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Gender: Male
Hometown: Connecticut
Home country: USA
Current location: nice place
Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 30,099

Journal Archives

With Liberty and Justice for Some: Six Questions for Glenn Greenwald by Scott Horton

December 16, 2011

In the wake of September 11, Glenn Greenwald emerged as the nation’s premier chronicler of the war that U.S. officials waged on the nation’s civil liberties under the pretext of battling terrorists. Persistent and technically skilled, he played a key role in unmasking shameless betrayals by government attorneys of their oath to uphold the law—exposing those who enabled the torture of prisoners, the introduction of a massive warrantless surveillance system, and the merciless war against loyal Americans who attempted to blow the whistle on such abuses. I put six questions to Greenwald about his new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, which examines the emerging doctrine of impunity for politically powerful elites in the United States:

1. You start your account of the doctrine of elite immunity in the United States with Gerald Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon. How did this one decision, among the numerous incidents you describe, provide a point of rupture in the nation’s rule-of-law tradition?

American history is suffused with violations of equality before the law. The country was steeped in such violations at its founding. But even when this principle was being violated, its supremacy was also being affirmed: resoundingly and unanimously in the case of the founders. That the rule of law—not the rule of men—would reign supreme was one of the few real points of agreement among all the founders. Arguably it was the primary one.

There’s an obvious element of hypocrisy in this fact; espousing a principle that one simultaneously breaches in action is hypocrisy’s defining attribute. But there’s also a more positive side: the country’s vigorous embrace of the principle of equality before law enshrined it as aspiration. It became the guiding precept for how “progress” was understood, for how the union would be perfected.

in full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2011/12/hbc-90008356

Dasht-e-Leili, Ten Years Later by Scott Horton

December 13, 2:02 PM, 2011

In December 2001, Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, with strong U.S. backing consisting of special-forces units and CIA paramilitary operatives, were close to consolidating their control over the country. Kabul was occupied, and Kunduz, the last major Taliban stronghold in the north, had been crushed. Large numbers of Taliban forces and their allies had surrendered.

Then, in the north, as many as 2,000 prisoners who had surrendered to the Alliance or their American supporters were apparently shot to death or suffocated in sealed metal truck containers while being transferred to Afghanistan’s Sheberghan prison. The dead prisoners from this “convoy of death” were then buried in the northern Afghanistan desert, at Dasht-e-Leili. By the next year, many of the bodies had been exhumed and examined. Some of them bore clear signs of torture.

The incident is without doubt the most serious war crime arising out of the U.S. and Northern Alliance campaign to defeat the Taliban and establish a new regime in Afghanistan. To the best of our knowledge, Americans do not appear to have been involved in carrying out the atrocities, which were reportedly carried out by forces controlled by General Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek warlord who commanded forces in the vicinity of Mazar-e-Sharif, on the Uzbekistan frontier. The Rumsfeld Pentagon disclaimed the U.S. responsibility to investigate the incident on these grounds, and strained to cover up the incident. But it was later established that a significant number of American advisers were on hand at the time of the massacre.

Following these disclosures, in July 2009, CNN’s Anderson Cooper pressed President Barack Obama about the incident. Obama stated that he would ask his national security team “to collect the facts” and would “make a decision on how to approach it once the facts were known.” More than two years have passed since this pledge, but no further evidence has emerged, and no statement or report has been produced to show that an investigation was conducted.

remainder: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2011/12/hbc-90008349

Pakistan's legal fight to end the drone war

As civilian deaths in Pakistan mount from the US drone war, legal groups work to raise awareness - and impose justice.

Last Modified: 14 Dec 2011

"You cannot call me lucky," said Sadaullah Wazir as he recounted the events of a drone strike two years ago on his home in North Waziristan.

The strike killed his two young cousins and an elderly wheelchair-bound uncle. It also severed both of then-15-year-old Sadaullah's legs and cost him the use of an eye, turning a normal family dinner into an otherworldly nightmare and radically altering the path of his young life.

"I had a dream to be a doctor," he says. "But now I can't even walk to school."

Today, Sadaullah is one of an increasing number of Pakistanis who are seeking justice in the courtroom against the orchestrators of a drone campaign which is believed to have killed thousands of their fellow citizens; a huge number of whom recent studies have shown to be innocent civilians.

