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... CONTINUES.

When Tenet exclaimed "It's a slam dunk case!" it was in the context of the case to be made to the public.

In the memoir, Bush himself recalls having declared: "Surely we can do a better job of explaining the evidence against Saddam."

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Bush writes in the memoir: "No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn't find weapons of mass destruction. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do."

But as David Corn also points out Bush famously treated the missing WMDs like a big joke at a March 2004 press dinner. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere," he said as he narrated a slideshow of pictures of him looking out his window and under his furniture.

And Bush of course never actually tells us who he's angry at, or what exactly sickened him. He's certainly not willing to say that he was angry at himself, or that going to war was a sickening mistake.

LAUER: Was there ever any consideration of apologizing to the American people?

BUSH: I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision, and I don't believe it was a wrong decision.

 

In fact, despite everything, Bush continues to indulge in the same unfounded rhetoric to this day"For all the difficulties that followed, America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD and supporting terror at the heart of the Middle East," he writes.

And the cherry-picking of the intelligence continues, as well. As Walter Pincus wrote on Monday (in a story the Washington Post buried on page A29), the book "makes selective use" of a Jan. 27, 2003, report to the U.N. Security Council by chief inspector Hans Blix, "citing elements that support the idea that Hussein was not cooperating and leaving out parts that indicate his government was. More to the point, however, Bush fails to mention two subsequent Blix pre-invasion reports in February and early March, weeks before U.S. bombs struck Baghdad. Those show Iraq cooperating with inspectors and the inspectors finding no significant evidence that Hussein was hiding WMD programs."

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George W. Bush was no reluctant warrior. The U.S. went to war in Iraq because he wanted to. The war he launched was arguably an illegal act of aggression. And the costs have been enormous.

The United States has spent $750 billion and counting on the war in Iraq. More than 4,400 members of the U.S. armed forces have perished, with nearly 32,000 wounded in action, and somewhere in the ballpark of 500,000 more suffering from brain injuries, mental health problems, hearing damage and disease. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated to number at least 100,000 andmore than a million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes.

Bush told Lauer it was worth it: "I will say, definitely, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to live in freedom."

But author Nir Rosen recently addressed Bush's claim:

Certainly the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis are not better off. Their families aren't better off. The tens of thousands of Iraqi men who languished in American and subsequently Iraqi gulags are not better off. The children who lost their fathers aren't better off. The millions of Iraqis who lost their homes, hundreds of thousands of refugees in the region, are not better off. So there's no mathematical calculation you can make to determine who's better off and who's not.....

Saddam Hussein is gone, that's true. The regime we've put in place is certainly more representative, but it's brutal and authoritarian. Torture is routine and systematic. Corruption is also routine and systematic. There are no services to speak of, no real electricity or water. Violence remains very high. So, there's nothing to be proud of in this. The Iraqi people deserve much better, and they're the real victims of Bush's war.

  

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In what was perhaps the single most preposterous assertion of his book tour, Bush seemed to suggest to Lauer that he was actually against going to war:

LAUER: So by the time you gave the order to start military operations in Iraq, did you personally have any doubt, any shred of doubt, about that intelligence?

 

BUSH: No, I didn't. I really didn't.

LAUER: Not everybody thought you should go to war, though. There were dissenters.

BUSH: Of course there were.

LAUER: Did you filter them out?

BUSH: I was -- I was a dissenting voice. I didn't wanna use force.

 

For the nation's journalists to allow this outrageous lie to go uncontested is particularly galling. During the run-up to war, one of the elite media's most common excuses for marginalizing or ignoring the true voices of dissension and doubt was that everyone knew an invasion was a foregone conclusion.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

 

... CONTINUES.

The result back then was that instead of watchdog journalism, what we got was credulous, stenographic recitation of the administration's deeply flawed arguments for war. Or, as formerWashington Post executive editor Len Downie told Howard Kurtz in 2004: In retrospect, "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale."

Today's journalists would like to think they have learned some lessons from their poor pre-war conduct. But letting Bush get away now with saying the exact opposite of what they knew to be true even at the time -- and what has since been amply confirmed by the historical record -- would be yet another major victory of stenography over accountability.

The Embrace Of Torture

That torture is even a subject of debate today is a testament to the devastating effect the Bush administration has had on our concept of morality.

