Saturday, June 25, 2005

Democrats make cowardly retreat on Guantanamo torture

US: Senator Richard Durbin's sniveling apology Tuesday for his remarks on US torture at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp was entirely predictable, another of the "profiles in cowardice" that the Democratic Party serves up on a regular basis.

The pattern is all too familiar. A prominent Democrat commits the unpardonable sin of stating an unpleasant truth about crimes that are being carried out by the White House and the Pentagon in the name of the "global war on terrorism." [Resource wars in the Middle East.]

He is subjected to a torrent of denunciations from the extreme right-wing elements that control the Republican Party. Accusations of treason and "stabbing our troops in the back" are echoed and amplified by the mass media. The Republicans demand a retraction and apology, and the Democrats demonstratively distance themselves from whomever in their midst made the offending remark.

Attempts at "clarification" are followed by a public recantation and blubbering mea culpas that serve to obscure and discredit the truth of what was originally said. In the end, the impunity of the administration is only strengthened.

This familiar Washington scenario took a particularly disgusting form with the appearance of Durbin--the second-ranking Democratic senator--sobbing for forgiveness in the well of the Senate.

Durbin's apology only encouraged right-wing politicians and media pundits to excoriate the sinner more ferociously. This, in turn, enabled the media to virtually ignore a far more significant news development the following day.

The United Nations' top human rights experts issued a report stating that they had "information, based on reliable sources, of serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violation of their right to health and their due process rights" at Guantanamo, as well as at US facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The UN experts further pointed out that Washington's stonewalling for three years of their requests to inspect the facility was tantamount to an admission of guilt.

Even as the UN officials were making these well-founded charges, the Bush White House was announcing that it would not agree to any independent inquiry on Guantanamo. With Durbin having backtracked on his "reprehensible remarks," the administration acted as if its conduct at the Pentagon's Cuban concentration camp had been vindicated.

Why did Durbin feel compelled to apologize? All he had done was read aloud on the Senate floor a declassified FBI memo detailing the treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. The document said that detainees were left for 24 hours "chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water," with the result that "they urinated or defecated on themselves."

The memo further described a prisoner left overnight in an "unbearably hot," unventilated room. "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night," the FBI reported.

Durbin then commented: "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings."

He immediately came under fire from the right for comparing "our troops" to the Nazis, and was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for "inappropriate and insensitive" use of "Holocaust imagery"--a charge the organization never seems to make when Israeli leaders compare Palestinians and other Arabs to Nazis.

Durbin began his expiation last week by saying he had "learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood," and declaring, "Our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support."

These mealy-mouthed words only fueled the attacks, so on Tuesday he went further, declaring through his tears that he was "sorry if anything I said in any way casts a negative light on our fine men and women in the military" and extending his "heartfelt apologies" to those who "may believe that my remarks crossed the line."

What better analogy to the torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere than the methods employed by the Gestapo? If the Republican right wanted to object, Durbin and the Democrats could have thrown their denunciations back in their faces with one simple demand:

Release the hundreds of photographs and videotapes from Abu Ghraib that have been shown to members of the Senate but remain classified. Let the American people see and hear men being tortured, children being sodomized and women being raped by their US guards and interrogators, and then decide for themselves whether these methods are consistent with a democracy or a fascist dictatorship.

As for the impermissibility of using the "n" word, the Republicans and their right-wing base do so regularly. Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum just last month compared the Democrats' defense of the filibuster to the Nazi regime. "Right-to-life" fanatics regularly equate abortion with the Holocaust, and the Republican right has habitually compared federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to the Gestapo. Similar terminology has been used to incite violence against judges.

Durbin's inability to answer his attackers in kind recalls the old political adage, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." But the ease with which the Republican right and sections of the media reduced the Senate's Democratic whip to a sniveling wimp is not merely a matter of personal character traits.

Rather, this episode reveals a great deal about the Democratic Party itself, as well as the type of personnel it attracts and molds. While they have long masqueraded as the "party of the people," the Democrats, in fact, rest upon an exceedingly narrow social base, composed primarily of sections of the financial elite and the most comfortable strata of the upper-middle class.

To the extent that leading Democrats choose to oppose the administration, they invariably articulate the concerns of factions within a ruling establishment that is divided over how best to advance the interests of American capitalism.

