Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained three journalists in separate incidents across the West Bank, as they compiled news reports near settlements on Saturday.
Al-Quds TV representatives said that a journalist and a cameraman were detained near the illegal settlement of Ariel, south of Nablus.
Correspondent for Al-Quds TV Mus’ab Al-Khatib, 25, and Ahmad Al-Kilani, 23, who works for Pal Media, were arrested whilst preparing a news report about a university near the settlement that was recognized recently by Israeli authorities.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers detained a Pal Media journalist on Saturday reporting on a demonstration organized by farmers from the At-Tuwani village to protest the recent destruction of an olive grove near the Israeli settlement outpost of Havot Ma’on, the Christian Peacemaking Team said in a statement.
” While Palestinian farmers, accompanied by internationals, were planting olive trees, fifteen settlers approached the area, some carrying slingshots,” the statement read.
“Israeli soldiers and police also entered the area. The soldiers informed the Palestinians that the area was a closed military zone, showing them a map that encompassed a large area south of Havat Ma’on outpost. Police arrested the journalist, saying he had violated the closed military zone order.”
By Paul Lewis | The Guardian | 23 January 2010
Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.
The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.
Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.
They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.
The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates UK airspace, has been told by BAE and Kent police that civilian UAVs would “greatly extend” the government’s surveillance capacity and “revolutionise policing”. The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft, but adequate “sense and avoid” systems for drones are only a few years away.
Five other police forces have signed up to the scheme, which is considered a pilot preceding the countrywide adoption of the technology for “surveillance, monitoring and evidence gathering”. The partnership’s stated mission is to introduce drones “into the routine work of the police, border authorities and other government agencies” across the UK.
Concerned about the slow pace of progress of licensing issues, Kent police’s assistant chief constable, Allyn Thomas, wrote to the CAA last March arguing that military drones would be useful “in the policing of major events, whether they be protests or the Olympics”. He said interest in their use in the UK had “developed after the terrorist attack in Mumbai”.
Stressing that he was not seeking to interfere with the regulatory process, Thomas pointed out that there was “rather more urgency in the work since Mumbai and we have a clear deadline of the 2012 Olympics”.
BAE drones are programmed to take off and land on their own, stay airborne for up to 15 hours and reach heights of 20,000ft, making them invisible from the ground.
Far more sophisticated than the remote-controlled rotor-blade robots that hover 50-metres above the ground – which police already use – BAE UAVs are programmed to undertake specific operations. They can, for example, deviate from a routine flightpath after encountering suspicious activity on the ground, or undertake numerous reconnaissance tasks simultaneously.
The surveillance data is fed back to control rooms via monitoring equipment such as high-definition cameras, radar devices and infrared sensors.
Previously, Kent police has said the drone scheme was intended for use over the English Channel to monitor shipping and detect immigrants crossing from France. However, the documents suggest the maritime focus was, at least in part, a public relations strategy designed to minimise civil liberty concerns.
“There is potential for these [maritime] uses to be projected as a ‘good news’ story to the public rather than more ‘big brother’,” a minute from the one of the earliest meetings, in July 2007, states.
Behind closed doors, the scope for UAVs has expanded significantly. Working with various policing organisations as well as the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the Maritime and Fisheries Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Agency, BAE and Kent police have drawn up wider lists of potential uses.
One document lists “[detecting] theft from cash machines, preventing theft of tractors and monitoring antisocial driving” as future tasks for police drones, while another states the aircraft could be used for road and railway monitoring, search and rescue, event security and covert urban surveillance.
Under a section entitled “Other routine tasks (Local Councils) – surveillance”, another document states the drones could be used to combat “fly-posting, fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles, abnormal loads, waste management”.
Senior officers have conceded there will be “large capital costs” involved in buying the drones, but argue this will be shared by various government agencies. They also say unmanned aircraft are no more intrusive than CCTV cameras and far cheaper to run than helicopters.
