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Death and Birth in Gaza: A Story of a Shepherd

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph | Palestine Chronicle | January 19, 2011

When you do not distinguish between combatants and unarmed civilians during war, then you deserve to be named a ‘terrorist.’ It makes no difference what your religion is!

That is exactly what happened thousands of miles away and two days before last Christmas, when Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian shepherd in the back and injured two others. A 14 year old suffered a serious head injury and another 19 year old was injured in his hand.

The shooting took place in the Northern part of Gaza near the town of Beit Lahia. Israel considered the area a war zone, Palestinians called it home.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting, adding “The soldiers fired warning shot and aimed at the lower body.” Not only was that unprovoked and cold blooded murder, but rather a naked lie by the Israeli spin machine.

It took a quick search on the story to find out what the so-called “most moral army” actually did to the 22 year old Palestinian shepherd, Salamah Abu Hashish. My search reveals shocking and inhumane details. After the Palestinian medics arrived at the scene, they were denied permission by the Israeli soldiers to aid or remove the victims.

A nearby metal scrapper was able to move Abu Hashish on the back of his donkey into the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Gaza where he died. Hospital officials said, one bullet went through his kidney.

The sad fact is Abu Hashish’s wife gave birth to their first child the night before, and the couple have not even chosen a name to their child.

He was the 13th Gazan to be killed by Israeli soldiers since last November and the 35 to suffer injuries near the border.

The shooting was condemned by Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process. Mr. Serry urged Israel to show “maximum restriant,” adding “I am distressed that incidents such as these continue in the perimeter area of Gaza, and deplore the killing of one apparently unarmed Palestinian civilian and the injuring of a number of others by Israel.”

Despite the UN official appeal, 48 hours later, Israeli troops once again shot a 26-year-old Gaza fisherman twice, once in each foot. He was identified as AZ, and his injures were described by Palestinian medical officials as light. Now you have a young lady who suddenly became a widow with an orphanage to care for and whose child will never know his/her father, a 14 year old boy with his life in the balance and a disabled fisherman who will no longer be able to stand on his feet or help feed his family.

Keep in mind, Israel was able and continues to commit these crimes with our tax-dollars and our government’s total silence. Israel knows exactly who butters her bread! Just when your children abuse their spending money, you will certainly lecture them about how to be responsible and act wisely. Not US officials, though, who are too fearful of Israel to act, even in accordance to their country’s own laws.

It is therefore vital that readers who are incensed by the aforementioned atrocities by Israeli soldiers against unarmed Palestinians express their concern to the embassy of Israel at our national capitol via email at info@washington.mfa.gov.il.

Israel should cease its war crimes against Palestinians, obey the rules that the rest of the world’s civilized nations follow and end the illegal and inhumane siege of Gaza.

- Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a retired USAF veteran.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Self-fulfilling prophecy: Dennis Ross Doesn’t Think Anything Can Get Accomplished

By Ali Gharib | Lobe Log | January 19th, 2011

I was struck by an article by Nathan Guttman in the legendary Jewish Daily Forward about Dennis Ross and George Mitchell jockeying for the position of Obama Administration’s point-person in the Middle East peace process. The whole thing is a fascinating read, but this line really jumped out at me:

Others have also described Ross as more skeptical [than Mitchell] about the chances of peace, based on his decades-long experience with trying to bring together the parties.

I don’t want to get all new-agey, but if you think something is difficult or impossible to do, the chances of being able to do it are greatly diminished from the get-go.

So why does this Ross guy keep getting jobs that he doesn’t think are possible? I picked up Ross’ book off of my shelf here in D.C., and it amazed me how many times he says you cannot make any kind of deal with the Iranians. Then, Obama put him in charge of making a deal with the Iranians. Ross, we now learn, doubts that a peace deal can be reached in Israel-Palestine, and Obama gives him a job making peace in Israel-Palestine.

