BRITISH BELIEVE BUSH IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN KIM JONG-IL
America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.
Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by the war, the research also shows that British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an "axis of evil", but it is Mr Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US.
It exposes high levels of distrust. In Britain, 69% of those questioned say they believe US policy has made the world less safe since 2001, with only 7% thinking action in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased global security.
The finding is mirrored in America's immediate northern and southern neighbours, Canada and Mexico, with 62% of Canadians and 57% of Mexicans saying the world has become more dangerous because of US policy.
In Britain 71% of voters now say the invasion was unjustified, a view shared by 89% of Mexicans and 73% of Canadians. Canada is a Nato member whose troops are in action in Afghanistan. Neither do voters think America has helped advance democracy in developing countries, one of the justifications for deposing Saddam Hussein. Only 11% of Britons and 28% of Israelis think that has happened.
As a result, Mr Bush is ranked with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety. He is outranked by Osama bin Laden in all four countries, but runs the al-Qaida leader close in the eyes of UK voters: 87% think the al-Qaida leader is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared with 75% who think this of Mr Bush.
The US leader and close ally of Tony Blair is seen in Britain as a more dangerous man than the president of Iran (62% think he is a danger), the North Korean leader (69%) and the leader of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah (65%).
RED CROSS SLAMS US ANTI-TERROR LAW
From correspondents in Geneva
THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today a controversial new anti-terror law approved by President George W. Bush this week undermined international humanitarian law.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger warned that the Military Commissions Act "disrupts" part of the Geneva Conventions that are regarded as "elementary considerations of humanity".
"Our preliminary reading of the new legislation raised news concerns and questions," Mr Kellenberger said in an interview published on the humanitarian agency's website.
The new law signed by Mr Bush on Wednesday allows secret overseas CIA prisons, harsh interrogation practices and military trials as weapons against suspected terrorists.
The measure, which US lawmakers approved last month after a bitter election-year debate over national security and civil liberties, also allows the US to detain alleged terrorists indefinitely, US officials said.
Mr Kellenberger raised concerns about the "very broad definition" of 'an unlawful enemy combatant' and the fact that there is not an explicit prohibition on the admission of evidence obtained by coercion
The new US law also omitted parts of a key section common to all parts of the Geneva Conventions - Article 3, prohibiting humiliating and degrading treatment and denial of the right to fair trial, while retaining others, Mr Kellenberger said.
"This distinction between the different violations disrupts the integrity of common Article 3."
"Over time, the protections enunciated in common Article 3 came to be regarded as so fundamental to preserving humanity in war that its rules are now referred to as elementary considerations of humanity that must be observed in any type of armed conflict", the ICRC chief said.
Mr Kellenberger underlined that it was "a minimum" that countries are bound to apply in its entirety.
TOP US INQUIRY TO CALL FOR IRAQ POLICY CHANGE
US policy in Iraq is not working and George Bush should consider radical changes, according to a top-level panel backed by the president.
With the White House coming under increasing pressure over the carnage in Iraq, the recommendations from the bipartisan 10-member panel, led by former secretary of state James Baker, could provide political cover for Mr Bush, should he decide to change course.
Two options under consideration would involve withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing Iraq's neighbours, Iran and Syria, into a joint effort to stop the fighting, the Los Angeles Times reported today.
In a press conference last week, Mr Bush reiterated his position that the US would not leave Iraq "until the job was done".
He told reporters that if the US abandoned Iraq before it could defend itself, "the terrorists would take control... and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America". Mr Bush has rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawal.
But calls are growing from even senior Republicans for changes as long as it does not mean an abrupt precipitous withdrawal that could leave Iraq in the grip of full-scale civil war.
ARMY CHIEF URGES PULLOUT FROM IRAQ
THE American-led coalition in Iraq has received a major setback, with Britain's army chief saying his troops should be out of Iraq "some time soon".
General Sir Richard Dannatt said the presence of British troops in Iraq had exacerbated global security problems.
His pro-withdrawal position flies in the face of the policies adopted by key coalition countries, including Australia and the United States, and is a direct attack on British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"I don't say the difficulties we are experiencing around the world are caused by our presence in Iraq, but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them," General Dannatt told the Daily Mail newspaper.
He said Britain should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems".
"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear . . . As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time," General Dannatt said.
He said the military campaign fought in 2003 effectively kicked Iraq's door in. "Whatever consent we may have had in the first place . . . has largely turned to intolerance," he said.
THIS TERRIBLE MISADVENTURE HAS KILLED ONE IN 40 IRAQIS
Richard Horton, The Guardian
The government will do all it can to discredit the latest estimate of civilian casualties since the invasion: 650,000
Many people refused to believe the Lancet report in 2004 from a group of American and Iraqi public-health scientists who surveyed homes across the country and found that about 100,000 additional Iraqi deaths had taken place since the coalition invasion in March 2003. Several government ministers were deployed to destroy the credibility of the findings and, in large part, they succeeded. But now their denials have come back to haunt them, for the figures from Iraq have been confirmed by a further study.
The same team from Johns Hopkins University worked with Iraqi doctors to visit over 1,800 homes in Iraq, selected randomly to make sure that no bias could creep in to their calculations.
They identified more than 12,000 family members and tracked those who had died over an interval that spanned both pre- and post-invasion periods. The Iraqi interviewers spoke fluent English as well as Arabic, and they were well trained to collect the information they were seeking. They asked permission from every family to use the data they wanted. And they chased down death certificates in over four out of five cases to make sure that they had a double check on the numbers and causes of death given to them by family members.
