Aletho News


The History of Agent Orange

SensoryOssuary | May 26, 2008

This is a clip from the French documentary “The World According to Monsanto.” It summarizes the history of Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide produced by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and other companies. It was sprayed extensively during the Vietnam War, leading to a horrific variety of adverse health effects. Monsanto conducted deliberately flawed and coercive studies to “prove” that Agent Orange was safe, causing many Vietnam veterans to be denied sufficient health benefits.

In the late 1990’s, Monsanto changed its focus from chemicals like Agent Orange to biotechnology. It now indirectly controls approximately 60% of the world food supply. Monsanto insists that its genetically modified crops are safe.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Bush At Large

By Ralph Nader | November 16, 2010

George W. Bush is on a roll—a money roll with a $7 million advance for his book Decision Points and a rehabilitation roll to paint his war crimes as justifiable mass-slaughter and torture.

His carefully chosen interviewers—NBC’s Matt Lauer and Oprah Winfrey—agreed to a safe pre-taping to avoid demonstrations and tough questions. Requests for him to speak are pouring in from business conventions and other rich assemblages willing to pay $200,000 for “the Decider’s” banalities. This is “Shrub’s” month in the sun.

In his first week of book promotion, he was asked about anything he would have done had he known then what he knew now—especially regarding Iraq and its encircled dictator. Well, he deplored receiving “false intelligence” about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction which was one of several false claims he fed the American people before invading Iraq in 2003. But he has no regrets, saying that “the world was undoubtedly safer with Saddam gone.”

But was it safer for over a million Iraqis who lost their lives due to the invasion, over 4 million refugees, 4500 American soldiers lost, 1100 amputees, tens of thousands injured, sick and tens of thousands more GIs coming back with trauma to lost jobs, broken families and permanent damage to their health.

Was it worth a trillion dollars to blow apart the country of Iraq and incur many more enemies? Was it worth starting a war paid for by a massive debt handed to our children so that George W. and Dick Cheney could give themselves and their rich buddies a massive tax cut? Ex-presidents possess self-excusing delusions, but this is non compos mentis run amuck.

Then there is his escape from legal sanctions because the law enforcers in the Justice Department act as if Bush and Dick Cheney are above the law. “What is Attorney General Holder waiting for,” declared conservative/libertarian former Judge Andrew Napolitano, the legal analyst for Fox News, adding that Holder should criminally prosecute both Bush and Cheney for their many crimes. Just as a Justice Department task force was about to do to Richard Nixon after he resigned his office in 1974, for far lesser crimes, when President Ford pardoned him.

I asked Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan, constitutional rights litigator, author of books and articles and many Congressional testimonies on the imperial presidency, and its unlawful penchant for Empire, for his reaction. Here is his response:

“Former President Bush’s selective memoir is a little like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. With the exception of authorizing waterboarding, a form of torture, Bush neglects his serial vandalizing of the Constitution and the federal criminal code: five years of illegal surveillances of Americans on American soil; a war against Iraq without proper authorization by Congress; illegal detentions of enemy combatants without accusation or trials; hundred of unconstitutional signing statements professing an intent to refuse to faithfully execute the laws; unconstitutional defiance of congressional subpoenas; and, employing unilateral executive agreements to circumvent the treaty authority of the Senate over military commitments.”

“Despite his constitutional literacy, President Obama has balked at faithful execution of the laws against torture, warrantless spying on Americans, or obstruction of justice perpetrated by Bush and his servile minions. On that score, Obama resembles President Nixon, who was impeached by the House Judiciary Committee and forced to resign for sneering at his constitutional obligation to enforce, not ignore the laws.

“If Obama believes exculpatory circumstances justify non-prosecution of Bush-Cheney,” Fein continued, “then he should pardon them as authorized by the Constitution. A pardon must be accepted by the recipient to be effective, and acknowledges guilt and the inviolability of the rule of law. Ignoring lawlessness at the highest levels like Obama wounds the rule of law, and creates a precedent that lies around like a loaded weapon ready to destroy the Constitution. Obama himself is thus violating his oath of office by nonfeasance.”

Lawyer Fein is not referring to a one time episode like Watergate but a recurrent, pattern of massive outlawry here and abroad stretching for years. In 2005-2006, the large and very conservative American Bar Association, led by its then president, corporate attorney, Michael Greco, convened three task forces that produced white papers documenting three patterns of Bush’s unconstitutional behavior. Mr. Fein served on the panel that condemned the outpourings of Presidential signing statements. Although addressed and sent to President Bush, the ABA received no response to these unprecedented condemnations.

Our legal system and Constitution touted as the greatest in the world, decay when we allow epidemics of grave violations by the President and other White House violators to be rewarded for their unconstitutionalism and criminality.

