Category "Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror') "

Olbermann On Prosecuting Bush For The Crimes of Torture

February 1st, 2009 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror') , Video

Keith Olbermann not ‘beating around the bush’ so to speak. If a crime has been committed, than should the perpetrators do the time? And have these crimes really been committed? Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority of the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay seems to think so. So much for the Republicans and their frequent bloviating about law & order.

As Judge Robert Jackson, the American judge presiding over the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal stated…

“While the United States is not first in rancor, it is not second in determination that the forces of law and order be made equal to the task of dealing with such international lawlessness…While this law is first applied against German aggressors, if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment. We are able to do away with domestic tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of their own people only when we make *all men* (sic) answerable to the law.”

The video includes some interesting comments about the meaning of ‘compromise’ as well, and just what that means and what are we compromising with and why.

Watch The Video

The Real Bush Legacy and If The “Global War On Terror” Were Really Gone

January 20th, 2008 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Tom Engelhardt, whose essays are always pretty much spot on, does a good job here in detailing what the real, tragic legacy of the Bush administration is going to be, and why the current crop of American political leaders don’t promise any real remedy to it. Sad, but unfortunately true, especially as the fallacy of the so-called “Global War On Terror” (or should that be “Global War of Terror”?) has managed to turn the world into a free-fire zone, bankrupted the country and exposed us as potentially a nation of cowards.

Ask yourself this: If the Global War on Terror were over, what would be left? What would we be rid of? What would be changed? Would oil be, say, $60 a barrel, or even $20 a barrel? Would Russia return to being an impoverished nearly Third World country, as it was before 2001, rather than a rising energy superpower? Would the Iraq War be over? Would the Arctic Sea re-ice? Would Afghans welcome our occupation with open arms and accept our permanent bases and jails on their territory? Would all those dollars in Chinese and Middle Eastern hands return to the U.S. treasury? Would Latin America once again be the “backyard” of the United States? Would we suddenly be hailed around the world for our “victory” and feared once again as the “sole superpower,” the planetary “hyperpower”? Would we no longer be in, or near, recession? Would hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs begin flowing back into the country? Would the housing market bounce back? Would unemployment drop?

The answer to all of the above, of course, is resoundingly and repeatedly “no.” Essential power relations in the world turn out to have next to nothing to do with the war on terror (which may someday be seen as the last great ideological gasp of American globalism). In this sense, terrorism, no matter how frightening, is an ephemeral phenomenon. The fact is, non-state groups wielding terror as their weapon of choice can cause terrible pain, harm, and localized mayhem, but they simply don’t take down societies like ours. The IRA did not take down England despite years of devastating terror bombings in central London; nor did al-Qaeda take down Spain, even with a devastating bombing of trains entering a Madrid railway station. And neither the British, nor the Spanish acted as though that might happen.

The Global War on Terror’s greatest achievement — for American rulers and ruled alike — may simply have been to block out the world as it was, to block out, that is, reality. When it came to al-Qaeda’s ability to cause death in the United States, any American faced more danger simply getting into a car and hitting an American highway, taking up smoking, or possibly even (these days) going to an American suburban high school.

————

Imagining how a new president and a new administration might begin to make their way out of this mindset, out of a preoccupation guaranteed to solve no problems and exacerbate many, is almost as hard as imagining a world without al-Qaeda. After all, this particular obsession has been built into our institutions, from Guantanamo to the Department of Homeland Security. It’s had the time to sink its roots into fertile soil; it now has its own industries, lobbying groups, profit centers. Unbuilding it will be a formidable task indeed. Here, then — a year early — is a Bush legacy that no new president is likely to reverse soon.

Ask yourself honestly: Can you imagine a future America without a Department of Homeland Security? Can you imagine a new administration ending the global lockdown that has become synonymous with Americanism?

The Bush administration will go, but the job it’s done on us won’t. That is the sad truth of our presidential campaign moment.

Welcome to the decaying twilight era of American empire.

Read this excellent and highly recommended overview in full Here

Taxi To The Dark Side

January 19th, 2008 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

From the man behind “Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room” and “No End In Sight”, comes this A highly-recommended new film which takes us on the long, bumpy ride to systematic brutality.

