“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Donald Rumsfeld

Gitmo, 150 Totally Innocent People.

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In olden times Kings and despots would invariably imprison their opponents. They would be thrown into a dark dungeon and forgotten about.

More recently in the 17th and 18th centuries the French King would use lettres de cachet to lock up those that annoyed or offended him.

The threat of arbitrary arrest or unfair imprisonment was one of the major grievances with the remnants of feudalism. In modern society, wherever possible, those arrested have certain rights to 1) be treated fairly 2) to know the charges against them 3) to receive a fair trial etc.

In fact, the Americans went so far as to enshrine many of these rights in the fifth and sixth amendments to the US Constitution:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.”

Rather commendable and forward thinking when you consider it, not forgetting Miranda.

However, all of these wonderful checks and balances which have developed in America were of little use to the detainees of Guantánamo Bay, or Gitmo as it is known.

Hundreds and hundreds of individuals were captured, kidnapped, many times just simply taken by local police forces or security services then handed over to the CIA (or the equivalent) and moved for rendition somewhere.

Rendition is the polite expression for forced travel and torture.

It is not quite as catchy as lettres de cachet, but the results are often similar. Instead of a dungeon the detainees would eventually end up in Gitmo, in a legal limbo, unaware of the charges against them and with no legal recourse until recently.

And all of these shameful practices have been going on since 2002, some nine years ago, and we know from recently released documents that at least 150 of the detainees were totally innocent.

The NPR’s take on it, Military Documents Detail Life At Guantanamo.

The NY Times, Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees.

This is the Wikileaks page on it.

The Washington Post’s Interactive graphic tour of Guantanamo Bay.

This is not good, Detainees Transferred Or Freed Despite ‘High Risk’.

Update 1: The Guardian has a good page on Gitmo.

Written by modernityblog

25/04/2011 at 04:21

Ronnie Reagan At 100.

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I am told that Reagan would have been 100 years old a few week agos Sunday, had he lived that long.

I suspect that he was probably eulogised. People who benefited from his misrule would have applauded him. His ideological bedfellows would have praised him endlessly.

Yet in light of the dictators falling across the Middle East we shouldn’t forget that Ronnie Reagan’s real legacy was death.

He liked dictators. Ronnie Reagan funded dictators.

And when he wasn’t funding them he was trying to whitewash them and help organised their death squads as Spartacus relates:

“After his election as president, Ronald Reagan, appointed Michael Deaver as Deputy White House Chief of Staff under James Baker III. He took up his post in January 1981. Soon afterwards, Deaver’s clients, Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina, began to receive their payback. On 19th March, 1981, Reagan asked Congress to lift the embargo on arms sales to Argentina. General Roberto Viola, one of the junta members responsible for the death squads, was invited to Washington. In return, the Argentine government agreed to expand its support and training for the Contras. According to John Ranelagh (The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA): “Aid and training were provided to the Contras through the Argentinean defence forces in exchange for other forms of aid from the U.S. to Argentina.”

Reagan had more difficulty persuading Congress to provide arms to Guatemala. During a 4th May, 1981, session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was announced that the Guatemalan death squads had murdered 76 leaders of the moderate Christian Democratic Party including its leader, Alberto Fuentes Mohr. As Peter Dale Scott pointed out in the Iran-Contra Connection: “When Congress balked at certifying that Guatemala was not violating human rights, the administration acted unilaterally, by simply taking the items Guatemala wanted off the restricted list.”

Reagan and Deaver also helped Guatemala in other ways. Alejandro Dabat and Luis Lorenzano (Argentina: The Malvinas and the End of Military Rule) pointed out that the Ronald Reagan administration arranged for “the training of more than 200 Guatemalan officers in interrogation techniques (torture) and repressive methods”. “

NPR had more:

“Sunday would have been Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, and Time’s recent cover story, “The Role Model: What Obama Sees in Reagan” — with its photoshoped picture of Ronnie’s arm around Obama — has largely been met by derision on the right, including Rush Limbaugh: “Here comes Time magazine and the rest of the Drive-By Media trying to tell us, and Obama himself trying to tell us that he’s Reagan. . . . Well, we know what he really thinks about Reagan.”

It is true that Obama, in his memoir, did say opposition to the “dirty deeds” carried out by “Reagan and his minions” pushed him into politics, citing in particular Reagan’s intervention in Central America and support for Apartheid in South Africa. In Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, Reagan’s actions directly led to the death of over 200,000 people, genocide against Mayans, and the exile of over a million refugees. It’s a safe bet to assume that this blood-soaked legacy won’t be mentioned in many of today’s birthday celebrations, though Time did obliquely admit that Reagan “backed what Obama called ‘death squads’ in El Salvador” — an interesting use of secondary attribution and scare quotes that would be akin to Der Spiegel writing in the 1970s that that Hitler “backed what Willy Brandt called ‘death camps’ in Poland.””

Not forgetting the Iran-Contra scandal or how Reagan sent Rumsfeld to support Saddam Hussein.

A little reminder:

Reagan had blood on his hands, up to his elbows, many times over. That’s something we shouldn’t forget, his real legacy, death and death squads.

Update 1: The Guardian had a good piece:

“US support for Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war as a bulwark against Shi’ite militancy has been well known for some time, but using declassified government documents, the Washington Post provided new details yesterday about Mr Rumsfeld’s role, and about the extent of the Reagan administration’s knowledge of the use of chemical weapons.

The details will embarrass Mr Rumsfeld, who as defence secretary in the Bush administration is one of the leading hawks on Iraq, frequently denouncing it for its past use of such weapons.

