Diego Garcia, Bush’s and Blair’s torture island

This video from Britain says about itself:

More Lies – Torture & The Special Relationship

22 February 2008

This video contains clips highlighting the denials made by the British government concerning the use of UK territory in CIA rendition “torture” flights.

By Jean Shaoul:

US official admits to UK role in rendition to Diego Garcia

9 February 2015

A senior official from the Bush administration has admitted that the then Labour British government was complicit in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition, interrogation and torture. Britain colluded in the use of the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia by the US for its criminal activities.

The admission flatly contradicts the lies and evasions of the British government. Over a period of years, the Labour government—whose first Foreign Secretary Robin Cook famously boasted that Britain would pursue an “ethical foreign policy”—including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, denied any involvement on no less than 54 occasions.

The lies started to unravel in 2008, when then Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that information had “just come to light” that Diego Garcia had been used as a refuelling stop for extraordinary rendition flights on just two occasions in 2002. He still denied that any detainees had ever set foot on the island, which is leased to the US.

Since then, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has continued the lies, claiming that Britain was not involved in the rendition program. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has issued statements that fell apart within days, refused to provide any meaningful answers to Freedom of Information requests from human rights organisations or the media, and resisted any public inquiry into the UK’s role in the horrific crimes of US imperialism.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Cameron promised an independent inquiry into the issue. But in 2013 he reneged on that pledge in favour of a toothless inquiry by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that can be relied on to whitewash the government’s role when it eventually publishes its report.

The claims by Lawrence Wilkerson, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff between 2002 and 2005, add to the growing pressure on the British government to come clean on its involvement in the CIA’s rendition programme, global network of secret prisons and criminality. This includes kidnapping, illegal detention for years under the most inhumane conditions, torture, water boarding, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs, and murder, for which no officials have stood trial.

Wilkerson’s claims—along with other evidence—could pave the way for a flood of litigation against the government. Last July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland had actively assisted the CIA’s European “black sites” program.

Wilkerson’s information came from four well-placed CIA and intelligence sources, including a veteran of the renditions programme and an official who was “very much plugged in to what was going on at the CIA.” After he retired, he said Diego Garcia was known as a place to get things done “out of the limelight.”

While there was no permanent detention facility there, it was used as a transit location when other places were full, insecure or unavailable. “So you might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month, or two weeks, or whatever, and you do your nefarious activities there.” [emphasis added]

He added that the British authorities must have been aware of what was going on, saying, “It’s difficult for me to think that we could do anything there of any duration to speak of without the British knowing—at least the British on the island—knowing what we were doing.” Furthermore, “A general theme I heard was that the British were very cooperative with everything.”

This is very similar to statements by Michael Blyth, a British Royal Marine, who was head of security on Diego Garcia in 2001-2002. He said in testimony to the High Court that while a permanent site was ruled out, the possibility of using the island “for the purpose of prisoner transfers and/or detention was raised occasionally … by US officials.”

The UN former special envoy on torture, Manfred Nowak, stated in 2008 that he had been told detainees were held on Diego Garcia in 2002 and 2003. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star US general, also said that detainees were held on Diego Garcia, but later retracted his claim.

Swiss senator Dick Marty, who led a Council of Europe investigation into the CIA’s use of European territory and air space, said that the island had been used and that some CIA officers had helped him during his investigation.

Time magazine cited a regional intelligence officer saying that a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist known as Hambali, believed to have been involved in the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people died, was taken to Diego Garcia and interrogated following his capture in August 2003.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj is a Libyan dissident opposed to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is suing the British government and three officials for “extraordinary rendition” via Diego Garcia, where his aircraft refuelled, to Libya in 2004. His lawyers have cited documents found in abandoned government offices in Tripoli after the 2011 NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime and install a puppet government.

A letter from the senior MI6 officer, Sir Mark Allen, to Libya’s intelligence chief Musa Kusa, shows that thanks to help from British intelligence, the CIA planned to use Diego Garcia as a stopover for rendering him and his pregnant wife to be tortured in Libya. Belhaj claims that during his more than four years in a Libyan prison he was interrogated by US and British intelligence agents.

While it has been known for decades that Diego Garcia has some kind of US detention facility, the British government turned down an informal request from the US in 2001 to use it for a Guantanamo-type facility to hold hundreds of suspected “terrorist” prisoners from Afghanistan. The official UK government position is that it never gave the US explicit permission to use the island for its rendition, detention and torture program.