And in his book and on his book tour, far from hanging his head in shame, Bush is more explicit and enthusiastic than ever before endorsing one of torture's iconic forms. "Damn right," he quotes himself as saying in response to a CIA request to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. "Had we captured more al Qaeda operatives with significant intelligence value, I would have used the program for them as well."

Bush's two-part argument is simple; That waterboarding was legal (i.e., that it was not really torture); and that it worked.

But neither assertion is remotely true.

Waterboarding -- essentially controlled drowning -- involves immobilizing someone and pouring water over their mouth and nose in a way that makes them choke. It causes great physical and mental suffering, but leaves no marks.

It's not new; villains and despots have been using it extract confessions for something like 700 years. The CIA just perfected it.

It is self-evidently, almost definitionally, torture. The U.S. government had always considered it torture. In 1947, the U.S. charged a Japanese officer who waterboarded an American with war crimes. It is flatly a violation of international torture conventions.

And as far as I know, no American government official had ever even suggested it wasn't torture until a small handful of lawyers in Bush's supine Justice Department, working under orders from the vice president, claimed otherwise.

These lawyers drafted a series of memos so lacking in legal merit -- and so cruel and inhuman -- that they were retracted and repudiated even by a later wave of Bush appointees.

The original "torture memo" from August 1, 2002, for instance, argued that to "rise to the level of torture" an act had to cause pain "equivalent to intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Anything short of that, according to the memo, was OK.

Lauer asked Bush in their interview why he thought waterboarding was legal.

"Because the lawyer said it was legal," Bush replied. "He said it did not fall within the Anti-Torture Act. I'm not a lawyer, but you gotta trust the judgment of people around you and I do."

When Lauer raised the possibility that Bush's lawyers had simply told him what they knew he wanted to hear, Bush vaguely denied it and suggested that his book might shed more light on the topic. But it doesn't, at least not much. In it, Bush writes:

Department of Justice and CIA lawyers conducted a careful legal review. They concluded that the enhanced interrogation program complied with the Constitution an all applicable laws, including those that ban torture.

I took a look at the list of techniques. There were two that I felt went too far, even if they were legal. I directed the CIA not to use them. Another technique was waterboarding, a process of simulated drowning. No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did not lasting harm.

I knew that an interrogation program this sensitive and controversial would one day become public. When it did, we would open ourselves up to criticism that America had compromised our moral values. I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real. Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked. In the wake of 9/11, that was a risk I was unwilling to take. My most solemn responsibility as president was to protect the country. I approved the use of the interrogation techniques.

 

But the choice between security and values was not real. And this is exactly the reason we have laws: To prevent people from doing what they may for some reason think at the moment is a good idea, but which society has determined is wrong. No man is above the law. And "the lawyer said it was legal" is not a sufficient excuse.

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As for the claim that torture worked, Bush writes in the book:

Of the thousands of terrorists we captured in the years after 9/11, about a hundred were placed into the CIA program. About a third of those were questioned using enhanced techniques. Three were waterboarded. The information the detainees revealed constituted more than half of what the CIA knew about al-Qaeda. Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American military and diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.

But the only thing we know for sure is that detainees who were tortured made elaborate confessions. That, after all, is what torture is good for. We don't know how much valuable information they really provided. We don't know how much of that information came before they were tortured, rather than after. We certainly don't know how much information they would have shared under proven, standard interrogation techniques.

And under close inspection by investigative journalists, every one of Bush's specific assertions about torture having saved lives has been thoroughly debunked.

The first detainee waterboarded directly on Bush's orders was Abu Zubaydah, in August 2002.

During his presidency, Bush repeatedly used Zubaydah as his Exhibit A for torture. In the book, Bush describes him as a "senior recruiter and operator" and "trusted associate of Osama bin Laden."

After CIA interrogators strapped Zubaydah to the waterboard and suffocated him 83 times in a month, he broke down. Bush writes:

Zubaydah revealed large amounts of information on al Qaeda's structure and operations. He also provided leads that helped reveal the location of Ramzi bin al Shibh, the logistical planner of the 9/11 attacks. The Pakistani police picked him upon the first anniversary of 9/11.

In the book, Bush did not, as he had on several occasions during his presidency, give Zubaydah credit for identifying bin al Shibh as a terror suspect in the first place. That particular claim was undercut by the fact that, some four months before Zubaydah was captured, an FBI indictment detailed bin al Shibh's alleged involvement in the 9/11 plot.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

 

... CONTINUES.

