British-US torture scandal in Iraq, Afghanistan


This video about Iraq war torture is the film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Diplomat tells court US links not a bar to hearing torture case

Friday 26th September 2014

CLAIMS by the British government that a case brought by a Pakistani national alleging Britain’s involvement in his rendition and torture would damage US relations have been called into question.

Lawyers for the government had argued that a case brought by Yunus Rahmatullah, who was detained and mistreated by British personnel in Iraq before being handed over to the US for “rendition” to Afghanistan, should not be heard for fear of damaging British-US relations.

But in a statement yesterday presented to the High Court in London a former senior US ambassador and State Department official described the claims as “highly unlikely.”

The statement provided to the court by Thomas R Pickering, a former US under-secretary of state who served for four decades as a diplomat, said that the British government’s claims “misunderstand the value the United States places on the rule of law.”

Mr Pickering stressed that “I firmly believe that adjudicating Mr Rahmatullah’s case in UK courts is highly unlikely to cause damage to the relations or national security cooperation between the US and UK.”

After his 2004 capture Mr Rahmatullah maintains he was subjected to simulated drowning and beatings which rendered him unconscious.

He was later transferred to US custody in Bagdhad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, after which he was extra judicially transferred to Bagram in Afghanistan where he was held for more than years before being released without charge last June.

Mr Rahmatullah is now challenging the British government’s refusal to investigate his allegations of torture and rendition, and is also asking the court to determine that the government’s actions were unlawful.

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig, who is representing Mr Rahmatullah in conjunction with Leigh Day solicitors, said: “The British government knows that it is in the wrong, yet instead of coming clean on its part in Mr Rahmatullah’s rendition and torture, it is doing everything it can to make sure this case never sees the light of day.

“Now a former senior US ambassador with decades of experience at the highest levels of American diplomacy has blown the British government’s case out of the water. It is time they dropped this shameful attempt to deny justice to a victim of brutal torture and years of mistreatment.”

The case is expected to continue today.

New Afghan puppet regime accepts deal to keep 10,000 US troops: here.

CIA-Backed Warlord Behind 2001 Taliban POW Massacre Sworn-In Vice President of Afghanistan: here.

Bahraini child political prisoner’s letter


This video is about a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, where a letter by a Bahraini child political prisoner was read.

From the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy:

#HRC27: Letter from Bahraini Child Political Prisoner Read at the Council

On 16 September, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy’s Advocacy Associate, Amanda Milani, read a letter from Bahraini child political prisoner, Jehad Sadeq, during an oral intervention at the 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva under Item 3. Please continue reading for full remarks or click here to download a PDF.

Jehad Sadeq

Text of the Intervention

“Thank you, Mr. President,

Alsalam Foundation, acting in coordination with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, would like to present to the Human Rights Council excerpts from a letter written by Jehad Sadeq, a Bahraini youth currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism. Mr. Sadeq alleges that he was convicted on the basis of a confession obtained by means of torture, and that the Government of Bahrain has failed to investigate his allegations as required by the Convention against Torture.

Dear Honored Delegates,

I was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest when I was 16 years old. During interrogation, I was beaten and humiliated until I confessed. I wasn’t allowed to contact my family, and my lawyer was not allowed to attend my interrogations. Despite this, my trial went on, and I was tried under terrorism law although I was a child. I was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for a crime I did not commit.

My hobbies were photography, sports and traveling… I wished to graduate from high school and go to university with my friends to study engineering. Instead, I was deprived from doing what I love and pursuing my education. I would have now been in my freshman year at university, not in prison. I should be a student, not a political prisoner.

In Bahraini prisons there are many cases similar to mine. Therefore, in this letter, I’m addressing you on behalf of all detained children. I appeal to you to help us and act for our case by advising and pressuring the Bahraini government to release me and all other children that languish in prisons.

My friends and I will be waiting eagerly for your reply and your help to have us released.

Sincerely,

Jehad Sadeq

On the occasion of the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council, the above-named human rights organizations join with Jehad Sadeq in calling upon the Bahraini government to release all child political prisoners in the country.

Thank you.”

Britain and CIA torture flights update


This video is called UK Complicit in 11,000 flights of ILLEGAL TORTURE.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Government changing the story on rendition flight records

Saturday 13th September 2014

LEGAL action charity Reprieve accused the government of changing its story yet again yesterday over the fate of potentially compromising flight records relating to Britain’s role in the United States’ rendition programme.

Reprieve is seeking access to documents relating to US rendition flights passing through the British territory of Diego Garcia.

In 2008, after years of denials, the British government admitted that Diego Garcia had been used as a stop-off for two rendition flights.

However, in July the government informed Parliament that flight records for Diego Garcia were “incomplete due to water damage.”