Successive British governments have sought to cover up what was going on.

To cite but one of the most damaging examples: Last July, when asked in parliament about the records of flights to and from the island, Conservative Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds claimed the records were “incomplete due to water damage” in June 2014. A week later, he said the “previously wet paper records have been dried out… no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

But in September, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee was told that the papers had been “damaged [by water] to the point of no longer being useful.”

Ministers refused to answer questions raised in parliament over whether the US had sought permission to use Diego Garcia for Belhaj and his wife’s rendition to Libya.

Last August, David Miliband implied that further evidence could well emerge—and as a former Labour Foreign Secretary, he is in a position to know.

In December, it was revealed that Britain had made repeated requests that its role be struck out from the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its report into torture by the CIA, itself only a summary of a 6,700-page classified report. In the event, the CIA and the Obama administration insisted that all references to the participation of other governments were omitted.

‘ISIS result of Bush’s, Blair’s Iraq war’, United Nations’ Kofi Annan says

This 15 January 2015 video from Britain says about itself:

Tony Blair Not In Jail? I Literally Don’t Understand: Russell Brand The Trews (E235).

From RT.com:

US invasion of Iraq helped create ISIS – former UN chief

Published time: February 08, 2015 16:10

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, said the US-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake and helped to create the Islamist State militant group. He also blamed regional powers for making the conflict worse.

“I was against this invasion and my fears have been founded. The break-up of the Iraqi forces poured hundreds if not thousands of disgruntled soldiers and police officers onto the streets,” Kofi Annan told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday. He added that some of these former security force members went on to join the Islamic State.

“The aim of creating democracy without the existing institutions ushered in corrupt sectarian governments,” Annan said. He added that the country has been unstable ever since and this has proved the perfect breeding ground for Sunni radical Muslims, who have become affiliated with the Islamic State.

The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stunned the world last summer by capturing large swaths of Iraq and Syria, including the city of Mosul in mid-June. The group has created what it calls an Islamic caliphate that straddles the Iraq-Syria border.

The Islamic State has advocated the rape and selling into slavery of women they capture. IS rules state that it’s permissible to rape a slave “immediately after taking possession of her” and that it’s okay “to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse.”

“The Islamic State is destroying the diversity and pluralism in the Middle East,” Annan concluded.

In order to halt the spread of extremism, Annan said that governments must do more to tackle problems such as unemployment, rather than just arresting critics of the regimes.

In northern Iraq, the communists have set up their own armed units alongside Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi regular forces to defend communities against “fascist” Isis. The Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain (CCCPB) seminar also heard how Nato member Turkey and Western allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar had facilitated the rise of Isis: here.

‘I didn’t think of Iraqis as humans,’ says U.S. soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her: here.

ISIS terror, product of Bush’s Iraq war

This 17 June 2014 video from the USA about ISIS is called Bush’s toxic legacy in IRAQ to continue.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Human Rights Watch hits out at all sides of Iraqi and Syrian wars

Thursday 29th January 2015

Human Rights Watch lambasted Islamic State (Isis) militants for their atrocities yesterday and linked the group’s foundation and fanaticism directly to the US-driven war in Iraq.

The criticism came in the HRW annual report, which reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

The Islamic State group spreading terror in the Middle East was a product of the US-led war and military occupation of Iraq, the report said, coupled with the abuse of detainees in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and other US-run detention centres.

HRW also criticised the Syrian and Iraqi governments over what it described as “sectarian and abusive” policies that fuel extremism.

The funding of extremist groups by Gulf states and their citizens also played a role in fuelling militancy across the volatile region, the group warned.

“Rarely has an armed force engendered such widespread revulsion and opposition,” the report said. “Yet Isis did not emerge in a vacuum,” it added.

It also accused the Iraqi government of relying primarily on Shi’ite militias in the fight against Isis. They are, HRW alleged, killing and cleansing Iraqi areas of Sunni civilians with impunity.

HRW also accused the international community of indifference to violations by both governments.

“If the conditions that led to Isis are left to fester, the group could deepen its hold on the two countries and expand into Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and beyond.”

