Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cuba defies Bush

Source: Green Left online

Lauren Carroll Harris
25 October 2007

On October 24, US President George Bush — a firm defender of freedom and human rights, as any Iraqi tortured by US forces at Abu Ghraib could testify — denounced Cuba as a “tropical gulag”. Bush said that Cuba is characterised by “terror and trauma”. The president also reaffirmed his support for the punishing US economic embargo against Cuba, which has lasted almost half a century and cost the Cuban people some US$89 billion.

A report from the Prensa Latina news agency noted that “The economic siege, officially established in 1963 and maintained for ten US administrations, aims to make the Cuban people surrender by [promoting] hunger and diseases.”

In view of the blockade’s failure to crush Cuba’s will to defy Washington, “Bush decided to approve a plan in May 2004 to speed up the destruction of the constitutional order agreed by the Cuban people. Only two months later, he reviewed the plan and added new measures to toughen the blockade, something he has been doing frequently in the last three years.”

Keep reading . . .

State minister 'encouraged massacre of 2,500 Muslims'

London Independent

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent

Published: 27 October 2007

India's largest opposition party has dismissed claims that its government in the state of Gujarat encouraged the killing of nearly 2,500 Muslims in March 2002.

The allegations against the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were made in secret video recordings by an investigative magazine which were also broadcast on local television. The BJP says the allegations are a conspiracy hatched by India's governing Congress party ahead of elections in Gujarat next month.

Tehelka magazine claimed that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, gave Hindus the green light to attack the state's Muslims after a train fire blamed on Muslims killed 58 people.

Keep reading . . .

US Consciously Kills Civilians In Afghanistan

Posted by Scarecrow at 6:15 AM on October 29, 2007.

Scarecrow: There's a "macabre kind of calculus" about whether the "target" was "worth" the likely number of civilian deaths.
Karzai has "plead" with Bush to end airstrikes

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This post, written by Scarecrow, originally appeared on FireDogLake

CBS 60 Minutes revealed last night that the US military in Afghanistan uses air strikes in situations it knows will kill innocent civilians, if the commanders also believe enough Taliban might be killed. The result has been a doubling of civilian casualties, such that we now kill as many civilians as the Taliban and al Qaeda.

And all Aghfan President Karzai can do is plead with George Bush, so far unsuccessfully, that the US stop using air strikes against civilian targets.

In one of many such incidents this year, US forces announced they had carried out an air strike and had killed several suspected militants. However, the military declined to provide further information on who might have been killed, and when reports leaked out that most of the victims had been women and children -- innocent civilians -- 60 Minutes sent a team to find out what happened.

In interviews with 60 Minutes, US military acknowledged that field commanders had clearance to call in air strikes on civilian targets, knowing that innocent deaths would likely occur, provided they made what one official described as a "macabre kind of calculus" about whether the "target" was "worth" the likely number of civilian deaths.

Keep reading . . .

Turning truth on its head

Source: Information Clearing House

Condoleezza Rice's declaration of Iran's complicity in terrorism looks like another step on the White House's march to war.

By Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi

10/30/07 "The Guardian" --- -- The US has opened up a new front in its now sharply accelerated war drive on Iran. The announcement last week by Condoleezza Rice, branding Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organisation, and imposing the strongest sanctions yet since 1979 Iranian Revolution, alarmed several democratic presidential candidates who described it as an indication that the White House had begun its "march to war".

In his article in today's Guardian, Max Hastings correctly predicts that within six months these sanctions could only lead to a military attack on Iran, a prospect that he opposes. However, he plays right into the hands of warmongers by giving unequivocal support to the two main US accusations against Iran:

"Few strategists dispute either that Iranian revolutionaries are playing a prominent role in frustrating the stabilisation of Iraq, or that Iran is doing its utmost to build nuclear weapons."

These are precisely the allegations that are used by the neoconservatives and Israel to demonise the Revolutionary Guards and the government of Ahmadinejad, justify the latest sanctions and pave the way for a military attack.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is an army of 125,000 and an indispensable part of the Iranian military. It was formed during the eight-year war waged against the Islamic Republic by Saddam Hussein, who was at the time fully supported by the US and its European allies. With this historic role in defeating foreign aggression, the Corps occupies a special place in the Islamic Republic, has a large domain of operation and runs a significant part of the economy.

Keep reading . . .

CIA director defends rendition program as "lawful"

AFP - Wednesday, October 31

CHICAGO (AFP) - - The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday defended the administration's rendition program, in which terrorism suspects are transported to secret prisons in countries with less stringent interrogation rules.

"Our programs are as lawful as they are valuable," said General Michael Hayden, as President George W. Bush's nominee for attorney general came under fire for his position on interrogation techniques.

"The irreplaceable nature of that intelligence is the sole reason why we have what I admit freely is a very controversial program," Hayden said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The CIA has generated thousands of intelligence reports from the "fewer than 100 hardened terrorists" detained since 2002, he said.

"These rendition, detention, and interrogation programs are small, carefully run operations," he said, adding that less than a third of the detainees "have required any special methods of questioning."

The administration has come under intense scrutiny for its interrogation program and Bush's refusal to rule out the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" even as he insists that the US does not torture.

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey on Tuesday condemned one such technique, waterboarding, as "repugnant" and possibly "over the line," but declined to explicitly rule it out as torture, saying he could not speculate on classified procedures.

He did, however, pledge to investigate interrogation techniques in a letter responding to growing criticism from leading Democrats who have threatened to block his confirmation.

Hayden said clarifying interrogation methods was a top priority when he took the helm of the CIA in May 2006.

"It was my belief -- and the agency has acted going forward -- that what it was we would do to protect the Republic had to have sustainability," he said in response to questions from the audience.

"It had to be consistent with our broad values as a nation. And so it could not stand on a single pillar of a definition of lawfulness. It had to have both policy and political legs."

The agency had intense discussions with both Congress and the Justice Department to determine exactly where the legal lines were drawn, and there is an officer present at all times to make sure the interrogation does not cross the line, he said.

"When we conduct interrogations there are officers who are responsible solely for the physical and well being of the detainee and have the authority to stop what is going on."

But when asked directly whether or not waterboarding constituted torture, Hayden gave a muddled and confusing response in which he cited domestic and international law.

"Judge Mukasey cannot nor can I answer your question in the abstract," he said. "I need to understand the totality of the circumstances in which this question is being posed before I can even answer that."

