but many were physically abused by some of the prison guards. A favourite tactic was to blindfold a prisoner and then order him to walk forward without telling him he was going to walk into a wall. Noses bled; some presumably were broken. A T-shirt had been hung on the wall, and on it, along with the spilt blood of the prisoners, was an American flag and the words: ‘These colours don’t run.’

 The wardens woke the prisoners up in the night – the lights were anyway left on to make it hard to sleep. The prisoners were regularly stripped searched, and shackled at all times. Cameras monitored their every movement. Some video footage showing abuse was destroyed, but not all of it. When a group of prisoners went on hunger strike, wardens were caught on film talking about how they would ‘break’ these inmates: ‘Let’s get a team,’ the warden said. ‘Let’s go with a tube. The first guy that gets that tube shoved down his throat, they’ll be cured! We’re going hard.’ On hearing this plan of action, another warden said: ‘Outstanding!’ Then the first warden carried on where he had left off: ‘We’re going hard.’

 Some had pens stuck up their rectums. All, it seems, were howled at: ‘mother fuckers’, ‘fucking Muslims’ and ‘bin Laden Junior’ were some of the names they were called. Also heard at the prison were these remarks:

  •  ‘Whatever you did at the World Trade Center, we will do to you.’
  • ‘You’re never going to be able to see your family again.’
  • ‘If you don’t obey the rules, I’m going to make your life hell.’
  • ‘You’re never going to leave here.’
  • ‘You’re going to die here just like the people in the World Trade Center died.’
  • ‘Someone thinks you have something to do with the terrorist attacks, so don’t expect to be treated well.’
  • ‘Don’t ask any questions, otherwise you will be dead.’
  • ‘Put your nose against the wall or we will break your neck.’
  • ‘If you question us, we will break your neck.’
  • ‘I’m going to break your face if you breathe or move at all.’
  • ‘Shut the fuck up! Don’t pray. Fucking Muslim. You’re praying bullshit.’
  • ‘Welcome to America.’

The abuse of prisoners in Brooklyn was the subject of a Justice Department inquiry in 2003, though there was never the same furor about what happened at that prison as there was over Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib or Bagram Air Force Base. ‘We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks,’ Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department said of the report.

 One inmate, an Egyptian, was eventually awarded $300,000 in damages, though no warden was prosecuted. Nor, for that matter, was any of these prisoners ever among those charged with terrorism, though they were all said at the time of their arrest to be highly dangerous. In the end, many were simply deported and events in Brooklyn were forgotten, though last week one of the former inmates saw his case reach the Supreme Court – he had argued that the former attorney general John Ashcroft was responsible for the abuse – only for it be thrown out.

Posted in Authoritarianism. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Gitmo In Brooklyn

The Silence Surrounding Sri Lanka by Arundhati Roy

The horror that is unfolding in Sri Lanka becomes possible because of the silence that surrounds it. There is almost no reporting in the international press – or in the mainstream media in India, where I live – about what is happening. From the little information that is filtering through, it looks as though the Sri Lankan government is using the propaganda of “the war on terror” as a fig leaf to dismantle any semblance of democracy in the country and commit unspeakable crimes against the Tamil people.

The government is working on the principle that every Tamil is a terrorist unless he or she can prove otherwise, and civilian areas, hospitals, and shelters are being bombed and turned into a war zone. Reliable estimates put the number of civilians trapped at over 200,000. The Sri Lankan army is advancing, armed with tanks and aircraft.

Meanwhile, there are reports that several “welfare villages” have been established to house displaced Tamils in the Vavuniya and Mannar districts. The Daily Telegraph in London reports that these villages “will be compulsory holding centers for all civilians fleeing the fighting.” Is this a euphemism for concentration camps?

Mangala Samaraweera, a former foreign minister of Sri Lanka, told The Daily Telegraph: “A few months ago the government started registering all Tamils in Colombo on the grounds that they could be a security threat, but this could be exploited for other purposes like the Nazis in the 1930s. They’re basically going to label the whole civilian Tamil population as potential terrorists.”

