Systemic, American torture against Muslims


We declared a war on terrorism, and then allowed those in right wing land and the press to state that it was also a war against Muslims, since as the nonsensical logic goes, ‘all terrorists are Muslims’, even though to assuage their guilt the proponents went on to conclude equally ridiculously, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists’.  So this stinging editorial should come as no surprise.

According to Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen raised in Germany and defamed as “the German Taliban,” torture at the several prisons in which he was held was frequent, commonplace, and committed by many guards.

In his book, Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo,” he writes that his beatings began in 2001 on the flight from Pakistan (where he was pulled off a public bus and sold by Pakistani police for $3,000) to his first imprisonment in Afghanistan. Kurnaz wrote:

“I couldn’t see how many soldiers there were, but to judge from the confusion of voices it must have been a lot. They went from one prisoner to the next, hitting us with their fists, their billy clubs, and the butts of their rifles.”

This was done to men who were manacled to the floor of the plane, Kurnaz said, adding:

“It was as cold as a refrigerator; I was sitting on bare metal and icy air was coming from a vent or a fan. I tried to go to sleep, but they kept hitting me and waking me. … They never tired of beating us, laughing all the while.”

On another occasion, Kurnaz counted seven guards who were beating a prisoner with the butts of their rifles and kicking him with their boots until he died. At one point, Kurnaz was hung by chains with his arms behind his back for five days.

“Today I know that a lot of inmates died from treatment like this,” he wrote.
When he was finally taken down and needed water, “they’d just pour the water over my head and laugh,” Kurnaz wrote. The guards even tortured a blind man who was older than 90 “the same way the rest of us were,” he wrote.

At Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo, Cuba, Kurnaz said, “During the day, we had to remain seated and at night we had to lie down. If you lay down during the day you were punished. … We weren’t allowed to talk. We weren’t to speak to or look at the guards. We weren’t allowed to draw in the sand or whistle or sing or smile. Every time I unknowingly broke a rule, or because they had just invented a new one … an IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) team would come and beat me.”

Once when he was weak from a hunger strike, Kurnaz wrote, “I was beaten on a stretcher.”

During his earlier imprisonment at Kandahar, Pakistan, Kurnaz writes, “There were weaker, older men in the pen. Men with broken feet, men whose legs and arms were fractured or had turned blue, red, or yellow from pus. There were prisoners with broken jaws, fingers and noses, and with terribly swollen faces like mine.”

Not only were the wounds of such men ignored by guards but complicit doctors would examine him and other prisoners and advise guards as to how much more they could stand before they died. On one occasion, he saw guards beating a prisoner with no legs.

Still worse, Kurnaz said doctors participated in the tortures. A dentist asked to pull out a prisoner’s rotten tooth pulled out all his healthy ones as well, he wrote, adding that another prisoner who went to the doctor to treat one finger with severe frostbite had all his other fingers amputated.

“I saw open wounds that weren’t treated. A lot of people had been beaten so often they had broken legs, arms and feet. The fractures, too, remained untreated,” Kurnaz wrote. “I never saw anyone in a cast.”

Prisoners were deliberately weakened by starvation diets, he said. Meals at Guantanamo consisted of “three spoonfuls of rice, a slice of dry bread, and a plastic spoon. That was it,” he wrote, adding that sometimes a loaf of bread was tossed over a fence into their compound.

Prisoners who should have been in hospital beds instead were confined to cells purposefully designed to increase their pain, Kurnaz wrote. He described his experience this way: “Those cells were like ovens. The sun beat down on the metal roof at noon and directly on the sides of the cage in the mornings and afternoons.

“All told, I think I spent roughly a year alone in absolute darkness, either in a cooler or an oven, with little food, and once I spent three months straight in solitary confinement.”

Prisoners could be put in solitary confinement for the tiniest infractions of the most ridiculous rules, such as not folding a blanket properly, Kurnaz said. “I was always being punished and humiliated, regardless of what I did,” he wrote., noting that once, he was put in solitary for 10 days for feeding breadcrumbs to an iguana that had crawled into his cage.