And finally, we can truthfully say that our foreign policy - based as it is on 19th-century notions of the nation-state - is long past its sell-by date. We need a new set of principles to govern our diplomacy and military strategy - principles that are based on the idea of human security and not national security, health and wellbeing and not economic self-interest and territorial ambition.
The best hope we can have from our terrible misadventure in Iraq is that a new political and social movement will grow to overturn this politics of humiliation. We are one human family. Let's act like it.
· Richard Horton is the editor of the Lancet
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US WAR COSTS SINCE SEPTEMBER 11 EXCEED $500BN
The Iraq war is currently costing US taxpayers around $2bn (£1.07bn) a week, as the military replaces damaged equipment and tries to establish more permanent bases, reports in US newspapers said today.
A report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service projected that the war would cost $110bn for the fiscal year 2007, the Houston Chronicle said.
This would be a 20% rise on last year and almost double the monetary cost of the first year of the war, a report in the Boston Globe said.
According to the Globe, the report estimated that once Congress approved two pending bills on military spending, total war costs since the September 11 2001 attacks would have exceeded $500bn, of which $379bn had been spent on Iraq, $97bn in Afghanistan and $26bn on improving the security of US military bases elsewhere.
The costs had increased despite a levelling off of US troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, the extra money was being used in part because of a greater intensity of attacks on American forces, the Boston Globe said.
... Although the US military has said it does not want to maintain a long-term presence in either country, it is building semi-permanent bases to support troops, suggesting a recognition that the deployments might be long ones.
LEAKED REPORT CONFIRMS IRAQ WAR FUELLING TERRORISM
Reporter: Kim Landers
PETER CAVE: In the United States, President George Bush has bowed to pressure and released parts of a damning intelligence report that details how the war in Iraq has fuelled international terrorism.
First leaked in the New York Times, the excerpts declassified by the White House describe the Iraq conflict as a "cause celebre" for jihadists.
The report from 16 of Washington's key intelligence agencies goes on to describe how the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.
Even Pakistan, one of America's crucial allies, is now openly disagreeing with the White House about the effect of the Iraq war on terrorism.
KIM LANDERS: It was a report that was never meant to be made public.
Compiled by veteran analysts from 16 US intelligence agencies, it declares that Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for global terror, "cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement".
Despite that, President George W. Bush still rejects any suggestion that the Iraq invasion was a mistake.
SENATE REPORT OF PRE-WAR INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQ
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Senate Report on Iraqi WMD Intelligence (formally, the "Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq") was the report by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concerning the U.S. intelligence community's assessments of Iraq during the time leading up to the 2003 U.S. invasion. The report, which was released on July 9, 2004, identified numerous failures in the intelligence-gathering and -analysis process. The report found that these failures led to the creation of inaccurate materials that misled both government policy makers and the American public.
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SENATE PANEL RELEASES REPORT ON IRAQ INTELLIGENCE
By David Stout
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 — The Senate Intelligence Committee said today that there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein had prewar ties to Al Qaeda ...
The intelligence committee report notes that the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that, despite rumors of contacts between two of the Sept. 11 hijackers and members of the Hussein regime, “We have no credible information that Baghdad was complicit in the attacks on the Pentagon or the World Trade Center on 11 September or any other Al Qaeda strike.”
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THE TERRORIST IN THE MIRROR
Amnesty International Annual Lecture Hosted by Trinity College
Date: 18th January 2006
"Terror' is a term that rightly arouses strong emotions and deep concerns. The primary concern should, naturally, be to take measures to alleviate the threat, which has been severe in the past, and will be even more so in the future. To proceed in a serious way, we have to establish some guidelines."
So begins Noam Chomsky's article. It is all too clear, it lays out just how off the rails American Foreign Policy is. It becomes clear, who is causing the problem.
" It is common to say that no WMD were found in Iraq after exhaustive search. That is not quite accurate, however. There were stores of WMD in Iraq: namely, those produced in the 1980s, thanks to aid provided by the US and Britain, along with others.
These sites had been secured by UN inspectors, who were dismantling the weapons. But the inspectors were dismissed by the invaders and the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors nevertheless continued to carry out their work with satellite imagery. They discovered sophisticated massive looting of these installations in over 100 sites, including equipment for producing solid and liquid propellant missiles, biotoxins and other materials usable for chemical and biological weapons, and high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear and chemical weapons and missiles."
This is one of the most comprehensive articles on terrorism. It reveals the fallacies, the weakness of the present approach, which has led to disaster for everyone involved.
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TORTURE DOESN'T WORK
In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Colin Powell told a “first-hand” story of how Saddam Hussein supported biological and chemical weapons training for al Qaeda. The story, gained from an al Qaeda operative tortured in Egypt, later proved to be untrue. One CIA source was quoted: “This is the problem with using the waterboard [being held under water until you think you will die]. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear.”
Moral and practical arguments are inextricably intertwined. If some torture is justifiable in pursuit of the greater good, why not all torture? If the suspected terrorist is too hard a nut to crack, why not torture the man’s wife or daughter? Is that not an acceptable price to pay to save lives?
The simple answer is no. Torture degrades the torturer and those who condone it; acceptance of torture undermines the very foundations—and thus the security—of our society. Rules do matter, even if some of our politicians seem reluctant to confront that truth. Iraq today is a country full of ticking bombs. On the face of it, this would seem to be an obvious case where more torture could help keep everyone safer. If you torture hundreds or thousands of alleged radicals, one might confess where or when the next bomb will be placed. In reality, the shameful use of torture has only helped plunge Iraq into ever deeper instability.