Given the government’s stated objective of “wiping out” the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan, this malevolent collapse of civilians and “terrorists” does seem to signal that the government is on the verge of committing what could end up being genocide. According to a United Nations estimate, several thousand people have already been killed. Thousands more are critically wounded.

What we are witnessing – or, rather, what is happening in Sri Lanka and is being so effectively hidden from public scrutiny – is a brazen, openly racist war. The impunity with which the Sri Lankan government is able to commit these crimes unveils the deeply ingrained racist prejudice that is precisely what led to the marginalization and alienation of the Tamils of Sri Lanka in the first place. That racism has a long history, involving social ostracization, economic blockades, pogroms, and torture. The brutal nature of the decades-long civil war, which started as a peaceful, nonviolent protest, has its roots here.

Why the silence? In another interview, Mangala Samaraweera said, “A free media is virtually nonexistent in Sri Lanka today.” He described death squads and “white van abductions,” which have made society “freeze with fear.” Voices of dissent have been abducted and assassinated. The International Federation of Journalists accuses the government of Sri Lanka of using a combination of anti-terrorism laws, disappearances, and assassinations to silence journalists.

There are unconfirmed reports that the Indian government is lending material and logistical support to the Sri Lankan government. If this is true, it is outrageous. What about the governments of other countries? Pakistan? China? What are they doing to help or harm the situation?

In Tamil Nadu, India, the war in Sri Lanka has fueled passions that have led to more than 10 people immolating themselves. The public anger and anguish – much of it genuine, but some of it obviously cynical political manipulation – has become an election issue.

It is extraordinary that this concern has not traveled to the rest of India. Why is there silence?

Given the scale of what is happening in Sri Lanka, the silence is inexcusable. More so because of the Indian government’s long history of irresponsible dabbling in the conflict, first taking one side and then the other. Several of us who should have spoken out much earlier, have not done so, simply because of a lack of information about the war.

So while the killing continues, while tens of thousands of people are being barricaded into concentration camps, while more than 200,000 face starvation, and a genocide waits to happen, there is dead silence from this great country. It’s a colossal humanitarian tragedy. The world must step in. Now. Before it’s too late.

Posted in Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Inequality, War on Terror Scam. Tags: , . Comments Off on The Silence Surrounding Sri Lanka by Arundhati Roy

Well, Duh!

Anti-terror measures worldwide have seriously undermined international human rights law, a report by legal experts says. After a three-year global study, the International Commission of Jurists said many states used the public’s fear of terrorism to introduce measures.

These included detention without trial, illegal disappearance and torture. It also said that the UK and the US have “actively undermined” international law by their actions. It concluded that many measures introduced to fight terrorism were illegal and counter-productive. It called for justice systems to be strengthened and warned that temporary measures should not become permanent.

Torture, Majaz Mine & UK Ambassador Richard Ralph

Not all diplomats are created equal, while Craig Murray displayed admirable courage and principle others…not so much.

Meet Richard Ralph, former UK Ambassador to Peru-

Times Newspapers/Rex Features

Richard Ralph being fitted for a ceremonial hat in 1996 for his role as governor of the Falkland Islands. Photograph: Times Newspapers/Rex Features

He began his Whitehall service in 1969, after gaining an MSc in social science from Edinburgh University, with a position at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During the 1970s and 1980s, his work took him to British embassies in Laos, Portugal, Zimbabwe and Washington. He was appointed Ambassador to Latvia in 1993, before becoming Governor of the Falkland Islands in 1996, soon after Britain and Argentina signed an agreement on oil exploration around the islands. He served there till 1999.

As Ambassador to Romania from 2000 to 2003, Mr Ralph was involved in the country’s entry into Nato.