But what Bush did assert in his memoir was equally untrue. Investigative journalist Ron Suskind, in his breakthrough 2006 book, "The One Percent Doctrine," reported that the key information about bin al Shibh's location came not from Zubaydah but from an al-Jazeera reporter who had interviewed bin al Shibh at his apartment in Karachi.

And Zubaydah was not a major player. According to Suskind, he was a mentally ill travel booker who under CIA torture sent investigators chasing after false leads about al Qaeda plots on American nuclear plants, water systems, shopping malls, banks and supermarkets.

Almost three years after Suskind's book came out, the Washington Post confirmed what Suskind had reported: that "not a single significant plot was foiled" as a result of Zubaydah's brutal treatment -- and that his false confessions "triggered a series of alerts and sent hundreds of CIA and FBI investigators scurrying in pursuit of phantoms."

Another detainee waterboarded on Bush's say-so was Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who stands accused of plotting al Qaeda's bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

As far as I can tell, Bush has never actually made any claims about any intelligence whatsoever reaped from Nashiri's brutal treatment at the hands of CIA interrogators in Poland (who, among other things, used a power drill and a handgun to terrify him.)

The unclassified transcript of Nashiri's Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing in 2007, while redacted to eliminate any mention of the specific ways in which he was tortured, indicates that his response was to tell interrogators whatever they wanted to hear.

Nashiri was asked about his statements about plans to bomb other American ships, about a plot to fly a plane and crash it into a ship, and about bin Laden having a nuclear bomb.

"I just said those things to make the people happy," he explained. "They were very happy when I told them those things."

And then there was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who the CIA asphyxiated 183 times after Bush so enthusiastically approved his waterboarding. Bush writes:

He disclosed plans to attack American targets with anthrax and directed us to three people involved in the al Qaeda biological weapons program. .He provided information that led to the capture of Hambali, the chief of al Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate in Southeast Asia and the architect of the Bali terrorist attacks that killed 202 people. He provided further details that led agents to Hambali's brother, who had been grooming operatives to carry out another attack inside the United States, possibly a West Coast version of 9/11 in which terrorist flew a hijacked plane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles.

There seems to be little doubt that KSM provided intelligence of some value (along with a number of false confessions) -- although he might have done likewise (minus the false confessions) in the hands of a skilled interrogator using traditional methods.

But despite the lengths that the Bush White House, intelligence officials and various torture apologists have gone to over the past several years to help Bush make his case, there remains not the tiniest shred of evidence to support his assertion that KSM's torture -- or any other -- actually saved a single life.

As far as we know, none of the alleged plots that were allegedly disrupted was anything more than a fantasy. There is no evidence they presented an actual danger. There is not a single saved life they can point to. If they could, they would have.

The first time Bush disclosed what he alleged were thwarted terror plots was in a speech in October 2005. "Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States," he said. The White House then distributed what it called a fact sheet.

But a few days later, the Washington Post reported:

Intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the White House overstated the gravity of the plots by saying that they had been foiled, when most were far from ready to be executed....

The president made it 'sound like well-hatched plans,' said a former CIA official involved in counterterrorism during that period. 'I don't think they fall into that category.'

 

Similarly, in a February 2006 speech Bush offered more details about that alleged Library Tower plot. The Director of National Intelligence obligingly declassified a Summary of the High Value Terrorist Detainee Program to go along with that. But the Washington Post soon reported that "several U.S. intelligence officials played down the relative importance of the alleged plot and attributed the timing of Bush's speech to politics."

And even when the CIA last year released documents that Cheney had sworn would definitively prove that torture had "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people," those documents turned out to include no such proof -- just a lot more cover-your-ass language from the CIA.

Senator Rockefeller concluded in March 2008:

As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have heard nothing to suggest that information obtained from enhanced interrogation techniques has prevented an imminent terrorist attack. And I have heard nothing that makes me think the information obtained from these techniques could not have been obtained through traditional interrogation methods used by military and law enforcement interrogators. On the other hand, I do know that coercive interrogations can lead detainees to provide false information in order to make the interrogation stop.
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Bush's assertion that torture thwarted plots to attack Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf got some renewed attention earlier this month after portions of his memoir were serialized in the Times of London. The journalists across the pond, at least, pushed back a bit.