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More about torture:
Pentagon Spends Billions to Outsource Torture
The Torture Myth
Torture and Abuse, Recent Work from Human Rights Watch
U.S.: BUSH JUSTIFIES CIA DETAINEE ABUSE
President George W. Bush’s defense of abusing detainees betrays basic American and global standards, Human Rights Watch said today. " Although the president adamantly denied that the U.S. government uses torture, the United States has used practices such as waterboarding that can only be called torture. " Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch
Despite the euphemisms that Bush employed in his nationwide address this afternoon, the “alternative set of [interrogation] procedures” that he tried to justify includes grossly abusive treatment.
Detainees in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been “disappeared,” and by numerous credible reports, tortured. While the Bush administration’s announcement that it transferred 14 so-called high-value detainees from CIA to military custody is an important step forward – one that Human Rights Watch has long called for – this advance is limited by the president’s stated intention of leaving the door open for future CIA detentions.
“President Bush’s speech was a full-throated defense of the CIA’s detention program and of the ‘alternative procedures’ – read torture – that the CIA has used to extract information from detainees,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Although the president adamantly denied that the U.S. government uses torture, the United States has used practices such as water boarding that can only be called torture.”
... In his speech, President Bush claimed that useful information has been obtained using such “alternative” techniques, but he pointedly omitted mentioning the information obtained from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, one of the first top suspects placed in CIA detention. Al-Libi was excluded from President Bush’s long narrative of successful detainee captures because under “enhanced interrogation” al-Libi reportedly told interrogators that Iraq had provided chemical and biological weapons training to al Qaeda. This information – which turned out to be entirely wrong – was used in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations to justify war with Iraq. Sources later told ABC News that al-Libi “had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.” HRW
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ISRAEL ADDS FUEL TO NUCLEAR DISPUTE
Sunday, October 12, 2003
by the Los Angeles Times
Officials confirm that the nation can now launch atomic weapons from land, sea and air. The issue complicates efforts to rein in Iran.
by Douglas Frantz
TEL AVIV -- Israel has modified American-supplied cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads on submarines, giving the Middle East's only nuclear power the ability to launch atomic weapons from land, air and beneath the sea, according to senior Bush administration and Israeli officials.
The previously undisclosed submarine capability bolsters Israel's deterrence in the event that Iran — an avowed enemy — develops nuclear weapons. It also complicates efforts by the United States and the United Nations to persuade Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Two Bush administration officials described the missile modification and an Israeli official confirmed it. All three spoke on condition their names not be used.
The Americans said they were disclosing the information to caution Israel's enemies at a time of heightened tensions in the region and concern over Iran's alleged ambitions.
Iran denies developing nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is solely for generating electricity. Iranian leaders are resisting more intrusive inspections by the United Nations, setting the stage for a showdown in coming weeks.
The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency has given Tehran an Oct. 31 deadline to accept full inspections and prove it has no nuclear arms program.
"You are never going to be able to address the Iranian nuclear ambitions or the issues of Egypt's chemical weapons and possible biological weapons program without bringing Israel's nuclear program into the mix."
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
U.S.: SOLDIERS TELL OF DETAINEE ABUSE IN IRAQ
– Torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, according to new accounts from soldiers in a Human Rights Watch report released today. The new report, containing first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel interviewed by Human Rights Watch, details detainee abuses at an off-limits facility at Baghdad airport and at other detention centers throughout Iraq.
In the 53-page report, "No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers' Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq," soldiers describe how detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The accounts come from interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, supplemented by memoranda and sworn statements contained in declassified documents.
"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. "These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used."
The accounts reveal that detainee abuse was an established and apparently authorized part of the detention and interrogation processes in Iraq for much of 2003-2005. They also suggest that soldiers who sought to report abuse were rebuffed or ignored.
... According to the interrogator:
He [the MI officer] was very specific about it. He didn't say, ‘I want you guys to go nuts on these guys,' but he was very specific about what he wanted . . . Later, we had a few dogs on these guys too [i.e., used dogs to intimidate the detainees], and all the whole thing . . . [The MI officer] said, you know, ‘I've got these dog handlers, these MPs, they are going to come in and you're gonna use them in the interrogation.' . . . [W]e were making these guys do MPT [exercise], which were pretty rough on them. And the stretch positions were pretty rough on them too . . . you know, like kneeling in the gravel, walking on your knees in the gravel . . . having them stand with outstretched arms with water bottles in [their] hands for extended periods of time. Crawling through the gravel. And the guards in the prison were helping with this.
"They told us that they're enemy combatants, they're not POWs, and so we can do all this stuff to them and so forth," the interrogator said.
Human Rights Watch has previously condemned Iraqi insurgent groups for routinely violating international humanitarian law, carrying out abductions and attacks against civilians and humanitarian aid workers, and detonating hundreds of bombs in bazaars, mosques and other civilian areas. Human Rights Watch has stated that those responsible for violations, including the leaders of these groups, should, if captured, be investigated and prosecuted for violations of Iraqi law and the laws of war.
U.S.: GUANTáNAMO RULING REJECTS UNFAIR TRIALS
(Washington, D.C., June 29, 2006)
The Supreme Court’s decision today rejecting the unfair military commissions at Guantánamo Bay upholds the U.S. tradition of fair trials and advances the important fight against terrorism, Human Rights Watch said today. The court’s ruling may require that greater legal protections be given to all detainees held in the global “war on terror,” including Guantánamo prisoners and “ghost detainees.”
“We welcome the Supreme Court’s repudiation of a system that failed to meet basic standards for a fair trial,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration should now focus on properly prosecuting terror suspects and providing justice for their victims. That means the U.S. must end the abusive interrogation techniques that hamper its ability to put these men on trial.”
In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court decided 5-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts not participating, that President George W. Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Conventions.