On the Middle Eastern conflict, Ross’s credentials for the job are impeccable. After all, he’s been involved in decades — decades! — of failed peace processes. Ross has worked at the Washington Institute (WINEP), an AIPAC-formed think tank, and also chaired the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an Israeli organization dedicated to “ensure the thriving of the Jewish People and the Jewish civilization.” (The organization seems to oppose intermarriage with racist-sounding statements like “cultural collectivity cannot survive in the long term without primary biological foundations of family and children.”)

Ross was thought responsible for crafting Obama’s presidential campaign AIPAC speech — yes, the one with the line about an “undivided” Jerusalem that would spike a peace deal if implemented. Ross later reiterated the notion of an undivided Jerusalem as a “fact” in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

Ross was recently in the news following a secret but not-so-secret visit to the Middle East, which was fleshed out on Politico by Laura Rozen. Rozen was the reporter who carried a rather shocking anonymous allegation about Ross:

“[Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this administration.”

In an update, Rozen carried NSC CoS Denis McDonough’s defense of Ross:

“The assertion is as false as it is offensive,” McDonough said Sunday by e-mail. ”Whoever said it has no idea what they are talking about. Dennis Ross’s many decades of service speak volumes about his commitment to this country and to our vital interests, and he is a critical part of the president’s team.”

But the new Forward article, as MJ Rosenberg points out, backs up the notion that Ross was extremely concerned with “advocat[ing]” for Israel. The source is none other than Israel-advocate extraordinaire Abe Foxman (who doesn’t negotiate on behalf of the U.S. government):

“Dennis is the closest thing you’ll find to a melitz yosher, as far as Israel is concerned,” said the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, who used the ancient Hebrew term for ‘advocate.’”

Do you get the feeling that Ross advocated for Iran? Or, as the Forward article put it (with my strikethrough), has “strong ties to Israel” Iran? Guttman writes that Ross is considered to have a “reputation of being pro-Israeli.” As for Iran? Not quite: Ross’s Iran experience seems to boil down to heading United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a group that pushes for harsher, broad-based sanctions against Iran (despite a stated goal to not hurt ordinary Iranians) and that has criticized Obama’s policy of engagement. Ross left the gig, as with JPPI, when he took the job with the administration.

The group also launched an error-filled fear-mongering video (while Ross was still there; he appears in the video) and a campaign to get New York hotels to refuse to host Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he comes to town each year for the U.N. General Assembly, which hardly lays the groundwork for good diplomacy.

Oh, and about the Iran engagement designed by Ross: The administration’s approach has been questioned by several leading Iran experts. “It is unlikely that the resources and dedication needed for success was given to a policy that the administration expected to fail,” National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi observed. In December, Ross publicly defended the administration against charges that engagement was less than sincere from the U.S. side. But it is Ross himself who has apparently long held a pessimistic outlook on engagement.

Ross’s 2007 book, “Statecraft: And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World“, is fascinating in light of where Ross has come from, and where he’s taken Iran policy. I was struck at a five-page section of the first chapter called “Neoconservatism vs. Neoliberalism,” in which Ross writes, “[Neoconservatism's] current standard-bearers — such as Richard Perle, David Frum, William Kristol, and Robert Kagan — are serious thinkers with a clear worldview,” (with my links).

Later, in several long sections about the run-up to George W. Bush’s Iraq war, Ross notes that Paul Wolfowitz was highly focused on Iraq before and after 9/11. He also mentions “political difficulties” in the push for war: “Once [Bush] realized there might be a domestic problem in acting against Iraq, his administration focused a great deal of energy and effort on mobilizing domestic support for military action.”

But Ross never acknowledges that some of his neoconservative “serious thinkers” — such as Kristol and his Weekly Standard magazine — were involved in the concerted campaign to mislead Americans in an effort to push the war… just as the same figures are pushing for an attack on Iran. Frum, who does seem capable of serious thinking, was the author of the “axis of evil” phrasing of Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address. The moniker included both Iraq and Iran, despite the fact that the latter was, until the speech, considered a potential ally in the fight against Al Qaeda. (Marsha Cohen chronicled an Israeli effort to squash the alliance, culminating in Frum’s contribution to the Bush speech.)

