The establishment myths that perpetuate hollow “liberal-conservative” “debates” that perpetuate the war making of the establishment are maintained by reports like this headline from today’s “Democracy Now” :
In more news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has endorsed the use of waterboarding in order to “get information that was necessary.” A 2014 Senate report said waterboarding is tantamount to torture and that it has produced little useful intelligence. In her interview with Yahoo News, Fiorina attempted to discredit the report, calling it “disingenuous” and saying that it “undermined the morale of a whole lot of people who dedicated their lives to keeping the country safe.”
The truth is that torture did work, but not the way its defenders claim. It worked to produce justifications for policies the establishment wanted, like the Iraq war. This is actually tacitly acknowledged in the report — or one should say, it’s buried in it. Footnote 857 of the report is about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion and was interrogated by the FBI. He told them all he knew, but then the CIA rendered him to the brutal Mubarak regime in Egypt, in effect outsourcing their torture. From the footnote:
“Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [censored: ‘Egyptian’] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely ‘Egyptians’], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III.” Of course, Volume III — like most of the Senate report — has not been made public.
The bodies of the Egyptian victims are still lying in the desert following the killing of 12 Mexicans and Egyptians by security forces on Sunday, according to a lawyer whose relative was killed in the attack.
Amr Imam, a lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, who was on his way to the scene of the accident by the time of publication, told Mada Masr that neither the prosecution nor the forensics want to investigate, citing other family members who have been at the Western Desert since yesterday.
“That means that the bodies have already deteriorated,” he said, “although the accident happened only 500 meters away from the road.”
Ten other passengers in a convoy of four cars were injured and transferred to the hospital, according to a statement by the Ministry of Interior, which was released early Monday morning.
The ministry claimed the convoy was in a restricted area, and that a joint police and military force was on a mission to tackle armed groups in the area.
Earlier on Sunday, the Islamic State released a statement on social media saying they had exchanged fire with the Egyptian military in the Western Desert.
Imam said that tour guide Awad Fathi and the other victims were killed by an Apache, according to eyewitnesses, including the driver, who is the only Egyptian who survived the accident.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo quoted an anonymous employee of the tour group Qasr El Bawity, who said that the group was fired on as they were eating dinner and that “some tried to run away, but the military followed them and fired at those who tried to escape.”
“[The army] didn’t even call them an ambulance; it was people from the oasis who helped them,” the source was quoted as saying.
Mexican President Peña Nieto condemned the accident on Twitter, saying “Mexico condemns these events against our citizens and has demanded that the Egyptian government launch an exhaustive investigation into what happened.”
In a phone call on Monday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed condolences to his Mexican counterpart, explaining that the tourists were in an allegedly restricted area and that their presence coincided with an ongoing operation against terrorists.
Shoukry further explained that the tourists were in cars that are similar to those of suspects in the operation, according to a statement issued on the ministry’s website.
He assured the Mexican foreign minister that the Interior Ministry will investigate the matter, and that the Egyptian government will provide all necessary medical assisstance for the injured, as well as facilitate the transfer of the bodies back to their home country.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid declined any further comment on the incident, deferring to the Interior Ministry statement.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism issued a statement regretting the accident, saying investigations are underway.
The statement said that the results of the investigations will be announced as soon as possible.
The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid declined any further comment, referring the press instead to the statement made by the Foreign Ministry on Monday.
The civilian deaths are the latest in a country embroiled in a violent conflict with Islamist insurgents, focused in the area of North Sinai. On the same day as the accident, the Armed Forces announced the deaths of 53 insurgents in North Sinai, claiming a total of 349 insurgent deaths since September 7. No civilian deaths have been reported by the military.
However, the identity of those killed is often subject to conflicting reports, such as the worker from a military owned company killed by the army in Arish, North Sinai, in June. While the military claimed he was an insurgent fighting for Islamic State affiliated Sinai Province, an eyewitness told Mada Masr that the man had no such connection.
The Egyptian government ratified a law on August 16 making it illegal to contradict official reports of terrorist attacks. The law came in the aftermath of an attack on the military in North Sinai where the government claimed 17 people were killed. Foreign news outlets estimated the deaths at 60-70.
Dozens of dissidents have died across prisons in Egypt in the month of August alone, according to a non-governmental organization.
The Arab African Center for Freedoms and Human Rights documented deaths of 42 detainees.
According to the Cairo-based NGO, the captives mainly died due to medical negligence on the part of Egyptian authorities.
Human rights activists in the Egyptian capital have repeatedly said that many of those who die behind bars are in very critical condition due to torture upon arrest by Egyptian authorities.
Nearly 300 political prisoners have died in Egyptian detention facilities since 2013, according to activists.
