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14 May 2005

a letter to a sinister foreign minister ..... 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs,
The Hon Alexander Downer, MP
Parliament House,
CANBERRA. ACT. 2600. May 14,2005.

Sir,

As you are aware, Australian citizen, Mr Mamdohh Habib travelled to Pakistan in September, 2001.

Mr Habib was detained by Pakistani authorities on October 5, 2001. He was subsequently rendered ‘extra-judiciously’ from Pakistan to Egypt, before being handed-over to US authorities & subsequently moved, again ‘extra-judiciously’, to Afghanistan & then to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

After being illegally detained, primarily by the US administration, for more than three years, Mr Habib was released & returned to Australia earlier this year.

Also as you are aware, Mr Habib has not been charged with any offence against any law of any country.

Against this background, I am concerned with public comments attributed to you on May 4, 2005 regarding Mr Habib. In particular, you are reported as saying:

“In the case of Habib, in the end the administration decided they didn’t want to use all of the information they had available to them & that was of course for security reasons. Bearing in mind they weren’t in a position to proceed with a prosecution in the military commission, we thought it appropriate that he should come back to Australia.”

In the first instance, your comments are at odds with comments made by the Attorney-General, who publicly stated that he had 'no idea' why the US administration had decided to release Mr Habib.

In the second instance, your comments clearly indicate that Mr Habib was not charged with offences by the US administration for ‘security reasons’.

Putting aside the apparent differing levels of knowledge obviously existent between you & the Attorney-General, your suggestion that the US administration chose not to prefer charges against Mr Habib for ‘security reasons’ is simply not credible.

As you would be aware, the US Military Commission, established under the President of the United States’ Military Order of November 13, 2001, is a unique legal creature. Amongst other things, the Military Commission:

· denies a defendant any right to challenge the admission of evidence, including evidence that would normally be excluded from judicial proceedings on grounds such as assertions of legal privilege; that it is hearsay or was obtained through mental or physical coercion, including torture;

· allows the appointing authority or presiding officer to close all or part of any proceedings & exclude the defendant & his defence counsel; &

· authorizes the presiding officer to issue ‘protective orders’ to safeguard ‘protected information’: with ‘protected information’ not being limited to classified information but including any information concerning intelligence & law enforcement sources, methods, activities or other security interests. In addition, ‘protected Information’, or even its existence, may be withheld from the defendant & their defence counsel.

Given the extraordinary powers of the Military Commission, which essentially allow it do anything it likes, in secret & free of any challenge or review, it would seem extraordinary that it would decide not to proceed with charges against Mr Habib, if it believed there was any basis to do so.

The alternative position is of course as you’ve suggested ie: that notwithstanding the extraordinary powers of its Military Commission, the US administration was so concerned to protect its ‘security’, that it was unwilling to launch proceedings against Mr Habib.

However, given that the US administration contends that it has the power to detain ‘unlawful combatants’ indefinitely, it made no sense for it to release Mr Habib, if it believed that he was guilty of offences & was an ongoing threat to US interests. Why not just hold him without charge, as it is doing with more than 17,000 detainees around the world?

Therefore, the only plausible explanation for the decision by the US administration to release Mr Habib is that it was convinced that he had not committed any offence & did not represent an ongoing threat to its security.

Under the circumstances, your allegations regarding Mr Habib can only be interpreted as being without foundation: made dishonestly & deceitfully, in a cowardly attempt to deflect criticism of your government for its failure to secure & protect the legal & human rights of this Australian citizen & to try & excuse the failure of your government to likewise secure & protect the legal & human rights of Mr David Hicks, the other Australian citizen still illegally detained by the US administration at Guantanamo Bay.

Of course, as is becoming increasingly clear to Australians, such behaviour is a ‘core’ trait of your government.

John Richardson.

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12 May 2005

another letter to our prime minister for life ..... 

The Prime Minister
The Hon John Howard, MP
Parliament House,
CANBERRA. ACT. 2600. May 12, 2005.


Sir.

Congratulations.

Well done.

It must be truly edifying to know that Weapons Of Mass Destruction have finally been found, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan as well.

Of course, the fact that the ‘coalition of the willing’ was responsible the deployment of those weapons is just a minor technicality, when considered in the larger scheme of things.

And, just as everyone understands that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, I’m sure all the folk talking about ‘crimes against humanity’ will eventually move on: just as they always do.

We all understand that nothing in life is free, particularly freedom & democracy.

You can see the latest reports at the following link A Dirty Tyson

I’m sure you will be keen to share this proud moment with the Australian people at the earliest opportunity.

Oh, please give my best to Veranda. Tell her not to worry too much: I’m sure the people at Job Start will be able to help.

Sincerely,

John Richardson.