UN spokeman accused US of torture

The Sydney Morning Herald

Under fire ... the US government has been criticised by the UN.

Under fire ... the US government has been criticised by the UN.
Photo: AFP

Ian Munro Herald Correspondent in New York
October 31, 2007
Page 1 of 2 | Single page

THE United States's willingness to resort to harsh interrogation techniques in its so-called war on terror undermined human rights and the international ban on torture, a United Nations spokesman says.

Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said the US's standing and importance meant it was a model to other countries which queried why they were subject to scrutiny when the US resorted to measures witnessed at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison.

Mr Nowak was speaking after releasing his finding that the use of torture was routine and widespread in Sri Lanka ,despite laws against it.

"I am very concerned about the undermining of the absolute prohibition of torture by interrogation methods themselves in Abu Grahib, in Guantanamo Bay and others, but also by rendition and the whole CIA secret places of detention. All that is really undermining the international rule of law in general and human rights but also the prohibition of torture," said Mr Nowak.

"(Other countries) say why are you criticising us if the US, the most democratic country with the oldest history of human rights, if they are torturing you should first go there. It has a negative effect because the US is a very powerful and important country and many other countries take the US as a model."

Keep reading . . .

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thousands march against the war in S.F., across the country

Source: San Francisco Chronicle,

Jim Doyle, Susan Swad, Chronicle Staff Writers
Sunday, October 28, 2007

(10-27) 17:17 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- On cue from a bullhorn's blast, thousands of protesters fell to the pavement on Market Street in a symbolic "die-in" Saturday as part of a coordinated protest staged in cities across the country against the war in Iraq.

For three minutes the demonstrators lay on the pavement, representing what organizers said were more than 1 million Iraqis killed since the war began in 2003. The protesters then resumed their march from San Francisco's Civic Center to Dolores Park.

March organizers put their number at 30,000 - old, young, workers, students, religious leaders. Police declined to give a formal estimate, but onlookers said the demonstrators definitely numbered more than 10,000. They filled up Market Street for several blocks, shouting that U.S. troops should be brought home and carrying banners decrying the war.

At the head of the marchers was a band of Native American drummers who pounded a steady beat as protesters chanted, "No more war!"

Keep reading . . .

Saudi Arabia: human rights, reform and the rule of law

Source: The Daily Star

By Muhammad Helmy | October 24, 2007

Many Arab regimes share a questionable commitment to the principles of human rights, but the Saudi ruling establishment's commitment is even weaker than that of others in the region. To date, the Saudi government's reform initiatives have had a negligible impact on improving respect for human rights in the kingdom. On the contrary, peaceful Saudi reform activists have faced increased police brutality in recent years and continue to be denied the right to counsel and to fair trials.

In addition to serving extended prison terms, many have been barred from leaving the country. Most recently, on August 19, Saudi police re-arrested two of the country's most prominent reform activists, university professor and attorney Abdullah al-Hamid and his brother, activist Issa al-Hamid. Five women were arrested at the same time for demonstrating in favor of an expedited trial for their relatives. The arrests were made under the pretext of a legally dubious ban on peaceful demonstrations.

Since 2004, Saudi security forces have arrested hundreds of reform activists, and barred 22 from traveling, among them Abdullah al-Hamid, professor Matrouk al-Faleh, poet Ali al-Domaini, and Ibrahim al-Makitib - head of Human Rights First. Many activists, including Said bin Zuir and Abdullah al-Hamid, have also lost their jobs because of their political views. Critical journalists, such as Khalid al-Dakhil and Saad al-Suwan, have not escaped either and have sometimes been banned from writing in the Saudi press.

Keep reading . . .

Benazir is Asia's most corrupt politician: PML-Q leader

Malaysia Sun, October 24, 2007

Lahore, Oct 24 : Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader and Chief Minister of Punjab province, Pervaiz Elahi has termed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as Asia's most corrupt politician.

"Benazir is Asia's most corrupt politician and corruption cases against her are in almost every court in Europe," Elahi said at a public gathering in Chakwal, where he inaugurated a gas supply project on Tuesday.

Stating that Benazir's intention behind her homecoming is to get all the cases against her withdrawn, the PML-Q leader said that people of Pakistan would give a verdict against her through their vote.

Corruption cases against Bhutto would remain "in the people's court," Elahi said.

"Both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif had come to power twice, but they did nothing for Pakistan, rather had taken the country to the brink of bankruptcy," the Daily Times quoted Elahi, as saying.

Holding Benazir's party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) responsible for the rise of Taliban, Elahi said, "If the PPP had not favoured Talibanisation during its government, the situation in Pakistan had been different today."

Rumsfeld Said to Have Fled France to Avoid Torture Arrest

Pensito Review

Posted by Jon Ponder | Oct. 27, 2007, 2:23 pm

On Friday, while former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld was visiting France, human rights groups based there and in the United States filed complaints against him, charging him with approving torture:

Rumsfeld is accused of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The French complaint accuses Mr. Rumsfeld of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and says it violated the Convention Against Torture, which came into force in 1987.

As part of their complaint, the groups submitted 11 pages of written testimony from Janis Karpinski, the highest-ranking officer to be punished in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She was demoted to colonel from brigadier general and lost command of her military police unit. She contended that the abuses at the prison had started after the appearance of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was sent by Mr. Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators.

French prosecutors were said to have the power to pursue the case while Rumsfeld was in the country.

One source cites unconfirmed reports that Rumsfeld was abruptly whisked away from a breakfast meeting on Friday in order to avoid his arrest:

U.S. embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

The report said Rumsfeld fled to Germany because similar charges were dismissed against him there in the spring.The German court ruled that Rumsfeld’s criminality was an internal matter for the United States.

UAE to deport 4,000 Asian workers after strikes

AFP - October 30, 2007

DUBAI (AFP) - - Four thousand Asian labourers working in Dubai will be deported after they staged illegal strikes at the weekend over poor wages and working conditions, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Senior labour ministry official Humaid bin Deemas told the Arabic newspaper Emarat Al-Youm there would be a "deportation of 4,000 labourers who went on strike and committed acts of vandalism.

"The appropriate bodies have been contacted to carry out the necessary measures (for their deportation)," he added. "The labourers do not want to work and we will not force them to."

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates took the decision after several thousand manual workers downed tools and reportedly occupied and vandalised a building before attacking police and vehicles with stones on Saturday.