Besides regular beatings from the Immediate Reaction Force, which commonly entered cells with clubs swinging, Kurnaz received excruciating electroshocks to his feet and was waterboarded in a 20-inch diameter plastic bucket filled with water, he said.

He described the experience as follows:  “Someone grabbed me by the hair. The soldiers seized my arms and pushed my head underwater. … Drowning is a horrible way to die. They pulled my head back up [and asked], ‘Do you like it? You want more?’

“When my head was back underwater, I felt a blow to my stomach…. ‘Where is Osama?’ ‘Who are you?’ I tried to speak but I couldn’t. I swallowed some water. … It became harder and harder to breath, the more they hit me in the stomach and pushed my head underwater. I felt my heart racing.

“They didn’t let up. … I imagined myself screaming underwater. … I would have told them everything. But what was I supposed to tell them?”

It should be noted that U.S. and German authorities had decided as early as 2002 that Kurnaz was innocent, that he really was a student of the Koran in Pakistan when he had been seized by bounty hunters and sold to the Americans as a “terrorist.” Yet they continued his abuse for years.

On yet other occasions, Kurnaz, like so many other prisoners, was hung from chains backwards so that “it felt as though my shoulders were going to break,” he said, adding: “I was hoisted up until my feet no longer touched the ground. … After a while, the cuffs seemed like they were cutting my wrists down to the bone.

“My shoulders felt like someone was trying to pull my arms out of their sockets. … When they hung me up backwards, it felt as though my shoulders were going to break. … I was strung up for five days. … Three times a day soldiers came in and let me down (and) a doctor examined me and took my pulse. ‘Okay,’ he said. The soldiers hoisted me back up.

“I lost all feeling in my arms and hands. I still felt pain in other parts of my body, like in my chest around my heart.”

A short distance away Kurnaz said he could see another man hanging from chains, dead.

When Kurnaz was transferred within the Guantanamo prison system to “Camp 1,” he was put in a maximum security cage inside a giant container with metal walls, he wrote, adding:

“Although the cage was no smaller than the one in Camp X-Ray, the bunk reduced the amount of free space to around three-and-a-half feet by three-and-a-half feet. At the far end of the cage, an aluminum toilet and a sink took up even more room. How was I going to stand this? …

“I hardly saw the sun at all. They had perfected their prison. It felt like being sealed alive in a ship container.”

Although some U.S. politicians and right-wing radio talk show hosts ridiculed the harm of sleep deprivation against prisoners, this techniques was an insidious practice used earlier in Bolshevik Russia to torture enemies, a method known as “the conveyor belt.”

In 2002, Kurnaz wrote, when General Geoffrey Miller took over command of Guantanamo, “The interrogations got more brutal, more frequent, and longer.”

Miller commenced “Operation Sandman,” in which prisoners were moved to new cells every hour or two “to completely deprive us of sleep, and he achieved it,” Kurnaz said. “I had to stand and kneel twenty-four hours a day,” often in chains, and “I had barely arrived in a new cell and lay down on the bunk, before they came again to move me. …

“As soon as the guards saw me close my eyes … they’d kick at the door or punch me in the face.” In between transfers, “I was interrogated … I estimated the sessions lasted up to fifteen hours” during which the interrogator might disappear for hours at a time.

“I sat chained to my chair or kneeling on the floor, and as soon as my eyelids drooped, soldiers would wake me with a couple of blows. … Days and nights without sleep. Blows and new cages. Again, the stabbing sensation of thousands of needles throughout my entire body.

“I would have loved to step outside my body, but I couldn’t. … I went three weeks without sleep. … The soldiers came at night and made us stand for hours on end at gunpoint. At this point, I weighed less than 130 pounds.”

Finally, in August 2006, Kurnaz was released to Germany and testified by video-link in 2008 to the U.S. Congress. During his five years of confinement, he was never charged with a crime.

And so it happened that, during the presidency of George W. Bush, tens of thousands of innocent human beings, Kurnaz among them, were swept up in dragnet arrests by the invading American forces or their allies and imprisoned without legal recourse, the very opposite of what America’s Founders gifted to humanity in the Constitution.