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11 May 2005

the fear meme .... 

Corrupt & squalid fear merchants schemed to keep the Cold War alive for two decades, before coming-up with a new, improved scam to prey on our fears: the endless War on Terror.

Bush, Blair & Howard have enhanced their political power by deceitfully capitalizing on this new fear meme. And so our second-rate political leaders, incapable of addressing the real global challenges that confront mankind, have morphed into spiritual warriors who will just keep us safe.

Adam Curtis from BBC2 confronts us with The Power of Nightmares

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10 May 2005

America's shame, two years on from "Mission Accomplished" 

A vast quantity of evidence has now been built up on the system which the Americans have created for mistreating and torturing prisoners. I have interviewed a Palestinian who gave me compelling evidence of anal rape with wooden poles at Bagram - by Americans, not by Afghans.


by Robert Fisk

05/08/05 "The Independent" - - Two years after "Mission Accomplished", whatever moral stature the United States could claim at the end of its invasion of Iraq has long ago been squandered in the torture and abuse and deaths at Abu Ghraib. That the symbol of Saddam Hussein's brutality should have been turned by his own enemies into the symbol of their own brutality is a singularly ironic epitaph for the whole Iraq adventure. We have all been contaminated by the cruelty of the interrogators and the guards and prison commanders.

But this is not only about Abu Ghraib. There are clear and proven connections now between the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the cruelty at the Americans Bagram prison in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Curiously, General Janis Karpinski, the only senior US officer facing charges over Abu Ghraib, admitted to me a year earlier when I visited the prison that she had been at Guantanamo Bay, but that at Abu Ghraib she was not permitted to attend interrogations - which seems very odd.

A vast quantity of evidence has now been built up on the system which the Americans have created for mistreating and torturing prisoners. I have interviewed a Palestinian who gave me compelling evidence of anal rape with wooden poles at Bagram - by Americans, not by Afghans.

Many of the stories now coming out of Guantanamo - the sexual humiliation of Muslim prisoners, their shackling to seats in which they defecate and urinate, the use of pornography to make Muslim prisoners feel impure, the female interrogators who wear little clothing (or, in one case, pretended to smear menstrual blood on a prisoner's face) - are increasingly proved true. Iraqis whom I have questioned at great length over many hours, speak with candour of terrifying beatings from military and civilian interrogators, not just in Abu Ghraib but in US bases elsewhere in Iraq.

At the American camp outside Fallujah, prisoners are beaten with full plastic water bottles which break, cutting the skin. At Abu Ghraib, prison dogs have been used to frighten and to bite prisoners.

How did this culture of filth start in America's "war on terror"? The institutionalised injustice which we have witnessed across the world, the vile American "renditions" in which prisoners are freighted to countries where they can be roasted, electrified or, in Uzbekistan, cooked alive in fat? As Bob Herbert wrote in The New York Times, what seemed mind-boggling when the first pictures emerged from Abu Ghraib is now routine, typical of the abuse that has "permeated the Bush administration's operations".

Amnesty, in a chilling 200-page document in October, traced the permeation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memos into the prisoner interrogation system and the weasel-worded authorisation of torture. In August [2003], for example, only a few months after Bush spoke under the "Mission Accomplished" banner, a Pentagon report stated that "in order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign, [the US law prohibiting torture] must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander- in-Chief authority." What does that mean other than permission from Bush to torture?

A 2004 Pentagon report uses words designed to allow interrogators to use cruelty without fear of court actions: "Even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent [to be guilty of torture] even though the defendant did not act in good faith."

The man who directly institutionalised cruel sessions of interrogation in Abu Ghraib was Major-General Geoffrey Miller, the Guantanamo commander who flew to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmo-ize the confinement operation" there. There followed the increased use of painful shackling and the frequent forcible stripping of prisoners. Maj-Gen Miller's report following his visit in 2003 spoke of the need for a detention guard force at Abu Ghraib that "sets the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of the internees/detainees". According to Gen Karpinski, Maj-Gen Miller said the prisoners "are like dogs, and if you allow them to believe they're more than a dog, then you've lost control of them".

The trail of prisons that now lies across Iraq is a shameful symbol not only of our cruelty but of our failure to create the circumstances in which a new Iraq might take shape. You may hold elections and create a government, but when this military sickness is allowed to spread, the whole purpose of democracy is overturned. The "new" Iraq will learn from these interrogation centres how they should treat prisoners and, inevitably, the "new" Iraqis will take over Abu Ghraib and return it to the status it had under Saddam and the whole purpose of the invasion (or at least the official version) will be lost.