Sunday June 18, 2006
After three inmates killed themselves, the Pentagon declared the suicides an act of 'asymmetric warfare', banned the media and went on a PR offensive. But as despair grows within the camp, so too does outrage mount at its brutal and secretive regime
In Guantanamo Bay's Alpha Block, the night was like any other: sweltering and seemingly endless. Although the temperature was down to the high 70s outside, the block's steel roof and walls were radiating heat, and in the two facing rows of 24 cells it felt little cooler than it had at midday. 'The nights are worse than the days,' the British former prisoner Shafiq Rasul recalled yesterday. 'You hear the rats running and scratching. The bugs go mad and there's no air. Especially where that block is: there's no breeze whatsoever.'
According to Guantanamo's rules, a six-person team of military police should have been patrolling constantly, and as usual the bright neon lights stayed on. A guard should have passed each detainee's cell every 30 seconds. 'From the landing, you can see right into every cell,' said Rasul. 'They don't have doors, just gates made from wide-spaced mesh. There's no privacy. If you hang up a towel because you want to go to the toilet, they make you take it down.'
age.com.auDOWNLOAD THE AMNESTY REPORT ON US TORTURE
By Richard Waddington, Geneva May 4, 2006
TORTURE and other inhumane treatment is widespread in US-run detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba and elsewhere despite US denials, Amnesty International says.
In a report for the United Nations Committee against Torture, the rights group also alleged abuses in the US domestic law enforcement system, including excessive force by police and degrading conditions of isolation for inmates in high-security prisons.
"Evidence continues to emerge of widespread torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees held in US custody," Amnesty said in its 47-page report yesterday. While Washington sought to blame abuses that have come to light on "aberrant soldiers and lack of oversight", much ill-treatment stemmed from officially sanctioned interrogation methods, Amnesty said.
"The US Government is not only failing to take steps to eradicate torture, it is actually creating a climate in which torture and other ill-treatment can flourish," Amnesty International US senior deputy director-general Curt Goering said.
The UN committee, whose experts carry out periodic reviews of countries signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, is scheduled to begin consideration of the US tomorrow.
It said in November that it wanted answers from the US to questions including whether Washington had secret detention centres abroad and whether President George Bush had the power to absolve anyone from criminal responsibility in torture cases.
In its own submission to the committee, published late last year, Washington justified the holding of thousands of foreign terrorism suspects in detention centres abroad on the grounds that it was fighting a war.
"Like other wars, when they start, we do not know when they will end. Still, we may detain combatants until the end of the war," it said.
Amnesty listed a series of incidents involving torture of detainees in US custody, noting the heaviest sentence given to perpetrators was five months' jail. This was the same punishment you could get for stealing a bicycle in the US, it said.
FAILED STATES: THE ABUSE OF POWER AND THE ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY
(Metropolitan Books, 2006).
27 April 06READ THE ARTICLE
Afterword: Failed States
This afterword gets to the heart of the main issues in the world today. Not only that, in a few pages he outlines what the US could do (if only someone was listening!) to start to make things right. This is a particularly interesting article.
Just to whet your appetite, here are some comments about Iran.
" Washington's dedicated efforts to punish Iran for overthrowing the tyranny of the Shah in 1979 might backfire. Iran does have options. Iran might give up on hopes that Europe could become independent of the US, and turn eastward. If that happens, Iran will have reasons, which have rarely been discussed in Western commentary on the confrontation over Iranian uranium enrichment programs. In a rare break from the silence, the reasons are discussed by Selig Harrison, a leading specialist on these topics. "The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union were based on a bargain that the EU, held back by the US, has failed to honour," Harrison observes:
Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment efforts temporarily pending the outcome of discussions on a permanent enrichment ban. The EU promised to put forward proposals for economic incentives and security guarantees in return for a permanent ban but subsequently refused to discuss security issues. The language of the joint declaration that launched the negotiations on November 14 2004, was unambiguous. "A mutually acceptable agreement," it said, would not only provide "objective guarantees" that Iran's nuclear programme is "exclusively for peaceful purposes" but would "equally provide firm commitments on security issues."
The phrase "security issues" is a thinly veiled reference to the threats by the US and Israel to bomb Iran, and the well-publicized preparations to carry out such an attack. The model regularly adduced is Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, which appears to have initiated Saddam's nuclear weapons programs, another demonstration that violence tends to elicit violence in reaction. Any attempt to execute similar plans against Iran could lead to immediate violence, as is surely understood in Washington. During a visit to Teheran, the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr warned that his militia would defend Iran in the case of any attack, "one of the strongest signs yet," the Washington Post reported, "that Iraq could become a battleground in any Western conflict with Iran, raising the specter of Iraqi Shiite militias -- or perhaps even the U.S.-trained Shiite-dominated military -- taking on American troops here in sympathy with Iran." The Sadrist bloc, which registered substantial gains in the December 2005 elections, may soon become the most powerful single political force in Iraq. It is consciously pursuing the model of other successful Islamist groups, such as Hamas in Palestine, combining strong resistance to military occupation with grassroots social organizing and service to the poor."
JUSTICE TOWELLED IN HICKS CASE
May 3, 2006
David Hicks has every right to be less than gracious towards his American hosts.
Mean-spirited treatment of Hicks highlights the travesty perpetrated, writes Mark Baker.
THE multinational persecution of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has reached new heights of cruelty and absurdity.
Four and a half years after his arrest in Afghanistan while fraternising with the Taliban, Hicks is back in solitary confinement — still abandoned by his own Government; still denied the British passport that might secure his freedom, despite two court rulings in his favour; still a prized white scapegoat for a Bush Administration increasingly desperate to paper over its own Middle East misadventures.