The Guardian reported:

British officials said today there was no evidence to support claims by George Bush, the former US president, that information extracted by "waterboarding" saved British lives by foiling attacks on Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf....

British counter-terrorism officials distanced themselves from Bush's claims. They said Mohammed provided "extremely valuable" information which was passed on to security and intelligence agencies, but that it mainly related to al-Qaida's structure and was not known to have been extracted through torture.

 

The Daily Mail reported:

Lord MacDonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, said: 'These stories about waterboarding thwarting attacks on Canary Wharf and Heathrow -- I've never seen anything to substantiate these claims. These claims are to be treated with a great deal of scepticism.'

Now it's true that some British intelligence officials -- notoriously close to their American colleagues -- share Bush's views. The head of Britain's MI5, for instance, actually defended the use of torture on familiar grounds last year:

Al Qaeda had indeed made plans for further attacks after 9/11: details of some of these plans came to light through the interrogation of detainees by other countries, including the US, in the period after 9/11; subsequent investigation on the ground, including in the UK, substantiated these claims. Such intelligence was of the utmost importance to the safety and security of the UK. It has saved British lives. Many attacks have been stopped as a result of effective international intelligence co-operation since 9/11.

But he offered no verifiable details, of course.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

 
By Admin (from 22/01/2011 @ 13:50:20, in en - Global Observatory, read 4118 times)

Bravo to the Movement!!

* UPDATE:
I'm happy to report that "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward" is a wild success and
turned into an unprecedented film release premiere. What started as a
thought of having maybe 30 total theaters screening the film instead turned
into 30 languages alone with a total count of 335 theaters in 60 countries,
and still growing daily! With multiple screenings at most of the 335
theaters, our total number of screenings is well over 1,000 world-wide. The
response to the film has been huge... reports coming in of sold-out crowds
in venues ranging upwards of 500-900 seat capacity.

With only minimal feedback so far, here are some noteworthy examples of the
global impact of ZMF. In Vancouver, Canada they booked an 820 seat theater
but had about 2,000 people show up! Ryan, the coordinator, had to turn
hundreds away and fortunately was able to secure another 700 seat venue for
a few days later. In Serbia, the coordinator Milan, had a 400 seat theater
overflowing with people, many people sitting on the floor and in the
aisles! They "had" to book additional screenings to meet the demand.  Bruno
from Brazil is reporting over capacity crowds and booked new screenings in
larger venues.  Natalija, the Croatian coordinator, had sell out crowds
with professors, scientists and media in attendance and requests to
interview her.  Stefan in Denmark and Seth in the Netherlands have both had
press and public screenings that included former members of Parliament,
scientists and professors as well as media with interviews.  In Russia, the
theaters finally caught the buzz about the film and have agreed to screen
in 2 theaters, which were virtually impossible to secure before.

South Africa had overflow capacity and booked additional screenings. Rishi
from India, has reported our largest venue at 2,000 seats at Goa
University. Malak, our Palestinian coordinator, will be screening at the
Ebdaa' Institution at the Al-Dehesha Refugee Camp in the West Bank. 
Federico, the Italian coordinator, had arguably the biggest TV celebrity in
Italy, Paolo Bonolis, attend the Rome screening and publicly express his
love for ZMF.  He wants to dedicate an episode of his programme, "Il senso
della vita", to the Zeitgeist Movement. His show reached up to 8 million
viewers and is among the most watched in Italy. Dozens of broadcasting
requests have come in for post Jan 25th television broadcast, as well as
film festival interest. 

The Los Angeles premiere hosted by Artivist Film Festival on Jan. 15th was
a big hit with a sell out crowd of 845! There was audience applause
throughout the film and a standing ovation at the end. Michael Ruppert was
in attendance and Lili Haydn, whose music was featured in parts of ZMF, as
well as noteworthy progressives. LA's most popular independent radio
station KPFK was filming the event and interviewed Peter and guests.
Artivist filmed the Q & A with Peter and that will be available online
soon. 

This has developed to possibly be the largest independent global theatrical
premiere, covering the most languages, countries and locations. The movie
and the movement are on the global radar now and your efforts are a huge
part of this success!  

*INTERNET RELEASE:
The Online Release is set for Jan. 25th but could happen sooner depending
on the level of theatrical interest. This delay is to ensure that the
non-profit events are sustained enough so the parties who have taken on the
risk can hopefully make back their expenses. Any money obtained otherwise
goes towards their Chapter's work - specifically ZDAY 2011

*DVD RELEASE:
The DVD release will occur in late Jan., including the free, full
resolution, dual layer DVD Torrent download in 30 language subtitles.

