Tag Archives: Crimes against Humanity

Document Shows CIA Reaction to Finding No WMD in Iraq

By David Swanson, teleSUR
July 10, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

unnamedThe National Security Archive has posted several newly available documents, one of them an account by Charles Duelfer of the search he led in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, with a staff of 1,700 and the resources of the U.S. military.

Duelfer was appointed by CIA Director George Tenet to lead a massive search after an earlier massive search led by David Kay had determined that there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Duelfer went to work in January 2004, to find nothing for a second time, on behalf of people who had launched a war knowing full well that their own statements about WMDs were not true.

The fact that Duelfer states quite clearly that he found none of the alleged WMD stockpiles cannot be repeated enough, with 42% of Americans (and 51 percent of Republicans) still believing the opposite.

A New York Times story last October about the remnants of a long-abandoned chemical weapons program has been misused and abused to advance misunderstanding. A search of Iraq today would find U.S. cluster bombs that were dropped a decade back, without of course finding evidence of a current operation.

Duelfer is also clear that Saddam Hussein’s government had accurately denied having WMD, contrary to a popular U.S. myth that Hussein had pretended to have what he did not.

The fact that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their team knowingly lied cannot be overemphasized. This group took the testimony of Hussein Kamel regarding weapons he’d said had been destroyed years ago, and used it as if he’d said they currently existed. This team used forged documents to allege a uranium purchase. They used claims about aluminum tubes that had been rejected by all of their own usual experts. They “summarized” a National Intelligence Estimate that said Iraq was unlikely to attack unless attacked to say nearly the opposite in a “white paper” released to the public. Colin Powell took claims to the U.N. that had been rejected by his own staff, and touched them up with fabricated dialogue.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that, “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent.”

On January 31, 2003, Bush suggested to Blair that they could paint an airplane with U.N. colors, fly it low to get it shot at, and thereby start the war. Then the two of them walked out to a press conference at which they said they would avoid war if at all possible. Troop deployments and bombing missions were already underway.

When Diane Sawyer asked Bush on television why he had made the claims he had about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, he replied: “What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger.”

Duelfer’s newly released internal report on his hunt, and that of Kay before him, for the figments of propagandists’ imagination refers to “Saddam Hussein’s WMD program,” which Duelfer treats as an on-again, off-again institution, as if the 2003 invasion had just caught it in one of its naturally cyclical low tides of non-existence. Duelfer also describes the nonexistent program as “an international security problem that vexed the world for three decades,” — except perhaps for the part of the world engaged in the largest public demonstrations in history, which rejected the U.S. case for war.

Duelfer openly states that his goal was to rebuild “confidence in intelligence projections of threat.” Of course, having found no WMDs, he can’t alter the inaccuracy of the “projections of threat.” Or can he? What Duelfer did publicly at the time and does again here is to claim, without providing any evidence for it, that “Saddam was directing resources to sustain the capacity to recommence producing WMD once U.N. sanctions and international scrutiny collapsed.”

Duelfer claims that former Saddam yes men, rigorously conditioned to say whatever would most please their questioner, had assured him that Saddam harbored these secret intentions to start rebuilding WMD someday. But, Duelfer admits, “there is no documentation of this objective. And analysts should not expect to find any.”

So, in Duelfer’s rehabilitation of the “intelligence community” that may soon be trying to sell you another “projection of threat” (a phrase that perfectly fits what a Freudian would say they were doing), the U.S. government invaded Iraq, devastated a society, killed upwards of a million people by best estimates, wounded, traumatized, and made homeless millions more, generated hatred for the United States, drained the U.S. economy, stripped away civil liberties back home, and laid the groundwork for the creation of ISIS, as a matter not of “preempting” an “imminent threat” but of preempting a secret plan to possibly begin constructing a future threat should circumstances totally change.

This conception of “preemptive defense” is identical to two other concepts. It’s identical to the justifications we’ve been offered recently for drone strikes. And it’s identical to aggression. Once “defense” has been stretched to include defense against theoretical future threats, it ceases to credibly distinguish itself from aggression. And yet Duelfer seems to believe he succeeded in his assignment.

