War on Terror=War on Islam? II


The brutality and torture many prisoners at Guantanamo faced was both physical and psychological.  It was aimed to hurt them as well as humiliate them and in most cases it was aimed at their religion, Islam.  US authorities seized on the animosity generated by 911 and perceptions that Muslims were either responsible to that atrocity or indifferent about it to allow a floodgate of abuse to be directed towards inmates as Muslims and their faith.  This was done through the abuse of Islamic symbols, sexual abuse and intimidation, as well as physical distraction and torture.  Overt attempts at proselytizing of Muslim inmates that had nothing at all to do with their incarceration and or military personnel,  were even employed to intimidate and stir religious passions.  There should be no doubt such tactics were at the very least approved at the highest levels of the command structure in the military if not designed and implemented by them.  It is another dark strain on the American conscience left by the Bush administration.

….desecration of the Qur’an is alleged to have taken many other forms in U.S. detention facilities. Former detainees say it has been handled with disrespect by guards and interrogators—written in, ripped or cut with scissors, squatted over, trampled, kicked, urinated and defecated on, picked up by a dog, tossed around like a ball, used to clean soldiers’ boots, and thrown in a bucket of excrement. A Russian ex-detainee, Timur Ishmuratov, remembers how it would be laid on the back of a handcuffed, bent-over prisoner, so that it would fall to the ground if he stood up. With just a Qur’an and a pair of handcuffs, a Muslim detainee could in this way be made to torture himself.

*snip*

In A Question of Torture, historian Alfred McCoy has chronicled how such “no-touch torture” techniques have been rigorously developed by U.S. interrogators, especially in the CIA. The power to torment Muslims by abusing the Qur’an was not discovered accidentally by Gen. Miller or a clumsy guard at Guantánamo. Bill Dedman of MSNBC has reported how the Qur’an has been used by the U.S. Army as a tool for intelligence gathering. When asked about an “interrogation scenario” called “Fear Up,” one intelligence officer offered Dedman this example of the technique: “Disrespect for the Qur’an.”

*snip*

At Gen. Miller’s Guantánamo, expressions of disrespect for religious practices grew into a kind of regimen. To interrupt prayers, guards made noise by striking things against the holding cages or playing loud rock music. Every morning and evening, just as the detainees were being called to pray, “The Star-Spangled Banner” blared over the loud speaker.

*snip*

In addition to mockery and systematic distraction, professional interrogators used grotesque methods of sexual harassment to impede religious observances. For Muslims, impurity prevents prayer. In Inside the Wire, former Army translator Erik Saar recounts a shocking exploitation of Islamic rules about ritual impurity. Saar was translating for a female Army interrogator who was having trouble getting information out of a young Saudi detainee named Fareek. She told Saar that she wanted to break the strength of Fareek’s relationship with God: “I think we should make him feel so fucking dirty that he can’t go back to his cell and spend the night praying. We have to put up a barrier between him and his God.” So she did a striptease. When Fareek wouldn’t look at her, she walked behind him and “began rubbing her breasts against his back.” According to Saar, she told Fareek that his sexual arousal offended God. Then she told him that she was having her period, and showed him her hand covered in what he thought was menstrual blood (it was red ink). She cursed him and wiped it on his face. As she and Saar left the room, she informed Fareek that the water to his cell would be shut off that night. Even if he managed to calm himself down, he would be too defiled to pray. As for Saar himself, he writes that “there wasn’t enough hot water in all of Cuba to make me feel clean.”

That episode is not the only documented example of such torture. The Bahraini detainee Jumah al-Dossari suffered a darker, more explicitly religious adaptation of the method in late 2002, according to a legal motion filed in U.S. District Court (District of Columbia) by Joshua Colangelo-Bryan and others on his behalf. During al-Dossari’s torture, a female interrogator had his clothing cut off, then removed her own and stood over him. Just before wiping what she said was menstrual blood on his face, she kissed the crucifix on her necklace and said, “This is a gift from Christ for you Muslims.”

Many detainees perceived their incarceration as a general attack on Islam….During the trial of Abu Ghraib’s Specialist Charles Graner, ex-detainee Amin al-Sheikh reported that he had been compelled to eat pork and curse Allah. A Guantánamo detainee informed Capt. Yee that a group of prisoners had been forced to “bow down and prostrate” themselves inside a makeshift “satanic” shrine, where interrogators made them repeat that Satan, not Allah, was their God. Others told of being draped in Israeli flags during interrogation, a claim corroborated by the FBI, while one interrogator explicitly told al-Dossari that “a holy war was occurring, between the Cross and the Star of David on the one hand, and the Crescent on the other.”

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The militarization of America


Bush has decided the only way to solve America’s problems is through military force.  I’m a proponent of an adequate defense, and I as an individual citizen, practice it regularly but not all problems are solved with force and certainly not with the American military.  I am glad to see there are others who feel the same way.

The California Highway Patrol in the High Desert and the Twentynine Palms Marine Base are receiving dozens of calls complaining about a controversial DUI checkpoint. Military Police joined the CHP for a recent checkpoint in Yucca Valley.

The Friday night checkpoint was in front of the Yucca Valley Home Depot on Highway 62. What has High Desert residents confused is that they are not used to military police so far from the Marine Base.

From the local radio to internet blogs, residents were concerned the Military Police presence violated federal law.

The original California Highway Patrol news release mentioned the military presence. One released shortly later doesn’t mention the military, arising community suspicion of a cover-up.

Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act more than a hundred years ago forbidding the military from enforcing civilian law such as traffic stops.

Marine Lt. Thomas Beck tells News Channel 3 the Military Police were not arresting people. They were just watching the checkpoint to see how they should do it on base.

“We were not actively participating in enforcing any laws. We were there to observe and observe only, ” said Lt. Beck.

The California Highway Patrol says they invited the Marines to tag along.

“We had the DUI checkpoint and invited the Marine Corps in a show of good relations between our two departments,” said CHP Officer Rob McLoud.

A recent KCDZ 107.7 FM broadcast out of Joshua Tree stated, “By law, to avoid entrapment, the CHP is requested to provide the location of the checkpoint to the media at least two hours prior. They did provide Z 107.7 with a phone number to call at 7 PM to get a location, but – defense lawyers take notice – no one ever answered the phone.”

Then there is this ominous headline.

US military mobilizes troops for inauguration

They will fly combat air patrols and man air defenses, organize large scale medical support, and help local law enforcement provide security in the capital, said General Gene Renuart, head of the US Northern Command.

“(It’s) not because we see a specific threat, but because for an event this visible, this important and this historic, we ought to be prepared to respond if something does happen,” he told reporters.

Renuart said some 7,500 active duty troops and 4,000 national guard troops will take part in the operations in support of the inauguration of the 44th US president on January 20.

Overall responsibility for security during the inauguration falls to the Secret Service.

Local and federal law enforcement agencies post 911 have huge, hefty budgets to increase security and allay citizen concerns and no doubt most have seen their local swat, set teams at work with dangerous criminals.  One of the biggest complaints I have about the post 911 attitude of people is that government is supposed to protect them in every nook and cranny and this notion is fostered by a government that wants people to rely on it.  Instead, government should disabuse people of this reliance and arm them with a more martial spirit whereby they are more self reliant and proactive about their and indeed the nation’s self defense.  I don’t think, however that will be as popular an idea with big government.

WOT=War on Islam?


There’s no mistake that America had every reason to be angry at what happened on September 11, 2001, but that tragedy was used by some to take out centuries old grudges against people in the Middle East and steer America on a course which has led it to become a violator of international treaties and agreements unparalleled in our nation’s history.  Nowhere is that exemplified more than with Guantanamo Bay where scores of Muslim men were snatched up from all over the world and placed in an isolated military camp where they were tortured for no apparent reason.

An Algerian man who spent nearly seven years in Guantanamo Bay says his U.S. interrogators never questioned him on the main terrorism allegation against him.

Mustafa Ait Idir, who was freed this week and returned to his adopted homeland of Bosnia, was accused of planning to go to Afghanistan to fight against U.S. forces.

“They’ve never asked anything about charges which were brought against us. They’ve never asked about Afghanistan,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Ait wasn’t captured on some battlefield endangering the lives of US servicemen and women, rather he was taken from his country, Bosnia and imprisoned in Gitmo Bay after his own country’s court had determined he was innocent of the charges for which the US government picked him up. It seems however that US authorities were interested in Islamic relief organizations working in Bosnia, which appears to be even the focus of officials even here in America.  (The Holy Land Foundation trial recently concluded in Texas is an example where relief efforts particularly for Palestinians suffering under the worse case of state sponsored terrorism were shut down under flimsily constructed charges.)

The charge for which the US picked up Ait, conspiring to attack the US embassy in Sarajevo,  was dropped by authorities while he was in Gitmo and a US federal judge ordered and government officials acceded to the order that he be released from his unlawful imprisonment, but why was he picked up in the first place?

From this observer’s perspective it appears America has given into its dark side, filled with sadism and masochistic fantacies played out in our artistic and entertainment culture which could be acted out in reality against an enemy we were told only responded to such brutality.  The Bush administration was/is not the least bit interested in fighting its true enemies it merely wanted bodies, the 21st century version of the body count notion that came out of the Vietnam war, to fill up Guantanamo and justify its existence.

At a Pentagon briefing in the spring of 2002, a senior Army intelligence officer expressed doubt about the entire intelligence-gathering process.

“He said that we’re not getting anything, and his thought was that we’re not getting anything because there might not be anything to get,” said Donald J. Guter, a retired rear admiral who was the head of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps at the time.

*snip*

In 2002, a CIA analyst interviewed several dozen detainees at Guantanamo and reported to senior National Security Council officials that many of them didn’t belong there, a former White House official said.

Despite the analyst’s findings, the administration made no further review of the Guantanamo detainees. The White House had determined that all of them were enemy combatants, the former official said.

Rather than taking a closer look at whom they were holding, a group of five White House, Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers who called themselves the “War Council” devised a legal framework that enabled the administration to detain suspected “enemy combatants” indefinitely with few legal rights.

The threat of new terrorist attacks, the War Council argued, allowed President Bush to disregard or rewrite American law, international treaties and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to permit unlimited detentions and harsh interrogations.

The group further argued that detainees had no legal right to defend themselves, and that American soldiers — along with the War Council members, their bosses and Bush — should be shielded from prosecution for actions that many experts argue are war crimes.

This attitude that the executive could unilaterally re-write or even ignore existing law is a theme that has been consistently explored during the Bush administration and found expression in a doctrine known as  “unilateral executive”. With this gloves off approach, people in the field were allowed to do whatever they wanted; there were no limits to the power or the abuse they could reap on people under their control and consequentially torture and physical abuse were more normal than not.

(Ait) said he was kept for four months, lightly dressed, in a very cold refrigerated container. For short periods of the day he was taken outside, where it was very hot. Other prisoners were subjected to long periods in total darkness or very bright light, he said.

There was torture every minute,” Ait Idir said. “It did not matter to them if we were terrorists or not.

Indeed.