A 5$ DVD is also available from zeitgeistmovingforward.com and is now
available for Pre-Order: 

http://zeitgeistmovingforward.com/dvd

Please note that while Peter offers his films for free online viewing and
free download, with no restriction on non-sale duplication/distribution and
free public display - he simply cannot continue creating such media unless
some do, indeed, actually buy the DVD. So, please respect this if you care
about the Zeitgeist Film Project. The DVD is a dual layer, 8 gig with the
full 2 hour and 41 min film, in a standard, sealed case; offered for 75%
less than the commercial price of most DVDs. This film cost over $200,000
to create and if you want to see Zeitgeist IV (!), you will need to help
him recover from this huge work.

*PRESS/MEDIA:
Please submit all photos, videos, press, local promotional materials and
quotable statistics to zmf@thezeitgeistmovement.com.  We are going to
compile all your materials into a virtual "scrapbook" to be posted on the
ZMF site. At a glance, this will illustrate the reach and success of this
film release. Once the premiere period ends Jan 25th and I get the final
counts in, I will compile our potentially record-breaking numbers and post
that information on the site. 

Have a look at the global map and see the span of locations ZMF is
screening:
www.zeitgeistmovingforward.com/zmap

Listen to a recent interview (Jan 19th) with Peter Joseph on KPFK Radio
about the explosion of this film across the world:
http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/mp3/kpfk_110119_150030goharrison.MP3

Thank you all for your tremendous work in making this film such a global
sensation- we are doing it!! :) 

Cheers, 
Sharleen
Global Release Coordinator
"Zeitgeist: Moving Forward"
www.zeitgeistmovingforward.com
zmf@thezeitgeistmovement.com

 

... CONTINUES.

Meanwhile, the new British Prime Minister, conservative David Cameron, told the Telegraph that torture was wrong and that Bush administration detainee policy had done harm, rather than good.

"Look, I think torture is wrong and I think we ought to be very clear about that," Mr Cameron said. "And I think we should also be clear that if actually you're getting information from torture, it's very likely to be unreliable information."

When pressed on whether torture saves lives, he added: "I think there is both a moral reason for being opposed to torture -- and Britain doesn't sanction torture -- but secondly I think there's also an effectiveness thing ... if you look at the effect of Guantánamo Bay and other things like that, long-term that has actually helped to radicalise people and make our country and our world less safe. So I don't agree."

 

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There may be little point in speculating on what drove Cheney and Bush to cross such a clear and important ethical line. Was it that they were well and truly terrified? Did they succumb to the lures of the ticking time bomb-fallacy so popular on TV -- and among the supremely confident? Some social psychologists have speculated that the real motivation for torture is retribution.

It was the Senate Armed Services Committee, in April 2009, that actually suggested an even more nefarious possible motive: That the White House started pushing the use of torture not out of concern about an imminent threat, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks in order to strengthen their public case for invasion.

That becomes less incredible when you consider that it was a false confession extracted under torture by Egyptian authorities from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a terror suspect who had been rendered to Egypt by the CIA, that was the sole source for arguments Bush made in a key pre-Iraq war speech in October 2002.

"We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases," Bush said at the time -- with no caveats. The same false confession provided a critical part of then-secretary of state Colin Powell's famous presentation to the United Nations, a month before the invasion.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Finally, it's hugely important to remember that Bush's embrace of torture went far beyond the waterboard. For Bush, the best-case scenario is that the debate remains about his approval of the use of that one procedure on three top terror suspects.

But Bush's legacy is one of much more wanton and widespread cruelty -- a cruelty that was truly unimaginable before the unique combination of 9/11 and some particularly cold-blooded people occupying high office.

Bush and his helpers approved a wide range of other brutal interrogation practices, including severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures, forced nudity, threats, hooding, the use of dogs and sensory deprivation -- many of which, it turned out, were cribbed from techniques Chinese Communists perfected to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen.