Now Dickie, sadly, is not a stranger to scandal, here’s what he also did while in Romania-

Mr Ralph was drawn into the controversy surrounding the purchase by Lakshmi Mittal, the steel tycoon, of Sidex, a Romanian steel plant. Mr Ralph submitted a letter in support of Mr Mittal’s bid to the Romanian Government, signed by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister. Weeks before, Mr Mittal had donated £125,000 to the Labour Party. Mr Ralph, who had held meetings with Mr Mittal before he made his bid, was present in July 2001 when Mr Mittal and the Romanian Prime Minister signed the contract.

Jack Straw, then Home Secretary, insisted that Mr Ralph had simply been doing as he was told. MPs later criticised the Foreign Office for putting Mr Ralph in the invidious position of promoting the interests of a company that had funded the Labour Party.

Mines and Communities:- No competitive tenders were offered, and Lakshmi Mittal got the plant for a knockdown £300 million. This came shortly after the company’s eponymous founder handed a cool quarter of a million pounds to the Labour Party. Although Britain’s prime minister claimed he knew nothing about this particular sleazy deal, four years later Tony Bliar himself intervened to support Oxus Gold, when the new, popularly-elected president of Kyrgyzstan cancelled the AIM-listed company’s contract. In his rebuke, Bliar berated president Kurmanbek Bakiyev for not “living up to obligations under his [Bliar’s] global anti-corruption initiative.

Just five weeks later, the UK prime minister himself was under siege for allowing honours to be sold in exchange for massive secretive loans made to his political party.

Thing is though, he did do as he was told and went on to be appointed Ambassador to Peru, so I’m not sure how much of a victim he was, certainly his career continued. So onto Peru where in 2004 oddly for a UK Ambassador who is generally meant to represent British interests and promote British business he lobbied against Ferrovias Central Andino (Central Railway) to operate in Machu Picchu in favour of Orient Express/PERURAIL maintaining a monopoly (which is extensively exploited making it one of the priciest routes in all of Latin America). That is odd because Central Railway’s single biggest shareholder at the time was the British Government, the Commonwealth Development Corp, with 30% of the Ferrovias Central Andino (although as ‘Lady’ Amos shows CDC money -from our taxes- is rarely respectedLady Amos, who was international development secretary and leader of the Lords in Tony Blair’s government, has taken up a directorship with an African private equity firm, three months after it received over £15m from a Whitehall agency wholly owned by her former department.).

Orient Express while they maintained a London office are registered in …Bermuda, hey there Mr Taxman, nobody home! (incidentally at that time, 2004, Orient Express were on the  Burma Campaign’s Dirty List for owning businesses in Burma and trading with the regime. They are no longer on it). Maybe he just liked the shorts.

But that is small change, while it might cause trouble within the FCO (an ambassador working against UK government and business interests, they might ask what did they pay him for) things get much nastier…


Melanio Garcia RIP

Melanio García RIP

Enter Monterrico Metals, which in 2005 was a UK owned business with a mining development at Majaz, let Otto continue the story with his translation of the report by the National Coordinator of Human Rights in Peru-

Since 2003 the mining company Majaz, today named Rio Blanco, operated in an irregular manner in the territory of the rural communities Segunda y Cajas and Yanta, in the northern frontier of Peru. The presence of the mining company is irregular as it did not have the consent of the two thirds majority of communal assembly as required by the law 26505, as noted by the People’s Defence ombudsman (report 001-2006/ASPMA-MA). For two years the communities affected tried to use channels of dialogue with the State to demand the respect of their territorial rights, without any success.

At the end of July 2005 the communities began a peaceful march towards the mining camp where, according to an offer from the Ministry of Energy and Mines, they were to meet with a high level multisectoral commission. The communities have noted on many occasions that it was a very difficult march, because it implied walking for several days through dense vegetation in extreme climatic conditions.