CIA torture report by United States Senate, review

This video from the USA says about itself:

CIA Torture Report Sparks Bush Arrest Plea

15 December 2014

Just last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee released their full report on inhumane CIA torture tactics. Even though the report says former President George W Bush was kept in the dark until 2006, many people still believe he should be held accountable for the actions of the CIA during his term as Commander-in-Chief. In fact, the International Criminal Court has in their hands, an official request document for the immediate arrest of George W Bush. Joining us today, is professor Francis Boyle from the University of Illinois’ College of Law. He’s very closely connected with the ICC, and is reporting on the status of the Bush arrest warrant request.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

What is in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture: Part one

16 December 2014

This is the first of three articles summarizing the contents of the unclassified executive summary of the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,700-page report on the CIA torture program, released last week.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s “enhanced interrogation program” exposes the CIA as a globe-spanning enterprise of criminality, deceit, and violence—as well as rank incompetence, petty intriguing, and porno-sadistic depravity.

With the support of the political establishment in the US and its international accomplices, the CIA operates without accountability or restraint—lying, brutalizing, and bungling its way around the world in pursuit of the interests of American imperialism.

From a legal standpoint, the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are documented in the report warrant the immediate arrest, indictment and prosecution of every individual involved in the program, from the torturers themselves and their “outside contractors” all the way up to senior officials in the Bush and Obama administrations who presided over the program and subsequently attempted to cover it up. The Watergate scandal, which resulted in Nixon’s resignation, pales in comparison. However, the perpetrators remain at large and nobody has been held accountable.

CIA redactions in torture report

The full committee study, which amounts to 6,700 pages and contains 38,000 footnotes, remains classified and has not been publicly released. The document published last week, at 525 pages and heavily redacted, is the executive summary. It was originally completed on December 13, 2012, but its publication was obstructed by the Obama administration for a further two years.

This article, the first of a series presented by the World Socialist Web Site, aims to provide a synopsis and analysis of the report.

The executive summary opens with a letter by Democratic senator Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. The letter essentially reads as an apology for the CIA crimes documented in the report. “It is worth remembering the pervasive fear in late 2001 and how immediate the threat felt,” she writes, tendentiously recalling her personal memories of the September 11, 2001, attacks. “I can understand the CIA’s impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield,” she continues, “and the CIA was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack.”

Feinstein’s introductory letter makes clear that her opposition to CIA torture is not fundamentally because is depraved and a war crime, but from the standpoint that it has not resulted in useful intelligence. When her committee launched its investigation in 2009, she wrote that its purpose was “to review the program and to shape detention and interrogation policies in the future.” In her letter, Feinstein cites the CIA’s own documents as evidence that the “enhanced interrogation” (i.e., torture) techniques “do not produce intelligence,” “will probably result in false answers,” and have historically proven to be ineffective.

The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program has its origins at the highest levels of the Bush administration following the September 11 attacks. As early as November 2001, the report states, “CIA officers had begun researching potential legal defenses for using interrogation techniques that were considered torture by foreign governments and a non-governmental organization.” In other words, the first step was to concoct a pseudo-legal justification for something that everyone knew was prohibited by international law, American law, and even the CIA’s own internal policies.

The Bush administration was likely concerned that public trials of the individuals suspected of involvement in the September 11 attacks would shed too much light on the American intelligence agencies’ long and sordid history of partnerships with groups such as Al Qaeda, and would perhaps lead to unpleasant questions being asked about what the those agencies knew in advance of the attacks. Instead, a plan was devised to round up all of these individuals and hold them incommunicado.

The conspiracy to implement the illegal program reached all the way up to the Oval Office. President Bush issued a memorandum in February 2002 stating that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, “requiring humane treatment of individuals in a conflict, did not apply to al-Qa’ida or Taliban detainees.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee found that at least 119 individuals had been targeted by the program during its existence, contrary to the CIA’s claims that the number of individuals involved was “less than a hundred.” (This was one of a very long list of CIA lies documented in the report.) The committee found that at least 26 of those individuals (or 22 percent of the total) “did not meet the standard for detention”—that is, they were innocent victims.

At the beginning of the program, the CIA had no personnel trained in how to perform torture, so to implement the torture program, the agency retained two psychologists as outside contractors: “Dr. Grayson SWIGERT and Dr. Hammond DUNBAR.” These psychologists (identified by the New York Times and NBC News as Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen) had no field experience with respect to interrogation and had only prepared a research paper on the subject of how CIA agents could resist torture. Nevertheless, in 2006, “the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen and allegedly a low- or mid-ranking Al Qaeda figure, was among the first victims of the program. He was initially questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which provided him with medical care and established a rapport with him. Zubaydah cooperated with the FBI, identifying Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as the “mastermind” of the September 11, 2001, attacks and providing other information.

