Archive for October, 2007

Much like Auschwitz

October 30, 2007

Al-Ahram Weekly, 25-31 October 2007

Israel’s regard for Palestinians can be summed up in how it imprisons and terrorises them, writes Khaled Amayreh in the occupied West Bank

A few weeks ahead of the upcoming “peace conference” in Annapolis, Maryland, Israel has been displaying its “goodwill” towards the Palestinians. At the notorious Kitziot Prison, a real concentration camp minus gas chambers, crack Israeli soldiers have been ganging up on helpless and fettered Palestinian prisoners, shooting, beating and humiliating them under largely concocted pretexts.

On Monday 22 October, in the quiet hours before dawn, hundreds of soldiers from two notoriously brutal army units, code-named Nachshon and Massada, stormed the prisoner camp for what was described as a “routine inspection”. During these routine inspections, inmates are forced to take off their clothes and are subject to every imaginable form of humiliation. Whoever protests is normally placed in open-ended solitary confinement.

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Inside Israel’s Military Courts

October 30, 2007

Counterpunch, October 29, 2007

The First Nation to Legalize Torture

By Lisa Hajjar

Should the United States, seeking to recalibrate the balance between security and liberty in the “war on terror,” emulate Israel in its treatment of Palestinian detainees?

That is the position that Guantanamo detainee lawyers Avi Stadler and John Chandler of Atlanta, and some others, have advocated. That people in U.S. custody could be held incommunicado for years without charges, and could be prosecuted or indefinitely detained on the basis of confessions extracted with torture is worse than a national disgrace. It is an assault on the foundations of the rule of law.

But Israel’s model for dealing with terrorism, while quite different from that of the U.S., is at least as shameful.

Long before the first suicide bombing by Palestinians in 1994, Israel had resorted to extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, deportations, curfews and other forms of collective punishment barred by international law.

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Nancy Pelosi, Public Enemy Number One

October 29, 2007

Global Research, October 27, 2007 – 2007-10-17

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Her machinations since Democrats took over the U.S. House in January 2007 show that Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t scared of the Republicans – “her eagerness to cooperate with the Bush regime is matched only by her incompetence in leading Congress.” Pelosi and her leadership clique have never had the slightest intention of seriously opposing George Bush, since they are quite content with a status quo of endless war, half of New Orleans abandoned, true universal health care on perpetual hold, and a growing police state. Every constituency of the Democratic Party has been betrayed, with the complicity of Pelosi and her crowd. And there must be pay-back for back-stabbing.

“If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have ‘Impeach Bush’ across their chest, it’s the First Amendment.”Nancy PelosiFRPelosiWbush

The Democratic Speaker of the House would like to arrest activists for loitering. Her Quisling like behavior has led protesters to her front door in San Francisco, but she has only herself to blame for the inconveniences she and her rich neighbors now suffer. The great unwashed masses have a right to assemble at her home, her office, or anywhere else they choose in order to exercise what is left of their right to speak freely. Her own words show her level of contempt for the democratic process.

It is clear that Nancy Pelosi’s reign as Speaker has been an absolute disaster for the Democratic party and for the entire nation. Her eagerness to cooperate with the Bush regime is matched only by her incompetence in leading Congress. Under her watch, Congress gave Alberto Gonzales, on his way to riding out of town on a rail, a significant victory by expanding FISA regulations to allow warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

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Guantanamo military lawyer breaks ranks to condemn ‘unconscionable’ detention

October 29, 2007

UK Independent,

By Leonard Doyle in Washington

Published: 27 October 2007


An American military lawyer and veteran of dozens of secret Guantanamo tribunals has made a devastating attack on the legal process for determining whether Guantanamo prisoners are “enemy combatants”.

The whistleblower, an army major inside the military court system which the United States has established at Guantanamo Bay, has described the detention of one prisoner, a hospital administrator from Sudan, as “unconscionable”.

His critique will be the centrepiece of a hearing on 5 December before the US Supreme Court when another attempt is made to shut the prison down. So nervous is the Bush administration of the latest attack – and another Supreme Court ruling against it – that it is preparing a whole new system of military courts to deal with those still imprisoned.

Continued . . .

UN nuclear chief attacks hostile US claims on Iran

October 29, 2007

AFP – Monday, October 29, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) – – UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday he had no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding “fuel to the fire” with recent bellicose rhetoric.

“We haven’t received any information there is a parallel, ongoing, active nuclear weapon program,” the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency told CNN.

“Second, even if Iran were to be working on nuclear weapons … they are at least (a) few years away from having such weapon,” he said, citing Washington’s own intelligence assessments.

“My fear (is) that if we continue to escalate from both sides that we will end up into a precipice, we will end up into an abyss. The Middle East is in a total mess, to say the least. And we cannot add fuel to the fire.”

Continued . . .

Colin Powell surprised at Blair’s closeness with Bush

October 29, 2007

Gulf Daily News

LONDON: Former US secretary of state Colin Powell expressed surprise at former British premier Tony Blair’s strong support for President George W Bush over the Iraq war, according to book extracts published in the Mail yesterday.

Powell said he and Britain’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw would “get (Blair) all pumped up” to talk to Bush about certain issues in the run-up to the 2003 conflict, but Blair would “lose his steam” when he saw Bush.

