White man speak with forked tongue


The last years of the Bush administration have been one big lie after another, and it hasn’t taken much time to unravel all of them.  Here goes the latest revelation.

The super conservatives, led by the neocons betrayed even their main mentor Ronald Reagan, with their adoption of torture as an instrument in the war on terror, for it was Ronald Reagan who signed the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman degrading  punishment.  It defines torture as

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

The Convention left no wriggle room for Bush and his cronies.  It expressly says there are no legitimate reasons for torture, even the phony war on terror.

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

So why isn’t Bush in jail?  He certainly should be

Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

Moreover, why aren’t we the public who put him in office more outraged at his criminal behavior? Bush steadily encroached on  the rule of law very early on in his term, declaring the UN irrelevant and declaring to all that America was willing to go it alone if it could not get the support of the world community. Along the way, he simply ignored laws that got in the way of his grand schemes and paid no attention to the voices of international bodies and agencies which clamored for the US to follow the laws it signed, agreed to or even wrote. Instead he listened to the polls and until 2006 after all the damage was done, took delight in the fact that the American electorate simply went along with his programs. Our lack of condemnation and outcry for his lawlessness was all he needed to complete his coup d’etat against the American government.  We are as much to blame for torture carried out under the Bush Administration as Bush himself. But there were voices of dissent, opposition to what Bush was doing.

A United Nations anti-torture panel yesterday urged the United States to shut down its Guantanamo Bay detention camp, close any secret overseas CIA prisons, and halt the use of what it said are cruel and degrading interrogation techniques.

The panel also found that many of the detention and interrogation policies the Bush administration put in place for the war on terrorism around the world were at odds with the commitments the United States made when it ratified the global Convention Against Torture treaty in 1994.

The report said that holding detainees in secret prisons, as the CIA is reportedly doing overseas with high-level Al Qaeda suspects, violates the treaty.

So there really isn’t any  excuse for Bush not to be in jail, or Cheney or any of the others within his administration who violated a treaty that the US  Congress ratified.  It simply is a case of the people not demanding accountability of their elected officials to the law.

Just what is it about Guantanamo Bay?


Remnants of the Bush administration’s fascination with Gitmo Bay keep rearing their ugly heads at Obama’s announcement Gitmo will be closed.  First the argument was there is no place to house those who have yet to be released, or that there are no facilities sufficient to hold them, or that we don’t want them housed in our midst, as if they’ll be our  next door neighbor. This argument, meekly advanced has been rather quickly disarmed and has dropped off the political discussion.

A more sinister argument with accomplices has taken its place, and this is the argument of recidivism, or terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay who have “returned” to terrorism.   The first point to make is if they were indeed terrorist why were they released by our government?  Does this mean the US is  NOT able to determine, even under the most draconian and loosely structure  means, those who are terrorists and who are not? But to underscore this point comes this news.

Two men released from the US “war on terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.

One of the two former inmates, a Saudi man identified as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or prisoner number 372, has been elevated to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, a US counter-terrorism official told AFP.

Three other men appear in the video, including Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, identified as an Al-Qaeda field commander. SITE later said he was prisoner No. 333.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information.

At first glance this seems rather ominous until you discover who the players are and the last sentence in the quote above really gives away what is being said/done with this “news”.   SITE is a group with an agenda, like all the other groups that have sprung up post 911 and that agenda is not even close to US interests.  Rather it appears it’s one based on settling old scores.   A terrorist cottage industry has risen on the US political landscape and it seems to have been given free hand, with the provision or understanding  that the US government won’t always rubber stamp what that industry produces.  This seems to be the meaning of the last sentence, “A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information”, because frankly under closer inspection the government has been burned by these self-appointed, government anointed terrorist experts.

However, what’s even sadder and more dastardly is the lies, damned lies and statistics game being played by the US when it comes to Gitmo Bay and who was once housed there.

The Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research has issued a report which rebuts and debunks the most recent claim by the Department of Defense (DOD) that “61, in all, former Guantánamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.”

Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued ‘recidivism’ numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”

Denbeaux stated: “Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, the DOD has been forced to retract their false IDs and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantánamo—much less were they released from there. They have counted people as ‘returning to the fight’ for their having written an Op-ed piece in the New York Times and for their having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. The DOD has revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning—except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.

“Forty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that ‘they do not track’ former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Now this is FUNNY!


I am always amazed at the lengths the Bush administration will go to beat up on the dispossessed!  I’ve blogged about this before, but mention it again here because these Chinese Muslims are caught between the rock and hard place of the US and their own country.

China said Tuesday it wants 17 Muslim Chinese terror suspects returned if the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is closed by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Although the U.S. military no longer considers the 17 Chinese Uighurs “enemy combatants,” they have remained at Guantanamo because the United States has been unable to find a country willing to take them.

In 2006, the United States allowed five Chinese Muslims released from Guantanamo to go to Albania. The U.S. government has said it cannot return the Uighurs to China because they would face persecution there.

The Obama camp has not made clear what it would do with the Uighurs. But State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Bush administration understood China’s point of view but needed to “assure ourselves that if people are transferred out of Guantanamo under whatever status that they are not going to be mistreated in any way, shape or form.

We can’t turn them over to China because they won’t  be persecuted as well as they currently are under US control in Guantanamo seems to be the message authorities are sending.  As for finding a country for the Uighurs, many relief groups in the US have stepped forward to claim responsibility for them which the government has refused.   Go figure.

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.

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.

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.

It doesn’t get worse than this


I was speechless when I read this.  People who the government claims aren’t “evil doers” and have essentially done nothing wrong face the possibility of staying in jail the rest of their lives because of OUR mistake?

Seventeen Chinese prisoners who have been held for nearly seven years in Guantánamo Bay will be informed on Monday that they could spend the rest of their lives behind bars, even though they face no charges and have been told by a judge they should be freed.

No country is willing to accept them and the US justice department has now blocked moves for them to be allowed to go to the US mainland, where they had been offered a home by refugee and Christian organisations.

*snip*

Last month a federal judge ruled that the men should be freed. “They were on freedom’s doorstep,” said Willett. “The plane was at Gitmo. The stateside Lutheran refugee services and the Uighur families and Tallahassee clergy were ready to receive them.” However, the justice department appealed against the ruling and Willett claims this will put the men into a potentially endless limbo.

I suppose the federal government thinks 17 Chinese muslims will pollute the gene pool of the US….or maybe carry out the jihad it has already acknowledged they had no part in, or maybe we’re just too dumb to say ‘we were wrong’.  People of good faith have appealed to the government to let these men go free and have stepped up to take responsibility for them, but evidently that’s not good enough.  Christians, Muslims, Americans, Chinese have all said they will sponsor these men, who are guiltless according to our own government and whose only crime is “being” to help them settle in this wide, expansive, generous land of ours and our government has said no!