The U.S. Still Tortures with Impunity

By Robert Abele
July 09, 2015
Global Research

 

torture USA 2Here we go again. More disturbing news arises about the depth of the U.S. torture program; a few politicians express their disgust at it; the U.S. media complex becomes complicit in the continuation of the program either by their adumbration of torture (Fair.org reported extensively on this in December and January), or by their silence; and the torture program itself continues and deepens, until the next report, when the cycle will repeat again.

So once again, with the latest news of U.S. torture policies, we must raise the salient issues concerning torture, and rekindle the anti-torture movement until others can see not only the degree to which our own government conducts its confinement policies with such sadistic brutality, but to realize that the same degree of brutality which the government is willing to inflict on “foreigners” is the degree of brutality to which we become susceptible from our own domestic jailers, as well as from those who confront U.S. intervention abroad.

Specifically, by the end of June, we learned two new crucial things about the U.S. torture program that, once again, the corporate media ignored almost in entirety. First, we learned through a report from the Center for Constitutional Rights, that Guantanamo prisoner Majid Khan testified that he had been subjected to torture that was far more brutal than the U.S. Senate report on torture made public last year. Khan testified that, among other tortures, he had been waterboarded, raped, sexually abused, subjected to solitary confinement in total darkness, and hung by his wrists for days at a time from ceiling beams. Every one of these actions is a direct violation of international law and of our deepest and most humane ethical convictions. Any one of these treatments, by themselves, would constitute an international crime against humanity. Taken together, the obvious conclusion is that the U.S. torture program is not only alive and well (unlike its prisoners), but is a program that is itself flaunting international conventions and basic ethical behavior.

The second—and more horrifying—thing we learned in June was that the CIA crafted its own internal regulations that permitted the agency’s director to override all international law in its torture practices, and to go the furthest ends of sadism: experimentation on human beings. Again ignored by the U.S. media, it took the Guardian from London to publish the document “AR 2-2, Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Activities.”

Don’t feel bad if you had not heard of these developments. Most people haven’t, thanks to our enabling media complex.

But now that the information has become public through non-mainstream media channels, we can respond to such deliberate and culpable media ignorance by continuing to underscore four issues in public discourse and protest: the definition of torture, international laws on torture, reminders of what substantive ethical arguments condemning torture should say, and understanding the final purpose of torture: control over people.

1) Defining Torture

The internationally accepted definition of torture comes from the U.N. Convention against Torture (UNCAT, which came into force in June, 1987): “the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing, intimidating or coercing someone.”  Treating civilians in such fashion would be illegal, according to this convention.

2) International Law and Treaties on Torture

That torture is heartily disapproved by nations worldwide may be seen by examining some international laws concerning torture. For example,

–The U.N. Convention against Torture (UNCAT): Article 1, Section 2: If a nation has signed the treaty without reservations, then there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever where a nation can use torture; and Article 3: “No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

–The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

–The Third Convention: Article 3; Part III, Section I; Article 87 (“Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishment, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden”); Article 130: (condemns “torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”)

–The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 3; Article 32 (“This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents”); and Article 147.

–The Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol I, Article 75

–The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7: Torture and abusive treatment are “crimes against humanity” and Article 8: Torture is a war crime

–The European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3: “Prohibition of torture:” “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The United States has ratified and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and UNCAT.

Furthermore, U.S. Federal law specifically defines and prohibits torture (U.S. Code, Chapter 113C, 2340): “torture means… [inflicting] severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” including the administering of mind-altering substances,…threats of death, [and/or] threats of severe physical pain.”

3) An ethical argument against torture

Premise #1: As a general moral principle, most people intuitively reject torture as abusive to persons physically and psychologically

Premise #2: International Law consistently condemns abusive treatment of detainees (dealt with above).

Premise #3: Torturing a “suspect” is immoral and illegal as well. “Suspect” means “innocent,” both legally and morally. Thus, if torturing a morally innocent person is immoral, so is the torturing a suspect.

Premise #4: Empirical givens. First, Torture almost never accomplishes the stated goal of information-gathering (see Alfred McCoy, A Question of Torture). Second, once torture starts, even with low level actions such as face-slapping, there is no stopping it, both in method or in regular use.

Premise #5: Normative premises:

a) Using a person as a means to an end is immoral, according to the normative argument used in Terrorism, above.

b) International Law forbidding all torture is based on a moral conception of human rights.

c) Human rights is based on notions of human dignity and autonomy. Thus, any justification for torture must include a rejection of: i) conception of common human nature; ii) universal human rights.

d) There is no “moral ought” to torture. But if torture is in fact taken in this way, then anything is permitted, since torture is the final crossing point between civilized behavior and barbarity.

Compare these five premises to U.S. history. The U.S. has a long history of ignoring any law that does not suit its own self-interest. Torture is no different. (See Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture). For example, from 1950-1962, the CIA conducted massive, secret research into coercion and the malleability of human consciousness which, by the late 1950’s, was costing a billion dollars a year.  This research produced a new method of torture, “no-touch” torture. Additionally, by 1967, the CIA was operating 40 interrogation centers in South Vietnam that killed over 20,000 Viet Cong suspects. Finally, this practice was the same one used in Kabul on Al Qaeda suspects in 2002, and seen in Abu Ghraib. Now, here we are once again confronted in June and July of 2015, with powerful instances in which the U.S. has not only ignored its international law obligations, but has sought to flout them completely.

The standard objection to my argument against torture is, of course, to appeal to cases of one-off instances, such as the ticking-bomb scenario (i.e. a bomb is going to explode in a heavily-populated area, and under routine questioning, the suspect will not provide information as to its location). There are several replies to such concocted scenarios.

First, it is important to note that the empirical evidence shows not only that the torture will not merit the intended goal of information, but that even if it does result in getting information, tests show that in 60 out of 100 instances, interrogators could not distinguish between the truth or falsity of the information they got.

Further, there are several false assumptions about the ticking-bomb dilemma. First, the objection assumes that the evidentiary requirements for police to act to defuse the bomb or vacate people cannot and would not be met in real-time. It assumes further that there is no other way to obtain information regarding the bomb than to torture a suspect; that the suspect has all the knowledge the detainers need to get to and defuse the bomb; that the suspect will surrender all this knowledge without leaving any pertinent detail out, prior to the bomb exploding, etc. Second, these types of scenarios all presume that our legal and governmental institutions can make the necessary determinations about when torture is called for a permissible. Third, they all presume that our legal and governmental institutions can control when and how torture is used, and to what extent.

4) The ultimate purpose of torture

The most important thing to keep in mind in discussing torture is that it is the complete denial of the humanity of the tortured, and simultaneously the total control over another person, reducing them to the moral status of an inanimate object. Presumably, that is precisely what those who torture, such as our own CIA and some local police departments in the U.S., want: not information, but total control over people. On the other hand, if a state and its people are willing to embrace or willfully ignore their own government’s torture practices, the only form of government that is possible for that society is totalitarianism: complete control of people, with no limitation.

It is a truism because it has been repeatedly demonstrated, that any government that is willing to inflict such extreme violence on the hated “other,” the “foreigner,” will be willing to inflict it on their citizens as well, in order to maintain and control them and to enhance its own power. U.S. citizens, especially minorities, have testified to such torture being used against them in our own domestic prisons. Thus, to fight it before it becomes entrenched as an instrument of local as well as federal government policy to control its citizens is not only a practical imperative, it is a moral imperative as well.

Dr. Robert Abele holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University and M.A. degrees in Theology and Divinity. He is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area, and is the author of five books and numerous articles. His new book, Rationality and Justice, will be out in 2016.

Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in Two Paragraphs

By Glenn Greenwald
July 8, 2015
The Intercept

 

Featured photo - Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in Two ParagraphsTony Blair today took a little time off from serving the world’s despots in order to exploit the 10th anniversary of the July 7 London train bombing. He did so by casting blame on “radical Islam” for the world’s violence while exempting himself, pronouncing:

This is a global problem … we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government.

