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Archive for April, 2009

The Slick “O”

Posted by terres on April 30, 2009

Obama’s 100 days – the mad men did well

By John Pilger
30 Apr 2009

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the power of advertising – from the effects of smoking to politics – as he reaches behind the facade of of the first 100 days President Barack Obama.

“Walk to any major fast food chain outlet and you’ll get almost exactly the same stuff you got the last time. … The manager and staff at your nearest McDonald’s burger joint change regularly, for example, but a Big Mac is a Big Mac; it would taste like the one you got there the last time.” Source: Obsessed with Obama’s McWhitehouse?

The BBC’s American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the “smart” people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving dreamt up by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged and sold.

It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The “Obama brand” has been named “Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008”, easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign as “an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force”. Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser César Chávez – “Sí, se puede!” or “Yes, we can” – the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush.

No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous “Change you can believe in”, it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. “We will be the most powerful,” he often declared.

Perhaps the Obama brand’s most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as “adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion…” (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: “Many spiritually advanced people I know… identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who… can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet.”

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defence”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.

In Afghanistan, the US “strategy” of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the “Taliban”) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely. Obama’s policy, one unchanged since the Cold War, is to intimidate Russia and China, now an imperial rival. He is proceeding with Bush’s provocation of placing missiles on Russia’s western border, justifying it as a counter to Iran, which he accuses, absurdly, of posing “a real threat” to Europe and the US. On 5 April in Prague, he made a speech reported as “anti-nuclear”. It was nothing of the kind. Under the Pentagon’s Reliable Replacement Warhead programme, the US is building new “tactical” nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war.

The day the world should have known there was a problem:

Importing orchids from New Zealand: An immoral act of ecological recklessness, economic extravagance and social hubris!

—TERRES

Ordering orchids from New Zealand for the presidential inauguration is a callous disregard for the environment; it also rates high, “Scale F,” on the Adolescents Social Insensitivity scale

From: Obama Inauguration Carbon Footprint

Perhaps the biggest lie – the equivalent of smoking is good for you – is Obama’s announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain “for the next 15 to 20 years”. On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered – especially as the nation’s economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s principal economic adviser, is throwing $3trn at the same banks that paid him more than $8m last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.

Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s “grand design”, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a “brand collapse” whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC’s man, and CNN’s man, and Murdoch’s man, and Wall Street’s man, and the CIA’s man. The Madmen did well.

Copyright: John Pilger http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=530

Image and captions sourced by Moderator: TERRES

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Posted in Afghanistan, Henry Kissinger, Iraq War, nuclear weapons, secret government | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

More Psychopaths in Uniform

Posted by terres on April 28, 2009

Ex-soldier bragged about Iraqi rape, deaths: lawyer

By Steve Robrahn

PADUCAH, Kentucky (Reuters) – A former U.S. soldier on trial in the gang rape of an Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family in the war zone in 2006 was caught in a “perfect storm of insanity,” his lawyer told a jury on Monday.


“Private 1st Class Steven Green, alleged ringleader of the slayings, was only interested in killing Iraqis “nonstop” and bragged during a barbecue celebration later that what he had done was “awesome.” He is on trial in the gang rape of an Iraqi girl Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, 14, and the murder of her and her family in the war zone in 2006.

But government prosecutors in the same courtroom said former Private 1st Class Steven Green, alleged ringleader of the slayings, was only interested in killing Iraqis “nonstop” and bragged during a barbecue celebration later that what he had done was “awesome.”

Green, 23, is being tried in federal court as a civilian since his arrest came after he was discharged from the U.S. Army later in 2006 for a “personality disorder.”

He is the last of five men charged in the rape of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, 14, and the slaying of her and her father, mother and 6-year-old sister. The incident unfolded after the soldiers drank whiskey, played cards, and plotted the attack in Mahmudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, prosecutors have said.

Three of the other soldiers pleaded guilty in the attack and the fourth was convicted, all in military courts-martial. They were given sentences of from five to 100 years, though they could be paroled much sooner. Prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty for Green.

In opening statements at the trial, Patrick Bouldin, a public defender, said Green’s platoon had been decimated by deaths and injuries before the crime.

“You have to understand the background that leads up to this perfect storm of insanity,” Bouldin told the jury.

Bouldin said Green had sought help dealing with combat stress after the deaths of close colleagues and was unsure whether Iraqis he encountered were friend or foe.

“They couldn’t tell the village people and the farmers from the insurgents and the terrorists,” he said.

IRAQIS HORRIFIED BY CRIME

Green, from Midland, Texas, faces 17 charges including sexual assault, murder, and obstruction of justice.

Outlining the gruesome details of the crime, federal prosecutor Brian Skaret said: “Who could have done these things? It wasn’t done by insurgents or terrorists. It was the work of this man, Steven Green.”

He said Green took his turn raping the girl after he shot to death the girl’s mother, father and sister. He said Green was predisposed to the crime.

“Steven Green wanted to kill Iraqi civilians,” Skaret said. “He wanted to kill them all the time, nonstop.”

After the crime, Skaret said, the men celebrated with a barbecue, and Green was said to have commented “that was awesome.” He also told an Army investigator the day after, “I did that. I killed them,” Skaret said.

The family was chosen because the soldiers viewed them as an easy target, prosecutors have said.

Iraqis were horrified by the crime, one of a series of incidents involving U.S. soldiers that strained relations with the Iraqi government. But the onset of Green’s trial three years later is not resonating with most Iraqis, observers there say.

The incident was portrayed in the 2007 movie “Redacted” by director Brian De Palma, who complained the film was censored by the studio. Its graphic images shocked many viewers.  (Editing by Michael Conlon and Andrew Stern in Chicago)

Copyright Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE53R07N20090428

Posted in Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, gang rape, Iraqi occupation, Mahmudiya murders, personality disorder | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Torture, Murder NOT U.S. Monopoly

Posted by terres on April 23, 2009

British soldiers ‘tortured and murdered 20 Iraqis, then covered it up with firefight claim’

By Neil Sears

British soldiers tortured and murdered up to 20 Iraqis in cold blood, the High Court was told yesterday.

It happened after a three-hour gun battle at an Army checkpoint near Basra, a lawyer claimed.

Rabinder Singh said a group of local men were taken prisoner and transported to an Army camp where they were beaten with a rusty tent pole, punched, slammed against walls, denied water, blasted with loud music and forced to strip naked in the presence of a woman – a humiliation for Muslim men.

Ann Clwyd
Camp Abu Naji: MP Ann Clwyd at the base where abuse allegedly happened

The next day, he said, only nine were still alive – and 20 corpses were returned to their families. One was teenager Hamid Al-Sweady. …

But Mr Singh said that when the shooting was over, the British troops took bloody revenge. He said: ‘It is the claimants’ case that at least some of those captured were tortured and killed by British troops between 14 and 15 May 2004, and that there has been no effective investigation into what happened to them in that 24-hour period.