The current military-backed government has harshly cracked down on dissent since the downfall of former President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in July 2013.
Large numbers of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed since the rise of former military commander and current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Nine anti-government defendants were sentenced to death in Egypt on Monday, bringing the number of those handed the death penalty to 680 since 3 July 2013, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) said in a report on Tuesday.
The organisation said the Egyptian security services torture opponents of the Egyptian regime and commit crimes against them so as to force them to confess to “fabricated” charges so they can be given severe sentences that may amount to the death penalty.
Seven of those who have received the death penalty have already been executed. The total number of defendants whose papers were referred to the Grand Mufti has reached 1,734. The report pointed out that senior officials at Mansoura’s security directorate systematically exercise illegal detention, kidnapping, torture and the forgery of official documents and fabrications.
The AOHR UK noted that photographing the defendants in a degrading manner, humiliating and torturing them and forcing them to give false confessions that were dictated to them constitute “unacceptable behaviour both legally and morally; and are also serious human rights violations which, if added to other human rights violations in Egypt, underline the collapse of the moral and legal system among individuals in the Egyptian police.”
The organisation warned that the adoption of the anti-terror law poses a threat to defendants who had already been sentenced to death as the new law decreased their chances of avoiding the death penalty and having fair trials.
It invited UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to form a fact-finding committee with full powers to investigate crimes committed after 3 July 2013 and bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.
On Monday, the Terrorism Circuit at the Mansoura Criminal Court, headed by Judge Osama Abdul Zahir, sentenced to death nine young men, including four students, in case number 16,850 of the year 2014, in which 24 people from the province of Dakahlia are accused. The remaining defendants were sentenced to life in prison.
Yesterday the court referred the cases of 10 defendants to the Grand Mufti for his approval. They were sentenced on charges of killing a police sergeant, committing acts of violence against the army and police forces, forming a cell that seeks regime change, and possessing explosives and weapons.
AOHR UK said that defendants were subjected to torture to force them to make fabricated confessions. Such confessions would help the regime demonise its opponents and incite public hatred ahead of the judicial procedures.
Italian energy giant Eni has announced on its website that it has found a “supergiant” gas field at their Zohr Prospect in the deep waters of Egypt in the Mediterranean, claiming it “could become one of the world’s largest natural-gas finds.”
It added that this is “an important day” for the company, as well as for Italy and Egypt, as it could fuel Italy’s economic development and “will be able to ensure satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades.”
“It’s a very important day for Eni and its people. This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt,” Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Eni, said in a statement.
The field is located about 80 miles (129 kilometers) off the Egyptian coast, 1,450 meters below the surface.
According to Eni’s press-release, the discovered gas field, which covers an area of around 100 square kilometers, could contain about “30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas” (849 billion cubic meters of gas or 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent).
Even more oil could be found at the field during the course of further exploration, potentially amounting up to 40 trillion cubic feet (1.1 trillion cubic meters), Claudio Descalzi told Financial Times.
“I think we can discover more,” he said.
In June, Eni struck a $ 2 billion deal with the Egyptian oil ministry allowing it to carry out exploration in Sinai, the Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean and areas in the Nile Delta.
Claudio Descalzi stressed that “Egypt still has great potential” in the energy field.”
“Important synergies with the existing [Egyptian] infrastructures can be exploited, allowing us a fast production startup,” he added.
The Leviathan gas field near the Israeli coast had been the largest discovered in the Mediterranean Sea before Eni found the “supergiant” field in Zahr. This new find is one of Eni’s biggest, although it is still smaller than a gas field being developed by the company near the coast of Mozambique.
The final investment decision, which is still to be made, could be taken later this year, while drilling could be initiated in 2016, with peak output reaching about 65-80 million cubic meters per day, the Financial Times reports, citing Claudio Descalzi.
“We will fast track this project and production will begin as soon as possible,” he said, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
The announcement of the discovery came a day after a Cairo meeting between the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, according to the president’s office.
Eni is Egypt’s main oil and gas producer. It has been operating in the country since 1954 through its IEOC subsidiary, with equity production reaching 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
… Sunday’s announcement also casts doubt on the future of export deals that called for connecting Egypt to pipelines from Cyprus and Israel to supply Egypt’s local demand and to make use of Egypt’s dormant export facilities to reach the global market. …
A file photo of Ahmed Hamed, an Egyptian political prisoner who died while in custody on August 21, 2015.
Another Egyptian political prisoner has died while in custody, the third death in 48 hours and the 13th of the month of August.
Thirty-seven-year-old Ahmed Hamed, father of three children, was pronounced dead on Friday evening in a police station in the city of Faiyum, 100 kilometers southwest of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Hamed, a supporter of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, lost his life just four days after being “kidnapped” by security forces in civilian clothes from the premises of his residence in Faiyum.