Ross never mentions that neocon Douglas Feith, a political appointee in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), was responsible for cherry-picking intelligence about Iraq within the administration, and whose office was feeding cooked information to the public via Scooter Libby in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Through Libby, the distorted information made its way into the hands of the Standard and sympathetic journalists like ideologue Judith Miller at the New York Times. In August of 2003, Jim Lobe wrote (with my links):

[K]ey personnel who worked in both NESA [the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia bureau] and OSP were part of a broader network of neo-conservative ideologues and activists who worked with other Bush political appointees scattered around the national-security bureaucracy to move the country to war, according to retired Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski, who was assigned to NESA from May 2002 through February 2003. …

Other appointees who worked with… both offices included Michael Rubin, a Middle East specialist previously with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI); David Schenker, previously with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); Michael Makovsky; an expert on neo-con icon Winston Churchill and the younger brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive editor of pro-Likud ‘Jerusalem Post’; and Chris Lehman, the brother of the John Lehman, a prominent neo-conservative who served as secretary of the navy under Ronald Reagan, according to Kwiatkowski.

Ross has personal experience with many OSP veterans, working with them at WINEP and signing hawkish reports on Iran authored by them.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Ross was a member of a task force that delivered a hawkish report apparently co-authored by two veterans of OSP, Rubin and Michael Makovsky. (Ross reportedly recused himself as the presidential campaign came into full swing.) Lobe, noting Ross’s curious involvement, called the report a “roadmap to war with Iran,” and added, a year later, that the group that put out the report was accelerating the plan, calling for a military build-up and a naval blockade against Iran.

After taking his position within the Obama administration, Ross released a book, co-authored with David Makovsky, that was skeptical of the notion that engagement could work. Nathan Guttman, in a review of the book for the Forward, wrote:

The success of diplomatic engagement, according to Ross, is not guaranteed and could be unlikely. Still, he and Makovsky believe that negotiations will serve a purpose even if results are not satisfying. “By not trying, the U.S. and its refusal to talk become the issue,” said Makovsky in a June 1 interview with the Forward. “What we are saying is that if the U.S. chooses engagement, even if it fails, every other option will be more legitimate.”

The attitude of Ross and Makovsky seems closer to that of the Israeli government then to that of the Obama administration.

OSP, Feith, the Makovsky brothers, and Rubin are not listed in the index of “Statecraft,” nor have they appeared in the many sections that I’ve read in full.

In his book, Ross does have many revealing passages about concepts that have been worked into the Obama administration’s Iran policy. One such ploy, which has not been acknowledged or revealed publicly, is using Israel as the crazy ‘bad cop’ — a potentially dangerous game. Ross also writes that international pressure (through sanctions) must be made in order to cause Iran “pain.” Only then, thinks Ross, can concessions such as “economic, technological and security benefits” from the U.S. be offered:

Orchestrating this combination of sticks and carrots requires at this point some obviously adverse consequences for the Iranians first.

This view does not comport with the Obama plan for a simultaneous dual-track policy toward Iran — which holds that engagement and pressure should occur simultaneously — and serves to bolster critics who say that engagement has not been serious because meaningful concessions have not been offered. But it does hint at another tactic that Ross references at least twice in the book: the difference between “style” and “substance.” With regard to Iran, he presents this dichotomy in relation to public professions about the “military option” — a euphemism for launching a war. But publicly suppressing rhetoric is only used as a way to build international support for pressure — not also, as one might expect, a way to assuage the security fears of Iran.

But those aren’t the only ideas from the 2007 book that seem to have made their way into U.S. policy toward Iran. In “Statecraft,” Ross endorses the use of “more overt and inherently deniable alternatives to the use of force” for slowing Iran’s nuclear progress. In particular, he mentions the “fragility of centrifuges,” which is exactly what is being targeted by the Stuxnet virus, a powerful computer worm thought to be created by a state, likely Israel, and perhaps with help from the U.S., according to the latest revelations.