The proposition Blair just decreed invalid — “the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government” — is exactly the rationale that he himself repeatedly invoked, and to this day still invokes, to justify the invasion and destruction of Iraq, as in this example from December 2009:

Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public. . . . “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” Blair was asked. He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”. . . . He explained it was “the notion of him as a threat to the region” because Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people.

“Excusing the slaughter of totally innocent people” — whether in Fallujah or Gaza or Yemen — is a staple of Western elite discourse to justify the militarism of the U.S., the U.K. and their most special allies. It only suddenly becomes inexcusable when carried out by Muslims against the West. It is a stunning testament to Western self-delusion that one of the prime architects and salesmen of the most destructive political crime of this generation — the invasion of Iraq — can stand up with a straight face and to applause and declare: “we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government.”

There will undoubtedly be all sorts of self-loving jingoists in the West, along with those whose overriding political priority is the demonization of Islam, who will find this comparison invalid and even obscene. After all, their own governments’ violence, aggression and slaughter of innocents is kind-hearted, civilized and justified, whereas the violence, aggression and slaughter of innocents by Muslims is savage and barbaric. But that’s precisely the point.

While the leading lights of the West love to celebrate themselves as beacons of civilized, progressive rationality, their overriding mentality is just the crassest and most primitive form of tribalism: when Our Side does it, it is right, and when Their Side does it, it is wrong. No matter the esoteric finery in which it drapes itself, that is the primitive, banal formulation that lies at the heart of the vast, vast majority of foreign policy discourse in the West. So often, those who fancy themselves brave warriors for rationality and advancement by demonizing Islam are just rank tribalists whose own national, religious and cultural loyalties are served by doing so.

One last point while we’re on this topic: the notion that radical Muslims commit violence in response to violence by the West is often characterized as an attempt to deny that they possess agency or autonomy. That claim is just bizarre, the opposite of the truth. Those who deny that Muslims act with agency are, in fact, those who try to claim that they are manipulated by religious dogma into committing violence without any rationale or purpose. To point out that there’s an actual, rational causal relationship between their violence and the West’s — to acknowledge that they choose violence as a calculated course of action they believe to be justified just as the West does — is not a denial of their agency, but rather an affirmation of it.

This causal relationship is the point that Tony Blair and his like-minded comrades are, above all else, most desperate to deny. Blair thus expressly denies that the July 7 bombing in London was largely motivated by his war in Iraq even though his own government’s secret report reached exactly that conclusion; a Pentagon-commissioned report years ago acknowledged the same causal motive for “terrorism” generally. They’re desperate to deny this causation because to recognize it is necessarily to acknowledge that their professed moral superiority is the ultimate delusion, that they in fact are the embodiment of what they love to hear themselves condemning.

It’s always comforting to believe that one’s own tribe is morally superior yet perpetually victimized, so it’s an easy sell. But as Blair’s remarkably self-unaware comments today illustrate, this mentality centrally depends upon a steadfast commitment to blinding oneself to one’s own actions and failings. Nobody is more resolute in that commitment than Tony Blair.

Photo: Ron Edmonds/AP

America’s Multinational Ramadan Assault

By Tony Cartalucci
July 02, 2015
New Eastern Outlook, June 30, 2015

 

rtr3wktz.siIt is not hard to fathom who on Earth possesses both the resources and the motivation to coordinate multiple, horrific militant attacks, ending scores of lives and provoking both fear and anger on a global scale such as seen during the recent Ramadan attacks that unfolded in France, Tunisia, Kuwait, and reportedly in China’s western Xinjiang region.

Only a few nations on Earth possess the operational capacity to run coordinated, multinational operations such as this. Only one axis among them has the motivation to do so.