Yet, pretty much the only people implicated in these human rights crimes to face any punishment were a handful of low-ranking guards at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib’s prison whose true crime — in the eyes of Official Washington — apparently was to allow photographs of their actions to reach the public.

After the photographs of sadism at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in May 2004, shocked the world, President George W. Bush called the revelations “a stain on our country’s honor and our country’s reputation.”

He told visiting King Abdullah of Jordan in the Oval Office that “I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families.” Bush told the Washington Post, “I told him (Abdullah) I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn’t understand the true nature and heart of America.”

A year later, Private Lynddie England and 10 others from the 372nd Military Police Company were convicted of abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners. But the truth was that their actions followed in the footsteps of “war on terror” prison guards across the spectrum of Pentagon and CIA detention camps, often following direct orders from Bush’s White House.

Although President Bush made the Abu Ghraib revelations sound like an aberration that inflicted some un-American acts of “humiliation” on a small groups of detainees, the Abu Ghraib photos actually gave the world a glimpse into far greater crimes of every sordid type.

While a handful of guards like Ms. England — notorious for posing with naked Iraqi prisoners — were convicted and jailed, the many other hundreds or thousands of military guards, interrogators and doctors and dentists involved in widespread tortures have never been prosecuted for their crimes.

NOW The Teabaggers Have a Reason to be MAD!


Just when you think it’s safe to have hope in government they go and make a major bo0 boo when it comes to your rights as a citizen.  For now, government is pretty safe in saying they will go after and even KILL Anwar al-Awlaki because as far as everyone is concerned he’s a bad guy and he’s not entitled to the same rights and privileges as the rest of us and that’s because the government said so.  It doesn’t matter that not one shred of proof has been offered other than the government’s claim to Awlaki’s nefarious character, or that we haven’t given him a chance to defend himself against the accusation.  Nor does it seem to matter that his rights as an American citizen are irrelevant as far as the government is concerned; perhaps there are many who assert he isn’t an American citizen, much like the teabaggers who say the same about Obama, and in that he and Obama, oddly enough, have something  in common. What is telling is the government’s premise their position to extra-judiciously kill Awlaki is in ‘strict accordance with the law.‘  He’s no longer considered a ‘militant preacher’ now he’s an operative for al-Qaida based on the kind of evidence that was enough to allow others to stand trial or have access to the judicial system but for him is a death sentence without recourse to the rights guaranteed him by the US Constitution.  However the incremental erosion of citizenship rights by Government means what’s here and allowed today can very easily be taken away tomorrow merely on the declaration of an un-named and in general civics terms unaccountable public  servant.

What bothers this observer is how close the US response to perceived acts of terrorism mimics that of the Israelis who claimed the right to kill any of their enemies whenever and wherever they wanted at the beginning of the 21st century.  Years later Israel is still an insecure, even by their own admission, country that continues to kill its opponents while at the same time further dimming hopes for peace and security.  Simply put, assassinations of political foes does not engender security or peace nor the cessation of hostilities, but rather exacerbates them.  That is a lesson the US, despite the Israeli model, has refused to learn.

What looms on the American horizon is the prospect that any one who resists the government and can be adequately portrayed as evil enough for his death to be accepted by a large segment of the US population stands the risk of having their rights casually dismissed and their life equally dispatched the way of a common criminal without the ability to prove or disprove a charge or legally defend himself. I know that’s enough to get tea baggers angry in this day and age; the existence of a black American as president sets them off.  The polarization of American society has made it possible for people to turn a blind eye to  the idea that one branch of government can unilaterally determine the rights it is willing to extend to a citizen with the citizen having no say in the matter especially when that citizen is not from one group or another.  That can only mean the continued insurgency of the federal government on the rights of its citizen.

