26 November 2005
It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar.
No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving.
It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.’
The End of American Thanksgivings
The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this. In the United States, several senior broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and exposed the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, instead of amplifying and justifying them, the invasion might not have happened.
Such honesty has yet to cross the Atlantic. Since it was founded in 1922, the BBC has served to protect every British establishment during war and civil unrest. "We" never traduce and never commit great crimes. So the omission of shocking events in Iraq - the destruction of cities, the slaughter of innocent people and the farce of a puppet government - is routinely applied.
A study by the Cardiff School of Journalism found that 90 per cent of the BBC's references to Saddam Hussein's WMDs suggested he possessed them and that "spin from the British and US governments was successful in framing the coverage."
The same "spin" has ensured, until now, that the use of banned weapons by the Americans and British in Iraq has been suppressed as news.’
The News Revolution Has Begun
The most critical question has been whether American democracy, severely eroded but still breathing, would bring down the Republican machine, or whether the Republican machine - call it the budding one-party global empire - would bring down American democracy.
This week, it looks as if democracy, after years of decline, has gained the upper hand.’
The Fall of the One-Party Empire
25 November 2005
“Freedom isn’t free!”
So we are reminded by the ubiquitous yellow ribbon stickers on gas-guzzling SUVs.
An online poll asks if the war in Iraq has been worth the loss of American lives, and the only options for response are:
1 A future of freedom and peace is worth fighting for;
2 It’s too high of a price to pay; and
3 Yes, but it’s time for the troops to come home.
A newspaper story reports a mother’s consolation in another sad story about a soldier’s death in Iraq – “at least he died for freedom.” The sacrifice of our troops, we are told again and again, is simply the price of freedom.
We are told this and yet it is more and more obvious that the Bush Administration, rather than doing everything in their power to avoid war and find a peaceful solution, did in fact everything in their power to avoid a peaceful solution and manufacture a reason for war.
The United States went to war with Iraq as a result of the constant drumbeat from Bush Administration officials about the danger the nation faced from the evil Saddam Hussein. Though the regime of Saddam Hussein was easily toppled, the occupation of Iraq has bogged down in an intractable quagmire which has so far cost the country the lives of over 2000 soldiers, another 15,000 or so wounded, and over 200 billion dollars. The worst of it all is that, despite the turnover of the government to Iraqis, the elections, and attempts to draft a constitution, it appears that there is no end in sight. We are told that there is no exit: that Iraq will only slide further into the chaos of civil war if we pull out.
The President says we must stay the course, though the course may take ten years or more, and may yet lead beyond Iraq, into Syria or Iran.’
The Price of Freedom
Last week, he threatened U.N. member states, specifically the 132 developing nations, that if they don't play ball with the United States, Washington may look elsewhere to settle international problems.
"It is obvious," Jim Paul of the New York-based Global Policy Forum told IPS, "that Washington has once again threatened the United Nations with its usual warning: 'Do what we say, or we will send you into oblivion"'. He said Bolton's message is clear, "If you don't, we will wreck you."
U.N. Faces New Political Threats From US
The Incredible Lying BushCo
The fanfare surrounding the incident was intended to divert attention from the testimony of FBI special agent, Colleen Rowley, whose damning account of government negligence in the 9-11 investigation threatened to dominate the news. It was later discovered that Padilla had been imprisoned three weeks earlier, but the announcement was delayed by the Justice Department in a cynical ploy to grab the headlines.
The government has never produced a shred of evidence that Padilla is guilty of any of the crimes for which he has been accused. Instead, the administration has used its unchecked power to indefinitely detain Padilla while refusing to charge him with a crime. The Padilla case has never been about Jose Padilla, domestic terrorism, or any of the other spurious claims made by the government. It is, in fact, about enhancing presidential power, so the executive is no longer required to comply with the law. Padilla pits the language of right-wing think tanks, “enemy combatant”, against habeas corpus, the cornerstone of the American justice system. So far, the made-up language of the Bush team has prevailed.’
Savaging The Law In The Padilla Case
24 November 2005
One writer on the Internet, John Wilson, has been very active in seeking to restore the democratic right of trial by jury and expose the collusion of judges in Australia to suppressing what few freedoms citizens may still possess (email@example.com). He has been subjected to continual act of legal harassment and insult. John Wilson has maintained that rights and freedoms, including to trial by jury, were granted in perpetuity by Magna Carta. In like manner, it could be claimed that the American Founding Fathers established inalienable rights and freedoms when they created the United States, but of course these "inalienable rights" are constantly being "alienated". Wilson is one of the few who have had the persistence and integrity to pursue these measures through courts that make no attempt to protect the citizen by such proclamations as the English Bill of Rights, Magna Charta, or by protections under common law.
