Thursday, November 17, 2005

US: Global terror network uncovered

"Sean Baker, a US military guard, volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and pretend to be an uncooperative detainee in Guantanamo [Bay] during a training exercise in January 2003. The guards, who did not know who he was, beat and choked him to the point where he suffered permanent brain injury" -- case study from cruel. inhuman. degrades us all., a publication released by human rights group Amnesty International in August.

This is the reality of the "war on terror", which US President George Bush claimed in a speech on August 24 was being fought because "we believe in human rights, and the human dignity of every man, woman and child on this Earth". Perhaps more than any other distinguishing feature of the "war on terror", it's the willingness of the White House to rehabilitate torture as a tool of warfare that cuts across its rhetoric about defending "democracy" and "human rights".

The latest torture scandal the Bush administration has found itself embroiled in is the revelation, made in a November 2 Washington Post article, of the scope of a secret network of overseas prisons run by the CIA for the purposes of secret detentions and the torturing of prisoners captured in the "war on terror".

According to the Post's report, the secret prisons are located in eight countries, including Afghanistan, Thailand and several "democracies" (as the Post describes them) in eastern Europe. The paper declined to publish the names of the east European countries involved in the torture network at the request of "senior US officials", because doing so "might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation".

However, a November 2 London Financial Times report revealed the likely locations of the prisons to be Romania and Poland. The FT report quoted Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, as saying: "We do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorist attacks and win the war on terror in ways that is consistent with our values.

"The fact that [the alleged prisons] are secret, assuming there are such sites ... some people say the test of your principles is what you do when no-one is looking. The president has insisted that whether in public or private, the same principles will apply."

But given the horrific revelations of what goes on at US-run prisons in places like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Bagram air base in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib in Baghdad, Hadley's assurances hold little weight.

CIA torture

The November 9 New York Times revealed that a secret CIA report issued last year warned that some of the spy agency's post-9/11 interrogation procedures "might" violate "some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture".

One of the techniques known to have been employed by the CIA that the report expressed unease about is "waterboarding" -- strapping detainees to a board then pushing them under water until they believe they're about to drown. Getting Away with Torture?, an April 2004 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, accused George Tenet, CIA director from July 1997 until July 2004, of specifically authorising waterboarding.

Moreover, further contradicting Hadley's claims, in late October US Vice-President Dick Cheney and CIA director Porter Goss met with leading Republican Senator John McCain to make the case for a presidential waiver to be incorporated into a McCain-sponsored legislative amendment of a defence appropriations bill. The amendment would ban US forces from employing "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" against prisoners.

In a follow-up to the Washington Post's November 2 report on the CIA's "black sites", a November 7 Post article reported that over "the past year" Cheney "has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects".

The text of the proposed waiver would make the provisions of the McCain amendment "not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the Unites States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense". The intent is to free the CIA from any legal restrictions on torturing foreigners suspected of being terrorists.

"The Bush administration is now the only government in the world to claim a legal justification for mistreating prisoners during interrogations", HRW claimed on October 26. "While other governments practice torture and other forms of mistreatment and have records of abuse far worse than the United States, no other government currently claims that such abuse is legally permissible..."


The CIA "black sites" are just one link in the Bush administration's post-9/11 terror network. Other key pieces in Washington's torture jigsaw are the practice of "rendition" (kidnapping people and transporting them to countries with pro-US regimes such Egypt and Afghanistan for torture) and the ongoing torturing and abuse of detainees in Pentagon-run prisons.

For example, a 14-year-old boy was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, in October 2001. According to cruel. inhuman. degrades us all., he "was taken to a prison and allegedly suspended from his wrists. He says that for around three weeks he was held in this position for between 10 and 16 hours a day, always blindfolded apart from some five minutes a day when he ate.

"In late November 2001 he was transferred into US custody, and his nightmare continued. He says that he was put into blue overalls, hooded, shackled, beaten, threatened with death, and repeatedly called 'nigger', a word he had never heard before. He was then flown to the US airbase in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he says he was assaulted, kept naked, doused in freezing water, and told that his penis would be cut off with scissors."

Early in 2002 he was moved to a prison camp at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "where he says he was hung by the wrists for up to eight hours at a time, beaten, subjected to sleep deprivation, strobe lighting and extreme cold, and racially abused. In 2003 an interrogator allegedly burned his arm with a cigarette. His arm still has scars." The boy has been a prisoner for over four years, in US custody for three and half of them, and has not been charged with any crime.

The exemption from anti-torture provisions for the CIA sought by Cheney is a near-explicit admission that the agency actively employs torture.

More insidious, though, has been the legal redefinition of "prisoner of war" status -- the Bush regime has claimed that those detained by the US military in the "war on terror" are "unlawful combatants" -- and what acts by US forces legally constitute torture.