Thus, the torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is seen not as a moral abomination and an assault on democratic rights, but rather as a blemish on "the image of America around the world." Similarly, Democratic criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq is aimed not at bringing the US intervention to a halt, but at stemming the growing tide of opposition to the war among the American people. The principal Democratic concern is that US strategic goals in the region--principally, control of its oil reserves--are met.

To this end, the Democrats advocate a "saner," less "ideological" foreign policy, and express the fear within more conscious sections of the ruling elite that the Bush administration's approach risks provoking mass popular opposition, both at home and abroad.

Proceeding from this point of departure, the Democrats' opposition is invariably couched in political evasion and moral duplicity, with the party's leadership prepared at the drop of a hat to either capitulate or accept a rotten compromise.

The only time the Democratic leadership shows any backbone is when it can stand together with its Republican counterparts in attacking the working class, promoting the interests of the corporations, and supporting foreign aggression. Whenever it strays from these positions and is called to order by the Republicans, it exhibits abject cowardice.

Such a party attracts a definite caliber of leadership. These are men and women who work not off of political ideals or even insight, but rather are driven by careerist ambition and opportunist fear. They have not been tested or steeled in any significant social struggles or political crises.

Durbin is a typical example, a man who spent his entire life working his way up the ladder of the political machine, serving as legal counsel to state politicians before his elevation first to the House and then the Senate.

What also emerges so clearly from the Durbin episode is the enormous weight exerted by an increasingly uncontrolled military over American political life. Shortly before the Democratic senator rendered his apology, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a Texas Republican, denounced him for carrying out "a premeditated and monstrous attack against America's military."

There is immense sensitivity within the Democratic Party to such a charge. With its half-a-trillion-dollar budget, its extensive relations with corporate America, and its deployment across the face of the globe, the military has emerged as an extraordinarily powerful independent force.

The Democrats seek not to curb this dangerous growth of militarism, but rather to compete with the Republicans in promoting it. Thus, their principal fire against the administration over Iraq has been directed not at ending the war, but rather at increasing the number of troops and providing them with better arms and equipment.

Anyone looking to such an organization to either stop the war or defend the interests of the working people who make up the vast majority of the population understands nothing about social relations and political realities in the United States.

By Bill Van Auken posted 25 June 05


Over 17,000 people including minors are now imprisoned by the US as a result of the 'War on Terror'. More than 540 men and minors, including David Hicks remmain imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Hicks 'should be an Australian'
Australian David Hicks should have already been returned to Australia instead of being exploited by the US and Australian authorities.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group & the Justice for Hicks & Habib Campaign welcome the statement by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan, condemning the US Administration for condoning torture and the suppression of 'human rights' in their 'war on terror'.

UN Dialogue among Civilizations
This roundtable is a contribution to the UN Dialogue among Civilizations project that began in September 2000. At the first round table debate on Dialogue among Civilizations, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN stated that, cultural diversity - in his opinion - is not only the basis for the Dialogue among Civilizations, but also the reality that makes dialogue necessary, since the perception of diversity as a threat is the very seed of war. [The role of religion in creating a culture of peace and moving on from a culture of fear.]

Torture not acceptable on anyone: Community!
Australia: A former chairman of the National Crime Authority has spoken out in favour of torture for John HoWARd and the Neo-Cons no doubt, saying it should be used against terrorists and in domestic criminal situations but not against QC's?

Torture can never be justified
I am forwarding the following statement issued by AMCRAN in regards to a paper: "Not Enough (Official) Torture in the World? The Circumstances in which Torture is Morally Justifiable" written by Professor Mirko Bagaric, Head of Deakin Law School & Julie Clarke, Lecturer, Deakin Law School, in which they justify torture.

Torture okay: propaganda paper
Mean in Black John HoWARd and Pastor Peter Costello with Professor Mirko Bagaric, and fellow Deakin lecturer Julie Clarke, torture okay for them. Question?

Association for the Prevention of Torture
What needs to be done now? All States Parties to the UN Convention against Torture should seriously consider ratifying the OPCAT as soon as possible. National Institutions and others promoting the human rights of people deprived of their liberty need to be informed of their potential role as national preventive mechanisms under the OPCAT.

CIA defends terror suspect transfers?
Suspected terrorists [scapegoats for the Coalition of the Killings's resource wars in the Middle East] in US custody have been transferred to third countries for the past 20 years, CIA director Porter Goss told the US Senate armed services committee.

Pentagon chiefs cleared over prisoner abuse?
US: The Pentagon has cleared itself of any high-level responsibility for the abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay because it was the guard dogs that initiated the torture all along.