Another Face of Terrorism


There’s no doubt about it in this observer’s mind Joe Stack was a terrorist, and his act of flying an airplane into a building which contained the offices of a government agency (and I don’t care which acronym like agency it was) was straight out of the book of terror that this Nation went through a decade ago, yet very few people in corporate media or in government want to label him as such. Wonder why?

There’s been a certain amount of self-righteous discussion among media types why this is the case but in the end those who are self-indulgent simply say Stack doesn’t meet the criteria of a terrorist. There are even some who claim, such as Stack’s daughter that he was a hero of sorts, protesting against government. Wonder why?

Stack’s singular act of protest doesn’t even begin to meet the definition of the legally acceptable form of dissent, but it fits perfectly into the definition of terrorism. Yet there are people who are determined to not call it that and the simple reason why is because the West has been gripped by a virulent form of racism that is ethnocentric in nature towards people of color.  This indignation attempts to dress itself in a cloak of preserving a Judeo-Christian ethic, but when the results of such preservation have included diminishing the progress of that ethic, subversion of the rights of those who enjoy that ethic, such as privacy rights, free speech, et.al that excuse too falls by the wayside and is as hypocritical as media’s refusal to be inclusive in the terrorism appellation.

The refusal of corporate media to label Stack the terrorist he was has allowed all the other fringe groups to come out in support of his action in their opposition to the Nation’s first black president.    The Tea Party movement is nothing more than the 21st century Ku Klux Klan dressed up with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, et.al who are used to give such a movement legitimacy.  There is this symbiotic relationship, therefore, between corporate media and these racists.  They give rationale  to one another; the racist relish the media attention to their cause of opposing the first black, “foreign born”, “Muslim” president and the media loves the sound bites such idiots the likes of Stack, and Scott Roeder (the murderer/terrorist who stalked legally licensed American physicians) give them ignoring  their, media’s,  own responsibility to this collective hypocrisy and morass.   At the same time corporate media plunges headlong into their racist diatribe against Muslims, Arabs and especially Palestinians justifying any and all forms of state sponsored oppression against them because to media types the designation “terrorist” is appropriate and they have no hesitation at all using that term to describe them.

This way of doing business means the  Joseph Stack story is merely a mention in the headlines of the day, social titillation at best not worthy of any real consideration or reflection about the role of government, the impact of violence in society, the responsibility of citizens to social cohesion, the role of media if any in all of this, nothing to see just move along.  We should now expect this social irresponsibility from a upper middle class mostly white media with a strong affection for power and those who wield it in defense of their, corporate media’s interest.  However, the public, infinitely smarter than given credit by that same media, has to realize the impact media’s dereliction has on the over all society, in the form of their, corporate media’s, justification for wars of occupation and the sublimation of the rights of citizens, legal residents, and yes, even foreigners living in America to the wishes of government and corporate entities.

A Nation that is immersed in healthy not stifled debate is much more informed and enlightened.  Corporate media mimics its forefathers of old who sought to keep people in the dark by allowing only those deemed worthy the right or ability to read and get an education.  That dispensation of rights and responsibilities by the wealthy and often oppressor class became a rejected standard of living, and societies were better off for doing away with such notions.   Joseph Stack was a terrorist, no more and no less, who committed the same heinous act as those on 911, in his rejection of government policy and it resulted in the loss of human life, his and other(s) and that’s that.  Corporate media’s refusal to simply say that says more about them than Stack.  Perhaps its time we did away with them.

The entire Bush Administration should be in jail


They have become so bad, so obnoxious even Lanny Davis who works for Republicans is now saying Dick Cheney should be indicted for his actions on torture.  To hell with the past is the past, an excuse every criminal who ever lived wishes could be used as a defense, Davis asserts it would not be difficult to bring charges against Cheney.  But why stop at Cheney?  There’s an entire Administration that was equally complicit in using torture, something illegal, to get people to lie, something also illegal, in order to justify invading a defenseless country, something I hope is still illegal and in the process killing thousands of its citizens, also an illegal act.  If we look at the Bush Administration’s eight years, it was ALL illegal.  I am most offended by the use of torture to get people to lie and even more amused by people who minimize torture, especially waterboarding, and talk about the number of pours of water over a victim’s face not constituting torture.  Nevertheless the fact of the matter, as stated by those who were present, is that some victims were waterboarded scores of times in order to get them to admit to a fictitious link, that didn’t offer up any actionable intelligence, in other words no terror plots were disrupted as a result of anything told by these victims, and the hands of a corrupt Administration, until now not taken to task,  from top to bottom are responsible for this action.  Go visit the links established by the folks at Think Progress which debunk all the torture myths put up by those on the right who sought to justify it.