Partnership officials have said the UAVs could raise revenue from private companies. At one strategy meeting it was proposed the aircraft could undertake commercial work during spare time to offset some of the running costs.
There are two models of BAE drone under consideration, neither of which has been licensed to fly in non-segregated airspace by the CAA. The Herti (High Endurance Rapid Technology Insertion) is a five-metre long aircraft that the Ministry of Defence deployed in Afghanistan for tests in 2007 and 2009.
CAA officials are sceptical that any Herti-type drone manufacturer can develop the technology to make them airworthy for the UK before 2015 at the earliest. However the South Coast Partnership has set its sights on another BAE prototype drone, the GA22 airship, developed by Lindstrand Technologies which would be subject to different regulations. BAE and Kent police believe the 22-metre long airship could be certified for civilian use by 2012.
Military drones have been used extensively by the US to assist reconnaissance and airstrikes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But their use in war zones has been blamed for high civilian death tolls.
Andy Worthington | 23.1.10
With a stunning lack of sensitivity, Barack Obama’s Guantánamo Task Force chose the anniversary of the President’s failed promise to close the prison to announce its conclusions regarding the eventual fate of the 196 prisoners who are still held, stating, with no trace of irony, that “nearly 50” of the men “should be held indefinitely without trial under the laws of war,” as the Washington Post explained.
The administration’s invocation of the laws of war actually refers to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which authorized the President “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001” (or those who harbored them), as interpreted by the Supreme Court in June 2004, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which it was asserted that “Congress has clearly and unmistakably authorized detention” of individuals covered by the AUMF.
This may technically be legal in the United States, but it is at odds with everyone else’s understanding of the laws of war. As every other civilized country understand them, the laws of war involve holding combatants for the duration of hostilities according to the Geneva Conventions, which, under Common Article 3, prohibit the “humiliating and degrading treatment” and coercive interrogations to which the men in Guantánamo were subjected, after President Bush declared in February 2002 that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
Moreover, these men were never screened to ascertain whether they were actually combatants in the first place. Under Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention (relative to the treatment of prisoners of war), if there is any doubt about whether those detained fit the description of Article 4 (broadly speaking, regular armed forces), they should be treated as Article 4 prisoners until their status has been determined by a competent tribunal. Held close to the time and place of capture, these were convened in every US war from Vietnam onwards, and in the first Gulf War, for example, 1,196 tribunals were held, and 886 men were subsequently released.
However, competent tribunals were not held in Afghanistan (and are still not held to this day, under President Obama), and irregular soldiers (such as those fighting for the Taliban, or military forces related to al-Qaeda who were supporting the Taliban) slipped through the cracks of the protections assured to everyone detained in wartime, whether combatant or civilian, and were labeled as “unlawful enemy combatants,” who, according to the Bush administration, could be deprived of all rights.
This was nonsense, as the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed in 1958 in a commentary on the Fourth Convention (relative to the treatment of civilians) that “Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, or … a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention.” Moreover, “There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can be outside the law.”
This interpretation was reinforced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in a judgment in 1998, but in the “War on Terror,” the result of the Bush administration’s cynical maneuvering was Guantánamo, a prison in which men who had never been adequately screened were presumed to be guilty, even though, in most cases, the authorities knew nothing about them. This was largely because 86 percent of them had not been seized “on the battlefield,” as senior officials claimed, but had been sold to the US military by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, at a time when bounty payments, averaging $5,000 a head, were being paid for al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects.
As a result, the Obama administration’s justification for holding 50 men indefinitely without charge or trial reinforces the Bush administration’s false claim that there is a category of wartime prisoner who can be held indefinitely (as opposed to being held as a prisoner of war until the end of hostilities). What makes this conclusion even more unnerving is that the justification for holding these men indefinitely is evidence that, by President Obama’s own admission, is “tainted” by the use of torture.