On December 3,2004, David Hicks’ father spoke at the 150th Anniversary of the Eureka Stockade, and pointed out that his son had been held without trail by the U.S. Government at Guantanamo Bay and that the Australian government had made no effective attempt to represent one of their citizens and, if he was guilty, repatriate him to Australia for trial. Since then, there has been no improvement in the situation of David Hicks but, as if that were not enough, events have transpired that make him a symbol of the society we are fast becoming: an autocratic society, manipulated by the government call for "anti-terrorist" measures into becoming a Terrorist State, in which the government determines for us what terrorism is and seeks to eliminate the rights of terrorists.
David Hicks now has a website devoted to him (http://www.fairgofordavid.org/) which raises many of the issues. At that site, is the report of U.S. V David Matthew Hicks’ "Report of the Independent Legal Observer for the Law Council of Australia" by Lex Lasry, Q.C., July, 2005. His conclusions are too long to be detailed here, but item #76 in that judgement point out that David Hicks’ case is worse, owing to long delays caused by extended litigation and the possibility that, if there is a trial, there will be no cross examination of witnesses by Hicks’ lawyer but the prosecution will rely on second hand information and conceal what evidence it may consider necessary. In #77 he mentions that detainees at Guantanamo are excluded from access to US civilian courts with access to any rights under the US Constitution or under international conventions, including the Geneva Convention, of which the US is a signatory. There is the real possibility that prisoners, including Hicks, were tortured at Guantanamo Bay to get a confession, which should morally be excluded as obtained under duress. These considerations also affect other Guantanamo inmates. On the same website, Burton J. Lee III, a former physician to the president to George H.W. Bush and a board member of Physicians for Human Rights, denounces the "stain of torture" at Guantanamo.
As Lasry sums up:
"The following criticisms made by others and by me in my first report remain:
· Lack of independence and apprehension of lack of impartiality, the process being the creation of the Executive of the US government;
· The Commission will function with two members who are legally unqualified and inexperienced but who will be required to make findings not only of fact but of law;
· The "rule" of evidence remains unchanged and totally inadequate for the reasons already given;
· The charges against Hicks remain and arguably represent a misuse of those charges;
· There remains no viable appellate process that can impartially correct errors and remedy a miscarriage of justice.
# 78. I would, of course, agree that the Law Council should make further representations to the Australian government with a view to attempting to persuade them to request Hicks' repatriation as they ultimately did with Habib. Under the present structure not only is the Military Commission process unfair but it seems to be unworkable with relevant detainees being released from time to time and a total lack of certainty created by the whole process having been thoroughly bogged down in litigation.
Rather than attempt to remedy some of the injustices that are obvious in the process as it stands, the US government appears determined to defend and apply it to those nominated for trial. If the issues raised in Hamdan and other similar cases brought by detainees were brought before the US Supreme Court, it is hard to imagine that they would not find the logic of Judges Robertson and Green difficult to resist after their conclusions in Rasul and Hamdi. But even if the Court were to eventually confirm each of those judgments changes would need to be made to the process to accommodate those findings. As was demonstrated with the CSRT, the implementation is still likely to be open to further challenge in the courts that will mean a further lengthening of an already offensive delay. In any event the present US government approach is to expedite the hearing of the military commission, certainly in relation to the case of David Hicks.
# 79. The Law Council should urge the Australian government to examine these matters very carefully. This is much less about David Hicks than it is about a grossly unfair process and in many ways Australia's own moral authority is at risk if it continues to condone this process as ‘fair and just’"
David Hicks, the Australian imprisoned at the US Base of Guantanamo Bay, was 30 years old on Monday August 7, 2005.
Justice for Hicks and Habib campaigner, Marlene Obeid, said: ‘David has been imprisoned and tortured for 3 years and 9 months now. Another birthday in the hellhole of Guantanamo – nothing to be happy about.’
Mr Hicks’ Australian solicitor, David McLeod, found in a recent visit to the US Base that his client is losing his eyesight, has severe back problems, and his mental condition is rapidly deteriorating.
The British Government successfully negotiated the release of nine Britons held imprisoned at Guantanamo. Five were released in March 2004, while the last four were released in January 2005. None of these were charged in spite of US Military officials alleging that four of them were trained and involved in military activities in Afghanistan.
A US citizen, Yaser Esam Hamdi, who was captured in similar circumstances to David Hicks was freed in September 2004 after two and a half years imprisoned, and agreeing to renounce his US citizenship and renouncing terrorism.
‘It is time for the Australian Government to request David Hicks’ repatriation, before it is too late,’ Mrs Obeid added.