'Redefining' torture

According to Amnesty, torture techniques used by the US and its "war on terror" allies include prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory manipulation (such as exposure to bright lights and loud music), sexual and other forms of humiliation, the use of dogs, mock executions and other threats, being forced to stand motionless or in stressful positions for hours on end, beatings, exposure to extreme heat and cold, verbal abuse (particularly racial and religious), prolonged handcuffing, hooding and blinding.

Many of these techniques most likely fall outside the new, narrower definitions of torture devised by Washington since the "war on terror" began. An August 1, 2002, US Justice Department memo argued that "acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture". The memo, produced by the department's Office of Legal Counsel, further concluded that "certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intensity to fall within [US federal law's] proscription against torture."

For the infliction of "physical pain" to be considered "torture", it "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture... it must result in significant psychological harm or significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years... We conclude that the statue, taken as a whole, makes plain that it prohibits only extreme acts."
The memo was supposedly superseded by a December 2004 memo from the same office, but according to Amnesty, revised guidelines still leave plenty of scope for the torture of prisoners.

In addition to "legal" and "semi-legal" forms of torture and abuse, it is well-known that beatings, rape and other forms of sexual abuse have occurred in US-run prisons in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan -- most notoriously at Abu Ghraib and Bagram.

No-one living in countries under US military occupation, or living within the borders of Washington's despotic "anti-terror" allies like Pakistan, is safe. In May 2002, a Palestinian man, Hussain Youssouf Mustafa, was arrested in Pakistan and flown to Bagram air base. According to his account, quoted in the March-April edition of Mother Jones, while he was at Bagram three US soldiers took him from his cell and held him down while a fourth raped him with a stick.

While the Pentagon has claimed that the torture and sadistic abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US guards at Abu Ghraib were unauthorised by the White House, according to Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, these gross violations of the Geneva Conventions and US laws emanated from directives and memos issued by Cheney's office.

Wilkerson told the US National Public Radio's November 2 Morning Edition program that Powell, the then US secretary of state and a retired general, had assigned him to investigate the matter after reports emerged in the media about US troops abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It was clear to me that there was a visible audit trail from the vice-president's office through the secretary of defence down to the commanders in the field", he told NPR.

By Rohan Pearce posted 17 November 05



The Senate amendment to the new Defense [WAR] Appropriations Act would explicitly prohibit the U.S. government from subjecting those in its custody to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.

GOP Leaders to Bush: 'Your Presidency is Effectively Over'
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Former chaplain paints grim picture of Guantanamo Bay
KERRY O'BRIEN: Now to a first-hand and rather grim picture of life behind bars for the terrorism suspects [scapegoats and patsies to bolster support for the illegal and degrading resource wars in the Middle East] at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. It's an account from an officer who served there, a former Army Muslim chaplain, Captain James Yee, one of the few people to have regular contact with Australian detainee David Hicks.

News on David Hicks:
David Hicks will be tried on scapegoat-related charges before a controversial US military rendition on November 18. The 30-year-old Australian citizen, formerly of Adelaide, would be the first Guantanamo prisoner to be tried by a military 'caught' at Guantanamo Bay.

Government must ensure justice for Hicks
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is calling on the Australian Government to secure real justice for Australian citizen David Hicks. The call follows a Pentagon announcement of a resumption of military commission hearings at Guantanamo Bay.

For David Hicks
In David's eyes Australia hasn't changed much, a country hidden behind a mask of another foreign nation, freely trading independence, American values, with no real identity, with pseudo autonomy, as long as the strings are attached to another nation's apron, all crystal clear except to dim-witted Australians.

a cowardly disgrace .....
Whilst US lawyers continue their fight to secure the legal and human rights of Australian citizen, David Hicks, his government has quietly reaffirmed its decision to abandon him to his fate.

87 detainees on hunger strike at Guantanamo
A hunger strike at a US detention centre [prison] for terrorism suspects [scapegoats and patsies for resource wars in the Middle East] at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has entered its second month with 87 prisoners refusing food, a military spokesman says.

Detainees [prisoners] at the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are on hunger strike against their indefinite detention, according to human rights lawyers.

All Australians deserve a fair trial
David Hicks will not receive a fair trial in Guantanamo Bay . We must demand that Foreign Minister Alexander Downer get David Hicks back here to face an Australian court:

GetUp! Stand Up! Stand Up For Your Rights!
This government is already rattled. But our work has only just begun. This morning Senator Robert Hill announced that the Government plans to roll back the Senate budget estimates process, which plays a crucial role in exposing government bungles and cover-ups.

David Hicks justice betrayed ......
AUSTRALIA/CUBA/USA: A stated belief of the Liberal Party is: "We believe in a just & humane society in which the importance of the family and the rule of law & justice is maintained."

HICKS: Not a Happy Birthday!
AUSTRALIA/CUBA/US :David Hicks, the Australian imprisoned at the US Base of Guantanamo Bay, will be 30 years old this coming Monday August 7, 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.

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.

Pilger said White House knew Saddam was no threat
Australian investigative journalist John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie which could cost George W Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them.