A year from now, the presidency of George W. Bush will end, but the consequences of Mr. Bush’s policies and the arguments about them are likely to be with us for a long time. As next Jan. 20 draws near, there is an evident temptation, among many journalists as well as politicians seeking to replace Mr. Bush, to close the book and move ahead, an impulse that makes the existence of documentaries like Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side” all the more vital. If recent American history is ever going to be discussed with the necessary clarity and ethical rigor, this film will be essential….

The germ of this documentary’s story is the case of Dilawar, a taxi driver who was detained in Afghanistan in 2002 and who died in American custody at the prison in Bagram a few months later. Though Dilawar was never charged with any crime — and was never shown to have any connection with Al Qaeda or the Taliban — he was subjected to horrifically harsh treatment: deprived of sleep; suspended from a grated ceiling by his wrists; kicked and kneed in the legs until he could no longer stand.

The film includes remarkably frank interviews with American servicemen, some of whom faced courts-martial in connection with Dilawar’s death; with a fellow prisoner at Bagram; and with Carlotta Gall and Tim Golden, who reported on Dilawar’s story for The New York Times. “Taxi to the Dark Side,” however, does not simply recount a single, awful anecdote from the early days of the war on terror; rather, it traces the spread of a central, controversial tactic in that war. The burden of Mr. Gibney’s argument, laid out soberly and in daunting detail, is that what happened to Dilawar was not anomalous, but rather represented an early instance of what would soon be a widespread policy.

Read more on it Here from The New York Times

Ronald Reagan’s Bloody “Apocalypto” - America’s History of Terrorism In Latin America

January 28th, 2007 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Robert Parry with another lesson in American history which seems to go shamefully unacknowledged by most citizens of this country. Here are just a few of the money shot statements from this comprehensive piece….

On Oct. 23, 1967, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research noted the “accumulating evidence that the [Guatemalan] counter-insurgency machine is out of control.” The report said Guatemalan “counter-terror” units were carrying out abductions, bombings, torture and summary executions “of real and alleged communists.”

The mounting death toll in Guatemala disturbed some of the American officials assigned to the country. One official, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission Viron Vaky, expressed his concerns in a remarkably candid report that he submitted on March 29, 1968, after returning to Washington.

Vaky framed his arguments in pragmatic, rather than moral, terms, but his personal anguish broke through.

“The official squads are guilty of atrocities. Interrogations are brutal, torture is used and bodies are mutilated,” Vaky wrote. “In the minds of many in Latin America, and, tragically, especially in the sensitive, articulate youth, we are believed to have condoned these tactics, if not actually encouraged them.

———————

“This is not only because we have concluded we cannot do anything about it, for we never really tried. Rather we suspected that maybe it is a good tactic, and that as long as Communists are being killed it is alright. Murder, torture and mutilation are alright if our side is doing it

“Have our values been so twisted by our adversary concept of politics in the hemisphere? Is it conceivable that we are so obsessed with insurgency that we are prepared to rationalize murder as an acceptable counter-insurgency weapon? Is it possible that a nation which so revers the principle of due process of law has so easily acquiesced in this sort of terror tactic?”

Though kept secret from the American public for three decades, the Vaky memo obliterated any claim that Washington simply didn’t know the reality in Guatemala. Still, with Vaky’s memo squirreled away in State Department files, the killing went on. The repression was noted almost routinely in reports from the field.

———————

In the late 1970s, when Carter’s human rights coordinator, Patricia Derian, criticized the Argentine military for its “dirty war” - which included tens of thousands of “disappearances,” tortures and murders - then-political commentator Reagan joshed that she should “walk a mile in the moccasins” of the Argentine generals before criticizing them. [For details, see Martin Edwin Andersen’s Dossier Secreto.]

After his election in 1980, Reagan pushed to overturn an arms embargo imposed on Guatemala by Carter because of its ghastly human rights record. Yet even as Reagan was moving to loosen up the military aid ban, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies were confirming new Guatemalan government massacres.

So who are the ‘terrorists’ again, and what exactly defines what actions qualify as it? This wasn’t America supporting wars for ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy.’ This is American foreign policy serving as the tool of international oligarchic plutocracy. Or as what two-time Medal of Honor recipient and Commandant of the United State Marine Corps Gen. Smedley Butler called himself and his cohorts - “gangsters for capitalism”

Read Robert Parry’s Historical Report Here

The Sovietization of America

November 5th, 2006 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Eric Margolis at the Toronto Sun touches on a topic we at USTV have been pointing out for some time now, and that is the increasingly disturbing transformation of our nation into the U.S.S.A.