In a major national security speech in May, when he first signaled that he was reviving the Bush administration’s justification for holding men indefinitely without charge or trial, President Obama referred to prisoners who “cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States.” … Full article
January 23, 2010 | by Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies
Israeli Ynet News reported that an Israeli-Arab student, studying at Ariel College, was humiliated and forced out of an Israeli bus after she “was heard” speaking Arabic on her cell phone.
She said that she was forced out of the bus for daring to speak her language while on board.
Hanin Musleh also said that she was subjected to a full body search, the Ynet added.
She is from Wadi Ara area and is studying at the college to obtain a degree in engineering.
Musleh was removed from the bus by two armed guards who boarded the vehicle near a roadblock just out of Ariel settlement, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
The guards forced her out of the bus after questioning her for speaking in Arabic.
She said that she takes the same bus every day to go to her college, and that she was removed out of the bus to be left on some isolated road.
She added that she told the guards that she is Israeli, with Israeli ID and citizenship, just like them, and that they should not be humiliating and degrading her like this.
Musleh even stated that she does not wear a veil or any traditional dress, and that she does not even look Arab.
“The only reason they removed me from the bus is because I spoke Arabic”, she added.
The Ynet stated that the Ariel municipality said that the guards work for a security agency that “operates in accordance to the guidelines of the Israeli military.
The Ariel College said that it regrets this incident, and that Arab students constitute 4% of the entire student body at the college.
The college added that several Arab students live in dorms and are involved with the community of Ariel settlement.
The college said that this is the first time such an incident happens, and that Arab students started enrolling 15 years ago.
But Musleh stated that several other Arab students were also humiliated at checkpoints leading to Ariel, and that they will be considering legal action.
Two Pakistani employees of an American defense contractor engaged by the US Embassy in Islamabad have been linked to two attacks on Pakistani military and the assassination of a Brigadier. If this is not alarming, then consider that US Ambassador Anne Patterson’s name has come up in an investigation where thousands of dollars were paid in bribes to Interior Ministry to smuggle illegal weapons into Pakistan. Not to mention how Washington is empowering India in Afghanistan at Pakistan’s cost. When Pakistan takes countermeasures, US officials like Mr. Gates and Mr. Holbrooke accuse Pakistan of ‘anti-Americanism’ and harassing US diplomats. Time for some straight talk.
By AHMED QURAISHI | 23 January 2010
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—US Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted during an interview with a Pakistani TV station that Blackwater [now ‘Xe International’] and DynCorp are operating in Pakistan. Immediately after the statement, Pentagon tried to put a spin on his words.
But US meddling inside Pakistan –by posting private US defense contractors under diplomatic cover of the US embassy – is a reality for most Pakistanis. Some of these Americans have been caught disguised as Taliban right in the heart of Islamabad. Some Pakistanis were manhandled by some of these American militiamen on the streets of at least two Pakistani cities in recent months.
Since Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan despite all the US direct and indirect misinformation, these US covert operators were arrested on several occasions.
The mainstream US media continues to keep the good American people and the world opinion in the dark about this. But this is probably one of the biggest untold stories in America’s war on terror. This is about the United States trying to put boots on the ground inside Pakistan through the help of a pro-US government in Islamabad that shares [or at least key figures in it] the US objective of containing and limiting the ability of Pakistan’s military to influence the country’s foreign policy. This is about Pakistan wanting to keep an independent foreign policy versus Pakistan blindly serving US policy on Afghanistan, India and China.
Mr. Gates tried to put a gloss on this US covert meddling when he said, ‘Well, they’re [Blackwater and DynCorp] operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.’