Now, the 30-year-old Adelaide man is in fresh trouble — for being an ungrateful, unco-operative and uppity guest of the United States of America.
"He can be disruptive … He's not overly co-operative with the guards. He's a bit arrogant in his demeanour with us," complains Guantanamo commandant Colonel Mike Bumgarner. "Mr Hicks is always asking for special privileges and extra items beyond that which other detainees get. It's just been his nature … He likes to have a special menu. He sees himself as different from the other detainees for some reason."
And what sparked this scolding? Hicks, it appears, has gone on a laundry strike — refusing a change of clothes and linen after being denied a clean towel. "He was upset that he wasn't issued a second towel, one beyond that which other detainees had been issued," the colonel complained to the ABC.
All this might be dismissed as some kind of sad joke if it did not open a window on the Dickensian pettiness and inhumanity of the Cuban Alcatraz where the US continues to hold hundreds of men beyond the reach of international law, beyond the reach of its own courts, beyond the pale.
David Hicks has every right to be less than gracious towards his American hosts.
Arrested by Americans in a country far from America, he was, by his and other independent accounts, systematically beaten and digitally raped while held aboard a US Navy ship.
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U.S.: Rumsfeld Potentially Liable for Torture.
Defense Secretary Allegedly Involved in Abusive Interrogation
(New York, April 14, 2006) – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could be criminally liable for the torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 and early 2003, Human Rights Watch said today.
A December 20, 2005 Army Inspector General's report, obtained by Salon.com this week, contains a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt that implicates Secretary Rumsfeld in the abuse of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani. Based on an investigation that he carried out in early 2005, which included two interviews with Rumsfeld, Gen. Schmidt describes the defense secretary as being "personally involved" in al- Qahtani's interrogation.
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Jorge Hirsch interviewed by
April 10, 2006
Foaad Khosmood: In the April 17 issue of New Yorker Magazine Seymour Hersh has an eye-opening piece that quotes Administration insiders who suggest nuclear war with Iran is a serious option. You had written back in October of 2005 that "The strategic decision by the United States to nuke Iran was probably made long ago." What led you to that conclusion at that time? What do you think of the Hersh piece?
Jorge Hirsch: Of course the Hersh piece is extremely useful in bringing this issue to the forefront of public attention. However already several months ago an analysis of the facts led me to the conviction that a deliberate decision had been made to use nuclear weapons against Iran. First, the US pursuit over several years to get an IAEA resolution against Iran, no matter how weak, which it finally achieved in September 2005.
It didn't make any sense as a diplomatic move if the goal was to exert pressure on Iran, in view of the clear dissent by Russia and China. It had two purposes: one was to bring the issue eventually to the UN Security Council, even knowing that Russia and China would veto any action against Iran, so that, just as in the case of Iraq, the US could argue that other countries share its concern but not the resolve to act. But more importantly, the US issued a commitment to the UN in 1995 that it wouldn't use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries signatories of the NPT, which however explicitly excluded countries that are in "non-compliance" with the NPT. So by securing the IAEA resolution of September 2005 of Iran's "non-compliance" the US achieved that it can now use nuclear weapons against Iran "legally", i.e. without violating its 1995 commitment. This explains why it was pushing for it so adamantly.
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· US 'intent on Iran attack'
· Bush accused of 'messianic' mission
Julian Borger in Washington and Bob Tait in Tehran
Monday April 10, 2006
The US is planning military action against Iran because George Bush is intent on regime change in Tehran - and not just as a contingency if diplomatic efforts fail to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme, it was reported yesterday.
In the New Yorker magazine, Seymour Hersh, America's best known investigative journalist, concluded that the Bush administration is even considering the use of a tactical nuclear weapon against deep Iranian bunkers, but that top generals in the Pentagon are attempting to take that option off the table.
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ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY DENOUNCES GUANTANAMO
London 6 March 2006
The Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, has called the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay an "extraordinary legal anomaly" that sets a dangerous precedent.
"I think what we've got in Guantanamo is an extraordinary legal anomaly (...) creating a new category of custody imprisonment," Archbishop Rowan Williams said today in an interview with BBC television.
"These are not people who've been found guilty," Williams said during a tour of Sudan.
Since the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, about 750 people have been held at Guantanamo Bay, a US Navy base in Cuba, but only 10 have been formally charged as terrorists. Most were captured after the US-led war that toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
"Now, precedents matter in law, nationally and internationally," Williams said.
"Any message given, that any state can just override some of the basic habeas corpus-type provisions, is going to be very welcome to tyrants elsewhere in the world, now and in the future," he said.
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UN AND EUROPE ARE RIGHT: GUANTANAMO MUST CLOSE
18 February 2006
"The United States owes it to itself to uphold its own standards, close its prison camp and grant alleged terrorists fair trials.
Gulag. The word has particularly ugly connotations. Having been first used to describe repressive prisons or forced-labour camps in the former Soviet Union, it brings to mind the worst breaches of human rights in Stalinist Russia - detention without trial, torture, executions. Until recently it was a term associated only with the least democratic of political regimes. Yet it is the word Amnesty International used in its annual report last year to describe the Guantanamo Bay prison camp at the US Naval Base in Cuba. That report accused the US of being responsible for an upsurge in global human rights violations and called for the camp to be closed. President Bush dismissed the report as absurd and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, called the label "reprehensible".
