A victory for the government in a federal court in New York City Monday marks another slide deeper into Dick Cheney’s “dark side” for the Obama Administration.
In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been seeking to force the Pentagon to provide information about all captives it is holding at its huge prison facility at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul in Afghanistan, Federal District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York has issued a summary judgement saying that the government may keep that information secret.
The lingering question is: Why does the US government so adamantly want to hide information about where captives were first taken into military custody, their citizenship, the length of their captivity, and the circumstances under which they were captured?
Says Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, “The military says that they can’t release the information because it would be a threat to national security, but they provided that information for the prisoners at Guantanamo.”
And of course, as our leaders informed us repeatedly, those captives at Guantanamo, who hailed from all over the globe, including Afghanistan, were allegedly “the worst of the worst”–at least until it turned out that many of them were wholly innocent of anything. Had been framed and turned in for a bounty, or were mere children when picked up, like Omar Khadr, the 24-year old Canadian man who just copped a guilty plea to avoid a sham tribunal before 7 officers and potential life imprisonment, after being captured at 15, tortured at Bagram, and held for nine years at Guantanamo (on a charge of killing an American soldier in battle).
The court ruling keeping the information about the thousands of prisoners held at Bagram secret may be a victory for the government, but it is hardly a victory for America’s image in the world, or for the troops battling in Afghanistan, who will be attacked all the harder by people induced to fight to the death to avoid capture and consignment to the hellhole in Bagram (now known as Parwan Prison), which has become Afghanistan’s Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo rolled into one.
One of the things that concerns the ACLU is that by not even making public the circumstances under which Bagram detainees were brought into the prison, it appears likely that the administration is hiding the reality that many “probably don’t deserve to be there,” says the ACLU’s Goodman. She explains, “There could be plenty of people sitting there who were just caught up in house sweeps in Kabul, for instance.”
As well, she says that by withholding information about citizenship and about the place of initial capture, the government may be hiding the fact that it is using Bagram as it used to use Guantanamo, as a so-called “black site” for “rendering,” or bringing, people captured all around the world.
Making matters worse is a string of continuing reports from people released from Bagram, including some which are very recent, that it is a site where torture is routinely applied to prisoners.
Significantly, a second part of the court’s ruling was that the CIA does not have to confirm or deny whether it too is holding captives at Bagram. This is a serious blow too to America’s reputation and to democratic values, since when President Obama, early in his presidency, signed an executive order outlawing torture by the military, he left some major loopholes. Most significantly, he applied that order only to persons captured during “armed conflict.” Since the US doesn’t consider captives in the loosely-defined “War on Terror” to be legitimate combatants, that means many of the people held at Bagram may be considered outside of the president’s ban. The order also says captives in counterterror operations do not have to be reported to the Red Cross.
Goodman says, “Despite concerns that Bagram has become the new Guantánamo, the public remains in the dark when it comes to basic facts about the facility and whom our military is holding in indefinite military detention there. The public has a right to know how long the U.S. has kept people locked up in military detention and under what circumstances. The lack of transparency about these key facts is even more disturbing considering the possibility that the U.S. will continue holding and interrogating prisoners at Bagram well into the future. Unfortunately, today’s ruling will allow the government to continue hiding this vital information.”
When the ugly sadistic goings on at Abu Ghraib were exposed, it caused massive damage to the US, and, according to government statements at the time, ended up helping recruit more future terrorists. It seems the Obama adminstration is heading down the same road now at Bagram, with the blessing of a Judge Jones.
Democracy Now! |October 27, 2010
The award-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy is facing possible arrest in India on sedition charges after publicly advocating for Kashmir independence and challenging India’s claim that Kashmir is an “integral part of India.” If charged and convicted of sedition Roy could face up to life in prison.
For interview transcripts, podcast and more information, see http://www.DemocracyNow.org.
GAZA — Ameer Makhoul, the Palestinian activist from Haifa, accepted a plea bargain on Wednesday, confessing to espionage charges leveled by the Israeli state.
Makhoul, an Israeli citizen, was detained by authorities during a nighttime raid on his home in May. He and his lawyers maintain that the charges against him are political, and that he was tortured while in prison. Makhoul was also banned from seeing a lawyer for the first 12 days of his detention.
The charges include conspiring to assist an enemy, contact with a foreign agent and spying for Hezbollah.
Orna Kohn, one of Makhoul’s lawyers from the legal rights group Adalah, said Makhoul decided to accept the plea deal after consultation with his defense team.
Under the deal, she said, the content of the indictment was reduced. The state is asking for 10 years imprisonment, while the defense is asking for seven, Kohn added.
Kohn said the decision to accept the deal was made after taking into consideration “the political climate now and the legal situation under Israeli law with so-called security charges, and given the history rulings in Israeli courts dealing with such charges.”
Kohn said she met Makhoul earlier on Wednesday. Asked about his condition, she said, “He’s well. He’s hopeful the court will rule for the minimal number of years.”
“He understands his chances of being acquitted are slim,” she added. She said the charges against him “in any other country should not have been basis for indictment.”
A hearing is set for 5 December, when the court will decide whether to accept the plea deal reached between the prosecution and the defense.
Makhoul is the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations, and also chaired the High Arab Monitoring Committee’s panel on defending Arab citizens’ freedoms. He was arrested in May along with Omar Saeed, an activist with the Balad party.