Abruptly, the CIA intervened and took over the interrogation of Zubaydah, demanding the exclusion of the FBI personnel who had been previously involved. The FBI, which is the criminal investigative agency belonging to the federal Department of Justice, apparently objected to this intervention.

The CIA’s openly declared strategy was to impose “learned helplessness” on Zubaydah through torture. But after taking custody of Zubaydah, the CIA agents responsible for his interrogation went on vacation, taking “time off for a break and to attend to personal matters” and leaving Zubaydah in isolation for 47 days. So much for the danger of imminent terrorist attacks!

In 2002, the CIA began meeting with top officials in the Bush administration to obtain authorization for torturing Zubaydah. The CIA insisted that its interrogation of Zubaydah take precedence over Zubaydah’s medical care, and even established a contingency plan for what should be done in the event that Zubaydah died while being tortured.

On July 24, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft directly authorized a number of torture techniques, including “attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, use of diapers, and use of insects.”

On July 26, 2002, Ashcroft expressly approved waterboarding. With the blessing of Ashcroft and other senior Bush administration officials, Zubaydah was tortured around the clock during the month of August 2002. By the end of the first week of the interrogations, the CIA determined that it was unlikely that Zubaydah would provide any useful information, but the torture continued anyway.

During waterboarding, internal CIA documents described Zubaydah as “hysterical” and “distressed to the level that he was unable to effectively communicate.” Waterboarding Zubaydah “resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms” and “hysterical pleas.” At least once during waterboarding, Zubaydah “became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” During Zubaydah’s torture, he lost his left eye. The CIA subsequently destroyed video evidence of these interrogations to prevent it from coming into the hands of investigators.

The Senate report confirms that the torture of Zubaydah did not result in any meaningful intelligence—but CIA headquarters falsely insisted to the Bush administration at the time that the torture of Zubaydah was effective and was “producing meaningful results,” and that it “should be used as a template for future interrogation of high value captives.” The CIA also falsely claimed that the information that was obtained through the FBI’s successful interviews of Zubaydah was actually the fruit of its own “enhanced interrogation” strategies.

In July of this year, the European Court of Human Rights awarded Zubaydah €100,000 in damages and €30,000 in costs against the Polish government, which had allowed the CIA to torture him on its territory.

In 2002, the CIA established a dedicated torture facility codenamed DETENTION SITE COBALT. (In one of many examples of the gratuitous redactions in the report, the fact that the COBALT facility is located in Afghanistan was redacted, even though that fact is available through other sources.)

The COBALT facility, also known as the “Salt Pit,” was one of the many “black site” torture facilities used by the CIA during the course of the program. Its windows “were blacked out and detainees were kept in total darkness…. While in their cells, detainees were shackled to the wall and given buckets for human waste. Four of the twenty cells at the facility included a bar across the top of the cell. Later reports describe detainees being shackled to the bar with their hands above their heads, forcing them to stand, and therefore not allowing the detainees to sleep.”

In November 2002, Gul Rahman died at the COBALT facility. Rahman was innocent—a case of “mistaken identity.” He was traveling to Islamabad for a medical checkup when he was kidnapped and murdered by the CIA, which did not even bother to notify his wife and four children of his death. No one was ever charged with a crime in connection with Rahman’s death.

According to the report, Rahman was “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor,” and the warden “had ordered that Rahman’s clothing be removed when he had been judged to be uncooperative during an earlier interrogation.” In other words, he was stripped for the purpose of humiliating him.

“The next day, the guards found Gul Rahman’s dead body.” The cause of death was determined to be hypothermia, “in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants.” Rahman’s corpse was also discovered to be covered with bruises and abrasions.

The CIA officer assigned as warden of the COBALT facility was someone who had “little to no experience with interrogating or handling prisoners,” according to the report. A previous CIA supervisor had determined that the warden lacked “honesty, judgment, and maturity.” However, four months after Rahman’s death, the CIA recommended that the warden receive a “cash award” of $2,500 for his “consistently superior work.”

Other torture techniques in use at the COBALT facility included “standing sleep deprivation in which a detainee’s arms were shackled above his head, nudity, dietary manipulation, exposure to cold temperatures, cold showers, ‘rough takedowns,’ and, in at least two instances, the use of mock executions.” At the COBALT facility, “CIA officers (including personnel not trained in interrogation) could, at their discretion, strip a detainee naked, shackle him in the standing position for up to 72 hours, and douse the detainee repeatedly with cold water.”