On arriving at the mining camp on August 1st 2005, the group was not received by the anticipated commission for dialogue, but instead a large police contingent that brutally repressed them, throwing tear gas canisters from helicopters and firing live rounds at the people, even when they were fleeing.

Under these circumstances 29 people, including two women and the journalist Julio Vázquez Calle, were apprehended and taken inside the mining camp. They were held there for three days and were submitted to various forms of psychological and physical torture. As well as being savagely beaten, in those three days they were kept blindfolded by bags sprinkled with tear-inducing powder and with their eyes bandaged. They were also deprived of warm clothing despite the low temperatures.

According to the testimonies of the group, from time to time a toxic powder was put on their faces under the bags and bandages that made them vomit and did not let them breathe properly. The women were subjected to diverse sexual assaults. Also, they were all inflicted with diverse verbal humiliations and threats.

In October 2007 the US institute ‘Physicians For Human Rights’ (recipients of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize) performed examinations on eight of the tortured people and confirmed the abuses they had suffered during their illegal detention.

The responsibility for these occurances lies with various members of the Peruvian National Police Force that directly participated in the illegal actions and also the security personnel of the company Minera Majaz that directly intervened in the occurances. The tortures happened in the interior of the mining camp.

There is also this translation by Memory in Latin America blog of further testimony from an article by Carlos Castro from La Republica [emphasis mine]-

On the 28th July 2005, while the then-President Alejandro Toledo led the country and made new promises to the poor, police officers in the service of mining company Majaz repressed, captured and tortured inhabitants from Yanta and Segunda and Cajas, in Ayabaca and Huancabamba (Piura), causing the death of one of them. Photographs submitted to the population some days ago and published by this newspaper reveal the magnitude of the barbarous treatment which until now, more than 3 years later, continues to enjoy impunity.

The images show the villagers in the mining company’s camp, cornered, with bloody faces, enmarrocados*, barefoot, with bruises on their bodies, their heads covered with bags which, according to their testimony, contained irritant powder which impeded their breathing. If these photos remind us of the prisoners of Guantanamo, the testimonies of the villagers, victims of abduction and torture, lead us to ask ourselves: how could this happen in a democracy? We have gathered some of the testimonies given in press conferences this week in Piura, and others which appear in the complaint [denuncia] presented by the National Coordinator of Human Rights and the Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace to the fifth provincial prosecutor’s office in Piura. The testimonies and graphic documents demonstrate the power of a group of police and the privilege which some mining companies enjoy.

Mario Tabra Guerrero, President of the Ayabaca Defence Front and one of the 28 detained, says: “We were taken to a bathroom where they tortured us for three days, accusing us of being terrorists: ‘sons of bitches, you’re going to die, why don’t you let the company work, ignorant shitty indians’.

When the prisoners called to God, they said ‘Dinoes [Peruvian special operations police] is God’. When they changed shift the relevant people approached me and asked ‘which is the teacher?’. They approached me, took off my jacket, they sprayed me with irritant powder, dressed me again and beat me. The same thing happened to the detainees.”

The detainee Cleofé Neyra was asked about Ramiro Ibáñez, Benito Guarnizo and Josefa Adrianzén (leaders of local defense patrols): “Why didn’t those terrorists come to the march? We are going to kill you. Why didn’t you stay and shag your husband? You’re whores (the police said this while putting their hands between her legs) Why did you come here? This (the land) is private property.”

Elizabeth Cunya complained of the cold and they told her: “You’re not going to need clothes in the next life where you’re going”. A policeman took off Cleofé Neyra’s costal* and said to her: “You, old woman, you’re not going to pay. She (Elizabeth) will pay. Tell me if you’re a terrorist. If you tell me, nothing will happen to you. If you don’t say, we’re going to rape her.”

While Yony Carrión Febres was restrained [?enmarrocado] face down, they hit him with a macana [wooden weapon or truncheon]; they smashed Sinesio Jiménez’s head against the floor; a police officer walked on the back of Samuel Mezones; they stuffed rotten meat into the mouth of Ricardo Ruiz and forced him to eat it.