Now the United Nations, in a 54-page report produced by independent experts for the UN Human Rights Commission, has repeated the call for closure and has strongly condemned the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It points to cases of "excessive violence" during transportation of prisoners and force-feeding of hunger strikers, which it says "must be assessed as amounting to torture", and has paid particular attention to the lack of a recognised legal process. It found that the US military acted as judge, prosecutor and defence in the special trials because they regard the detainees as "enemy combatants" who were not entitled to the rights accorded by the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war at the conclusion of a war. The UN report maintains that the war on terror "does not constitute an armed conflict for the purposes of the applicability of international humanitarian law" and so US authorities must "expeditiously bring all Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial" under international law "or release them without further delay".
Adding to the pressure on the US, the European Parliament this week voted overwhelmingly for a resolution urging that the prison be closed and inmates given a fair trial, and a British High Court judge called for the repatriation of three British residents. He observed: "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations." ... AGE EDITORIAL
DOWNLOAD THE UN REPORT HERE, 317 KB
TORTURE AND THE LAWLESS “NEW PARADIGM”
December 9, 2005
(Lisa Hajjar, a professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara, is the author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza [University of California Press], and an editor of Middle East Report.)
... Documents on US torture during the war on terrorism can be accessed at www.aclu.org. See also the torture-related posts at balkin.blogspot.com and www.intel-dump.com.
The president who campaigned on a pledge to “restore honor and dignity to the White House” has now been compelled to declaim: “We abide by the law of the United States, and we do not torture.” In the closing months of 2005, President George W. Bush has been forced to repeat this undignified denial several times, most recently with the head of the World Health Organization standing beside him, because a dwindling number of people believe him.
In fact, as witnessed by the International Committee for the Red Cross and as verified by numerous US military and intelligence officers, during the ongoing “war on terror” the United States has repeatedly employed interrogation tactics that constitute torture and inhumane treatment and are proscribed by the Geneva Conventions and US law. Of the 108 deaths of prisoners in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, at least 26 were classified as homicides, including cases where people were tortured, beaten, frozen or suffocated to death. In addition, and despite Bush’s denial, the US does “render to countries that torture” -- sending captured or kidnapped detainees off to Egypt, Jordan and other countries, where they have, on several documented occasions, suffered illegal forms of abuse.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
(New York, December 1, 2005)
The United States is holding at least twenty-six persons as “ghost detainees” at undisclosed locations outside of the United States, Human Rights Watch said today, as it released a list
(available online at:
naming some of the detainees. The detainees are being held indefinitely and incommunicado, without legal rights or access to counsel.
Many of the detainees listed are suspected of involvement in serious crimes, including the September 11, 2001 attacks; the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia. One of the detainees listed was indicted in U.S. federal court for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings. None of the other detainees has been charged with any crime. Officials in the U.S. government, speaking anonymously to journalists, have suggested that some detainees have been tortured or otherwise seriously mistreated in custody.
“President Bush speaks about bringing terrorists to justice, yet not one of these suspects has actually been brought to justice,” said John Sifton, terrorism and counterterrorism researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration has severely compromised the chances of prosecuting terrorist suspects by holding them illegally, and reportedly subjecting some of them to torture and other mistreatment.”
Indefinite incommunicado detention and torture are illegal under international human rights law and the laws of war, and the mistreatment of detainees could subject U.S. officials to criminal liability.
List of “Ghost Prisoners” Possibly In CIA Custody
Background Briefing, December 1, 2005
available online at:
AMERICA PROGRAMMED FOR WAR
by Brian Bogart
September 25, 2005
... In the old days, universities solicited funds from their states (and states would provide a slice of their budgets). Today our schools increasingly beg for funds from DoD, the Department of Energy, and other firms directly connected to the industry of war. As I will explain in this essay, soliciting funds from the world's greatest war machine creates not just a partnership that contradicts the inherent purpose of enlightenment (a.k.a. higher education for a better future), but also a point of unity for those of us who see the big picture -- our 350-plus schools are 350-plus communities ready to network for change.
... So, I know a thing or two about conscience. But only after three-and-a-half years of intensive research (some 14 years after leaving the defense industry) did I come to appreciate the simple nature of the dilemma confronting a world dominated by a war-driven America, and to identify the opportunity presented today.
A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51% of our taxes go to defense and less than 5% to education, why there are 6000 military bases in the United States and some 1000 US bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support warfighting and weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sale of weapons.
NEW ACCOUNTS OF TORTURE BY U.S. TROOPS
Human Rights Watch
Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division
Report, September 25, 2005
The new report, “Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division,” provides soldiers’ accounts of abuses against detainees committed by troops of the 82nd Airborne stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury), near Fallujah.
Three U.S. army personnel—two sergeants and a captain—describe routine, severe beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In one incident, a soldier is alleged to have broken a detainee’s leg with a baseball bat. Detainees were also forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out. Soldiers also applied chemical substances to detainees’ skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold. Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water. The soldiers also described abuses they witnessed or participated in at another base in Iraq and during earlier deployments in Afghanistan.
by Robert Fisk
September 18, 2005
... takes a wander through some of the nastiest bits of the Bible and the Koran - those bits we prefer not to quote or not to think about - and finds that mass murder and ethnic cleansing get a pretty good bill of health if we take it all literally.
The Jewish "entry into the promised land" was clearly accompanied by bloody conquest and would-be genocide. The Christian tradition has absorbed this inheritance, entering its own "promised land" with a ruthlessness that extends to cruel anti-Semitism. The New Testament, Mr Shepherd points out, "contains passages that would ... be actionable under British laws against incitement to racial hatred" were they to be published fresh today.
The Muslim tradition - with its hatred of idolatry - contains, in the career of the Prophet, "scenes of bloodshed and murder which are shocking to modern religious sensibilities".