On Sunday, the strike spread to three other areas in the city-state, with the local press reporting 3,100 workers involved, but police moved in and returned the strikers to their accommodation blocks.

Such protests are rare in the UAE, where strike action is outlawed and workers are not allowed to form labour unions.

According to officials cited by local media, the protesters were demanding a wage rise of between 600 and 1,000 dirhams (140 and 270 dollars) a month, improved transport to construction sites and better housing.

Dubai, part of the UAE federation, has experienced a huge boom in its economy in recent years fuelled to a large degree by the growth of the construction sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of foreign workers across the Gulf state.

Predominantly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the labourers travel thousands of miles to work in the region so they can send money home to their families.

Much Like Auschwitz

Al-Ahram Weekly, 25-31 October 2007

Israel's regard for Palestinians can be summed up in how it imprisons and terrorises them, writes Khaled Amayreh in the occupied West Bank

A few weeks ahead of the upcoming "peace conference" in Annapolis, Maryland, Israel has been displaying its "goodwill" towards the Palestinians. At the notorious Kitziot Prison, a real concentration camp minus gas chambers, crack Israeli soldiers have been ganging up on helpless and fettered Palestinian prisoners, shooting, beating and humiliating them under largely concocted pretexts.

On Monday 22 October, in the quiet hours before dawn, hundreds of soldiers from two notoriously brutal army units, code-named Nachshon and Massada, stormed the prisoner camp for what was described as a "routine inspection". During these routine inspections, inmates are forced to take off their clothes and are subject to every imaginable form of humiliation. Whoever protests is normally placed in open-ended solitary confinement.

Keep reading . . .

The First Nation to Legalize Torture

Counterpunch, October 29, 2007

Inside Israel's Military Courts

By Lisa Hajjar
Should the United States, seeking to recalibrate the balance between security and liberty in the "war on terror," emulate Israel in its treatment of Palestinian detainees?

That is the position that Guantanamo detainee lawyers Avi Stadler and John Chandler of Atlanta, and some others, have advocated. That people in U.S. custody could be held incommunicado for years without charges, and could be prosecuted or indefinitely detained on the basis of confessions extracted with torture is worse than a national disgrace. It is an assault on the foundations of the rule of law.

But Israel's model for dealing with terrorism, while quite different from that of the U.S., is at least as shameful.

Long before the first suicide bombing by Palestinians in 1994, Israel had resorted to extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, deportations, curfews and other forms of collective punishment barred by international law.

Keep reading . . .

Monday, October 29, 2007

Nancy Pelosi, Public Enemy Number One

Global Research, October 27, 2007

Her machinations since Democrats took over the U.S. House in January 2007 show that Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't scared of the Republicans - "her eagerness to cooperate with the Bush regime is matched only by her incompetence in leading Congress." Pelosi and her leadership clique have never had the slightest intention of seriously opposing George Bush, since they are quite content with a status quo of endless war, half of New Orleans abandoned, true universal health care on perpetual hold, and a growing police state. Every constituency of the Democratic Party has been betrayed, with the complicity of Pelosi and her crowd. And there must be pay-back for back-stabbing.

"If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment." - Nancy PelosiFRPelosiWbush

The Democratic Speaker of the House would like to arrest activists for loitering. Her Quisling like behavior has led protesters to her front door in San Francisco, but she has only herself to blame for the inconveniences she and her rich neighbors now suffer. The great unwashed masses have a right to assemble at her home, her office, or anywhere else they choose in order to exercise what is left of their right to speak freely. Her own words show her level of contempt for the democratic process.

It is clear that Nancy Pelosi's reign as Speaker has been an absolute disaster for the Democratic party and for the entire nation. Her eagerness to cooperate with the Bush regime is matched only by her incompetence in leading Congress. Under her watch, Congress gave Alberto Gonzales, on his way to riding out of town on a rail, a significant victory by expanding FISA regulations to allow warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

Keep reading . . .

Guantanamo military lawyer breaks ranks to condemn 'unconscionable' detention

UK Independent,

By Leonard Doyle in Washington

Published: 27 October 2007

An American military lawyer and veteran of dozens of secret Guantanamo tribunals has made a devastating attack on the legal process for determining whether Guantanamo prisoners are "enemy combatants".

The whistleblower, an army major inside the military court system which the United States has established at Guantanamo Bay, has described the detention of one prisoner, a hospital administrator from Sudan, as "unconscionable".

His critique will be the centrepiece of a hearing on 5 December before the US Supreme Court when another attempt is made to shut the prison down. So nervous is the Bush administration of the latest attack – and another Supreme Court ruling against it – that it is preparing a whole new system of military courts to deal with those still imprisoned.

Continued . . .

UN nuclear chief attacks hostile US claims on Iran

AFP - Monday, October 29, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) - - UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday he had no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding "fuel to the fire" with recent bellicose rhetoric.

"We haven't received any information there is a parallel, ongoing, active nuclear weapon program," the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency told CNN.

"Second, even if Iran were to be working on nuclear weapons ... they are at least (a) few years away from having such weapon," he said, citing Washington's own intelligence assessments.

"My fear (is) that if we continue to escalate from both sides that we will end up into a precipice, we will end up into an abyss. The Middle East is in a total mess, to say the least. And we cannot add fuel to the fire."

Continued . . .

Powell surprised at Blair's closeness with Bush

Gulf Daily News

LONDON: Former US secretary of state Colin Powell expressed surprise at former British premier Tony Blair's strong support for President George W Bush over the Iraq war, according to book extracts published in the Mail yesterday.

Powell said he and Britain's former foreign secretary Jack Straw would "get (Blair) all pumped up" to talk to Bush about certain issues in the run-up to the 2003 conflict, but Blair would "lose his steam" when he saw Bush.

The comments are quoted in Blair Unbound, a new book by Anthony Seldon, a respected political commentator and biographer of Blair, which is being serialised in the newspaper.

Powell went on to express surprise at the strength of the "special relationship" between Blair and Bush over the issue.

"In the end, Blair would always support the president," he said.

"I found this very surprising. I never really understood why Blair seemed to be in such harmony with Bush.

"I thought, well, the Brits haven't been attacked on 9/11. How did he reach the point that he sees Saddam as such a threat?