The comments are quoted in Blair Unbound, a new book by Anthony Seldon, a respected political commentator and biographer of Blair, which is being serialised in the newspaper.

Powell went on to express surprise at the strength of the “special relationship” between Blair and Bush over the issue.

“In the end, Blair would always support the president,” he said.

“I found this very surprising. I never really understood why Blair seemed to be in such harmony with Bush.

“I thought, well, the Brits haven’t been attacked on 9/11. How did he reach the point that he sees Saddam as such a threat?

The book said officials including Britain’s former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer tried to tell Blair’s advisers that “what is needed is a plain-speaking conversation” over Iraq.

Dead Men and Women Walking

October 29, 2007

Source: This Can’t Be Happening, October 23, 2007

By  The Democratic Party in Congress, and indeed the leading candidates for the party’s presidential nomination, are all dead men and women walking.

They look alive. They may even think they’re alive. But their political futures are close to moribund.

Faced with grave moral issues–a criminal and unpopular war that is costing the country the lives of thousands of its young people, and hundreds of billions of dollars a year, a president who treats the Constitution like so much toiletpaper, and an economy that is being hollowed out like a Halloween pumpkin, these Democrats are doing nothing.

Repeatedly offered chances to stand up and act, they have ducked each time instead. Twice already, President Bush, himself backed by only one in four Americans today (a lower level of public support than even Nixon had after his resignation in disgrace following the impeachment vote against him by the House Judiciary Committee) has come to Congress requesting another more than $100 billion in funding for his war in Iraq, and Congress has rolled over and given it to him.

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Israeli foreign mininster: Iran nukes pose no threat to Israel

October 29, 2007

Source: War in Context

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion that Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel, Haaretz magazine reveals in an article on Livni to be published Friday.

Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears. Last week, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said similar things about Iran. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment While George Bush warns the world that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons could lead to World War III, Israel’s foreign minister says, behind closed doors — in other words in a situation where she means what she says — that Iranian nuclear weapons would not pose an existential threat to Israel.

This should be banner headline news. The Washington press corp should be hounding administration officials, demanding an explanation for this utterly glaring clash of perspectives. Instead, what do we get? Silence.

This is what things have come down to: We live in a state where the dissemination of information is controlled much more efficiently than it was in the Soviet Union. At least the Russians understood they were being lied to. Most Americans, on the other hand, are completely ignorant of the incestuous relationship between the press and the government. In this system shaped by unspoken agreements, there is no need for some clumsy Ministry of Information. All the managing editors of the major outlets can be relied upon to shape their products (within an acceptable latitude) in alignment with political and commercial power — even when that means that they knowingly makes themselves instruments of an altogether avoidable disaster. They will plead that they are merely messengers, yet they are no less culpable than the lunatics in political office. They choose what to report and what to ignore.

The Culture War Descends on Columbia

October 28, 2007

The nation, October 26, 2007

By Esther Kaplan 

In the past few years, the students and faculty of Columbia University have found themselves in the midst of a culture war. They’ve seen their Middle East Studies department targeted as “anti-Israel” by one right-wing organization, the David Project. Two assistant professors, Joseph Massad and Nadia Abu El-Haj, were publicly smeared by another right-wing outfit, Campus Watch, as they underwent tenure review (see “The New McCarthyism” by Larry Cohler-Esses). And at the start of this school year their own president, Lee Bollinger, seemed to pander to this right-wing pressure by slamming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the name of “the modern civilized world.”

This week they’ve got David Horowitz, of the modestly named David Horowitz Freedom Center, best known in recent years for his ads in campus papers opposing slavery reparations, in which he argued that there is no evidence that the legacy of slavery has harmed any living African-American and demanded “the gratitude of black America” for the white Christians who “created” the antislavery movement. Now he’s here to teach them about “Islamofascism.”

His “Islamofascism Awareness Week” descended this week on dozens of college campuses across the country (he claims more than 100) with vigils here, sit-ins there and scattered forums featuring “aware” individuals such as former Senator Rick Santorum. But Columbia has been showered with special largesse: an entire week of activities, kicked off by a candlelight vigil on Monday, where a dozen or so College Republicans remembered “the untold millions who suffer under tyrannical Islamic regimes” and closing on Friday at noon with a speech by Horowitz himself (Columbia College class of ’59).

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Pilger: The Politics of Hypocrisy

October 28, 2007

UK business interests in Burma are more important to this government than justice

John Pilger
Saturday October 27, 2007
The Guardian

The news is no more from Burma. The young monks are quiet in their cells, or they are dead. But words have escaped: the defiant, beautiful poetry of Aung Than and Zeya Aung; and we know of the unbroken will of the journalist U Win Tin, who makes ink out of brick powder on the walls of his prison cell and writes with a pen made from a bamboo mat – at the age of 77. These are the bravest of the brave. What shame they bring to those in the west whose hypocrisy and silence helps to feed the monster that rules Burma.

Condoleezza Rice comes to mind. “The United States,” she said, “is determined to keep an international focus on the travesty that is taking place in Burma.” What she is less keen to keep a focus on is that the huge American company, Chevron, on whose board of directors she sat, is part of a consortium with the junta and the French company, Total, that operates in Burma’s offshore oilfields. The gas from these fields is exported through a pipeline that was built with forced labour and whose construction involved Halliburton, of which Vice-President Cheney was chief executive.

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