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Emigre Super Bloc Part 4- Clinton’s Jihadis | Will the Super Delegates Vote YES...

By the end of this section, you will understand Islamic terrorism better than most analysts. Where it came from, where it's going,who's driving it...

British court to hear bulk of terrorism trial in secret

Jordan Shilton Last month’s revelation that an entire trial of two suspects to be charged with terrorist offences was to be held in secret exposes...

Washington’s “Global War on Terrorism”: Violence, War and Instability in an “Arc of Terror”

Nicolas J S Davies  RINF Alternative News Twelve years into America’s “war on terror,” it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence,...

New York Times: Supporting US Wars, Terrorism and Repression

Longstanding Times policy is consistent. It promotes establishment values. It supports wealth, power and privilege. It endorses global US dominance. When America goes to war...

The Gitmo Witch Trials

A little more than three-hundred years ago, the most notorious case of mass hysteria erupted in Salem, Mass. Thankfully, the witchcraft trials, which...

Egypt govt. vows to defeat 'terrorism'

Egypt interim govt. pledges to defeat 'terrorism' with 'iron hand'Egypt's military-installed interim government has pledged to fight the so-called "terrorism" with an "iron hand"...

CIA Admits It Hired People to Impersonate Enemies and Commit Terrorism in Iran

The news that the CIA has admitted that it helped overthrow Iran’s democratically elected president in 1953 has gone viral. In reality, the CIA admitted that a long time ago....

Obama administration indicates military commission trials to resume

Recent statements by top Obama administration officials and reports in the New York Times and Washington Post indicate that President Barack Obama plans to...

The Dying Days of the Guantánamo Trials

With less than two weeks until the Bush administration leaves office, Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees...

Obama planning US trials for Guantanamo detainees

President-elect Barack Obama's advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to...

Judge Bars Evidence Against Terrorism Suspect at Guantanamo Trial

By Carol J. Williams | A military judge says some statements by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, were made in...

US to carry on military trials at Gitmo despite ruling

Hearings for terrorism suspects before US military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay are going ahead despite a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the detainees have...

Guantanamo trials fall short, says Arbour

By Stephanie Nebehay | UN HIGH Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said yesterday that planned Guantanamo war crimes trials fell short of international...

Here Come the Trials: A Military Commissions Cheat Sheet

By Joanne Mariner | In the more than six years since President George Bush first announced the creation of military commissions to prosecute detainees...

Domestic Spying Far Outpaces Terrorism Prosecutions

By Richard B. Schmitt | The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has...

RINFORMATION

USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

Americans Have Lost VIrtually All of Our Constitutional Rights

This article post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and...

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/guilty_until_proven_innocent_20130612/ Posted on Jun 12, 2013 By Victoria Brittain,...

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/guilty_until_proven_innocent_20130612/ Posted on Jun 12, 2013 By Victoria Brittain,...

‘Worse than death row’: Gitmo hunger strike reaches Day 100 amidst mounting intl pressure

As the Guantanamo hunger strike enters its 100th day, the number of voices, both in the US and around the world, to close the...

‘Worse than death row’: Gitmo hunger strike reaches Day 100 amidst mounting intl pressure

As the Guantanamo hunger strike enters its 100th day, the number of voices, both in the US and around the world, to close the...

Officials: Gitmo court system likely to stay open

By LARA JAKES | The Obama administration may revamp and restart the Bush-era military trial system for suspected terrorists as it struggles to determine...

Court Backs Warrantless Searches Abroad

By BENJAMIN WEISER | The authorities may lawfully conduct searches and electronic surveillance against United States citizens in foreign countries without a warrant, a federal...

As London lures Saudi oil giant, RT looks at UK’s history of rule-bending for...

Serious questions are being raised over controversial proposals that could lure the multi-trillion share listing...

Gitmo judge lifts stay on 9/11 trial hearing

A Guantanamo judge has lifted a ban on military commission hearings at the island after an...

Attempt to prosecute Tony Blair over Iraq War blocked by High Court

Published time: 31 Jul, 2017 09:43 Edited time: 31 Jul, 2017 13:58 Britain’s High Court...

CIA torture case may go to trial if 2 psychologists don’t sway judge

Three former CIA detainees who underwent enhanced torture methods claim that two psychologists should be held...

Shotgun Pointed at Black Children Trivialized as ‘Confederate Flag Incident’

With a loaded shotgun, actually. As FAIR has noted before (4/1/15, 3/8/16), how a story is framed is as important—if not more so—than the content...

We Must Rein in President Trump’s Spying Powers

It’s been just over a month since Donald J. Trump assumed the enormous powers of the U.S. presidency, including the power to control the...

Footage of final moments before British Marine executed wounded Afghan released by court

Judges have released additional sections of a helmet camera video of the moments before a...

From Agriculture to Demonetisation: Not ‘Make in India’ but Made in Washington

Colin Todhunter A version of the following piece was originally published in June 2016. However, since then, India’s PM Narendra Modi has embarked on a...

Why Hillary Clinton Will Appoint Old World Nazis to Top Cabinet Posts

Whether you are for Hillary Clinton or against her, the problem with Hillary Clinton isn't her lack of experience. Almost the entire political establishment...

US guilty of ‘gross miscarriages of justice’ in order to justify Guantanamo – study

A study by Afghan-based research group came to troubling conclusions regarding the US government’s handling of Guantanamo Bay, finding it used bad intelligence and...

Counting the Crimes of the War on Terror

Nuna Mas, or “Never Again”: The official Argentine report on the crimes of the country’s “dirty war.” (Photo: Arte es disfrutar / Flickr) “The cold was terrible...

Those Who Dwell Amongst the Rocks: an Extremely Brief History of the Tunisian Revolution

Tunisian soldiers serving as gendarmes. Photograph by Habib M’henni, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.   Tunisia has received honorable mention in the international press as...

Australian government boasts of helping US kill its own citizens in Middle East

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Mike Head Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his senior ministers this week...

Egypt’s Dangerous Turn

Egypt’s military regime is suppressing political opposition even more ferociously than the longtime Mubarak dictatorship while also collaborating in the...

‘The Core Injustice Is Indefinite Detention’

Janine Jackson interviewed Omar Shakir about Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo for the January 15, 2016, CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Omar...

The Good, Bad and Ugly in Oregon Standoff Coverage

Unraveling the Gordian knot of media issues in the Oregon standoff between federal authorities and a Patriot/Militia alliance of building occupiers is a daunting...

Why the B-52 Failed

Photo of the bombing of Hanoi Station on Christmas Day 1972, from the Hoa Lo Museum in Hanoi. On the plane to Hanoi earlier this month,...

How Should We Deal With War Criminals?

George W. Bush was never charged for offenses which we would have labeled war crimes if perpetrated by the enemy. (Photo: YouTube) As ISIS and...

Seeing ‘Evil’ Everywhere

Today’s American politics sees demons everywhere — from “evil” foreign leaders to excessive fears about “terrorism” — while more mundane threats like crumbling roads,...

Obama: The Fairy-Tale President?

(Photo: Wikipedia) In fairy tales, the hero makes a wish. After a few trials the wish comes true, and everyone lives happily ever after. But...

Zionists Latest Anti-Semitic Inducing Provocation: Trying to Destroy a Highly Worthy and Sane Nuclear...

The same Neo-Con-Artists, and the same lying and blackmail game players AIPAC Lobby, and the same mainstream news media newspapers and televisions stations are...

First responders could be inoculated with almost-expired anthrax vaccines

First responders may be supplied with anthrax vaccines to protect them against potential future biological attacks if the Senate passes the First Responder Anthrax...

Fiddling While the World Burns

In the mid-to-late 1970s, the U.S. began grappling with the energy crisis as Jimmy Carter pushed investments in alternative energies and called for conservation, but...

Egyptian regime hangs six after ex-president Mursi sentenced to death

By Bill Van Auken (WSWS) - The Egyptian regime of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi carried out the hanging Sunday of six individuals convicted in a frame-up military...

Tsarnaev Sentenced to Death: The Boston Bombing and the Tsarnaev Trial — Lies, Anomalies...

Today, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death on some counts, including “the use of a weapon of mass destruction (pressure cooker bomb #2)...

Omar Khadr: Free at Last?


Omar Khadr: Free at Last?

by Stephen Lendman

Khadr is a Canadian citizen - one of America's youngest wrongfully charged war on terror victims at the time of his illegal arrest and detention.

On July 27, 2002, US forces abducted him in Ayub Kheyl, Afghanistan. He was caught in a gun fight, shot twice in the chest and blinded in one eye.

At age 15, he was lawlessly detained, interrogated and brutally tortured at US Bagram and Guantanamo torture gulags.

He was tried before a US military commission the Supreme Court ruled lacks "the power to proceed because (its) structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld June 2006).

Congress circumvented the High Court ruling by passing the Military Commissions Act (October 2006). It grants extraordinary unconstitutional rights. 

It violates core international humanitarian laws. Guantanamo and other US torture prison detainees have no rights whatever.

Guilt by accusation is automatic. Police states operate this way. None match America's global viciousness.

Khadr was charged with being an unlawful enemy combatant (now called an unprivileged enemy belligerent). Either term is a long-defunct WW II designation superseded by the four Geneva Conventions.

Khadr was coerced to admit crimes he never committed. At the time, former Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) President Michael Ratner called his admission:

"...a 'show plea.' He pleaded guilty to crimes he was never charged with and crimes about which there was almost no evidence, except a confession made under torture including threats of gang rape."

"So why did he do it?" He faced life in prison "even without a trial. He was being tried in a military commission, not a real court." 

He had no right of appeal. He was denied judicial fairness. "Under these circumstances his conviction was almost guaranteed."

"The Obama administration is trying to" do the impossible. It wants to "save face. (Khadr) was the first trial of a child soldier by a Western power since World War II."

"Charges and trials of juveniles are utterly illegal. Top that off with torture" coerced confessions. Obama operates as ruthlessly as Bush.

Imagine making a young child look like "a really bad guy and guilty."

"The Khadr case is one of the most disgusting chapters in a post-9/11 detention system that should have long ago been relegated to a trash bin."

He was charged with "material support for terrorism." At the time of his arrest, no such crime existed.

CCR said "civilians like Omar Khadr who engage in hostilities (whether in self-defense or otherwise) do not violate the laws of war merely because they lack the combat immunity of a soldier."

Khadr was Obama's first military commission trial - a kangaroo court by any standard, deeply flawed with no legitimacy.

Military commissions deny due process and judicial fairness. They're tribunals established to convict.

Khadr was born in Toronto. He was an innocent boy when abducted. He was living with his family in Afghanistan. 

He was wrongfully accused of killing a US soldier. A later leaked Defense Department Criminal Investigation Task Force report revealed his innocence. 

The soldier's death was by friendly fire. Khadr had nothing to do with it.

It didn't matter. He was horrifically mistreated - 13 years in gulag confinement, often in solitary confinement.

On September 26, 2012, he was repatriated to Canada - placed in maximum security confinement.

Instead of freeing him at the time, the fascist Harper regime continued his brutalizing treatment - complicit with Washington in gross violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and fundamental international law.

Despite all he endured, he somehow retained his dignity and positive outlook. He yearned only for a normal, productive life. In a December 2012 letter to a friend he wrote:

"The light of goodness outshines shadows that might be. There are too many good things in this life (as hard as it might be) to worry or even care about the bad things." 

"Things are what we make out of them. Prison can be a deprivation of freedom, or a time to enlighten ourselves. For me it is the latter." 

On May 7, Canadian Court of Appeal Judge Myra Beilby said "Mr. Khadr, you're free to go" - despite Ottawa's emergency request to keep him imprisoned. 

In April, a lower Alberta court granted him release on bail while his appeals process continues - under strict conditions.

His lawyer Dennis Edney and wife offered him residence in their home. A required ankle monitor tracks his movements. A 10PM - 7AM curfew was imposed. He has limited Internet access only.

He has restricted communication with his family in Ontario - supervised and only in English.

Ottawa continues contesting his release on bail. He faces more court proceedings in September, as well as a US review of his case.

He's suing Harper's government for $50 million - claiming violation of his fundamental rights, including complicity with US torture and denying him rights of a child under international law.

He wants a "fresh start," he said. "There are too many good things in life that I want to experience."

He wants to finish his education and work in healthcare. "I have a lot of basic skills I need to learn," he said.

He's now aged 28. "This is (his) first time out in society since the age of 15," Edney explained.

"I’m delighted. It’s taken too many years to get to this point. We were the only Western country that didn’t request one of its detainees come home. We left a Canadian child in Guantanamo Bay to suffer torture."

For now he's released on bail. It remains for Canada's judicial system and America's to decide if he'll remain free.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Greenpeace, Dissent And Freedom Of Expression In India

RINF, Global Research, CounterPunch
Before being voted out of office last year, India’s Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration sanctioned open-field trials of GM food crops in India and Monsanto’s share prices rocketed. This decision prompted Rajesh Krishnan of the Coalition for a GM Free India to state that the government was against the interest of citizens, farmers and the welfare of the nation. He went on to state that the government had decided to work hand in glove with the multinational GM seed industry that stood to gain immensely from the open field trails. Since then, the Modi-led administration has continued the policy to drive GMOs into India.
Writing in The Hindu last year, Aruna Rodrigues noted that the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) Final Report (FR) is the fourth official report exposing the lack of integrity, independence and scientific expertise in assessing GMO risk (see here). The four reports are: The ‘Jairam Ramesh Report’ of February 2010, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal, overturning the apex Regulator’s approval to commercialise it; the Sopory Committee Report (August 2012); the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Report on GM crops (August 2012) and the TEC Final Report (June-July 2013). 
The TEC recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops until the government devised a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. No such mechanism exists, but open field trials are being given the go ahead, regardless of a history of blatant violations of biosafety norms, hasty approvals, a lack of monitoring abilities, general apathy towards the hazards of contamination and a lack of institutional oversight mechanisms (see this).
Despite this, the BJP-ruled Maharashtra government recently granted ‘no-objection certificates’ for GM open-field trials of rice, chickpeas maize, brinjal and cotton. Some regard this as a game changer in the push to get GM crops into India. (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh have given NOCs for field trials of some biotech crops, while states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have banned such research activities.)
Aruna Rodrigues argues there is increasing evidence that: GMOs pose health and environment risks; GM yields are significantly lower than yields from non-GM crops; and pesticide use, instead of coming down, has gone up exponentially. Rodrigues moreover argued that in India, notwithstanding the hype of the industry, the regulators and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Bt cotton yield is leveling off to levels barely higher than they were before the introduction of Bt.
In her piece in The Hindu, she stated:
“The IAASTD was the work of over 400 scientists and took four years to complete. It was twice peer reviewed. The report states we must look to small-holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) to deliver food security in third world countries through agri-ecological systems which are sustainable. Governments must invest in these systems. This is the clear evidence.”
The MoA strongly opposed the TEC Committee’s report. This, according to Rodrigues, was to be expected given the conflict of interests:
“The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) promotes public-private-partnerships with the biotechnology industry. It does this with the active backing of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The MoA has handed Monsanto and the industry access to our agri-research public institutions placing them in a position to seriously influence agri-policy in India. You cannot have a conflict of interest larger or more alarming than this one. Today, Monsanto decides which Bt cotton hybrids are planted and where. Monsanto owns over 90 per cent of planted cotton seed, all of it Bt cotton.”
All the other staggering scams that have rocked the nation have the possibility of recovery and reversal, but, as Rodrigues argues, the GM scam will be of a scale hitherto unknown:
“We have had the National Academies of Science give a clean chit of biosafety to GM crops – doing that by using paragraphs lifted wholesale from the industry’s own literature! Likewise, ministers who know nothing about the risks of GMOs have similarly sung the virtues of Bt Brinjal and its safety to an erstwhile Minister of Health. They have used, literally, “cut & paste” evidence from the biotech lobby’s “puff” material. Are these officials then, “un-caged corporate parrots?”
Arun Shrivastava notes that as early as 2003, when the first ever Bt cotton crop was harvested in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Gene Campaign evaluated the performance of Bt Cotton. These studies proved that GE seeds don’t increase yield. He goes on to note that the impleadment to ban GMOs was backed by 6.5 million farmers through their respective associations. It was admitted by the Supreme Court in April 2007 and contains a long list of hard scientific evidence.
Shrivastava states that the Standing Committee on Agriculture in Parliament unanimously and unequivocally concluded that GE seeds and foods are dangerous to human, animal and environmental health and directed the Government of Manmohan Singh to ban GMOs. The 400-page report was submitted to Parliament in October 2012.
Officials in India are working closely with global biotech companies to force GMOs into fields and onto the public, despite evidence pertaining to the deleterious impacts of GMOs on various levels (for example, see thisthis and this). These companies are in fact playing a key role in determining the overall development agenda for India (see thisthis and this).
Despite the evidence pertaining to the risks and efficacy of GMOs, organisations and activists opposing such crops are being singled out for putting a break on development and growth and for being in the pocket of foreign interests.
An Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’, was leaked in June of last year and had a special section on GMOs. It was clearly supportive of the introduction of GM crops into India. The IB said foreign NGOs and their Indian arms were serving as tools to advance Western foreign policy interests in various areas, of which GMOs comprise one aspect.
Aruna Rodrigues, Vandana Shiva and Kavitha Kuruganti, who were all mentioned in the report, in their joint statement noted the report’s hypocrisy by saying that the IB was conspiring with global corporate interests to haemorrhage India’s agricultural economy. The report even quoted Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University, who is a known promoter of genetically-modified organisms and Monsanto’s monopoly.
Speaking to The Statesman newspaper in India, Aruna Rodrigues said:
“Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Cornell University, where Dr Herring works, was one of the main forces, along with USAID and Monsanto, behind the making of Bt brinjal in India.”
The joint statement of all three activists went asserted that:
“… the biggest foreign hand by ‘STEALTH’ and official ‘COVER-UP’ will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector… In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture… to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to multi-national corporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands… (and)… will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover…. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes to examine.”
The statement said that India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario:
“This ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto… It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers… The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years, (excluding other profit mark-ups)… The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy… We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report.”
The statement concluded:
“If India’s intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat. This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country. It does India no credit.”
Apart from attacking those campaigning against GMOs, the report accused Greenpeace and other groups of receiving foreign funds to damage economic progress by campaigning against power projects and mining.
The IB is India’s domestic spy service and garners intelligence from within India and also executes counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism tasks. Its report attempted to portray certain NGOs like Greenpeace and critics of GMOs as working against the ‘national interest’ and being in the pay of foreigners.
Discrediting certain sections of civil society as being ‘unpatriotic’, by working to undermine some bogus notion of the ‘national interest’, always sits well with ruling elites that are all too ready to play the nationalist card to garner support. Yet, in this case the report itself sides with powerful foreign corporations and, as far as GMOs are concerned, their agenda to secure control over Indian agriculture.
Those who are exercising their legal right to challenge and protest corporate-driven policies that are all too often based on staggering levels of corruption and rampant cronyism – and are non-transparent and secretive – are being discredited and smeared. However, this should come as no surprise. Various nation states such as the US and UK have used their intelligence agencies to monitor, subvert and undermine grass-root activists and civil organizations that have (by acting legitimately and within the law) attempted to hold power to account (seethis and this). Governments the world over have a tendency to dislike genuine democracy and transparency.
Greenpeace India’s actions were singled out for particular criticism in the IB report. It responded by saying:
“We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”
Since the report, Greenpeace India has experienced a good deal of pressure. After the report described Greenpeace’s activities as “a threat to national economic security,” the government has gone on to restrict the organisation’s international funding. On 9 April 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered Greenpeace India’s bank accounts to be frozen and its ability to receive funding from abroad to be suspended. According to Amnesty International India, this violates constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said the acceptance of foreign funds by Greenpeace India had “prejudicially affected” public interest and the economic interest of the country.
Ananth Guruswamy, Executive Director at Amnesty International India:
“It is clear that Greenpeace is being targeted because its strong views and campaigns question the government’s development policies. The extreme measures taken by the government to disable an organisation for promoting the voices of some of the country’s most powerless people will damage and shame India. Intolerance to dissent will only weaken our society.”
Claims that Greenpeace India is acting against public interest have been dismissed by the judiciary twice. In January, the Delhi High Court directed the government to release frozen funds, observing:
“Non-Governmental Organizations often take positions, which are contrary to the policies formulated by the Government of the day. That by itself…cannot be used to portray petitioner’s action as being detrimental to national interest.”
On 11 January 2015, the government prevented a Greenpeace campaigner from travelling to the UK to speak about human rights abuses related to a coal mine in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh. In March, the Delhi High court ruled that the travel restrictions violated fundamental rights, and observed that “contrarian views held by a section of people…cannot be used to describe such section or class of people as anti-national.” The court also noted there was nothing to suggest that Greenpeace India’s activities “have the potentiality of degrading the economic interest of the country.”
Ananth Guruswarmy:
“The Ministry of Environment and Forests has agreed that the Mahan coal block is located in a protected forest, where no mining should take place. Instead of dubbing Greenpeace anti-national, the government should focus on the vital issues that it raises. Amnesty International India is particularly concerned about the rights of Adivasis affected by state policies, and urges the government to strengthen protections for these communities.”
Attempts to dampen dissent in India are nothing new. State repression and physical violence. as well as the structural violence resulting from particular economic policies, affect many regions and impact tens of millions of the country’s poorest and most powerless citizens.
As the current administration seeks to speed up the opening of India’s economy to private interests and to more fully embrace the tenets of neo-liberal economic doctrine, more difficult times may lie ahead for dissenting voices.

Greenpeace, Dissent and Freedom of Expression in India

Before being voted out of office last year, India’s Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration sanctioned open-field trials of GM food crops in India andMonsanto’s...

Judge Limits Evidence on Role of Main Perpetrator of Boston Marathon Bombings

Barry Grey The federal trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got under way Wednesday amid extraordinary security surrounding the Boston courtroom, which was...

Israeli Iron Fist Ruthlessness

Stephen Lendman  RINF Alternative News Israel operates extrajudicially. Rule of law principles don't matter. Nonexistent security threats justify anything goes. Palestinians are victimized for wanting to live...

Liberian Scientist: U.S. is Responsible for the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Timothy Alexander Guzman RINF Alternative News A History of Guatemala’s Syphilis Experiment: How a U.S. Led Team Performed Human Experimentations in Central America Dr. Cyril Broderick, A...

Government propaganda and the enslavement of humanity

Bernie Suarez  RINF Alternative News As we move through 2014 and beyond, humanity stands in awe of government propaganda, engineered narratives and ongoing scaremongering. With part...

Government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a...

Criminalising Dissent against GMOs and Monsanto

Colin Todhunter  RINF Alternative News Before being voted out of office this year, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration sanctioned open-field trials of 200 GM food...

Criminalising Dissent In India Against GMOs And Monsanto

Global Research and Countercurrents 20/6/2014, The 4th Media 22/6/2014

Before being voted out of office this year, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration sanctioned open-field trials of 200 GM food crops in India. Monsanto’s shares rocketed as a result (1). This decision prompted Rajesh Krishnan of the Coalition for a GM Free India to state that government was against the interest of citizens, farmers and the welfare of the nation. Instead, it has decided to work hand in glove with the multinational GM seed industry that stands to gain immensely from the numerous open field trails of GM crops.

Filmmaker Mahesh Batt called Minister Moily, who sanctioned the decision, a “corporate mole” and the Coalition for a GM Free India and Greenpeace condemned Moily's action as "unscientific, anti-people and reeking of vested interests."


Moily’s decision was set against the backdrop of the Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) recommending a ten-year moratorium on GM organism approvals till scientifically robust protocols, independent and competent institutions to assess risks and a strong regulatory system were developed. It recommended an indefinite stoppage of all open field trials of GM crops. The Committee insisted that the government bring in independence, scientific expertise, transparency, rigour and participative democracy into GMO regulation and policy.


Environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues points out the risks and drawbacks of GMOs by stating that there is increasing evidence of the health and environment risks from these crops; GM yields are significantly lower than yields from non-GM crops; and pesticide use, the great ‘industry’ claim on these GM crops, instead of coming down, has gone up exponentially. Rodrigues argues that in India, notwithstanding the hype of the industry, the regulators and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Bt cotton yield is levelling off to levels barely higher than they were before the introduction of Bt (2).


Rodrigues wants to know where is the advantage and why are we experimenting given all the attendant risks. We have hard evidence from every UN study and particularly the World Bank-funded International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science for Development Report, which India signed in 2008. 

She adds:

“The IAASTD was the work of over 400 scientists and took four years to complete. It was twice peer reviewed. The report states we must look to small-holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) to deliver food security in third world countries through agri-ecological systems which are sustainable. Governments must invest in these systems. This is the clear evidence.”

The MoA strongly opposed the TEC Committee’s report. This, according to Rodrigues, was to be expected given the conflict of interests:

“The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) promotes public-private-partnerships with the biotechnology industry. It does this with the active backing of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The MoA has handed Monsanto and the industry access to our agri-research public institutions placing them in a position to seriously influence agri-policy in India. You cannot have a conflict of interest larger or more alarming than this one. Today, Monsanto decides which Bt cotton hybrids are planted and where. Monsanto owns over 90 per cent of planted cotton seed, all of it Bt cotton.”


All the other staggering scams rocking the nation do have the possibility of recovery and reversal, but, as Rodrigues argues, the GM scam will be of a scale hitherto unknown:

“We have had the National Academies of Science give a clean chit of biosafety to GM crops - doing that by using paragraphs lifted wholesale from the industry’s own literature! Likewise, ministers who know nothing about the risks of GMOs have similarly sung the virtues of Bt Brinjal and its safety to an erstwhile Minister of Health. They have used, literally, “cut & paste” evidence from the biotech lobby’s “puff” material. Are these officials then, “un-caged corporate parrots?”

Arun Shrivastava notes that as early as 2003, when the first ever Bt cotton crop was harvested in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Gene Campaign evaluated the performance of Bt Cotton (3). These studies proved that GE seeds don’t increase yield. He goes on to note that the impleadment to ban GMOs was backed by 6.5 million farmers through their respective associations. It was admitted by the Supreme Court in April 2007 and contains a long list of hard scientific evidences.


Shrivastava states that the Standing Committee on Agriculture in Parliament unanimously and unequivocally concluded that GE seeds and foods are dangerous to human, animal and environmental health and directed the Government of Manmohan Singh to ban GMOs. The 400-page report was submitted to Parliament in October 2012 (4).