The book said officials including Britain's former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer tried to tell Blair's advisers that "what is needed is a plain-speaking conversation" over Iraq.

A conflict waiting to happen, October 28, 2007

By Eric Margolis

No one should be surprised by the dangerous crisis between Turkey and Iraq-based Kurdish separatists.

Critics long warned the U.S. invasion of Iraq would inevitably release the genii of Kurdish nationalism. Creation of a virtually independent, U.S.-backed Kurdish state in northern Iraq was certain to provoke Turkish fury.

A decade ago, I covered the low intensity war in Eastern Anatolia between Kurdish PKK guerillas and the Turkish army. At the time, the world ignored this ugly conflict in which 35,000 people had died. I came away torn by sympathy for both sides.

In recent weeks, Turkish-Kurdish tensions erupted. Marxist-nationalist PKK guerillas (Turks brand them terrorists) fighting for an independent nation for Turkey's 20 million or so Kurds killed 12 Turkish soldiers and captured eight.

Hundreds of Turkish soldiers have been killed in Turkish Anatolia by Kurdish fighters known as "pesh-merga."

Keep reading . . .

Bush, Hunger and Death

Global Research, October 23, 2007

For the first time, just before the UN discusses, as it does every year, the project of the Cuban resolution condemning the blockade, the President of the United States announces that he will adopt new measures to accelerate the "transition period" in our country, equivalent to a new conquest of Cuba by force.

On the other hand, the danger of a massive world famine is aggravated by Mr. Bush's recent initiative to transform foods into fuel while, calling on strategic security principles, he threatens humanity with World War III, this time using atomic weapons.

Such crucially important issues are the ones attracting the attention of the representatives of the countries that will be meeting on Tuesday, October 30, to discuss the Cuban project condemning the blockade.

In elections where voting is not mandatory, our people have just given their verdict, with more than 95 percent of the electorate casting their vote at 37,749 polling stations, in ballot boxes guarded by school children. That is the example provided by Cuba.

Global Research Articles by Fidel Castro Ruz

Israeli foreign mininster: Iran nukes pose no threat to Israel

Source: War in Context

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion that Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel, Haaretz magazine reveals in an article on Livni to be published Friday.

Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears. Last week, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said similar things about Iran. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment While George Bush warns the world that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons could lead to World War III, Israel’s foreign minister says, behind closed doors — in other words in a situation where she means what she says — that Iranian nuclear weapons would not pose an existential threat to Israel.

This should be banner headline news. The Washington press corp should be hounding administration officials, demanding an explanation for this utterly glaring clash of perspectives. Instead, what do we get? Silence.

This is what things have come down to: We live in a state where the dissemination of information is controlled much more efficiently than it was in the Soviet Union. At least the Russians understood they were being lied to. Most Americans, on the other hand, are completely ignorant of the incestuous relationship between the press and the government. In this system shaped by unspoken agreements, there is no need for some clumsy Ministry of Information. All the managing editors of the major outlets can be relied upon to shape their products (within an acceptable latitude) in alignment with political and commercial power — even when that means that they knowingly makes themselves instruments of an altogether avoidable disaster. They will plead that they are merely messengers, yet they are no less culpable than the lunatics in political office. They choose what to report and what to ignore.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stop the Genocide of Palestinians in Gaza

Window Into Palestine


October 28, 2007

Gaza is not only starving; it is dying before the eyes of the international community. If the international conspiracy of silence does not come to an end, and if the policy of blaming the victim continues, the 21st Century will witness its first brutal genocide. Thousands of Israeli soldiers are surrounding Gaza in a hermetic manner, shooting and killing any Palestinian trying to escape. The Rafah Crossing, the only exit to the external world, has been closed for two years.

The Gaza Strip has been turned into the largest concentration camp with the largest population of prisoners in the world. Gazans have repeatedly reiterated their view that the international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against them indicates complicity in these war crimes.

As a result of Israel's blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish Gazans, about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. or international agencies, An increasing number of Palestinian families in Gaza are unable to offer their children more than one meager meal a day, often little more than rice and boiled lentils. Fresh fruit and vegetables are beyond the reach of many families. Meat and chicken are impossibly expensive. And fish is unavailable in its markets because the Israeli navy has curtailed the movements of Gaza's fishermen.
It is a violation of international law to collectively punish more than a million people for something they did not do. But Israel has shrugged off the law, has ignored the repeated demands of the U.N. Security Council. Which leaves us with Civil Society organizations, solidarity campaigns and freedom loving people: BREAK THE SIEGE AND STOP THE GENOCIDAL WAR BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

The One Democratic State Group
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Ajras Alawda-Editorial Board
Arab Cultural Forum
For Comments
+972 599 880608
+ 972 599 441766
+ 972 599 322636

The Culture War Descends on Columbia

The Nation, October 26, 2007

By Esther Kaplan

In the past few years, the students and faculty of Columbia University have found themselves in the midst of a culture war. They've seen their Middle East Studies department targeted as "anti-Israel" by one right-wing organization, the David Project. Two assistant professors, Joseph Massad and Nadia Abu El-Haj, were publicly smeared by another right-wing outfit, Campus Watch, as they underwent tenure review (see "The New McCarthyism" by Larry Cohler-Esses). And at the start of this school year their own president, Lee Bollinger, seemed to pander to this right-wing pressure by slamming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the name of "the modern civilized world."

This week they've got David Horowitz, of the modestly named David Horowitz Freedom Center, best known in recent years for his ads in campus papers opposing slavery reparations, in which he argued that there is no evidence that the legacy of slavery has harmed any living African-American and demanded "the gratitude of black America" for the white Christians who "created" the antislavery movement. Now he's here to teach them about "Islamofascism."

His "Islamofascism Awareness Week" descended this week on dozens of college campuses across the country (he claims more than 100) with vigils here, sit-ins there and scattered forums featuring "aware" individuals such as former Senator Rick Santorum. But Columbia has been showered with special largesse: an entire week of activities, kicked off by a candlelight vigil on Monday, where a dozen or so College Republicans remembered "the untold millions who suffer under tyrannical Islamic regimes" and closing on Friday at noon with a speech by Horowitz himself (Columbia College class of '59).

Keep reading . . .