I can think of nothing more heinous than torturing people to get them to confess to a lie.  In other words, people who knew nothing of a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were tortured until they were finally able to figure out what it was their torturers wanted from them and finally gave it to them.  No wonder Khalid Shaikh Muhammad is supposed to have confessed to doing things that didn’t happen or could be easily proven he had no part of; a human will do or say anything to escape pain once he realizes what it is to be done or said.  Of course, by the time such confessions were given the world had already figured out, been told, that such links didn’t exist, as did neither the WMDs we were told were within a hairs breath of being deployed against us, it was all a lie, sorry, let’s just forget the whole thing and opt for …….change and again, the rule of law is cast aside for political expediency.  The guards at Gitmo Bay and Abughraib are not the only ones culpable for this breach of law and our Nation’s confidence.  One of the measures of greatness is how well the law is equally applied to all regardless of status.  We are failing that measure miserably and we have no one to blame but ourselves.  I’m glad Lanny Davis has come around and sees that Cheney should be held accountable; I hope his list of those who need to be brought to justice grows.  If he needs help compiling it, I’ll be glad to hand him mine; it’s eight years long.

Harrowing Accounts of Torture


If you have the time and want to know to what extent the US engaged in torture, please read the article, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites.  Although lengthy, it’s quite substantive and features accounts of torture I thought were only carried out by the “other” guys of the world not Americans.

George Bush had no sense of humor and for that a man spent 7 years as a terrorist


I’ve written about a lot of bizarre things surrounding the George Bush administration’s 8 year tenancy and this story ranks right up there as one of the strangest, sickest and abusive to come to light.

A British ‘resident’ held at Guantanamo Bay was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a ‘joke’ website on how to build a nuclear weapon, it was revealed last night.

…The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the offending article – called How To Build An H-Bomb – was first published in a US satirical magazine and later placed on a series of websites.

Written by Barbara Ehrenreich, the publication’s food editor, Rolling Stone journalist Peter Biskind and scientist Michio Kaku, it claims that a nuclear weapon can be made ‘using a bicycle pump’ and with liquid uranium ‘poured into a bucket and swung round’.

Despite its clear satirical bent, the story led the CIA to accuse 30-year-old Mohamed, a caretaker, of plotting a dirty bomb attack, before subjecting him to its ‘extraordinary rendition programme’.

The satirical article, published in Seven Days magazine, says its authors were given ‘three days to cook up a workable H-bomb. They did and we have decided to share their culinary secrets with you’.

It adds: ‘Not that Seven Days supports nuclear terrorism. We don’t. We would prefer to die from familiar poisons like low-level radiation, microwaves, DDT or food dyes, rather than unexpectedly, say as hostage to a Latvian nationalists brandishing a home-made bomb.’

The recipe is highly detailed and plainly ridiculous. The prospective bomb maker is instructed to transform uranium gas into liquid by ‘subjecting it to pressure’, adding: ‘You can use a bicycle pump for this.’

The instructions continue: ‘Then make a simple home centrifuge. Fill a standard-size bucket one-quarter full of liquid uranium hexafluoride.

‘Attach a 6ft rope to the bucket handle. Now swing the rope (and attached bucket) around your head as fast as possible. Keep this up for about 45 minutes.

‘Slow down gradually, and very gently put the bucket on the floor. The U-235 – a uranium isotope which can be used to cause an explosive chain reaction – will have risen to the top, where it can be skimmed off like cream. Repeat this step until you have the required 10lb of uranium.’