Beginning in 2002, the CIA began providing special “interrogation training” (torture training) to selected officers. The Senate Intelligence Committee noted that individuals who were selected by the CIA as torturers included “inexperienced, marginal, underperforming” officers from other assignments and “individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.”

In other words, the CIA was deliberately seeking out, cultivating, and advancing psychopaths within its ranks.

Meanwhile, the network of secret CIA torture facilities continued to grow. The COBALT facility held “a total of 64 detainees during the period of its operation between September 2002 and [redacted] 2004,” while “DETENTION SITE GRAY held eight detainees…DETENTION SITE ORANGE…held 34 detainees…and DETENTION SITE BROWN…held 12 detainees” during the period of their operation.

The torture of Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who was alleged to have been involved in the USS Cole bombing and the 1998 East Africa US Embassy bombings, is a representative case. The torture of Al-Nashiri included placing “a pistol near al-Nashiri’s head and operat[ing] a cordless drill near al-Nashiri’s body.”

Besides waterboarding, other techniques included “slapping al-Nashiri multiple times on the back of the head during interrogations; implying that his mother would be brought before him and sexually abused; blowing cigar smoke in al-Nashiri’s face; giving al-Nashiri a forced bath using a stiff brush; and using improvised stress positions that caused cuts and bruises resulting in the intervention of a medical officer, who was concerned that al-Nashiri’s shoulders would be dislocated using the stress positions.”

At one point, al-Nashiri went on a hunger strike, to which the CIA responded by force-feeding him “rectally.”

Another detainee, as a result of repeated waterboarding, developed an abdomen that “was somewhat distended and he expressed water when the abdomen was pressed.” CIA documents indicate that “[i]n the new technique we are basically doing a series of near drownings.”

The most infamous of the torture techniques described in the report is “rectal rehydration, without evidence of medical necessity.” CIA documents quote one medical officer who described the technique as follows: “you get a tube up as far as you can, then open the IV wide. No need to squeeze the bag—let gravity do the work.”

One detainee who was subjected to this procedure was later “diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids, an anal fissure, and symptomatic rectal prolapse.” In other words, his large intestine was protruding out of his body.

The report describes how detainee Majid Khan’s “lunch tray, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.” This procedure was repeated a number of times for no apparent medical reason.

In response to this treatment, Majid Khan repeatedly attempted to kill himself, including “attempting to cut his wrist on two occasions, an attempt to chew into his arm at the inner elbow, an attempt to cut a vein in the top of his foot, and an attempt to cut into his skin at the elbow joint using a filed toothbrush.”

A man “had to stand up for five days straight and answer questions;” a man was “forced to strip naked and stand in front of a female interrogator;” a man was “subjected to baths in which ice water was used;” a man was forced to stand on a broken limb until the leg swelled up; a man was forced to stand up for 56 hours straight, until he began to hallucinate; a man was deprived of sleep “for a total of 138.5 hours” in a row; men were subjected to loud music around the clock; a broomstick was placed behind the knees of a man in a stress position, recalling the techniques employed by the medieval Inquisition.

In another episode, “water dousing was used on Abu Hazim, a cloth covered Abu Hazim’s face, and [redacted] poured cold water directly on Abu Hazim’s face to disrupt his breathing. [The linguist] said that when Abu Hazim turned blue, Physician’s Assistant [redacted] removed the cloth so that Abu Hazim could breathe.”

CIA officers willfully ignored recommendations by doctors against the torture methods that were being employed and pressed ahead anyway, even when the person being tortured had no information to provide. Many of the men subjected to torture developed behavioral and psychological problems, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, suicidal ideation, and other complications, with some suffering total breakdowns.

The report is not limited to torture, but depicts the CIA as engaged in what amounts to organized crime on a daily basis. In one episode, the political leadership of a country where a secret CIA torture facility was located “rejected the transfer” of certain detainees, apparently uncomfortable over the political ramifications of CIA torture taking place within its borders.

“The following month [redacted] provided [redacted]$ million to Country [redacted]’s [redacted] which officials, for Country [redacted] political leadership, indicated that Country [redacted] was now flexible with regard to the number of CIA detainees at the facility and when the facility would eventually be closed.” In other words, the CIA paid millions in cash bribes to keep the torture facility operational.