The plea bargain was agreed upon in the Haifa District Court after being submitted on Tuesday.
A representative for the prosecution told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “The plea bargain was approved by the highest ranking levels of prosecution, including the state prosecutor. Most importantly Makhoul, who claimed he was being politically persecuted at the beginning of this, now stands in front of the court and admits to the charges attributed to him.”
CAIRO — The Arab League warned that the separation wall built by Israel will devour fertile farmland in the West Bank province of Qalqiliya, within the framework of a systematic plan to take control of Palestine’s most fertile and strategically important lands.
The report, issued by the Arab League’s Palestine department, confirmed that Israel is currently building the eastern section of the apartheid wall in order to annex a larger area of fertile land in Qalqiliya.
The report said that Israeli authorities closed off wall gate no. 1037 built in north Qalqiliya along the Tsofim colony in the beginning of last March, obstructing the passage of Palestinians as a service to the settlers, and damaging at least 3,500 dunums of Palestinian land behind the wall.
The 13,606 meter long wall surrounding the city from several directions has had a negative impact on the lives of 47,000 Palestinians and has left four villages and three nomadic groups without access to their land.
The Arab League said 500 kilometers of the wall have been built so far and that 99 per cent of it was built on Palestinian land occupied in 1967.
The report warned that more land could be confiscated for “security purposes” or other false pretenses. Under the pretext that the lands are military or training zones, or natural reserves, Israeli authorities hinder Palestinian access to 26 per cent of the West Bank’s land area.
The military sets up each month at least 310 mobile checkpoints intended to control civilian movement between West bank cities and villages.
The Israeli military has also imposed heavy restrictions on Palestinians in much of the land in the West Bank through the wall and imposed a travel permit system subject to strict security standards.
Whose interest are we spending trillions of dollars on wars and bankrupting America for? Certainly not America’s interests.
It’s not a blame Israel chorus (Alex) or some abstract group. It’s facts. The pre-war hype that led to war with Iraq was not generic corporatism. The lies specifically came from a zionist cabal in the DOD.
It wasn’t oil companies faking Niger documents it was Ledeen and Franklin. It wasn’t weapons companies lying about witnessing a transfer of anthrax in a meeting that didn’t even happen, it was Woolsey Barns and Schmit.
It wasn’t security companies lying about WMDs or spying on the US it was AIPAC It was the god damn Israeli moles Perle, Kristol, Fieth, Frum, Abrams, Libby, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Goldberg, and Grossman.
This is not some vague blame game. We have very specific facts as to who did what and it WAS the Israelis and this IS Israel’s war.
Chemical Engineer Mark Basile – The first scientist who found thermite in the World Trade Center dust discusses in depth his process of discovery using the scientific method.
This interview is some raw footage of one of the world class experts appearing in architects and engineer’s upcoming hard hitting documentary “9/11:Explosive Evidence – Experts speak out”
Two hundred surveillance cameras were put up “by mistake” in largely Muslim areas of Birmingham, West Midlands Police Authority have admitted. The cameras, some of which were hidden, were paid for with £3 million of government money earmarked for tackling terrorism, according to state-funded BBC.
The police had to apologize after angry Muslim residents said they had not been informed.
The scheme, called Project Champion, was made up of the city council, police and agencies in the Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook districts. It involved cameras being put up by the Safer Birmingham Project (SBP).
Last month, West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims apologized after the report by Thames Valley Police said the force showed “little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the legal or regulatory framework” before the cameras were put up, according to the BBC.
In a statement, Derek Webley, chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority, said, “We acknowledge that we did not get things right and want to take a positive approach to addressing what the report has found.”
He also said that it is wise for the authority to work with the community in order to consider this matter as an important issue in order to rebuild the trust and confidence of those in the area.
“Without this we know that we cannot deliver the policing that the public want to keep them safe from harm.”
Civil liberties groups have warned authorities that they would take legal action if all the cameras are not removed in two weeks.
$6 million dollars: enough to combat a largely grassroots, bottom-up and growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel? That’s what the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are hoping.
The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are launching a multimillion-dollar joint initiative to combat anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.
The JFNA and the rest of the Jewish federation system have agreed to invest $6 million over the next three years in the new initiative, which is being called the Israel Action Network. The federations will be working in conjunction with JCPA, an umbrella organization bringing together local Jewish community relations councils across North America.
The BDS movement–whose demands are based on international law–is clearly scaring Israel and the Jewish establishment, who have labeled the movement “the second most dangerous threat to Israel, after Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
The article also reports that the new anti-BDS initiative sprung from the urging of the Israeli government, which “has been advocating for this, especially over the past six months or eight months,” as Jerry Silverman, the head of the Jewish Federation of North America, told JTA.
It appears that the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are following the recommendations of the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank with close ties to the Israeli government, who called on the Israeli government to “sabotage” and “attack” the BDS movement in a February 2010 report.
The investment of a large amount of money to combat what is essentially impossible to combat as long as Israel continually flouts international law is a recognition of the powerful effect the BDS movement is having. Members of the Israeli Knesset certainly see BDS as a threat, having introduced a bill that would make it illegal for Israelis to “launch or incite” a boycott against Israel.
When $6 million is apparently needed to attempt to halt the BDS movement, that means something. But all the money in the world can’t stop the movement for Palestinian justice. Couldn’t someone tell that to the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs? Their money would be better spent on something else.