As is the case in the UK (5), officialdom in India is working closely with global biotech companies to force GMOs into fields and onto the public, despite evidence pertaining to the deleterious impacts of GMOs on various levels (6,7,8). These companies are in fact playing a key role in determining the overall development agenda for India (9,10,11).


New report attacks anti-GMO activists and organisations


Given the evidence pertaining to the risks and efficacy of GMOs, organisations and activists opposing such crops are being singled out for putting a break on development and growth and for being in the pocket of foreign interests.

A recent Intelligence Bureau (IB) leaked report, ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’, has a special section on GMOs and is clearly supportive of the introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture. The IB said foreign NGOs and their Indian arms were serving as tools to advance Western foreign policy interests in various areas, of which GMOs comprise one aspect.

In response to the report, Aruna Rodrigues, Vandana Shiva and Kavitha Kuruganti, who were all mentioned in the report, released a statement that turned the tables on the IB by saying that it is conspiring with global corporate interests to haemorrhage India's agricultural economy (12). The report quotes Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University, who is a known promoter of genetically-modified organisms and Monsanto’s monopoly. Speaking to The Statesman newspaper in India, Aruna Rodrigues said:

"Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Cornell University, where Dr Herring works, was one of the main forces, along with USAID and Monsanto, behind the making of Bt brinjal in India." (13)
 


Their joint statement goes on to say:

“… the biggest foreign hand by ‘STEALTH’ and official ‘COVER-UP’ will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector… In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture… to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to multi-national corporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands… (and)… will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover…. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes to examine.”
 


The statement says that India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario:

“This ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto… It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers… The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years, (excluding other profit mark-ups)… The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy… We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report.”
 


The statement concludes:

“If India’s intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat. This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country. It does India no credit.” 
Criminalising dissent

The leaked IB report has been sent to the Prime Minister's Office, the Home Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Finance Minister and others. Apart from attacking those campaigning against GMOs, the report accuses Greenpeace and other groups of receiving foreign funds to damage economic progress by campaigning against power projects and mining.

The IB is India’s domestic spy service and garners intelligence from within India and also executes counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism tasks. Its report attempts to portray certain NGOs and activists as working against the ‘national interest’ and being in the pay of foreigners. Discrediting certain sections of civil society as being ‘unpatriotic’, by working to undermine some bogus notion of the ‘national interest’, always sits well with ruling elites that are all too ready to play the nationalist card to garner support. Yet, in this case the report itself sides with powerful foreign corporations and, as far as GMOs are concerned, their agenda to secure control over Indian agriculture. Whose interest does that serve?

Those who are exercising their democratic right to challenge and protest corporate-driven policies that are all too often based on staggering levels of corruption and rampant cronyism (14) - and are thus non-transparent and secretive - are being discredited and smeared in the report. However, this should come as no surprise. Various nation states have used their intelligence agencies to monitor, subvert and undermine grass-root activists and civil organizations that have (by acting legitimately and within the law) attempted to hold power holders to account (15). Governments the world over have a tendency to dislike genuine democracy and transparency.  

Greenpeace India was singled out for particular criticism in the report and has responded by saying:

"We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth." (16)
 


Massive human rights abuses, violent oppression and the trampling of democracy in order to push through various industrial projects have been a feature of various administrations in recent decades (17). The clamping down on funding for NGOs and attempts to dampen dissent is nothing new. But the leaking of the IB report is timely. The new Modi administration seeks to speed up projects and the opening of India’s economy to private interests and to more fully embrace the tenets of neo-liberal economic doctrine (18). The report signals that even tougher times lie ahead for civil society and ordinary people who seek to hold officialdom to account as it continues to acquiesce to powerful corporate interests.


Notes

4)      “Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food Crops,” Committee on Agriculture, 37th Report, August 2012. Summary of the report: http://www.gmwatch.eu/index.php/report-on-gm-crops-and-food-security-from-india-s-parliamentary-standing-committee-on-agriculture



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Kiev Plans False Flag Against Russia

Kiev Plans False Flag Against Russia

by Stephen Lendman

Intense Russia bashing persists daily. It's official US policy. Resolving Ukraine's crisis diplomatically is systematically prevented. 

Media scoundrels march in lockstep with what demands condemnation. Stoking conflict is prioritized. Russia is irresponsibly blamed for US-orchestrated Kiev crimes. 

Orders come from straight from Washington. Coup-appointed putschists salute and obey. 

On May 6, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined "Ukrainian forces prepare provocation against Russia in Donetsk."

False flags are a longstanding US tradition. They go way back. They used often. Previous articles discussed them.

Wars followed. The 9/11 attack was the mother of all false flags. It's the biggest of Big Lies of our time. It launched over a decade of imperial wars.

They rage out-of-control. They continue after US forces withdraw. They persist at home. They target Muslims, Latino immigrants, whistleblowers, dissidents, activists of all stripes and other Americans.

They target independent nations lawlessly. They eliminate outlier foreign leaders. They aim to remove all challengers to US global dominance.

They prioritize conflict and instability. They create enemies where none exist. According to VOR, a false flag provocation against Russia is planned.

"Russian military uniforms and fake IDs of Russian officers have been taken to the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk," said VOR.

A staged attack on Ukrainian border guards is planned. It's reminiscent of how WW II began. 

Nazis impersonated alleged Polish terrorists. They attacked the Gleiwitz radio station in Upper Silesia, Germany. 

It bordered both countries. It was pretext to attack Poland. WW II followed.

Is Obama risking No. III? Is he mad enough to try? Is he beholden to crazies that extreme? 

A Ukrainian official said on condition of anonymity: "The task is to stage an attack on Ukrainian border guards by people dressed in Russian military uniforms and make a video of it."

"The SBU (Ukraine Security Service) has transferred about 20 personal bodyguards of Dnepropetrovsk Region governor (Igor) Kolomoisky from Kiev to Donetsk." 

"(T)he group" will team with (neo-Nazi) Right Sector" hoodlums. It'll "accompan(y) a cargo of about 200 sets of Russian military uniforms and about 70 (blank]) IDs of Russian military officers."

At issue is crushing Eastern Ukrainian resistance. It's eliminating freedom fighters for justice. It's smashing all opposition.

It's solidifying hardline rule. It's blaming its crimes on Russia. It risks igniting a major East/West confrontation. 

It risks potential global war. It risks what no responsible leader would dare.

Sergei Lavrov is a world class diplomat. He's a bigger-than-life figure. He forthrightly stands tall. 

He shames is Western counterparts. He makes John Kerry look illegitimate by comparison.

He's gone all-out to resolve Ukrainian crisis conditions diplomatically. He wants conflict contained. He wants it ended. He wants it kept from spinning out-of control.

He's deeply worried. He sees fascism reemergent in Ukraine. It took millions of Soviet Russian lives decades earlier.

"For many years, Europe has been turning a blind eye to the fact how this ideology is acquiring new supporters, how former Waffen SS legionaries found as war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials stage marches," he said.

In Ukraine, they're "already not just marches with slogans glorifying Nazi criminals, but a 'live' manifestation of fascism."

"What happened in the city of Odessa on May 2 is a sheer act of fascism, and we will not permit to sweep the facts under carpet as the ruling coalition tries to do so, concealing the investigation from the public."

"We will seek for the truth, will seek for all evidence which was produced by eyewitnesses and which show that current Kiev authorities are hushing up consciously the scale of tragedy and will seek for all the truth to be investigated and made public."

"We will not permit…fascism (again) in Europe (nor) in Russia," Lavrov added.

He accused Western countries of "turning a blind eye to the true causes of" Odessa's massacre. They suppressed neo-Nazi Right Sector crimes.

They irresponsibly accused Russia. They blamed victims for their own deaths. Extremists behind Friday's massacre "didn't hide that they were celebrating the victory of Russians," he said.

"We have witnessed a frank display of fascism. None of the radical nationalists who committed this terrible crime has been arrested." 

"The Kiev authorities have vaguely expressed condolences, declared a mourning and opened (a less than serious) investigation."

"(N)ot many people will be surprised if" it's (whitewashed the same way as) fatal sniper shooting(s) in the Ukrainian capital in February."

"(S)uch a fate was prepared for Crimea, but its multinational people with Russia's support defended their future."

Last Friday, Odessa clashes erupted. Neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs provoked them. Slaughtering 46 activists followed. Scores of others were injured. 

Dozens remain missing. They're unaccounted for. They're either dead or in ruthless Right Sector hands. They'll likely never be seen again alive. Fascists operate this way.

Right Sector hoodlums and likeminded extremists are some of the worst. Washington uses them advantageously. It does so to crush all opposition. It's to solidify unchallenged control.

Russia's Foreign Ministry was clear and unequivocal. It called what happened "criminal irresponsibility of the Kiev leadership indulging insolent nationalist radicals, including Right Sector, who are staging a campaign of physical terror against supporters of federalization and real constitutional changes in Ukrainian society."

Lavrov said America and rogue EU partners ducked commenting on diktats straight from Washington and Brussels.

They ordered harsh crackdowns against Ukrainians wanting to live free.

"In the midst of February Maidan confrontations in Kiev, Nato Defense Ministers and Secretary General stated the inadmissibility of intervention of the armed forces of Ukraine in the political process, and insisted on the neutrality of the army," said Lavrov.

"Today Washington and Brussels affirm the bogus legitimacy of so-called "anti-terrorist operation(s)."

Neo-Nazis thugs terrorize their own people. They're praised for committing mass murder. Washington wholeheartedly endorses their ruthlessness.

"In the midst of February Maidan confrontations in Kiev, Nato Defense Ministers and Secretary General stated the inadmissibility of intervention of the armed forces of Ukraine in the political process, and insisted on the neutrality of the army," said Lavrov.

"We don't do regime change. We don't do color revolutions, let alone brown-hued ones like those in Ukraine," he added. 

At the same time, Russia is "not walking away from contacts with our Ukrainian counterparts, and one result of such contacts was the Geneva Statement of April 17."

"Practical steps can be taken only by the Ukrainians themselves if they are not restrained from cooperating with each other. Alas, our Western partners are not ready to agree to the equitable participation of southeastern Ukraine in the national dialogue."

"We honestly speak about that, in particular, with our American and European colleagues. They claim this is not so."

If not, "then anything is possible and let us not tear Ukraine apart between the East and the West but pool efforts and help start the dialogue, which can coordinate practical steps towards the fulfillment of all agreements and statements."

Lavrov is resilient. He's extraordinarily patient. He matches the best of Job.

Despite daily irresponsible Russia bashing, he persists seeking responsible conflict resolution.

He want all sides represented in forthright dialogue. He urges compromise to settle things.

He wants four-party Geneva agreement terms observed. He urges more diplomatic discussions.

He wants all Ukrainians treated fairly and equitably. He wants each showing respect for others

He wants Kiev to stop using its military, National Guard and Right Sector thugs against its own people.

"(T)he first and obvious step is to cancel the order to use the army and the National Guard for suppressing (legitimate) protests," he said.

He calls presidential elections held under conflict conditions unrealistic. Resolving conflict conditions equitably come first.

Prioritizing geopolitical ambitions above responsible governance assures continued conflict. It means no end of fighting. 

It keeps Ukraine on the boil. Perhaps doing so longterm. Maybe escalating things out-of-control.

A previous article profiled Lavrov. It called him a true peace champion. His efforts represent the best of responsible conflict resolution. 

He persists tirelessly for peace. He deserves Nobel award recognition. He's polar opposite Kerry. Previous articles compared them.

Kerry represents the worst of America's dark side. He mocks legitimacy. He's an unindicted war criminal. He shames the office he holds. 

Demagoguery punctuates his comments. It exceeds the worst of Cold War rhetoric. He's been caught red-handed lying numerous times.

He disdains rule of law principles. He supports war. He deplores peace. He's indifferent to human suffering. He's a monument to wrong over right.

He disgraces his country, position and humanity. He belongs in prison, not high office. On May 6, he met with EU foreign policy chief Katherine Ashton.

They're partners in crime. We "covered a lot of ground," he said. We "shared strategy." They discussed Ukraine

He lied saying Russia "fail(ed) to live up to the very plain and simple, easy-to-interpret commitments that were made in Geneva."

"Ukraine's government, literally before the ink was dry, started to implement on that agreement. And they have held up their end of the bargain."

"Ukraine has shown remarkable restraint. Almost immediately coming out of that meeting in Geneva, they ordered a cessation of any kind of counterterrorism activity, any effort to remove people from buildings based on the notion that both sides were going to work to bring people out of those buildings." 

"And the fact is that they have been committed in Kyiv to trying to move their country forward through nonviolence, through constitutional reform, through dialogue, and by reaching out to the disaffected parts of Ukraine."

Fact: Russia fully complies with agreed on Geneva terms.

Fact: Washington systematically violated them straightaway.

Fact: So did coup-appointed Kiev fascists.

Fact: They launched aggression against their own people the next day.

Fact: They're murdering them in cold blood.

Fact: They deployed neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs.

Fact: They ordered them to kill, torture and otherwise abuse Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters.

Fact: The Odessa massacre followed.

Fact: Expect much worse ahead.

Fact: Orders to commit mass murder come straight from Washington.

Fact: Kerry fools no one paying attention.

Fact: His game is coverup and denial.

Fact: It's pointing fingers the wrong way.

Fact: It's blaming Russia for US-ordered Kiev crimes.

We're "very concerned about efforts of pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, in Luhansk to organize, frankly, a contrived, bogus independence referendum on May 11th," said Kerry.

It's "the Crimea playbook all over again and no civilized nation is going to recognize the results of such a bogus effort."

Fact: Eastern Ukrainian activists aren't separatists. 

Fact: They're not militants.

Fact: They're freedom fighters.

Fact: They're ordinary people.

Fact: They're factory workers, miners, farmers, store clerks, and defenders of right over wrong.

Fact: They're acting entirely on their own volition.

Fact: They want their fundamental rights respected.

Fact: They want local autonomy.

Fact: They don't seek separation from Ukraine.

Fact: Their planned referendums are entirely legitimate. 

Fact: They deserve worldwide support.

Fact: Expect all "civilized nation(s)" to recognize their results.

"(I)f Russian elements continue to sabotage the democratic process and prevent Ukraine from holding a free and fair election 19 days from now on the 25th, then we stand ready to implement additional sanctions," said Kerry.

"And the 'we' is Europe and the United States together."

Fact: So-called upcoming elections have no legitimacy whatever.

Fact: So-called "Russian elements" don't exist.

Fact: Washington and rogue EU partners disagree sharply on sanctions.

Fact: European nations have valued political and economic ties to Russia.

Fact: They won't let Washington jeopardize them.

Fact: They won't impose sanctions harming their own self-interest.

Fact: Washington is largely isolated on its own imposing harsh ones if planned.

"We are not going to sit idly by while Russian elements fan the flames of instability, instead of fulfilling the commitments that we made," said Kerry. 

"(W)e came together in a real spirit of trying to de-escalate. And we weren't playing a game."

"Regrettably, (it) was not met with reciprocity."

"So the choice is really Russia's. The United States, the EU, and our allies have made our choice very, very clear:" 

"We are going to stand together united not just in support of Ukraine, but united in support of de-escalating; united in support of a peaceful, diplomatic solution…"

Facts on the ground are polar opposite Kerry's scenario. Big Lies infested his comments.

He twisted truth to fit US policy. At issue is advancing America's imperium. It's controlling Ukraine.

It's incorporating it into NATO. It's targeting Russia. It's eliminating a major rival. 

It's transforming it into a subservient vassal state. It's plundering its resources. It's exploiting its people.

It's violating fundamental international, constitutional and US statute laws doing so. 

It's waging war on humanity for unchallenged global dominance. It's recklessly risking WW III.

Kerry is Obama's geopolitical front man. It bears repeating. He represents the worst of America's dark side.

He supports war. He deplores peace. He risks possible WW III. At stake is humanity's survival.

Policies he furthers risk what no responsible official would endorse. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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Israel Targets Palestinian Children

Israel Targets Palestinian Children

by Stephen Lendman

Imagine waging war on kids. Imagine doing it no-holds-bared. A joint Four Corners/The Australian broadsheet investigation discusses ruthless Israeli treatment.  

Palestinian boys are targeted. Beatings, arrests, detentions and torture follow. More on it below.

In November 2011, the weekend Australian magazine headlined "Stone cold justice," saying:

"You hear them before you see them." You hear "a shuffle of shoes and a clinking of handcuffs and shackles."

Four boys look bewildered in an Israeli military courtroom. Palestinians are denied civil justice.

"They wear brown prison overalls..." They're treated like hardened criminals. Military injustice awaits them. Guilt by accusation follows.

A new "Stone Cold Justice" report updated the earlier one. Australian lawyer Gerard Horton is involved. 

He's trying to help arrested Palestinian boys. Three are discussed. More on them below.

Hundreds of Palestinians are mistreated annually. They're lawlessly arrested and detained. Children young as five are terrorized. They're too young to know why.

Imagine facing prison for stone-throwing. Imagine it awaiting hundreds whether or not they're guilty as charged.

Imagine being systematically abused. Imagine violating their fundamental rights. Imagine Israel doing it contemptuously. Imagine no way to stop it.

Israeli military court prosecutions produce nearly 100% convictions. Virtually no Palestinian is found innocent. Children are abusively treated. Some end up in adult prisons.

Trials are short as 60 seconds of less. Guilt pronouncements and sentencings complete them. Independent observers say they never saw anything like it anywhere.

Israel wants what goes on suppressed. Most Palestinians are lawlessly charged. They're coerced to confess. They're terrorized. 

They're severely tortured. They're forced to sign Hebrew confessions they don't understand. They're brutalized until they agree.

Israel's criminal injustice system is like Guantanamo for kids. Many don't understand what's happening. Families can't intervene to help. Nor legal counsel except to plea bargain.

It bears repeating. Once charged, guilt by accusation follows. There's no escape. Generations of Palestinians have been abused this way. It's been ongoing for nearly half a century.

Gross mistreatment leaves lasting scars. Traumas don't go away. Emotional harm lasts. For many it's for a lifetime.

Imagine treating young children like hardened criminals. Imagine denying them due process. Imagine no judicial fairness. Imagine Nazism writ large.

Israel is a lawless police state. It's one of the world's most ruthless. Palestinians are targeted for being non-Jews. Praying to the wrong God is considered terrorism. So is self-defense.

Stone Cold Justice focuses on three Palestinian boys. Two were arrested in the middle of the night. They were taken to unknown locations. According to one boy's mother:

"Every soldier stood at the door of a room. I (addressed one of them saying) "What do you want with him? 

He said 'Shut up woman.' And then they started hitting him and pulling him out of bed."

Her son said "(t)hey started kicking (him) with their boots in (his) stomach, slaps on (his) face. They pulled (him) up by (his) t-shirt and took (him) out of bed."

Israel calls this maintaining security. Palestinians call it institutionalized persecution. Enforced ruthlessness makes life intolerable.

"(T)hey want to kick us out out of here and drive us away because they don't want Arabs in this area."

Israel's Foreign Ministry lies claiming otherwise. Ethnic cleansing is longstanding Israeli policy. So is maximum land theft with minimum Arabs.

UNICEF released a scathing report. It said "children (are) threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault."

Other reports say the same things and more. Four Corners said "Palestinian children have more to fear than the Israeli army." 

Reporter John Lyons (presented) clear evidence that "Israeli settlers in the West Bank regularly attack Palestinian school children, knowing authorities will not intervene."

On February 10, Stone Cold Justice aired. Presenter Kerry O'Brien discussed "a new generation of hatred in the making."

Imagine heavily armed soldiers making middle-of-the-night raids. Imagine it in Australia or any civilized society. Imagine arresting young children in their beds.

Imagine beating and kicking them. Imagine cuffing and blindfolding them. Imagine ordering parents not to intervene.

Imagine military prisons with young kids in shackles. Imagine isolating them from society outside. Imagine brutal interrogations.

Imagine no-holds-barred torture. Imagine forcing innocent kids to confess. Imagine brutalizing them until they do. Imagine the worst crimes against humanity.

Imagine hundreds of Palestinian children mistreated this way annually. Lyons said imagine a "peaceful evening in a small Palestinian village. A 14-year-old boy and his family sleep."

Vehicles arrive in the middle of the night. Soldiers are making a raid. Asai Zamara is targeted. He's a young teenager. 

Soldiers claim he threw stones. He insists he did nothing wrong. It doesn't help. An "18 day nightmare" begins.

Qsai Zamara: "There was this big machine with all the electric wires in it, connected to the electricity. He wanted to give me electric shock with it." 

"He would throw me on the ground and hit me, things like that. He also had a whip with a hose which he hit me with."

John Lyons: "Fathi Mahfouz would spend the next 82 days in prison - beginning with an interrogation."

He's 15 years old. He's innocent. Accusations were baseless. It didn't matter. He was brutalized to confess.

Faithi Mahfouz: "They were holding electric batons and they hit me with them. One of the officers lifted up his mask." 

"They all had charcoal on their faces and their eyes were black. He would talk to me and frown at me to scare me and he hit me. He gave me electric shocks."

Horton said interrogators "started yelling at him and then (he) was placed on some sort of wooden device on the wall, similar in shape to a cross, although if had two legs."

His hands and legs were shackled to it. He was left there that way for hours. Faithi said "(b)ecause of all the shaking, a piece of wood snapped."

An interrogator kept hitting him. He asked "(d)on't you want to confess?" Faithi said he wouldn't "confess to something (he) didn't do."

Beatings continued to force him. After five hours, he was released from the structure.

He was in pain, he said. "Then white foam started coming out of my mouth. Two men came and took me to first aid." 

"Then my chest was cramped. I couldn't breathe. They took me to the same area I was in, to the same building, there was this small clinic." 

"He took me in and asked me 'Where's the pain?' Then he'd press on it and hit it, and make fun of me."

John Lyons: "As a 14-year old, Islam Dar Ayyoub (faced) Israel's security services."

Islam Dar Ayyoub: "He told me 'Here, sign this paper.' I told him 'It's in Hebrew and I can't read Hebrew. Can you read it to me?' " 

"He said 'It's for your release. You need to sign it.' After I signed it at the court, I was surprised to find out it was a confession paper."

Hundreds of Palestinian boys face this type injustice annually. Attorney Gerard Horton is leading a campaign against systemic Israeli injustice.

Horton: Middle-of-the-night arrests have "a paralyzing effect on whole communities..." 

State-sponsored "fear…makes this system work so effectively well with relatively few soldiers on the ground..."

It makes occupation harshness "cost-effective." It's ruthless state terror on the cheap. It's standard Israeli practice.

Israeli officials and spokespersons consistently lie. They claim no such policies exist. Irrefutable evidence proves otherwise. Denials ring hollow.

Maintaining security is a ruse. No violence exists except what Israel inflicts. Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's worst.

It's hard imaging policies more extreme. Police state ruthlessness describes it.

Horton: "So take a situation involving two children in the West Bank throwing stones, one a Palestinian child, one an Israeli child living in the settlements." 

"The Palestinian child will be prosecuted in a military jurisdiction with far fewer rights and protections, whereas his Israeli counterpart, living sometimes 500 metres away, will be prosecuted in a juvenile justice system which meets international standards and complies, is a sort of system you would expected in any western-style democracy."

Prosecuting settler children or adults is almost unheard of. Rare exceptions prove the rule. Slap-on-the-wrist punishments at most follow.

Palestinians are fair game. To understand their mistreatment, "come to Hebron," said Lyons.

It's the largest West Bank Palestinian city. Around 800 settlers live in its center. They're surrounded by 180,000 Palestinians.

"The effect of Israel's occupation is obvious. (Hebron's center) is a ghost town. Israeli soldiers (prevent) Palestinians (from) walk(ing) along these streets."

They've been forced out of buildings. They've been ethnically cleansed. They're denied all rights. They have no recourse.

A Palestinian man wanted to visit his father's grave. Soldiers prevented him.

Lyons witnessed Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinian children heading to school. They tear-gassed them. 

Allegedly in response to stone-throwing. "We could see no provocation from the children who were trying to avoid the gas," said Lyons.

Teachers said soldiers fire tear gas daily. They do it to protect settlers. They do it maliciously. They do what they can get away with. They do whatever they want with impunity.

Teachers want children in school learning. One teacher said three kids were hospitalized from gassing in the last week.

They're young children. They're not criminals. They're targeted for being Palestinians.

Lyons approached Israeli police. "Why do you fire tear gas (at) children going to school," he asked?

"We can't talk to you," police responded. Lyons persisted. He repeated his question. He was stonewalled.

Hebron is typical of West Bank injustice. Israelis have "one law," said Lyons. Palestinians another. Systemic injustice is longstanding Israeli policy.

Last July, Israeli soldiers targeted five-year old Wadi'a Mawadeh. An Israeli settler accused him of stone throwing.

Six soldiers terrorized him. They threatened him and his parents. They handcuffed and blindfolded his father. 

They handed the boy over to police. They wrongfully accused him of stone-throwing.

Arrests are lawless. They're violent. Homes are broken into. Property is damaged or stolen. 

Children are blindfolded and shackled. They're terrorized. They're beaten. Family members are threatened not to intervene.

Even five-year-olds aren't safe. Imagine detaining them for hours. Imagine traumatizing them.

Lyons asked Wadi'a what he thinks when he sees an Israeli soldier. "I'm scared of them," he said.

Gaby Lasky is an Israeli lawyer. "I want people to think what they would do if their five-year old child was being taken by an occupier's army, even by your local police."

"If a five-year-old was being held by an authority that is not you, you would do anything in order to try to get your child back." 

"Military courts are the long arm of the occupation. We're not talking about courts of justice; we are talking about courts of occupation."

Former Israeli commander Yehuda Shaul said he "grew up believing that our actions as a military in the occupied territories (were) to protect Israel from terrorism."

"What I've learned from my three years of service and nine years of activism and Breaking the Silence...is that the main story here is about maintaining our absolute military control over (defenseless) Palestinians."

"When we see settlers attacking a Palestinian, our orders are not to intervene."

Israeli settlers harmed three-year-old Adele Biton for life. She has brain damage. Her mother Adva said:

"Eight months ago I was driving back from my parents' home, back to my home in Yakir, when Palestinian terrorists threw large building stones on my car." 