Thus, for example, Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli military doctor who massacred 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, committed his mass murder on Purim, a festival celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish communities from the Persian empire which was followed by large-scale killing "to avenge themselves on their enemies" (Esther 8:13).
The Palestinians, of course, were playing the role of the Persians, at other times that of the Amalekites ("... kill man and woman, babe and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" - 1, Samuel 15:1, 3). The original "promised land" was largely on what is now the West Bank - hence the Jewish colonisation of Palestinian land - while the coastal plain was not (although suggestions that Israel should transplant itself further east, leaving Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon to the Palestinians of the West Bank are unlikely to commend themselves to Israel’s rulers).
... The New Testament is laced with virulent anti-Semitism, accusing the Jews of killing Christ. Read Martin Luther. The Koran demanded the forced submission of conquered peoples in the name of religion (the Koran 9:29), and Mohammed’s successor, the Caliph Abu Bakr, stated specifically that "we will treat as an unbeliever whoever rejects Allah and Mohammed, and we will make holy war upon him ... for such there is only the sword and fire and indiscriminate slaughter."
READ ALL THIS ARTICLE
Taking Stock of the Forever War
By MARK DANNER
Published: September 11, 2005
... "The enemy is not a single political regime or person or religion or ideology," declared the National Security Strategy of the United States of America for 2002. "The enemy is terrorism - premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." Not Islamic terrorism or Middle Eastern terrorism or even terrorism directed against the United States: terrorism itself. "Declaring war on 'terror,"' as one military strategist later remarked to me, "is like declaring war on air power." It didn't matter; apocalypse, retribution, redemption were in the air, and the grandeur of the goal must be commensurate with the enormity of the crime. Within days of the attacks, President Bush had launched a "global war on terror."
... Today marks four years of war. Four years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. troops ruled unchallenged in Japan and Germany. During those 48 months, Americans created an unmatched machine of war and decisively defeated two great enemies. How are we to judge the global war on terror four years on? In this war, the president had warned, "Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign."
... As for the "terrorist groups of global reach," Al Qaeda, according to the president, has been severely wounded. "We've captured or killed two-thirds of their known leaders," he said last year. And yet however degraded Al Qaeda's operational capacity, nearly every other month, it seems, Osama bin Laden or one of his henchmen appears on the world's television screens to expatiate on the ideology and strategy of global jihad and to urge followers on to more audacious and more lethal efforts. This, and the sheer number and breadth of terrorist attacks, suggest strongly that Al Qaeda has now become Al Qaedaism - that under the American and allied assault, what had been a relatively small, conspiratorial organization has mutated into a worldwide political movement, with thousands of followers eager to adopt its methods and advance its aims. Call it viral Al Qaeda, carried by strongly motivated next-generation followers who download from the Internet's virtual training camp a perfectly adequate trade-craft in terror. Nearly two years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a confidential memorandum, posed the central question about the war on terror: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?" The answer is clearly no. "We have taken a ball of quicksilver," says the counterinsurgency specialist John Arquilla, "and hit it with a hammer."
Killing Live 8, Noisily:
The organizers of Live 8, the week-long, celebrity-driven musical campaign for increased aid and debt relief for poverty-stricken nations, plugged their July 6 concert in an Edinburgh stadium as "a celebration of the largest and loudest cry to make poverty history the world has ever seen." By rush hour the next morning, four coordinated bombings in the London transit system had stolen the show from the well-orchestrated international extravaganza and handed the microphone to Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Talk about a vast right-wing conspiracy: the London terrorists could not have done more to strengthen the hand of the world's richest states against dissident voices in the West and beyond if they had actually been in cahoots.
CROSSING THE PAIN BARRIER
In October 2002, the commander of the interrogation teams at Guantanamo, Lieutenant- Colonel Jerald Phifer, pleads to be allowed to inflict more suffering on the prisoners ... put prisoners in solitary for 30 days or more, hood them, interrogate them continuously for up to 20 hours, subject them to sensory deprivation, take away their Korans, strip them naked, forcibly shave them, frighten them with dogs, deceive them into thinking they or members of their family are about to be killed or savagely tortured, "expose them" to cold temperatures or cold water, grab them, poke them, push them, and use the "waterboarding" technique, which involves covering the prisoner's mouth and nose with a cloth and pouring water into it so it forces itself down his throat and makes him believe he is about to drown. Phifer's memo makes it plain that a torture school exists in the US. "Any of these techniques that require more than light grabbing, poking, or pushing will be administered only by individuals specifically trained in their safe application," he writes.
... Prisoners were hooded, threatened with rape, threatened with torture, had pistols held to their heads, made to strip naked, forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, beaten until they bled - sometimes with implements, including a broom and a chair - hung from doors by cuffed hands, deceived into thinking they were to be electrocuted, ducked in toilet buckets, forced to simulate masturbation, forced to lie naked in a pile and be photographed, urinated on, menaced and, in one case, severely bitten by dogs, sodomised with a chemical light, ridden like horses, made to wear women's underwear, raped, deprived of sleep, exposed to the midday summer sun, put in stress positions and made to lie naked, in empty concrete cells, in complete darkness, for days on end.
...While at Bagram air force base, Hussain said, he was blindfolded, tightly handcuffed, gagged, earplugged and sodomised with a stick while three soldiers held him down. "It was excruciatingly painful," said Hussain. "I have always believed that I am not a person who would scream unless I was really hurt. Only when the pain became overwhelming did I think I would ever scream. But I could not stop screaming when this happened. This torture went on for several minutes, but it felt like hours, and the pain afterwards was almost as bad as anything I experienced at the time."