Some of these tactics fall short of the legal definition of torture, some don't, but they are all, as former Navy general counsel Alberto Mora explained in 2008, morally indefensible:

Many Americans are unaware that there is a legal distinction between cruelty and torture, cruelty being the less severe level of abuse. This has tended to obscure important elements of the interrogation debate from the public's attention. For example, the public may be largely unaware that the government could evasively if truthfully claim (and did claim) that it was not "torturing" even as it was simultaneously interrogating detainees cruelly. Yet there is little or no moral distinction between cruelty and torture, for cruelty can be as effective as torture in savaging human flesh and spirit and in violating human dignity. Our efforts should be focused not merely on banning torture, but on banning cruelty.

Tactics that violated basic human dignity were not limited to three men, or even to the three dozen men subjected to "enhanced interrogation" at the CIA's black sites in Poland, Thailand, and Romania. They were employed as a matter of standard practice on countless detainees held in custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

And once cruelty was adopted as a weapon of war, that inevitably opened the door wide to abusive and degrading practices that weren't explicitly authorized.

Far from being limited to ostensibly "high value" detainees, state-sanctioned cruelty was applied willy-nilly to many of those unfortunate enough to get swept up into the system. We literally have no idea how many.

As a bipartisan Senate report in 2008 concluded:

The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at [Guantanamo]. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002, authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

The report laid out a clear line of responsibility for Abu Ghraib that started with Bush and his February 2002 memo exempting war-on-terror detainees from the Geneva Conventions.

Mora, one of the few voices of conscience inside the government during that dark period, summed up the damage this way:

[O]ur Nation's policy decision to use so-called "harsh" interrogation techniques during the War on Terror was a mistake of massive proportions. It damaged and continues to damage our Nation in ways that appear never to have been considered or imagined by its architects and supporters, whose policy focus seems to have been narrowly confined to the four corners of the interrogation room. This interrogation policy -- which may aptly be labeled a "policy of cruelty" -- violated our founding values, our constitutional system and the fabric of our laws, our over-arching foreign policy interests, and our national security. The net effect of this policy of cruelty has been to weaken our defenses, not to strengthen them, and has been greatly contrary to our national interest.

George W. Bush has managed to duck the ignominy he deserves for launching this policy of cruelty. He has done so in part by framing the debate as one solely about waterboarding -- and counting on a lazy, amnesiac press corps to neither confront him on that count nor call him out for the wider moral breach for which he is responsible.

Back in 2004, as soon as the photos of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib went public, Bush and his collaborators launched a high-stakes disinformation campaign to prevent the American people from linking the White House to the pervasive, inhumane treatment of detainees -- many of whom were utterly innocent -- at prison facilities such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo. Being associated with the waterboarding of three top terrorists was at least a defensible position. Being responsible for widescale violations of the laws of war was not.

That disinformation campaign continues today, in "Decision Points." If we forget what really happened, it just might succeed.

 


*************************

 

Dan Froomkin is senior Washington correspondent for the Huffington Post. You can send him an e-mail, bookmark his page; subscribe to his RSS feed, follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and/or become a fan and get e-mail alerts when he writes.

 
By Admin (from 26/01/2011 @ 14:00:34, in en - Global Observatory, read 1800 times)

US authorities must alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks.

The US army private, 23, has been held for 23 hours a day in a sparsely furnished solitary cell and deprived of a pillow, sheets, and personal possessions since July 2010.

US Private Bradley Manning is accused of leaking information to Wikileaks. © APGraphicsBank

Amnesty International last week wrote to the US Defence secretary, Robert Gates, calling for the restrictions on Bradley Manning to be reviewed. In the same week, the soldier suffered several days of increased restrictions by being temporarily categorized as a ‘suicide risk’.

We’re concerned that the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning are unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities.  Manning has not been convicted of any offense, but military authorities appear to be using all available means to punish him while in detention. This undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Last Tuesday, Manning was placed on ‘suicide risk’, which resulted in him being stripped of his clothes apart from underwear, and the confiscation of his prescription glasses for most of the day, which Manning says left him in “essential blindness”.

Following protests from Manning and his lawyers, the ‘suicide risk’ restrictions were lifted on Thursday.

Manning is classed as a “maximum custody” detainee, despite having no history of violence or disciplinary offences in custody. This means he is shackled at the hands and legs during all visits and denied opportunities to work, which would allow him to leave his cell.

Manning is also detained under a Prevention of Injury (POI) assignment, despite a recommendation from his official military psychiatrist that this is not necessary. Detainees with POI status are subjected to extra restrictions such as checks by guards every five minutes and bars on sleeping.