"The stones, the building stones, hit Adele's head and also caused me to bump into a truck."

"We're fighting together to get her back to life." She's hospitalized. 

"I don't think it's fair for her to sleep here in the bed and don't do things like children her age. It's not fair."

Israeli Lt. Col. Maurice Hirsh said it's unlikely she'll recover. "That is terrorism," he added.

It's state terrorism. Middle -of-the-night arrests, detentions and brutal interrogations reflect it.

According to Horton, "(y)ou'll be subjected to violence if you don't confess. You will be detained for an extended period of time..."

"(T)he intelligence is usually very good, so the interrogator will know if that child's father has a work permit, for example, to work inside Israel." 

"If that's the case, the threats sometimes are of the nature of we will revoke your father's work permit unless you confess."

Horton said one interrogator stood out. He specialized in terrorizing children. He threatens rape.

He mentions someone outside the interrogation room. He says someone will come in and rape the child.

He threatened one boy by putting food on his head. A dog was brought in to eat it. The boy was terrified. The dog drooled all over him.

He feared being bitten any moment. Someone put food on his genitals. The dog was positioned to eat it. Imagine anyone enduring this. 

Imagine a young boy terrorized this way. Imagine Israel calling itself civilized. Imagine rogue state terror writ large.

Most Palestinian boys convicted of stone-throwing face about three months in prison. They shouldn't face three minutes.

According to Lyons, Israeli security services devise ghastly new tactics. Young children are brutalized to extract information on their villages. Residents in them. On their parents, family members and neighbors.

Gaby Lasky added: "I can see a pattern that Israel's hasn't been able to put down the non-violent movement in the occupied territories through violent means." 

"So the best way to do that is by incriminating those leaders, and the easiest way to do that, to achieve, to get those incriminations, is by arresting children which are the weakest link."

Israel uses Palestinian children for intelligence gathering. It does so by terrorizing them to collaborate.

Stiff punishment follows failure to cooperate. It includes torture and longer prison terms. 

Daniella Weiss is an Israeli activist. She's a former Kedumim settlement mayor. She rejects settler lawlessness.

In the 1970s, she met regularly with Ariel Sharon. She did so when he was agriculture minister.

He was adamant then, earlier and later. "There would be no option for a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria," he said.

God promised Israel to Jews, he believed. All of it. He opposed Palestinian statehood. So do current Israeli hardliners.

Their notion of sovereignty is isolated bantustans on worthless scrubland. Palestinians can expect nothing more.

Not as long as Washington lets Israel have its way. Kerry's so-called framework agreement is structured this way.

It's entirely one-sided. It offers Palestinians virtually nothing. It continues occupation harshness.

It assures legions of traumatized Palestinian children. Perhaps another generation will be destroyed. Militarized occupation assures it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Obama Planning War on Syria?

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US and Israeli Season’s Greetings: Part II

US and Israeli Season's Greetings: Part II

by Stephen Lendman

No nations more egregiously violate legal, moral and ethical principles, standards and norms. None do so more contemptuously. 

None operate more lawlessly. None more mock the season's spirit. None more do it throughout the year after year after year. 

None are more disgraceful. None inflict more harm on humanity. None more threaten its survival. 

None more urgently need to be held accountable for high crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.

The 1950 Nuremberg Principles defined crimes against peace to include:

"(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (and)

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)."

Justice Robert Jackson was chief Nuremberg prosecutor. Robertjackson.org discussed "The Influence of the Nuremberg Trial on International Criminal Law," saying:

No one is above the law. "The Nuremberg trials established that all of humanity would be guarded by an international legal shield and that even a Head of State would be held criminally responsible and punished for aggression and Crimes Against Humanity."

Things haven't exactly turned out that way. International crimes against peace continue. Twentieth century "horrors...are many."

New millennium ones perhaps exceed them. Imagine two rogue terror states obscenely calling themselves democracies. Imagine them matching the worst of Hitler and Stalin.

Both world wars "lead the world community to pledge never again," said robertjackson.org. Nazi atrocities "were not isolated incidents."

Post-WW II, wars without end rage. Millions were ruthlessly slaughtered. No nations are more guilty than America and Israel. Their war on humanity continues.

Despite Nuremberg, they haven't been held accountable. They escaped punishment and justice. They avoided censure. They continue brutalizing, torturing, slaughtering, destroying and governing ruthlessly.

According to Nuremberg Tribunal Principles, planning, preparing, initiating, and waging wars of aggression or in violation of international treaties, agreements, conventions, or accepted standards are high crimes against peace.

They demand accountability under inviolable international law. Post-WW II alone, America committed direct or proxy aggression and genocide against North Korea, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, Central America, and Eurasia.

According to Francis Boyle:

"(T)he peoples of the world have witnessed successive governments in the United States that have demonstrated little if any respect for fundamental considerations of international law, human rights, and the United States Constitution itself." 

"Instead, the world has watched a comprehensive and malicious assault upon the integrity of the international and domestic legal orders by groups of men and women who are thoroughly Machiavellian in their perception of international relations and in their conduct of both foreign affairs and American domestic policy."

Washington is responsible for "an ongoing criminal conspiracy because of its serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany."

America willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly violates the letter and spirit of the:

  • UN Charter;

  • Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles;

  • US Army Field Manual 27-10;

  • Law of Land Warfare;

  • Hague Conventions;

  • Geneva Conventions and Protocols; and  

  • all other international humanitarian laws.

Since 1948, Israel committed slow-motion genocide against Palestinians. It continues today. Gazans are harmed most.

Boyle calls Israel responsible for "inflicting outright genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza."

Both countries persecute their own. Thousands of political prisoners languish in their gulags. Their rights are systematically denied.

They're tortured and abused. They're brutalized for supporting right over wrong. They're punished extrajudicially.

Israel largely targets Palestinians. Praying to the wrong God is called terrorism. So is wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. Israel considers Muslims subhumans. 

America's so-called war on terror reigns it on humanity. Freedom is eroding in plain sight. Constitutional rights don't matter.

Fundamental ones are considered quaint and out-of-date. Dissent is an endangered spies. Big Brother surveillance is the new normal. So are mumbo jumbo judicial rulings legitimizing it. 

Federal Judge William Pauley's ACLU v. Clapper ruling is the latest example. He turned fundamental law on its head. He did so by calling lawless spying legal. He mocked judicial fairness doing it.

Last June, the ACLU filed suit. It challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records."

It argued that doing so violates fundamental Fourth and First Amendment rights. It didn't matter. Judge Pauley claimed otherwise. He spurned core constitutional protections doing so.

ACLU's deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer responded, saying:

"We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the government’s surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections."

"As another federal judge and the president’s own review group concluded last week, the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephony data constitutes a serious invasion of Americans’ privacy. We intend to appeal and look forward to making our case in the Second Circuit."

Full-blown tyranny is a hair's breadth away. The obscenity of Guantanamo is another example. Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner calls it "12 years of US war crimes."

Over 150 victimized detainees remain. Most are uncharged, untried. Not a shred of evidence showed anyone held since Guantanamo opened committed any crimes.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 conspirators had nothing to do with what happened. They've been lawlessly held. They were brutally tortured. They're guilty by accusation. It's the American way.

"I want to make a prediction," said Ratner. "There will still be people there when President Obama leaves office, despite his promise to close Guantanamo in a year from when he went into office."

He lied. He doesn't give a damn. Nor does Congress or federal judges. Official policy is obscene. Indefinite detention uncharged, untried defines the worst of judicial unfairness.

It's "joined at the hip with our legal system," said Ratner. "It's an illegal, unconstitutional system. And it's sad that that's the case. So whether this Guantanamo closes, another one will open."

Dozens operate worldwide. Guantanamo if the tip of the iceberg. "(W)e're not winning this battle," said Ratner. 

Injustice is the new normal. It's the law of the land. It threatens everyone. Police states operate this way.  America is by far the worst. 

It's the world's leading human rights abuser. It spurns fundamental rights. It does so at home and abroad.

It governs unaccountably. It rules through intimidation, state terror and permanent wars on humanity. Its rap sheet is blood-drenched. It's responsible for countless millions of deaths. 

It brutalizes innocent victims. Alleged 9/11 conspirators are on trial. They're wrongfully blamed for state-sponsored crimes.

"Think about it," said Ratner. "Twelve years after Guantanamo opened, "it's still going on. And those people were tortured."

"They were taken to secret sites. And then they were put in front of made-up trials, military commissions, completely made up, completely illegal, completely contrary to international law. And there's these charades going on down there."

"And one of the most unique (Orwellian) things" is that brutalized victims "had their memories classified. Think about that."

"The criminality that's happened to them, the torture that's happened to them, they are not allowed to speak about it." 

"They can tell their lawyers about it, but the lawyers cannot tell the public about it, and it's classified memory - I mean, unheard of."

It's beyond Kafkaesque. It's American justice. It's none whatever. Political prisoners fare no better in US civil courts. Guilt by accusation applies. It's rubber-stamp. 

It's outrageous. It doesn't matter. It's the law of the land. It's no different from Nazi Germany and Stalinist show trials. Kangaroo court justice is official policy.

Constitutional and international rights matter. So do Magna Carta principles. It dates from 1215. It's 800 years old. It stood the test of time.

America "utterly shredded an 800 year legal history that said people can't be jailed by an executive or king," said Ratner.

"They have a right to go to court, a right to test their detention, a right to be tried...(a right to prove their innocence before an impartial judge and jury), "and (require) convict(ion) before they're sentenced."

No longer. Diktat law prevails. It bears repeating. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst. 

Israel is a conspiratorial junior partner. It reigns terror across the Muslim world and beyond. It's committing slow-motion genocide against Palestinians.

It's suffocating over 1.7 million Gazans ruthlessly. It lawlessly incarcerates thousands of political prisoners.

It conducts multiple daily incursions into Palestinian communities. It terrorizes innocent people doing it. Abductions, torture and imprisonments follow.

So does murder in cold blood. On December 27, The Census Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees published its annual report.

It makes disturbing reading. It documents 3,874 Palestinians kidnapped in 2013 alone. Over 930 children were affected. 

Four detainees died in custody. They were murdered by torture or neglect. Around 75% of Palestinian abductees were age 30 or younger.

Census Department head Abdul-Nasser Farawna said Israel deliberately targets young Palestinians, including children. They represent core Palestinian society.

Israel fears them. They're steadfast. They're courageous. They want freedom. They want independence. They're willing to go all out for what's right.

It's why they're "imprisoned, tortured, abused and intimated," said Farawna.

"The most serious violation is the fact that kidnapped children are beaten and tortured during interrogation. They were humiliated, subjected to physical and emotional torture."

Abuse begins at the moment of arrest. "They're blindfolded and placed into military jeeps where they are often beaten again, before they are dragged to interrogation facilities in military camps or settlements."

"Under interrogation, they face the most cruel methods of torture and abuse, physical and emotional, while being verbally threatened, amidst threats to harm their families unless they provide information." 

Around 1,400 prisoners have serious health problems. They're denied proper treatment. Doing so constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. 

It inflicts pain and suffering. For many, slow-motion death by neglect follows. It can take months or years. It can be in or out of prison. Release often comes too late to matter.

Sham peace talks continue. Longstanding Israeli collaborators represent Palestine. 

John Kerry is Israel's man in Washington. He's going all out to be America's worst ever Secretary of State. He works collaboratively with Israeli hardliners. 

He represents their interests. He spurns fundamental Palestinian rights. He makes a mockery of peace, equity and justice. So does the most extremist Knesset in Israeli history.

Fascists rule. Netanyahu leads them. On December 27, the Times of Israel headlined "As peace talks plow on, right tries to make a legislative stand," saying:

Proposed Knesset legislation "seek(s) to annex or strengthen Israel's hold over portions of the West Bank..."

Extremist MKs want Israeli sovereignty declared over privately held Palestinian land. They want grand theft legitimized.

Legislation is titled "The Bill to Apply Israeli Law to the Jordan Valley 5774 - 2013." It's nearly identical to how Israel annexed Golan.

The measure "quickly won the support of the of the Knesset's most influential figures," said Times of Israel.

They include "Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud), Law Committee Chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Jewish Home faction chair Ayelet Shaked, former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, and at least 13 other lawmakers."

The bill is the latest effort to steal Palestinian land. Others were introduced. More will follow.

The Jordan Valley bill states in part:

"The future of the Jordan Valley begins in the Israeli consciousness. Israel must decide to apply its sovereignty to this broad region, which has a relatively small Palestinian population, and to say openly: 'The Jordan Valley will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.' "

Israel wants much more than Jordan Valley land. It currently controls over 60% of the West Bank. 

It wants it officially annexed. It wants it declared official Israeli territory. It wants Jerusalem as its exclusive capital. 

It wants Palestinians denied all rights. It wants resisters killed or imprisoned. Washington offers full support.

Both countries partner in crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. They deplore peace, equity and justice. 

It's longstanding policy. It's ruthless. It's relentless. It's unforgiving. It's imperial lawlessness writ large.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/us-israeli-seasons-greetings-part-ii/

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What Was “Essential” and What Wasn’t: The Government Shutdown in Perspective

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with the Twitter hashtag #T2SDA (Truckers to Shut Down America).  They wanted to tell lawmakers they were angry, launch an impeachment campaign against the president, and pressure Congress to end itself.

They were on a “ride for the Constitution,” protesting big government and yet the opinion polls were clear.  In fact, the numbers were stunning.  One after another, they showed that Americans opposed the shutdown and were hurting because of it.  At that moment, according to those polls, nearly one in three Americans said they felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little, by the sudden freeze in critical services.

In reality, that government shutdown was partial and selective. Paychecks, for example, kept flowing to the very lawmakers who most fervently supported it, while the plush congressional gym with its heated pool, paddleball courts, and flat-screen televisions remained open. That’s because “essential” services continued, even as “nonessential” ones ceased. And it turned out that whether the services you cared about were essential or not was a matter of just who got to do the defining.  In that distinction between what was necessary and what wasn’t, it was easy enough to spot the values of the people’s representatives. And what we saw was gut-wrenching. Stomach-churning.

Prioritized above all else were, of course, “national security” activities, deemed beyond essential under the banner of “protecting life and property.”  Surveillance at the National Security Agency, for instance, continued, uninterrupted, though it was liberated from its obviously nonessential and, even in the best-funded of times, minimal responsibility to disclose those activities under the Freedom of Information Act.  Such disclosure was judged superfluous in a shutdown era, while spying on Americans (not to speak of Brazilians, Mexicans, Europeans, Indians, and others around the planet) was deemed indispensible.

Then there was the carefully orchestrated Special Operations Forces mission in Libya to capture a terror suspect off the streets of Tripoli in broad daylight, proving that in a shutdown period, the U.S. military wasn’t about to shut off the lights. And don’t forget the nighttime landing of a Navy SEAL team in Somalia in an unsuccessful attempt to capture a different terrorist target. These activities were deemed essential to national survival, even though the chances of an American being killed in a terrorist attack are, at the moment, estimated at around one in 20 million. Remember that number, because we’ll come back to it.

Indeed, only for a brief moment did the shutdown reduce the gusher of taxpayer dollars, billions and billions of them, into the Pentagon’s coffers. After a couple days in which civilian Defense Department employees were furloughed, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that 90% of them could resume work because they “contribute to morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members.” This from the crew that, according to Foreign Policy, went on a jaw-dropping, morale-boosting $5 billion spending spree on the eve of the shutdown to exhaust any remaining cash from the closing fiscal year, buying spy satellites, drones, infrared cameras and, yes, a $9 million sparkling new gym for the Air Force Academy, replete with CrossFit space and a “television studio.”

Furloughing Children

Then there were the nonessential activities.

In Arkansas, for instance, federal funds for infant formula to feed 2,000 at-risk newborn babies were in jeopardy, as were 85,000 meals for needy children in that state. Nutrition for low-income kids was considered nonessential even though one in four children in this country doesn’t have consistent access to nutritious food, and medical research makes it clear that improper nutrition stunts brain architecture in the young, forever affecting their ability to learn and interact socially. Things got so bad that a Texas couple dug into their own reserves to keep the program running in six states.

If children in need were “furloughed,” so were abused women. Across the country, domestic violence shelters struggled to provide services as federal funds were cut off. Some shelters raised spare change from their communities to keep the doors open. According to estimates, as many as six million women each year are victims of domestic violence. On average in this country, three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.

But funding for domestic violence protection: nonessential.

Funds for early childhood education, too, were shut off. Seven thousand low-income kids from 11 states were turned away. Their “head start” was obviously less than essential, even though evidence shows that early education for at-risk children is the best way to help them catch up with their wealthier peers in cognition and adds to their odds of staying out of prison in later life.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn’t accepting new patients because of the shutdown. Typically 200 new patients arrive every week for experimental treatment. On average around 30 of them are children, 10 of whom have cancer.

Cancer, in fact, is the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14.  But treatment for them didn’t qualify as essential. Unlike fighting terrorism -- remember the less-likely-than-being-struck-by-lightning odds of one in 20 million -- treating kids with cancer didn’t make the cut as “protecting life and property.”

A father of two young girls in the town of Eliot, Maine, said to a National Priorities Project staffer in disbelief, “If even one kid can’t get cancer treatment, isn’t that enough to end the shutdown?”

Let this be the last time we find ourselves on the wrong side of that question. Because every day we as a nation allowed our lawmakers to keep the government closed was a day in which we as a people were complicit in replying "no."

Let this be the last time that a couple dozen Tea Party truckers are the only ones angry enough to take to the streets. The vast majority of Americans, whatever their anger when faced with pollsters or TV news interviewers, took this shutdown lying down, perhaps imagining -- incorrectly -- that they were powerless.

Let this be the last time we allow ourselves such lethargy. After all, there are 243 million Americans old enough to vote, which means 243 million ways to demand a government that serves the people instead of shutting them out.  Keep in mind that in the office of every member of Congress is a staffer tracking constituent calls. And what those constituents say actually matters in how legislators vote. They know that a flood of angry telephone calls from their home districts means legions of angry constituents ready to turn out in the next election and possibly turn them out of office.

Shutting Down Taxes

Americans, however, didn’t get angry enough to demand an end to the shutdown, perhaps at least in part because poisonous rhetoric had convinced many that the government was nothing more than a big, wasteful behemoth -- until, at least, it shut down on them. Think of these last weeks as a vivid lesson in reality, in the ways that every American is intimately connected to government services, whether by enjoying a safe food and water supply and Interstate highways, or through Meals on Wheels, cancer treatment, or tuition assistance for higher education, not to speak of Social Security checks and Medicare.

Deep in the politics of the shutdown lies another truth: that it was all about taxes -- about, to be more specific, the unwillingness of the Republicans to raise a penny of new tax revenue, even by closing egregious loopholes that give billions away to the richest Americans.  Simply shutting down the tax break on capital gains and dividends (at $83 billion annually) would be more than enough to triple funding for Head Start, domestic violence protection, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and cancer care at the NIH.

So let this be the last time we as a nation let our elected officials cut nutrition assistance for vulnerable children at the same moment that they protect deep tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. And let’s call recent events in Washington just what they are: breathtaking greed paired with a callous lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us.

It’s time to create a roll of dishonor and call out the lawmakers who supported the shutdown, knowing just what was involved: Mark Meadows (North Carolina, 11th congressional district), Walter Jones (NC-3), Rodney Davis (IL-13), John Mica (FL-7), Daniel Webster (FL-10), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Justin Amash (MI-3). And that’s just to start a list that seems never to end.

Such representatives obviously should not be reelected, but we need a long-haul strategy as well -- the unsexy yet necessary systemic set of changes that will ensure our government truly represents the people. Gerrymandered district lines must be redrawn fairly, which means that citizens in each state will have to wrest control over redistricting from biased political bodies. California has set the example. Then the big money must be pulled out of political campaigns, so that our politicians learn how to be something other than talented (and beholden) fundraisers.

Finally, we must build, person by person, an electorate that’s informed enough about how our government is supposed to work to fulfill its responsibility in this democracy: to ensure, that is, that it operates in the best interests of the broadest diversity of Americans.

Ahead will be long battles. They’ll take years. And it will be worth it if, in the end, we can give the right answer to that father who asked a question that should have been on everyone’s lips.

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US military admits three Gitmo hunger-strikers hospitalized, at least 10 force-fed

Published time: March 26, 2013 13:23
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Prisoners indefinitely detained at Guantanamo Bay have again been denied direct access to their lawyers. The US Navy has canceled commercial flights to the detention facility, where over 100 captives are reportedly continuing a 49-day-long hunger strike

Inmates' defense lawyers may have no way to reach Cuba's Guantanamo Bay prison after the Navy decided to discontinue commercial flights to the military base, allegedly because of an old regulation that had been 'overlooked.' The order came shortly after the lawyers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to take action to end the mass protest at Guantanamo.

More prisoners have allegedly joined the hunger strike this week; three were reportedly hospitalized, and 10 are being force-fed.

The inmates' lawyers have claimed that over 100 prisoners are taking part in the life-threatening hunger strike; according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, 130 inmates are taking part in the mass protest over their treatment and conditions at the prison. Many of them have reportedly lost a substantial amount of weight.

Pardiss Kebriaei an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents a Yemeni Gitmo detainee, told RT there were “serious health repercussions” to the hunger strike, now in its eighth week, such as “loss of hearing, potential blindness.”

“There is potential for death as well if the hunger strike continues for weeks,” the lawyer warned. Her client has allegedly lost 20lbs (9kg) since the beginning of the strike.

The collective protest was reportedly triggered by the prison staff’s seizure of inmates' personal belongings. The hunger strike began on February 6, with the prisoners protesting against the confiscation of their personal letters, photographs and mail, as well as the allegedly sacrilegious handling of their Korans during searches of their cells.

While US officials have downplayed the hunger strike, the case has drawn severe criticism from the international community. Although half of Guantanamo detainees have received papers from the US government clearing them to be transferred out of the prison, they are still being held at the camp.

“Indefinite detention without charge at Guantanamo and Bagram and unfair military commission trials are a damaging blight on the human rights record of the United States. We urge the US government to bring an end to these illegal practices by either prosecuting these detainees in civilian courts or releasing them,” the UN said in a statement.

Amnesty International has called Guantanamo an “American gulag.”

“Instead of justice for the 9/11 attacks, Guantanamo has brought us torture, indefinite detention, unfair trials and hunger strikes,” Amnesty International’s head of the Security with Human Rights Campaign said.

A few months ago, the US State Department shut down the legal office working to close the prison. The detention camp in eastern Cuba reportedly holds 166 men seized in counterterrorism operations, most of whom have been held without charge for a decade.

Human rights organizations have reported hundreds of suicide attempts, at least seven of which were successful. Last September, a Yemeni detainee took his life after spending more than a decade at Guantanamo. Adnan Latif had been cleared for transfer by both the Bush and Obama administrations, but was never released.

Although Barack Obama pledged to shut down the facility at the beginning of his first term as president, the facility remains open.

Last week, the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) requested $49 million to build a new prison building at Guantanamo Bay to give shelter to “special detainees,” as well as to carry out other “necessary” renovations.

The proposed facility was conceived as replacement for Camp 7, which was constructed to hold 14 “high-value” detainees – including the self-described 9/11 attack architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – who had been in CIA custody, but were handed over to the military in 2006.

Maliki’s Iraq: Rape, Executions and Torture

Iraq is wracked by detentions, torture, and executions, and fingers are pointing at Prime Minister Maliki.

Baghdad - Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.

"I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces," she told Al Jazeera. "I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell."

Heba was charged with terrorism, a fate faced by many Iraqis who are detained by security forces.

"I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running," Heba added. "I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon."

Heba's story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as "a grim cycle of human rights abuses" in Iraq today.

The report, "Iraq: Still paying a high price after a decade of abuses", exposes a long chronology of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees committed by Iraqi security forces, as well as by foreign troops, in the wake of the US-led 2003 invasion.

One Iraqi woman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said her nephew was first detained when he was just 18. Held under the infamous Article Four which gives the government the ability to arrest anyone "suspected" of terrorism, he was charged with terrorism. She told, in detail, of how her nephew was treated:

"They beat him with metal pipes, used harsh curse words and swore against his sect and his Allah (because he is Sunni) and why God was not helping him, and that they would bring up the prisoners' mothers and sisters to rape them," she explained to Al Jazeera. "Then they used electricity to burn different places of his body. They took all his cloths off in winter and left them naked out in the yard to freeze."

Her nephew, who was released after four years imprisonment after the Iraqi appeals court deemed him innocent, was then arrested 10 days after his release, again under Article 4. This law gives the government of Prime Minister Maliki broad license to detain Iraqis. Article four and other laws provide the government the ability to impose the death penalty for nearly 50 crimes, including terrorism, kidnapping, and murder, but also for offenses such as damage to public property.

While her nephew was free, he informed his aunt of how he and other detainees were tortured.

"They made some other inmates stand barefoot during Iraq's summer on burning concrete pavement to have sunburn, and without drinking water until they fainted. They took some of them, broke so many of their bones, mutilated their faces with a knife and threw them back in the cell to let the others know that this is what will happen to them."

She said her nephew was tortured daily, as he wouldn't confess to a crime he says he didn't commit. He wouldn't give names of his co-conspirators, as there were none, she said.

"Finally, after the death of many of his inmates under torture, he agreed to sign up a false confession written by the interrogators, even though he had witnesses who have seen him in another place the day that crime has happened," she added.

He remains in prison, where he has told his aunt he is now being tortured by militiamen and one of his eyes has been lanced by them.

Yousef Abdul Rahman has an equally shocking story, from being detained in 2011 and spending four months in "the worst of prisons".

"I was kept in a Maliki prison, where they dumped cold water on me and used electricity on me," he told Al Jazeera. "Many of the prisoners with me were raped. They were raped with sticks and bottles. I saw the blood on their bodies, and I saw so many men this happened to."

In today's Iraq, it is unfortunately all too easy to find Iraqis who have had loved ones who have been detained and tortured, and the trend is increasing, according to Iraqis Al Jazeera spoke with, along with several human rights groups.

'This was really harmful to me'

Ahmed Hassan, a 43-year-old taxi driver, was detained by Iraqi police at his home in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad in December 2008. He was charged with "terrorism", and held in a federal police prison in nearby Khadimiyah.