The US provided less conventional military equipment than British or German companies but it did allow the export of biological agents, including anthrax; vital ingredients for chemical weapons; and cluster bombs sold by a CIA front organisation in Chile, the report says.

Intelligence on Iranian troop movements was provided, despite detailed knowledge of Iraq’s use of nerve gas.

Rick Francona, an ex-army intelligence lieutenant-colonel who served in the US embassy in Baghdad in 1987 and 1988, told the Guardian: “We believed the Iraqis were using mustard gas all through the war, but that was not as sinister as nerve gas.

“They started using tabun [a nerve gas] as early as ’83 or ’84, but in a very limited way. They were probably figuring out how to use it. And in ’88, they developed sarin.”

On November 1 1983, the secretary of state, George Shultz, was passed intelligence reports of “almost daily use of CW [chemical weapons]” by Iraq.

However, 25 days later, Ronald Reagan signed a secret order instructing the administration to do “whatever was necessary and legal” to prevent Iraq losing the war.

In December Mr Rumsfeld, hired by President Reagan to serve as a Middle East troubleshooter, met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and passed on the US willingness to help his regime and restore full diplomatic relations.”

156 Pages.

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I should have written more after those seven paragraphs that the British government wanted to suppress concerning the treatment of Binyam Mohamed.

I was just reading the judgement, it is 156 pages and you can see why the British government didn’t want the appalling treatment inflicted on Binyam Mohamed to come out.

The judgement is viewable on the web or downloadable as a RTF file.

This is just a small extract:

“23. The problem in this case is not that Mr Mohamed was tortured in the UK. He was, however, subjected to torture. In Farhi Saeed Bin Mohamed, it is publicly recorded that “the Government does not challenge or deny the accuracy of Binyam Mohamed’s story of brutal treatment (p58)…the account in Binyam Mohamed’s diary bears several indicia of reliability (p61).” Note is taken of his “willingness to test the truth of his version of events in both the courts of law as well as the court of public opinion” (p62). Towards the end of its judgment two specific matters are recorded:

“(a)…[Mr Mohamed’s] trauma lasted for 2 long years. During that time, he was physically and psychologically tortured. His genitals were mutilated. He was deprived of sleep and food. He was summarily transported from one foreign prison to another. Captors held him in stress positions for days at a time. He was forced to listen to piercingly loud music and the screams of other prisoners while locked in a pitch-black cell. All the while, he was forced to inculpate himself and others in various plots to imperil Americans. The Government does not dispute this evidence.”(p64)

“(b) In this case, even though the identity of the individual interrogator changed (from nameless Pakistanis, to Moroccans, to Americans, and to special agent (the identity is redacted)), there is no question that throughout his ordeal Binyam Mohamed was being held at the behest of the United States (p68)…The court finds that [Mr Mohamed’s] will was overborne by his lengthy prior torture, and therefore his confessions to special agent…do not represent reliable evidence to detain petitioner”.

It gets worse for HMG:

“24. True to our shared traditions the District Court of Columbia made its findings publicly available. The courts in the United States, upholding the principles of open justice, have publicly revealed the essence of Mr Mohamed’s complaint and the circumstances of his detention. This provides an important aspect of my examination of the Foreign Secretary’s reliance on public interest immunity based on the control principle. Although Mr Mohamed is now discharged from the danger of proceedings in the USA, whether capital, or otherwise, there was a time when he was exposed to a genuine and serious risk that if convicted he would be executed. It was to address the risk of his conviction for a capital offence that the present proceedings were launched in this country against the Foreign Secretary. The redacted paragraphs formed part of the reasons of the court in a judgment which vindicated Mr Mohamed’s assertion that UK authorities had been involved in and facilitated the ill-treatment and torture to which he was subjected while under the control of USA authorities. “

So basically, he was tortured on behalf of the American government by various operatives from foreign powers, including an American, and the redacted name of a special agent clearly implies that HMG might have had a hand in it. At the very least, as the judgement suggests, all of this vindicates Binyam Mohamed claim that HMG were involved in and facilitating his ill-treatment and torture.

I have only skimmed the first 40 pages, but I’m sure there is more material in there to indict HMG. Clearly the actual judgement is much worse than those seven paragraphs.

Seven Paragraphs.

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The fragility of the supposed special relationship between Britain and America came into full view today, when it was argued that the release of information which detailed the torture of Binyam Mohamed would have seriously damaged the long standing Anglo-American relationship.

Such an argument did not stand up to much scrutiny, given the fact a US Court had already released the same information into the public domain.

The question as to why the Governments did not want it released is evidenced by the contents.

It has nothing to do with National Security, rather the released information would embarrass the spooks and show how they were complicit in the torture of a British citizen.

Embarrassment, the possibility of criminal proceedings and the desire to keep their questionable activities hidden was behind the court action to restrict those seven paragraphs.

The release of this information is a further nail in the coffin of Gitmo. It should have been closed years ago, and never opened in the first place.

I imagine that when Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush discussed the creation of an incarceration facility at Guantanamo Bay they probably thought they were being very clever. As it was something within their control, but in a grey area of legal jurisdiction, which allowed them plenty of freedom to mistreat or to condone the torture of inmates.

I would suspect that most of the torture was done by third parties around the world to keep US officials’ hands clean, but I hope the release of those seven paragraphs will bring forth more information.

We need to fully determine the culpability of those who did the torturing, who planned it and those who authorised it.

Much more than seven paragraphs needs releasing.

Written by modernityblog

10/02/2010 at 14:28