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.

Advertisements

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!