The Attacks 

In Tunisia, nearly 30 were killed in a brazen attack targeting British tourists with assault rifles. Tunisia, which had been for years a bastion of stability in an otherwise troubled region, saw street demonstrations and violence during 2011 amid the wider US-engineered “Arab Spring” which sought to overturn regional political orders in favor of those selected by Wall Street and Washington. After briefly ousting Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power, his allies appear to have made a comeback. With their rise back to power, Al Qaeda and now the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) have conveniently stepped up operations within the country to match.

Tunisia is in close proximity to Libya, a nation destroyed by NATO’s intervention in 2011, and one that has become a hotbed of terrorist activity, particularly in the nation’s eastern most region where the US has been literally running weapons to Al Qaeda militants both in Libya and as far as Syria via NATO-member Turkey. With US-backed terrorists flowing from Libya to as far as Syria, it is clear that this terrorist nexus possesses the necessary logistics to carry out operations in neighboring Tunisia as well.

Another 27 were killed when a Saudi national with a bomb strapped to himself detonated it at a Shia’a mosque in Kuwait. This fits a recent pattern where what little Al Qaeda/ISIS activity that exists in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf autocracies, is aimed not at the ruling regimes – all stalwart, long-standing allies of the United States and Great Britain – but against Shia’a targets in what is a clear escalation of a proxy war targeting Iran and its regional allies.

A bizarre murder unfolded in France as well, with a suspect apparently decapitating his employer and leaving the severed head at a chemical plant he attempted to crash a vehicle into. The suspect had been well known to security agencies for previous terrorist activity, but allowed, perhaps even coaxed to carry out this latest, fatal attack – a familiar pattern that fits nearly all terrorist attacks carried out in Europe and North America, including the most recent attacks proceeding this latest episode in France itself.

And finally, in China’s Xinjiang region, the US State Department’s “Radio Free Asia” reported at least 18 were killed in an attack carried out by Uighur terrorists. As a side note, the US State Department added in a tasteless attempt to justify the terrorism, claiming that:

Turkic-speaking minority Uyghurs have complained about pervasive ethnic discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression by Chinese authorities.

Despite this, it is confirmed that Uighur terrorists have joined the ranks of ISIS in Syria, have received training, and are returning home to China to carry out terrorist attacks. The Lowy Institute’s Interpreter magazine in an article titled, “Tough choices for Beijing following execution of Chinese ISIS militants,” admits:

The involvement of Chinese citizens in ISIS is increasingly under scrutiny. Just two weeks ago, Malaysia’s Home Minister confirmed that 300 Chinese militants had used his country as a transit point to join ISIS. Three weeks ago, Chinese authorities arrested 10 Turkish nationals for providing false passports to alleged terrorists from Xinjiang.

And once again, US support can be found throughout the region in which these terrorists are based in western China. The US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) even goes as far as listing China’s Xinjiang region as “East Turkistan,” a fictional name for the client state the US and its terrorists hope to carve out of Chinese territory.

The Motivation 

It is clear that ISIS is not carrying out these attacks in the hopes of “winning” its war, but instead, to seemingly perpetuate it, expand it, and even push it into so-far spared regions of the planet. The attacks in France and Tunisia served only to anger and frighten European populations who will in turn, only support further foreign wars aimed at “fighting ISIS” but conveniently accomplishing all of Wall Street and Washington’s other goals along the way.

The attack in Tunisia in particular, was another stroke aimed at the ruling government. The attacks in Kuwait were aimed directly at the only viable opposition that threatens the US-backed regime in Kuwait City. Similar attacks have been made in Saudi Arabia itself, aimed not at the US-proxy regime, but at its opposition.

In China it is clear that the United States supports Uighur terrorists and their ambitions to carve off a large portion of China to create a client state the US can further strengthen its encirclement strategy versus Beijing. The US State Department openly funds the political wings of these terrorist groups and fully backs their separatist rhetoric.

It appears that only the United States and its hegemonic ambitions stood to gain from the otherwise senseless violence perpetrated this Ramadan. Its enemies have been directly attacked, and its allies given further justification for military adventures abroad. And not coincidentally, it is only the United States and its vast, criminal intelligence community that possess the operational capacity and network of proxies necessary to organize and execute such large scale and conveniently timed attacks.