It seems the United States of America (The World Watchdog) is dictating and practising double-standards --- a unique law for America and another set of laws for all other countries.

Guantanamo challenge puts off Hicks trial
Australian [scapegoat] suspect David Hicks's 'military trial'?, has been further delayed due to the postponement of a separate legal challenge to the US's legal process for Guantanamo Bay detainees?

Guantanamo guards blinded prisoner: lawyer
UK/CUBA: British permanent resident detained at the US camp for terrorism suspects [scapegoats] in Guantanamo Bay was blinded in one eye following an assault by guards, his lawyer says.

Amnesty slams Govt position on US trial system
Amnesty International has described as "absurd", the Federal Government's continued support for the United States military commission that will try Australian detainee [scapegoat] David Hicks on terrorism allegations.

US judge orders CIA release Guantanamo records
A US federal judge has ordered the CIA to release records regarding the treatment of prisoners detained in Guantanamo Bay and other facilities in the "war on terror" to a civil rights groups.

Hicks lawyer welcomes Guantanamo ruling
Stephen Kenny, the lawyer representing the family of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, has welcomed a US court ruling that military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are unconstitutional.

Australia: a presumption of guilt......
KAREN PERCY: Two of Australia's leading barristers have seized on the return of Guantanamo Bay detainee, Mamdouh Habib, to launch an unprecedented attack on the Federal Attorney General, Philip Ruddock.

Aust Community criticises Govt for 'crimes'!
Australia: The Law Council of Australia is warning that the Federal Government must learn from its mistakes over Guantanamo Bay? Now that's a mistake!

Australian Govt Guilty of Crimes: Community
Australia: The community says federal fascists who allowed the torture of its citizenry including Mamdouh Habib may be arrested when the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal address the War Crimes Indictment set out by the community.

US judge dismisses? Guantanamo legal challenge
A US federal judge has dismissed the cases of seven Guantanamo Bay prisoners who sought to challenge the lawfulness of their continued detention?

US 'landlord' slams! Guantanamo 'law violations'
Cuba has demanded that the United States cease its "criminal conduct" in abusing prisoners held at the base it illegally occupies on Cuba's south-eastern tip, saying procedures at Guantanamo violate international law.

Concern over ramifications of Hicks FOI failure
There are claims that a decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal will give some countries the opportunity to refuse diplomatic aid to detained Australians.

FBI emails reveal Guantanamo abuse
In memos over a two year period FBI agents said they witnessed the use of torture techniques, which included the use of dogs, prisoners being shackled to the floor in foetal positions for up to 24 hours, left without food and water, left to defecate upon themselves.

Hicks alleges Guantanamo abuse: report
Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks has reportedly claimed that prisoners at the US run prison camp have been beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed, terrorised by attack dogs, and forced to take drugs.

US lawyer wants inquiry into Hicks trial process
The lawyer defending Australian terror suspect [scapegoat for resource wars] David Hicks has called for an inquiry into whether the military commission hearing the case meets legal standards.

Australia Sells Its Citizens Short
Australian citizens, Mamdouth Habib and David Hicks have been illegally incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay facility established by the US military as part of the War on Terror.

Downer won't press US for 'torture' report?
The Australian Government says it has tried and failed so far to get a copy of a report by the International Red Cross which claims psychological and physical coercion of detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba?

UK minister criticises US over Guantanamo!
UK: Washington's policy on the legal status of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba is unacceptable, a senior British minister said.

FBI emails reveal Guantanamo abuse
In memos over a two year period FBI agents said they witnessed the use of torture techniques, which included the use of dogs, prisoners being shackled to the floor in foetal positions for up to 24 hours, left without food and water, left to defecate upon themselves.

Lawyers hail 'unlawful' ruling in Guantanamo trial
Human rights groups and lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have welcomed a US federal judge's ruling which halted as unlawful the military tribunal trial of a Guantanamo prisoner accused of being Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and driver.

Hicks's lawyers seek panel decision
Lawyers for Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks will make another attempt to dismiss charges against their client in a series of motions hearings starting in Cuba today.

Torture, the British way
Great to be British, isn't it? Time was, we were really uptight, but now we can talk about anything - sex, religion, politics. No matter how personal and complex the subject, we'll discuss it with Richard and Judy, or slap our private Polaroids of it on our websites. Which leaves me puzzled about our silence, even shyness, over this whole torture thing.