Some critics of this website complain that the level of attention given to neoconservatives is too great, but they should consider this: Look at Dennis Ross. He works extensively with this clique, and no doubt has the occasional drink or meeting with them. And, most importantly, he writes approvingly about neoconservatives, noting that their viewpoint affects political considerations of “any political leader.” Because of these neocon “considerations,” he writes, this is how we should view the Islamic Republic: “With Iran, there  is a profound mistrust of the mullahs, and of their perceived deceit, their support for terror, and their enduring hostility to America and its friends in the Middle East. … No one will be keen to be portrayed as soft on the Iranian mullahs.”

This from the man that formulated a policy that has offered “adverse consequences” but so far no “carrots.” Ross’s predictions are a self-fulfilling prophecy — and since he gets the big appointments, he gets to fulfill them. Taking reviews of his book with Makovsky, the Bipartisan Policy Committee report, and “Statecraft” as a whole, I’m not at all surprised that little progress has been made with Iran.

But, at least, that was his first try. He’s a three-time-loser on Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. With Iran, I had to put the pieces together, whereas with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, his record is right there for all to see. Putting Ross in charge of peace-making between the two seems to perfectly fit Einstein’s definition of insanity.

See Also:

Who Is Dennis Ross?

March 8, 2009

January 19, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | Leave a comment

Gaza Strip runs out of cooking gas

Palestine Information Center – 19/01/2011

GAZA — No trace of cooking gas was to be found in Gaza Tuesday, fuel companies warned, as the Israeli blockade limits supply and solutions appear unpromising.

Mahmud al-Shawa, head of the fuel companies assembly, warned of a humanitarian disaster as the strip’s stations run out of fuel and accumulate thousands of empty gas cylinders.

The answer to the crisis will require a daily supply of 300 tons of gas over no less than three straight months, Shawa said.

“The Gas crisis goes more than two months back. No gas has been supplied to Gaza for the past two days,” Shawa said.

With a daily requirement of 250 tons, only 130 tons reached the Gaza Strip daily last week.

Shawa accused Israel of rationing Gaza’s cooking gas as a means of tightening its four year economic siege of the region. Even though gas is not a commodity that should be subject to restrictions according to the blockade’s intent.

As all other border crossings are blocked, no more than 200 tons pass through the Karam Abu Salim Crossing on its best day. The crossing operates only five days weekly from 9am to 3pm.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Presbyterian Groups Call on U.S. Department of Justice to End Subpoenas on Dissenting Activists

Religion News Service | January 19, 2011

NEW YORK—The Israel Palestine Mission Network* (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) and the National Middle East Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) oppose the misuse of the grand jury process by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the accompanying FBI raids. The DOJ served a total of nine federal grand jury subpoenas to Chicago area Palestinian solidarity activists in the month of December alone, raising the total subpoenas served to 23. These Presbyterian groups call upon their own denominational leadership, as well as Churches for Middle East Peace, the National Council of Churches and all concerned Christian denominations to join them in denouncing the DOJ’s bold attempts to suppress peaceful dissent on the part of those working for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Jeff Story, a Chicago attorney and member of the IPMN, points out “the time for all Americans to speak up about these encroachments on our constitutional right to dissent is now. We must not wait until Presbyterians who are Palestinian solidarity peacemakers receive the ‘knock on the door’.” Story, who is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee, adds that Christians, to our discredit, did not adequately “raise the alarm when the DOJ politically prosecuted Muslim charities and mosques in the recent past” and that “our present response is long overdue.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling from last June on “material support” for terrorism has enabled the DOJ to conduct these raids, armed with an extremely broad definition of what constitutes “material support.” Parallels can be drawn to Schenck v. United States, a 1919 Supreme Court decision that upheld the overbroad definition of espionage and sedition. The DOJ subpoenas from Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald are an infringement on the First Amendment, which upholds the right of free speech, protest and free assembly—one of our most basic rights as Americans.

At its General Assembly in Minneapolis in July 2010, the Presbyterian Church (USA) called upon the United States government, “to exercise strategically its international influence, including making U.S. aid to Israel contingent upon Israel’s compliance with international law and peacemaking efforts.” Rev. Jeffrey DeYoe, Advocacy Chairperson for the IPMN, adds: “As the Presbyterian Church (USA) and other denominations begin to take courageous stands against U.S. military support of violations of human rights in the OPT, all Christians should be concerned about judicial efforts to silence fellow citizens opposing unjust policy.”