‘This constitutes a substantive and procedural breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.’

He added: ‘There is a lot of evidence from soldiers at the battlefield that there were more than nine that were taken alive.

‘Many of the bodies of the Iraqis returned on 15 May 2004 were severely disfigured and some appeared to show marks of torture and mutilation.’ …

Read full article …

© 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1172688/British-soldiers-tortured-murdered-20-Iraqis-covered-firefight-claim.html

Posted in British troops, illegal war, Iraq War, Mutilation, War of Aggression | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sri Lankan Exodus Continues

Posted by terres on April 22, 2009

Caught between the shooting lion and wounded tigers

Thousands more civilians surged out of Sri Lanka’s war zone

Sri Lankan war in endgame, 81,000 escape rebel zone

COLOMBO, April 22 (Reuters) – Thousands more civilians surged out of Sri Lanka’s war zone on Wednesday, while soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels fought the apparent endgame of Asia’s longest-running war despite calls to protect those still trapped.


In this handout photograph released by the Sri Lankan navy on April 21, 2009 shows what the military says is thousands of people fleeing an area by boats from a beach controlled by the Tamil Tiger separatists in northeastern Sri Lanka. Thousands more civilians surged out of Sri Lanka’s war zone on Wednesday, while soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels fought the apparent endgame of Asia’s longest-running war despite calls to protect those still trapped. In the third day since troops blasted through a massive earthen wall built by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and unleashed the exodus, the military said 81,420 people had been registered for onward transit to refugee camps. REUTERS/Sri Lankan Government Handout.

In the third day since troops blasted through a massive earthen wall built by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and unleashed the exodus, the military said 81,420 people had been registered for onward transit to refugee camps.

The massive civilian presence in a 17 square km (6.5 sq mile) area had been the last crucial defense for the Tigers, who have refused repeated calls from the United Nations, Western governments and neighboring India to release them.

Sri Lanka’s government has meanwhile rejected LTTE and international calls for a truce, saying it cannot allow a group designated as a terrorist organization by more than 30 countries to use the time to rearm, as it has done in the past.

By Wednesday morning, troops had captured about a third of the remaining Tiger-held area, which had been an army-declared no-fire zone until soldiers marched in and turned it into the conflict’s final conventional battlefield after people fled.

“Confrontations are taking place. Whenever we come across LTTE cadres, we are fighting them. The rescue operation is continuing,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

Defensespokesman Keheliya Rambukwella later told a media briefing troops had taken control of about a third of the area, after seizing the center of the north-south strip of coast and dividing the remaining rebel fighters into two pockets. Nanayakkara said 153,000 civilians have fled LTTE areas so far this year.

UN CONFIRMS EXODUS

The United Nations confirmed this week’s outflow.

“It is 60,000 plus and counting, and we have heard various reports of up to 110,000 coming out,” said U.N. spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss. He cautioned the reports were preliminary and not confirmed.


Injured civilians lie on the ground in a make-shift hospital in this photograph released by the pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group ‘Mercy Mission to Vanni’ on April 20, 2009 showing what they say are wounded civilians who were fleeing from an area still controlled by the LTTE in the ‘No Fire Zone’ near the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northeastern Sri Lanka. REUTERS/Mercy Mission to Vanni/Handout (SRI LANKA SOCIETY MILITARY CONFLICT POLITICS) QUALITY FROM SOURCE

So far, only 7,500 had reached refugee centers away from the front in Jaffna and Vavuniya towns, while the rest were in transit, he said.

Aid agencies have warned refugee camp conditions could quickly turn bad with the populations doubling, but Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered extra food and reliefs supplies to be sent.

On Tuesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross had said the war zone situation was “catastrophic”, with several hundred killed since Monday and at least 50,000 more remaining at risk with limited food, water and medical care.

The United Nations and others have accused the LTTE of forcing people to stay in the war zone or making them fight, and the government of shelling civilian areas. Both deny the accusations.

Senior U.S. diplomat Michael Owen urged Sri Lanka to allow the international community to monitor what was happening and assure help for trapped civilians.

“The 26-year-old conflict is at a decisive point and we see the potential for major developments within the next 48 hours,” he told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

The military operation to rescue the civilians began on Monday and gathered speed on Tuesday after the LTTE ignored a noon deadline to surrender, despite being massively outgunned by a military built up to wipe them out and end the war.

A senior LTTE official hours later said the group would never surrender nor give up its drive to create a separate state for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, which has percolated since the early 1970s but erupted into full-blown civil war in 1983.

After the conventional end of the war, Sri Lanka will face the challenges of healing divisions between the Tamil minority and Sinhalese majority, and boosting a $40 billion economy suffering on many fronts including a weakening rupee .LKR.

Sri Lanka is seeking a $1.9 billion International Monetary Fund loan to ease a balance of payments crisis and boost flagging foreign exchange reserves. (Copyright Reuters)

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSCOL188809._CH_.2400

Posted in civilian casualties, Jaffna, LTTE, Tamil Tigers, Tamils | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Whatever happened to free speech?

Posted by terres on April 21, 2009

… or Freedom of Artistic Expression?


Source: cartoonbox.slate.com. Image may be subject to copyright.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Jewish “human rights group” has denounced Pat Oliphant’s latest political cartoon as anti-Semitic, comparing it to Nazi imagery of the 1930s that led up to the Holocaust.

The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labeled “Gaza.”

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.

“The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras,” Wiesenthal Center officials said in a statement. “It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide.”

The center called on the New York Times and other online outlets to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.

Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant’s cartoons, did not immediately return messages left late Wednesday night.

A New York Times spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a phone or e-mail message left after office hours.

Oliphant, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists in the world, receiving a mix of praise and criticism for his work through the years.

His latest cartoon alludes to Israel’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, where its troops launched an offensive in December to halt rocket fire and weaken the territory’s Hamas rulers.

More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to a Palestinian human rights group [and subsequently confirmed by various international agencies.]

Oliphant’s cartoon is his latest to draw backlash.

In 2001 and 2007, the Asian American Journalists Association objected to what they called offensive racial caricatures in cartoons about trade with China and concerns about international food safety.

In 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee criticized one of his cartoons because it drew on false stereotypes and reinforces negative views of Arabs.

A native of Australia, Oliphant came to the U.S. in 1964 to work for The Denver Post.

His work has been syndicated internationally since 1965, and by Universal since 1980.

His work is on permanent display at the Library of Congress.

On its Web site, Universal declares that “no one is safe from the acid brush of Pat Oliphant.”

Oliphant’s latest work is the second editorial cartoon in as many months to provoke anger. Last month, New York Post Chairman Rupert Murdoch apologized for a cartoon in his paper that critics said likened a violent chimpanzee shot dead by police to President Barack Obama.
Copyright AP.

