Dragged To Hell

Andy Worthington recounts Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih’s final years-

Like the other prisoners who died of “apparent suicides” at Guantánamo, Salih had been a long-term hunger striker, refusing food as the only method available to protest his long imprisonment without charge or trial. According to weight records issued by the Pentagon in 2007, he weighed 124 pounds on his arrival at Guantánamo, but at one point in December 2005, during the largest hunger strike in the prison’s history, his weight dropped to just 86 pounds.

Salih was one of around 50 prisoners at Guantánamo who had survived a massacre at Qala-i-Janghi, a fort in northern Afghanistan, at the end of November 2001, when, after the surrender of the city of Kunduz, several hundred foreign fighters surrendered to General Rashid Dostum, one of the leaders of the Northern Alliance, in the mistaken belief that they would be allowed to return home. Instead, they were imprisoned in Qala-i-Janghi, a nineteenth century mud fort in Mazar-e-Sharif, and when some of the men started an uprising against their captors, which led to the death of a CIA operative, US Special Forces, working with the Northern Alliance and British Special Forces, called in bombing raids to suppress the uprising, leading to hundreds of deaths. The survivors – who, for the most part, had not taken part in the fighting – took shelter in the basement of the fort, where they endured further bombing, and they emerged only after many more had died when the basement was set on fire and then flooded.

Like many of the prisoners at Guantánamo, Salih had traveled to Afghanistan many months before the 9/11 attacks, to fight as a foot soldier for the Taliban in Afghanistan’s long-running civil war against the Muslims of the Northern Alliance. When the US military reviewed his case at Guantánamo in 2004, he refused to attend the hearing, but provided a statement via his Personal Representative (a representative of the military assigned in place of a lawyer), in which he said that he arrived in Afghanistan eight or nine months before the 9/11 attacks, and admitted being a member of the Taliban, but made a point of adding, “Yes, but that doesn’t mean I supported Osama bin Laden.”

 He also admitted fighting on the front lines against the Northern Alliance, but added “that he fired at the enemy, but did not kill anyone,” and also admitted staying in four different Taliban-run guest houses in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although he also made a point of saying that he hadn’t heard of al-Qaeda “until from the media on the front lines.” He also explained that he did not participate in military operations against the United States or its coalition partners, saying, “The first time I saw Americans was in Kandahar” (at the US prison used for processing prisoners after their capture). He also denied an allegation that Osama bin Laden spoke to “his group” in Tora Bora (the site of a battle between US/Afghan forces and remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in late November and early December 2001), saying that he had never been in Tora Bora, which was, of course, true, as he was in Qala-i-Janghi instead, and was then moved to General Dostum’s prison at Sheberghan, where he was imprisoned when the Battle of Tora Bora took place.

Proportionate Response

Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney: Here’s what I would suggest to you. Number one, we take the National Council for Resistance to Iran off the terrorist list that the Clinton Administration put them on as well as the Mujahedin-e Khalq at the Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Then I would start a tit-for-tat strategy which I wrote up in the Wall Street Journal a year ago: For every EFP that goes off and kills Americans, two go off in Iran. No questions asked. People don’t have to know how it was done. It’s a covert action. They become the most unlucky country in the world…

As the piece goes on to say this is pretty well much already happening, but when it is openly advocated- the terrorism of the Empire’s War OF Terror- that the IDF’s idea of several eyes for an eye has more fans in the Homeland, along with the torture and wars of aggression…

Also the UK weakly (as in not enough to effect it and piss off it’s Whitehouse masters) gave up appealing the neocons favourite terrorist group be taken off the the list. A Confederacy of Wankers!

Leni Riefenstahl

From todays Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Philippe Sands. His book is called The Torture Team. It’s coming out in a few weeks. His piece in Vanity Fair is called “The Green Light.” Can you talk about 24, the TV show?

PHILIPPE SANDS: I can. I can also reveal an embarrassment, which is that when I was interviewing Diane Beaver, she—and I wasn’t recording it; I was taking handwritten notes—I wrote down very quickly “24 Becker.” And then when I got back to my hotel room and typed up the notes, it didn’t ring any bells for me, so I typed it out, I typed it into Google, and it came up with “24—do you mean ‘24 Bauer’?” So I typed yes, I went and followed it, and of course that opened the door to something that came completely unexpectedly, that the individuals down at Guantanamo were watching and were being influenced by the film program—the TV program 24.

I went back. I spoke with others, including Diane Beaver again and Mike Dunlavey, and went into great detail. And it turns out, as she described it to me, the TV program 24 had many friends down at Guantanamo. And the timing is fascinating. The abusive interrogations started in November 2002, just three weeks after the start of the second series of 24. And it seems that there was a direct connection between that program and the creating of an environment in which individuals felt it was permissible to push the envelope, as it was put to me.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did the lawyers say about 24?

PHILIPPE SANDS: Diane Beaver no longer feels able to watch 24. I mean, she told me she recognizes now that this is extremely problematic, but that 24 was being broadcast into Guantanamo by cable television. The first series ran throughout 2002, and they were active viewers. It was an extremely popular program.

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Techno Lynch Mob

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A defense lawyer lets slip at the war court convening here that a battlefield commander changed an Afghanistan firefight report in a way that seemed to help a U.S. government murder case. Reporters hear the field commander’s name but are forbidden to report it.

In another case, a judge approves the release of a captive’s interrogation video showing the blurred face of an American agent. But a federal prosecutor on loan to the Pentagon withholds it “out of an abundance of caution.”

Even as the U.S. government edges toward full-blown, war-crimes trials by military commission here, with more hearings next week, all sides are grappling with what information can be made public and what must be kept secret.