Of special concern are DOJ demands that activists in the U.S. be forced to reveal names of those who seek peaceful change in Palestine. This process has been described as a “fishing expedition” in which the DOJ looks for ways to prosecute activists without legal grounds.

The IPMN, the PPF and the NMEPC are deeply concerned that solidarity activists, through this misuse of the grand jury process, may soon be facing imprisonment for refusing to allow themselves to be compelled to name names of fellow activists here at home, and in the OPT. If this process is carried forward and church workers are similarly subpoenaed, this could threaten partnerships between American churches and Palestinian Christians striving for justice.

These Presbyterian groups call upon all concerned Christian bodies to act with peace, love and courage to affirm our nation’s higher good, as well as God’s highest law.

*The General Assembly of PC(USA) mandated IPMN, who speaks TO the Church not FOR the Church.

Contact:
Rev. Dr. Jeff DeYoe—info@theIPMN.org

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Adriatic Sea Ruined By NATO Weapons, Depleted Uranium, Toxic Waste

RussiaToday | January 18, 2011

Sandy beaches, gentle sea and charming tourist harbors: Italy’s Adriatic coast can be described as a paradise for sea-lovers. However, few are aware that tons of toxic waste disposed by NATO are piled up below the luminous surface.

According to investigative journalist Gianni Lannes, waters splashing against the coast of the southern Italian region of Puglia hide real hazards.

“An enormous amount of weaponry and toxic waste is present in these waters: US bombs from the 40s, and NATO weapons used in the 1999 war against Serbia, including depleted uranium ammunition,” he said. “These weapons often contain toxic substances, such as sulfur, mustard gas and phosphorous.”

Local fishermen say the presence of NATO weapons is seriously affecting their lives, and posing a threat to the local ecosystem.

“There are areas where these bombs keep ending up in our nets,” said local fisherman Vitantonio Tedesco. “We try to avoid them.”

“Following the war in 1999, the fish have practically disappeared from our waters,” he added. “The chemicals have affected our health, too, causing skin rashes, blurred vision and so forth.”

Fishermen have had to quit their jobs because of the scarcity of fish. The fishing cooperative in the seaside town of Molfetta was once comprised of almost 200 members, now there are just five.

Although NATO says there are six contaminated areas along the Adriatic coast, Lannes claims that is just the tip of the iceberg.

“NATO is lying, 24 areas are affected, not six,” he said. “The location of these areas have not even been made public. The population is being kept in the dark.”

Lannes’ repeated attempts to raise the issue with Italy’s Defense Minister have led to nothing. US military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian claims the US Army does its best to remove all dangerous weaponry after its military campaigns.

“We do everything we can, first of all, to comply with environmental law when we conduct operations and exercises,” he said. “Following the jettison operations during the Kosovo campaign we conducted those clearing operations and did everything we could to remove the hazards.”

However, Gianni Lannes believes NATO has not yet owned up to its responsibilities.

“There should be an economic compensation for those affected,” he said. “Europe, NATO and, above all, the United States must be held accountable.”

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

Boycott the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on its US Tour!

PACBI | 16 January 2011

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel appeals to BDS activists in the United States to boycott the US tour of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) in February and March 2011, due to its complicity in whitewashing Israel’s persistent violations of international law and human rights. The IPO is scheduled to perform in Palm Beach, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles [1]. We urge activists to continue the principled tradition of activists in New York and Los Angeles in 2007, when they protested the IPO’s appearance in their cities. [2]

The IPO is one of the flagship institutions of the Israeli state, tracing its history to the 1930’s under the British Mandate. The IPO Foundation describes the orchestra as “Israel’s musical ambassador,” [3] while the American Friends of the IPO says this about it:

Often said to have more heart than other orchestras, the IPO is Israel’s finest cultural emissary and travels throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. In some cases, performances of the IPO are the only example of Israel’s existence. The goodwill created by these tours, which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China and India, is of enormous value to the State of Israel. As a result, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra maintains its position at the forefront of cultural diplomacy and the international music scene [4]

As befits an institution that identifies with the Israeli state, the IPO proudly announces its partnership with the army under a scheme whereby special concerts for Israeli soldiers are organized at their army outposts [5].