There you have the essence of the war on terror.  Billions of American tax payer money spent chasing, rendering, and torturing people over satire, because a slightly insane president of the United States didn’t want to deal or work  with  his own institutions of government.

Stunning words from the mainstream


Paul Craig Roberts is a maverick of sorts, ever since he left the Reagan administration and began writing editorials about current events.  He still reflects fondly on Reagan, the conservative most modern day conservatives like to pattern themselves after, but speaks disdainfully of GW Bush and the people who surrounded him, calling them ‘brownshirts with the same level of intelligence and morals as Hitler’s enthusiastic supporters.’ Amen to that.  However, he has written a damning editorial on the war on terror, written by the way, at about the same time as Dick Cheney’s rather high treasonous remarks, which speaks volumes on how that war has been carried out and whether it’s real.  I’d like to produce exercepts of it below. He does a far better job of saying it than I ever could.

According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.

There were no al Qaeda in Iraq until the Americans brought them there by invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, who kept al Qaeda out of Iraq. The Taliban is not a terrorist organization, but a movement attempting to unify Afghanistan under Muslim law. The only Americans threatened by the Taliban are the Americans Bush sent to Afghanistan to kill Taliban and to impose a puppet state on the Afghan people.

Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine, or what little remains of Palestine after Israel’s illegal annexations. Hamas is a terrorist organization in the same sense that the Israeli government and the US government are terrorist organizations. In an effort to bring Hamas under Israeli hegemony, Israel employs terror bombing and assassinations against Palestinians. Hamas replies to the Israeli terror with homemade and ineffectual rockets.

Hezbollah represents the Shi’ites of southern Lebanon, another area in the Middle East that Israel seeks for its territorial expansion.

The US brands Hamas and Hezbollah “terrorist organizations” for no other reason than the US is on Israel’s side of the conflict. There is no objective basis for the US Department of State’s “finding” that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. It is merely a propagandistic declaration.

The retired American generals who serve as war propagandists for Fox “News” are forever claiming that Iran arms the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents and Hamas. But where are the arms? To deal with American tanks, insurgents have to construct homemade explosive devices out of artillery shells. After six years of conflict the insurgents still have no weapon against the American helicopter gunships. Contrast this “arming” with the weaponry the US supplied to the Afghans three decades ago when they were fighting to drive out the Soviets.

The films of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza show large numbers of Gazans fleeing from Israeli bombs or digging out the dead and maimed, and none of these people are armed. A person would think that by now every Palestinian would be armed, every man, woman, and child. Yet, all the films of the Israeli attack show an unarmed population. Hamas has to construct homemade rockets that are little more than a sign of defiance. If Hamas were armed by Iran, Israel’s assault on Gaza would have cost Israel its helicopter gunships, its tanks, and hundreds of lives of its soldiers.

The great mystery is: why after 60 years of oppression are the Palestinians still an unarmed people? Clearly, the Muslim countries are complicit with Israel and the US in keeping the Palestinians unarmed.

The unsupported assertion that Iran supplies sophisticated arms to the Palestinians is like the unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. These assertions are propagandistic justifications for killing Arab civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in order to secure US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.


Bush made the UN irrelevant


It’s easy to see why.

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said, in remarks to be broadcast on Germany’s ZDF television Tuesday evening.

He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

“But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this,” added Nowak, who authored a UN investigation report on the Guantanamo prison.

The irony in this is it’s being exposed on German television, the very same country whose leaders we expunged with public show trials and executions for their war crimes, who are now asking, begging, suggesting, we do the same.  Not a word of these allegations on American media, however, and that is as chilling for us as it was for Germany in the 30s and 40s. Bush ushered in the era of American fascism; Obama’s biggest challenge will be in undoing it.

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.”

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.