On Armistice Day, November 11, 2010, The Washington Post put on page one the excruciating, but brave struggle of quadruple amputee, Marine Cpl. Todd A Nicely trying to make the best of his surviving an explosive device in Afghanistan. On the reverse page two there was a picture of a smiling George W. Bush signing his book. He is getting away with it.

Holding Bush/Cheney accountable by the soldiers he sent to kill and die in illegal wars, with few exceptions such as the Military Families Speak Out ( and the Iraq Veterans Against the War ( and Veterans for Peace ( are not being made in public by enough soldiers after their service. Many know who was responsible but under pressure from their superiors and not wanting, along with their families, to admit publically that they suffered and fought in vain, they remain silent. With their credibility, more of them need to exert real patriotism and speak out against the militant White House draft-dodgers and their neo-con advisors who drove them and our country into these boomeranging, destructive wars.

The Post completed this grim trilogy with a full page color ad by the profitable munitions manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, which taxpayers paid for, thanking the “commitment” and “sacrifice” of those who are serving today in America’s military forces.

For the political cowards and their corporate profiteers, wars do not demand their sacrifice, they only invite their manipulative flattery. Same old racket, recalling double Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Marine General Smedley Butler whose book “War Is A Racket” said it all decades ago.

Of course more members of another profession should declare itself for prosecution—the one million-strong licensed attorneys sworn to uphold the law as “officers of the court”!

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 2 Comments

Middle East’s Only Democracy Crushes Dissent

By Tammy Obeidallah | Palestine Chronicle | November 16, 2010

Ever since becoming an activist on behalf of Palestine some ten years ago, I have found ironic humor in the label, ‘The Middle East’s Only Democracy’ used by American policymakers and media in describing the Jewish State. This statement is erroneous on two counts. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of a democracy knows that Israelis overwhelmingly shun the values associated with such a system; furthermore quite a few countries in the Middle East hold elections regularly. Most recently, Jordan elected a new parliament.

Of course there are those who argue that a democracy simply means “majority rule,” or that government leaders are elected, so technically Israel would qualify. “Democracy” is defined by, “government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.” So in the purely political sense, as Israeli leaders are elected, they have democracy. However, the fifth definition of democracy reads “the principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community,” a concept diametrically opposed to Israel’s inherently racist establishment.

Not only is Israel content merely to expand settlements on stolen land and deny Arab citizens the basic rights of religious freedom, education, health care and mobility, any form of dissent is quashed. Arab Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi was stripped of her parliamentary privileges for participating in the Gaza freedom flotilla. In addition to receiving numerous death threats, Zoabi was recently shot in the back and neck with rubber bullets during a protest against a march by militant settlers in the town of Umm al-Fahm. Under Zionism, there is no such thing as freedom of assembly or free speech.

Take for instance a recent haiku contest on Facebook sponsored by El Al Airlines. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry requiring three non-rhyming lines:  the first and third line consisting of five syllables, the second line containing seven. I swallowed my pride and became a fan of the page; the possible temporary damage to my reputation seemed well worth it when considering the unwitting audience I would have. However, shortly after I began posting the haiku, a chorus of “she has to be banned” ensued.

I found out that indeed, I had been blocked from posting comments on the site after an hour or so. The El Al fan page administrator deleted all my haiku. I should not have been surprised.

This is the modus operandi of the Zionist machine. Dissent is not tolerated and must be completely obliterated, as in the case of Congressmen and women who dare try and stand up to it:  Paul Findley (re-districted out), Cynthia McKinney (trumped up charge assaulting a guard who was harassing her; victim of a smear campaign and voted out), Dennis Kucinich (marginalized and belittled), Jim Traficant (jailed). Prominent figures in the media are silenced, most recently the legendary Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez, formerly of CNN. Numerous Israeli youth sit in jails for refusing to military duty in the West Bank. The most sinister, however is the way activists Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, Furkan Dogan and 8 other flotilla participants were silenced, along with the untold thousands of Palestinians who have been murdered since 1948 for the “crime” of resisting occupation or while merely trying to live out their daily lives in their homeland.

Yet the legacies of these brave individuals continue, and to honor them, I put forth the haiku again in a place where the hasbara machine cannot penetrate.

Ignorant tourists
Celebrate sixty-plus years
Of ethnic cleansing.

Bustling Tel Aviv
Welcoming occupiers
Atop Lydda’s graves.

Stealing Holy Land
As amid scorched olive trees
More settlements rise.

Arrogant squatters
Frolic on stolen beaches
Kids in Gaza die.

El Al transporting
Still more and more invaders
to dear Palestine.

Flight attendants’ thobes
Food service is falafel
Theft of a culture.

Big jet engines scream
Not unlike those that have rained
Hell upon Gaza.

And then there was my daughter’s contribution:
El Al carrying
“Israeli” stowaways to
Steal from Palestine

El Al’s jet engines
Cannot drown out the screams of
White phosphorus wounds.