US secretly moved prisoners out of Iraq for questioning: report
The CIA has secretly transferred detainees out of Iraq for interrogation after asking the US Justice Department to write a memo justifying the practice, which violates the Geneva Conventions.

Pentagon dumps Guantanamo tribunal officers
The Pentagon has dumped three members of a military tribunal that will hear the trials of Guantanamo prisoners, including Australian David Hicks, but kept the presiding officer despite challenges to his impartiality.

Guantanamo detainees win right for private meetings
In a defeat for the US Government, a federal judge has ruled that three prisoners held at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba can meet with their attorneys in private. In a defeat.

Lawyers complain about Guantanamo trials
US: Lawyers for 63 detainees at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have complained before a US federal court at the slow pace their cases are being handled by authorities.

Judge orders US to release Guantanamo records
The United States Government must release documents within 30 days relating to the treatment of prisoners held at American overseas detention centres, including Guantanamo Bay and Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, a US federal judge ordered.

Bush team 'knew of abuse' at Guantanamo
Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantanamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation.

Hicks, Habib denied a fair go: Amnesty
The secretary-general of Amnesty International has criticised the Federal Government's treatment of the two Australians detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Govt's Hicks concerns an 'election stunt', says Brown
Greens Senator Bob Brown has accused the Federal Government of an election stunt with its questions to the United States authorities about the trial of "Australian Citizen" David Hicks.

Abu Ghraib inquiry slams Aust Government
A US inquiry into the Iraqi prison abuse scandal has been highly critical of Australian, Major George O'Kane, for glossing over early warnings about the treatment of detainees.

Australian Federal Government complicity in war crimes
Complaint to Australian law officers about Australian Federal Government complicity in war crimes.

Hicks family arrives at Kangaroo Caught
Terry Hicks says he feels very emotional about seeing his son for the first time in five years.

Hicks defence team likely to gain more time
The head of the military trials planned for two Australians held at Guantanamo Bay says he believes their defence teams will be given whatever additional time they need to prepare for trial.

Hicks, Habib denied natural justice: Liberal MP
A federal Liberal MP has accused the Government of not doing enough to secure a fair trial for Guantanamo Bay detainees, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

Guantanamo abuse claims prompt new inquiry calls
New claims of abuse at Guantanamo Bay Cuba have prompted fresh calls for an Australian inquiry into the treatment of detainees David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib.

Hicks movie to premiere in Adelaide
A movie about Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, President versus David Hicks, by award winning filmmaker Curtis Levy will be screened in Adelaide tomorrow.

There is no justification for torture
In the weeks since the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison were revealed, evidence continues to seep out of similar mistreatment of prisoners in other US military detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo prisoners may be moved to US soil
The US authorities may move hundreds of prisoners from their controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba to the United States following new Supreme Court rulings, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

Pentagon names tribunal for Hicks trial
The Pentagon has named the officers who will decide the fate of David Hicks and two other Guantanamo prisoners charged by the United States in the first US military tribunals since World War II.

US terror suspects can challenge detention
The US Supreme Court has ruled that US courts have jurisdiction to hear appeals from foreign detainees held as enemy combatants in the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hicks lawyer praises Guantanamo decision
The lawyer for an Australian man detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has welcomed a US Supreme Court ruling permitting judicial appeals from foreign detainees held as enemy combatants.

Hicks and Habib in the Melting Pot
Australia: The United States has brought three criminal charges against Australian David Hicks, accusing him of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, the Pentagon has said.

Rumsfeld had approved abuse
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorised hoods, the stripping of prisoners and the use of dogs to terrify inmates at Guantanamo Bay almost two years ago, documents released yesterday revealed.

How much is that doggy in the prison? Woof woof!
Did the Iraqi prisoner's get their rations while they were treated like chums?

Failure to condemn prison abuse risks lives: Kenny
The Prime Minister is morally bankrupt stay "alert and alarmed"

Prisoner's identity concealed to prevent Red Cross access
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, acting at the request of the CIA, ordered that a suspected Iraqi insurgent leader be detained off the books to conceal his identity from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Pentagon has confirmed.

US has secret prisons: rights group
The United States is holding terrorism suspects in more than two dozen detention centres worldwide, about half of which operate in total secrecy, according to a new human rights report.

This won't hurt much
For some time now, I've been trying to find out where my son goes after choir practice. He simply refuses to tell me. He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.