Increased US drone strikes questioned

Over the past three years, the steady buzzing of Predator drones overhead has become a grim and terrifying fact of life for many residents of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KP). So pervasive is the sense of fear that doctors there report a huge upsurge in the usage of tranquilisers and sleeping pills among the civilian population. Drone strikes are believed to have been responsible for the deaths of a conservatively estimated 2,283 individuals over this period, and the injuries of thousands more, including Sadaullah.

remainder in full: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/12/20111213112743546541.html

Latin America's message to the Arab world

Latin Americans should share their experiences with democratisation with other countries in the global South.
Pepe Escobar Last Modified: 09 Dec 2011 10:10

Take a good look at this 1970 photo.

The 22-year-old woman in the photo is about to be examined by a bunch of subtropical inquisitors.

She has just been tortured, electrocuted and waterboarded - what Dick Cheney dismisses as "enhanced interrogation" - for 22 days.

Yet she didn't break down.

Today this woman, Dilma Rousseff, is the President of Brazil - the perennial "country of the future", the world's seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity (ahead of the UK, France and Italy), a member of the BRICS, and exercising a soft power way beyond music, football and joy of living.

This photo has just been published, as part of a Rousseff-biography, exactly when Brazil finally launches a Truth Commission to establish what really happened during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). Argentina, way ahead, already did it - judging and punishing its own surviving inquisitors in uniform.

remainder in full: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/12/201112694026340182.html

Inside the CIA’s Black Site in Bucharest by Scott Horton

Reporters for German network ARD’s Panorama newsmagazine and the Associated Press have pieced together key details surrounding the CIA’s operation of a black site in Bucharest, Romania. AP’s Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo write:

In northern Bucharest, in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city, is a secret that the Romanian government has tried for years to protect. For years, the CIA used a government building — codenamed Bright Light — as a makeshift prison for its most valuable detainees. There, it held al-Qaida operatives Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, and others in a basement prison until 2006, the year some were sent to Guantánamo Bay, according to former U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the location and inner workings of the prison…

Unlike the CIA’s facility in Lithuania’s countryside or the one hidden in a Polish military installation, the CIA’s prison in Romania was not in a remote location. It was hidden in plain sight, a couple blocks off a major boulevard on a street lined with trees and homes, along busy train tracks. The building is used as the National Registry Office for Classified Information, which is also known as ORNISS. Classified information from NATO and the European Union is stored there. Former intelligence officials both described the location of the prison and identified pictures of the building.

The facility’s address is Strada Mureș 4, according to the German account.

With typically wishful thinking, CIA general counsel Stephen Preston claimed in September that “the controversy has largely subsided.” In fact, criminal probes across Europe are just now exposing the full scope of the CIA’s black sites. Under the CIA program, which was terminated by President Bush in September 2006, terrorism suspects were held and questioned using waterboarding and other Justice Department–approved torture methods that the Bush Administration labeled “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Bush-era Justice officials continue to insist that the techniques were lawful; their successors at the Obama Justice Department disagree, but have declined to investigate or prosecute their predecessors, giving legitimacy to the “golden shield” memoranda of the Bush DOJ.

remainder in full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2011/12/hbc-90008343

Putting match to tinder

By Alastair Crooke

A former head of Mossad, the Israeli secret service, Efraim Halevy, neatly encapsulated [1] one primary aim of a war that has already been ignited in the Middle East: "The current standoff in Syria presents a rare chance to rid the world of the Iranian menace ... And ending Iran's presence in [in Syria] poses less of a risk to international commerce and security than harsher sanctions, or war [on Iran would pose]".

And it is real, hot war now: both in the microcosm of Syria and on the geostrategic plane. In the wake of its failure to bulldoze the United Nations Security Council into demanding President Bashar al-Assad's head, Saudi Arabia and Qatar vowed to intensify the bloody insurgency in Syria in order to bring down a fellow Arab head of state through violent insurrection.

If Syria were not currently such a hated object for the West and Israel, such actions would, in any other circumstances, be labeled terrorism. It would be obtuse to imagine either Saudi Arabia or Qatar were so outraged at the Security Council veto for reason of their deep commitment to popular democracy.

What is roiling the politics of the region, and fanning this hot proxy war into wider sectarian distrust and fear among religious minorities, is the sense that at play are several quite distinct "war projects". The bursting into flame of these multiple agendas touches on the most sensitive, the most elemental aspects of the sectarian divide in Islam.

in full: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB15Ak01.html
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