The Ramadan attacks serve as a warning that modern-day imperialism is alive and well. Its methods of projecting hegemony are both direct and indirect. With terrorism so potent a weapon, it is assured that this modern empire will continue employing it for as long as it is profitable.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

The West Has Normalised Racist Wars – But You Can’t Solve Complex Problems With 1,000lb Bombs

‘Radicalisation’ is our new dirty word in the US and UK, yet radical change is needed. Here’s an idea: stop trying to fix the world with high explosives

By Frankie Boyle
July 01, 2015
Information Clearing House

 

31eae-hateflagJune 30, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – “The Guardian” – I suppose that whether this article prompted by the Charleston shootings feels topical enough will depend on whether America has another mass shooting before it goes to print. If you’re in the US, there’s a fair chance it will seem dated because you are actually being gunned down as you read it, so I’ll try to get straight to the point. It’s surely worth wondering whether it’s time to retire the flag that has for so long been a rallying point for racists and murderers, the stars and stripes. There’s a genuine question to be asked here: what responsibility does the US state bear for the Charleston shootings when racist murder seems to be part of its policing strategy and most of its foreign policy?

Occasionally I wonder whether at some point in the past 100 years the US gave the rest of the world a safe word and we’ve simply forgotten it. Or maybe we’re just saying it wrong (Aluminium? I’m sure you said it was aluminium …) Hillary Clinton has been speaking out against the “racist terrorism” of Dylann Roof despite being the architect of the US military intervention in Libya. The US’s record of invasions, assassinations and government overthrows is racist, I think. Imagining that you can kill people and seize control of their resources without believing them to be inferior requires a certain amount of intellectual flexibility. The same sort of intellectual flexibility that allows people to express grief for the migrants who drown in the Mediterranean and hatred for the ones who survive.

Part of the American mindset comes from the fact that the US was formed through the racist murder of indigenous people. The reason that whole country is such a horror story is that the entire thing is built on an Old Indian Graveyard. I worry that perhaps white America wants to believe that its racial fault lines only run as deep as the Confederate flag. Hence the current uproar at names of southern civil-war generals being on street signs while the faces of slave owners are still on the currency.

Of course not everybody gets behind the US’s view of itself, which is why it is the world’s largest producer of propaganda. Last year’s biggest movie, American Sniper, was billed as the story of the US army’s deadliest soldier, which must have felt pretty galling for the guy who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It was basically Star Wars from the point of view of one of the stormtroopers, and the director (Clint Eastwood – I’m not even joking) encouraged us to get behind the idea that you should take moral decisions when women and children are in your crosshairs, rather than long, long before. You got the feeling that the clunky scene explaining that sniper Chris Kyle’s unit painted skulls on their gear as a tribute to the Punisher was necessary in case viewers made the more logical supposition that it was a tribute to the Waffen-SS.

There are many indicators of advanced civilisations, but unthinking hero worship of the military isn’t one of them. The US, like the UK, has been forced to move away from a conscription army and now has a mercenary army. It’s the reason you don’t get war poets any more.

Indeed, before Britain feels too superior, we should perhaps remember that Roof’s main problem here would have been feeling torn between quite a few of the main parties at the last election. We live in a country where posting “Let’s riot or something bruv!” on Facebook will get you a couple of years in prison, while writing a column saying we should bomb Syria is practically an entrance exam for public intellectuals. Of course, it’s never phrased as a plea to kill shepherds in pursuit of our geopolitical interests. By the time it hits the broadsheets, it’s a plea to arm moderate rebels (they’ve got a moderate vision of the country’s future and they’re going to kill until they get it!). It’s a humanitarian intervention. We’re not fighting wars for control of resources. We’re not the aggressor in countries such as Iraq, we’re actually defending Iraq. From the Iraqis. The most obvious anti-war argument that none of this has ever worked just doesn’t seem to come up.