The Politics of Hypocrisy

UK business interests in Burma are more important to this government than justice

John Pilger
Saturday October 27, 2007
The Guardian

The news is no more from Burma. The young monks are quiet in their cells, or they are dead. But words have escaped: the defiant, beautiful poetry of Aung Than and Zeya Aung; and we know of the unbroken will of the journalist U Win Tin, who makes ink out of brick powder on the walls of his prison cell and writes with a pen made from a bamboo mat - at the age of 77. These are the bravest of the brave. What shame they bring to those in the west whose hypocrisy and silence helps to feed the monster that rules Burma.

Condoleezza Rice comes to mind. "The United States," she said, "is determined to keep an international focus on the travesty that is taking place in Burma." What she is less keen to keep a focus on is that the huge American company, Chevron, on whose board of directors she sat, is part of a consortium with the junta and the French company, Total, that operates in Burma's offshore oilfields. The gas from these fields is exported through a pipeline that was built with forced labour and whose construction involved Halliburton, of which Vice-President Cheney was chief executive.

Keep reading . . .

When Modi Invokes Mahatma Gandhi's Name

t r u t h o u t | Perspective, Tuesday 23 October 2007

By J. Sri Raman

Mahatma Gandhi, the foremost symbol of India's freedom struggle, has died several deaths. He has met his martyrdom again, every time India and Indians departed from the path of peace and equitable progress. The most painful illustration, perhaps, came when the country was proclaimed a nuclear-weapon power in 1998. Not a very distant second, to many, would be Narendra Modi's declaration the other day that he was a devout disciple of Gandhi.

The comical absurdity of the claim should be obvious. The Mahatma fell to a fanatic's bullet in 1948 while fighting for interreligious harmony, while Modi rose to his full stature after presiding over a grisly pogrom against the Muslim minority in the State of Gujarat in 2002. Obvious, too, to Indian observers, was the motive behind Modi's metamorphosis. All were quick to see an electoral compulsion in his attempted new avatar.

Gujarat is going to only State-level polls, scheduled for December 11 and 16. But the elections, which will decide Gujarat's political dispensation for the next five years, are of much wider interest - national and regional. It is Modi's involvement that invests the event with such extra-Gujarat significance.

Keep reading . . .

Campaigners file torture suit against Rumsfeld

AFP - Saturday, October 27, 2007

PARIS (AFP) - - French, US and German rights groups said Friday they had filed suit for "torture" against ex-US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, currently in Paris, for his role in the Iraq war and the US "war on terror".

Around 20 campaigners gave Rumsfeld a rowdy welcome as he arrived for a breakfast meeting in Paris, yelling "murderer", waving a banner and trying to push into the building, according to the organisers, a political magazine.

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the French League for Human Rights (LDH), the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Germany's European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed the joint suit before a Paris prosecutor on Thursday.

They accuse Rumsfeld of being "personally responsible for authorising and ordering the carrying out of acts of torture" in the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, and US base in Guantanamo, Cuba, during his time as defence secretary from 2001 to 2006, according to lawyer Patrick Baudouin.

"From the moment Donald Rumsfeld sets foot on French territory, he falls within French jurisdiction with regard to the 1984 New York convention against torture," said Baudouin.

The Paris state prosecutor's office said late Friday it had asked the French foreign ministry for details on whether Rumsfeld was immune from prosecution and whether he was still in the country.

"France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute Rumsfeld's accountability for crimes of torture in Guantanamo and Iraq," FIDH president Souhayr Belhassen said in a statement.

"France has no choice but to open an investigation if an alleged torturer is on its territory. ... We call on France to refuse to be a safe haven for criminals."

The rights groups notably cite three memorandums signed by Rumsfeld between October 2002 and April 2003 "legimitising the use of torture" including the "hooding" of detainees, sleep deprivation and the use of dogs.

Five previous torture suits have been filed against the former US defence chief: two in Germany, one in Argentina, one in Sweden and one in Spain, the FIDH statement said.

Rumsfeld's agenda during the rest of his stay in Paris was kept under wraps for security reasons.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Peace Conference: New Case for War

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Blair's true colours

Source: Al Ahram, 25-31 October, 2007

The real reason Blair was seconded to the Quartet -- liquidating Palestinian resistance to occupation -- appears ever more clear, writes Saleh Al-Naami

Click to view caption
A Palestinian teenager uses a makeshift slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli soldiers during a demonstration held by Palestinians, foreign and Israeli peace activists protesting against the Apartheid wall

Rabbi Benny Elon, president of the right-wing Israeli National Union Party, was unable to conceal his relief last Thursday when a Hebrew radio news programme presenter asked him about his evaluation of the recent plan devised by Quartet envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "Finally, even Blair agrees with us on two primary points," Benny Elon said. "These are uprooting the Palestinian terrorist organisations and solving the problem of the refugees without holding Israel any responsibility for it."

Revealed the previous day, Blair's plan for the reform of Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions left resounding reverberations in the Palestinian arena. Factions, elites and the Palestinian public alike were shocked when it became clear that "reform" of PA institutions, as Blair sees it, means ensuring conditions that allow for a tightening grip on Palestinian resistance movements, particularly in the West Bank. The plan draws no tie between this and decreasing attacks on Palestinians by Israel's occupation army and settlers.

Keep reading . . .

The New York Times, Iran, and International Law

By Howard Friel

Once again, an American president is threatening to use force against another country; in this case, the Bush administration is threatening, at a minimum, to launch cruise missiles into Iran. President Bush also recently said that a military confrontation with Iran could lead to World War III. And once again, such threats demonstrate that the U.S . news media is content to permit the president to operate outside the U.S. Constitution and the UN Charter when it comes to one of the most important and momentous foreign policy decisions-when to resort to the threat and use of force against another country. How can it be that one person, given our well-established system of constitutional checks and balances, can make that decision alone without any immediate need to defend the territorial borders of the United States against an armed attack?

It is clear that the president has no legal authority under the Constitution or the Charter to decide whether to attack another country. According to the Constitution’s delegation of war powers, only the Congress is authorized “to declare war,” while the president as “Commander in Chief” has the authority to conduct war once it is declared by Congress. Referring to the constitutional limitations placed upon the president, James Madison wrote: “Those who are to conduct war cannot in the nature of things be the proper judges whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded.”

Keep reading . . .

Reducing US Casualties By Killing More Civilians

The Counterpunch, October 26, 2007

Home of the Brave?