Not true. The truth is that the issue is so serious that, according to Pakistani investigators, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson is a suspect in a case of bribes amounting to little over US $ 270,000 paid by DynCorp in 2009 to senior officials at the federal Interior Ministry in Pakistan. The money went in exchange for allowing illegal weapons into Pakistan to be used by private US defense contractors without informing the country’s security departments and intelligence agencies. Ms. Patterson personally lobbied Pakistani officials for this concession to DynCorp. She even wrote a letter to Pakistani officials, followed by a letter by her Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Gerald Feierstein, asking Pakistani Interior Ministry officials to issue permits for weapons to be used by DynCorp in the ‘entire territory of Pakistan.’ The US ambassador is directly linked to the probe, which has resulted in the arrest of a key aide to Pakistan’s Minister of State for the Interior. But the government of President Zardari will not dare allow Pakistani investigators to pursue the US Ambassador’s role in the scandal. A key question in the probe is how the US Embassy and DynCorp allowed the cargo of illegal weapons into Pakistan. According to one lead, a huge cache of weapons reached a Pakistani tribal leader on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, who in turn wrote to the Interior Ministry announcing he was ‘gifting’ the weapons to a Pakistani subcontractor of DynCorp.
Incidents like this and others raised alarm bells inside Pakistani security departments and the intelligence community. In effect, key figures in President Zardari’s government were found to have given approval for the entry of a large number of US citizens into Pakistan for ‘official US government business’ without explaining what that is. When Pakistani authorities tried to get to the bottom of how private US defense contractors ended up inside Pakistan in large numbers and what they were exactly doing here, US officials and media launched what appears to be a media trial of Pakistan, accusing the country of ‘harassing’ US diplomats and denying visas to them because of alleged anti-Americanism.
The unwillingness of the Zardari government to confront Washington and Pakistan’s generally weak media outreach skills allowed Washington to paint this as a case of anti-Americanism fueled by war on terror.
‘Conspiracy theories’ is another label that US officials and media have increasingly used recently as a cover to hide serious violations of diplomatic norms and sovereignty involving undercover private US operatives inside Pakistan.
This is how the Wall Street Journal tried to delegitimize serious Pakistani concerns raised during Mr. Gates’ visit in a report filed from Islamabad whose opening line read as follows, “U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is overseeing wars with Sunni militants in Iraq and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, he’s facing a different foe: the pervasive conspiracy theories that fuel widespread anti-American feelings here.”
The truth is that there are no conspiracy theories but real events, reported and documented, that raise questions over US political, diplomtic, and covert meddling inside Pakistan. Here is a list:
1. NUCLEAR ESPIONAGE: In July 2009, four US ‘diplomats’ were arrested inside the maximum security perimeter around Pakistan’s premier nuclear facility at Kahuta. They failed to tell Pakistani investigators what they were doing there and how they managed to slip through the security checkpoints in the area. US Embassy intervened to rescue the four ‘diplomats’ after almost three hours in detention, citing diplomatic immunity. President Zardari’s government refused to let Pakistani security authorities press charges.
2. SUSPICIOUS CONDUCT: On Oct. 6, 2009, Pakistani police arrested two Dutch diplomats roaming the streets of Islamabad without a number plate carrying advanced weapons. Pakistani police were surprised when security personnel from the US Embassy reached the scene to rescue the Dutch. The Americans used their contacts within the Zardari government to get everyone released. Later, Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US and Dutch diplomats for a private meeting over the incident. But the Pakistani government refused to demand a public explanation from US and Dutch diplomats despite recommendations from police and security officials.
3. FACILITATING INDIAN ACTIVITIES: In this high profile case in May 2009, a US diplomat arranged a small meeting between an Indian diplomat and several senior Pakistani federal government officials at a private house. The invited Pakistanis worked in civilian positions, including one with access to Prime Minister’s Office. It appeared that the US diplomat was basically facilitating the Indian to meet senior officials who otherwise would be inaccessible for him. Pakistan Foreign Office took serious exception to the meeting, publicly reprimanded the Pakistani officials who attended the meeting but stopped short of seeking explanation from the US embassy. According to Pakistani investigators, for a US diplomat to indulge in facilitating possible espionage linked to an Indian diplomat was a matter of grave concern. It also fit with the US policy of exercising tremendous pressure on the pro-US government in Islamabad to give concessions to India at the expense of Pakistani strategic interests.