With an insurgency growing ever more vicious and uncontrollable, the emptiness of Mr Bush's silly boast is plain. The real mission, it seems, was to institutionalise the cruelty of Western armies, staining us forever with the depravity of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bagram - not to mention the secret prisons which even the Red Cross cannot visit and wherein who knows what vileness is conducted. What, I wonder, is our next "mission"?

Ten bloody days in Iraq: 338 dead, 588 wounded

Thursday 28 April

Roadside bomb leaves four American troops dead and two wounded. Two other US troops die in an accident. Five Iraqis killed in attacks.

Friday 29 April

Seventeen bombs, including four suicide attacks in almost as many minutes in Azamiyah, and 13 car bombs in Baghdad area, leave at least 50 dead, including two US servicemen, with 114 Iraqis and seven Americans wounded.

Saturday 30 April

Eleven car bombings, at least two roadside attacks and several rocket, mortar attacks and ambushes. Five car bombs in Baghdad, six more in Mosul, the worst of which, hidden in a mosque shrine, kills a woman and two children. Total of 17 Iraqis and one American dead, plus 32 wounded.

Sunday 1 May

Car bomb attack on mourners at a funeral near Mosul kills around 30, wounds more than 50. Five Iraqi police shot dead at checkpoint; four die and 12 injured in Baghdad car bomb; and one dies, two wounded in bomb at Baghdad amusement park. Other attacks leave one Iraqi dead and 24 injured. Five Americans injured in six other car bombs in Baghdad. Australian civilian taken hostage.

Monday 2 May

Three car bombs in Baghdad kill nine, suicide bombers in Mosul kill one child, injure 15. British soldier killed by roadside bomb is 83rd to die since March 2003. In the north, car bomb kills woman and injures four. Two US soldiers wounded by roadside bomb in Mosul. One US soldier dies, two injured by another roadside bomb. Two US F/A-18 Hornet planes crash, killing both pilots.

Tuesday 3 May

Two Bulgarian soldiers die in road crash. Firefight in Ramadi kills 12 insurgents, Iraqi soldier and two civilians and injures eight, including a small girl. Two US soldiers die in roadside bombings.

Wednesday 4 May

Sixty Iraqis die, 150 hurt, as suicide bomber strikes in Kurdish city of Arbil. Suicide bomber kills 15 and wounds 16, including 10 civilians, in Baghdad. One dead and two wounded in Baghdad firefight.

Thursday 5 May

Suicide bomber hits Baghdad army recruitment centre, killing 13, injuring 18. Car bomb kills four Iraqi police in Mosul and wounds five. Gunmen ambush police convoy, killing 10, wounding two. Car bomb kills one, wounds six.

Friday 6 May

Suicide bomber in car strikes at southern vegetable market, killing 31, injuring 45. Another kills eight police in Tikrit. Bodies of 12 men dressed in civilian clothes and blindfolded, found in Baghdad.

Saturday 7 May

Suicide car bomb explodes, killing 22 and injuring around 35. US soldier killed, and four more bodies found at mass grave. Two men found executed in Ramadi.

©2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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09 May 2005

a letter to our prime minister for life ..... 


The Prime Minister,
The Hon John Howard, MP
Parliament House,
CANBERRA. ACT. 2600. May 9, 2005.


Sir,


I refer to your press release of May 8, 2005 regarding the 60th anniversary of VE Day.

“As we commemorate VE Day 2005, we should join to give thanks for the relative peace of the past sixty years and recommit ourselves to the universal values of freedom and democracy.” John Howard

Your hypocritical words are as breathtaking in their reach as they are shallow in substance.

Your persistence in associating yourself & your government with the memory of fallen Australian servicemen & women is entirely self-serving & succeeds only in traducing the basis of their sacrifice & thereby demeaning their memory.

Your statement validates Samuel Johnson’s thesis that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

A sincere & worthy leader would not mark the anniversary of the world’s worst conflict with such trite & jingoistic celebratory references, but rather would soberly remind us of the lessons to be learnt from such awful events, in the profound hope that their repetition would be forever avoided.

Only an insincere & unworthy leader would eagerly seek to associate himself with noble efforts to rid the world of fascism, having deliberately precipitated his nation’s participation in an illegal war of aggression against another sovereign state.

At the end of World War II, many Nazi commanders were executed for war crimes & crimes against humanity. During those trials, many of those commanders cited the concept of ‘preventative war’ as a justification for their militaristic actions. The judges rejected this defence & ruled that a ‘war of choice’ is a ‘crime against peace’.

That explicit rejection of the doctrine of pre-emptive war was eloquently expressed by Supreme Court Justice, Robert Jackson, American Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials:

“Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions.”

As Prime Minister of Australia, you committed our country & its armed services to a war of choice against Iraq: a country that had not attacked us & represented no threat to our security.