A week later, on July 15, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told the Commons that “previously wet paper records have been dried out … no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

But yesterday the government’s position appeared to shift again with the confirmation in a statement given to the Commons foreign affairs committee that immigration records relating to civilians landing on the island have been destroyed.

Reprieve argues that, although there is no indication of the identities of the civilians concerned, such records are potentially significant as they could relate to the civilian CIA agents who operated the “rendition” flights.

Legal director at Reprieve Cori Crider said: “This is the second time the government has changed its story on the destruction of what is potentially evidence of CIA renditions via Diego Garcia.

“People will rightly draw the conclusion that the government still has something to hide when it comes to the UK’s role in supporting CIA torture flights.”

Thailand military dictatorship violates human rights


This video is called The Junta’s Police State: Thailand on the Brink (Dispatch 5). It says about itself:

2 July 2014

It’s been over a month since Thailand’s army overthrew the country’s elected government in a coup d’etat. In that short time, the new ruling junta has secured almost total control over the country and succeeded in silencing most of its critics.

Thailand has quickly come to resemble a police state, as hundreds of people have been detained, “invited to talk,” or “given time to meditate,” as the junta puts it. Most are released after a week — at which point they have signed a document indicating their promise not to oppose the coup, or face years in jail. Others have been sent to military courts for judgment, where no appeal is allowed.

Authorities have offered cash rewards for anyone who can bring them a photo of their fellow citizens taking part in anti-coup activities. Hand salutes, eating sandwiches, and reading controversial books in public are now illegal if they are considered to be motivated by anti-coup sentiments, and the media continues to be heavily censored.

The junta says 90 percent of Thais support the coup — which is a questionable number, having come from their own surveys.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Rights group calls for end to Thai junta’s supression of dissent

Friday 12th September 2014

Amnesty International called on Thailand’s military yesterday to end a “disturbing pattern of repression” since it seized power in May.

The rights group said it had received credible reports that detainees had been tortured.

“Three months since the coup, a picture emerges from our investigations of widespread and far-reaching human-rights violations perpetrated by the military government that are still ongoing,” Amnesty Asia-Pacific director Richard Bennett said.

“The Thai authorities should end this disturbing pattern of repression, end human-rights violations, respect its international human-rights obligations and allow open debate and discussion — all of which are vital to the country’s future.”

The army has justified the May 22 takeover claiming that it had to act to restore stability after months of political protests which paralysed the former government and triggered sporadic violence which had left dozens of people dead and close to 1,000 injured.

Since then, the junta has shown no tolerance for dissent and crushed open debate on the nation’s fate. Martial law is in effect and political assemblies of more than five people are banned.

Amnesty said 665 people have been summoned or detained by the junta so far. A breakdown of those targeted indicated “a clear case of political persecution and an attempt to silence dissent.”

The vast majority were politicians who opposed the coup, along with academics, activists and protesters.

Amnesty said they were held without charge or trials and security forces had revoked passports and threatened family members.

Thai Military Bans Hunger Games Salute: What Protesters Can Take From Hollywood: here.

CIA ‘medieval’ torture


This 1 April 2014 video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

By Thomas Gaist in the USA:

CIA employed “medieval” torture that brought prisoners “to the point of death”

9 September 2014

The CIA engaged in brutal torture that brought prisoners to the brink of death, according to a report published over the weekend in the British newspaper, the Telegraph. The methods used far exceed what has been previously acknowledged by the CIA and the Bush and Obama administrations.

“They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,” said an unnamed source who had “first-hand knowledge of the period,” according to the Telegraph. “They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”

“They got medieval on his ass, and far more so than people realize,” he added, referring to one of the individuals tortured.

In 2008, the Bush administration publicly acknowledged the use of “waterboarding” several years earlier against alleged terrorists, including Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to the torture 83 times, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was tortured 183 times.

A 2004 CIA internal document, released in 2009, described what the Bush administration euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Waterboarding was described as a method in which water is sprayed on detainees’ faces for “no more than 20 seconds” to “simulate drowning.” As revealed by the Telegraph’s source, however, Mohammed and Zubaydah were subject to much harsher methods.

The interrogation sessions referred to by the Telegraph source were videotaped, but some 90 tapes containing the torture footage were destroyed in 2005 by US intelligence personnel under the supervision of the then-head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez. In 2010, the Obama administration announced that it would not file criminal charges relating to the destruction of the tapes.

The Telegraph article makes clear that the tapes destroyed in 2005 showed that “enhanced interrogation” was being supplemented by unambiguous acts of torture, implicating CIA agents and Bush administration officials in clear and direct crimes under both international and domestic law.