There have been no formal reasons given for Manning’s maximum custody and POI status, yet his lawyers’ attempts to challenge the restrictions have been ignored by the authorities.

The repressive conditions imposed on Manning breach the US’s obligations to treat detainees with humanity and dignity.  Further, isolation and prolonged cellular confinement, which evidence shows can cause psychological impairment, may undermine Bradley Manning’s ability to defend himself.

In April 2010, Wikileaks released leaked footage of attacks by US Apache helicopters, which killed two Reuters news staff in Iraq in 2007.
Manning was arrested the following month and then charged with “transferring classified data” and “delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source”.

Wikileaks has also since released large batches of information on the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, and US diplomatic communications.

Manning could face a maximum sentence of 52 years in jail.

Help us end the punitive detention of Bradley Manning by taking action now.

Source: blog.amnestyusa.org - The Amnesty International USA Web Log.

 

The FBI announced on Thursday that it has executed over 40 search warrants in the United States today against "major companies and organizations" related to the pro-WikiLeaks Anonymous DDoS attacks. The FBI writes in its press release:

"A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries."

The press release coincides with events also unfolding in France and UK.

Paris police also announced on Thursday that a French teenager suspected of involvement in the DDoS attacks in the United States was taken into custody for a few hours last December.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Scotland Yard arrested five young men, aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26. They are also suspected of having carried out DDoS attacks and are said to face a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.

In an open letter to the UK, Anonymous pointed out that:

"the maximum sentence these 5 anons could be given under the Computer Misuse Act is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to Ł5000. We want you to realize just how ridiculous these sentences are, especially given the exact nature of a DDoS attack and its lack of permanent damage to the target website...

The fact that thousands of people from all over the world felt the need to participate in these attacks on organisations targeting Wikileaks and treating it as a public threat, rather than a common good, should be something that sets you thinking. You can easily arrest individuals, but you cannot arrest an ideology.
"

This is the third reported set of arrests related to the pro-WikiLeaks DDoS attacks; a Dutch teenager and Anonymous IRC operator was arrested on December 8, 2010. That same week, a second Dutch teenager was also arrested and accused of the DDoS attacks.

Other individuals arrested for similar attacks on the Church of Scientology have in fact been sentenced to serve time in prison. Last year, an Anonymous teenager in New Jersey received a $37,500 fine, was sentenced to one year in prison and 2 years probation.

Source: wlcentral.org

2011-01-27 Pirate Party statement concerning Anonymous arrests

 

On 27th of January 2011 at 15:00, the Pirate Party UK issued a press release in regards to the recent five arrests of Anonymous members. Amongst other points made in thePress releasethis underlining point was made:

"While the Party will never condone any illegal actions, it can understand the frustration felt by many who feel powerless in the face of multinational corporations and Governments unwilling to step in.

That normal, everyday people choose to take these sorts of actions shows the extent to which many people feel disenfranchised by mainstream politics and the Pirate Party aims to give such people a voice and a means to engage in these issues through lawful and political methods rather than resorting to 'hacktivism' and other actions that could be illegal.
"

Further, the Piratenpartei has filed a petition with the Deutscher Bundestag which, in part states:
Protection of whistle blowers. (Translated in Part)

"Whistle blowers are an important corrective force in any free and democratic society. This is one reason for the need to find a general legal system of protection of whistle blowers. Additionally, society must be informed that whistle blowers have a social value, and function as has already been established for press informants.

Further, the division between good and bad Whistle blowers should not be made. The assessment of whistle blowing can not and must not depend on one's own interests.

It is therefore requested that the Bundesverfassungsgericht |Federal Constitutional Court| and Bundesarbeitsgericht |Federal Labour Court| set case law relating to whistle blowing in such a fashion as to clarify the responsibilities and rectify all uncertainties in regards to whistle blowing protection both criminal and civil legal.

This requires that the legislature establishes a general and comprehensive protection for whistle blowers with necessary exceptions.
"

The full text of the Pirate Party UK Press release

The full text of the Piratenpartei petition

 

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Good work everyone! The video has made it in the press and new channels!

Aljazeera showed a segment from this video and noted that it was blocked in several middle eastern countries. The video has been airing on Al Jazeera TV all day! The message is spreading! Good Work Everyone!!!