Several years ago, I warned that as the Bush/Cheney administration sought to reduce politically problematic casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would resort to increased use of air attacks to combat the growing insurgency in Iraq and the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

I also predicted that the result of this switch in tactics would lead to higher civilian casualties in those two countries.

We're now seeing those results.

In the latest reports from Iraq, we had 15 women and children slain, mostly in their homes by rockets and bullets fired from helicopter and fixed-wing gunships which were allegedly in pursuit of some supposed "al Qaeda" fighters, and as many as 17 civilians killed in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood when US forces called in air strikes after seeing a group of men they deemed to be hostile. Again those airstrikes ended up killing more civilians than alleged enemy fighters.

Keep reading . . .

Conversations with Castro

Aged 81, the world's longest-serving leader is turning his thoughts to his legacy and the succession. In an exclusive extract from his autobiography, Fidel Castro talks to Ignacio Ramonet about vanity and cruelty - and reveals his salary and plans for retirement

Saturday October 27, 2007
The Guardian

Those who criticise the revolution blame you entirely - they talk about "Castro's Cuba".
Those people tend to personalise, to make me the representative, as though the people didn't exist. The millions of people who have struggled, who have defended the revolution; the hundreds of thousands of doctors, of professional people; those who farm, produce, study - those people don't exist. All that exists is this evil guy named Castro.

Keep reading . . .

State minister 'encouraged massacre of 2,500 Muslims'

UK Independent, October 27, 2007

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent

India's largest opposition party has dismissed claims that its government in the state of Gujarat encouraged the killing of nearly 2,500 Muslims in March 2002.

The allegations against the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were made in secret video recordings by an investigative magazine which were also broadcast on local television. The BJP says the allegations are a conspiracy hatched by India's governing Congress party ahead of elections in Gujarat next month.

Tehelka magazine claimed that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, gave Hindus the green light to attack the state's Muslims after a train fire blamed on Muslims killed 58 people.

An undercover reporter from Tehelka spent six months filming Hindu activists and BJP members, using a hidden camera. Arvind Pandya, a Gujarat government counsel, was recorded saying that Mr Modi's "blood was boiling" when he first heard of the blaze and that the minister said he "would have burst bombs" in a Muslim area of the city of Ahmedabad.

Haresh Bhatt, from a hardline Hindu group affiliated to the BJP, was filmed saying: "He had given us three days to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that, he said this openly."

Last night, the BJP rejected Tehelka's claims as being politically motivated.

Friday, October 26, 2007

White House Leak: Cheney's Plan for Iran Attack Starts With Israeli Missile Strike

Source: Alternet

High-ranking military experts say an attack would lead to world economic chaos, or even what Bush calls 'World War III.'

By Gregor Peter Schmitz and Cordula Meyer, Der Spiegel. Posted October 26, 2007.

US Vice President Dick Cheney -- the power behind the throne, the eminence grise, the man with the (very) occasional grandfatherly smile -- is notorious for his propensity for secretiveness and behind-the-scenes manipulation. He's capable of anything, say friends as well as enemies. Given this reputation, it's no big surprise that Cheney has already asked for a backroom analysis of how a war with Iran might begin.

In the scenario concocted by Cheney's strategists, Washington's first step would be to convince Israel to fire missiles at Iran's uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. Tehran would retaliate with its own strike, providing the US with an excuse to attack military targets and nuclear facilities in Iran.

This information was leaked by an official close to the vice president. Cheney himself hasn't denied engaging in such war games. For years, in fact, he's been open about his opinion that an attack on Iran, a member of US President George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil," is inevitable.

Keep reading . . .

Interfaith Group Blasts Horowitz' Islamophobia Promotion Week

Alternet. Posted October 24, 2007

The authoritarian mindset promoted by Horowitz and his gang of touring bigots is the real fascistic threat facing America today.

Editor's note: the following is a statement released by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.

Under the leadership of David Horowitz, Ann Coulter, Rick Santorum, and their neoconservative colleagues "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" is taking place October 22-26 on many campuses across America, including USC and UCLA. We believe that this is a calculated strategy to inflame fear of Muslims and ultimately to soften up the American public to support the next assault in the "War on Terror:" war against Iran. The audience is not so much the young people and their professors on campus but the unsuspecting public – you and us.

Several days after the attacks of September 11, 2001 Ann Coulter asserted: "We should invade their [Muslim's] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Last week she told Donny Deutsch: "… we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians." Now she is scheduled to take her message to academic institutions, to challenge their practices of freedom of inquiry and speech. The targets are Muslims, participants in Women's Studies Centers and academics who do not espouse the neoconservative litany. But the ultimate victim of these hate-fests will be America's reputation for fair play, civility, tolerance and liberty.

Keep reading . . .

Iraqi Women Risk Their Lives -- For the Truth

Source: Editor & Publisher

Six female staffers at McClatchy's Baghdad bureau won a major award this week for courage. Here's how one of them in recent months has revealed, as few others have, the horrific day-to-day life in that country, in blog postings.

By Greg Mitchell

(October 24, 2007) -- For several years now (and counting), brave Western reporters and editors based in Baghdad have had to rely on even braver Iraqi staffers and correspondents to help provide at least a reasonably informed picture of what is going in that country amid almost unfathomable danger. The vast majority of the dozens of journalists killed in Iraq every year are native Iraqis. E&P has hailed them often, but until this year they remained names without much of a voice.

That changed when, early in 2007, the Baghdad bureau of McClatchy Newspapers launched a new blog called Inside Iraq. It is written entirely by Iraqi staffers and E&P has quoted or reprinted items from it more than dozen times in recent months.

Yesterday, six Iraqis who have worked in the McClatchy Baghdad bureau received the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award at a luncheon at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. In introducing the six McClatchy reporters — Shatha al Awsy, Zaineb Obeid, Huda Ahmed, Ban Adil Sarhan, Alaa Majeed, and Sahar Issa — ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff said: "These six Iraqi women have reported the war in Baghdad from inside their hearts. They have watched as the war touched the lives of their neighbors and friends, and then they bore witness as it reached into the lives of each and every one of them.

Keep reading . . .

Hillary's Bush Connection

The Real News Project

Bush's mystery money man becomes Hillary's

The Bushes and the Clintons

The Clintons meet with the Bushes at the White House.


Research support for this story was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. Published in conjunction with The Nation.