(For further information contact Marlene Obeid on 0401 758 871)
David Hicks is a symbol of a system that is increasingly leading to an Orwellian Big Brother State. The events of September 11,2001, have fostered an attitude suppressing free speech and basic freedoms that a Western heritage had led us to hope might be sacrosanct: freedom from arbitrary arrest, a right to trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, cross examination of witnesses and an expectation that the accused had to have his guilt proven "beyond reasonable doubt." The sheeple are being brainwashed into accepting gross violations of human rights, including the shooting of a "suspect" Brazilian in London, now known not to have been a terrorist. Sir Ian Blair, the British Police Commissioner, had falsely announced that the killing of de Menezes was "directly linked" to terrorism. Some citizens have become "useful idiots", "justifying" the shooting by saying " they were only doing their job." No doubt, by shooting innocent people to "rescue" us from terrorism!
John Pilger’s article "The rise of the Democratic Police State", published August 19, 2005, by www.antiwar.com (among others) depicts the way selective attention is given to targeting Muslims as "the force behind terrorism" in U.K., while at the same time, condoning US terrorism against those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same pattern is evident in Australia, as Prime Minister Howard follows the lead of Blair and Bush. Blair wanted police state powers in 2001, when he suspended habeas corpus and installed unlimited house arrest without trial. Lord Hoffman said that Blair’s attacks on human rights were a greater threat to freedom than terrorism. He might have added that by suspending civil rights the State itself becomes a terrorist.
This is the direction in which we are now headed as "democracy" becomes a sham, existing only in the dictionary. Prime Minister Howard has also encouraged the rush to autocracy by calling for a national ID card and targeting Muslims as the main villains behind "terrorism", conveniently ignoring State Terrorism, seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, supported by the "coalition of the willing", those willing to be dupes of those who would smash freedom once and for all. David Hicks is merely a symbol of what our society is turning into: a totalitarian state.
Published in "The Independent Australian", Issue # 7,2005
"A group of civilian employees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, all of whom are political employees, have long been dissatisfied with the information produced by the established intelligence agencies both inside and outside the Department. That was particularly true, apparently, with respect to the situation in Iraq," Obey said.
"As a result, it is reported that they established a special operation within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which was named the Office of Special Plans. That office was charged with collecting, vetting, and disseminating intelligence completely outside the normal intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that the information collected by this office was in some instances not even shared with the established intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the National Security Council and the President without having been vetted with anyone other than (the Secretary of Defense)."
"It is further alleged that the purpose of this operation was not only to produce intelligence more in keeping with the pre-held views of those individuals, but to intimidate analysts in the established intelligence organizations to produce information that was more supportive of policy decisions which they had already decided to propose."’
How Pre-War Iraq Intel Was Cooked
The Pentagon argues that white phosphorus burns people, rather than poisoning them, and is covered only by the protocol on incendiary weapons, which the US has not signed. But white phosphorus is both incendiary and toxic. The gas it produces attacks the mucous membranes, the eyes and the lungs. As Peter Kaiser of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told the BBC last week: "If ... the toxic properties of white phosphorus, the caustic properties, are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because ... any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons."
The US army knows that its use as a weapon is illegal. In the Battle Book, published by the US Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, my correspondent David Traynier found the following sentence: "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets."’
Behind The Phosphorus Clouds Are War Crimes Within War Crimes
In speeches Friday and Monday, the vice president, who has long insisted Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were allies, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, we would be greeted as liberators in Baghdad, and that the Iraqi insurgency is in its ''last throes," again evidenced his trademark inability to speak the truth.
Continuing the administration's recent shrill defensive barrage over whose fault the Iraq mess is and with the truth chasing the lies in full view, Cheney had the gall to smear the war's critics as ''corrupt and shameless." Then, within a few sentences, he showed again why 52 percent of those polled by Newsweek believe Cheney deliberately "misused or manipulated" prewar intelligence.
First, he shamelessly repeated the absurd notion that a bum-rushed Congress, most of which does not have high security clearance, was privy to the same intelligence as he and his war-salesmen allies. In fact, not only was Cheney and his staff poring over the classified testimonials of an array of known liars, forgers, drunks, opportunists and desperate exiles we now know supplied White House speechwriters with their best lines, he also had access to the intelligence community's combined disclaimers, rebuttals and outright denunciations of these sources and their conveniently tawdry tales.’
Cheney's Trouble With The Truth
The same is true of the hundreds of other men held at Guantánamo Bay and in the C.I.A.'s secret prisons. This is hardly what Americans have had in mind hearing Mr. Bush's constant assurances since Sept. 11, 2001, that he will bring terrorists to justice.’
Um, About That Dirty Bomb?
It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, last night referred editors to newspaper reports yesterday that described the contents of a memo purporting to be at the centre of charges against two men under the secrets act.’