Hussain said that besides the physical pain, he could not go to the toilet to this day without remembering what had happened. "The Americans never said anything about why they were doing it to me," he said. "I think maybe they wanted to make me so embarrassed that it would live with me for the rest of my life. It would dehumanise me."
Hussain has never been charged with a crime. He was kept without explanation and released without apology after more than two years. When he got out, he learnt that his eldest son had died.
By Gary Hughes
May 14, 2005
When Tony Blair's Labour Party was re-elected in Britain two weeks ago, the saga of the Iraq War begun in March 2003 seemed to be, in one sense, over.READ THE ARTICLE
All three leaders of the "Coalition of the Willing" - the United States, Australia and Great Britain - had survived politically after a war that divided citizens and challenged long established principles of international law.
The three leaders survived despite evidence - still emerging - that now seems to prove that the detailed justifications for the war were not only wrong, but in many cases known to be wrong or uncertain before the war began. This is the second battle for Iraq - the battle for the truth.
Thousands of pages of evidence, hundreds of hours of hearings, scores of witnesses and long lists of recommendations have been produced in Australia, the US and Britain as official inquiries have tried to establish who knew what and when.
The world now knows that the path to war in Iraq was paved with untruths, distortions and errors. There were no hidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the mobile biological warfare laboratories didn't exist, Iraq was not operating hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's dream of developing a nuclear bomb was just that, a dream.
Doubts over the legality of the war have deepened. The case justifying military intervention has steadily fallen apart.
As the truth has slowly emerged, the political leaders who argued that war was essential to counter the threat from WMD have shifted ground. We are now told that regime change - the need to end Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule - was justification enough.
The casualties in the battle for the truth have not been the politicians. They have been the western world's intelligence agencies, which according to official inquiries in Australia, the US and Britain, got it very wrong. They used a mishmash of outdated, exaggerated and simply false information from often doubtful sources to present a picture of an Iraq that threatened world peace. Political leaders in turn polished up and passed on that picture to the public to justify war.
The US presidential commission's report in March described the mistakes as "one of the most public - and most damaging - intelligence failures in recent American history".
The following is the best evidence to date about the Iraq war - what we were told then, and what has emerged since.
SOLDIER LIFTS LID ON CAMP DELTA
Paul Harris in New York
Sunday May 8, 2005
An American soldier has revealed shocking new details of abuse and sexual torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay in the first high-profile whistleblowing account to emerge from inside the top-secret base.
Erik Saar, an Arabic speaker who was a translator in interrogation sessions, has produced a searing first-hand account of working at Guantánamo. It will prove a damaging blow to a White House still struggling to recover from the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
In an exclusive interview, Saar told The Observer that prisoners were physically assaulted by 'snatch squads' and subjected to sexual interrogation techniques and that the Geneva Conventions were deliberately ignored by the US military.
He also said that soldiers staged fake interrogations to impress visiting administration and military officials. Saar believes that the great majority of prisoners at Guantánamo have no terrorist links and little worthwhile intelligence information has emerged from the base despite its prominent role in America's war on terror.
Saar paints a picture of a base where interrogations of often innocent prisoners have spiralled out of control, doing massive damage to America's image in the Muslim world.
Saar said events at Guantánamo were a disaster for US foreign policy. 'We are trying to promote democracy worldwide. I don't see how you can do that and run a place like Guantánamo Bay. This is now a rallying cry to the Muslim world,' he said.
READ THE ARTICLE
TORTURE IN U.S. CUSTODY
U.S.: JUSTIFYING ABUSE OF DETAINEES
2 Feb 2005
New York, January 25, 2005) The Bush administration contends that no law prevents the Central Intelligence Agency from engaging in inhumane treatment of detainees abroad, Human Rights Watch said today.
"The prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment is absolute. It should never be read to legitimize the outsourcing of abuse to U.S. interrogators overseas." Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch
In responses to U.S. Senate inquiries, White House Counsel and Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales claimed that the prohibition on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment enshrined in a treaty the United States ratified in 1994 does not apply to U.S. personnel in the treatment of non-citizens abroad. While asserting that torture by all U.S. personnel was unlawful, Gonzales indicated that no law would prohibit the CIA from engaging in cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment when it interrogates non-Americans outside the United States. The interpretation would permit the CIA to commit in secret detention facilities abroad many of the shocking forms of abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib.
The Bush administration claims it rejects torture and inhumane treatment, but it continues to seek legal loopholes to permit abuse by U.S. interrogators, said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. This latest example of legal gymnastics shows once more that abuses by U.S. interrogators are the result of policy choices made at senior levels.
READ THE ARTICLE
IT IS ESSENTIAL TO TALK TO THE "TERRORISTS"
Alastair CrookeREAD THE ARTICLE
Friday December 10, 2004
The rhetoric that we in the west are engaged in "a war on terrorism" is so embedded in our thinking that most accept the phrase without question. So people in America and Britain recoil when it is suggested that they are not facing "terrorism" in the Middle East, but something quite different: a sophisticated, asymmetrical, broad-based and irregular insurgency.
IN IRAQ, THE U.S. DOES ELIMINATE THOSE WHO DARE TO COUNT THE DEAD
THE LOGIC OF TORTURE
"I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?"
THERE WERE NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN IRAQ
Thursday October 7, 2004
Saddam Hussein destroyed his last weapons of mass destruction more than a decade ago and his capacity to build new ones had been dwindling for years by the time of the Iraq invasion, according to a comprehensive US report released yesterday. The report, the culmination of an intensive 15-month search by 1,200 inspectors from the CIA's Iraq Survey Group (ISG), concluded that Saddam had ambitions to restart at least chemical and nuclear programmes once sanctions were lifted.