Of course our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornets’ nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Maybe I’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt and concede that they are just naive do-gooders trying to bring the world peace and stability through the medium of high explosives. What gets me is that the new dirty word in the west is “radicalisation”, as if radical change wasn’t obviously needed; as if the status quo has any decency, or is even survivable. It’s not actually difficult to see solutions to the US’s problems: children can do it, until we educate them out of it. Internationally, I propose the radical step of not trying to solve complex political problems with 1,000lb bombs; domestically, I propose they start addressing inequality by paying reparations for slavery. I’m well aware that in a society where war and discrimination are now almost entirely normalised, both options sound like madness.

 

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

High-Seas Piracy: Israel’s Latest Bandit Act. “Gaza: the World’s Largest Open-air Prison”

By Stephen Lendman
July 01, 2015
Global Research

 

Israel se desvela a ojos del mundo por medio de su pirateríaPrevious articles discussed Israel’s seizure of the Swedish vessel Marianne Ship to Gaza carrying humanitarian aid despite Israel’s hollow denial. 

Israel wants Gazans trapped indefinitely in the world’s largest open-air prison deprived of essentials for well-being – suffocated under a policy of slow-motion genocide.

Israeli commandos lawlessly seized the Marianne in international waters. Netanyahu saying it was done lawfully is one of a litany of Big Lies he claimed about the incident – a bandit act like so many others Israel commits endlessly.

A June 29 Ship to Gaza press release said “the ‘Marianne’ contacted the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast.”

“After that we lost contact with the ‘Marianne’ and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had visited and searched Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board ‘in international waters’ as they admitted themselves.”

“The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists.”

We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’ (as Israel claims), because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012″ activists on board the Estelle were savagely tasered and beaten with clubs.

In 2010, nine Mavi Marmara participants were murdered in cold blood, another died later from injuries sustained. They were designated in advance for assassination.

Israel’s so-called “no tolerance” policy assures collective punishment against 1.8 million Gazans – victimized by rogue state ruthlessness.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) “condemn(ed) in the strongest terms the Israeli Navy’s interception and seizure of the first vessel of Freedom Flotilla III taking it to Ashdod seaport in Israel.

“PCHR believes that this attack is aimed to impose the conspiracy of international silence towards crimes committed by Israel against the Gaza Strip’s population, including the illegal closure that has been imposed for the ninth consecutive year.”

“The act of piracy committed by Israeli occupation forces against solidarity activists who came to the Gaza Strip, unarmed but with their moral strength, is another attempt to silence the voices of the free people of the world who wished to send a message to the whole world that the total siege imposed the Gaza Strip is inhuman, illegal, a man-made disaster and a part of an ongoing war crime against Palestinian civilians.”

Israel’s summer 2014 aggression left much of Gaza in ruins – not rebuilt because Israel blocks most construction and other supplies from getting in. It holds the entire population hostage to its ruthlessness – high crimes demanding accountability not gotten.

Monday evening, Israel’s Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said it detained 16 foreign nationals for questioning. Deportation would follow.

Hamas condemned the “kidnapping” of activists on board, explaining Marianne “succeeded in showing the crime of blockade.”

Flotilla organizers said “(w)e once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade of Gaza. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.”

They vowed to use “passive resistance,” not violence when lawlessly boarded. Israel operates by different standards. Brutality is standard practice.

Reports indicate its commandos tasered activists on board. It’s not know so far if they were beaten or otherwise abused. We’ll know more when they’re able to speak freely.

So far, they’re held incommunicado except for former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, Palestinian MK Basel Ghattas and European parliamentarian Ana Miranda – released in Ashdod.

RT International correspondent Nadya Kevorkova was on board the Marianne. Ghattas said she was OK and would be released Tuesday. He confirmed Israeli commandos attacked some activists. Slight injuries were sustained. Swedish participants were singled out for abuse.

Ghattas explained even though Marianne was seized, activists achieved their goal of “attract(ing) attention of the world toward the issue of the illegal siege and toward the illegal blockade over Gaza.”

Crew members left video messages prior to seizure. Marianne’s captain Joel Opperdoes said “(i)f you see this video, this means that we are under attack in international waters by Israeli Air Defense Forces.” Other messages were similar.