It can also be found on this site!
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AOL Video
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Description
----------------
Violent clashes between police and demonstrators as over ten thousand gather on the streets of Cairo. The Egyptian population has endured a tyrants rule for far too long, millions struggle each day to find where their next meal is coming from. January 25th, 2011 marks the day when the people rise and take back what's rightfully there's. This isn't the end, but hopefully the beginning to a long awaited regime change! Send to everyone and let them know.

Song: "Into the Fire" - Thirteen Senses

Thanks to the following news sources for their footage
Daily News Egypt
CNN
New York Times
Al Masry Al Youm


The video was posted on reddit and has gained momentum! Continue spreading the word! The more support we get the better!
http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/co...

CNN Description of the Situation
http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/27...

Al Jazeera Description of the situation
http://english.aljazeera.net//news/mi...

 

Governments of the world:

Those holding political power in Egypt have chosen to answer the people's calls for democracy with lethal violence. International organisations must take it upon themselves to heed these calls at this turning point in history. Democratic governments cannot idly stand by. We call upon you to take action and show the world that you are on the side of the people and their fight for freedom and democracy.

Your support of the popular uprisings in Arabic countries has been ambiguous, if not absent altogether. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exemplified the indecisiveness of the international community as she claimed that the US "could not take sides". Neutrality amounts to complicity as totalitarian regimes are showing their contempt for the citizens' right to protest. Mubarak's regime attempted to disconnect the Egyptian people from the rest of the world by cutting off internet communication, while his foot soldiers shot civilians and assaulted domestic and international journalists.

It is up to you to work for the people and support the universal right to freedom of speech. It is your prerogative to oppose violent regimes, regardless of your political affiliation. The geopolitical concerns for 'stability' have for far too long served as an excuse to ignore the violations of human rights.

People throughout the Arab world have been victimized and held hostage by their regimes. Now the people are standing up. The current situation within Egypt presents the leadership of the world with a unique opportunity to acknowledge and respect the people's ambition to control its own future. This is also the time when the question will finally be answered, once and for all: are Western governments truly "of, by, and for the people" or are they merely puppet facades, designed to ensure the continued domination by those in power?

Anonymous has made its choice. We will take sides. We will support people who strive for freedom of speech, assembly and communication - the civil rights essential for the people to forge their own futures.

We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.

Join Us: 

https://www.accessnow.org/proxy-cloud...

http://anonnews.org

http://anonops.ru

 
By Admin (from 01/02/2011 @ 10:00:34, in en - Global Observatory, read 2756 times)

It used to be that all you had to attract people to your hotel was build a pool.  As tourists evolved, the pool was considered a must.  Thus the indoor pool became a standard of luxury.

Today, both of those types of pools are anything but impressive.  It is this reason that many hotels are spending thousands, if not millions, on their pools in hopes of attracting customers.  In recent years the stakes have gone up dramatically, so now designers are getting even more creative than before to combine architectural elements that couldn’t have been dreamed of just a decade or two ago.

Infinity pools, where the water doesn’t appear to be held together by anything but a razor thin edge, are the new standard in decadence and design, but something new is always coming around the corner next. If you know of an amazing pool that should have made this list, please let us know in the comments section down below.

1 – Crown Towers Hotel in Taipa Island Macau

 Crown Towers Hotel in Taipa Island Macau

This is a cool infinity pool that looks out over a breathtaking skyline from several stories up. This is definitely a great place to enjoy the sunset in Taipa Island.
>>Crown Towers Hotel in Taipa Island Macau

2 – Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Leave it to the hotel designer in Dubai to create a pool of this magnitude.  It’s just too bad you probably have to own a helicopter to be able to comfortably afford to swim here.
>>Burj Al Arab in Dubai


3 – Golden Nugget Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Las Vegas

While the pool might not seem too cool at first glance, notice the salt-water aquarium complete with sharks that is flush with the pool.  There is also a clear tube slide that goes through the aquarium and into the pool.
>>Golden Nugget Las Vegas

4 – Blue Lagoon Geothermal Resort in Grindavík, Iceland

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Resort in Grindavík, Iceland

Ok, technically this isn’t a pool in the typical sense of a hotel pool. But, it is a warm body of water that you have to pay a pretty penny to get into. Therefore it falls into the category of a luxury hotel pool.
>>Blue Lagoon Geothermal Resort in Grindavík, Iceland

TO BE CONTINUED ...

 
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