Hassan told Al Jazeera the prison was run by the Ministry of Interior, but alleged it was overseen by Prime Minister al-Maliki himself.

He said he was regularly tortured and held in a six-by-four metre cell with "at least 120 detainees, with a small toilet that has no door, and scarce running water".

Prisoners received one meal a day that was often undercooked. And it was so crowded that "most of us would be forced to sleep standing", he said.

Hassan explained that his jailors had "various techniques of torture".

Iraqis held in what are now commonly referred to as "Maliki's jails" are telling horror stories of torture techniques used, including beatings, hangings, and electricity. [GALLO/GETTY]

"They forced me to drink huge amounts of water and then would tie up the head of my penis so I could not urinate. This was really harmful to me," said Hassan.

Another method was to "take off my fingernails with a pair of pliers, one by one."

This was an attempt to elicit confessions for crimes he said he never committed.

Hassan said he was also hung upside down from his feet with his head placed in a bucket of water while he was whipped with plastic rods.

Stories of detentions and torture and executions are everywhere in today's Iraq.

Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of the ongoing demonstrations in Fallujah against the Maliki government, told Al Jazeera there that "thousands of Fallujans have been detained and we don't know how many are now dead or on death row."

"The fighting from 2004 has never stopped," he added. "We simply switched from fighting the Americans to fighting Maliki and his injustice and corruption."

Another Fallujah sheikh, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera he was detained and tortured by "Maliki's forces" in 2012.

"I was taken to the Khadamiyah prison [in Baghdad] and tortured there," he said while pulling up his shirt to reveal dark puncture wounds across his back. "I was beaten with sticks, punched, starved, spit upon, and hung by my ankles and then wrists. Maliki is even worse than the Americans."

Iraq currently has one of the highest rates of death sentences in the world, and Sunnis say they are suffering disproportionately from the killings.

Stories like those from Jassim and Hassan are exactly the kind referenced in the recent Amnesty International report.

"Torture is rife and committed with impunity by government security forces, particularly against detainees arrested under anti-terrorism while they are held incommunicado for interrogation," the report states.

"Detainees have alleged that they were tortured to force them to 'confess' to serious crimes or to incriminate others while held in these conditions. Many have repudiated their confessions at trial only to see the courts admit them as evidence of their guilt, without investigating their torture allegations, sentencing them to long term imprisonment or death."

Executions and International Condemnation

Saadiya Naif, 60, has had three of her sons executed – two by American forces during the occupation, and one in 2008 by Iraqis.

"Baker was arrested by Iraqi police and held for one and a half years," she told Al Jazeera, while weeping. "He was only 19 when they executed him. I tried to use lawyers to get him out of prison, but all three of them received death threats. Then, after one and a half years in prison, he phoned me to say goodbye, because he was to be executed the next day."

According to international human rights groups, at least 3,000 Iraqis received death sentences since 2005, which was the year capital punishment was reinstated after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

At least 447 prisoners have been executed since 2005, and hundreds of prisoners wait on death row. In addition, 129 prisoners were hanged in 2012.

The government of Prime Minister Maliki has been strongly criticised by both the UN and several other human rights groups for the number of executions being carried out.

Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said last year he was alarmed by reports of individuals who remain at risk of execution. "I am appalled about the level of executions in Iraq. I deeply deplore the executions carried out."

The surge in state-sanctioned killings has also drawn sharp criticism from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who called it "a sharp increase from previous years".

"Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, this is truly a shocking figure," Pillay said.

Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East director, Joe Stork, said Iraq "has a huge problem with torture and unfair trials".

Lisa Hajjar is a professor of sociology at University of California Santa Barbara and a visiting professor at American University Beirut. Her work focuses on torture and detention issues in the context of war.

She said the situation in Iraq is common in ongoing civil wars, with the regime in power attempting to eliminate opponents from the past. Hajjar described the executions and torture as "intentional state terror".

"I call it terroristic torture," Hajjar told Al Jazeera. "When people are tortured or there are extrajudicial executions, the purpose is to dissuade others. The goal is to create a visible spectacle, and the purpose is to terrorise communities into quiescence."

In response to this kind of international criticism, Iraq's Justice Ministry said torture might happen in isolated incidents, and the media exaggerates it.

"The international community has not been fair with the Iraqi people," Justice Ministry spokesman Haider al-Sadee recently told Al Jazeera. "When there is an explosion in America the whole world is rocked and countries are invaded as a result. But when Iraq defends its rights and executes a person after convicting him of a crime, international organisations condemn it."

"Speaking as an Iraqi citizen," he added. "I believe the least that should be done to show justice to the families of victims is to execute them publicly."

This cavalier attitude, along with increasing rates of detentions, reports of ongoing torture, and increasing executions, have factored largely into why predominantly Sunni areas of Iraq, like Baghdad's Al-Adhamiyah neighbourhood and much of Al-Anbar province, are holding regular demonstrations against Maliki's government.

Protests

Every Friday in Fallujah, for three months now, hundreds of thousands have demonstrated and prayed on the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, which runs just past the outskirts of that city.

People in Fallujah, and the rest of Iraq's vast Anbar province, are enraged at the government of Prime Minister Maliki. They say his security forces, heavily populated by members of various Shia militias, have been killing and detaining Sunnis in Anbar Province, as well as across much of Baghdad.

Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of recent demonstrations, made it clear to Al Jazeera why the protests have been ongoing.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is currently being accused of "being worse than the Americans" by people in Fallujah, or told Al Jazeera of ongoing detentions and executions being carried out by the Maliki government [GALLO/GETTY]

"We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding Fallujah, we demand they allow in the press, we demand they end their unlawful home raids and detentions, we demand an end to federalism and gangsters and secret prisons," he told Al Jazeera inside a tent just prior to recent Friday demonstrations.

Sheikh Jumaili went on to tell Al Jazeera that the millions of people in Anbar province had withdrawn all their demands on the Maliki government, because none of them had been met.

"Now we demand a change in the regime and a change in the constitution," he said. "We will not stop these demonstrations."

The Sheikh was then asked what would happen if the Maliki government did not listen to the demands of the protestors.

"Maybe armed struggle comes next," he replied.

While there is no way of linking the events, on March 14 Iraq's Ministry of Justice was attacked by at least one car bomb and a suicide bomber, as part of a series of coordinated attacks that rocked Baghdad, killing 24 and injuring at least 50 others.

Meanwhile, protests against the Maliki government's ongoing use of detentions, torture, and executions continue in Sunni areas around Iraq, with no sign of abatement.

Ongoing Condemnation

"Death sentences and executions are being used on a horrendous scale," Amnesty International's Hadj Sahraoui said in the group's recent report. "It is particularly abhorrent that many prisoners have been sentenced to death after unfair trials and on the basis of confessions they say they were forced to make under torture."

"It is high time that the Iraqi authorities end this appalling cycle of abuse and declare a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty for all crimes," he added.

Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers, a Middle East Researcher working on Iraq, said she has received a wide range of figures from various sources as to the number of actual detainees.

"Iraq's Ministry of Justice claims 30,000 people in Ministry of Justice and Interior Ministry detention facilities, but there are a lot contradictions from the government," Evers told Al Jazeera. "I've had another source put the number at 50,000. The fact that the number varies so widely and that information on where and how people are detained is not widely available points to a larger problem."

A point made to Al Jazeera by many Iraqis is this: perhaps the Maliki government does not need secret prisons anymore, because it instead has "secret prisoners."

What is meant by this is that since the Iraqi security apparatus is not operating by the rule of law by carrying out arbitrary detentions and no due process, it is thus easy enough to detain people and hold them in normal facilities without having any record of them.

In this way it is possible for the government to interrogate ordinary Iraqis using any method it chooses, because the families and friends of the detainees have no idea where the detainee is, or how long they will be kept there.

Human Rights Watch told Al Jazeera the problem in Iraq today is "secret prisoners" since so many Iraqis are being detained that are not being registered with the government [GALLO/GETTY]

Evers went on to point out that the fact that the Iraqi justice system is so opaque points to the route of the problem.

"Which is that these institutions are failing, and it is a misnomer to call it a justice system as it's certainly not actually meting out justice," she said.

Amnesty International's report is based on information gathered from multiple sources, including interviews with detainees, victims' families, refugees, lawyers, human rights activists and others, plus reviews of court papers and other official documents.

Amnesty International sent its latest findings to the Iraqi government in December 2012 but has yet to receive any response.

"The real tragedy here is that not only are ordinary Iraqis suffering from ongoing terrorist attacks, but from the fact that the institutions that are supposed to protect them are instead targeting them," Evers concluded. "By invoking ordinary Iraqis' suffering from ongoing terrorist attacks and instability, the government implies that somehow it's OK to violate people's human rights under the guise of protecting them, and clearly even this not working."

US Looks to Overhaul Massive Immigration Detention System

WASHINGTON - Rights groups and government officials here have been testifying in a string of hearings, before both bodies of the U.S. Congress, on how to overhaul the United States’ huge immigration detention system, the scope of which has expanded massively in recent years in ways that some suggest impinge on civil and human rights.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. government has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into stepping up border security and taken an increasingly hard line on immigration issues. (Photo: Getty images) According to official estimates, the federal government will detain some 400,000 people on immigration charges this year, at a cost of around two billion dollars. Activists say the size and functioning of the immigration detention system are out of alignment with “U.S. values” – and, increasingly, Washington politicians appear to agree.

“We are a nation of immigrants, but our immigration law is inconsistent with America’s values,” Senator Chris Coons stated at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. “Our immigration system exacts a high cost on families, on civil liberties and on human dignity. This cost is unnecessary, unwarranted and unfair.”

Coons said the U.S. government is currently paying more than 160 dollars per day for those kept in some 250 immigration detention centres. He also noted that Congress-stipulated “bed quotas” – around 34,000 at any given time – for these centres appear to be driving policies at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and are responsible for keeping far more people under detention than otherwise would be necessary.

If these people are not public safety risks … why are they detained at all?

That’s “enormously expensive”, Coons noted. “It could be cheaper while also better serving both our national security and our national commitment to civil rights.”

Indeed, the hearings come in the aftermath of a surprise announcement, early this month, that the government would be releasing nearly 2,300 people awaiting immigration trials. That number included “many who did not require detention by law”, according to testimony at the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday by John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

While Morton explained the move as a necessary cost-cutting measure given the massive budget-cutting that came into effect at the beginning of March, the decision has outraged some conservatives. Yet ICE will save tens of millions of dollars on this move alone, simply in allowing immigrants awaiting trial to remain out on their own recognisance.

“It looks to me like maybe there’s an overuse of detention by this administration,” Representative Spencer Bachus, a conservative, told Morton, at Tuesday’s House hearing. “If these people are not public safety risks … why are they detained at all?”

In response, Morton admitted, “For many of the long-term residents, frankly, it doesn’t make any sense either as a matter of policy.”

The hearings are part of a flurry of bipartisan activity, both in Washington and nationally, aimed at reforming the United States’ sprawling, creaky immigration system. On Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi, a key Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, expressed optimism that the Congress would approve a comprehensive immigration reform package “before summer”.

Yet Senator Coons, who chaired Wednesday’s Senate hearing, warned that comprehensive reform “cannot be truly comprehensive if it does not address serious current flaws that deny immigrants minimum due process rights that are consistent with America’s values.”

He warned that today’s detention system “looks in many ways like a criminal proceeding”. Unlike in an actual criminal case, however, U.S. law does not offer those brought up on immigration charges the right to an attorney.

Compromised, punitive process

Over the past two decades, the U.S. government has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into stepping up border security and taken an increasingly hard line on immigration issues. The swollen detention system is one unintended corollary of this focus.

Legislation was significantly tightened in 1996, which among other things vastly expanded the number of immigration-related offences considered felonies and which would require automatic deportation. Some of these laws were again strengthened on terrorism worries in the aftermath of the attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, but President Barack Obama has surprised many by deporting far more people than his predecessors had.

Rolling back some of these automatic penalties are now a central part of the push for reforms. Under the 1996 law, for instance, Congress largely did away with immigration judges’ discretion in ruling on immigration violations – for instance, taking into account how long a migrant had been in the country, the person’s work experience and the hardship that deportation may impose on his or her family.

“This change made for a far more punitive system,” Muzaffar Chishti, director of the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank, told IPS. “Since 1996 especially, we’ve had a much more compromised review process, both at the administrative level and at the official level.”

By 2002, an immigration-specific appeals system was experiencing a massive backlog, prompting officials to allow the appeals process to proceed on a simple up-or-down decision by a single judge, with no explanation for verdicts. This led to a huge increase in the amount of cases appealed to the federal court system, Chishti says, to the point where half of the caseloads in some circuits today are immigration cases.

At Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Ahilan T. Arulanantham, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, noted that immigration defendants were being forced to spend months or even years behind bars awaiting trial. He also noted that new technologies are available today that would cheaply and efficiently allow the accused to remain outside of detention but still ensure that they appear at required court dates.

Commitment to refuge

Meanwhile, some within the U.S. immigration detention system probably shouldn’t even be there in the first place. Critics point in particular to refugees and asylum-seekers.

“The United States has a long history of protecting and providing refuge to victims of persecution,” Sarah Ibrahim, with Human Rights First, an advocacy group, told IPS.

“But what we’ve seen recently is the U.S. faltering in this commitment – for instance, by imposing deadlines that require asylum applications to be filed within a year of entry into the United States. We are also failing these people by keeping those under detention in jails and jail-like facilities without prompt judicial review, and at the behest of an underfunded and overstretched court system.”

In February, Human Rights First and more than 160 other organisations sent a letter to President Obama stating that “immigration reform legislation must include key changes to the U.S. asylum system to better ensure that refugees who seek the protection of the United States are afforded meaningful access to a fair, effective and timely asylum adjudication process.”

© 2013 IPS North America

Gitmo press agent denies abuses amid ongoing hunger strike

Published time: March 18, 2013 13:17
U.S. Navy guards walk inside fencing of Camp VI, the maximum security detention facility for terrorism suspects at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Reuters/Randall Mikkelsen)

Despite a long history of reported human rights abuses at Guantanamo prison, which both the UN and US President Barack Obama denounced as torture, the prison’s Director of Public Affairs Captain Robert Durand has denied any wrongdoing.

“We will continue to carry out our mission to provide a safe and humane environment,”  he said.

Earlier this month, Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) denied the existence of an ongoing hunger strike at the facility.  Durand called detainee allegations of mistreatment, “outright falsehoods and gross exaggerations,” implying that the protest was insignificant compared to one that took place in 2006. He also claimed that detainees had fabricated incidents of misconduct.

“If the definition of a hunger striker is entirely in their control and is a matter of their discretion, then I think that explains how they are able to say that there are no more than a handful of men on hunger strike,” Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told RT.  

“While JTF-GTMO continues to deny the existence of a mass hunger strike at Guantánamo, attorneys report that the prisoners’ health is declining rapidly as the hunger strike enters its second month,” CCR said in a statement on Thursday.

Gitmo prisoners have reportedly been on a hunger strike over alleged mistreatment at the hands of prison guards. Some 130 people housed in Camp 6 of Guantanamo Bay are believed to be participating, and a reported two-dozen men have lost consciousness due to their low blood glucose levels from the hunger strike.

The prisoners are protesting against the sacrilegious disrespect displayed towards their religion by the confiscation of Korans, according to detainees and their lawyers. Although Durand has categorically denied “any claims of abuse, desecration or mishandling,” it is unclear how he defined those terms.

Mishandling does not necessarily mean covering the book’s pages in graffiti, burning it or otherwise mutilating it, but rather through a simple act such as touching it without being physically or spiritually clean. Many Muslim scholars assert that non-believers handling the text can also constitute an act of desecration.

“There have been no incidents of mishandling the Quran by guards or translators… JTF-GTMO guards are to avoid touching any detainee's Quran at any time.”  However, he did not confirm or deny whether detainees religious’ texts were touched by the translators, who have been accused of mishandling them.

Approximately five men have been subjected to force-feeding – a procedure that can be considered a form of ‘cruel or unusual punishment,’ contrary to the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution and tantamount to torture, according to a UN Human Rights Commission report in 2006. The same report demanded the immediate closure of the offshore prison, and to cease all such “practices amounting to torture.”

Force-feeding involves restraining a detainee by strapping them into a chair, inserting a tube down their throat and into the stomach, often through the nose; Durand confirmed that the five undergoing force-feeding have been subjected to the nostril-tube method.

Durand maintains that the “mission of Joint Task Force Guantanamo is the safe, legal, humane and transparent care and custody of detainees,” adding that JTF-GTMO “takes its duty to treat detainees very humanely and very seriously.”

Amnesty International has said that practices at the camp constitute “gross human rights abuses,” and illegal detention.

 A promise made, a promise broken


In January 2009, shortly after President Obama was inaugurated, he ordered the facility to be closed within a year, and banned certain interrogation methods after the US government admitted to torturing some of the detainees.  

However, in May of that year, the US Senate refused to allow the prison to be closed until the president provided more detail as to what would be done with the prisoners.

In mid-October 2009, Congress voted to allow some Guantanamo detainees to be moved to the United States for prosecution. But at the end of 2010, Congress approved a defense spending bill that forbade Guantanamo detainees from being tried in the US. And in January 2011, President Obama signed a Defense Authorization Bill that ruled out shutting down Guantanamo, and prevented the transfer of prisoners from the camp.

In March 2011, Obama signed an executive order resuming military trials for Guantanamo detainees – a move seen by many as a complete reversal of his previous policy. And in December 2011, the president refused to veto the national defense bill, paving the way for prisoners to be held indefinitely and without charge, and extending the ban on moving them from the prison.

Finally, in July of last year, the Pentagon announced its plans to lay a $40-million fiber-optic cable from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland, signaling their apparent intent to keep the facility open for the foreseeable future.

In 2004, the US drafted a document attempting to justify the continued imprisonment of the Guantanamo detainees, saying that since the US was engaged in a “real” war against Al-Qaeda, the “law of war therefore applies and allows us to hold enemy combatants without trial or charges until the end of the conflict.”

The UN issued a statement this week that the US is violating international human rights law by holding detainees indefinitely without charges.

RT's letter from Durand

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Veronica,

Sorry for the delay in response. The statement below is attributable to me, Captain Robert Durand, Director of Public Affairs, Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

The mission of Joint Task Force Guantanamo is the safe, legal, humane and transparent care and custody of detainees. We carry out this mission daily, and we take any allegation of misconduct very seriously.

The recent allegations by detainees that conditions at GTMO have deteriorated are patently false.  The JTF takes its duty to treat detainees humanely very seriously and seeks to ensure we conduct ourselves in accordance with the highest standards, and we remain under continual scrutiny, oversight, and inspection.  

Recent detainee allegations about incidents in the camps include outright falsehoods and gross exaggerations.  The claims of a mass hunger strike and an incident in which the Quran was mishandled are simply untrue.  First, we take extraordinary care to respect the Quran and categorically deny any claims of abuse, desecration or mishandling.  The number of detainees refusing all food has increased from six when the first allegation was made to 14 today; this is in comparison to 2006 when we had as many as more than 100 hunger strikers.  It certainly is not a widespread phenomenon as alleged.  Detainees have colluded among themselves to fabricate incidents and claim misconduct where there has been none.  Detainees have acted out individually, recently splashing guards with various bodily fluids and excrement, but there have not been any large-scale incidents.  These are coordinated acts specifically designed to attract media attention.

The medical staff continuously monitors and provides outstanding medical care to detainees in our custody.  The health and well-being of detainees is their primary mission and they take this duty as seriously as they would a duty to treat our own service members or any patient in their care.  The reports of hunger-strike related deteriorating health and detainees losing massive amounts of weight are simply untrue.

Regardless of these most recent allegations, we will continue to carry out our mission to provide a safe and humane environment for the detainees, and ensure the safety of our guard force.

Specifically, regarding the Quran, I can tell you that there have been no incidents of mishandling the Quran by guards or translators.

Per SOP (standard operating procedures), JTF-Guantanamo guards are to avoid touching any detainee's Quran at any time. The Quran is treated with the utmost respect..

Each detainee has available a personal Quran.  Detainees are also provided religious articles, such as prayer mats and beads that are used during the practice of their faith. Prayer times are posted in the camp, and silence is maintained by the guards and staff during prayer times. Understanding the detainees' religious practices and cultural norms is an essential part of training for all who work with detainees.

Regarding searches, there has been no change to our cell or block search SOPs.  We routinely conduct searches for contraband that could be used to harm guards, medical personnel, translators, instructors, attorneys or detainees. Contraband items found can include improvised weapons, communication devices, unauthorized food and medicine, and other items which detainees could utilize to harm themselves or others.

Our search procedures reflect our mission to treat detainees humanely. We respect both their religious and cultural norms with regard to the Quran, personal privacy and physical contact.

Detainees who follow camp rules have access to satellite television, personal DVD players, video games and more than 25,000 books, CDs, movies and TV shows. They also have many comfort items, including materials for crafts and extra food that detainees can store for snacks or treats in between meals.. Allowing these items provides incentives for the detainees to comply with well-established camp rules, but also provides them the opportunity to create and hide contraband.

Detainees who violate camp rules may have privileges suspended as a consequence. This may include moving from a communal block to a single cell, and loss of comfort items. Detainees know the rules, understand the consequences, and can regain their privileges by complying with camp rules.  Detainees in single cell confinement have basic issue items for clothing, hygiene and religious observances.

Detainees are never held in solitary confinement.  At no time is a detainee deprived of the basic elements of humane treatment: food, water, religious articles, hygiene items, medical treatment, or physical recreation opportunities.

Turkey Targets Press Freedom

No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Ragip Zarakolu understands well. He's a prominent human rights activist/publisher. He's a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He's been maliciously targeted for years.

The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC)

The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC)

Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the XIXth and XXth centuries, reappeared in the 1960’s during the decolonization period operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.

These non-state entities of the XXIst century operate in extremely blurred situations where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations recruiting former militaries as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.

However, these individuals cannot be considered as civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive/defensive to an active/offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law either, since they are not part of the army or in the chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.

PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.

Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally, with the mandate: “To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights (…) and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities”.

During the past five years, the Working Group has been studying emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding private military and security companies.  In our reports we have informed the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly about these issues. Of particular importance are the reports of the Working Group to the last session of the Human Rights Council, held in September 2010, on the Mission to the United States of America  (20 July to 3 August 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.3; on the Mission to Afghanistan (4-9 April 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.2, and the general report of the Working Group containing the Draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council, Document A/HRC/15/25.

In the course of our research, since 2006, we have collected ample information which indicate the negative impact of the activities of “private contractors”, “private soldiers” or “guns for hire”, whatever denomination we may choose to name the individuals employed by private military and security companies as civilians but in general heavily armed. In the cluster of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by employees of these companies, which the Working Group has examined one can find: summary executions, acts of torture, cases of arbitrary detention; of trafficking of persons; serious health damages caused by their activities; as well as attempts against the right of self-determination. It also appears that PMSCs, in their search for profit, neglect security and do not provide their employees with their basic rights, and often put their staff in situations of danger and vulnerability.

Summary executions

On 16 September 2007 in Baghdad, employees of the US-based firm Blackwater[1] were involved in a shooting incident in Nisoor Square in which 17 civilians were killed and more than 20 other persons were wounded including women and children. Local eyewitness accounts indicate the use of arms from vehicles and rocket fire from a helicopter belonging to this company.

There are also concerns over the activities and approach of PMSC personnel, their convoys of armored vehicles and their conduct in traffic, in particular their use of lethal force. This particular incident was not the first of its kind, neither the first involving Blackwater.

According to a congressional report on the behaviour of Xe/Blackwater in Iraq, Xe/Blackwater guards were found to have been involved in nearly 200 escalation-of-force incidents that involved the firing of shots since 2005. Despite the terms of the contracts which provided that the company could engage only in defensive use of force, the company reported that in over 80 per cent of the shooting incidents, its forces fired the first shots.

In Najaf in April 2004 and on several other occasions, employees of this company took part in direct hostilities, as well as in May 2007, where another incident involving the same company reportedly occurred involving guards belonging to the company and forces belonging to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior allegedly exchanged gunfire in a sector of Baghdad.

Also in central Baghdad the shooting of employees of the PMSC, Unity Resources Group (URG)[2], protecting a convoy, left two Armenian women, Genevia Antranick and Mary Awanis dead on 9 October 2007 when their car came too close to a protected convoy. The family of Genevia Antranick was offered no compensation and has begun court proceedings against URG in the United States.

This company was also involved in the shooting of 72-year-old Australian Kays Juma. Professor Juma was shot in March 2006 as he approached an intersection being blockaded for a convoy URG was protecting. Professor Juma, a 25-year resident of Baghdad who drove through the city every day, allegedly sped up his vehicle as he approached the guards and did not heed warnings to stop, including hand signals, flares, warning shots into the body of his car and floodlights. The incident occurred at 10am[3].

Torture

Two United States-based corporations, CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), were involved in the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. CACI and L-3 Services, contracted by the Government of the United States, were responsible for interrogation and translation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq.

Seventy two Iraqi citizens who were formerly detained at military prisons in Iraq, have sued L-3 Services, Inc. (“L-3”), a military private contractor which provided civilian translators for United States military forces in Iraq and Adel Nakhla, a former employee of L-3 who served as one of its translators there under the Alien Tort Statute. They allege having been tortured and physically and mentally abused during their detention and that they should be held liable in damages for their actions. The plaintiffs assert 20 causes of action, among which: torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress[4].

Arbitrary detention 

A number of reports indicate that private security guards have played central roles in some of the most sensitive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) such as the arbitrary detention and clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan[5] and the involvement in CIA rendition flights[6] as well as joint covert operations[7]. Employees of PMSC would have been involved in the taking of detainees, from “pick up points” (such as Tuzla, Islamabad or Skopje) transporting them in rendition flights and delivering them to drop off points (such as Cairo, Rabat, Bucharest, Amman or Guantanamo) as well as in the construction, equipping and staffing of CIA’s “black sites”.

Within this context, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. (a subsidiary company of Boeing) on behalf of five persons who were kidnapped by the CIA disappearing in overseas prisons kept by USA secret services. Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support. The five persons were tortured during their arbitrary detention[8].

Health

The 2009 annual report of DynCorp International refers to four lawsuits concerning the spraying of narcotic plant crops along the Colombian border adjacent to Ecuador on behalf of 3 Ecuadorian Providences and 3266 plaintiffs[9].