Melanio García was killed by a shot after being tortured. “It was as if we were in a concentration camp,” said one of the detainees. What do the villagers want: respect for their model of development based on agriculture, livestock and ecotourism. On the other side, the mining company breaks the law and operates without the consent of 2/3 of the community assemblies. And with all this, there are some politicians who protest when the villages make their claim.

There is lots more and photos @ Otto’s site, Inca Kola News.

For a long time Monterrico Metals and the authorities denied everything, but now with medical proof and photographic evidence… their denials actually provide further grounds for charges to be brought. The story is about to hit the mainstream media, Reuters have reported and PM Yehude Simon has made a public statement as it hit front pages in Peru, three people have already been arrested. So what, you ask, is Richard Ralph’s role in this, that’s a good question. And I have only some answers at this point and yet more questions. You see in 2006 Richard Ralph stepped down as our ambassador to Peru and took up the Chairmanship of … Monterrico Metals he then went on to oversee the sale to a Chinese corporation a sale which he fraudulency used to make insider trading deals to profit himself, we know this because he was caught

Richard Ralph, the former executive chairman of Aim-listed mining company, Monterrico Metals, was fined £117,691.41 by the Financial Services Authority, and his friend, the Belgian businessman Filip Boyen, received a £81,982.95 penalty for dealing in Monterrico’s shares on the basis of inside information.

It should be noted he cooperated and paid the fine because he was bang to rights & it got him a reduction of 30% (£45,000), and Filip Boyen, guess who he is-

MANAGEMENT RESTRUCTURING AT ORIENT-EXPRESS HOTELS– Filip Boyen Vice President, Operations, formerly Vice President, Africa, Latin America and Australasia

Part of the consortium for which Ralph lobbied on the train deal.

So here’s the rub, a UK ambassador in Peru at a time when a UK mining company in conjunction with the police is behind the kidnap and torture of peaceful protesters with a legitimate grievances against an illegal mining project. Who then goes on to head this mining company. Is it reasonably possible he was ignorant of their crimes? Of the racist component? Of their laughable attempt to call protesters terrorists even as they tortured them? At the time he was an ambassador did he uphold any commitment to human rights and look to investigate this British company and Peruvian police abuses? Surely a UK ambassador to Peru who then goes on to become chair of a UK company abusing people in Peru should do due diligence to see what the company did in Peru? Are we to believe he knew nothing of what went on in Majaz? As his history shows his personal ethics are… a tad shaky shall we say, the question is- Were human right abuses swept under the rug on behalf of a UK mining company and the host government by an ambassador who then went on to chair that company? Maybe he provides his own answer-

Mines and Communities- On March 22nd 2006 we commented:
“Several months ago, the British ambassador to Peru…went on record as supporting Monterrico Metals’ Rio Blanco project. Ambassador Richard Ralph even had the gall to state that UK mining norms are ‘among the most rigorous in the entire world’ – a statement as daft as it is disingenuous. Try telling that to the day labourers at Vedanta’s bauxite mines in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Or to farmers downstream of wastes, spewed from Xstrata’s Alumbrera operations in Argentina.”

In his statements appearing in the Peruvian daily paper La Hora, translated from this page, (ht2 to the proprietary Ottotrans system) Richard Ralph is reported on 11th Nov ’05 as saying-

“Our norms are amongst the most rigourous in the world and in our society there is a lot of pressure from shareholders and the British public to make companies respect the environment; this is the power of public opinion in our country, and because of this I have every confidence that Majaz will strictly comply with the rules.”

“I understand perfectly the lack of trust and that is why my government, my embassy, other embassies, the large multinational British companies etc are trying to converse more openly, constructively with the government and with the populations where the mines are found. It is a process in which one must try to reconstruct trust, but it is not easy.”