This week’s tentative agreement between Bush and Congress may somewhat limit torture, but exempts U.S. officials from having to observe the Geneva Convention.

Canadians had a shocking view of similar creeping totalitarianism as the full horror of Maher Arar’s persecution was revealed. Thanks to false information from the RCMP, the U.S. arrested a Canadian citizen and sent him to Syria. Arab states and Pakistan were being used by the Bush administration for outsourced torture. Syria denies the charges.

Suspects were kidnapped by the U.S., often on the basis of faulty information or lies, then sent to Arab states to be tortured until they confessed. The apparent objective of this “rendition” program? To find a few kernels of useful information. The Cheka and East Germany’s Stasi used the same practice.

I never thought I’d see the United States — champion of human rights and rule of law — legislating torture and Soviet-style kangaroo tribunals. I never thought I’d see Congress and a majority of Americans supporting such police state measures. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln must be turning in their graves.

Is there any wonder as to why we refer to them as “Busheviks”?

Read The Full Article Here

The Terrorist In The Mirror

September 11th, 2006 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Noam Chomsky brings some important facts and analysis to direct light with this piece in Counterpunch.

“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. Here are a few simple ones:

(1) Facts matter, even if we do not like them.

(2) Elementary moral principles matter, even if they have consequences that we would prefer not to face.

(3) Relative clarity matters. It is pointless to seek a truly precise definition of “terror,” or of any other concept outside of the hard sciences and mathematics, often even there. But we should seek enough clarity at least to distinguish terror from two notions that lie uneasily at its borders: aggression and legitimate resistance.

If we accept these guidelines, there are quite constructive ways to deal with the problems of terrorism, which are quite severe. It’s commonly claimed that critics of ongoing policies do not present solutions. Check the record, and I think you will find that there is an accurate translation for that charge: “They present solutions, but I don’t like them.”

Suppose, then, that we accept these simple guidelines. Let’s turn to the “War on Terror.” Since facts matter, it matters that the War was not declared by George W. Bush on 9/11, but by the Reagan administration 20 years earlier.

They came into office declaring that their foreign policy would confront what the President called “the evil scourge of terrorism,” a plague spread by “depraved opponents of civilization itself” in “a return to barbarism in the modern age” (Secretary of State George Shultz). The campaign was directed to a particularly virulent form of the plague: state-directed international terrorism. The main focus was Central America and the Middle East, but it reached to southern Africa and Southeast Asia and beyond.

A second fact is that the war was declared and implemented by pretty much the same people who are conducting the re-declared war on terrorism.

Read The Full Article

The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy

September 4th, 2006 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

More and more are finally speaking up in regards to the obvious. These voices and this perspective have been around since the beginning of the neo-cons declaration of the so-called ‘War On Terror’ (war ‘of’ terror might be a more fitting term), but it has only more recently been getting any currency in the domestic press.

For the past five years, Americans have been regularly regaled with dire predictions of another major al Qaeda attack in the United States. In 2003, a group of 200 senior government officials and business executives, many of them specialists in security and terrorism, pronounced it likely that a terrorist strike more devastating than 9/11 — possibly involving weapons of mass destruction — would occur before the end of 2004. In May 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft warned that al Qaeda could “hit hard” in the next few months and said that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on U.S. soil were complete. That fall, Newsweek reported that it was “practically an article of faith among counterterrorism officials” that al Qaeda would strike in the run-up to the November 2004 election. When that “October surprise” failed to materialize, the focus shifted: a taped encyclical from Osama bin Laden, it was said, demonstrated that he was too weak to attack before the election but was marshalling his resourcs to do so months after it.

On the first page of its founding manifesto, the massively funded Department of Homeland Security intones, “Today’s terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon.”

But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited?

One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in the United States and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. But this explanation is rarely offered.

The perpetual police ’security’ state in pursuit of Emmanuel Goldstein.