From 1991, the United States Department of State contracted the private company DynCorp to supply services for this air-spraying program against narcotics in the Andean region. In accordance with the subscribed contract of 30 January 1998, DynCorp provides the essential logistics to the anti-drug Office of activities of Colombia, in conformity with three main objectives: eradication of cultivations of illicit drugs, training of the army and of personnel of the country, and dismantling of illicit drug laboratories and illicit drug-trafficking networks.

An NGO report indicated the consequences of the spraying carried out within the Plan Colombia had on persons living in the frontier region[10].  One third of the 47 women in the study exposed to the spraying showed cells with some genetic damage. The study established the relationship of the air fumigations of the Plan Colombia with damages in the genetic material. The study demonstrates that when the population is subjected to fumigations “the risk of cellular damage can increase and that, once permanent, the cases of cancerous mutations and important embryonic alterations are increased that prompt among other possibilities the rise in abortions in the area.

This example is particularly important given that Plan Colombia has served as the model for the arrangements that the United States would apply later to Iraq and Afghanistan. Plan Colombia provides immunity to the employees of the PMSC contracted (DynCorp) the same as Order 14 of the Coalition Provisional Authority did in Iraq.

Self-determination

The 2004 attempted coup d’état, which was perpetrated in Equatorial Guinea is a clear example of the link between the phenomenon of mercenaries and PMSCs as a means of violating the sovereignty of States. In this particular case, the mercenaries involved were mostly former directors and personnel of Executive Outcomes, a PMSC that had become famous for its operations in Angola and Sierra Leone. The team of mercenaries also included security guards who were still employed by PMSCs as was the case of two employees of the company Meteoric Tactical Systems providing security to diplomats of Western Embassies in Baghdad-among which to the Ambassador of Switzerland. It also included a security guard who had previously worked for the PMSC “Steele Foundation” and had given protection to President Aristide of Haiti and conducted him to the plane who took him to exile[11].

Trafficking in persons

In 2005, 105 Chileans were providing/or undergoing military training in the former army base of Lepaterique in Honduras. The instruction consisted in anti‐guerrilla tactics such as possible ambushes and deactivation of explosives and mortars how to avoid them. The Chileans had entered Honduras as tourists and were illegally in Honduras. They used high‐caliber weapons such as M‐16 rifles or light machine guns. They had been contracted by a subsidiary of Triple Canopy.

They were part of a group, which included also 189 Hondurans recruited and trained in Honduras. Triple Canopy had been awarded a contract by the United States Department of State. The strong contingent left the country by air from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in several groups with a stopover in Iceland. Then reached the Middle East and were smuggled into Iraq[12].

The majority of the Chileans and Hondurans were engaged as security guards at fixed facilities in Iraq. They had been contracted by Your Solutions Honduras SRL, a local agent of Your Solutions Incorporated, registered in Illinois, United States of America, which in turn had been subcontracted by Triple Canopy, based in Chicago, United States of America. Some of the Chileans are presently working in Baghdad providing security to the Embassy of Australia under a contract by Unity Resources Group (URG).

Human rights violations committed by PMSC to their employees

PMSC often put the contracted private guards in situations of danger and vulnerability, such as the ‘private contractors’ of Blackwater, killed in Fallujah in 2004 allegedly due to the lack of the necessary safety means that Blackwater was supposed to provide in order to carry out the mission.

It should not be forgotten that this incident changed dramatically the course of the war and the occupation by the United States in Iraq. It may be considered as the turning point in the occupation of Iraq. This led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city and a successful recapture operation in the city in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury, which resulted in the death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 America troops were killed, and 560 wounded.

The U.S. military first denied that it has use white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in Fallujah, but later retracted that denial, and admitted to using the incendiary in the city as an offensive weapon. Reports following the events of November 2004 have alleged war crimes, and a massacre by U.S. personnel, including indiscriminate violence against civilians and children.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah – cite_note-17 This point of view is presented in the 2005 documentary film, “Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre”. In 2010, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a leading medical journal, published a study, which shows that the rates of cancer, infant mortality and leukemia exceed those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki[13].

The over 300 000 classified military documents made public by Wikileaks show that the “Use of Contractors Added to War’s Chaos in Iraq”, as has been widely reported by the international media recently.

The United States has relied and continues to rely heavily on private military and security contractors in conducting its military operations. The United States used private security contractors to conduct narcotics intervention operations in Colombia in the 1990s and recently signed a supplemental agreement that authorizes it to deploy troops and contractors in seven Colombian military bases. During the conflict in the Balkans, the United States used a private security contractor to train Croat troops to conduct operations against Serbian troops. Nowadays, it is in the context of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular that the State is massively contracting out security functions to private firms.

In 2009, the Department of Defense employed 218,000 private contractors (all types) while there were 195,000 uniformed personnel. According to the figures, about 8 per cent of these contractors are armed security contractors, i.e. about 20,000 armed guards. If one includes other theatres of operations, the figure rises to 242,657, with 54,387 United States citizens, 94,260 third country nationals and 94,010 host-country nationals.

The State Department relies on about 2,000 private security contractors to provide United States personnel and facilities with personal protective and guard services in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Pakistan, and aviation services in Iraq. The contracts for protective services were awarded in 2005 to three PMSCs, namely, Triple Canopy, DynCorp International and the U.S. Training Center, part of the Xe (then Blackwater) group of companies. These three companies still hold the State Department protective services contracts today.

Lack of transparency

The information accessible to the public on the scope and type of contracts between the Government of the United States and PMSCs is scarce and opaque. The lack of transparency is particularly significant when companies subcontract to others. Often, the contracts with PMSCs are not disclosed to the public despite extensive freedom of information rules in the United States, either because they contain confidential commercial information or on the argument that non-disclosure is in the interest of national defense or foreign policy. The situation is particularly opaque when United States intelligence agencies contract PMSCs.

Lack of accountability

Despite the fact of their involvement in grave human rights violations, not a single PMSC or employee of these companies has been sanctioned.

In the course of litigation, several recurring legal arguments have been used in the defense of PMSCs and their personnel, including the Government contractor defense, the political question doctrine and derivative immunity arguments. PMSCs are using the Government contractor defense to argue that they were operating under the exclusive control of the Government of the United States when the alleged acts were committed and therefore cannot be held liable for their actions.

It looks as if when the acts are committed by agents of the government they are considered human rights violations but when these same acts are perpetrated by PMSC it is “business as usual”.

The human rights violation perpetrated by private military and security companies are indications of the threat posed to the foundations of democracy itself by the privatization of inherently public functions such as the monopoly of the legitimate use of force. In this connection I cannot help but to refer to the final speech of President Eisenhower.

In 1961, President Eisenhower warned the American public opinion against the growing danger of a military industrial complex stating: “(…) we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.

Fifty years later, on 8 September 2001, Donald Rumsfeld in his speech in the Department of Defence warned the militaries of the Pentagon against “an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America (…) Let’s make no mistake: The modernization of the Department of Defense is (…) a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s. (…) The adversary. (…) It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. (…)That’s why we’re here today challenging us all to wage an all-out campaign to shift Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to the tooth. We know the adversary. We know the threat. And with the same firmness of purpose that any effort against a determined adversary demands, we must get at it and stay at it. Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”

Rumsfeld should have said the shift from the Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the private sector. Indeed, that shift had been accelerated by the Bush Administration: the number of persons employed by contract which had been outsourced (privatized) by the Pentagon was already four times more than at the Department of Defense.

It is not anymore a military industrial complex but as Noam Chomsky has indicated “it’s just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext”.

The articles of the Washington Post “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control”, by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (19 July 2010) show the extent that “The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work”.

The investigation’s findings include that some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States; and that an estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. A number of private military and security companies are among the security and intelligence agencies mentioned in the report of the Washington Post.

The Working Group received information from several sources that up to 70 per cent of the budget of United States intelligence is spent on contractors. These contracts are classified and very little information is available to the public on the nature of the activities carried out by these contractors.

The privatization of war has created a structural dynamic, which responds to a commercial logic of the industry.

A short look at the careers of the current managers of BAE Systems, as well as on their address-books, confirms we are not any longer dealing with a normal corporation, but with a cartel uniting high tech weaponry (BAE Systems, United Defence Industries, Lockheed Martin), with speculative financiers (Lazard Frères, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank), together with raw material cartels (British Petroleum, Shell Oil) with on the ground, private military and security companies[14].

The majority of the private military and security companies has been created or are managed by former militaries or ex-policemen for whom it is big business. Just to give an example MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporation) was created by four former generals of the United States Army when they were due for retirement[15]. The same is true for Blackwater and its affiliate companies or subsidiaries, which employ former directors of the C.I.A.[16]. Social Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the Rotating Door Syndrome.

The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.

“Without contractors: (1) the military engagement would have had to be smaller–a strategically problematic alternative; (2) the United States would have had to deploy its finite number of active personnel for even longer tours of duty -a politically dicey and short-sighted option; (3) the United States would have had to consider a civilian draft or boost retention and recruitment by raising military pay significantly–two politically untenable options; or (4) the need for greater commitments from other nations would have arisen and with it, the United States would have had to make more concessions to build and sustain a truly multinational effort. Thus, the tangible differences in the type of war waged, the effect on military personnel, and the need for coalition partners are greatly magnified when the government has the option to supplement its troops with contractors”[17].

The military cannot do without them. There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE impact of Private Security Contracting on U.S. Goals in Afghanistan[18]

Conclusion I: The proliferation of private security personnel in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the counterinsurgency strategy. In May 2010 the U.S. Central Command’s Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate reported that there were more than 26,000 private security contractor personnel operating in Afghanistan. Many of those private security personnel are associated with armed groups that operate outside government control.

Conclusion 2: Afghan warlords and strongmen operating as force providers to private security contractors have acted against U.S. and Afghan government interests. Warlords and strongmen associated with U.S.-funded security contractors have been linked to anti Coalition activities, murder, bribery, and kidnapping. The Committee’s examination of the U.S. funded security contract with ArmorGroup at Shindand Airbase in Afghanistan revealed that ArmorGroup relied on a series of warlords to provide armed men to act as security, guards at the Airbase.

Open-ended intergovernmental working group established by the HR Council

Because of their impact in the enjoyment of human rights the Working Group on mercenaries in its 2010 reports to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly has recommended a legally binding instrument regulating and monitoring their activities at the national and international level.

The motion to create an open ended intergovernmental working group has been the object of lengthy negotiations, in the Human Rights Council, led by South Africa in order to accommodate the concerns of the Western Group, but primarily those of the United States and the United Kingdom and of a lot a pressure exerted in the capitals of African countries supporting the draft resolution. The text of the resolution was weakened in order to pass the resolution by consensus. But even so the position of the Western States has been a “fin de non recevoir”.

The resolution was adopted by a majority of 32 in favour, 12 against and 3 abstentions. Among the supporters of this initiative are four out of the five members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) in addition to the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group.

The adoption of this resolution opens an interesting process in the UN Human Rights Council where civil society can participate in the elaboration of an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.  The new open ended intergovernmental working group will be the forum for all stakeholders to receive inputs, not only the draft text of a possible convention and the elements elaborated by the UN Working Group on mercenaries but also of other initiatives such as the proposal submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Montreux Document and the international code of conduct being elaborated under the Swiss Initiative.

However, the negative vote of the delegations of the Western Group indicates that the interests of the new staggering security industry – its annual market revenue is estimated to be over USD one hundred billion – have been quite well defended as was the case in a number of other occasions. It also shows that Western governments will be absent from the start in a full in-depth discussion of the issues raised by the activities of PMSC.

We urge all States to support the process initiated by the Council by designating their representatives to the new open-ended intergovernmental working group, which will hold its first session in 2011, and to continue a process of discussions regarding a legally binding instrument.

The participation of the UK and USA main exporters of these activities (it is estimated at 70% the industry of security in these two countries) as well as other Western countries where the new industry is expanding is of particular importance.

The Working Group also urges the United States Government to implement the recommendations we made, in particular, to:

support the Congress Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act, which clearly defines the functions which are inherently governmental and that cannot be outsourced to the private sector;

rescind immunity to contractors carrying out activities in other countries under bilateral agreements;

carry out prompt and effective investigation of human rights violations committed by PMSCs and prosecute alleged perpetrators;

ensure that the oversight of private military and security contractors is not outsourced to PMSCs;
establish a specific system of federal licensing of PMSCs for their activities abroad;

set up a vetting procedure for awarding contracts to PMSCs;

ensure that United States criminal jurisdiction applies to private military and security companies contracted by the Government to carry out activities abroad; and

respond to pending communications from the Working Group.

The United Nations Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, initiated a review in November 2010 in Geneva, focussing on the human rights record of the United States. The above article is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on 3 November 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.

Notes

[1] Blackwater Worldwide abandoned its tarnished brand name in order to shake its reputation battered by its criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two-dozen businesses under the name Xe’, see Mike Baker, ‘Blackwater dumps tarnished brand name’, AP News Break, 13 February 2009.

[2] URG, an Australian private military and security company, uses a number of ex military Chileans to provide security to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. Recently one of those “private guards” shot himself, ABC News, reported by La Tercera, Chile, 16 September 2010.

[3]J.Mendes & S Mitchell, “Who is Unity Resources Group?”, ABC News Australia, 16 September 2010.

[4] Case 8:08-cv-01696-PJM, Document 103, Filed 07/29/10. Defendants have filed Motions to Dismiss on a number of grounds. They argue, among others, that the suit must be dismissed in its entirety because they are immune under the laws of war, because the suit raises non-justiciable political questions, and because they possess derivative sovereign immunity. They seek dismissal of the state law claims on the basis of government contractor immunity, premised on the notion that Plaintiffs cannot proceed on state law claims, which arise out of combatant activities of the military. The United States District Court for the district of Maryland Greenbelt Division has decided to proceed with the case against L-3 Services, Inc. It has not accepted the motions to dismiss allowing the case to go forward.

[5] Mission to the United States of America, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, United Nations document, A/HRC/15/25/Add.3, paragraphs 22.

[6] James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “Blackwater guards tied to secret C.I.A. raids ”, New York Times, 10

December 2009.

[7] Adam Ciralsky, “Tycoon, contractor, soldier, spy”, Vanity Fair, January 2010. See also Claim No. HQ08X02800 in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Binyam Mohamed v. Jeppesen UK Ltd, report of James Gavin Simpson, 26 May 2009.

[8]ACLU Press Release, UN Report Underscores Lack of Accountability and Oversight for Military and Security Contractors, New York, 14 September 2010.

[9] The reports also indicates that the Revenues of DynCorp for 2006 were of USD 1 966 993 and for 2009 USD 3 101 093

[10] Mission to Ecuador, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, United Nations document, A/HRC/4/42/Add.2

[11] A number of the persons involved in the attempted coup were arrested in Zimbabwe, other in Equatorial Guinea itself the place where the coup was intended to take place to overthrow the government and put another in its place in order to get the rich resources in oil. In 2004 and 2008 the trials took place in Equatorial Guinea of those arrested in connection with this coup attempt, including of the British citizen Simon Mann and the South African Nick du Toit. The President of Equatorial Guinea pardoned all foreigners linked to this coup attempt in November 2009 by. A number of reports indicated that trials failed to comply with international human rights standards and that some of the accused had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. The government of Equatorial Guinea has three ongoing trials in the United Kingdom, Spain and Lebanon against the persons who were behind the attempted coup.
[12] Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, Mission to Honduras, United Nations document A/HRC/4/42/Add.1.
[13] Wikipedia
[14] Mercenaries without borders by Karel Vereycken,  Friday Sep 21st, 2007
[15] Among which General Carl E. Vuono, Chief of the Army during the Gulf War and the invasion of Panama; General Crosbie E. Saint, former Commander in Chief of the  USA Army in Europe and General Ron Griffith. The President of MPRI is General Bantant J. Craddock.

[16] Such as Cofer Black, former Chief of the Counter Terrorism Center; Enrique Prado, former Chief of Operations and Rof Richter, second in command of the Clandestine Services of the Company
[17] Article published in the Spring 2010 issue of the University of Chicago Law Review, titled “Privatization’s Pretensions” by Jon D. Michaels, Acting Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law
[18] INQUIRY INTO THE ROLE AND OVERSIGHT OF PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTORS IN AFGHANISTAN, R E P O R T TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES UNITED STATES SENATE, 28 September 2010

‘America Doesn’t Torture’—It Kills

If the president can order the killing of 
American citizens abroad should he decide they are involved with Al Qaeda, can he assassinate suspected Al Qaeda–connected US citizens in London or Berlin? What about a suspect’s teenage son, a junior in a Canadian boarding school? If he can drop hellfire missiles on a house in northwestern Pakistan because he believes a terrorist cell is meeting inside, could he blow up a motel in Florida where supposed terrorists are staying and chalk up any dead vacationers as “collateral damage”? Of course not. Pakistan is completely different. Anwar al-Awlaki may have been a US citizen, but he was in Yemen, which is different too. As for his 16-year-old son, killed in Yemen in a drone attack some weeks later along with several other people, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put it well, if ungrammatically: “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well-being of their children.” Unlike in the United States, in Yemen kids choose their parents.President Barack Obama walks to the Marine One helicopter, February 13, 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Whatever happened to arresting people, extraditing them, giving them lawyers, putting them on trial—all that? Even in the hottest days of the Cold War, when millions believed communism threatened our very existence as a nation, Americans accused of spying for the Soviets had their day in court. No one suggested that President Eisenhower should skip the tiresome procedural stuff and just bomb the Rosenbergs’ apartment. 

The president and his choice to head the CIA, John Brennan, assure us that they are extremely careful, and the kill list is “legal, ethical and wise” (although they won’t tell us anything more about it). Brennan asserted in 2011 that no civilians have been killed by drones. Maybe he even believes this, although the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented more than 500 civilian casualties in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, with a high estimate of many more. When President Obama appointed Harold Koh legal adviser to the State Department in 2009, it looked like he was sending a message: the bad old days are over. Koh, who once referred to President Bush as the “torturer in chief,” was an outspoken critic of that administration’s legal rationales for torture, Guantánamo and “targeted killings.” Fast-forward to today, and Koh provides legal rationales for those same “targeted killings” and gives critics the kind of snide brushoff the Bushites were famous for: justice for enemies “can be delivered through trials. Drones also deliver.” 

“The president is a thoughtful, analytical guy,” a national security adviser tells a group of CIA officers including Maya, the Osama-obsessed heroine of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Before he orders the assault on Osama’s compound, “he needs proof.” In another scene, a TV in the background shows Obama telling Steve Croft, “America doesn’t torture.” Even giving Obama the benefit of every doubt, do we want the president to be a one-man death panel? And what about the next president, and the one after that? Precedents are being set that concentrate far too much power in the executive branch and rely far too much on the moral capabilities of one man. The buck not only stops with Obama; it starts with him, too. 

Polls suggest that most Americans are fine with drones—including most liberals: 78 percent of viewers of Ed Shultz’s MSNBC talk show. Apparently, we are not persuaded by what seems to me obvious: law and morality aside, dropping bombs is no way to win friends and influence people. Last year a Pew poll found that
74 percent of Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s US ambassador, told reporters that the drone campaign “creates more potential terrorists on the ground and militants on the ground instead of taking them out.” September 11 enraged Americans so profoundly we started two wars, one against a nation that had nothing to do with it. Why do we assume that the people we attack are any different?

How did we end up here? Surely one fatal turning point was Obama’s decision not to prosecute anyone connected with the Bush administration’s brutal policies, especially torture. Not only did this breed cynicism and callousness; it tacitly allowed that maybe Abu Ghraib and black sites and Baghram and Guantánamo were justifiable, given the fiendish and shape-shifting nature of terrorism.

That’s certainly the message I took from Zero Dark Thirty, and, frankly, I don’t understand how anyone can see this much-praised movie as ambiguous on the torture question. The movie says torture works: “In the end, everybody breaks,” Dan (Jason Clarke) tells the prisoner he is beating, waterboarding, walking like a dog and forcing into a tiny box. “It’s biology.” And sure enough, the man gives up the clue that eventually leads to Osama’s front door. If, in real life, this information was actually obtained by other methods, as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin attested in a public letter about the film, there’s no suggestion of it onscreen. But the movie does something even worse: it not only makes torture look necessary; it makes the torturers cool. Dan is handsome, smart, humorous and unconventional—his own person in a crowd of company men. When not stringing people from the ceiling, he’s caring—a good friend to Maya, an animal lover. He doesn’t let his job turn him into a brute or a sadist—he knows when he’s reached his emotional limits and gets out. As for Maya, the lonely avenger of 9/11, what can one say? She’s not only smart, dedicated, selfless, brave and tireless—she’s Jessica
Chastain! The most beautiful woman in the world, with flowing locks of red-gold hair that light up every scene she’s in, including the one where she fetches a pail of water for the waterboarding.

The only person in the CIA who will see a day in prison for anything that happened during all this is James Kiriakou, the anti-torture whistleblower recently sentenced to thirty months for revealing the name of a covert CIA officer to a reporter. Don’t hold your breath for a Hollywood movie about him.

© 2013 The Nation

US Air Force Veteran, Finally Allowed to Fly Into US, Now Banned From Flying...

In early November, I wrote about the infuriating story of Saadiq Long, the 43-year-old African-American Muslim who - despite having never been charged with any crime - was secretly placed on a no-fly list and thus barred from flying to the US to visit his seriously ill mother. When I met with Long in early November in Doha, Qatar, where he has lived for several years with his wife and her two children while teaching English, he was in the middle of his futile months-long battle just to find out why he was placed on this list, let US Muslim Air Force veteran Saadiq Long is greeted at the Oklahoma City airport in November 2012 after finally being allowed to fly home to visit his ailing mother. (Photo: screen grab via NewsOK)alone how he could be removed.

Two weeks after that article was published, Long - without explanation - was finally removed from the no-fly list and he flew from Doha to Oklahoma City to visit his mother and other family members. He took several flights to make the 20-hour journey, all without incident. He has remained in Oklahoma for the last ten weeks, visiting his family in the US for the first time in over a decade.

But now Long - unbeknownst to him - has once again apparently been secretly placed by some unknown National Security State bureaucrat on the no-fly list. On Wednesday night, as Associated Press first reported, he went to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City to fly back home to Qatar. In order to ensure there were no problems, his lawyer sent the FBI a letter ahead of time notifying them that Long would be flying home on that date (see the embedded letter below).

But without explanation, Long was denied a boarding pass at the airport by a Delta Airlines agent. Three local police officers then arrived on the scene, followed by a US Transportation Security Administration agent who "told Long he couldn't board a plane but did not give him a specific reason".

Long's lawyer, Adam Soltani of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was with him at the airport and repeatedly asked agents why this was happening and who they should contact. He got no answers, except was told to contact the FBI. But both the FBI and Delta refused to comment to AP, while TSA spokesman David Castelveter would only say this:

"It's my understanding this individual was denied a boarding pass by the airline because he was on a no-fly list. The TSA does not confirm whether someone is or is not on the no-fly list, as that list is maintained by the FBI."

Long and his CAIR lawyers have thus far been told nothing about why he is barred once again from flying.

The personal cost to this injustice is obvious and substantial. Long has a job he needs to return to in Doha from which he has been away for more than two months, and his family needs that income for its sustenance. "I was extremely disappointed when I was unable to board the flight this past Wednesday," Long told me through his lawyer. "My family in Qatar feels crushed that I will not be returning home as expected."

The sense of humiliation and outrage should not be hard to fathom. Just imagine being a US citizen, denied the right to travel home - first to your own country, then back to your family - by a government that has never charged you with any crime or indicated you have engaged in wrongdoing of any sort. Imagine going to the airport and having local and federal agents arrive to prevent you from boarding a plane, treating you like a criminal - a Terrorist - without any tangible accusations. "I don't understand how the government can take away my right to travel without even telling me," he told me back in November. "If the US government wanted me to question or arrest or prosecute me, they could have had me in a minute. But there are no charges, no accusations, nothing."

But what's particularly infuriating here is that, if they had evidence that Long has done anything wrong, they easily could have arrested him at any point over the last ten weeks when he was in the US. The reality is that they could have arrested him at any time over the last decade because he has lived in three countries with highly US-loyal autocracies: Egypt, the UAE and Qatar. But he was never arrested, never charged with anything - just denied the basic right to travel.

Here is what CAIR's Gadeir Abbas told me about all of this on Thursday:

"It is not as if the FBI actually thinks Saadiq is a threat. If it did - and it had actual evidence - the FBI would simply arrest him. As they surely recall, they let him fly just a few months ago. It turns out, though, the only reason for doing so is because it is, in the FBI's view, slightly more indefensible to prevent an American citizen from flying home than it is to prevent him from flying abroad.

"And because we told the FBI ahead of time when Saadiq would be flying, hardly the behavior of a criminal, they could have stuck an air marshal right next to him. They could have subjected his person and luggage to extra scrutiny. But the FBI does not do these things because the No Fly List is not used to protect aircraft. This watchlist - and the many others like it - is a means by which the FBI metes out extra-judicial punishment."

How can anyone argue with that? Even leaving aside that he just flew into and around the US less than three months ago without incident, the very idea that he poses a threat to this flight is patently ludicrous given their advance knowledge that he was flying and the multiple precautions they could take if they really were concerned.

Plainly, air travel safety is not what any of this is about. It is about inventing ways to punish US Muslims and deprive them of the most basic rights without so much as providing any notice, let alone any due process that would enable the secret, unknown accusations to be discovered and rebutted. And it is a very common weapon.

Use of this repressive tactic has worsened significantly under the Obama administration. Last February, Associated Press learned that "the Obama administration has more than doubled, to about 21,000 names, its secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States, including about 500 Americans." Moreover, as I detailed last November based on that AP report:

"Worse, the Obama administration 'lowered the bar for being added to the list'. As a result, reported AP, 'now a person doesn't have to be considered only a threat to aviation to be placed on the no-fly list' but can be included if they 'are considered a broader threat to domestic or international security', a vague status determined in the sole and unchecked discretion of unseen DHS bureaucrats."

There should be no doubt of the FBI's desire to harass Long. Although they never charged him with any crime or arrested him while he was in Oklahoma, he was, along with his sister, Ava Anderson, handcuffed and put on the ground the day after Thanksgiving after they drove to their local police department in fear when they noticed they were being followed. It turns out that the FBI had falsely told local police that Long and his sister were "fleeing felons", but when the local police learned that was false, they never arrested Long or his sister. They were simply told to leave without explanation. Here's a video report of these incidents from a local Oklahoma television station back in December.