Cheney admits to war crimes


So why isn’t he in jail? Perhaps it’s the mood of the country, overwhelmed by all that has gone wrong during the Bush administration finally being exposed by the main stream media.  Trillions, not billions as we were originally told, of tax payers’ money needed for a bail out of an economy that some say has been in a recession for over a year, and that’s the best thing that can be said about that, jobs eliminated or on the verge of being wiped out and fraud exposed at every level of the financial markets, people are unsure which shoe will drop next, so Cheney’s admission to something that doesn’t directly affect the everyday person most likely was met with a sigh of relief it didn’t involve them directly.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the investigation of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, has said “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Most likely the answer is they will not be held accountable because the blame for a government intent on torturing people it didn’t like should fall on the shoulders of people of all political persuasions and the people who elected them.  For the moment the ball rests in the Bush court.  Will he issue pardons to the members of his administration guilty of such crimes, or will he let them go? There will be hearings about this in both houses of Congress, but that will probably be the extent of any accountability, so it’s up to the “people” to make their voices heard on this issue.  What has muted our response before is our realization we are responsible for Bush/Cheney serving 8 years in the White House. I hope we can get past that and let these criminals know where we stand today!   I don’t think Cheney will find an sympathetic ear with them/us.  Time will tell.

No excuse now!


Guantanamo Bay can be closed, and America’s allies are willing to help in that effort.

European Union countries should offer to take in any detainees released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Portugal’s foreign minister said in a letter published Thursday.

Portugal is willing to grant asylum to Guantanamo detainees who cannot return to their home countries, Foreign Minister Luis Amado said in the letter sent to his EU counterparts.

Let’s see how long it takes for impediments to get in the way of seeing this travesty of justice shut down.

Dumb and dumber


I thought George Bush took the cake with his many dumb platitudes, but along comes former Attorney General John Ashcroft who tops even his former boss, Bush. In Ashcroft’s mind a person is guilty regardless of guilt or innocence; the mere accusation is enough to sentence someone to indefinite detention, torture and no recourse to the criminal justice system.  Countless numbers of people presently locked up in Guantanamo Bay are there because financial bounties were offered up by the US military for the capture of “al-Qaida” members, and no regard was made whether a person turned over to authorities was really a member or not.  It was accepted at face value that he was, and off he was wisked to Cuba never to be seen or heard from again.  Ashcroft thinks that’s ok and the presumption of innocence should have nothing to do with this process.  It’s a good thing he’s no longer Attorney General.  You can hear his ramblings below.

This comes on the heels of the announcement that Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking Bush administration officials were responsible for the harsh interrogations against captured terrorist suspects that took place at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, according to a bipartisan report issued Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The report concludes:

“Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s… authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody………What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there.”

Read what a former detainee at Gitmo Bay, Moazzam Begg , said about his imprisonment here.  Look for more historical revisionism to take place in the days before the end of the Bush presidency.

Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric


I wish it was George W. Bush saying that statement in the title above, but it isn’t.  Instead it’s a US military officer who served on an intelligence team responsible for interrogating Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaida operatives and who says quite succinctly in a Washington Post editorial that torture cost American lives in the Iraqi campaign.   Even though Bush didn’t utter those words he surely knew of the successes those teams had in Iraq where torture wasn’t employed while still achieving very good results

The methods my team used are not classified (they’re listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of “ruses and trickery”). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

*snip*

Our new interrogation methods led to one of the war’s biggest breakthroughs: We convinced one of Zarqawi’s associates to give up the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader’s location. On June 8, 2006, U.S. warplanes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a house where Zarqawi was meeting with other insurgent leaders.

I know the counter-argument well — that we need the rough stuff for the truly hard cases, such as battle-hardened core leaders of al-Qaeda, not just run-of-the-mill Iraqi insurgents. But that’s not always true: We turned several hard cases, including some foreign fighters, by using our new techniques. A few of them never abandoned the jihadist cause but still gave up critical information. One actually told me, “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”

Why didn’t Bush lead the way and instruct his military on the best way to conduct interrogation? Nothing is as it seemed with this Administration; they knew before waging the war that the reasons they gave for it were lies; likewise they knew this war wasn’t being waged to benefit the Iraqis, rather it was to cause their utter humiliation and destruction as a powerful society.  Torture became a means to that end.  Bush surely read and or heard the cries of many within his Administration that torture was not consistent with American military policy yet it continued under his watch.  Is it any wonder why there are some who think Bush should be tried for war crimes? Count me among them!