In the Clintons' pursuit of power, there is no such thing as a strange bedfellow. One recently exposed inamorata was Norman Hsu, the mysterious businessman from Hong Kong who brought in $850,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaign before being unmasked as a fugitive. Her campaign dismissed Hsu as someone who'd slipped through the cracks of an otherwise unimpeachable system for vetting donors, and perhaps he was. The same cannot be said for the notorious financier Alan Quasha, whose involvement with Clinton is at least as substantial--and still under wraps.

Political junkies will recall Quasha as the controversial figure who bailed out George W. Bush's failing oil company in 1986, folding Bush into his company, Harken Energy, thus setting him on the path to a lucrative and high-profile position as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and the presidency. The persistently unprofitable Harken--many of whose board members, connected to powerful foreign interests and the intelligence community, nevertheless profited enormously--faced intense scrutiny in the early 1990s and again during Bush's first term.

Continued . . .

More Than 755,000 on US Terrorist Watch List

AFP - Thursday, October 25

WASHINGTON (AFP) - - The US terrorist watch list includes more than 755,000 names and continues to grow, the US Government Accountability Office said Wednesday.

The list exploded from fewer than 20 entries before the September 11, 2001 attacks to more than 150,000 just a few months later, after the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) was created in December 2003 to keep tabs on terrorist suspects, according to the GAO, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress.

Including known pseudonyms of suspects, the list's 755,000 names as of May 2007 represents, in fact, around 300,000 people, according to TSC estimates.

Tasked with gathering data on individuals "known or appropriately suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of or related to terrorism," the TSC gets its information from Federal Bureau of Investigation intelligence and passes it on chiefly to immigration authorities.

Since 2003, the list has been used around 53,000 times to single out individuals for possible arrest or to prevent them from entering the country, the GAO said.

More often, however, people whose names are included on the list for reasons of caution are merely questioned and released, and left to face the same annoyance each time they enter the country, GAO said.

Despite the precautionary zeal, there have been mistakes, it said, adding that many suspects have been stopped by immigration authorities on arrival at US airports when their entries in the TSC list should have prevented them from boarding their planes in the first place.

Describing the list as "quicksand" that traps innocent people for the sake of security, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called on the US Congress to step in.

"How much safer are we when the government turns so many innocent people into suspects?," ACLU senior legislative counsel Timothy Sparapani said in a statement.

Cuba responds to Bush

UK Indymedia,

Posted by F Espinoza | 25.10.2007

REPLYING to three spurious initiatives for Cuba proposed by George Bush in Washington on October 24, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque set out 12 points “covering what the U.S. president should propose as aid” to the island.

CUBA responds to Bush

REPLYING to three spurious initiatives for Cuba proposed by George Bush in Washington on October 24, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque set out 12 points “covering what the U.S. president should propose as aid” to the island.
He warned that time is running out for the U.S. president but that does not make him less dangerous.
The Cuban foreign minister convened the national and accredited international press here “to respond in the name of the government and people of Cuba to the statements made by President Bush.”
In a speech lasting a little over one hour, Felipe Pérez Roque stated that Cuba considers that the words of the U.S. president herald “an unprecedented escalation in the anti-Cuba policy” of more blockade, more subversion, and more attempts at isolation.
He noted that the policy in force within the Bush regime is a change of regime in Cuba “including via the use of force,” which the U.S. leader calls “accelerating the process of transition” and Fidel describes as “the re-conquest of Cuba by force.”
The foreign minister analyzed the “threatening and arrogant language” of the speech in the White House and the significant change of words and concepts.
“In January 2004,” he stated, “Bush talked of ‘working toward a rapid and peaceful transition to democracy;’ in May it was ‘speeding up the day that Cuba would become a free country;’ and, in October, ‘the Cuban people should be freed.’
“Three years later, last June,” the minister noted, “Bush advocated ‘heavy pressure for the freedom of Cuba;’ and now he is saying in this speech; ‘the word in order in our future dealings with Cuba is not stability, it is freedom.’
“Cuba understands these words as an irresponsible act that reflects the level of frustration and calls for violence to defeat the Revolution.”
Pérez Roque noted the fact that “Bush is leaving open the option of a hypothetical and fantasy internal uprising that everybody knows is politically impossible because the Revolution has the support of the people,” but also leaves open the possibility of an external aggression.
“Time is running out for Bush but that does not make him any less dangerous,” the minister warned, adding that in his Washington speech he made “a vain and ridiculous attempt to recruit” our Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, whose lives he would spare if they betrayed the Revolution.
“I have a message for you, you are raving, you are talking to an army of liberation” and to security combatants who have prevented more than 600 assassination attempts on Fidel. You are mistaken, you do not know this people, who are not in the category of the mercenaries whom you pay here.”
“Cuba’s reaction is one of indignation, but of absolute serenity and confidence in our strength. The word in order here is courage.
The foreign minister also commented on Bush’s three new initiatives for Cuba, evidence, he said, of that there is almost nothing left to try out against the island.
He referred to Bush’s disposition to consider granting licenses to non-governmental organizations and religious groups to supply computers to young Cubans and access to the Internet.
“A ridiculous announcement that would be laughable if it was not inserted into this intensification of the anti-Cuba policy. In a country that, despite the blockade, has more than 500,000 computers installed; which, next year is to install another 150,000; and, from 2008 can assemble 120,000 per year. Where 600 Youth Computer Clubs are operating that give free access to the Internet to more than two million Cubans every year.”
Felipe Pérez Roque continued: “Moreover, he is inviting young Cubans, the sons and daughters of his mercenaries in Cuba, to join a 3-year grant program implemented for Latin America. “This, for a country with 65 universities where 730,000 young Cubans are currently studying and which, in addition, has 30,000 scholarship students from 120 countries.”
Lastly, Bush proposed the creation of an International Fund for the Freedom of Cuba, with the aim of other countries contributing money to defeat the Revolution,” the foreign minister noted.
“Mr. President made a desperate call on other countries to join the blockade,” Pérez Roque highlighted, “evidence of his isolation, that he has no support in the world. “He might be the most powerful person, but he is not the most respected one. The international community does not go along with his policy and today, rejection of the genocidal blockade is almost universal.”
After commenting on the “initiatives,” the foreign minister listed the 12 points that “the U.S. president should propose as aid” to the island:
1. Respect for Cubans’ right to their independence and sovereignty.
2. An immediate end to the policy of aggression and threat.
3. An end to intervention in Cuba’s internal affairs and attempts to manufacture an internal opposition.
4. An end to subversive acts against Cuba and the dismantling of the radio and television that offend the name of the national hero (José Martí).
5. The immediate lifting of the blockade.
6. The elimination of the ban on travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and family visits by Cubans living there.
7. An end to the stimulation of illegal emigration from Cuba. The repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the fulfillment of the Migratory Agreements.
8. An end to the aggressive disinformation campaigns.
9. The release of the five anti-terrorist fighters, political prisoners in U.S. jails.
10. The extradition of the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela or his trial in the United States.
11. The immediate closure of the torture center he created on the Guantánamo Naval Base.
12. The cessation of pressure on the international community to support his anti-Cuba policy.
Pérez Roque reiterated that Bush will not succeed in his designs against Cuba. “There is no human or natural force in the world capable of making the Cubans desist from their dreams of justice, freedom and independence. We are a victorious Revolution and we have won the respect of everybody.”
Almost at the end of his speech, the Cuban foreign minister recalled that on the 45th anniversary of the October (Missile) Crisis: “The Cuban people have the same serenity, the same integrity, the same sentiment of national unity and patriotic pride as in those luminous and sad days – as Che called them – when the Cuban people were even prepared to confront a nuclear holocaust before renouncing their principles and their sovereignty.”