The orchestra has lent itself to the official Israeli propaganda campaign titled Brand Israel, which aims to divert attention from Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements. [6]

Given the orchestra’s strong association with the Israeli state and other Zionist organizations involved in “brand-Israel” activities [7], PACBI calls upon all BDS activists in the United States to organize activities to protest and boycott the orchestra’s concerts. As long as it continues to partner with the state in planning, implementing, and whitewashing war crimes and international law violations, the Israeli cultural establishment cannot expect to be exempted from the growing boycott movement.

PACBI’s appeal is made within the framework of the Palestinian civil society call for BDS [8], its own appeal for the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, particularly those serving the state’s propaganda efforts [9], and in accordance with the guidelines for the cultural boycott of Israel [10]. We believe that the time has come to apply pressure on Israel in the form of boycotts, divestment initiatives and sanctions, as was done successfully in the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel must not be allowed to flout international law and precepts of international humanitarian law with impunity. It must be held accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity. Israel’s cultural ambassadors must be treated likewise.

www.PACBI.org
pacbi@pacbi.org

[1] http://www.ipo.co.il/eng/Series/IPOtours/.aspx
[2] http://washington-report.com/archives/April_2007/0704053.html and
http://palsolidarity.org/2007/02/1927 and http://palsolidarity.org/2007/01/1903
[3] http://www.ipo.co.il/eng/Fund/AboutUs/Articles,58.aspx
[4] http://www.afipo.org/ipo; emphasis added.
[5] http://www.ipo.co.il/eng/About/Profile/.aspx
[6] For more on the Brand Israel campaign, see:
http://www.forward.com/articles/2070
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/world/middleeast/19israel.html
http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/about-face-1.170267?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.225%2C2.239%2C
[7] One such organization is the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, whose mission includes “[d]epict[ing] the State of Israel as a thriving cultural environment that stimulates creativity and artistic life.” See http://www.aicf.org/about/mission . The organization takes credit for having supported and promoted all major cultural institutions in Israel, such as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israel Museum. See: http://www.aicf.org/about/impact/institutions
[8] http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52
[9] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869
[10] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Court Rules Government Can Continue To Suppress Detainee Statements Describing Torture And Abuse

ACLU | January 18, 2011

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court today ruled that the government can continue suppressing transcripts in which former CIA prisoners now held at Guantánamo Bay describe abuse and torture they suffered in CIA custody. The ruling came in an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain uncensored transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) used to determine if Guantánamo detainees qualify as “enemy combatants.”

“The American people have a right to know what the government has done in their name, and these transcripts, which include the direct testimony of the victims themselves, are essential to a full understanding of the Bush administration’s torture program,” said Ben Wizner, Litigation Director of the ACLU National Security Project, who argued the appeal for the ACLU. “The court’s decision undermines the Freedom of Information Act and condones a cover-up. These transcripts are being suppressed not to protect national security, but to shield former government officials from accountability.”

The ACLU lawsuit sought transcripts of statements made by Guantánamo prisoners concerning the abuse they allegedly suffered while in U.S. custody. While the CIA released heavily-redacted versions of the documents in June 2009, it continues to suppress major portions of the documents, including detainees’ allegations of torture.

Since the ACLU first filed its FOIA request for release of the transcripts, several developments have undermined the government’s claims that it can continue to withhold the documents: in January 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting the coercive interrogation techniques described in the suppressed transcripts and ordered the closure of the CIA’s overseas prisons; in April 2009, the government declassified four Justice Department memos that purported to authorize the brutal interrogation techniques to which the detainees were subjected; also in April 2009, the New York Review of Books published a detailed report by the International Committee of the Red Cross based on firsthand accounts of these detainees about their abuse in CIA custody; and in August 2009, the government declassified large portions of a report by the CIA’s Inspector General and other CIA and Justice Department documents that provide additional details about the interrogation methods to which the detainees were subjected.