So just 3 months after the kidnappings and torture. He either does zero research before he opens his mouth, or… such a statement and his subsequent chairmanship of Monterrico Metals indicates he was part of the cover up, and this is important- while a serving ambassador for the United Kingdom.

Check Inca Kola News for more as this unfolds.

Magic Laptops Of Death Aren’t What They Used To Be

Or- Dead men tell no tales, but laptops can sing any tune the authorities want.

So…the Magic Laptop of Death procured via a cross border raid into Ecuador by Colombian ‘special’ forces, CIA ahem, (just to distinguish it for the Magic Laptop of Death the Bush regime procured which according to them show Iran has a super top secret nuclear weapons program that the 16 US intelligence agencies found no evidence of, ahem) hey wait a minute…seeing any common threads here. Anyways, the Magic Laptop of Death that was meant to be full of emails tying deceased (as in they whacked him & 25 others in the raid/ambush, most in their pj’s) FARC leader Raúl Reyes to the Empire’s public enemy Number 1, a Mr Huge Chávez along with various other nemeses of Washington & Uribe. Well, the thing is…um how shall I put this…Captain Ronald Hayden Coy Cortiz an anti-terrorism investigator of the Colombian police said under oath before the prosecution lawyers-

“We haven’t seen any e-mails, I haven’t found them so far. They found a large number of e-mail addresses, but Reyes kept these in a Word document and other Microsoft documents,” the investigator said in his testimony.

Coy Cortiz made the statements in the investigation of an Ecuadorean politician with alleged ties to the guerrillas. Several journalists and politicians are accused of having ties to the guerrillas.

Reyes was killed on March 1st, so there’s been plenty of time to find any emails on a laptop, even the shittiest IT support could manage that. So…that leaves the supporters of the Magic Laptop of Death super incrimination device a bit…fucked?

BoRev- (click for links) Yeah, so…this raises some questions, like–Christ where to begin?–what exactly were the “huge caches of Emails” the Colombians leaked to the Economist last March, that formed the basis for their big hyperventilating profile thingy here? And what was the “leaked Email” that Guardian reporter Rory Carroll intercepted in May, showing that the FARC might be about to secure money from the Venezuelans? And then what were the “dozens of e-mails in the rebel computers” that were shown to narcissist-retardist Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer last July? And what were the emails that Human Rights Watch said “raised serious questions about Venezuela’s relationship with the Colombian guerrillas”?

I guess the thing is when you get away with WMD lies about the most serious thing on Earth- a war, faking up shit on the odd laptop comes pretty easy as does slavish reporting on it by sympathetic hacks. Otto @ Inca Kola News who led the way on this also noted the suspiciously shiny newness of the 3 procured laptops-

It does remind me of the pristine condition of those laptops, as shown by Colombia to the world in May. That’s the official police photo above….I mean, just look at it. There’s not a scratch on those machines. Don’t you find that slightly weird for three pieces of computer equipment carried round the jungle by a bunch of terrorists? Don’t you find it weird after Reyes and his cohorts had the crap bombed out of them by several bombing runs and then commandos piling in to give them lesde grace a few minutes later? And then there was this story uncovered by Daniel Denvir.…the one about how the photos that Colombia leaked as from the FARC machines were proven to be Colombia intelligence snaps.

So will our news organs apologise (Carroll *cough*), mea culpas all round or as Otto says-

I find it amazing that yesterday’s revelation (no other word will do) there were no e-mails on the Raul Reyes FARC laptop computer hasn’t made any headlines this morning. I’ve just checked on Google and nobody’s running this story outside of fringe media in the Spanish language.

Surely you remember how world publications up to and including The Economist told us about the “huge caches of e-mails” that implicated the world and his wife (most notably Chávez, but natch natch and thrice natch, yeah?). In fact that Economist note is shown to be a very large crock, as it makes constant references to e-mails that (and get this very clear) do not exist.

