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.