After weeks of reports about Freedom Flotilla III’ mission, The New York Times addressed it for the first time Monday – highlighting Israel regarding these “action(s) as highly provocative,” failing to explain lawless collective punishment against 1.8 million largely defenseless people for political, not security reasons.

Gazans remain trapped in rubble – “ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished,” as Franklin Roosevelt said about one-third of Americans during the 1930s Great Depression.

His solution was expanded social services. Israel’s is continued collective punishment and naked aggression at its discretion.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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.

US government covered up 14,000 photos documenting CIA secret prisons

By Thomas Gaist
June 29, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The US government has concealed the existence of some 14,000 images documenting the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) network of secret “black site” torture and interrogation centers established after September 11, according to unnamed US officials who spoke to the Washington Post.

The existence of the photographs was known to the US military prosecutors involved in ongoing military commission cases against four alleged terrorists for at least several months prior to the publication of the media reports on Saturday, according to the Post.

The photos had never been brought forward during more than three years of hearings in the cases of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other alleged participants in the September 11 attacks.

After a brief attempt to conduct their trials in a New York federal court, the accused are again standing before military-run commissions established to deny basic democratic rights to “enemy combatants” captured by the US government as part of the so-called global war on terror.

Images from black sites in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, Romania and possibly others are included in the photo cache, which the Obama administration still refuses to release.

The photos, now under review by US officials, include images of naked prisoners taken during transportation to the torture sites. There are also reportedly photos of a wooden board used for waterboarding detainees at a black site in Afghanistan as well as photos of the small confinement boxes which a number of detainees were forced into for hours on end.

The concealment of the photos has prompted calls for the suspension of the commissions, pending an official investigation into the images.

In spite of ferocious efforts waged continuously by both the Bush and Obama administrations to suppress investigation of the torture programs, the basic facts are more or less known. More than 100 individuals are confirmed to have been “rendered” to secret prisons between 2002 and 2006. Individuals without any remote connection to Jihadist organizations were detained and tortured for years as a result of mistaken identity.

Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, underwent prolonged torture and confinement in Afghanistan before being dumped by CIA officers in rural Albania after proving to his captors that his name was very similar to, but not the same as, that of the man they had intended to interrogate.

At least five of the detainees disappeared to black sites by the CIA have been confirmed to have been killed as a result of being subjected to the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The total number of victims may be much higher. The CIA organized more than 1,200 flights to and from locations on the European continent between 2002 and 2006, as part of its rendition and torture operations, according to a 2007 report approved by the European Union’s main legislature.

A slow trickle of detainees have been quietly released or transferred without explanation. Two Tunisians held at a CIA black site in Afghanistan for over a decade were flown back to Tunisia for release on June 15, traveling on board a US military plane. An unknown number of other detainees held by US forces at black sites were handed over to the Afghan government last December.

The refusal of the US government to release the photos, along with their secrecy in the first place, are serious crimes in themselves. As part of the cover up, the Obama administration continues to hold dozens of “enemy combatants” who have been cleared for release as early as 2009.

The collaboration of European governments in the operation of the secret torture network has also been covered up. Details of the European role in the torture network were subject to heavy redaction in the already heavily redacted Senate torture report.

Nonetheless, it is known that Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania all hosted secret prisons directly run by the CIA, while a broader circle of some 20 European states ran sites in close collaboration with the CIA.

Security personnel from the British government were directly involved in CIA torture sessions. Other collaborating governments received millions in US government money paid out by the CIA, including more than $1 million paid to Lithuania for the right to set up a single detention center.

At least three of the agency’s black sites, located in Poland, Romania and Morocco, were established from the CIA branch office in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt office, previously a “sleepy” logistics outpost for the agency, suddenly received millions of dollars’ worth of budget increases under orders from the White House, beginning in 2002.

Instead of being punished, the bureaucrats who oversaw the programs, including current CIA Director John Brennan, are now ensconced in powerful offices at the highest levels of government.

Documentation proving that the Obama administration has dismantled the vast array of resources, camps and personnel networks involved has not been forthcoming.