According to Hamed’s family and human rights activists in the city, he died of torture. No further details on his death have been released yet.
This is the third similar case in just 48 hours in Egypt. A 40-year-old man passed away in custody on Wednesday in a hospital in Matariya district in northeastern Cairo. He was detained 15 days before his death on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Human rights activists in the Egyptian capital had said the man was only transferred to hospital when he was already in a very critical condition also due to torture.
Also on Wednesday, a 72-year-old inmate, serving a three-year prison term on similar charges, died in the Borg El Arab prison in Egypt’s city of Alexandria in the north.
The victim, who was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, lost his life due to purported medical negligence upon his return from a court session a day earlier, where he had appeared in a wheelchair.
At least 13 political detainees are now known to have lost their lives inside detention facilities in August alone.
Human rights activists emphasize that “deliberate and systematic medical negligence” on the part of prison authorities, torture, overcrowded prisons, and overall “unhealthy and inhumane” conditions imposed on more than 40,000 political prisoners in Egypt’s detention facilities are the causes behind the deaths.
Nearly 300 political prisoners have died in Egyptian detention facilities since then army chief and current President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013 in a coup.
Sisi then launched brutal crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters and brotherhood members, leading to the killing of hundreds and the arrest and imprisonment of tens of thousands, many of whom have been sentenced to death and long prison terms in mass trials.
CAIRO – Four Palestinians kidnapped at gunpoint in Egypt’s Sinai late Wednesday are members of Hamas, Egyptian security officials said, and are being held hostage by the Sinai Province militant group.
Egyptian officials told Ma’an that the four Hamas members were taken hostage by the IS-affiliated group as a bargaining chip to force Hamas to release some 50 Salafists currently imprisoned in Gaza.
The members were identified as Abd al-Basit Abd al-Dayim, Abdullah Said Abdullah Abu Jibbeen, Yasir Fathi Misbah Zanoun and Hussein Khamis al-Thabda.
Negotiations have reportedly begun between Hamas and the militant group, with the involvement of both Palestinian and Egyptian mediators.
Initial investigations suggest the Hamas members were taken to the al-Tuma village south of the city of Sheikh Zuweid.
Sources close to the Sinai Province group — which pledged allegiance to IS in November — have said the four kidnapped Hamas members would be killed if Hamas did not comply with the group’s demands.
The group has claimed responsibility for attacks on Egypt’s army which have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since 2013.
The attacks are allegedly in response to the bloody repression launched by the authorities under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s control, which has seen at least 1,400 killed and thousands more jailed.
Since last summer’s devastating war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip, there have been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and other militant groups in the strip, with a string of small-scale explosions.
In June, video footage alleged to be from an IS stronghold in Syria showcased a public challenge by the group against Hamas’ power in Gaza, accusing the Gazan leadership of failing to enforce stringent religious law in the strip.
Prior to the threat, Hamas had reportedly been increasingly challenged by Salafist militant groups in Gaza, with some taking credit for rocket fire into Israel.
Four Palestinians were abducted on Wednesday evening in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula just a couple of minutes after passing Rafah Crossing, the Palestinian government in Gaza has reported.
An eyewitness who was on the same bus, said that one or two kilometres after passing the crossing, and just a couple of metres from the Egyptian army checkpoint, a number of masked armed men opened fire on the bus, entered it, called four men by their names and abducted them.
The eyewitness, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that there were 50 Palestinian passengers on the bus and insisted that there were no Egyptian security staff accompanying them.
Normally, Egyptian security staff accompany travellers’ buses from Rafah Crossing to Cairo Airport.
“Although the daily night curfew had started,” the eyewitness said, “the Egyptians insisted that the bus must begin its journey from Rafah to Cairo.”
Normally, Palestinian buses do not travel during the night curfew, which has been imposed on wide swathes of the Sinai Peninsula.
The spokesman of the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza, Iyad al-Buzom, said that: “We are making urgent contacts with the highest levels of Egyptian authorities to follow up on the circumstances of what happened and we urge the Egyptian interior ministry to secure the lives of the kidnapped passengers and free them.”
Meanwhile, Salama Abu-Rbaa, the chief of an Egyptian tribe in Sinai, has accused the Egyptian intelligence services of manipulating the abduction of the Palestinians.
Speaking to a Palestinian news agency, he said that a number of his tribe’s members saw the masked men who abducted the Palestinians exiting an Egyptian armoured vehicle close to the place of the abduction.
He said that he has credible information about the four abductees and their whereabouts, insisting that they are in a military outpost near Al-Arish Sea.
Abu-Rbaa warned of a “demonised” agenda planned by the Egyptian security services, calling for the Palestinians to be careful about such plans.