4. COVERT US MILITIAS IN THE HEART OF PAKISTAN: In September 2009, undercover US agents were found to have recruited a total of 100 former elite Pakistani military commandos to create rapid-intervention teams for unknown purposes. A hundred more were under training at a secret facility camouflaged as a workshop on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital when it was raided by Pakistani police. It turned out that DynCorp was training the men. US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson brought DynCorp to Pakistan by telling Pakistani officials that the private defense contractor would provide security to embassy buildings. But she never explained why DynCorp was secretly raising private militias on Pakistani soil without informing the Pakistani government or military or the intelligence agencies. Some of those who were under training at the time of the raid said that DynCorp focused on recruiting retired officers who had links and contacts within the Pakistani military and could glean information from their sources. [See video and pictures]
5. PUSHY US DIPLOMATS: The US Embassy in Islamabad has made it its business to mount pressure on owners of Pakistani newspapers to curtail or expel columnists and commentators critical of US policy. Specially targeted are those who expose how the US Embassy is meddling in Pakistani affairs and expanding the US footprint inside Pakistan. Last year, Ambassador Patterson sent a letter to one of the largest Pakistani media groups accusing a columnist of endangering American lives and succeeded in pushing her out. The US Embassy is also recruiting opinion makers within the Pakistani media, academia and military in order to promote the US agenda even at the cost of Pakistani interests, dismissing critics as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and accusing them of anti-Americanism. A senior Pakistani journalist Syed Talat Hussain exposed US activities in the following words,
“Pro-American lobby in Pakistan is growing in direct proportion to the scaling up of suspicions about the US. The main task of this lobby is to reduce the complexity of the US’s objectives towards Pakistan to romantic levels of trust (…) A motley crew of former diplomats, retired generals, socialites, slick civil society begums, self-styled analysts, businessmen, journalists, and now also lawyers — they are the darlings of the US embassy staff. They are the instruments of positive outreach and public diplomacy that US diplomats are so keen to expand in Pakistan.”
6. HARASSING PAKISTANIS: Private US security contractors, or militiamen, have been involved in at least three incidents registered by the Pakistani police where armed Americans physically assaulted unarmed ordinary Pakistanis in public places. In one case, the nephew of a senior member of President Zardari’s own government was manhandled and locked up in the toilet of a gas station by men described as armed military-looking civilian Americans.
7. RESISTING POLICE CHECKS: In at least five incidents, US ‘diplomats’ disguised as Taliban, complete with beards and Pashto language skills, were stopped at several police checkpoints in Islamabad and Peshawar. In some cases, these American ‘diplomats’ tried to speed through police barriers. In one recent case, this resulted in a brief police chase, where a Pakistani officer dragged the US ‘diplomats’ back to the police picket and forced the Americans to apologize to Pakistani police officers. Again, no charges were pressed because these private US agents carried diplomatic passports.
8. ENGINEERING DOMESTIC POLITICS: As recently as December 2009, US ambassador in Islamabad was found meeting senior Pakistani politicians at private homes of mutual friends in unannounced meetings restricted to 3 to 4 persons. The ambassador asked her guests to publicly support the embattled pro-US President Zardari. US diplomats in Islamabad and officials in Washington have been blatantly interfering in Pakistani politics. In addition to helping form the incumbent coalition government in Islamabad, made up of pro-US parties, US officials have been busy trying to save both Mr. Zardari and his key political adviser and ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. US officials in Washington have been briefing sympathetic US journalists about this. In one case, columnist Trudy Rubin had this to say while discussing Pakistan in an article published last month:
“Here is the first piece of good news: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari seems to have weathered a campaign by opponents, including the military, to force him out of office. Zardari has deep flaws, but his ouster would have hampered efforts to fight the jihadis. So would the removal, now averted, of Pakistan’s effective ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, whom the Pakistani military had unfairly blamed for conditions that Congress imposed on aid to Pakistan.”