Posted in China import, food safety, Israeli aggression, Occupied Palestine, Simon Wiesenthal Center | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fighting the UN Racism Forum

Posted by terres on April 19, 2009

Zionist governments of Australia and the Netherlands join other Zionists to boycott UN conference on racism

The Zionist governments of Australia and the Netherlands have joined the US, Israel and Canada in boycotting the UN conference on racism held in Geneva. The Zionist government of UK is sending a delegation, without any  senior official.


A protester holds a banner during a demonstration against racism in Geneva April 18, 2009. The Durban Review Conference, which will review progress and assess implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, will be held at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva from April 20 to 24, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse. Image may be subject to copyright.

In the last major race summit in 2001, the United States and Israel walked out of the South African meeting held in Durban after Arab states attempted to define Zionism as racist.

The U.S. State Department said it finds the  language in the meeting’s draft declaration “objectionable.”

In reality, Israel has forbidden the Obama administration even to participate in the preparations for the “Durban II” forum, let alone to attend the conference.

“With regret, the United States will not join the review conference,” the State Department spokesman Robert Wood was reported as saying.

The Zionist government of Canada said it will not go to the forum because it fears  repeat of the “Israel-bashing” that occurred at Durban in 2001.

More …

Posted in Durban II, Israel, the Netherlands, UN Racism Forum, United States | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

So What You Lost Your Entire Family in the Fire (!)

Posted by terres on April 19, 2009

Bushfire survivors barred from inquiry

Australian Associated Press | AAP

From day one they were told that this was to be a very open and transparent process and now they find out that they are being denied access to go and appear before the commission. —Australian Liberal MP Fran Bailey

The first hearing of the bushfires royal commission will be held on Monday amid complaints many survivors will be barred from giving evidence.

A directions hearing will be held at the County Court in Melbourne, where commissioner Justice Bernard Teague will consider applications for leave to appear before the commission.

But hundreds of bushfire survivors and families who lost loved ones have already had their applications rejected.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has sought an explanation from the premier’s office after he was approached by a woman who had lost four family members and was upset at being refused a voice at the commission.

Liberal MP Fran Bailey, whose federal seat of McEwen covers many of the areas worst hit on Black Saturday, said locking victims out of the proceedings was unacceptable.

“From day one they were told that this was to be a very open and transparent process and now they find out that they are being denied access to go and appear before the commission set up to investigate why their lives have been so terribly affected,” she told the ABC.

Victorian Premier John Brumby promised when he announced the terms of reference on February 16 that the inquiry would be “as broad as possible so that everybody can have their say”.

“I think it’s absolutely crucial that we undertake the highest level judicial inquiry into these bushfires, that we need to make sure that no stone is left unturned, that we need to ensure that every Victorian can have their say,” he said.

Counsel assisting the commission Jack Rush QC says it is standard practice to grant leave only to those whose conduct is likely to be scrutinised.

A spokeswoman for the royal commission declined to comment.

The directions hearing comes 72 days after the worst bushfires in Australia’s history swept through Victoria, killing 173 people and destroying more than 2,000 homes.

The commission has conducted a month-long series of preliminary community meetings, involving more than 1,200 people from 14 bushfire areas.

The media was excluded from the meetings but the formal hearings, which begin on May 11, will be open to the public.

The first stage of the hearings is expected to take about eight weeks and examine the spread of the fires, weather conditions, public warnings, the stay-and-defend or leave early policy, and building standards, time permitting.

Written submissions close on May 18 and the commission will hand down an interim report by August 17.

Copyright AAP/LiveNews.com.au

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Posted in Australian Coal, Black Saturday, Jack Rush QC, John Brumby, McEwen | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

YOU’re SAFE, YOU’re in the ARMY

Posted by terres on April 16, 2009

Book tells of female U.S. soldiers raped by comrades

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Female U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have more to fear than roadside bombs or enemy ambushes. They also are at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers.

“The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq,” a book based on 40 in-depth interviews, recounts the stories of female veterans who served in combat zones and tells of rape, sexual assault and harassment by male counterparts.

Some were warned by officers not to go to the latrine by themselves. One began carrying a knife in case she was attacked by comrades. Others said they felt discouraged to report assaults.

“The horror of it is that it is their own side that is doing this to them,” said the book’s author, Helen Benedict, a journalism professor at Columbia University in New York. The book was released in the United States on Wednesday.

One in 10 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are female, and more women have fought and died in the Iraq war than any since World War Two, according to U.S. Department of Defense statistics cited in the book.

Benedict said the book’s title comes from the isolation female U.S. soldiers experience when combining the trauma of their combat duties with sexual harassment by fellow soldiers.

“Because women are under so much more danger now and actually in the battle, it’s a particularly tragic situation because all soldiers are supposed to be able to rely on one another to watch their backs,” Benedict said.

“And how can you feel that way if your fellow soldiers are harassing you all day or trying to rape you or actually even raping you?”

One such soldier, Marti Ribeiro, was a third-generation Air Force sergeant who served in Afghanistan in 2006 as a combat correspondent with the Army’s all-male 10th Mountain Division. Her story includes an account of being attacked and raped by a U.S. soldier in uniform while guarding a post.

After completing the shift and not showering to substantiate the attack, she reported it to authorities, only to be told if she filed a claim she would be charged with dereliction of duty for leaving her weapon unattended. She left the military.

“I had dreams of becoming an officer one day, like my father and grandfather,” she says in the book. “Unfortunately, because I’m female, those dreams will not come true.”

SURVEYS UNDERSCORE PROBLEM

The number of reports of sexual assault in the U.S. military rose by 8 percent in fiscal 2008 from the previous year and by 25 percent in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released by the Pentagon in March.

There were 2,908 reports overall of sexual assault by members of the military. Such assaults include rape, indecent assault and attempted rape, the report said.

Of the 40 women Benedict interviewed who served between 2003 and 2006, 10 said they had been raped, five said they were sexually assaulted including attempted rape, and 13 reported sexual harassment.

A new play based on Benedict’s work was performed in New York and may tour the United States. After a recent performance, real soldiers hugged the actors who portrayed them. Some wiped away tears.

U.S. officials said the increase in assaults was due to efforts to make it easier to report them.

Cynthia Smith, a Department of Defense spokeswoman, said the department was committed to eliminating sexual assault from the military through prevention and response policies and eliminating barriers to reporting assaults.

“The Department of Defense’s goal is to establish a climate of confidence that encourages victims to report sexual assault and get the care they need,” she said in an e-mail.

Benedict and some researchers say U.S. government figures are much lower than their findings because the government only counts those brave enough to report the assaults.