Some 2,799 Egyptians have been killed since the Egyptian authorities forcefully dispersed mass rallies in Cairo on August 14, 2013. The rallies were held as protest against the military coup which ousted the first every freely elected Egyptian president, an Egyptian rights group said on Friday.
Anadolu News Agency reported that the Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms stated that since June 30, 2013 until today, the Egyptian authorities’ varied methods of killing resulted in a large number of deaths.
According to the National Egyptian Council for Human Rights, on August 14, 2013, the Egyptian army and police dispersed the demonstrations against the military coup, killing 632 Egyptians. Meanwhile, national and international rights groups said the number of deaths was over 1,000.
In June of this year, the Egyptian security forces assassinated nine unarmed Muslim Brotherhood leaders, claiming they were planning to make chaos in the country. The Muslim Brotherhood denied the accusations and stressed that the individuals were a team following up the families of Egyptians killed or wounded by the army and the police.
According to the report, which was divided into three stages, the first stage covered the period from June 30, 2013 until August 13, 2013, where 316 Egyptians were killed. The second stage covered August 14, 2013 until August 16, where 2007 Egyptians were killed. The third stage details the events from August 17, 2013 until August 12, 2015, where 476 Egyptians were killed.
Since the military coup against Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing it of “inciting violence and terror” in the country.
In December 2013, an Egyptian court designated the group as a “terrorist organisation” and ordered all of its leaders and members to be arrested and their property confiscated.
Hundreds of its leaders and members have been sentenced to death or life in prison since the announcement of that ruling.
As many as 264 detainees in Egyptian prison facilities have died in jail since the 2013 military ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi due to what is widely described as “medical negligence” on the part of prison authorities, a report said.
Seventy-two of the detainees have died this year while in government custody due to denied access to medications or treatment facilities, the UK-based Arab Organization for Human Rights said in a statement, the Middle East Monitor reported on Monday.
The development came as other human rights groups pointed to the death of jailed political activists Essam Derbala, who was the chairman of Egypt’s prominent Jamaa al-Islamiya Shura Council in Qena, as well as Mohammad Mehdi Hajjaj.
According to the Arab African Center for Freedom and Human Rights, Hajjaj died in the Raml police station in Egypt’s second largest city of Alexandria after local authorities denied the delivery of his medication and refused to transport him to a local hospital when his condition deteriorated.
The report further noted that the list of Egyptian opposition figures who died in prison due to medical negligence includes senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Farid Ismail who died in May, Sheikh Nabil Maghribi the oldest political prisoner in Egypt who died in June, and Sheikh Morgan Salem Jouhari, a former member of the Shura Council.
In August alone, the report added, four political prisoners have so far died in government custody, including Sheikh Izzat Salamoni, Ahmed Ghozlan, Sheikh Morgan Salem Jouhari, and Mahmoud Hanafi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi himself has reportedly asked to be transferred to a private medical center, claiming that an attempt has been made to poison him inside the prison.
In a brutal government crackdown on pro-Morsi protest rallies following his ouster, at least 1,400 people have been killed and thousands arrested and jailed by security forces. Many of the detainees have been sentenced to death or long prison terms in mass trials.
Reprieve | August 6, 2015
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has praised what he says is Egypt’s “vision of a more prosperous, more democratic society.”
Writing in Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram on the day of the opening of a new section of the Suez Canal, Mr Fallon said that the UK stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Egypt, but made no reference to the human rights situation in the country.
The article comes amid concerns over the fate of thousands of prisoners who have faced mass trials and the death penalty as part of a two-year-long crackdown on dissent by the Sisi government. They include Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish teenager who was arrested during the military’s breakup of protests in August 2013. Ibrahim, who faces a death sentence alongside 493 others in mass proceedings, has endured torture and mistreatment throughout his detention. Last weekend, his mass trial at Wadi Natrun prison, where conditions are poor, was postponed for the 9th time.
The UK Foreign Office has previously told human rights organization Reprieve that it is “monitoring” Ibrahim’s case, and that it has “concerns over the use of mass death sentences and the large number of people in pre-trial detention.”
Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “At a time when Egypt’s jails are heaving with jailed protestors and journalists, torture is rife, and thousands are facing mass death sentences, it is disgraceful that Michael Fallon sees fit to praise Egypt’s government in such unqualified terms. To prisoners like Ibrahim Halawa, who is enduring regular torture and a Kafkaesque mass trial, talk of Sisi’s ‘vision of a more prosperous, more democratic society’ is a sick joke. If the defence secretary truly wants to support Egypt, he must tell Sisi to reverse the terrible human rights abuses of the last two years – and to release the many victims of the crackdown, such as Ibrahim.”