As Abbas told me after that incident occurred: "Our sense is that a particular FBI agent, or perhaps a small group of them, in Oklahoma City are looking to inflict some pain on Saadiq and his family - maybe in retaliation for the embarrassment he caused them or the thousands of emails that ended up getting sent to their field office there."

The worst part of all of this is the complete lack of remedy available to Long. Abbas told me: "unfortunately, because of arcane jurisdictional complications, we don't think seeking a preliminary injunction is necessarily an expeditious option for getting Saadiq on a plane." Even worse:

"We'll likely try again in a couple of weeks, but if there isn't some change by then, this puts Saadiq in the position of rolling the dice and trying to get to a country by land or sea that will actually let him fly. Even in these situations, however, we've seen detentions and interrogations by foreign authorities, such as here and

So now he's just in a no-man's land. He can't contest the accusations against him because there are none. After being blocked for months from visiting his own country and his terminally ill mother, he's now barred from returning to his home, his job, and his own family. All of this is done by his own government without a shred of due process, transparency or accountability.

When I wrote on Tuesday about the Obama DOJ's "white paper" justifying due-process-free presidential assassinations, I wrote that "the core distortion of the War on Terror under both Bush and Obama is the Orwellian practice of equating government accusations of terrorism with proof of guilt" and that "if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such." This is exactly what I was talking about: I'm sure there will be no shortage of people justifying this by insisting that he must have done something wrong: even though the government has never said what that is, offered evidence for it, or provided any opportunity for the accusations to be independently examined.

This is also a perfect example of what New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal meant when he wrote last March that the US now has "what's essentially a separate justice system for Muslims". State punishment without charges and trials is now perfectly normal - for Muslims.

CAIR letter to FBI:

Ltr to SAC Finch [1.29.13] by

© 2013 The Guardian

Glenn Greenwald

The Police State Is Real: It Has Happened Here

police_state
The Bush regime’s response to 9/11 and the Obama regime’s validation of this response have destroyed accountable democratic government in the United States. So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document.

Indigenous Mapuche People Struggle Against the Chilean State and Private Companies

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Transcript

Voiceover: Two indigenous Mapuche prisoners in Chile have ended a 76-day hunger strike, which they initiated on November 14th of 2012. Hector Llaitul and Ramón Llanquileo say they are political prisoners targeted for their ties to an organization that is part of a broader Mapuche indigenous movement. But the Chilean state says they are terrorists, accused of participating in a violent attack against a public official in a region of southern Chile known as the Araucania. The prisoners say the liquid-diet only hunger strike, now their third since 2010, is in protest to their respective 15 and 8 year prison sentences, irregularities in their legal proceedings, and the state’s application of an antiterrorist law first introduced during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The strikes were reportedly taking their toll on the prisoners’ health, and after a visit by a human rights delegation and the formation of a Mapuche human rights organization, they agreed to call off the latest strike, which was their second in less than a year that lasted longer than 75 days. The hunger strikes emerge against the backdrop of a recent escalation in a long-term conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean state over access to land. Guacolda Chicahual Quilaman is the spokeswoman for Llaitul and Llanquileo. She says the state’s application of special “laws of exception” like the Antiterrorist Law in the Araucania against dozens of Mapuche activists is meant to collectively punish and criminalize the movement seeking to reclaim traditional Mapuche lands.

Guacolda Chicahual Quilaman, Spokeswoman, Mapuche Political Prisoners CAM: They are leaders of an organization within the Mapuche movement called the Coordinadora de Arauco Malleco. This organization has been heavily persecuted by the Chilean state and classified as an illicit association…what they are punishing here is not just the person, but rather the movement that is behind them that they lead, an organization that is part of the Mapuche movement which has been in the Mapuche communities coordinating the recuperation of territories, the recuperation and defense of territory from transnational businesses that have inserted themselves throughout Mapuche lands.Voiceover: Llaitul and Llanquileo were among 17 Mapuche community members accused of coordinating an attack against Prosecutor Mario Elgueta, who survived an alleged ambush by masked assailants wielding shotguns in October, 2008. Llaitul and Llanquileo are also accused of stealing wood to fund their political activities. Both maintain their innocence, and insist that the accusations are politically motivated. They say their trials were unfair and filled with irregularities. They were tried twice for the same crime, which is illegal under Chilean law. After being absolved in a military court, they were found guilty for the same charges in a civilian court. They say the state’s application of the Antiterrorist Law in their cases, which also enables the use of secret witnesses, was meant to arbitrarily punish them with lengthy sentences. Mapuche anthropologist Enrique Antileo says the cases of Llaitul and Llanquileo and dozens of other political prisoners cannot solely be understood in the context of the more recent mobilizations and state response to the Mapuche struggle for land and autonomy, positing that they are part of a long-term historical process.Enrique Antileo, Anthropologist, University of Chile: It is related to processes of struggle of the Mapuche society towards historical recognition, and these historical vindications are tied to the land, to the possibility of conquering and recuperating a space that was Mapuche and that was misappropriated, it has always been occupied by landowners, small scale capitalists, and later by large businesses, that had gone about accumulating the land as their own property, stripping the Mapuche society of their own territorial space and reducing it further and further, and so there are around 130, 140 years of long-term conflict over this issue of land, which today translates into the mobilizations among hundreds of communities that are struggling for their own space.Voiceover: There are a number of economic interests in the Aurucania region tied to the land conflict. The most significant economic activity is the forestry industry, with both national and transnational businesses as well as smaller-scale landowners controlling vast amounts of territory used in the production of wood. Industries and landowners operating in the Araucania say they have increasingly found themselves the targets of violent attacks against private property that in some cases have resulted in deaths. In the wake of the escalation, the Chilean state has essentially militarized southern Chile, which Mapuche activists say has severely impacted the civil liberties of Mapuche residents who live in the region, and subjected them to regular police violence. Chile’s current Minister of the Interior and Public Security is Andres Chadwick, one of a number of current members of rightwing President Sebastian Piñera’s cabinet who were early collaborators with military dictator Augusto Pinochet during his 17-year rule. During a recent press conference following an attack on private property in the Aracaunia that left 2 landowners dead, Minister Chadwick insisted that state security operations and the enactment of special powers in southern Chile are not intended to target the majority of Mapuche residents.Andres Chadwick, Minister of the Interior and Public Security, Chile: We are coordinating all of the necessary tasks, especially in the area of policing, in the area of the provisioning of the Carabinero police and investigations as well as in the area of police intelligence, in the same vein we are collaborating actively with the investigations that the state prosecutors are carrying forth, with the intention of not allowing these acts of violence to go unpunished in our country, because of this we are taking special actions…we are fully conscious, so that people don’t misinterpret this as an act of bad faith, that here it is a very small and limited group of very violent people who have nothing to do with the Mapuche people, the Mapuche people in their overwhelming majority, almost in their totality, are a people who want peace and who want to advance and develop, here there is a very small group, and they are causing great harm to the Mapuche cause.Voiceover: For Mapuche residents living in militarized southern Chile, Carabinero police’s actions speak louder than the minister’s words. Many Mapuche activists involved with movements demanding greater autonomy and the recuperation of ancestral lands say they are unfairly classified as terrorists by the state due to isolated incidences of violence that in a number of cases have not even been proven to have been carried out by Mapuche movements. The Real News spoke with Chilean historian Fernando Pairican who has studied Mapuche movements like Llaitul and Llanquileo’s organization the CAM. He said that while there isn’t hard data available on levels of popular support for more militant movements like the CAM among the general Mapuche population, support for their demands of territorial control and autonomy runs high in many Mapuche communities. Renowned Chilean sociologist Alberto Mayol says the government response to the conflict reflects a broader unwillingness of the state to interact with social movements, which is even more pronounced in the case of the Mapuche movement and the harsh terrorism related sentences handed down to activists like those who have initiated hunger strikes in recent years. Alberto Mayol, Sociologist, University of Chile: There has been a repertory incapacity of the Chilean state to relate with those movements that protest, and this has been very evident in the case of the Mapuche people, which has been systematically transformed into an issue of terrorism, because of this the sentences are augmented, they apply the Law of State Security and anything else that will result in more severe sentences, and the use of all forms of violence, when there is a confrontation with the Mapuche where some stones are being thrown, it’s considered an ambush, or a terrorist action, the truth is that there is a huge disproportion with respects to the Mapuche mobilization.Voiceover: In the wake of escalating violence in the Araucania since the start of 2013, Mapuche groups attending the first ever “Cumbre Mapuche,” or Mapuche Summit, denounced the military occupation of their ancestral lands and asserted calls for self-governance and self-determination. President Sebastian Piñera roundly rejected the calls for autonomy, stating “We are proud to be a multicultural country, but we are not willing to put at risk the unity of Chile.” Hector Llaitul and Ramón Llanquileo say they will continue fighting for their demands through the newly formed Mapuche Human Rights organization.


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Zero Dark Thirty, Manhunt and Obama Admin. Justify Use of Torture

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Bio

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. Welcome to this week's edition of The Ratner Report with Michael Ratner.

Michael now joins us from New York. Michael's the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He's chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. He's also a board member of The Real News. And he's got all kinds of other hats, too.Thanks for joining us, Michael.MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It's good to be with you, Paul.JAY: So tell us what you've been following this week.RATNER: Well, other than getting a slight flu and a cold, I made it over to Sundance, which is the big film festival in the United States. And there I saw some films that just are—very depressing is the best way to say it—about what's happened in America and what's happened to the issues of torture and the rehabilitation of the CIA. The film I saw there was called Manhunt. And it's supposedly the real story, with the real CIA agents, of how they murdered or killed Osama bin Laden. The film has the real agents in it. It has the women who were on the team. It has a man named—a CIA agent named Marty Martin, who supposedly led the team as an analyst, and then overall in charge of the team.So the first thing you recognize about a film called Manhunt is that to get the authority of the CIA to give up these agents' names, they had to do a film that the CIA was going to like. And let me tell you, the CIA is going to like this film, or they liked it if they saw the cut before, because, first, it justifies—and completely justifies—torture. It essentially says—not essentially; it says openly that torture is how we got the clues that allowed us to kill people from al-Qaeda all over the place, including track down Osama bin Laden. And they have as the talking head in the film—and this is where I was almost ready to run out of the movie theater—they have Jose Rodriguez. Jose Rodriguez was in charge of the counterterrorism section of the CIA in the first decade, or part of the first decade, of 2000 to 2010. He is the one who destroyed the tapes of the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, supposedly waterboarded, or according to government documents, 183 times. Those tapes, the videos, were destroyed by Jose Rodriguez, who was in charge of that whole operation. Now, what was incredible is he stood on that screen, he was on that screen talking to these whole Sundance fancy upper middle class, middle class audience, saying first [unintel.] techniques, you know, shaking people, slapping them around, that's not torture. And then the four last techniques, while he didn't use the word, he said, that's how we got what we needed; we have to use techniques like waterboarding, we have to use drones; that's what we're about. And they never say in the film—and that's why it's—in one way why it's such a slanted film—they never say, this is the man, Jose Rodriguez, who actually got rid of the very videotapes of the waterboarding. So you have Rodriguez saying that. Then you have Marty Martin, who's no longer at the CIA but apparently made a lot of money afterwards, Marty Martin again saying that, yes, these techniques are absolutely necessary. And one of the great ironies, which if people have seen Zero Dark Thirty, which is the sort of supposedly based on the truth, but the more narrative form of how they got Osama bin Laden—it's the Kathryn Bigelow film. If you see that, in both of these films, in Manhunt and in Zero Dark Thirty, there's the incident that happened up in Khost in Afghanistan, which is where a doctor from Jordan came in and he blew up and killed a half a dozen CIA agents, maybe more, including a woman who was involved or in charge of that base, a CIA person named Jennifer, who actually appears in the film Manhunt—and, of course, all the CIA agents are crying about how she got killed.But the incredible irony about how she got killed, about how Jennifer got killed by a person who wore a explosive belt, the Jordanian doctor, into that military base in Afghanistan, the incredible story they follow in Manhunt—and what they say is this Jordanian doctor was really angered by the Iraq War, and he started blogging against America, etc., etc., from Jordan. Eventually his house gets raided by some combination of the U.S. and their Jordanian intelligence agencies, and allegedly he turns and becomes an informant for the United States. I say allegedly because the United States made the mistake of trusting him. He comes up to that military base to give them a lead of how they're going to reach Osama bin Laden, and what does he do? He wears an explosive belt. Because they trust him so much, they don't inspect him, and he blows up these CIA agents.Now, I say irony about the film Manhunt and its basically lauding of interrogation techniques like waterboarding is because if you look at the Iraq War, a key link in selling the Iraq War to the United States was the claim, the claim that Saddam Hussein was supporting al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Where did that, quote, evidence come from, evidence that was used by Colin Powell, our secretary of state, at the UN? It came from the torture of a man named al-Liby by the CIA. It was false evidence, not real evidence. So here you have the irony of a CIA that is supporting torture, supporting waterboarding, being blown up by a man who is angry because of an Iraq War justified in part by a false relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.Let me step back for a second and let's go to a bigger picture. So you have Manhunt, which justifies the CIA waterboarding, torture, etc. Then you have Zero Dark Thirty, which while it's been—enough written about it to fill a phone book, the majority of the opinions that I respect, including my own (and I saw the film), is that that film justifies torture, opens with torture (the agent eventually gets acclimated to torture), and of course doesn't show what we did as a result of these wars to Muslims all over Afghanistan and Iraq, Pakistan. But it justifies torture, in my view, Zero Dark Thirty. You put that together with Manhunt, Zero Dark Thirty justifying torture, and you add to that two films that I think most of your viewers will be familiar with. One is called Argo, which is the recent film about how the CIA successfully helped get some people who had been—or wouldn't have been held hostage after the Iranian Revolution in '79, and got them out of Iran, and how the CIA played a heroic role in that. And then a film called Green Zone about the green zone in Iraq, where again there's an avuncular CIA agent in that film getting the truth that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So now you have four films—Zero Dark Thirty, Manhunt, Argo, and Green Zone—all incredibly justifying and really rehabilitating a CIA that is known for and should be known for what it really does, which is to assassinate people and infiltrate legitimate institutions all over the world. And that's all in the last couple of years. So what we're seeing now in the media is really the justification of torture in two major films, and in four films really a rehabilitation of a CIA that I spent much of my life fighting against what it did in Central America, in South America, and over the world. And it leads me to, really, the last point I want to make for this talk today on torture in film, because one of the trials going on right now are the military commissions at Guantanamo. A military commission's an illegitimate form of trial. They were set up 11 years ago by President Bush. We expected them not to be continued by President Obama. He of course continued them. They're not like military—they're not like court martials, they're not like regular trials. They're set up after the crimes have been committed, and the rules are all slanted. Those are going on in Guantanamo as we speak. And one of those people on trial now in the so-called 9/11 conspiracy case is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, if we circle back to the beginning of this talk, in Manhunt is the person who was allegedly waterboarded—not allegedly; he was waterboarded 183 times. I say allegedly because Jose Rodriguez, who is the one who destroyed the tapes of those waterboardings, says in the Manhunt film, it wasn't really waterboarding 183 times, it was 183 pitchers of water, as if that's somehow better. Once you get to one waterboarding, it seems you're at 183. But in any case, we would actually know what's going on had Jose Rodriguez—someone who I believe is a war criminal—had Jose Rodriguez not destroyed the tapes. So that trial is going on now in Guantanamo. And it's a farce. It's been a farce for 11 years. So it's going on in Guantanamo. It's a farce then; it's a farce today.So, recently what happened is you go down to that trial, and there's a glass window in front of you. You can't hear anything in the courtroom. If you're a reporter or if you're a human rights person, you can sit behind that glass window and watch, and they feed the trial into you so you can hear what's going on. And there's someone who sits next to the judge with the red button, and when there's something that's classified that comes up in the trial, that person hits the red button and cuts off the feed so that I as a reporter or a human rights person cannot hear the classified material. None of that's good. I object to it. It's all bad. They classify everything. But what happened recently was really astonishing, apparently even to the judge. The feed is coming in to the reporters. All of a sudden what's happening in the courtroom is shut off. And the judge doesn't even know why it's shut off. Apparently, unbeknownst to the judge, there's another CIA person somewhere outside that court (it's hard to believe the judge didn't know this) somewhere with another red button. That person cuts off stuff going on at trial so the reporters can't hear it even if the judge didn't order it cut off. The judge, to his credit at least, or maybe to at least his credit that he thinks he controls the courtroom when he really doesn't, got outraged and said, this isn't going to happen anymore; I control the red button; you don't. So the trial just goes on like that with farce after farce after farce. And the next thing that's happened in that trial, which also is going to throw the whole thing into a tizzy: there's only been two people convicted by trial at Guantanamo in all these many years—all these many years. And both of those trials, both of those convictions seem to be in jeopardy. One has already been overturned because they tried the person on a conspiracy count—....So there's only been two people tried at Guantanamo by trial. Those two convictions are in great jeopardy. One has already, as I recall, been overturned because he was tried for conspiracy—that's bin Laden's alleged driver. And according to the court of appeals now, there's no such crime of conspiracy that can be tried by a military commission. So that conviction is gone. But, of course, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 conspirator, is on trial for that very act, conspiracy. So the prosecutor at Guantanamo is saying, I don't want to try him on this; he's going to get—this conviction may be reversed; let's not try him on this. The government, the Obama administration, says, no, no, we want to keep going forward on a conspiracy. It may be that they can't prove anything but a conspiracy. So you have that craziness of the trials.This would have all been avoided had they brought Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others to New York to try them as they were supposed to do, as Eric Holder supposedly wanted. And then Obama overruled Eric Holder, and then Congress got into the act. So you have these farces going on at Guantanamo. You still have a Guantanamo that's open with 187 people there. And I'll end on this really not optimistic note. When Obama took office 4.5 years ago, or just over 4 years ago, he promised to close Guantanamo in a year, issued an executive order to that. He appointed a special person to close Guantanamo, Ambassador Fried. Ambassador Fried was in the State Department. His one portfolio: close Guantanamo. And guess what happened a couple of days after Obama took office this time, when he just got—took the oath again? Mr. Fried no longer has a job to close Guantanamo; that office to close Guantanamo at the State Department has been closed. And now Ambassador Fried is in charge of the sanctions against Iran and Syria.So we no longer have an office to close Guantanamo. It looks to me, Paul, sadly, that something that was an abomination 11 years ago continues today. Guantanamo, indefinite detentions, and rump kangaroo trials continue. And so you put that all together, we have movies justifying all of this behavior, torture, etc. This country has gone a long way on the road to perdition.JAY: Alright. Well, one question. Go back to Sundance. How did the audience react to that film?RATNER: Oh, I'm really glad you asked that, Paul. Manhunt received standing ovations, particularly when the CIA agents took the stage. They were there. Two of the women were there and Marty Martin were there. And of course, you know, in some way it's—understandable is not the right word, but to the audience, it looked like these CIA people were heroes. They saved us. They were looking for Osama bin Laden for years. They eventually found him. And that's why we haven't had a terrorist attack or that's how they at least, you know, got to kill Osama bin Laden. So they took the stage and everybody cheered for them. So it was disheartening to see that. And as we left the theater, the people basically said that to us, because there were some people who objected to the film and said, well, you know, what about the destruction of the tapes, what about the waterboarding, isn't this torture, and they said, we just know that these people are keeping us safe.I do want to say that it's unclear what exactly was going on, because we also saw the best single film at Sundance, which people will see soon in this country because it was bought and it'll be distributed in 15 markets, and that's—['krOliz] was the director and Jeremy Scahill was the person they followed. He had written Blackwater. And that film was called Dirty Wars. And that's about the drone wars going on in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, throughout the Middle East, and the consequences of those drone wars for the peoples not only in those areas, but mainly in those areas, but the blowback that's going to have in the United States. That film also got a standing ovation. So it could be different audiences, it could be same audiences, etc. But I would say that it was impossible, impossible to make headway against what has now become, I would—the idea or the principle in this country that torture works. It was used to capture Osama or to kill Osama bin Laden, and we needed it when we needed it, and it's justified. I mean, that sense, you have to say that Obama, despite banning the worst aspects of torture, was a total failure. Had he actually prosecuted someone like Jose Rodriguez or the people who wrote the memos or the people who carried out the waterboarding or Cheney and Bush, who ordered the waterboarding, we wouldn't be having films like Zero Dark Thirty and Manhunt which justified torture. So I laid this, obviously, at the feet of President Bush. But Obama, for allowing this to be—for allowing torture to become essentially a political football—and I wish it were still that—but to essentially be something that people can now justify in this country, I lay that at the feet of Obama.JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Michael.RATNER: Thank you, Paul.JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor: Obama’s Drone Surge as Damaging as Bush Torture Program

Retired Air Force Col. Morris "Moe" Davis, once the lead government prosecutor for terrorism suspects at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, says that the US torture regime under Bush and now the drone assassination program run by the Obama administration have combined to make the world less safe and called both programs—whether they could be legally justified or not—"immoral."

US Air Force Col. Morris Davis (Ret.), who says: "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent." (Photo: US Air Force) "We are not the shining city on the hill," Davis told the small crowd gathered at Johnston Community College in North Carolina on Thursday night. "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it's illegal, it's immoral."

"War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish," Davis added.

The talk was part of a series given by Davis this week in which he lectured at several North Carolina colleges with the message that the United States' use of torture, secret detention and extraordinary rendition imperils the reputation of the country while also putting its own soldiers at increased risk of mistreatment in the future.

Not only have the practices harmed us abroad, Davis argues, but more than a decade of war has left a generation of Americans vulnerable to the idea that such policies are moral and correct.

As the local Fayetteville Observer reports:

Morris lamented that the majority of Americans accept torture. He attributes the statistics to young adults who have grown up in a post-9/11 world.

He argued that torture does not elicit information that can be used in the court of law and said the practice has damaged the nation's image.

The group that sponsored the evening's lecture, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, noted that Col. Davis' appearances come on the heels of reports by the Washington Post and European human rights advocates that the Obama administration continues to secretly detain suspected terrorists captured abroad.

Comparing Bush's torture regime to Obama's escalated use of drones to carry out attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere Davis said it was "six of one and half a dozen of another."

Davis retired from active duty in 2008 and subsequently took a job at the Library of Congress. He was fired from that position, however, after writing this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which took a mild, but critical, stance against the Obama administration's approach to the ongoing Military Commission trials at Guantanamo Bay.

“The American Military Coup of 2012″: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in...

THE COUP OF 2012: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in America

Back in 1992 the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff held a “Strategy Essay Competition.”

The winner was a National War College student paper entitled, “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” Authored by Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. the paper is a well documented, “darkly imagined excursion into the future.”

The ostensibly fictional work is written from the perspective of an imprisoned senior military officer about to be executed for opposing the military takeover of America, a coup accomplished through “legal” means. The essay makes the point that the coup was “the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992,” including “the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses,” particularly law enforcement.

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/USAWC/Parameters/Articles/1992/1992%20dunlap.pdf

Dunlap cites what he considered a dangerous precedent, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act, an act that sanctioned US military engagement with law enforcement in domestic “support operations,” including “civil disturbance” operations. The act codified the lawful status and use of military “assets” in domestic police work. 

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/subtitle-A/part-I/chapter-18

Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms

Since that time the American people have been subject to a series of deeper and deeper encroachments upon our basic freedoms, increasingly extensive deployment of military operations on the home front, perpetrated by a corporate driven military mission creep that now claims the right and duty to arrest and detain us on the word of a Pentagon or White House operative. President Obama’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whose Section 1021 sanctions the military detention of American citizens without charge, essentially aims to put the last nail in the coffin of our Constitution, our teetering Republic and our most basic democratic traditions.

The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration (“you can trust me”) would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course (of course) shortly before Congress voted on the final bill, which the President signed on the 31st of December 2011, a day that will go down in infamy.

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.” According to Senator Dianne Feinstein. “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.” Think again. (Guardian, 12/14/11)

Under the legislation, suspects can be held without trial  ”until the end of hostilities.” They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch implied that the signing of such a bill by a President would have once been unthinkable, noting that “the paradigm of the war on terror has advanced so far in people’s minds that this has to appear more normal than it actually is.” Further, “it wasn’t asked for by any of the agencies on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in the United States. It breaks with over 200 years of tradition in America against using the military in domestic affairs.”

In fact, the heads of several “security agencies,” including the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general objected to the legislation. Even some within the Pentagon itself said they were against the bill. No matter, and no matter the intention inherent in lip service opposition, the corporate elite who drive the disastrous and inhumane polices of this country see it otherwise, and they, not the generals or anyone else, call the shots!

And they’ve been at this for some time. A persistent and on-gong counter-insurgency directed against the American people, the detention provisions embedded in the NDAA are about more than “social control.” It amounts to a direct attack on the person, an “unreasonable search and seizure” in the cause of maintaining the shaky capitalist ship of state; suppressing popular resistance, dissent and protest, movements of peace and justice, recast as “civil disorder,” “civil disturbance” and “domestic terror.”

Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing “civil disturbance” and “domestic terrorism” including the training of National Guard troops, local police and the authorization of massive surveillance, are part of a long history of American “internal security” measures dating back to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept, promulgated by elite sectors intent on maintaining their grip on the levers of state; that within the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might have to fight; or at least be ordered to fight. (See: Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Joan M. Jensen, Yale University Press, 1991)

Thus, in reaction to a period of social upsurge flush with movements of liberation, justice and peace, and the mounting of powerful campaigns which threatened the status quo and elite control, the US military’s stand alone apparatus for conducting “civil disturbance suppression” operations, including detention, was born, immediately on the heels of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.