The problem is not new to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A 2003 survey of more than 550 female veterans who served in wars from Vietnam to the first Gulf war found that 30 percent said they suffered from rape or attempted rape and 79 percent reported being sexually harassed, according to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric Beech). Copyright the author/Reuters

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    The following article originally appeared on CNN but it’s no longer available at the below link:

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/07/22/military.women.sexual.assault.ap/index.html

    Sexually assaulted female troops struggle to recover

    YORK, Pennsylvania (CNN) — It took Diane Pickel Plappert six months to tell a counselor that she had been raped while on duty in Iraq. While time passed, the former Navy nurse disconnected from her children and her life slowly unraveled.


    Carolyn Schapper feared her entire intelligence team would suffer if she complained about leader’s behavior.

    Carolyn Schapper says she was harassed in Iraq by a fellow Army National Guard soldier to the extent that she began changing clothes in the shower for fear he More..’d barge into her room unannounced — as he already had on several occasions.

    Even as women distinguish themselves in battle alongside men, they’re fighting off sexual assault and harassment. It’s not a new consequence of war.

    But the sheer number of women serving today — more than 190,000 so far in Iraq and Afghanistan — is forcing the military and Department of Veterans Affairs to more aggressively address it.

    The data that exists — incomplete and not up-to-date — offers no proof that women in the war zones are more vulnerable to sexual assault than other female service members, or American women in general. But in an era when the military relies on women for invaluable and difficult front-line duties, the threat to their morale, performance and long-term well-being is starkly clear.

    Of the women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have screened positive for military sexual trauma, The Associated Press has learned. That means they indicated that while on active duty they were sexually assaulted, raped, or were sexually harassed, receiving repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

    In January, the VA opened its 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating victims of military sexual trauma, this one in New Jersey. In response to complaints that it is too male-focused in its care, the VA is making changes such as adding keyless entry locks on hospital room doors so women patients feel safer.

    Rape victim felt numb when returning home

    Depression, anxiety, problem drinking, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic abuse are all problems that have been linked to sexual abuse, according to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides support to victims of violence associated with the military. Since 2002, the foundation says it has received more than 1,000 reports of assault and rape in the U.S. Central Command areas of operation, which include Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In most reports to the foundation, fellow U.S. service members have been named as the perpetrator, but contractors and local nationals also have been accused.

    Plappert, 47, said she was raped by Iraqi men in 2003 at a store in Hillah, when she got separated from her group.

    By the time the Navy Reserves commander returned home, she felt like she was “numb.”

    “I didn’t feel anything,” she said during an interview at her town home in south-central Pennsylvania. When her kids, now ages 10 and 12, hugged her, “I felt like I was being suffocated.”

    Plappert’s marriage eventually fell apart. She credits treatment at the VA — as well as her artwork depicting trauma and recovery — with helping her reconnect with her children. She left the military and is studying at Drexel University to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner while continuing to work as a civilian nurse.

    She said it’s hard for people outside a war environment to understand how living in high-stress, primitive conditions can affect your ability to make decisions. She didn’t report the attack immediately, she said, because she felt an obligation to continue the mission and not burden others. She also wondered how the report would be perceived.

    “What I’ve got to try to think is that there’s got to be some reason why this has happened,” said Plappert, who first recounted the assault to a VA counselor and eventually told her story to Defense Department and VA task forces. “I try to find something positive in the event.”

    Moving the victim feels like punishment to them

    Schapper, 35, of Washington, served with the Virginia Army National Guard on an outpost with few other women. She worked well as part of a military intelligence team with the men around her. It was in the down time that things got uncomfortable.

    She shared a house with about 20 men, some of whom posted photos of scantily clothed women on the walls. She said her team leader, who lived in the house, frequently barged into her room and stared at her. The experience was unnerving, Schapper said, and she began changing clothes in the shower. But she never filed a formal complaint.

    If she complained, Schapper figured, she’d be the one moved — not the other soldier.

    “In military intelligence, you work with Iraqis on a daily basis you get to know, and to move me would disrupt the team I was working with as well as disrupt the work I’d already done,” Schapper said. “I didn’t want to be moved, and basically I’d be punished in a sense.”

    Schapper said other female troops she has spoken with described similar experiences. One had her picture posted with “Slut of Bayji” written underneath. Another endured having a more senior enlisted soldier ask her favorite sexual position over a public radio, said Schapper, who has met with members of Congress on behalf of the nonpartisan advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

    Since returning to the U.S. in 2006, Schapper has gotten help for post-traumatic stress disorder at the VA in Washington. Group therapy with other Iraq veterans has been helpful, she said, but she wishes there was a women-only group.

    Connie Best, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Medical University of South Carolina who retired from the Navy Reserves, said people typically think of sexual harassment as someone making a comment about someone’s appearance, but it goes well beyond that. In a war environment, living and working with someone exhibiting harassing behavior can potentially have long-term effects on troops’ health and performance.

    “There’s automatically this thing that sexual harassment is not a big deal, it’s not as bad as rape, and indeed it often is not as distressing as a completed sexual assault, but it still can be something that highly affects a person,” Best said. Research also has found that working and living environments where unwanted sexual behaviors take place have been associated with increased odds of rape.

    After high-profile attacks in Kuwait and Iraq, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld convened a 2004 task force on the treatment and care of sexual assault victims. One change that followed was the creation of a confidential component in the military’s reporting system, so a victim can come forward to get help without necessarily triggering an investigation.

    In the fiscal year that ended October 1, 131 rapes and assaults were reported in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Kaye Whitley, director of the Defense Department’s sexual assault prevention and response office. Comparing that to previous years isn’t possible because of changes in the way data was collected, she said.

    The actual number is likely higher than what’s reported. Among members of the military surveyed in 2006 who indicated they had experienced unwanted sexual contact, about 20 percent said they had reported it to an authority or organization.

    Female veteran warns daughter

    This summer, the Pentagon is bringing experts together to come up with a more aggressive prevention strategy. It also is working with the nonprofit group Men Can Stop Rape to help teach troops how to identify warning signs of problems around them.

    When victims do complain, too often the perpetrator is not moved out or punished, said Colleen Mussolino, national commander of the Women Veterans of America.

    “You have to be able to trust fellow soldiers and if you can’t do that, you’re basically on your own. So it’s really rough, really rough for them,” said Mussolino, of Bushkill, Pennsylvania.

    A vast majority of women at war feel safe with their comrades in arms, “but for the ones who feel unsafe, it’s hell,” said Lory Manning, a retired Navy captain who directs the Women in Military Project at the Washington-based Women’s Research and Education Institution.

    At a recent women veteran’s conference in Washington, Leanne Weldin, of Pittsburgh, who deployed in Iraq with the Arizona National Guard in 2003 as a 1st lieutenant, described arriving in the Kuwait staging area and seeing signs warning of rapes. She said she endured some minor sexual harassment while deployed and was groped by an Iraqi teen while sitting in a Humvee.

    When her own daughter wanted to join the Army, Weldin said later in an interview, she didn’t discourage her. But she offered some sobering advice.

    “Watch out for yourself. Don’t party with the soldiers in the barracks. You’ve got to watch out for date rape. Watch out for yourself. It’s still a male culture. Don’t let yourself get taken advantage of. Don’t let yourself get sucked in. Don’t let your guard down,” Weldin said.

    “But at the same time, go in there and show them what you’re made of.”

    The VA now provides free care to any veteran from any era who has experienced military sexual trauma. That’s a change from the 1991 Persian Gulf War and earlier wars. Since 2002, about 20 percent of female veterans from all eras and 1 percent of male veterans have screened positive for military sexual trauma.

    “We believe that identifying people early and providing care early is going to be important and really make a difference in people’s lifetime trajectory, but that story remains to be followed and told,” said Antonette Zeiss, a psychologist who is the deputy chief consultant in the VA’s Office of Mental Health Services.

    It’s unknown whether incidents of rape and assault are higher in the military population than the civilian population. One study, however, of 1991 Persian Gulf War veterans found incidents of assault, rape and harassment were higher at war than in peacetime military samples, according to the VA’s PTSD center.

    It’s only in recent years that the military and VA have kept comprehensive statistics, and even the two agencies define military sexual trauma differently.

    What is known is that the effects of a military sexual trauma can be long lasting — particularly for those who don’t seek early help.

    The VA still sees veterans who experienced sexual attacks in Vietnam — and even World War II.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/07/22/military.women.sexual.assault.ap/index.html

    Posted in 10th Mountain Division, Department of Defense, Helen Benedict, Marti Ribeiro, US Military | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Thai Soldiers Get Royal Nod to Open Fire on Crowd

    Posted by terres on April 13, 2009

    Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, Gives the Nod to Thai Army to Open Fire on Crowd

    For essential  background information on this story see:


    A protester facing a line of government troops in Bangkok on Monday. Image: Vincent YU/AP. Image may be subject to copyright.


    Hospitals reported more than 70 people were injured, many from tear gas. Four of the casualties had gunshot wounds, including two civilians and two soldiers, according to a hospital official quoted by the Reuters news agency. Photo: Narong Sangnak/European Pressphoto Agency. Image may be subject to copyright.
    The following report was published by BBC on Monday, 13 April 2009 06:27 UK

    Thai soldiers open fire on crowd

    To view news videos click here: Violent clashes in Thailand

    Thai soldiers have opened fire on a crowd of anti-government protesters in the centre of the capital, Bangkok, who fled before the bullets.

    A BBC correspondent witnessed the lunchtime attack which came after a night of tension as troops cleared demonstrators blocking a road junction.

    At least 70 people were injured in the earlier violence close to the landmark Victory Monument.

    Tear gas and bullets were fired as stones and petrol bombs were thrown.

    The government will keep working to return peace and order to the country
    Abhisit Vejjajiva
    Thai prime minister

    The military suddenly moved forward with a water cannon and a bus was set on fire, the BBC’s Alastair Leithead reports.

    Then the troops suddenly charged, opening fire with live rounds in the direction of the protesters.

    Monday is the start of a three-day holiday for the Thai New Year and many people have already left the capital for the provinces.

    Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier declared a state of emergency after the protesters, who mostly back ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, stopped a major Asian summit in Pattaya.

    A leader of the pro-Thaksin party, the United Front for Democracy, accused the army of using excessive force against the protesters.

    “We will stand firm indefinitely,” Jakrapob Penkair told BBC World Service.

    ‘Hundreds of rounds’

    Witnesses told the Associated Press news agency that troops had advanced against the protesters at the the Din Daeng intersection between 0400 and 0500 (2100 and 2200 GMT Sunday).

    Alastair Leithead in Bangkok
    Latest from Alastair Leithead on the streets of Bangkok
    The military suddenly moved forward with a water cannon and a bus was set on fire. And then they suddenly charged, opening fire with live rounds in the direction of the protesters.We watched carefully. Some were firing high, some were firing into the crowd. They scattered the red-shirted protesters down the street.A bus was reversed into the military. The bus driver was injured as they opened fire. We don’t know what condition he is in at the moment but the situation has suddenly gone very, very serious, very confrontational, and I would be surprised if people haven’t been injured, such was the extent and the concentration of the fire and the angles at which the rifle were pointed.

    “The soldiers fired hundreds of rounds from their M-16 automatic rifles as they advanced, though it was unclear whether they were firing at, or over, the protesters,” the agency says.

    A Bangkok hospital doctor told the BBC News website that 74 people had been brought into hospital, most of them suffering abrasions but some with gunshot wounds.

    An army spokesman, Col Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, said about 400 soldiers had moved against some 300 protesters.

    He accused protesters of driving a car at the soldiers and said troops had first fired into the air in response to tear gas and smoke bombs thrown at them by protesters.

    The soldiers then fired live rounds, he said.

    “We will start with soft measures and proceed to harder ones,” the army spokesman told AFP news agency.

    “We will avoid loss of life as instructed by the government.”

    Call for calm

    Earlier on Sunday, protesters broke into the interior ministry and at one point attacked a car they thought was carrying Prime Minister Abhisit. He was not inside.

    The whole capital is a series of riots
    Paulo, Bangkok

    They blocked a number of busy road junctions and at least one railway, and took over buses and two armoured vehicles.

    The collapse of the summit was a huge embarrassment to Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva and he has vowed to restore order, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

    He appeared on TV just before midnight, called on the public not to panic and to co-operate to end the crisis.

    “In the next three to four days, the government will keep working to return peace and order to the country,” he said.

    The camera panned to the commanders of the army, navy, air force and deputy police chief as he said:

    “I can confirm that the government and security agencies are still unified.”

    ‘Time for revolution’

    Mr Thaksin, who addresses his supporters by telephone from self-imposed exile abroad, called for a “revolution” on Sunday.

    A man hands flowers to soldiers confronting protesters in Bangkok, 13 April

    All sides are urging against violence

    “Now that they have tanks on the streets, it is time for the people to come out in revolution,” he said in a message shown on giant screens near the prime minister’s office.

    “And when it is necessary, I will come back to the country.”

    Under the state of emergency, gatherings of more than five people can be banned, media reports can be censored and the army can be deployed to help police maintain order.

    Last year, the government imposed a state of emergency on several occasions but the army refused to enact the measures.

    That crisis eventually led to Mr Abhisit’s government taking over from allies of Mr Thaksin.

    Our correspondent in Bangkok says the problem for Mr Abhisit is that he rode to power on the back of protests that were just as illegal, and may look hypocritical if he only goes after the red-shirted protesters who embarrassed him. Copyright BBC.

    Related News Links:

    Posted in Asian summit, Bhumibol Adulyadej, gunshot wounds, Thai New Year, Violent clashes in Thailand | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Oath of Torture

    Posted by terres on April 9, 2009

    Back in the old days, doctors normally didn’t torture!

    We’ve heard of “doctors without borders”; perhaps what the world really needs is “doctors WITH limits,” or better still “doctors against doctors who torture.”

    Red Cross says doctors helped CIA “torture”

    Tue Apr 7, 2009 4:04pm EDT

    By Jane Sutton

    MIAMI (Reuters) – Health workers violated medical ethics when they helped interrogate terrorism suspects who were tortured at secret CIA prisons overseas, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

    The medical workers, thought to be doctors and psychologists, monitored prisoners while they were mistreated at CIA prisons and advised interrogators whether to continue, adjust or halt the abuse, the ICRC said in a report based on interviews with 14 prisoners in 2007.

    One prisoner alleged that medical personnel monitored his blood oxygen levels while he was subjected to waterboarding, a simulated drowning designed to induce panic and widely considered [!] to be torture, the ICRC said.

    Other prisoners said that as they stood shackled with their arms chained above their heads, a doctor regularly measured the swelling in their legs and signaled when they should be allowed to sit down.

    The ICRC interviewed 14 men who had been held in secret CIA prisons overseas before being sent to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006.

    The 14 are considered by the United States to be “high-value” al Qaeda suspects who plotted or carried out mass murders, including the September 11 attacks and the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings. They had been held by the CIA, most for more than three years, in extreme isolation and had not been allowed contact with each other when the ICRC interviewed them at Guantanamo in November 2007.

    The ICRC said their claims had credence because they gave similar accounts of their treatment, including the actions of medical monitors whose names they never learned.

    The ICRC monitors compliance with the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of war captives and keeps its reports secret, sharing them only with the detaining government.

    The report, written in 2007, was posted on the New York Review of Books website on Monday night by journalist Mark Danner, who has not said publicly how he obtained it.

    “VIOLATED ETHICAL DUTY”

    He first published excerpts last month, including a portion in which the ICRC concluded the al Qaeda captives’ treatment in the CIA prisons “constituted torture” and violated international law.

    The report alleges collars were placed around some prisoners’ necks and used to slam their heads against the walls, and that they were forced to stand with their arms shackled above them for two or three days and left to urinate or defecate on themselves.

    The prisoners told the ICRC they were beaten and kicked, left naked for long periods, subjected to sleep deprivation, loud music, cold temperatures, rape threats and forced shaving. Some said they were denied solid food unless they cooperated with interrogators and one said he was confined in a crouching position in a box too short to stand in.

    A previously undisclosed portion of the report concluded that medical workers who monitored or took part in the interrogations had violated their ethical duty to do no harm, preserve dignity and act in patients’ best interest.

    The ICRC said “any interrogation process that requires a health professional to either pronounce on the subject’s fitness to withstand such a procedure, or which requires a health professional to monitor the actual procedure, must have inherent health risks.”

    “As such, the interrogation process is contrary to international law and the participation of health personnel in such a process is contrary to international standards of medical ethics,” the ICRC concluded.

    The “high-value” captives quoted in the report are still at the Guantanamo prison, which President Barack Obama has ordered shut down by January 2010, and debate continues over what should be done with them.

    A military judge released a statement last month in which some of them bragged that they were “terrorists to the bone”.

    Bush administration officials have said the “enhanced interrogation” of those prisoners produced information that helped thwart attacks but have never provided specifics.

    (Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Jackie Frank) – copyright Reuters

    Posted in enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo prison, GW Bush, war on terror, waterboarding | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Cowardly London Copper Kills Innocent Bystander

    Posted by terres on April 8, 2009

    submitted by a  reader in London

    Ian Tomlinson death: Guardian video reveals police attack on man who died at G20 protest

    • G20 protest footage shows Ian Tomlinson thrown to ground by riot officer
    • Guardian to hand dossier including video showing police assault to IPCC

    To view Guardian Video, Click Here!

    by Paul Lewis
    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 April 2009 21.46 BST

    The Guardian obtained this footage of Ian Tomlinson at a G20 protest in London, shortly before he died. It shows Tomlinson, who was not part of the demonstration, being assaulted from behind and pushed to the ground by baton-wielding police Link to this video

    Ian Tomlinson, the man who died at last week’s G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton-wielding police officer in riot gear, dramatic footage obtained by the ­Guardian shows..

    Moments after the assault on ­Tomlinson was captured on video, he ­suffered a heart attack and died.

    The Guardian is preparing to hand a ­dossier of evidence to the police ­complaints watchdog. It sheds fresh light on the events ­surrounding the death of the 47-year-old newspaper seller, who had been on his way home from work when he was confronted by lines of riot police near the Bank of England.

    The submission to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) includes a collection of testimonies from witnesses, along with the footage, shot at about 7.20pm last Wednesday, which shows ­Tomlinson at Royal Exchange ­Passage. The film reveals that as he walks, with his hands in his pockets, he does not speak to the police or offer any resistance.

    A phalanx of officers, some with dogs and some in riot gear, are close behind him and try to urge him forward.

    A Metropolitan police officer appears to strike him with a baton, hitting him from behind on his upper thigh.

    Moments later, the same policeman rushes forward and, using both hands, pushes Tomlinson in the back and sends him flying to the ground, where he ­remonstrates with police who stand back, leaving bystanders to help him to his feet.

    The man who shot the footage, a fund manager from New York who was in ­London on business, said he had attended the protests out of curiosity. He said: “The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not ­getting any answers.”

    The Guardian’s dossier also includes a sequence of photographs, taken by three people, showing the aftermath of the attack, as well as witness statements from people in the area at the time.

    A number of witnesses provided time and date-stamped photographs which substantiated their accounts.

    Some said they saw police officers attack Tomlinson.

    Witnesses said that, prior to the moment captured on video, he had already been hit with batons and thrown to the floor by police who blocked his route home.

    One witness, Anna Branthwaite, a ­photographer, described how in the ­minutes before the video was shot, she saw Tomlinson walking towards Cornhill Street.

    “A riot police officer had already grabbed him and was pushing him,” she said. “It wasn’t just pushing him – he’d rushed him. He went to the floor and he did actually roll. That was quite noticeable.

    “It was the force of the impact. He bounced on the floor. It was a very forceful knocking down from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton when he was lying on the floor.

    “So it wasn’t just that the officer had pushed him – it became an assault. And then the officer picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him.

    “He was running and stumbling. He didn’t turn and confront the officer or anything like that.”

    The witness accounts contradict the official version of events given by police.

    In an official statement on the night of Tomlinson’s death, the Metropolitan police made no reference to any ­contact with officers and described attempts by police medics and an ambulance crew to save his life after he collapsed – efforts which they said were marred by ­protesters throwing missiles as first aid was ­administered .

    The force said officers had created a ­cordon around Tomlinson to give him CPR.

    “The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of ­missiles – believed to be bottles – were being thrown at them,” it said.

    Yesterday, the IPCC began managing an investigation by City of London police into the ­circumstances of ­Tomlinson’s death after the Guardian ­published photographs of him on the ground and witness statements indicated he had been assaulted by police officers.

    The IPCC’s commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, said: “Initially, we had accounts from independent witnesses who were on Cornhill, who told us that there had been no contact between the police and Mr Tomlinson when he collapsed.

    “However, other witnesses who saw him in the Royal Exchange area have since told us that Mr Tomlinson did have ­contact with police officers.

    “This would have been a few minutes before he collapsed. It is important that we are able to establish as far as possible whether that contact had anything to do with his death.”

    The IPCC added that Tomlinson was captured on CCTV walking onto Royal Exchange Passage.

    “This is the aspect of the incident that the IPCC is now investigating,” it said.

    It was here the video was shot. A post mortem carried out by a Home Office pathologist last Friday revealed ­Tomlinson died of a heart attack. Prior to seeing the dossier of evidence, Tomlinson’s ­family said in a statement: “There were so many people around where Ian died, and so many people with cameras, that ­somebody must have seen what happened in the Royal Exchange passageway.

    “We need to know what happened there and whether it had anything to do with Ian’s death.

    We know that some ­people who were at the protest may not feel comfortable talking to the police.

    “People are putting pictures on the internet, writing on blogs and talking to journalists. But we really need them to talk to the people who are investigating what happened.”
    guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

    Related Links:

    Posted in G20, police assault, Riot Police | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Indict Bush, Blair et al for crimes against humanity

    Posted by terres on April 3, 2009

    The following article by John Pilger is well written and worth reading.

    Fake Faith and Epic Crimes

    By John Pilger

    April 02, 2009 “Information Clearing House” — These are extraordinary times. With the United States and Britain on the verge of bankruptcy and committing to an endless colonial war, pressure is building for their crimes to be prosecuted at a tribunal similar to that which tried the Nazis at Nuremberg. This defined rapacious invasion as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” International law would be mere farce, said the chief US chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, “if, in future, we do not apply its principles to ourselves.”

    That is now happening. Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and Britain have long had “universal jurisdiction” statutes, which allow their national courts to pursue and prosecute prima facie war criminals. What has changed is an unspoken rule never to use international law against “ourselves,” or “our” allies or clients. In 1998, Spain, supported by France, Switzerland and Belgium, indicted the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, client and executioner of the West, and sought his extradition from Britain, where he happened to be at the time. Had he been sent for trial he almost certainly would have implicated at least one British prime minister and two US presidents in crimes against humanity. Home Secretary Jack Straw let him escape back to Chile.

    The Pinochet case was the ignition. On 19 January last, the George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley compared the status of George W. Bush with that of Pinochet. “Outside [the United States] there is not the ambiguity about what to do about a war crime,” he said. “So if you try to travel, most people abroad are going to view you not as ‘former President George Bush’ [but] as a current war criminal.” For this reason, Bush’s former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who demanded an invasion of Iraq in 2001 and personally approved torture techniques in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, no longer travels. Rumsfeld has twice been indicted for war crimes in Germany. On 26 January, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, said, “We have clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but nevertheless he ordered torture.”

    The Spanish high court is currently investigating a former Israeli defence minister and six other top Israeli officials for their role in the killing of civilians, mostly children, in Gaza. Henry Kissinger, who was largely responsible for bombing to death 600,000 peasants in Cambodia in 1969-73, is wanted for questioning in France, Chile and Argentina. Yet, on 8 February, as if demonstrating the continuity of American power, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, said, “I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger.”

    Like them, Tony Blair may soon be a fugitive. The International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, has received a record number of petitions related to Blair’s wars. Spain’s celebrated Judge Baltasar Garzon, who indicted Pinochet and the leaders of the Argentinian military junta, has called for George W. Bush, Blair and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar to be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq — “one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history: a devastating attack on the rule of law” that had left the UN “in tatters.” He said, “There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation to start without delay.”

    This is not to say Blair is about to be collared and marched to The Hague, where Serbs and Sudanese dictators are far more likely to face a political court set up by the West. However, an international agenda is forming and a process has begun which is as much about legitimacy as the letter of the law, and a reminder from history that the powerful lose wars and empires when legitimacy evaporates. This can happen quickly, as in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of apartheid South Africa — the latter a spectre for apartheid Israel.

    Today, the unreported “good news” is that a worldwide movement is challenging the once sacrosanct notion that imperial politicians can destroy countless lives in the cause of an ancient piracy, often at remove in distance and culture, and retain their respectability and immunity from justice. In his masterly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde R.L. Stevenson writes in the character of Jekyll: “Men have before hired bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation sat under shelter … I could thus plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and, in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty. But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete.”

    Blair, too, is safe — but for how long? He and his collaborators face a new determination on the part of tenacious non-government bodies that are amassing “an impressive documentary record as to criminal charges,” according to international law authority Richard Falk, who cites the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul in 2005, which heard evidence from 54 witnesses and published rigorous indictments against Blair, Bush and others. Currently, the Brussels War Crimes Tribunal and the newly established Blair War Crimes Foundation are building a case for Blair’s prosecution under the Nuremberg Principle and the 1949 Geneva Convention. In a separate indictment, former Judge of the New Zealand Supreme Court E.W. Thomas wrote: “My pre-disposition was to believe that Mr. Blair was deluded, but sincere in his belief. After considerable reading and much reflection, however, my final conclusion is that Mr. Blair deliberately and repeatedly misled Cabinet, the British Labour Party and the people in a number of respects. It is not possible to hold that he was simply deluded but sincere: a victim of his own self-deception. His deception was deliberate.”

    Protected by the fake sinecure of Middle East Envoy for the Quartet (the US, EU, UN and Russia), Blair operates largely from a small fortress in the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, where he is an apologist for the US in the Middle East and Israel, a difficult task following the bloodbath in Gaza. To assist his mortgages, he recently received an Israeli “peace prize” worth a million dollars. He, too, is careful where he travels; and it is instructive to watch how he now uses the media. Having concentrated his post-Downing Street apologetics on a BBC series of obsequious interviews with David Aaronovitch, Blair has all but slipped from view in Britain, where polls have long revealed a remarkable loathing for a former prime minister — a sentiment now shared by those in the liberal media elite whose previous promotion of his “project” and crimes is an embarrassment and preferably forgotten.