9. BRIBES AND ILLEGAL WEAPONS: This case is stunning because of the direct involvement of US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson in lobbying for DynCorp. The company ended up bribing Interior Ministry officials to smuggle banned weapons into Pakistan and then went on to raise private militias and hire retired Pakistani military officers to run rapid deployment teams and possibly even spy on the Pakistani military.
10. DEMONIZATION OF PAKISTAN: Since 2007, US officials and US media has systematically demonized Pakistan worldwide, creating false alarm over Pakistan’s strategic arsenal. US officials and media have also pushed to bracket Pakistan along with Iraq and Afghanistan in order to justify a possible military intervention. When Pakistan resisted US meddling recently, the US media again went on rampage, accusing Pakistan of ‘anti-Americanism’ and harassment of US diplomats. Additionally, there has been a marked increase of lectures and studies by US think-tanks inviting unknown separatist individuals and groups to speak and fan ethnic separatism inside Pakistan and theorize on the breakup of the country.
11. ABETTING TERROR INSIDE PAKISTAN: The suspicions about why DynCorp was secretly raising private militias inside the federal Pakistani capital almost turned real when a suspect in the attack on the Pakistani military headquarters in October 2009 was allegedly found to have been recruited by DynCorp. In a second case, another suspected DynCorp recruit was found involved in assassinating a senior Pakistani military officer as he drove to work. In other words, two Pakistani employees of a US defense contractor engaged by the US embassy have been linked to two terrorist attacks on the Pakistani military. Add to this that Pakistan’s military and intelligence are a favorite punching bag for the United States and its allies, like India and Britain, and the picture of what the US is doing in Pakistan becomes even more disturbing.
These points explain how ill-motivated the US complaints about delaying visas and alleged anti-Americanism in Pakistan are. This is what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Gates are loath to share with the American people and the world public opinion.
© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
By Jim White | January 22, 2010
Stanley McChrystal’s career is characterized by torture, murder, secret prison camps and cover-ups. It should come as no surprise, then, that this week’s exposé by Scott Horton on the Guantanamo “suicides” in 2006 implicates McChrystal and another secret prison camp:
One of the most intriguing aspects of this case concerns the use of Camp No. Under George W. Bush, the CIA created an archipelago of secret detention centers that spanned the globe, and authorities at these sites deployed an array of Justice Department sanctioned torture techniques—including waterboarding, which often entails inserting cloth into the subject’s mouth—on prisoners they deemed to be involved in terrorism. The presence of a black site at Guantánamo has long been a subject of speculation among lawyers and human-rights activists, and the experience of Sergeant Hickman and other Guantánamo guards compels us to ask whether the three prisoners who died on June 9 were being interrogated by the CIA, and whether their deaths resulted from the grueling techniques the Justice Department had approved for the agency’s use—or from other tortures lacking that sanction.
Complicating these questions is the fact that Camp No might have been controlled by another authority, the Joint Special Operations Command, which Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had hoped to transform into a Pentagon version of the CIA. Under Rumsfeld’s direction, JSOC began to take on many tasks traditionally handled by the CIA, including the housing and interrogation of prisoners at black sites around the world. The Pentagon recently acknowledged the existence of one such JSOC black site, located at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and other suspected sites, such as Camp Nama in Baghdad, have been carefully documented by human-rights researchers.
In a Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture released last year, the sections about Guantánamo were significantly redacted. The position and circumstances of these deletions point to a significant JSOC interrogation program at the base. (It should be noted that Obama’s order last year to close other secret detention camps was narrowly worded to apply only to the CIA.)