The revelations come as the US Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to release a more than 3,000-page report on CIA torture. A summary of the report is set to be published in the coming weeks after being thoroughly vetted and redacted by intelligence officials.

In March, Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that CIA agents had spied on the computers of Senate staff who were involved in compiling the report, a violation of US law and the Constitutional separation of powers. This was part of a broader effort by the CIA to cover up its illegal actions, a cover-up that has been aided and abetted by the White House.

The Obama administration responded by seeking to defend the CIA, operating as a direct agency of the intelligence bureaucracy. The White House itself was implicated in efforts to withhold key documents from the Senate.

After expressing transparently contrived regrets that “we tortured some folks” during a press conference last month, Obama immediately proceeded to signal the solidarity of his administration with the countless high-ranking US government personnel involved with the CIA’s secret international network of torture centers. Obama declared his “full confidence” in CIA Director Brennan, who was a central player in the crimes documented by the Senate report while serving as a top counterterrorism official under the Bush administration.

In doing so, Obama was only reaffirming the position that it will hold no one accountable for the massive crimes, including torture.

The Obama administration has also explicitly defended the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who is overseeing the CIA’s redaction of the Senate report. Clapper committed perjury when he issued blanket denials of unconstitutional domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), which he also oversees, during Congressional hearings. These lies were exposed in subsequent revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In an official statement totaling three sentences, Clapper rebuked Feinstein’s mild objections to the CIA redactions, writing, “More than 85 percent of the Committee Report has been declassified. The redactions were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by my office, to protect sensitive classified information.”

Clapper himself personifies the decomposition of American democracy: after lying to the US Senate directly and having his lying clearly exposed, he remains in charge of declassifying what is one of the most significant reports on criminal activity to be released by the US government in the country’s entire history.

For her part, Feinstein, who initially denounced the CIA spying, quickly reeled in her rhetoric. By midsummer Feinstein announced her support for the decision of the Justice Department not to launch an investigation, while praising CIA Director John Brennan for taking steps in the right direction.

What the Telegraph article and the political crisis over the Senate report reveal is a government and state apparatus that is steeped in criminality. The intelligence agencies operate as a law unto themselves, rejecting any oversight or accountability.

No one can be held accountable because the entire government, including high-ranking officials in the intelligence agencies and the military, along with the top officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations and leading Congressional figures in both political parties, are implicated.

See also here.

2004 Bush administration memos advocate unlimited presidential powers: here.

Britain and more bloodshed in Iraq


This video says about itself:

Iraq’s sectarian war | James Steele: America’s mystery man | Guardian Investigations

As Isis closes in on Baghdad – find out how US funded torture centres helped fuel the sectarian war in Iraq.

James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq. A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic revealed how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq.

Another special forces veteran, Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organise the Iraqi security services.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Trigger-happy MPs heading for catastrophe

Thursday 4th September 2014

Trigger-happy politicians were told to learn from recent history yesterday as they mulled military intervention against so-called Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Peace campaigners warned another war in the region would be “an absolute catastrophe.

But PM David Cameron told a sombre House of Commons that Britain would not be “cowed” in the wake of the beheading of a second US journalist, Steven Sotloff, and a threat from Isis that a British hostage will be next.

The same Briton who killed US journalist James Foley, nicknamed “jihadi John,” was thought to be behind Tuesday’s murder.

Meanwhile Labour’s Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, insisted that Britain should join the US air strikes against Isis.

Mr Straw believed “pressure for some kind of military involvement” would build up given the fresh threat to British hostages.

But he sought to downplay the disastrous impact of the 2003 invasion, saying Britain should learn from the past but not be paralysed by it.

Stop the War Coalition national officer Chris Nineham warned MPs should not underestimate the devastating impact of the Iraq war.

He said: “Any escalation of the attack on Iraq would be an absolute catastrophe. It’s unbelievable that politicians are even considering going there in light of the disaster that has been caused by the previous intervention in Iraq.

“They’ve clearly learned absolutely nothing from recent history. The only possible consequence of further intervention would be greater bitterness towards the Western powers and it will no doubt strengthen militant resolve rather than neutralise it.”

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned that if military intervention was disastrous before “it will be even worse next time.”

He told the Star: “We have been involved in a series of wars since 2001. This has only served to encourage militancy elsewhere and, in the case of the Middle East, the growth of the Isis forces.”

Mr Cameron likened the fight against Islamic extremism to the cold war during PMQs, adding that it was a “struggle” that would last for “decades.”

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths suggested that all assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish governments should be sanctioned and co-ordinated by the UN, rejecting another Nato “intervention.”

Unilateral Nato intervention is proving to be a disaster in Libya,” he said.

See also this Mark Fiore cartoon from the USA.