Airline of the blind
You see touristy mudbaths
Not Gaza’s bloodbath.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

UK to pay ex-Guantanamo detainees

Minister says former inmates who accused UK security forces of complicity in their torture will receive compensation

Al-Jazeera – 16 Nov 2010

The British government is to compensate former detainees in the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility in Cuba who accused UK security forces of being complicit in their torture overseas.

Ken Clarke, the British justice minister, said on Tuesday that the government had “agreed a mediated settlement of the civil damages claims” but that the details would remain confidential.

“No admissions of culpability have been made in settling these cases nor have any of the claimants withdrawn their allegations,” he added.

It is believed that the government decided it was better to settle with compensation rather than risk the release of secret documents during any open court case.

Media reports suggested that the claims could see one prisoner receive more than $1.6m.

The move comes after former detainees Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Binyam Mohamed, Martin Mubanga all took action against the government, and the High Court ordered the release of 500,000 related documents in July.

In February, a British court released secret evidence that Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born resident of Britain, had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment during questioning by US

Experts have said the government was keen to avoid a costly court case and the settlement was finally agreed after weeks of negotiations, with two lawyers acting as independent adjudicators.

Paul Brennan, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in London, said that details of the settlement will “probably never be known”.

“It is going to be an intrinsic part of the agreement, we understand, that there will be confidentiality,” he said.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said news of the compensation was “not very palatable but there is a price to be paid for lawlessness and torture in freedom’s name.

“There are torture victims who were entitled to expect protection from their country.

“The government now accepts that torture is never justified and we were all let down – let’s learn all the lessons and move on,” she said.

In July this year David Cameron, the prime minister, announced an inquiry into claims that UK security services were complicit in the torture of suspects on foreign soil after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The inquiry is due to start before the end of 2010 and is expected to report within 12 months.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

UN urges full US torture investigation

Press TV – November 17, 2010

The United Nations has called on the United States to conduct a full investigation into torture under the administration of former US President George W. Bush.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Ernesto Mendez, urged Washington on Tuesday to prosecute offenders as well as senior officials who ordered the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

“The United States has a duty to investigate every act of torture. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much in the way of accountability,” Mendez told Reuters.

The Argentinean diplomat also said he plans to visit Iraq to investigate what he called a “very widespread practice of torture” of detainees by US-led forces, following the 2003 occupation of the war-torn country. The new UN expert who, himself, is a victim of prison torture during Argentina’s dictatorship in the 1970s, also plans to visit Guantanamo prison.

Mendez says he wants to conduct his own probe there on condition that US officials allow him to interview prisoners still being held at Guantanamo by the Obama administration. He also condemned Bush’s comments in his recently published memoir, “Decision Points.”

In his book, Bush confirms that he personally approved a request by CIA agents to use waterboarding and other forms of torture in the interrogation of so-called “terror suspects.” He claims that his decision helped save lives.

Bush’s autobiography, which has been much publicized in the mainstream media, is considered an attempt to politically resurrect the ex-president’s badly-tainted reputation during his tenure. This is while many human rights activists believe that Bush is a war criminal who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Among his crimes are unleashing two wars on Afghanistan and Iraq following the September, 11, 2001 event. The ongoing conflicts have killed over a million Afghan and Iraqi civilians and left nearly 6,000 US soldiers dead.

The unpopular former US leader is also blamed for the torture of hundreds of Iraqis, Afghans and other Muslims in US detention facilities such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Bagram in Afghanistan and Guantanamo in Cuba.

Last week, Amnesty International, stated that the United States must prosecute Bush for torture after a criminal probe into his admissions.

During the past month, US human rights records have come under scrutiny. In an unprecedented move two weeks ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council launched an investigation into the country’s rights violations for the first time. Although the assessment leads to no action, it undermines Washington’s immunity from punishment over torture, continued military trials, detentions and targeted drone killings in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

From Al-Jazeera:

… Mendez’s call for US accountability comes less than two weeks after the US faced the United Nations Human Rights Council over accusations of human rights violations for the first time.

Council members in Geneva, Switzerland, levelled a barrage of criticisms at the US on November 5, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison and for investigations into alleged torture by US troops abroad.

The US vigorously defended its human rights record, with Harold Koh, a US state department legal adviser, telling a UN council: “Let there be no doubt, the United States does not torture and it will not torture.”

He said: “Between Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo we have conducted hundreds of investigations regarding detainee abuse allegations and those have led to hundreds of disciplinary actions.”

But Mendez criticised previous investigations into torture allegations, saying they were limited in scope. He said congressional inquiries focused on the Pentagon rather than the CIA.

Last week, the US Justice Department announced that no CIA personnel will face criminal charges for destroying videotapes of harsh interrogations of ‘terrorism’ suspects. …

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment