Archive for October, 2007

Cuba defies Bush

October 31, 2007

Green Left online

Lauren Carroll Harris

25 October 2007

On October 24, US President George Bush — a firm defender of freedom and human rights, as any Iraqi tortured by US forces at Abu Ghraib could testify — denounced Cuba as a “tropical gulag”. Bush said that Cuba is characterised by “terror and trauma”. The president also reaffirmed his support for the punishing US economic embargo against Cuba, which has lasted almost half a century and cost the Cuban people some US$89 billion.

A report from the Prensa Latina news agency noted that “The economic siege, officially established in 1963 and maintained for ten US administrations, aims to make the Cuban people surrender by [promoting] hunger and diseases.”

In view of the blockade’s failure to crush Cuba’s will to defy Washington, “Bush decided to approve a plan in May 2004 to speed up the destruction of the constitutional order agreed by the Cuban people. Only two months later, he reviewed the plan and added new measures to toughen the blockade, something he has been doing frequently in the last three years.”

On October 30, the UN General Assembly will vote for the 16th time on a resolution calling for the blockade to end. It will no doubt be passed, like always, with overwhelming support. And, like always, the US will ignore the result.

Keep reading . . . 

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State minister ‘encouraged massacre of 2,500 Muslims’

October 31, 2007

London Independent

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent

Published: 27 October 2007

 

India’s largest opposition party has dismissed claims that its government in the state of Gujarat encouraged the killing of nearly 2,500 Muslims in March 2002.

The allegations against the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were made in secret video recordings by an investigative magazine which were also broadcast on local television. The BJP says the allegations are a conspiracy hatched by India’s governing Congress party ahead of elections in Gujarat next month.

Tehelka magazine claimed that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, gave Hindus the green light to attack the state’s Muslims after a train fire blamed on Muslims killed 58 people.

Keep reading . . .

US Consciously Kills Civilians In Afghanistan

October 31, 2007

Alternet.org

Posted by Scarecrow at 6:15 AM on October 29, 2007.

Scarecrow: There’s a “macabre kind of calculus” about whether the “target” was “worth” the likely number of civilian deaths.

 

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Karzai has “plead” with Bush to end airstrikes

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This post, written by Scarecrow, originally appeared on FireDogLake

CBS 60 Minutes revealed last night that the US military in Afghanistan uses air strikes in situations it knows will kill innocent civilians, if the commanders also believe enough Taliban might be killed. The result has been a doubling of civilian casualties, such that we now kill as many civilians as the Taliban and al Qaeda.

And all Aghfan President Karzai can do is plead with George Bush, so far unsuccessfully, that the US stop using air strikes against civilian targets.

In one of many such incidents this year, US forces announced they had carried out an air strike and had killed several suspected militants. However, the military declined to provide further information on who might have been killed, and when reports leaked out that most of the victims had been women and children — innocent civilians — 60 Minutes sent a team to find out what happened.

In interviews with 60 Minutes, US military acknowledged that field commanders had clearance to call in air strikes on civilian targets, knowing that innocent deaths would likely occur, provided they made what one official described as a “macabre kind of calculus” about whether the “target” was “worth” the likely number of civilian deaths.

Keep reading . . .

Turning truth on its head

October 31, 2007

Source: Information Clearing House

Condoleezza Rice’s declaration of Iran’s complicity in terrorism looks like another step on the White House’s march to war.

By Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi

10/30/07 “The Guardian” — — The US has opened up a new front in its now sharply accelerated war drive on Iran. The announcement last week by Condoleezza Rice, branding Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organisation, and imposing the strongest sanctions yet since 1979 Iranian Revolution, alarmed several democratic presidential candidates who described it as an indication that the White House had begun its “march to war”.

In his article in today’s Guardian, Max Hastings correctly predicts that within six months these sanctions could only lead to a military attack on Iran, a prospect that he opposes. However, he plays right into the hands of warmongers by giving unequivocal support to the two main US accusations against Iran:

“Few strategists dispute either that Iranian revolutionaries are playing a prominent role in frustrating the stabilisation of Iraq, or that Iran is doing its utmost to build nuclear weapons.”

These are precisely the allegations that are used by the neoconservatives and Israel to demonise the Revolutionary Guards and the government of Ahmadinejad, justify the latest sanctions and pave the way for a military attack.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is an army of 125,000 and an indispensable part of the Iranian military. It was formed during the eight-year war waged against the Islamic Republic by Saddam Hussein, who was at the time fully supported by the US and its European allies. With this historic role in defeating foreign aggression, the Corps occupies a special place in the Islamic Republic, has a large domain of operation and runs a significant part of the economy.

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CIA director defends rendition program as “lawful”

October 31, 2007

AFP – Wednesday, October 31

CHICAGO (AFP) – – The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday defended the administration’s rendition program, in which terrorism suspects are transported to secret prisons in countries with less stringent interrogation rules.

“Our programs are as lawful as they are valuable,” said General Michael Hayden, as President George W. Bush’s nominee for attorney general came under fire for his position on interrogation techniques.

“The irreplaceable nature of that intelligence is the sole reason why we have what I admit freely is a very controversial program,” Hayden said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The CIA has generated thousands of intelligence reports from the “fewer than 100 hardened terrorists” detained since 2002, he said.

“These rendition, detention, and interrogation programs are small, carefully run operations,” he said, adding that less than a third of the detainees “have required any special methods of questioning.”

The administration has come under intense scrutiny for its interrogation program and Bush’s refusal to rule out the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” even as he insists that the US does not torture.

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey on Tuesday condemned one such technique, waterboarding, as “repugnant” and possibly “over the line,” but declined to explicitly rule it out as torture, saying he could not speculate on classified procedures.

He did, however, pledge to investigate interrogation techniques in a letter responding to growing criticism from leading Democrats who have threatened to block his confirmation.

Hayden said clarifying interrogation methods was a top priority when he took the helm of the CIA in May 2006.

“It was my belief — and the agency has acted going forward — that what it was we would do to protect the Republic had to have sustainability,” he said in response to questions from the audience.

“It had to be consistent with our broad values as a nation. And so it could not stand on a single pillar of a definition of lawfulness. It had to have both policy and political legs.”

The agency had intense discussions with both Congress and the Justice Department to determine exactly where the legal lines were drawn, and there is an officer present at all times to make sure the interrogation does not cross the line, he said.

“When we conduct interrogations there are officers who are responsible solely for the physical and well being of the detainee and have the authority to stop what is going on.”

But when asked directly whether or not waterboarding constituted torture, Hayden gave a muddled and confusing response in which he cited domestic and international law.

“Judge Mukasey cannot nor can I answer your question in the abstract,” he said. “I need to understand the totality of the circumstances in which this question is being posed before I can even answer that.”

UN spokeman accused US of torture

October 31, 2007

The Sydney Morning Herald

Under fire ... the US government has been criticised by the UN.Under fire … the US government has been criticised by the UN.
Photo: AFP

Ian Munro Herald Correspondent in New York
October 31, 2007

Page 1 of 2 | Single page

THE United States’s willingness to resort to harsh interrogation techniques in its so-called war on terror undermined human rights and the international ban on torture, a United Nations spokesman says.

Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said the US’s standing and importance meant it was a model to other countries which queried why they were subject to scrutiny when the US resorted to measures witnessed at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison.

Mr Nowak was speaking after releasing his finding that the use of torture was routine and widespread in Sri Lanka ,despite laws against it.

“I am very concerned about the undermining of the absolute prohibition of torture by interrogation methods themselves in Abu Grahib, in Guantanamo Bay and others, but also by rendition and the whole CIA secret places of detention. All that is really undermining the international rule of law in general and human rights but also the prohibition of torture,” said Mr Nowak.

“(Other countries) say why are you criticising us if the US, the most democratic country with the oldest history of human rights, if they are torturing you should first go there. It has a negative effect because the US is a very powerful and important country and many other countries take the US as a model.”

Keep reading . . .

War Protests: Why No Coverage?

October 30, 2007

Source. The Christian Science Monitor, October 30, 2007

Newspapers have a duty to inform citizens about such democratic events.

by Jerry Lanson

Coordinated antiwar protests in at least 11 American cities this weekend raised anew an interesting question about the nature of news coverage: Are the media ignoring rallies against the Iraq war because of their low turnout or is the turnout dampened by the lack of news coverage?

I find it unsettling that I even have to consider the question.

That most Americans oppose the war in Iraq is well established. The latest CBS News poll, in mid-October, found 26 percent of those polled approved of the way the president is handling the war and 67 percent disapproved. It found that 45 percent said they’d only be willing to keep large numbers of US troops in Iraq “for less than a year.” And an ABC News-Washington Post poll in late September found that 55 percent felt Democrats in Congress had not gone far enough in opposing the war.

Granted, neither poll asked specifically about what this weekend’s marchers wanted: An end to congressional funding for the war. Still, poll after poll has found substantial discontent with a war that ranks as the preeminent issue in the presidential campaign.

Given that context, it seems remarkable to me that in some of the 11 cities in which protests were held – Boston and New York, for example – major news outlets treated this “National Day of Action” as though it did not exist. As far as I can tell, neither The New York Times nor The Boston Globe had so much as a news brief about the march in the days leading up to it. The day after, The Times, at least in its national edition, totally ignored the thousands who marched in New York and the tens of thousands who marched nationwide. The Globe relegated the news of 10,000 spirited citizens (including me) marching through Boston’s rain-dampened streets to a short piece deep inside its metro section. A single sentence noted the event’s national context.

Keep reading . . . 

Thousands march against the war in S.F., across the country

October 30, 2007

Source: San Francisco Chronicle,

Jim Doyle, Susan Swad, Chronicle Staff Writers
Sunday, October 28, 2007


(10-27) 17:17 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — On cue from a bullhorn’s blast, thousands of protesters fell to the pavement on Market Street in a symbolic “die-in” Saturday as part of a coordinated protest staged in cities across the country against the war in Iraq.

For three minutes the demonstrators lay on the pavement, representing what organizers said were more than 1 million Iraqis killed since the war began in 2003. The protesters then resumed their march from San Francisco’s Civic Center to Dolores Park.

March organizers put their number at 30,000 – old, young, workers, students, religious leaders. Police declined to give a formal estimate, but onlookers said the demonstrators definitely numbered more than 10,000. They filled up Market Street for several blocks, shouting that U.S. troops should be brought home and carrying banners decrying the war.

At the head of the marchers was a band of Native American drummers who pounded a steady beat as protesters chanted, “No more war!”

Keep reading . . .

Saudi Arabia: human rights, reform and the rule of law

October 30, 2007

Source: The Daily Star

By Muhammad Helmy | October 24, 2007

Many Arab regimes share a questionable commitment to the principles of human rights, but the Saudi ruling establishment’s commitment is even weaker than that of others in the region. To date, the Saudi government’s reform initiatives have had a negligible impact on improving respect for human rights in the kingdom. On the contrary, peaceful Saudi reform activists have faced increased police brutality in recent years and continue to be denied the right to counsel and to fair trials.

In addition to serving extended prison terms, many have been barred from leaving the country. Most recently, on August 19, Saudi police re-arrested two of the country’s most prominent reform activists, university professor and attorney Abdullah al-Hamid and his brother, activist Issa al-Hamid. Five women were arrested at the same time for demonstrating in favor of an expedited trial for their relatives. The arrests were made under the pretext of a legally dubious ban on peaceful demonstrations.

Since 2004, Saudi security forces have arrested hundreds of reform activists, and barred 22 from traveling, among them Abdullah al-Hamid, professor Matrouk al-Faleh, poet Ali al-Domaini, and Ibrahim al-Makitib – head of Human Rights First. Many activists, including Said bin Zuir and Abdullah al-Hamid, have also lost their jobs because of their political views. Critical journalists, such as Khalid al-Dakhil and Saad al-Suwan, have not escaped either and have sometimes been banned from writing in the Saudi press.

Keep reading . . .

Rumsfeld Said to Have Fled France to Avoid Torture Arrest

October 30, 2007

Pensito Review

Posted by Jon Ponder | Oct. 27, 2007, 2:23 pm

On Friday, while former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld was visiting France, human rights groups based there and in the United States filed complaints against him, charging him with approving torture:

Rumsfeld is accused of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The French complaint accuses Mr. Rumsfeld of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and says it violated the Convention Against Torture, which came into force in 1987.

As part of their complaint, the groups submitted 11 pages of written testimony from Janis Karpinski, the highest-ranking officer to be punished in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She was demoted to colonel from brigadier general and lost command of her military police unit. She contended that the abuses at the prison had started after the appearance of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was sent by Mr. Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators.

French prosecutors were said to have the power to pursue the case while Rumsfeld was in the country.

One source cites unconfirmed reports that Rumsfeld was abruptly whisked away from a breakfast meeting on Friday in order to avoid his arrest:

U.S. embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

The report said Rumsfeld fled to Germany because similar charges were dismissed against him there in the spring.The German court ruled that Rumsfeld’s criminality was an internal matter for the United States.