Consider: A new courtroom here sequesters Pentagon-approved spectators behind a soundproofed window. If a terror suspect tries to shout about his treatment in U.S. custody, a military censor can mute the audio feed that observers hear.

Under rules that protect interrogation techniques, the Pentagon’s war court won’t let the reputed 9/11 architect, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, say he was waterboarded — something the CIA director, Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, confirmed on Feb. 5.

Reporters and other observers must agree to a series of regulations that have no counterpart in the civilian court system. Journalists are forbidden, for example, to report anything uttered in court that a Pentagon security officer declares “protected information.”

Under the system, the Pentagon says the Office of Military Commissions — not the judge — has the last word on what the public can see. 

To call these things a ‘trial’ is akin to calling torture ‘enhanced interrogation’, oh… they already did that. The abyss is certainly staring back hard. Good German style Mushroom Soup.

Iranians Disapprove of Attacks On Civilians More Than Americans

Via The Fanonite, a survey of Muslim attitudes and reflections on prejudiced assumptions:

The results showed plainly that much of the conventional wisdom about Muslims — views touted by U.S. policymakers and pundits and accepted by voters — is simply false.

How much do Americans know about the views and beliefs of Muslims around the world? According to polls, not much. Perhaps not surprising, the majority of Americans (66%) admit to having at least some prejudice against Muslims; one in five say they have “a great deal” of prejudice. Almost half do not believe American Muslims are “loyal” to this country, and one in four do not want a Muslim as a neighbor.

Gallup found that 72% of Americans disagreed with this statement: “The majority of those living in Muslim countries thought men and women should have equal rights.” In fact, majorities in even some of the most conservative Muslim societies directly refute this assessment: 73% of Saudis, 89% of Iranians and 94% of Indonesians say that men and women should have equal legal rights. Majorities of Muslim men and women in dozens of countries around the world also believe that a woman should have the right to work outside the home at any job for which she is qualified (88% in Indonesia, 72% in Egypt and even 78% in Saudi Arabia), and to vote without interference from family members (87% in Indonesia, 91% in Egypt, 98% in Lebanon).

What about Muslim sympathy for terrorism? Many charge that Islam encourages violence more than other faiths, but studies show that Muslims around the world are at least as likely as Americans to condemn attacks on civilians. Polls show that 6% of the American public thinks attacks in which civilians are targets are “completely justified.” In Saudi Arabia, this figure is 4%. In Lebanon and Iran, it’s 2%.
Read the rest of this entry »

Torture From The Top

Edited excerpts from the Vanity Fair piece The Green Light by Phillippe Sands, go read the whole piece here, it’s quite a polite article to say the least. Here are some of the main perpetrators, people who should be tried for war crimes, over torture, also many are responsible for the supreme crime- the invasion of Iraq:

  • George W. Bush, Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld.
  • David Addington
  • Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver
  • Jay Bybee
  • Lieutenant General Bantz Craddock
  • Daniel Dell’Orto
  • Major General Michael E. Dunlavey
  • Douglas Feith
  • Alberto Gonzales
  • Jim Haynes
  • General Tom Hill
  • Major General Geoffrey Miller
  • General Richard Myers
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jerald Phifer
  • Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez
  • George Tenet
  • Paul Wolfowitz
  • John Yoo

John Yoo is a law professor at  Berkley in California, Larisa Alexandrovna has all the details to contact his employer and make them aware of your feelings that they are tolerating a war criminal in their midst. Here is his shit eating defence of some of his actions in a Wall Street Journal opinion column providing an illuminating insight into the self serving delusional worldview him and maybe many of the people listed above maintain.

In my efforts to get to the heart of this story, and its possible consequences, I visited a judge and a prosecutor in a major European city, and guided them through all the materials pertaining to the Guantánamo case. The judge and prosecutor were particularly struck by the immunity from prosecution provided by the Military Commissions Act. “That is very stupid,” said the prosecutor, explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the United States to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed by the justice system in the home country—one of the trip wires enabling foreign courts to intervene. For some of those involved in the Guantánamo decisions, prudence may well dictate a more cautious approach to international travel. And for some the future may hold a tap on the shoulder. 

The real story, pieced together from many hours of interviews with most of the people involved in the decisions about interrogation, goes something like this: The Geneva decision was not a case of following the logic of the law but rather was designed to give effect to a prior decision to take the gloves off and allow coercive interrogation; it deliberately created a legal black hole into which the detainees were meant to fall. The new interrogation techniques did not arise spontaneously from the field but came about as a direct result of intense pressure and input from Rumsfeld’s office. The Yoo-Bybee Memo was not simply some theoretical document, an academic exercise in blue-sky hypothesizing, but rather played a crucial role in giving those at the top the confidence to put pressure on those at the bottom.

The fingerprints of the most senior lawyers in the administration were all over the design and implementation of the abusive interrogation policies. Addington, Bybee, Gonzales, Haynes, and Yoo became, in effect, a torture team of lawyers, freeing the administration from the constraints of all international rules prohibiting abuse. Read the rest of this entry »

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28 Daze Later

While we fight an extension to detention (oh yeah!) without charge to 42 days/six weeks (maybe they think 42 days will give them the answer to life, the universe & everything- or in other words 41 days of torture and one day to sign the piece of paper they put in front of you), let’s not forget it already is 28 days/4 weeks which puts us in line with…Burma and Ming the Merciless probably. At the end of all this the best we have achieved is not to have a 42 day/6 week limit. We are still busily building ourselves a real world theme park based on the hit film Brazil.

So Dear Establishment-

I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law. Please stop overreacting. I understand that it will not be possible to stop all terrorist acts. I accept that. I am not afraid.

Let ’em know- They Work For You.