Read The Full Article

For more on this, I recommend the excellent BBC series “The Power of Nightmares”, which has worldwide distribution, but except for a handful of public access outlets, almost zero exposure in the United States. You can actually watch it on line Here

On Torture and Being ‘Good Americans’

August 29th, 2006 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Fred Branfman writes

As a teenager, I could not understand how the German people could claim to be “good Germans,” unaware of what the Nazis had done in their names. I could understand if these ordinary German people had said they had known and been horrified, but were afraid to speak up. But they would then be “weak or fearful or indifferent Germans,” not “good Germans.” The idea that only the Nazis were responsible for the Holocaust made no sense. Whatever the Germans as a whole know about the concentration camps, they certainly knew about the systematic mistreatment of Jews that had occurred before their very eyes, and from which so many had profited. And if they were not really “good Germans,” what should or could they have done, given the reality of Nazi tyranny?

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Every generation or so an evil arises which is so monstrous, so degrading to the human spirit, so morally bankrupt that even to debate it is a sign of moral corruption. Today, torture, a practice far more degrading to us than to our victims, represents such an evil. The real question for us, however, is what this says not about President Bush and our other leaders, but about ourselves. What are we, as citizens, as human beings, willing to live with? Are we willing to live with a president, vice-president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, and attorney-general who either engage in or rationalize torture in our names, even as they shamelessly deny they are doing so?

For most of my own life, from my earliest days, I have been somewhat fixated on the question of how societies could live with such duplicity and complicity with such barbarous crimes against humanity. Whether it be under the guise of fascism, or the even more historically murderous regimes of totalitarian Communism. I would judge these societies, and their complicit citizens harshly. I did so from my own safe vantage point of privilege living in the unspoken empire of the USA. I, as all thinking and conscious citizens must acknowledge, must now confront the banality of such complicity to evil that is festering in my own beloved country. Fred Branfman challenges his fellow countrymen and women with this essay, which pulls no punches and places the responsibility for the growing atrocities being committed in America’s name squarely at the feet of the so-called ‘conservative movement’ where it belongs.

It is not only disturbingly to the point, but contains personal anecdotes which are rather moving as well.

Read The Complete Essay

New False Flag Terrorist Attack Imminent?

August 22nd, 2006 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

He was eerily dead on before, and now Alex Jones is raising the alarm to fever pitch. ‘Code Red’ I guess you could say, on the “Terror Alert” index.

Hear Alex Jones’ message

He strongly asserts that a terrorist attack is on its way. The question is, however, who are the actual terrorists perpetrating it / them and how do we stop it?

I believe there is real legitimacy to these warnings. Anyone else out there willing to venture a perspective on this?

For more on this and related issues, visit www.infowars.com

The Grand Deception: A Second Look At The War On Terrorism

This guy was on it from the get go. G. Edward Griffin details tyranny’s need for ‘terrorism’.

And this from shortly after the attacks of September 11th. This really is a must read when it comes to the full dynamics at work with how societies react to violent attack, and who stands to benefit from those reactions.

In 1982 I produced a video documentary entitled No Place to Hide; The Strategy and Tactics of Terrorism. Immediately after Tuesday’s attack, I began to get inquiries about the program. Friends who possessed copies ran them on public-access cable. Suddenly, the video, which had remained almost forgotten in the back pages of our catalogue, became a best seller. There is good reason for that. When I did the research for this topic, I discovered that terrorism involves a lot more than just blowing things up and killing people. There is a well-defined strategy behind it that has to do with the anticipated reaction of the target government and its citizens. Terrorists themselves phrase it this way: The action is in the reaction. They know that, after repeated attacks, people will become angry with their leaders for not preventing terrorism. This sets citizens against their own government. They also know that terrorist attacks will cause people to curtail travel, business ventures, and the purchase of luxuries, all of which will depress the economy. In our modern age, many people have come to think that the health of the economy is government’s responsibility. So, any decline in the market, loss of jobs or purchasing power will also be blamed on the government, making it even more unpopular. The most important reaction, however, is that terrorism causes the target government to respond with police state measures against its own citizens.

Read The Full Article Here

By the way, has anyone seen photos or videos of the plane crashing into the Pentagon on September 11th? And why did WTC building 7, a 47-story steel structure, collapse all on its own hours after the attacks that morning, even though it was not even hit by anything on that day? If anyone has any answers, please feel free to post them in the comments section below.

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