Torture, Paramilitarism, Occupation and Genocide: Torture as Policy under Bush

UK Indymedia, October 25, 2007

Stephen Lendman | 25.10.2007 20:22

On October 5, George Bush confronted a public uproar and defended his administration claiming "This government does not torture people." Again he lied. Once secret US Department of Justice (DOJ) legal opinions confirm the Bush administration condones torture by endorsing "the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency." It also condones paramilitary thuggery, oppressive occupation, and genocide. This unholy combination is the ugly face of an imperial nation run by war criminals. That's the state of things today. First, the practice of torture.

Torture as Policy under George Bush

In a hollow posturing gesture, DOJ publicly declared torture "abhorrent" in a December, 2004 legal opinion. That secretly changed after Alberto Gonzales became Attorney General in February, 2005 and authorized physical and psychological brutality as official administration policy. This continues unabated in violation of international and US laws that include fifth and eighth amendment prohibitions against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all forms for any reason. These practices been long-standing US official policy, nonetheless, but the mask came off post-9/11 when former CIA Counterterrorism Center chief Cofer Black (now Blackwater USA's vice-chairman) told a joint House-Senate intelligence committee hearing September 26, 2002: "There was a before-9/11 and an after-9/11(on the use of torture). After 9/11, the gloves came off" and "old" standards no longer apply. They never did, and Congress knows and condones it.

Keep reading . . .

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bush threatens escalation of aggression against Cuba

Source: WSWS

By Bill Van Aukem, October 25, 2007

When it comes to profaning the name of freedom, there have been few speeches given anywhere that could seriously compete with the diatribe on Cuba that President George W. Bush delivered at the State Department Wednesday.

Bush used the word 25 times in a brief address that called for the continued tightening of the 47-year-old US economic blockade of Cuba and implicitly promoted violent upheavals, a possible military coup and stepped-up US aggression against the island nation.

The speech was timed to fall between Cuba’s recent municipal elections—the first held since the ailing Fidel Castro relinquished the reins of power—and next week’s vote in the United General Assembly on a resolution condemning the trade embargo that the US has employed in an attempt to strangle Cuba’s economy since shortly after the 1959 revolution. A similar resolution was passed by a vote of 183 to 4 last year, and this time Washington can expect to be similarly humiliated.

Once again Bush demonized the Cuban regime as one that has “denied their citizens basic rights,” “bought generations of misery,” and “offered Cubans rat-infested prisons and a police state.” Not content with these denunciations, Bush assured his audience of State Department flunkies and members of the Miami-based, right-wing Cuban exile mafia: “Cuba’s regime no doubt has other horrors still unknown to the rest of the world. Once revealed, they will shock the conscience of humanity.”

The immediate question raised by the US president’s speech is: who the hell is he to lecture anyone about democracy, freedom and human rights? If anything has “shocked the conscience of humanity” in the present period, it is an American president who came to power through the fraudulent overturning of an election, has waged unprovoked wars of aggression—killing over a million people—rejected the most fundamental democratic rights, and defended the use of torture.

Keep reading . . .

A shameful silence

Source: Palestine Chronicle

Bush Regime Preaches Democracy, Proposes Tyranny

Information Clearing House

By Paul Craig Roberts

10/24/07 "ICH" -- -- US citizens had best rethink the "war on terror" while they still have the liberty to do so. For all of President Bush’s blah-blah talk about bringing democracy to the world, the Bush administration has proved that it is no friend of liberty at home.

The Bush administration has violated constitutional principles, US law, and the Geneva Conventions as no previous administration has done. Here is a short list of the Bush administration’s crimes:

  • Spying without court warrants on Americans in violation of both the US Constitution and the FISA statute.
  • The denial of habeas corpus, attorney-client privilege, due process, and Geneva Conventions protections to those, American or foreign, designated without evidence as terrorists or enemy combatants.
  • The justification and use of torture to coerce confessions and the kidnapping of foreign nationals who are sent to be tortured in foreign prisons.
  • The initiation of military aggression against states based on intentional deception by the Bush administration of the US public and the United Nations, and the intentional fabrication of "evidence" to justify unprovoked aggression against sovereign states, which is a war crime under the Nuremberg standard established by the US.
  • Violation of the oath of office to defend the US Constitution by practically every member of the Bush administration and Congress.
  • Bush has assaulted the separation of powers and the rule of law with "signing statements" and "executive orders" that President Nixon’s White House Counsel John Dean says are commands that treat the co-equal branches of government and the electorate as subservient to executive authority. In April 2006, Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage listed 750 laws "challenged" by the Bush administration. Not even the demonized president of Iran claims to be above the law.
  • Genocide against the people of Iraq where one million Iraqis have died as a result of Bush’s invasion and several million Iraqis are displaced persons.
  • Massive civilian casualties in Afghanistan, which is a form of genocide in which military force is routinely applied to unarmed noncombatants.
  • Massive corruption in which no-bid contracts are issued to Republican corporations in exchange for kickbacks to political campaigns.
  • The theft of two national elections as documented in books by Mark Crispin Miller and Greg Palast.
Keep reading . . .