    On 8 February, Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer’s former leading Blair fan, declared that “this shameful period will not be so smoothly and simply buried.” He demanded, “Did Blair never ask what was going on?” This is an excellent question made relevant with a slight word change: “Did the Andrew Rawnsleys never ask what was going on?” In 2001, Rawnsley alerted his readers to Iraq’s “contribution to international terrorism” and Saddam Hussein’s “frightening appetite to possess weapons of mass destruction.” Both assertions were false and echoed official Anglo-American propaganda. In 2003, when the destruction of Iraq was launched, Rawnsley described it as a “point of principle” for Blair who, he later wrote, was “fated to be right.” He lamented, “Yes, too many people died in the war. Too many people always die in war. War is nasty and brutish, but at least this conflict was mercifully short.” In the subsequent six years at least a million people have been killed. According to the Red Cross, Iraq is now a country of widows and orphans. Yes, war is nasty and brutish, but never for the Blairs and the Rawnsleys.

    Far from the carping turncoats at home, Blair has lately found a safe media harbour — in Australia, the original murdochracy. His interviewers exude an unction reminiscent of the promoters of the “mystical” Blair in the Guardian of than a decade ago, though they also bring to mind Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times during the 1930s, who wrote of his infamous groveling to the Nazis: “I spend my nights taking out anything which will hurt their susceptibilities and dropping in little things which are intended to sooth them.”

    With his words as a citation, the finalists for the Geoffrey Dawson Prize for Journalism (Antipodes) are announced. On 8 February, in an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Geraldine Doogue described Blair as “a man who brought religion into power and is now bringing power to religion.” She asked him: “What would the perception be that faith would bring towards a greater stability …[sic]?” A bemused and clearly delighted Blair was allowed to waffle about “values.” Doogue said to him that “it was the bifurcation about right and wrong that what I thought the British found really hard” [sic], to which Blair replied that “in relation to Iraq I tried every other option [to invasion] there was.” It was his classic lie, which passed unchallenged.

    However, the clear winner of the Geoffrey Dawson Prize is Ginny Dougary of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Times. Dougary recently accompanied Blair on what she described as his “James Bondish-ish Gulfstream” where she was privy to his “bionic energy levels.” She wrote, “I ask him the childlike question: does he want to save the world?” Blair replied, well, more or less, aw shucks, yes. The murderous assault on Gaza, which was under way during the interview, was mentioned in passing. “That is war, I’m afraid,” said Blair, “and war is horrible.” No counter came that Gaza was not a war but a massacre by any measure. As for the Palestinians, noted Dougary, it was Blair’s task to “prepare them for statehood.” The Palestinians will be surprised to hear that. But enough gravitas; her man “has the glow of the newly-in-love: in love with the world and, for the most part, the feeling is reciprocated.” The evidence she offered for this absurdity was that “women from both sides of politics have confessed to me to having the hots for him.”

    These are extraordinary times. Blair, a perpetrator of the epic crime of the 21st century, shares a “prayer breakfast” with President Obama, the yes-we-can-man now launching more war. “We pray,” said Blair, “that in acting we do God’s work and follow God’s will.” To decent people, such pronouncements about Blair’s “faith” represent a contortion of morality and intellect that is a profananation on the basic teachings of Christianity. Those who aided and abetted his great crime and now wish the rest of us to forget their part — or, like Alistair Campbell, his “communications director,” offer their bloody notoriety for the vicarious pleasure of some — might read the first indictment proposed by the Blair War Crimes Foundation: “Deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war, causing in the order of one million deaths, 4 million refugees, countless maiming and traumas.”

    These are indeed extraordinary times.

    Related Links:

    Posted in British Government, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Spanish high court, war criminal | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    It’s NO Mystery to Canadians!

    Posted by terres on April 2, 2009

    submitted by a reader

    Mr Fisk, there is no mystery, if you’re a victim of Canadian state terrorism!

    Regardless of any reservation you might have about the WHO exactly, WHAT exactly and WHY exactly of the author of the following post, Robert Fisk, and his protagonist, George Galloway…

    Fisk says:

    “But the mystery is this: how did so many millions of decent Canadians come to be ruled by such a weird government?”

    If you can’t see “Israel” in Canada, your eyes are closed!

    Robert Fisk: Galloway a victim of Canada’s baffling approach to fighting terror

    By Robert Fisk

    Independent – “Come out and debate with me like a man,” the old bruiser shouted over the video-link to Toronto. “Let’s book the biggest hall in Canada and you and I will debate these issues of war and peace and freedom of speech and censorship… If we don’t achieve a political settlement (in the Middle East), we’re in for war. If there’s no justice, there will be no peace for Palestine.”

    It was, of course, the old scallywag himself, George Galloway, fuming about the Canadian Immigration Minister James Kenney’s refusal to allow him to speak in Canada on the grounds that he – Galloway – was involved in “terrorism”. The Scottish-born MP was talking from an important centre of “world terror” – New York City.

    Mr Kenney’s spokesman, Alikhan Velshi, last week compared Mr Galloway to Oliver Cromwell and said he would not be allowed to enter Canada. Self-publicist, friend of dictators, reality TV show performer and general silly ass Mr Galloway may be. But he has no more in common with Cromwell than the minister has with Ghengis Khan.

    But this is no laughing matter. How could the Canadian embassy in London have believed Mr Galloway’s food and medicine shipment to Gaza, made with Israel’s agreement, and its delivery to the Hamas government was a “terrorist” act, even if Stephen Harper’s Canadian government regards Hamas as a “terrorist organisation”.

    Mr Galloway wasn’t shipping guns and is touring the US with his anti-war, pro-Palestinian, non-terrorist speeches. “It’s just not credible, Mr Kenney,” Mr Galloway shouted, “to call a man touring the United States, playing to packed audiences… a terrorist or a security threat.”

    Quite so. After all, the US has lost thousands of soldiers in its “war on terror” in the Middle East. Canada’s army in Afghanistan comprises barely 2,000 and has suffered fewer than 120 military casualties.

    Only a Canadian Jewish organisation agreed with Mr Galloway’s exclusion; one paper here suggested this might have prompted the ban. The right-wing National Post came out against the exclusion, though only because a “future left-wing Canadian government” might ban Israeli or US speakers.

    But there’s a bigger issue. Canada helped the US send an innocent Canadian citizen, Mahar Arar, to “rendition” in Syria, where he was savagely tortured. Only a few days ago, another Canadian Muslim told me how he was whipped with steel cables in Damascus as his torturers read out questions from the Canadian embassy. Yet another Canadian Muslim citizen, Abousfian Abdelrazik, has been living in the reception of the US embassy in Khartoum for 10 months after Canadian agents asked the enormously democratic Sudanese government to imprison him for terrorism. Now the government won’t let him come home unless he’s taken off not a Canadian, but a UN “terrorist” list. Cromwellian isn’t the word for it. But the mystery is this: how did so many millions of decent Canadians come to be ruled by such a weird government?
    Copyright 2008 Independent News and Media Limited

    You can count the number of decent “Canadians” on the following petition!

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