Legal Gag On Bush-Blair War Row
23 November 2005
In fact, it is the media’s near total failure to report on the bloodshed caused by our side in the ongoing conflict that keeps many current US-UK government officials in their jobs, if not out of the International Criminal Court on charges of committing war crimes.
The reality is that gruesome atrocities continue to be committed by the occupying powers in Iraq, and that these pass with little or no mention in the mainstream media on either side of the Atlantic.
As such the media are accessories to these crimes, standing as they do between the criminals and accountability.’
Sleepwalking Through Slaughter: On The Western Media's Concealment Of Crimes Against Humanity
A report produced by American and British pressure groups warns Iraq will be caught in an "old colonial trap" if it allows foreign companies to take a share of its vast energy reserves.
The report is certain to reawaken fears that the real purpose of the 2003 war on Iraq was to ensure its oil came under Western control.’
Iraq's Oil: The Spoils Of War
How A White House 'Cabal' Hijacked US Foreign Policy
No prizes for guessing which forum David Hicks would opt to be tried before. Can you imagine any US administration accepting so meekly the proposed trial by equivalent Australian military commission of a US national?’
Nuremberg's Lessons For Guantanamo
But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.
A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.
The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.’
Bush Plot To Bomb His Arab Ally
22 November 2005
Contrast this figure with the income of the people elected to serve in Congress. There are four hundred and thirty five members in the House of Representatives. Of that number one hundred and twenty three had at least one million dollar incomes. As bad as this is, the disparity in the Senate is far greater.’
The Congressional Millionaires Club
The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest Of The Middle East
For years, with its companion "war on terror," it trumped every other card in the American political deck. With an absurd system for colour-coding dangers to Americans, the President, Vice President, and the highest officials in this land were able to paint the media a "high" incendiary orange and the Democrats an "elevated" bright yellow, functionally sidelining them.’
An American Tipping Point?
One way this notion has played out in practice is the CIA's use of "extraordinary rendition," in which terror suspects overseas are kidnapped and delivered to third-party countries for interrogation - which, not uncharacteristically, includes some measure of torture, and sometimes fatal torture.
Details about the extent and excesses of the U.S. government's interrogation practices have been ably documented by the media and human rights organizations.
Many thought that extraordinary rendition would be the worst of the revelations, but on November 2, The Washington Post revealed that the CIA has been running its own system of secret overseas detention and interrogation centers, known as "black sites." Coming at a moment when both CIA Director Porter Goss and Vice President Cheney have been crusading to exempt the CIA from pending legislation authored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would ban U.S. government personnel from using torture, and other abusive conduct, in interrogations, the story has been particularly resonant - especially when at least one prisoner under CIA supervision at the now-defunct Afghanistan "salt pit" black site died as a result of abuse.’
CIA Veterans Condemn Torture
21 November 2005
The Democrats didn't need false intelligence to push them into overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime. It was their policy; a policy made the law of the land not under George W. Bush, but under President Bill Clinton when he signed the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, formally initiating the process of regime change in Iraq.
Manipulated intelligence is but a small part of a bigger, bipartisan 15-year assault on Iraq's people. If the Democrats really want to look at how America was led into this war, they need to go back further than the current president's inauguration.’
A 'Loyal Opposition' Won't End the War
John Reid, the Secretary of State for Defence, admits that he knows of "alleged deaths in custody" and other "serious prisoner abuse" at al-Jamiyat police station, which was reopened by Britain after the war.
Militia-dominated police, who were recruited by Britain, are believed to have tortured at least two men to death in the station. Their bodies were later found with drill holes to their arms, legs and skulls.’
British Trained Police In Iraq 'Killed Prisoners With Drills'
Amnesty International and Reprieve made the call as they announced the largest ever gathering of former "war on terror" prisoners and their families to highlight an increasingly globalised network of torture and ill-treatment.
The three-day conference in London, this Saturday through Monday, also brings together international legal and medical experts and leading human rights campaigners to inform and encourage action against torture and the practices that lead to it, such as secret detentions and renditions.’
Largest-Ever Gathering Of Former Guantánamo Prisoners & Prisoners' Families
20 November 2005
Iraq On The Record
The study, which was carried out in 33 randomly chosen neighbourhoods of Iraq representative of the entire population, shows that violence is now the leading cause of death in Iraq.
Before the invasion, most people died of heart attacks, stroke and chronic illness. The risk of a violent death is now 58 times higher than it was before the invasion.
Last night the Lancet medical journal fast-tracked the survey to publication on its website after rapid, but extensive peer review and editing because, said Lancet editor Richard Horton, "of its importance to the evolving security situation in Iraq".
But the findings - see Lancet Study - raised important questions also for the governments of the United Sates and Britain who, said Dr Horton in a commentary, "must have considered the likely effects of their actions for civilians".’
100,000 Iraqi Civilians Dead, Says Study