Cheney indicted


It’s no longer news, but I applaud the action done by a south Texas grand jury, because hopefully it will stop Cheney’s profiting from the rendition of foreign detainees to private penal institutions in which he has invested.  No doubt Cheney knows that Guantanamo Bay will be closed by Obama….let’s certainly hope so, so in order to keep the business of torture alive and well and profitable Cheney has invested in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers.  Detainees at Guantanamo Bay when closed will have to go some place and what better place for them to go than a place set up by the former Administration to continue the same policy of torture and human rights abuses.  The only way to stop such illegal activity is to throw Cheney in jail and divest him of his holdings in Vanguard.  It is almost the same as with Halliburton, given no bid contracts by an Administration that started a needless war by a vice president who was once a major office holder in that company. I’m glad the people of some state have decided enough is enough.  It’s even more ironic it’s the home state of the equally nefarious law breaker George W. Bush.  Perhaps the good folks in the state of Texas are finally getting back at  Cheney for  shooting a hunting partner in the face back in 2006.

Images of war return to the public


A bipartisan effort initiated by Republican congressman Walter Jones, NC and co-sponsored by three Democrats and three Republicans has culminated in the The Fallen Hero Commemoration Act, or H.R. 6662, which states, “The Secretary of Defense shall grant access to accredited members of the media at military commemoration ceremonies and memorial services conducted by the Armed Forces for members of the Armed Forces who have died on active duty and when the remains of members of the Armed Forces arrive at military installations in the United States.”

We’ve blogged before about how the Administration has tried to control the images coming from their occupation in order to control public opinion and everyone from media to government and the public in general has gone along with the program.  Finally, members of Congress are attempting to correct that situation by using the power they have as legislators to undo this Bush Administration policy.  Let’s hope they can wipe the entire slate clean of the excesses done by this cabal.

Are the Brits finally catching on?


It’s not enough the US relied on the faulty Downing Street memo and used its existence as an excuse to go to war in Iraq.  Effectively blaming the British for America’s mistake, the British government still seemed to be in synch with US policy in Iraq.  Well, maybe not anymore.  Now it appears the British government is questioning the integrity of US leaders, including George Bush when it comes to torture.    There is a very long paper trail  which indict the Bush Administration in it’s decision to torture, or bend the rules concerning torture of people it has captured in this phony war on terror, so there is plenty for the British to hang their hat on when condemning US policy.  Citing a committee report which

said there were ‘serious implications’ of the striking inconsistencies between British ministers continuing to believe the Bush administration when it denies using torture. ‘The UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the government does not rely on such assurances in the future,’ said the committee. ‘We also recommend that the government should immediately carry out an exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques on the basis of such information as is publicly available or which can be supplied by the US.’

it marks a definite shift in British attitudes towards  America.  This observer only wishes such a shift began four years earlier before headlines such as these graced papers around the world:

British troops in torture scandal

British troops accused of sexually abusing Iraqi boy, 14

British soldiers tortured Iraqi civilian to death…

The stupidity of media reporters or what a dumbass!


Has anyone read this rather strange article by a reporter who fancied himself a supporter of the WOT? He wanted to experience what it felt to undergo waterboarding to decide for himself and presumably his readers whether it constitutes torture. Well surprise, surprise. He thinks it does or at least constitutes the “language” of torture. (huh?) No doubt this is print media’s version of TV feature or soft news. Waterboarding has been declared torture for centuries, whether we want to admit it or not, so Hitchins isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know but it appears this was Hitchens’ mid life crisis where he wanted to experience, a rite of passage into senior adulthood. This desktop warrior couldn’t help but reiterate his support for those who do the hard job of torture, however, and his words of support for what they do brought on the gag reflex in me as if I myself was being waterboarded. Respectfully, Mr. Hitchens’ article is nothing more than the ramblings of a mad man who needed to fill space for his magazine.