The Garden Plot Operation

US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Operation Garden Plot, follows, as was mentioned, in the footsteps of a long tradition of US military involvement in the suppression of dissent. Intriguingly, the Garden Plot operation is cited in documents related to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. (See: Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, William Pepper, Carroll and Graf, 1995)

http://www.dod.gov/pubs/foi/operation_and_plans/Other/GARDEN_PLOT_DoD_Civil_DisturbancePlan.pdf

http://www.911truth.org/osamas/morales.html

Currently, the Garden Plot operation is centered at the Pentagon’s Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). “Stood up” in 2002, (though In the works prior to 9/11), NORTHCOM, America’s “domestic military command,” is tasked with various “counter-terror,” “homeland defense” and “homeland security” activities, including “civil disturbance suppression” operations, and “assisting law enforcement” within Canada, the United States and Mexico. http://www.northcom.mil/

Under NORTHCOM, Operation Garden Plot functions, with the US Army as “executive agent,” as “ConPlan 2502.” In two parts, the “con plan” is officially listed as: United States Northern Command, Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 3501 (formerly 2501), Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), dated 11 April 2006; and the United States Northern Command, Concept Plan 3502 (formerly 2502), Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.

As noted above, the latest development in the Pentagon’s evolving mission of suppressing, at the behest of it’s corporate “civilian” overseers, a detention provision, is buried within the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 signed by President Obama in the fog (grog) of this past New Years Eve.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1540enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr1540enr.pdf

NDAA 2012

Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012 seemingly allows (the language is evasive) for the detention (without trial or charges) of American citizens redefined by the “executive” elite as “enemy combatants” in the so-called “war on terror, ” a “war” which has become in the eyes of many, a war against the Constitution and civil liberties, a war against the disenchanted, fed-up and dissenting American public, spearheaded by a militarized police state allied to imperial military courts and “tribunals,” buttressed and rationalized with mind-bending mil-speak of “enemy combatants,” “unlawful combatants,” “enemy belligerents,” “homeland battlefield” “domestic extremists” “domestic terrorists” and the like.

And yet, behind all the sophistry, lies and manipulation, the brutal truth is obvious: The corporate elite that directs things has seen fit to unleash it’s military on it’s own people in a desperate attempt to suppress the democratic (read: protest) rights of it’s citizenry, us! Why? Simple: the paranoia of the thief, the well founded fear that knows that forced deprivation and scarcities, violence at home and abroad, rooted in greed, has run it’s course in America. And they are right! And so, it makes ominous sense that we are confronted with the horrific machinations of forced detention for those who resist a “new world order” come home in a “homeland” which opportunistically collapses all distinction between dissent and terrorism, police and military, right and wrong, obfuscating the truth of who the real terrorists are!

When Congress passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it included provisions that authorized U.S. armed forces to detain persons who are captured in the conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”

Section 1021 entitled “AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE” allows for the President (whoever that may be) “to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force … to detain covered persons …pending disposition under the law of war.”

“A covered person,” according to the edict’s malleable lingo, is “any person … who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks …” or, who “was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban,” or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Accordingly, “the disposition of a person under the law of war” will include “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities …” Now, by stating that “nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force,” and that “nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States,” it would appear that the law exempts American citizens from the threat of detention. Correct?

Detention is a Booming Industry

Don’t be too confident. Detention is a booming industry. In 2006 the Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International reported that Halliburton off-spring, “global engineering and technical services powerhouse KBR [Kellogg, Brown & Root] announced in January 2006 that its Government and Infrastructure division was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency.” The $385 million dollars over 5 year contract “is to be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” building “temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.” Could the 2012 NDAA / Section 1021 be such a “new program?”

There has been some confusion over what Section 1021 actually means, and that in and of itself is cause for concern. Congressional spokespeople have stated that the provisions of NDAA 2012 / Sec 1021 do not provide any “new authority” to detain U.S. citizens or others who may be captured in the United States. Obama waffled likewise in the lead up to his signing the provision. Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ho-hummed and said that, “we are simply codifying existing law.” But that was an evasion, since existing law, like it or not, regarding the detention of U.S. persons in the “war on terror” is indeterminate in important respects. And “indeterminate” is not good enough!

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service fleshes out the law of detention as set forth in Section 1021, identifying what is known to be true as well as what is unsettled and unresolved. It is perfectly clear, for example, that a U.S. citizen who fights alongside “enemy forces” against the United States on a foreign battlefield could be lawfully detained. This was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42337.pdf

On the other hand, the CRS report explains, “the President’s legal authority to militarily detain terrorist suspects apprehended in the United States has not been definitively settled.” Nor has Congress helped to settle it. “This bill does not endorse either side’s interpretation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “but leaves it to the courts to decide.”

So, if a detention of a U.S. person does occur, the CRS said, “it will be up to a court to determine Congress’s intent when it enacted the AUMF [the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force], or alternatively, to decide whether the law as it was subsequently developed by the courts and executive branch sufficiently established that authority for such detention already exists.”

Up to now, “lower courts that have addressed questions the Supreme Court left unanswered have not achieved a consensus on the extent to which Congress has authorized the detention without trial of U.S. persons as ‘enemy combatants,’ and Congress has not so far clarified its intent.”

Well, it is certainly reassuring that a New York court has sought to clarify it’s intent on the matter. On May 16, 2012 a newly appointed federal district judge, Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued a ruling, hailed by many, which preliminarily enjoins (prohibits) enforcement of the indefinite detention provisions (Sec 1021) of the NDAA 2012.

http://sdnyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/12-Civ.-00331-2012.05.16-Opinion-Granting-PI.pdf

The “temporary restraining order” came as a result of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violated both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. “The government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [Section] 1021,” Judge Forrest said in her ruling. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.”

Where it will go from here is anybodies guess. Judge Forrest’s ruling was not permanent. A day after the ruling, the Wall Street Journal, for it’s part, offered it’s sour grapes, pontificating that the ruling “will be overturned on appeal,” while “its reasoning needs to be deconstructed so it doesn’t do more harm in the meantime.” A week later, on the 25th, federal prosecutors from Obama’s Department of Justice, calling Judge Forrest’s ruling “extraordinary,” suggested that she lift the injunction, claiming further that her ruling only effects those plaintiffs named and not other potential or future targets of the draconian legislation.

http://sdnyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/12-Civ.-00331-2012.05.25-Govt-Motion-for-Reconsideration.pdf

Well, a few days ago on June 6th the upright Judge Forrest responded with an 8 page, “memorandum and opinion” in which she sought to “eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.” (New York Times, “Detention Provision is Blocked” 6/7/12). And as to whom and for whom her original order was intended: “The May 16th order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court – or by Congress.” That’s clear enough!

So, as it stands now now, although Judge Forrest’s decision may temporarily protect Americans from provision 1021, it remains to be seen what the higher courts do should Obama’s people appeal. And unfortunately, Judge Forrest’s ruling, as praiseworthy as it is, does nothing to spare both foreign reporters and civilians from a life of imprisonment, let alone the more than 6 billion citizens of foreign nations who can still be handcuffed and hauled away to a US military prison without ever being brought to trial.

So, bottom line, given the indeterminate nature of a law that would snatch us up off the streets, throw away the key, and grant us little or no access to a trial let alone legal counsel of choice not vetted by the Pentagon, we should have no illusions that we are well along the slippery indeterminate slope to a full blown militarized police state; the complete identification, coordination and consolidation of the police and military function in America in the interests of an elite who regard us as the enemy, maybe even their property! Maybe even as targets for assassination!

Naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution

We should recall, that the current attempt by the executive to designate American citizens for detention without trial; a naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure and the guarantee of a trial, was preceded by the administration’s “resolve” to assassinate at will Americans abroad, place them on a “kill list,” and eliminate them. According to the New York Times “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” (5/29/12) the President and his advisors have made it clear that they have the authority “to order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial.”

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel rationalized such a move in “a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” (New York Times, “Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen,” 10/8/11) Accordingly, after a dubious period of “internal deliberations,” Mr. Obama gave his approval, and the cleric Anwar al-Awlak was assassinated in September 2011, along with an associate Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but happened to be traveling with Mr. al-Awlak. Apparently, campaign rhetoric and public demeanor to the contrary, when asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”

The Posse Comitatus Act

How did we get here? We need to recognize that the “massive diversion of military resources” into domestic law enforcement for the purposes of suppressing dissent and worse has a long history, a history that has witnessed the steady evisceration of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the sole federal statute that criminalizes military incursions into the domain of domestic law enforcement. The Act is the backbone of our democratic republican tradition of separating the military and police function in this country and represents the ultimate bulwark against military dictatorship in the interests of the rich. That is the reason it is and continues to be attacked, ridiculed and ignored by elements in both the corporate and military spheres. For example, “Current Obstacles to Fully Preparing Title 10 Forces for Homeland Defense and Civil Support” by Commander James S. Campbell, United States Navy, May 2008 and, “The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Law Enforcement Title” by COL (Ret) John R. Brinkerhoff, December 2004, both seek to delegitimize and undercut the status and importance of the Act, a law so critical to the maintenance of our freedoms, and yet, a law about which most Americans remain unaware.

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA487235

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/call/docs/10-16/ch_11.asp

The 1878 Act, 18 USC § 1385 – USE OF ARMY AND AIR FORCE AS POSSE COMITATUS, more popularly known as The Posse Comitatus Act, reads as follows:

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, wilfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a Posse Comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

As noted, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement law would seemingly violate the spirit if not the letter of this Act. Nonetheless, like a slowly boiling pot relentlessly eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression, the utilization of military assets, under cover of law enforcement to suppress our democratic rights has proceeded steadily by design, virtually un-noticed.

Historical milestones: eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression

A very limited listing of some historical milestones:

* In 1968, as mentioned above, concurrent with the creation of the Federal Commission on Civil Disorder, better known as the Kerner Commission, the Pentagon hatched it’s very own “civil disorder” operation. “US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2,” code named “Garden Plot,” coordinates, until this day, all aspects of “civil disturbance suppression” in America, including the use of so-called “non-lethal weapons” during conveniently designated domestic “operations other than war” (OOTW), and “military operations in urban terrain” (MOUT), a “war” which pits “non-combatant” citizens and protesters (overwhelmingly non-violent) against militarized police on the streets of America.

* Only a few months after the round up and detention of 7,000 anti-war protesters in Washington DC, imprisoned in RFK stadium, an early Garden Plot operation, the 1971 Non-Detention Act was passed, specifically to repeal portions of the 1950 “anti-communist” “Emergency Detention Act” which had allowed for detention of suspected subversives without the normal Constitutional checks required for imprisonment. The Non-Detention Act required specific Congressional authorization for such detention. It reads that, “no citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” In recent years, the statute has been used to challenge military detainment of U.S. citizens accused of terrorist activity, as in the case of Jose Padilla.

http://www.jenner.com/system/assets/assets/5417/original/18.pdf?1321652398

A Congressional Research Service report on the history of the Non-Detention Act noted that, “legislative debate, committee reports, and the political context of 1971 indicate that when Congress enacted Section 4001(a) it intended the statutory language to restrict all detentions by the executive branch, not merely those by the Attorney General.” Further, “lawmakers, both supporters and opponents of Section 4001(a), recognized that it would restrict the President and military authorities.”

As for the Padilla case, the Supreme Court of the United States originally took the 2004 case of Rumsfeld v. Padilla to decide the question of whether Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorized the President to detain a U.S. citizen, which would run afoul of the Non Detention Act. But it did not give an answer, instead ruling that the case had been “improperly filed.” And so the issue, as to whether and under what circumstances the military can pick you up, detain and imprison you, without charging you, from the point of view the Supreme Court, remains “unsettled.”

* Also in 1971, the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) was created. Headed up by Louis Giuffrida, formerly of Army Combat Command, the first director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CSTI introduced the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) concept, offering courses on “civil disorder management” for select “militarized” police and National Guard units armed and trained for domestic operations in the urban centers of America. During this period the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) facilitated federal funding and other military largess to the burgeoning militarized sectors of the domestic police forces along with training of selected National Guard units. Still in operation, CSTI is currently headed up by William J. Hatch Colonel, USA (RET), while funding for militarizing local police departments these days is facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, funding which has increased drastically since 9/11.

http://americaswarwithin.org/articles/2011/12/21/local-police-stockpile-high-tech-combat-ready-gear

* In 1975 the Trilateral Commission, a Western European, Japanese, US corporate think-tank convened by David Rockefeller, issued a report entitled, “The Crisis of Democracy.” (NYU Press, 1975) Authored by none other than Samuel  Huntington. (“Clash of Civilizations”). Huntington’s book is a blueprint for the on-going counter-revolution in America, emphasizing the elite requirement of suppressing democratic “insurgency,” the “distemper” of the 60s, a “distemper” that according to Huntington, stemmed from an “excess of democracy.” The only and final solution therefore is to “moderate” and “shrink democracy,” concluding that, “there are potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”

http://www.wrijneveld.nl/Boekenplank/BoekenVanAanhangersVanDeNieuweWereldOrde/1975-TC-The-Crisis-of-Democracy.pdf

* In 1983, the US Army published Field Manual 3-19-15, Civil Disturbance Operations (since updated in 2005). The manual addresses civil disturbance operations in both continental United States (CONUS) and outside continental United States (OCONUS). It states that, “today, United States (US) forces are deployed on peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and humanitarian assistance operations worldwide. During these operations, US forces are often faced with unruly and violent crowds intent on disrupting peace and the ability of US forces to maintain peace. Worldwide instability coupled with increasing US military participation in peacekeeping and related operations requires that US forces have access to the most current doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) necessary to quell riots and restore public order.”

“In addition to covering civil unrest doctrine for CONUS operations, FM 3-19.15 addresses domestic unrest and the military role in providing assistance to civil authorities requesting it for civil disturbance operations …The principles of civil disturbance operations, planning and training for such operations, and the TTP [“tactics, techniques and procedures”] employed to control civil disturbances and neutralize special threats are discussed in this manual. It also addresses special planning and preparation that are needed to quell riots in confinement facilities are also discussed. In the past, commanders were limited to the type of force they could apply to quell a riot. Riot batons, riot control agents, or lethal force were often used. Today, there is a wide array of nonlethal weapons (NLW) available to the commander that extends his use of force along the force continuum. This manual addresses the use of nonlethal (NL) and lethal forces when quelling a riot.” And as noted, the training is meant to be operative in both foreign and domestic contexts, the war abroad, the war at home.

http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-19-15.pdf

* In 1986, the Pentagon issues Department of Defense Directive 5525.5, or DoD Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Officials. US military involvement in domestic law enforcement is subsumed and rationalized under “doctrines” entitled Operations Other Than War (OOTW) and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), along with divisions known as Military Support to Law Enforcement Agencies (MSLEA) and Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA)

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/552505p.pdf

* In 1992 President Clinton’s Justice Department consolidated a partnership with the Pentagon in the area of “technology transfer.” The so-called “technology transfer agreements” allowed for the military to weaponize domestic police forces, further enhancing the growth of para-military “special forces” like “special units” in local police departments across the country, including “civil disturbance” units and training. The Clinton administration extended the police/military connection by mandating that the Department of Defense and its associated private industries form a partnership with the Department of Justice to “engage the crime war with the same resolve they fought the Cold War.” The program, entitled, “Technology Transfer From Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” (“Technology Transfer from Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” National Institute of Justice Journal, No 229, August, 1995), calls for the transfer of military technology to domestic police organizations to better fight “crime.” Previously, direct “transfers” of this sort were made only to friendly foreign governments. The Clinton directive enhanced and formalized direct militarization of domestic police forces.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/39680373/The-Militarization-of-the-Police-by-Frank-Morales

Currently, Title XIV of an earlier NDAA in 2007 entitled, “Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions,” authorizes “the Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD) processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology to federal, State, and local first responders.” In other words, the law facilitates the “transfer” of the newest in so-called “crowd control” and surveillance technology to local militarized (politicized) police units.

* In 1993, the US Army and Marine Corps publish Domestic Support Operations Field Manual 100-19.

http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/fm100_19.pdf

* In 1994, the Department of Defense issued Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS) that details the rationale and means (“tactics, techniques and procedures”) for suppressing dissent. It states that, “the President is authorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States to suppress insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions and circumstances. Planning and preparedness by the Federal Government and the Department of Defense for civil disturbances are important, do to the potential severity of the consequences of such events for the Nation and the population.”

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/302512p.pdf

* In 1995, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an key elite “policymaker” headquartered in New York City, set up an “Independent Task Force on Nonlethal Weapons (NLW)” in order “to assess the current status of non-lethal weapons development and availability within the Department of Defense, in light of their potential to support U.S. military operations and foreign policy,” not to mention the suppression of dissent at home. The 16 member Task Force, which published its’ findings in 1999, was chaired by IBM executive Richard L. Garwin, CFR “Senior Fellow for Science and Technology.” Other members of the Task Force included CFR “military fellow” David Jones, United States Navy, Commander, Edward N. Luttwak, member, “National Security Study Group administered by the Department of Defense,” Edward C. Meyer, USA (Ret.), Chair of Mitretek Systems, formerly Chief of Staff, US Army, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Janet and Christopher Morris, President/Vice President, M2 Technologies, Inc, members US Global Strategy Council.

The Director of the CFR task force on non-lethal “technologies” was W. Montaque Winfield, former Executive Officer to the Commander of the “Stabilization Force” stationed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Also a 1998-9 CFR “military fellow,” Brigadier General Winfield, some of you might recall, was the deputy director for operations (DDO) in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11, who according to the 9/11 Commission, left his post that very morning to attend a “pre-scheduled meeting” and allowed a colleague who had only recently qualified to take over his position, to stand in for him. He didn’t return to his post until after the terrorist attacks had ended. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=montague_winfield

The CFR had issued an earlier report on the subject of “non-lethal” weapons in 1995, and stated in the 1999 report that they had regrettably “found that the DoD has made only limited progress developing and deploying nonlethal weapons since 1995.” The CFR, offering a bit of a tongue lashing to it’s hired generals, considered the “shortfall” the result of a “continued lack of appreciation for NLW among civilian and military policymakers.” Taking a firm line, the CFR report recommends that, “senior civilian and military leaders should make NLW development a priority.” After all, “nonlethal weapons could give policymakers a more potent weapon than economic sanctions.” In fact, “used alone”, the report notes, “NLW could penalize civilian economies without high civilian casualties.” Looking for something between “diplomatic table thumping and outright annihilation,” the armchair corporate warriors at the CRR continued to pound away at the need for accelerated “non-lethal” R and D.

http://revoltrevolt.org/demilitarizethepolice/nonlethal.html

* Subsequently, on July 9, 1996, the Department of Defense complied, issuing Directive 3000.3, Policy for Non-Lethal Weapons. The Directive established Department of Defense policies and responsibilities for the development and employment of so-called “non-lethal weapons,” designating the Commandant of the Marine Corps as Executive Agent for the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program. On July 1, 1997, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was established to support the Executive Agent for Non-Lethal Weapons in the day-to-day management of the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program putting the “best and the brightest” at work in designing soft-kill means (including neuro-weapons) of “crowd dispersal” and “social control” set within a strategy of so-called “low-intensity warfare” and “counter-insurgency.”

http://jnlwp.defense.gov/pdf/2011%20Public%20%20Release%20%20NLW%20Reference%20Book%20V1.pdf

http://www.zcommunications.org/electromagnetic-weapons-by-frank-morales

http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/hugh-gusterson/the-militarization-neuroscience

Recently, this past May 17, 2012 the DoD issued Instruction 3200.19. Entitled “Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW) Human Effects Characterization,” the “instruction” “establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for a human effects characterization process in support of the development of NLW, non lethal technology and NLW systems.” It also establishes a “Human Effects Review Board,” which “scientifically” evaluates and quantifies levels of pain, calculating the most desirable “effects” in regard to the use of non-lethal force against non-combatants and protesters. In this regard, they receive a lot of assistance from their friends and associates in academia.

http://cryptome.org/dodi/dodi-3200-19.pdf

In 1997 Penn State University established the Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies. The Institute is “dedicated to providing a base of multidisciplinary knowledge and technology that supports development and responsible application of non-lethal options for both military and civilian law enforcement. “ The Institute is administered by Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), under the direction and support of the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research. http://nldt2.arl.psu.edu/

Its Human Effects Advisory Panel sponsored a conference in September 2000, whose purpose was “to assess crowd behavior and the potential for crowd control … a leading core capability sought by the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program.” Their 2001 report was entitled, “Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control, and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons.”

http://nldt2.arl.psu.edu/documents/crowd_control_report.pdf

Meanwhile, the University of New Hampshire’s Non-Lethal Technology Innovation Center (NTIC) was created by a grant from the DoD’s Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate about the same time “to effect the next generation of NL capabilities by identifying and promoting the development of innovative concepts, materials and technologies within the academic community.” Its “Society of Force Effectiveness, Analysis and Techniques” (FEAT) was “established to engage primary source scientists to share results and analyses from studies of applied force, whether physical, psychological, or emotional. The Society’s scope of interests includes the impact of non-lethal or less lethal force intervention on sustained attention; performance degradation due to fatigue or intentional distraction; compliance; vigilance; and stress resilience.” The Society, given its specific intent on affecting “motivational behavior,” is keen on identifying “disciplines that support the development of tools of behavioral modification through force (e.g., kinetic and electromagnetic energies, psychological operations).”

http://www.unh.edu/ntic/

* In August of 2001, the Pentagon issued Field Manual 3-19.40, Internment and Resettlement Operations. Explicating the role of military police engaged in law enforcement, including at the point of domestic detention activities set within the context of “emergency” support, the extensive manual covers detention policies and methodologies and the use of non-lethal weapons. Chapter 10, Sections 49-66 detail the nature of “emergency services” within the “continental United States,” explaining that “MP (military police) units assisting ES (emergency service) operations in CONUS involve DoD-sponsored military programs that support the people and the government at all levels within the US and its territories.” Classified as “domestic support,” the manual states that, “federal armed forces can be employed when …” in the face of a declared “emergency,” “state and local authorities do not take appropriate action.”

In that instance, FEMA would serve as “the single POC within the government.” With a nod to the Posse Comitatus Act the document goes on to state that, “the MP support to ES in CONUS varies significantly from other I/R (internment/resettlement) operations. The basic difference is that local and state governments and the federal government and its agencies have a greater impact and role in supporting and meeting the needs in an affected community.” “If tasked to set up and operate an I/R facility, the MP commander retains control of military forces under his command,” and can operate “in conjunction with local, state and federal law enforcement officials.”

http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/a22.pdf

* September 11 provided the elite Project for a New American Century and their associates with the “new Pearl Harbor” they sought, as set forth in Rebuilding America’s Defenses (pg.51), a major consequence of which was the September 18, 2001 passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force or AUMF.

http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/terrorism/sjres23.es.html

The Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world

This singular, presumably legal rationale for much of what we now endure, the AUMF substantiates the notion that the Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world, any time it chooses. In addition, apparently as we now see, the AUMF gives the Pentagon and it’s covetous corporate directors justification for the military takeover of America itself and the detention of its people. Thus, the AUMF is cited by the peddlers of Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012.

The modern “military tribunal” structure, which is a major piece of the detention/repression apparatus, came into formal existence as a consequence of the 2002 Department of Defense Military Commission Order No.1, issued on March 21, 2002 by former president (war criminal) George W. Bush.

http://www.defense.gov/news/Mar2002/d20020321ord.pdf

The entire military commission/tribunal structure is a work in progress, or more precisely, a dynamic and strategic power play on the part of the rulers set in motion following 9/11; a “might makes right” gambit undertaken by the militarist directors in the smoke of 9/11. Like the so-called Patriot Act, it was forced down the throats of a submissive, clueless public, sufficiently softened by means of prime time terror, fear and panic. Taking two steps forward and one step back, the militarists act first and then rationalize (or more precisely have their employees in the Congress) baptize the move after the fact. Where do presidents like Dubya, and now Obama get the authority to issue such blanket, unilateral decrees, totalitarian “executive orders,” such as Obama’s “National Defense Preparedness Order” of this year, which would force us to work for the Pentagon? The answer: No where! They have no authority! Particularly to set up parallel systems of jurisprudence as a means of by-passing Constitutional protections. In historical fact, this approach has a parallel in earlier maneuvers of another former “executive,” Adolph Hitler. (see Hitler’s Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Muller, Harvard, 1991)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

Concurrent with the round-up of over a thousand people following the September 11 attack, many of whom are still being held, many in solitary confinement, with no charges being filed, President Bush signed in November 2001 an order, establishing military “tribunals” for those non-citizens, accused, anywhere, of “terrorist related crimes.” And now, with the NDAA, citizens might soon face the same fate. Just imagine some smug and starchy government lawyer arguing that “the right to equal protection,” a fundamental principle of both U.S. and international law, demands that Americans be detained too!

At the time (2001), the National Legal Aid & Defender Association stated that the Bush promulgated “military order” violated the constitutional separation of powers:

“It has not been authorized by the Congress and is outside the President’s constitutional powers … the order strips away a variety of checks and balances on governmental power and the reliability and integrity of criminal judgments… undermines the rule of law worldwide, and invites reciprocal treatment of US nationals by hostile nations utilizing secret trials, a single entity as prosecutor, judge and jury, no judicial review and summary executions.”

More recently, in October 2009, the U.S. Congress passed and Obama dutifully signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (2009 MCA), which remains in effect today, legalizing further, if you will, the naked power grab by the executive in behalf of the elite. Since then the “Office of Military Commissions” has been set up as a public relations/propaganda front for the dictatorship. It promises to “provide fair and transparent trials of those persons subject to trial by Military Commissions while protecting national security interests.” Kind of like Fox’s “fair and balanced” news reporting. http://www.mc.mil/

Finally, we should recall that the NDAA of past years, aside from providing the funding of vast sums for illegal and immoral wars, torture and assassination, has been the site of various embedded measures designed to further limit our democratic rights of free expression and assembly, which is the foundation of effective and meaningful dissent. One such measure dates back to 2007, to the then so-called John Warner NDAA, named after militarism’s best friend and sponsor of the iconic AUMF.

Public Law 109-364, or the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007″ (H.R.5122), was signed by George Bush on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony. It allowed the President to declare a “public emergency” and subsequently station troops anywhere in America, seizing control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” Well, fortunately, a massive protest ensued and the sections of the law that allowed for such were eventually repealed in the midst of which Senator Pat Leahy commented that, “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law.” Preparing to order the military onto the streets of America, the presumption is that some form of martial law would be in evidence. Note that the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is “martial law.”

http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/911/

The concept of martial rule, as distinct from martial law, is not written, and therefore is an eminently more workable arrangement for “law enforcement forces.” That’s because, as US Army Field Manual 19-15 points out, “martial rule is based on public necessity. Public necessity in this sense means public safety.” According to the manual (cited above), updated in 2005, U.S. state authorities “may take such action within their own jurisdictions.” And yet, “whether or not martial rule has been proclaimed, commanders must weigh each proposed action against the threat to public order and safety. If the need for martial rule arises, the military commander at the scene must so inform the Army Chief of Staff and await instructions. If martial rule is imposed, the civilian population must be informed of the restrictions and rules of conduct that the military can enforce.”