To review, here’s a snippet from the Andrew Sullivan piece linked above on McChrystal’s history:
That last sentence suggests that McChrystal disagrees with the customary “respect for human life” demanded of the US military. McChrystal’s past is mysterious but there is little doubt that he was deeply involved in one of the worst torture outfits in Iraq, Camp “Nama”, an acronym for “Nasty Ass Military Area”. … Two prisoners were tortured to death in this place. It was extremely closely monitored, with records of all sorts of torture and abuse, and yet there are also extensive stories of abuse that went well outside even the torture techniques approved by Cheney and Rumsfeld. Remember also that Iraq was, even by the standards of the Bush administration, supposed to be under the Geneva Conventions. The camp’s record has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning.
The Guantanamo “suicides” took place on the night of June 9, 2006. If Camp No was a JSOC operation, who was in charge of JSOC at that time? Stanley McChrystal. According to this biography of McChrystal published by the Council on Foreign Relations, McChrystal assumed command of JSOC in February, 2006, only four months prior to the “suicides”. (h/t kgb999 for pointing out the timing of McChrystal’s involvement)
How many torture deaths and cover-ups does it take to get a General fired?
Court Rules That Mass Surveillance of Americans is Immune From Judicial Review
San Francisco – 01/21/10 – A federal judge has dismissed Jewel v. NSA, a case from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of AT&T customers challenging the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans’ phone calls and emails.
“We’re deeply disappointed in the judge’s ruling,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “This ruling robs innocent telecom customers of their privacy rights without due process of law. Setting limits on Executive power is one of the most important elements of America’s system of government, and judicial oversight is a critical part of that.”
In the ruling, issued late Thursday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker held that the privacy harm to millions of Americans from the illegal spying dragnet was not a “particularized injury” but instead a “generalized grievance” because almost everyone in the United States has a phone and Internet service.
“The alarming upshot of the court’s decision is that so long as the government spies on all Americans, the courts have no power to review or halt such mass surveillance even when it is flatly illegal and unconstitutional,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “With new revelations of illegal spying being reported practically every other week — just this week, we learned that the FBI has been unlawfully obtaining Americans’ phone records using Post-It notes rather than proper legal process — the need for judicial oversight when it comes to government surveillance has never been clearer.”
Jewel v. NSA is aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. That same evidence is central to Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit that’s currently under appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
For the judge’s full order:
For more on warrantless wiretapping and NSA spying:
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Related Issues: NSA Spying
Related Cases: Jewel v. NSA
The press office of the Yemeni Shia fighters released video footage of Abdul-Malik al-Houthi on Saturday in response to certain media reports, questioning the Shia leader’s health.
The 38-second video showed a tired al-Houthi unable to move his left arm, but disproved media reports that he had had one leg amputated following an injury.
The Shia leader was asked by the Houthi press office in the video for his take on the government’s insistence that he had been wounded and targeted in a number of assassination attempts.
Al-Houthi rejected the claims as lies, saying “the regime would make up such statements to justify its massacres and the targeting of civilians — mostly women and children.”
The press office said they had released the video following a media campaign to show that their leader is in good health. “The state’s intelligence apparatus is a failure as is Sana’a's hostilities and oppressive incursion against the Yemeni nation,” it added.
Early last week, Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister for Internal Affairs Sadiq Amin Abu Ras had likewise confirmed that al-Houthi is alive.
Since August, Sana’a has maximized its military offensives against the fighters accusing them of breaking the terms of earlier peace agreements by taking foreigners hostage.
Yahya al-Houthi, Yemeni parliamentarian and Abdul-Malik’s brother, last Saturday blamed the kidnapping on the central regime’s affiliates and elements within the intelligence service.
The anti-Shia raids were in November joined by Saudi Arabia, which blames Houthis for attacking one of its border checkpoints.
The Houthis, however, say they are defending their people’s civil rights, which the government has undermined under pressure from the Saudi-backed Wahhabis — extremists with adherence to an extremely intolerant interpretation of Islam.
The raids have so far killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands of civilians out of their homes.