Despite these developments, in October 2009 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case without even reviewing the documents in question in order to determine if they were properly withheld. Today’s appellate court ruling allows the government to continue withholding the documents.

“The notion that the CIA can classify torture victims’ descriptions of their own first-hand experiences is dangerous and far-reaching,” said Wizner. “No court has ever held that unconfirmed allegations offered by detainees concerning the treatment to which they themselves were subjected could be classified and suppressed.”

Attorneys on the case, ACLU, et al. v. DOD, et al., are Wizner and Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU National Security Project, Lee Gelernt of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and Arthur B. Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.

Today’s ruling is available online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/american-civil-liberties-union-et-al-v-department-defense-et-al-dc-circuit-court-0

More about the ACLU’s CSRT FOIA is at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/csrtfoia.html

January 19, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Iran warns West of meddling in Tunisia

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses crowds of people in the central Iranian city of Yazd, January 19, 2011.
Press TV – January 19, 2011

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned the United States, Israel and some Western states not to interfere in Tunisia and Lebanon’s internal affairs.

Addressing crowds of people in the central Iranian city of Yazd on Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad emphasized that Western countries aim to deprive the Tunisians of their rights through psychological warfare.

Massive riots and protests have rocked Tunisia this past month. The Riots broke out in Tunisia following the self-immolation of a 26-year-old fruit vendor, identified as Muhammad Bouazizi, who set himself on fire after police confiscated his merchandise.

President Ahmadinejad urged Tunisian politicians to exercise vigilance in face of foreign interference and pay due attention to the needs and choices of their people, adding that Tunisians want an Islamic government.

Elsewhere in his speech, the Iranian president slammed the Western-backed UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

President Ahmadinejad called on the US and its European allies to stop meddling in Lebanon, which he said is at a critical juncture.

Lebanon is in a political standoff after Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government collapsed on Wednesday when 11 Hezbollah-affiliated ministers resigned in a dispute over the US-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), probing the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

The US-sponsored tribunal is reportedly about to indict some Hezbollah members in the Hariri murder case — an allegation which has been vehemently rejected by the Lebanese resistance movement.

The Iranian chief executive also called for the promotion of unity among all Lebanese factions.

Pointing to the “Iranian nation’s achievements” over the past 32 years, the Iranian president said,” Today the Iranian nation is shining in the world and has brought its enemies to their knees.”

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 2 Comments

Iran’s crude reserves up by 9 percent

Press TV – January 19, 2011

Iranian OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi has announced that the crude oil reserves of the country have increased more than 9 percent to 150 billion barrels.

Khatibi said on Tuesday that considering the new oil and gas discoveries, Iran’s crude oil reserves have risen to 150 billion barrels of oil, Iran’s oil ministry’s official website Shana reported.

The Iranian official noted that the figure represents a 9.5 percent increase from the previous reserve level of 137 billion barrels of crude oil estimated to exist in Iran’s basin.

Khatibi further pointed out that Iran will maintain a daily oil production level of around 4.2 million barrels, so the proven reserves of the country will last at least another 98 years.

Iran took over at the rotating presidency of OPEC this year for the first time in the past 36 years. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent intergovernmental organization of 12 oil-exporting developing nations also including Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Earlier on Sunday, Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi announced that a new gas field worth more than $50 billion with in-place reserves of 260 billion cubic meters of natural gas was discovered in eastern part of the port city of Assaluyeh in southern Iran.

Khayyam gas field also has some proven reserves of 220 million barrels of gas condensates, the minister added.

Iran discovered 13 new oil and gas fields with in-place reserves of 14 billion barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from August 2009 to August 2010, a report published by Iran’s Oil Ministry said in August 2010.

Iran is ranked third in terms of proven oil reserves and is OPEC’s second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia. In 2009, Iran’s crude production stood approximately at 3.8 million barrels per day. The Persian Gulf country sits on the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

   

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