Now, respecting the power of free speech, the manual suggests that, “during a civil disturbance, it may be advisable to prevent people from assembling. Civil law can make it unlawful for people to meet to plan an act of violence, rioting, or civil disturbance. Prohibitions on assembly may forbid gatherings at any place and time.” And don’t forget, “making hostile or inflammatory speeches advocating the overthrow of the lawful government and threats against public officials, if it endangered public safety, could violate such law.”

Further, during civil disturbance operations, “authorities must be prepared to detain large numbers of people,” forcing them into existing, though expanded “detention facilities.” Cautioning that, “if there are more detainees than civil detention facilities can handle, civil authorities may ask the control forces to set up and operate temporary facilities.” Pending the approval of the Army Chief of Staff, the military can detain and jail citizens en masse. “The temporary facilities are set up on the nearest military installation or on suitable property under federal control.” These “temporary facilities” are “supervised and controlled by MP officers and NCOs trained and experienced in Army correctional operations. Guards and support personnel under direct supervision and control of MP officers and NCOs need not be trained or experienced in Army correctional operations. But they must be specifically instructed and closely supervised in the proper use of force.”

According to the Army, the detention facilities are situated near to the “disturbance area,” but far enough away “not to be endangered by riotous acts.” Given the large numbers of potential detainees, the logistics (holding, searching, processing areas) of such an undertaking, new construction of such facilities “may be needed to provide the segregation for ensuring effective control and administration.” It must be designed and “organized for a smooth flow of traffic,” while a medical “treatment area” would be utilized as a “separate holding area for injured detainees.” After a “detainee is logged in and searched,” “a file is initiated,” and a “case number” identifies the prisoner. In addition, “facility personnel also may use hospital ID tags. Using indelible ink, they write the case number and attach the tag to the detainees wrist. Different colors may be used to identify different offender classifications ”

Finally, if and when it should occur, “release procedures must be coordinated with civil authorities and appropriate legal counsel.” If the “detainee” should produce a writ of habeas corpus issued by a state court, thereby demanding ones day in court, the Army will “respectfully reply that the prisoner is being held by authority of the United States.”

In conclusion:

There is no question that the militarized police state, in all its myriad permutations has arrived. In fact, the militarizing of American cities and society as a whole proceeds apace in lock step (Cities Under Seige: The New Military Urbanism, Stephen Graham, 2010) with the racist, anti-immigrant “defense” of the borders, a veritable cash cow for military contractors, booming. The cities, the borders, so how bout the skies? Well, as this is being written, the latest 2013 NDAA discussions include a Senate Armed Services Committee call to allow drones to operate “freely and routinely” in America!

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2012_cr/sasc-uas.html

http://nacla.org/blog/2012/6/7/bringing-battlefield-border-wild-world-border-security-and-boundary-building-arizona

Meanwhile, the GAO has just issued a report to Congress entitled “DOD Should Reevaluate Requirements for the Selective Service System” which calls for an evaluation of Pentagon “manpower needs for the Selective Service System in light of current national security plans.” Such an evaluation would, the report notes, “better position Congress to make an informed decision about the necessity of the Selective Service System or any other alternatives that might substitute for it.”

http://cryptome.org/2012/06/gao-12-623.pdf

Yes indeed, the water is boiling. Not to mix metaphors, but it’s time to jump out of the frying pan and hopefully not into the fire, which I take to mean that we must confront and deconstruct, in a non-violent way, the increasing potential for far more violence and suppression of our basic freedoms. The handing over of our resources, lives, fortune and reputation to a clique of thieves and murderers dressed up as presidents, congress people and corporate military executives and underlings is to foster our continued enslavement to the perpetrators of injustice and genocide, here and broad, inequality and greed, here and abroad, and signals the political suicide for our republic. We have got to act to stop the police state and reassert the values of community, justice and equality in the councils of governance. And to do so we must dis-empower the militarists.

One thing we can do right now is to initiate organizing campaigns in neighborhoods and communities across the country aimed at the passing of Posse Comitatus-like legislation on the local and state level, encouraging dialogue on the de-militarization of our communities, and raising the human right to be free of the violation inherent in all forms of militarism. By removing all aspects of militarism from domestic policing, lock, stock and barrel, we can expand the terrain of dissent and begin to reclaim our country back from the economic vultures and parasites and their violent mercenaries who are killing this country and the world. But first we must criminalize, like the Posse Comitatus Act does, all military involvement in law enforcement.

Communities must organize to de-militarize their police

Communities must organize to de-militarize their police. By analyzing police budgets, cutting the “special ops” training and funding and weapons transfers that fuel the militarization of law enforcement, we will most certainly decrease the level of police violence directed against the citizenry, and bridge issues and communities concerned with the epidemic of racist “police brutality” and the burgeoning of militarized police forces, veritable occupation armies in communities of color across America.

Along with criminalizing the militarization of local police we must work to criminalize racial profiling on the part of the police, a practice (indoctrinated in soldiers) that provides naked justification for “stop and frisk” harassment and the murde

I Hate to Bother You: Is Justice Right Side Up?

I Hate to Bother You: Is Justice Right Side Up?

Is justice right side up?

Has world justice been frozen in an upside-down position?

The shoe-thrower of Iraq, the man who hurled his shoes at Bush, was condemned to three years in prison. Doesn’t he deserve, instead, a medal?

Who is the terrorist? The hurler of shoes or their recipient? Is not the real terrorist the serial killer who, lying, fabricated the Iraq war, massacred a multitude, and legalized and ordered torture?

Who are the guilty ones–the people of Atenco, in Mexico, the indigenous Mapuches of Chile, the Kekchies of Guatemala, the landless peasants of Brazil—all being accused of the crime of terrorism for defending their right to their own land? If the earth is sacred, even if the law does not say so, aren’t its defenders sacred too?

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, Somalia is the most dangerous place in the world. But who are the pirates? The starving people who attack ships or the speculators of Wall Street who spent years attacking the world and who are now rewarded with many millions of dollars for their pains?

Why does the world reward its ransackers?

Why is justice a one-eyed blind woman? Wal-Mart, the most powerful corporation on earth, bans trade unions. McDonald’s, too. Why do these corporations violate, with criminal impunity, international law? Is it because in this contemporary world of ours, work is valued as lower than trash and workers’ rights are valued even less?

Who are the righteous and who are the villains? If international justice really exists, why are the powerful never judged? The masterminds of the worst butcheries are never sent to prison. Is it because it is these butchers themselves who hold the prison keys?

What makes the five nations with veto power in the United Nations inviolable? Is it of a divine origin, that veto power of theirs? Can you trust those who profit from war to guard the peace?

Is it fair that world peace is in the hands of the very five nations who are also the world’s main producers of weapons? Without implying any disrespect to the drug runners, couldn’t we refer to this arrangement as yet another example of organized crime?

Those who clamor, everywhere, for the death penalty are strangely silent about the owners of the world. Even worse, these clamorers forever complain about knife-wielding murderers, yet say nothing about missile-wielding arch-murderers.

And one asks oneself: Given that these self-righteous world owners are so enamored of killing, why pray don’t they try to aim their murderous proclivities at social injustice? Is it a just a world when, every minute, three million dollars are wasted on the military, while at the same time fifteen children perish from hunger or curable disease? Against whom is the so-called international community armed to the teeth? Against poverty or against the poor?

Why don’t the champions of capital punishment direct their ire at the values of the consumer society, values which pose a daily threat to public safety? Or doesn’t, perhaps, the constant bombardment of advertising constitute an invitation to crime? Doesn’t that bombardment numb millions and millions of unemployed or poorly paid youth, endlessly teaching them the lie that “to be = to have,” that life derives its meaning from ownership of such things as cars or brand name shoes? Own, own, they keep saying, implying that he who has nothing is, himself, nothing.

Why isn’t the death penalty applied to death itself? The world is organized in the service of death. Isn’t it true that the military industrial complex manufactures death and devours the greater part of our resources as well as a good part of our energies? Yet the owners of the world only condemn violence when it is exercised by others. To extraterrestrials, if they existed, such monopoly of violence would appear inexplicable. It likewise appears insupportable to earth dwellers who, against all the available evidence, hope for survival: we humans are the only animals who specialize in mutual extermination, and who have developed a technology of destruction that is annihilating, coincidentally, our planet and all its inhabitants.

This technology sustains itself on fear. It is the fear of enemies that justifies the squandering of resources by the military and police. And speaking about implementing the death penalty, why don’t we pass a death sentence on fear itself? Would it not behoove us to end this universal dictatorship of the professional scaremongers? The sowers of panic condemn us to loneliness, keeping solidarity outside our reach: falsely teaching us that we live in a dog-eat-dog world, that he who can must crush his fellows, that danger is lurking behind every neighbor. Watch out, they keep saying, be careful, this neighbor will steal from you, that other one will rape you, that baby carriage hides a Muslim bomb, and that woman who is watching you–that innocent-looking neighbor of yours—will surely infect you with swine flu.

In this upside-down world, they are making us afraid of even the most elementary acts of justice and common sense. When President Evo Morales started to re-build Bolivia, so that his country with its indigenous majority will no longer feel shame facing a mirror, his actions provoked panic. Morales’ challenge was indeed catastrophic from the traditional standpoint of the racist order, whose beneficiaries felt that theirs was the only possible option for Bolivia. It was Evo, they felt, who ushered in chaos and violence, and this alleged crime justified efforts to blow up national unity and break Bolivia into pieces. And when President Correa of Ecuador refused to pay the illegitimate debts of his country, the news caused terror in the financial world and Ecuador was threatened with dire punishment, for daring to set such a bad example. If the military dictatorships and roguish politicians have always been pampered by international banks, have we not already conditioned ourselves to accept it as our inevitable fate that the people must pay for the club that hits them and for the greed that plunders them?

But, have common sense and justice always been divorced from each other?

Were not common sense and justice meant to walk hand in hand, intimately linked?

Aren’t common sense, and also justice, in accord with the feminist slogan which states that if we, men, had to go through pregnancy, abortion would have been free. Why not legalize the right to have an abortion? Is it because abortion will then cease being the sole privilege of the women who can afford it and of the physicians who can charge for it?

The same thing is observed with another scandalous case of denial of justice and common sense: why aren’t drugs legal? Is this not, like abortion, a public health issue? And the very same country that counts in its population more drug addicts than any other country in the world, what moral authority does it have to condemn its drug suppliers? And why don’t the mass media, in their dedication to the war against the scourge of drugs, ever divulge that it is Afghanistan which single-handedly satisfies just about all the heroin consumed in the world? Who rules Afghanistan? Is it not militarily occupied by a messianic country which conferred upon itself the mission of saving us all?

Why aren’t drugs legalized once and for all? Is it because they provide the best pretext for military invasions, in addition to providing the juiciest profits to the large banks who, in the darkness of night, serve as money-laundering centers?

Nowadays the world is sad because fewer vehicles are sold. One of the consequences of the global crisis is a decline of the otherwise prosperous car industry. Had we some shred of common sense, a mere fragment of a sense of justice, would we not celebrate this good news?

Could anyone deny that a decline in the number of automobiles is good for nature, seeing that she will end up with a bit less poison in her veins? Could anyone deny the value of this decline in car numbers to pedestrians, seeing that fewer of them will die?

Here’s how Lewis Carroll’s queen explained to Alice how justice is dispensed in a looking-glass world:

“There’s the King’s Messenger. He’s in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn’t begin until next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.”

In El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero found that justice, like a snake, only bites barefoot people. He died of gunshot wounds, for proclaiming that in his country the dispossessed were condemned from the very start, on the day of their birth.

Couldn’t the outcome of the recent elections in El Salvador be viewed, in some ways, as a homage to Archbishop Romero and to the thousands who, like him, died fighting for right-side-up justice in this reign of injustice?

At times the narratives of History end badly, but she, History itself, never ends. When she says goodbye, she only says: I’ll be back.

Eduardo Galeano is the sage of the Americas. Galeano’s classics include: Open Veins of Latin America and Genesis.

The Institutionalization of Tyranny

Republicans and conservative Americans are still fighting Big Government in its welfare state form. Apparently, they have never heard of the militarized police state form of Big Government, or, if they have, they are comfortable with it and have no objection.

Syrian Chambers of Industry: Turkey has been stealing from Aleppo’s Factories

Head of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Industry, Eng. Fares Shihabi, stressed that Aleppo Industry Chamber has decisive evidence on the involvement of the Turkish government in stealing production lines and machines from hundreds of factories i...

Eleven Years of Guantanamo; Drone Strategy Consolidates Under Brennan

Michael Ratner: From Guantanamo to Brennan at CIA, Obama carries on the policies of George Bush.

TRANSCRIPT:

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Ratner Report with Michael Ratner, who now joins us from New York City.

Michael is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, and a board member for The Real News. Thanks for joining us, Michael.

MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Good to be with you, Paul.

JAY: So what are you following this week? I guess the big issue will be the anniversary of Guantanamo.

RATNER: I wish I could say it's a big issue. Of course it's a big issue. But it's a grim anniversary. It's the 11th year of Guantanamo. We're entering the 12th year. The U.S. has had that detention camp since January 11, 2002. The original order came down in November 2001. That's the order that the Center for Constitutional Rights and myself has been challenging since that time. And despite our challenges, despite Obama, we still have Guantanamo there. And we have a Guantanamo—and these numbers are important—that 166 people still remaining at Guantanamo, and that 86 of those, 86 have been cleared for release. That means they're innocent, they shouldn't be there anymore, and they are still there. And they've been there going on, in some cases, 11 years, ten years, nine years. Still there. So we're still running a detention camp.

JAY: Why are they still there if they've been cleared for release?

RATNER: You know, that gets into the big issue on Guantanamo. It gets into the president's promise to close it. The president on January 22, 2009, wrote an executive order saying exactly it has to be closed in one year from this date and saying it's in the national security interests of the United States and the foreign policy interests and the interests of justice to close Guantanamo. And yet it remains open.

So the big question is: why? Well, you know, politicians are politicians. And what happened in Guantanamo—I can do a couple of factors quickly, but they're still at the politicians' door. One is [incompr.] the first people who were ordered released from Guantanamo when Obama became president, the Uyghers from Western China, which is the Muslim split-off group from China, they were picked up in Afghanistan. The U.S. refused to let them come into the United States, despite a federal court order and despite a Uyghur community that was willing to take them in, and despite their complete clearance for release. Obama showed weak knees. That was early in his term, you know, probably by February or March.

And then, after he refused to let those Uyghurs into the United States, Congress got in the act. And that goes on and on. Congress then said nobody from Guantanamo can come to the United States, nobody from Guantanamo can be sent to any other country, unless there are all kinds of hurdles that they go through and clearances.

And that's now reflected in, like, two years of legislation, which we've talked about before, called the National Defense Authorization Act. Obama signed that again. That contains the Guantanamo restrictions on transfer to the United States and to other countries. Obama said in his signing statement, I think a lot of it's unconstitutional and I may override it. He said that last year as well. But I don't expect him to do it.

So my prediction: you and I will be celebrating, sadly, this grim anniversary year after year. And I put it—yes, I put it at the feet of Obama. I put it at the feet of Congress, and also the courts. While at my office we won a right for the Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detentions in courts, that right has not been carried out by the courts, and we have not yet gotten people out in the last few years as a result of any of the litigation. All of it has been reversed in the appeals court.

And so we're sitting there now with what I consider to be an incredible human rights and political outrage. The only way people seem to be getting out of the camp now is by death. And we had one death in September, a man named Adnan Latif, who'd been there for ten years. Government claimed suicide. Who knows. It was an overdose of drugs somehow. How he got that in a detention camp when there's a camera on you every second is unclear to me.

So Guantanamo is really like the albatross around Obama's neck. But be honest: it's not the only albatross. If we look at what the Obama administration has done, the areas that I care about and have litigated, he's not very much different than President Bush was. If you look at Guantanamo, [it] exists. You look at military commissions, which are those special rum trials, still going on. If you look at death by drone, more under Obama by far than under Bush. If you look at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is the right that they've given the government to surveil your and my conversations, it's as broad as it's ever been. They don't even have to name the U.S. citizens they're surveilling anymore. They can go to the secret court and get a warrant and say, we just want to investigate The Real News, pick up all the American citizens they want by wiretap, and that's it. So Obama on those issues is really hand-in-glove with President Bush. And on torture, of course, yes, he did do an order to stop the worst forms of torture—waterboarding and otherwise. That had actually ended by the time Obama took office.

JAY: What about the appointment of John Brennan as director of the CIA?

RATNER: Well, that really seals what I've been saying about the two wings of the same bird sense of Bush and Obama on these national security issues that I've been discussing. John Brennan has been the national security adviser for President Obama in the White House. The reason he was that adviser was because he couldn't get to be head of the CIA, which is what Obama wanted to appoint him to four years ago. And he couldn't appoint him to that because Brennan set up the counterintelligence center or the Counterterrorism Center in Washington to fight terrorism. And as part of that, of course, we had the torture techniques employed widely. Brennan was head of that. We had rendition employed widely. Brennan was head of that. So there was too much opposition for Brennan to get to be head of the CIA.

Go ahead now four more years. Brennan's been heading the drone program for President Obama. He's become like a brother, as far as we can tell, to President Obama on the drone program. What happens next? Obama nominates Brennan to be head of the CIA. Is there going to be significant opposition? I doubt it. The torture stuff probably won't come up at all. It seems that every member of Congress or at least every member of the Senate is on the same page or almost the same page on the drone issues with a few exceptions. And so probably Brennan is going to sweep through.

So what does that tell you about what's happened to the country? When we had Bush in office, I had a tremendous amount of support for the opposition that my office and others have had to Guantanamo, drones, the torture program, getting people prosecuted for torture [inaud.] Obama's taken office, that support has evaporated. And worse than that, they're now putting into the head of the CIA one of the architects of the Bush program, and actually the head of the drone program, essentially. We've seen a normalization now of these issues in the country.

JAY: Just to be clear, when you said head of the drone program, now we know from—'cause they told The New York Times, this is Brennan and Obama sitting around, deciding who's going to be killed.

RATNER: That's where they make up the kill list. Obama said he signs off on it personally. It includes a wide variety of people, not just people who are alleged terrorists, who they know the names of; it includes what are called signature strikes, which are just people who have characteristics they say belong to terrorists or in the areas where terrorists allegedly hang out; and it includes people killing outside of war zones, which is, I think, what people are really getting upset by, because it may be one thing—it's like a bomber if you're fighting a shooting war, to drop bombs on, you know, the other side; but when you're talking about people who were not in uniforms, who were not in a war zone, but are living in Yemen or living in Somalia, or could be living in the United Kingdom or right here in the United States, you're talking about something else. And that's who's going to be the head of our CIA.

So I would say that this country on those issues is really in a hell somewhere. I mean, we have a long way to come back. Eleven years of Guantanamo, six, seven, eight years of drones, a dozen years of torture and no prosecutions for it, and then you throw into the mix the last little bit, a nice film like Zero Dark Thirty—and I mean nice facetiously—that essentially makes an argument that torture works and that we need torture to protect ourselves in the United States. Luckily, while it was nominated for an academy award, its director, who should not be directing, Kathryn Bigelow, was not nominated. But the film confirms, really, what this country has become, which is a country where torture is considered acceptable and necessary for its protection.

JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Michael.

RATNER: Thank you, Paul.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

11 Years of Guantanamo; Brennan CIA Nomination Consolidates Drone Assassination Strategy

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Bio

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Ratner Report with Michael Ratner, who now joins us from New York City.

Michael is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, and a board member for The Real News. Thanks for joining us, Michael.MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Good to be with you, Paul.JAY: So what are you following this week? I guess the big issue will be the anniversary of Guantanamo.RATNER: I wish I could say it's a big issue. Of course it's a big issue. But it's a grim anniversary. It's the 11th year of Guantanamo. We're entering the 12th year. The U.S. has had that detention camp since January 11, 2002. The original order came down in November 2001. That's the order that the Center for Constitutional Rights and myself has been challenging since that time. And despite our challenges, despite Obama, we still have Guantanamo there. And we have a Guantanamo—and these numbers are important—that 166 people still remaining at Guantanamo, and that 86 of those, 86 have been cleared for release. That means they're innocent, they shouldn't be there anymore, and they are still there. And they've been there going on, in some cases, 11 years, ten years, nine years. Still there. So we're still running a detention camp.JAY: Why are they still there if they've been cleared for release?RATNER: You know, that gets into the big issue on Guantanamo. It gets into the president's promise to close it. The president on January 22, 2009, wrote an executive order saying exactly it has to be closed in one year from this date and saying it's in the national security interests of the United States and the foreign policy interests and the interests of justice to close Guantanamo. And yet it remains open. So the big question is: why? Well, you know, politicians are politicians. And what happened in Guantanamo—I can do a couple of factors quickly, but they're still at the politicians' door. One is [incompr.] the first people who were ordered released from Guantanamo when Obama became president, the Uyghers from Western China, which is the Muslim split-off group from China, they were picked up in Afghanistan. The U.S. refused to let them come into the United States, despite a federal court order and despite a Uyghur community that was willing to take them in, and despite their complete clearance for release. Obama showed weak knees. That was early in his term, you know, probably by February or March. And then, after he refused to let those Uyghurs into the United States, Congress got in the act. And that goes on and on. Congress then said nobody from Guantanamo can come to the United States, nobody from Guantanamo can be sent to any other country, unless there are all kinds of hurdles that they go through and clearances. And that's now reflected in, like, two years of legislation, which we've talked about before, called the National Defense Authorization Act. Obama signed that again. That contains the Guantanamo restrictions on transfer to the United States and to other countries. Obama said in his signing statement, I think a lot of it's unconstitutional and I may override it. He said that last year as well. But I don't expect him to do it. So my prediction: you and I will be celebrating, sadly, this grim anniversary year after year. And I put it—yes, I put it at the feet of Obama. I put it at the feet of Congress, and also the courts. While at my office we won a right for the Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detentions in courts, that right has not been carried out by the courts, and we have not yet gotten people out in the last few years as a result of any of the litigation. All of it has been reversed in the appeals court. And so we're sitting there now with what I consider to be an incredible human rights and political outrage. The only way people seem to be getting out of the camp now is by death. And we had one death in September, a man named Adnan Latif, who'd been there for ten years. Government claimed suicide. Who knows. It was an overdose of drugs somehow. How he got that in a detention camp when there's a camera on you every second is unclear to me. So Guantanamo is really like the albatross around Obama's neck. But be honest: it's not the only albatross. If we look at what the Obama administration has done, the areas that I care about and have litigated, he's not very much different than President Bush was. If you look at Guantanamo, [it] exists. You look at military commissions, which are those special rum trials, still going on. If you look at death by drone, more under Obama by far than under Bush. If you look at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is the right that they've given the government to surveil your and my conversations, it's as broad as it's ever been. They don't even have to name the U.S. citizens they're surveilling anymore. They can go to the secret court and get a warrant and say, we just want to investigate The Real News, pick up all the American citizens they want by wiretap, and that's it. So Obama on those issues is really hand-in-glove with President Bush. And on torture, of course, yes, he did do an order to stop the worst forms of torture—waterboarding and otherwise. That had actually ended by the time Obama took office.JAY: What about the appointment of John Brennan as director of the CIA?RATNER: Well, that really seals what I've been saying about the two wings of the same bird sense of Bush and Obama on these national security issues that I've been discussing. John Brennan has been the national security adviser for President Obama in the White House. The reason he was that adviser was because he couldn't get to be head of the CIA, which is what Obama wanted to appoint him to four years ago. And he couldn't appoint him to that because Brennan set up the counterintelligence center or the Counterterrorism Center in Washington to fight terrorism. And as part of that, of course, we had the torture techniques employed widely. Brennan was head of that. We had rendition employed widely. Brennan was head of that. So there was too much opposition for Brennan to get to be head of the CIA. Go ahead now four more years. Brennan's been heading the drone program for President Obama. He's become like a brother, as far as we can tell, to President Obama on the drone program. What happens next? Obama nominates Brennan to be head of the CIA. Is there going to be significant opposition? I doubt it. The torture stuff probably won't come up at all. It seems that every member of Congress or at least every member of the Senate is on the same page or almost the same page on the drone issues with a few exceptions. And so probably Brennan is going to sweep through. So what does that tell you about what's happened to the country? When we had Bush in office, I had a tremendous amount of support for the opposition that my office and others have had to Guantanamo, drones, the torture program, getting people prosecuted for torture [inaud.] Obama's taken office, that support has evaporated. And worse than that, they're now putting into the head of the CIA one of the architects of the Bush program, and actually the head of the drone program, essentially. We've seen a normalization now of these issues in the country. JAY: Just to be clear, when you said head of the drone program, now we know from—'cause they told The New York Times, this is Brennan and Obama sitting around, deciding who's going to be killed.RATNER: That's where they make up the kill list. Obama said he signs off on it personally. It includes a wide variety of people, not just people who are alleged terrorists, who they know the names of; it includes what are called signature strikes, which are just people who have characteristics they say belong to terrorists or in the areas where terrorists allegedly hang out; and it includes people killing outside of war zones, which is, I think, what people are really getting upset by, because it may be one thing—it's like a bomber if you're fighting a shooting war, to drop bombs on, you know, the other side; but when you're talking about people who were not in uniforms, who were not in a war zone, but are living in Yemen or living in Somalia, or could be living in the United Kingdom or right here in the United States, you're talking about something else. And that's who's going to be the head of our CIA. So I would say that this country on those issues is really in a hell somewhere. I mean, we have a long way to come back. Eleven years of Guantanamo, six, seven, eight years of drones, a dozen years of torture and no prosecutions for it, and then you throw into the mix the last little bit, a nice film like Zero Dark Thirty—and I mean nice facetiously—that essentially makes an argument that torture works and that we need torture to protect ourselves in the United States. Luckily, while it was nominated for an academy award, its director, who should not be directing, Kathryn Bigelow, was not nominated. But the film confirms, really, what this country has become, which is a country where torture is considered acceptable and necessary for its protection.JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Michael.RATNER: Thank you, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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