This is, of course, precisely why the media won’t be dwelling much on this story. The news that the “thousands of e-mails” they used to whack those nasty lefty people over the head with do not exist is rather embarrassing. So in true style, the story will be ignored and spiked in newsrooms around the world. Not a single apology, not a single correction.

More background from The Real News Network back in May, who were somewhat more diligent in their reporting-

DeMenezes Inquest- Judge Opens The Whitewash, Family Walk Out

The jury at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes will not be permitted to consider returning a verdict of unlawful killing, the coroner conducting the hearing said today.

The coroner, former high court judge Sir Michael Wright, began summing up seven weeks of evidence by telling jurors they would be allowed to return only a verdict of lawful killing or an open verdict.

With all the evidence considered, a verdict of unlawful killing could not be supported, he said.

After consideration and submissions, he told the 11-strong jury, “I so direct you that the evidence in this case, taken at its highest, would not justify my leaving verdicts of unlawful killing to you.”

Wright explained: “I’m not saying that nothing went wrong in a police operation which resulted in the killing of an innocent man.

“All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to you if you could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime: murder or manslaughter,” Reuters reported him as saying.

The firearms officer testified that after the warning had been shouted, De Menezes’s actions had made him fear the electrician was carrying a bomb. Several passengers on the same carriage contradicted this account, saying they had heard no warnings, and that De Menezes gave no significant reaction to the police’s arrival.

However, Wright added, even if the jury found the officers had lied, they would not be able to blame them for the death. “Many people tell lies for a variety of reasons … [including] to mitigate the impact of what might be a … tragic mistake,” he said.

One law for us and another for them, how clear do you want it? Via HarpyMarx– The family are appealing to the High Court against the unlawful killing verdict being disallowed by the coroner. He has taken away the jury’s freedom to judge and return a verdict of their choice.

And the Justice4Jean campaign say: Lawyers for the Menezes family are going to the High Court today to apply for a judicial review of the Coroner’s decision on the verdict options being left for the jury. Earlier today, members of the Menezes family and their supporters walked out of court at the beginning of the Coroner’s summing up to express their dissatisfaction with the turn of events at the inquest.

As Harpy says show support and solidarity to the Justice4jean campaign.


They Always Get Honest Once They Retire


A former head of MI5 today describes the response to the September 11 2001 attacks on the US as a “huge overreaction” and says the invasion of Iraq influenced young men in Britain who turned to terrorism.

Tariq Ali On The Marriott Bombing

His piece is in the Guardian, the bits that stood out for me-

In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Bush administration’s disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that President Karzai’s regime is becoming more isolated each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer to Kabul.

When in doubt, escalate the war, is an old imperial motto. The strikes against Pakistan represent – like the decisions of President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, to bomb and then invade Cambodia – a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong.

While there is much grieving for the Marriott hotel casualties, some ask why the lives of those killed by Predator drones or missile attacks are considered to be of less value. In recent weeks almost 100 innocent people have died in this fashion. No outrage and global media coverage for them.

Why was the Marriot targeted? Two explanations have surfaced in the media. The first is that there was a planned dinner for the president and his cabinet there that night, which was cancelled at the last moment.

The second, reported in the respected Pakistani English-language newspaper, Dawn, is that “a top secret operation of the US Marines [was] going on inside the Marriott when it was attacked”. According to the paper: “Well-equipped security officers from the US embassy were seen on the spot soon after the explosions. However, they left the scene shortly afterwards.”

The country’s largest newspaper, the News, also reported on Sunday that witnesses had seen US embassy steel boxes being carried into the Marriott at night on September 17. According to the paper, the steel boxes were permitted to circumvent security scanners stationed at the hotel entrance.

Mumtaz Alam, a member of parliament, witnessed this. He wanted to leave the hotel but, owing to the heavy security, he was not permitted to leave at the time and is threatening to raise the issue in parliament.

These may be the motivations for this particular attack, but behind it all is the shadow of an expanding war.

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