In taking this course, you have arrogantly & irrevocably nailed Australia’s destiny to the mast of US imperialism: alienating our neighbours by explicitly embracing the illegal doctrine of pre-emptive war & thereby ruining our once proud reputation amongst free & independent nations.

World War II claimed the lives of 30 million souls.

In an effort to prevent a repeat of this catastrophe, the community of nations came together to form the United Nations.

The UN Charter, along with the Nuremberg Conventions, the Geneva Conventions & the Torture Convention, are among a host of international treaties that were conceived to govern the behaviour of civilized nation states. They uphold the sovereignty of nations & the principle that there are no superior states.

Under the UN Charter, the sole basis for legal war is ‘defensive necessity’. Only the UN Security Council is empowered to authorise war for any other reason, including 'regime change'. Any war mounted for reasons other than genuine self-defence is, by definition, a ‘war of aggression’, explicitly outlawed under international law & representing the supreme crime amongst nations: a crime against peace.

As you & your Foreign Minister must be aware, the concept of 'self-defence' is not elastic or discretionary. A war of 'self-defence' can only be waged in response to an armed attack.

In initiating its unprovoked military attack against Iraq, the 'coalition of the willing' declared itself to be above international law. In the best traditions of fascism, it manufactured a pretext in an attempt to justify its behaviour: to remove the threat of imminent attack by Iraq, using weapons of mass destruction.

Deliberate hysterical hyperbole about mushroom clouds & chemical weapons, along with a mass of fabricated & exaggerated 'intelligence', was used in a criminal conspiracy to create a climate of fear & orchestrate public support for the attack on Iraq.

Subsequent events have shown that the President of the United States & the Prime Minister of Great Britain to be liars, who conspired with others to build a false justification for the pre-emptive attack on Iraq.

And the price paid for your illegal war of aggression by the people of Iraq?

More than 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians butchered thus far by the coalition war machine: its systemic war crimes & breaches of the laws of war:

· the bombing & destruction of hospitals & mosques
· the wanton destruction of town, villages, farms & markets
· shrapnel from cluster bombs buried in the flesh of children
· babies deformed by depleted uranium
· the forced transfer of populations from their homes & towns
· military reprisals against civilians
· mass roundups & imprisonment of non-combatants
· the destruction of crops
· the positioning prisoners in lines of fire
· the shooting of unarmed prisoners
· the killing of civilians at checkpoints
· economic sanctions leading to malnutrition, starvation & death
· the sacking & destruction of museums & cultural artefacts
· the pillaging of Iraqi property
· the rewriting of domestic laws
· the murder of wounded / disabled prisoners by ‘dead checking’
· torture, rendition to proxy torture, assassinations & summary executions

These commonplace war crimes & violations of the Geneva Conventions are not the isolated acts of individual soldiers but rather they are crimes of policy & calculation.

In the annals of collective terror & reprisal, the US siege & destruction of the city of Fallujah ranks with the fascist bombing of Guernica in Spain in 1937.

Prior to its onslaught against Fallujah, US commanders drove nearly 200,000 civilians from the city, leaving them bereft of shelter, food & water. For those who remained, the siege began with an attack on the Fallujah general hospital, where doctors were prevented from treating casualties.

The New York Times reported that Fallujah is now a wasteland.

“Cars sit on the roofs of buildings. Lamp posts lie at odd angles. Fire has blackened the face of building after building. No type of building - mosques, homes or medical facility - was exempt from aerial destruction.

Five-hundred pound bombs are utterly indiscriminate in their effects. A 1,000-pound bomb obliterated the city's rail station, a transfer point for all Iraq.

Another strike turned a small hospital into rubble. Mosques were assaulted. Entire neighbourhoods were flattened. Fires raged throughout residential communities. American commanders openly declared that Fallujah needed to be ‘taught a lesson’.”

The people of Fallujah were murdered in their own homes, their own streets, their own hospitals & mosques - in their own homeland.

They were not threatening any one else's soil.

Unlike their invaders, they never possessed nuclear weapons.

Unlike the CIA, they never aided Osama Bin Laden.

They possessed no air force, no satellite systems, no anti-aircraft weapons: not even bullet-proof vests.

Fallujah had no modern means of self-defence against industrial war & foreign aerial bombardment.

The ruins of Fallujah are profound testimony of the crimes committed against peace & humanity by the coalition of the willing.

They not only remind us that our government has embraced the criminal doctrine of pre-emptive war but also the corrupt, immoral & illegal doctrine of ‘exceptionalism’.

By electing to commit Australia to this criminal enterprise, you & your government have forever stained our nation’s reputation & have sullied the memory of the millions who died to achieve peace.

You & your government have succeeded only in bringing shame on our nation.


John Richardson

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