The CIA’s torture program was accompanied by constant turf-warring and factional maneuvering by the agency within the Bush administration. While the CIA provided information about its activities to its factional allies, it provided inaccurate information to everyone else or kept them in the dark entirely, dispensing information as a kind of patronage.

By the end of 2006, virtually all of the top officials in the Bush administration knew about the torture program, making them all accomplices in it. When President Bush was finally briefed about the program in April 2006, he “expressed discomfort” only with an “image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.”

The CIA’s interrogation program did not, it appears, achieve anything at all from an intelligence or national security standpoint. With the country supposedly at risk of an imminent terrorist attack, the CIA at various times lost track of how many detainees it had.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report focuses on the CIA’s inept and mismanaged implementation the program, and there are definite political reasons behind this emphasis. Nevertheless, the CIA’s incompetence is a further reflection of the extent to which democratic norms—as well as professionalism and basic human decency—have disappeared from the internal machinery of the state, which is instead permeated through and through with criminality and corruption.

To be continued

CIA torture: health professionals ‘may have committed war crimes’, report says. Physicians for Human Rights called for federal investigation on CIA torture program participation, calling rectal feeding technique ‘form of sexual assault’: here.

Despite all the evidence in the CIA torture report, US leaders and media remain in denial about its foreign policy crimes, says Ramzy Baroud: here.

Cheney on CIA torture: “I’d do it again in a minute”: here.

ISIS terrorism, Bush’s and Blair’s legacy

This video from England says about itself:

16 June 2014

[Conservative] London mayor Boris Johnson tells Saint Tony Blair of New Labour to shut up about the current Iraq fighting mess, as it was his illegal war that started the problems.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Iraq war led to Isis mess, [First Minister of Scotland] Salmond claims

Friday 5th September 2014

THE ongoing situation in Iraq is an “inescapable consequence” of US and British military intervention

Islamic State militants have killed two US journalists and are threatening the life of a British hostage.

Mr Salmond said he was not apportioning individual responsibility in terms of the hostage situation, but was commenting on the “generality of the consequences” of the 2003 war and occupation.

Speaking to ITV Border, Mr Salmond said: “On the more general point, I believe the tragedy we are seeing unfold every night on our television screens is the inescapable consequence of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“We have allowed that country to become a hotbed of sectarianism, of fanaticism, of violence, of murder and of terrorism.

“But even more culpability lies in the fact that they did not prepare for the aftermath of the invasion and they have allowed to happen to that country, and to the rest of us, this absolute appalling nightmare that is unfolding day after day on our television screens.”

His comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron said he will not rule out air strikes against the so-called Islamic State.

One of the Islamic State’s senior commanders reveals exclusive details of the terror group’s origins inside an Iraqi prison [Camp Bucca]– right under the noses of their American jailers. Report by Martin Chulov: here.

Saudi government help for Isis extremists in Iraq

This video from the USA says about itself:

Iraq War Veterans: Commanders Encourage War Crimes

20 January 2008

“The killing of innocent civilians is policy. It’s unit policy and it’s Army policy. It’s not official policy, but it’s what’s happens on the ground everyday. It’s what unit commanders individually encourage.” — Iraq War veteran Mike Blake.

This video from the USA is called Bandar Bush. About Saudi royal and secret police boss Prince Bandar, nicknamed ‘Bandar Bush’ because of his close relationship to the Bush dynasty in the USA.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

World View: A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 13 July 2014

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.

In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as “spoils of war”. Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa’ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar’s words, saying that they constituted “a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed”.

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

Dearlove’s explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6’s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove’s speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that “is essentially Muslim on Muslim”. Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.

The forecast by Prince Bandar, who was at the heart of Saudi security policy for more than three decades, that the 100 million Shia in the Middle East face disaster at the hands of the Sunni majority, will convince many Shia that they are the victims of a Saudi-led campaign to crush them. “The Shia in general are getting very frightened after what happened in northern Iraq,” said an Iraqi commentator, who did not want his name published. Shia see the threat as not only military but stemming from the expanded influence over mainstream Sunni Islam of Wahhabism, the puritanical and intolerant version of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia that condemns Shia and other Islamic sects as non-Muslim apostates and polytheists.

Dearlove says that he has no inside knowledge obtained since he retired as head of MI6 10 years ago to become Master of Pembroke College in Cambridge. But, drawing on past experience, he sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there “can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam’s holiest shrines”. But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be “deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom”.

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.

The difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis can be overstated: when Bin Laden was killed by United States forces in 2011, al-Baghdadi released a statement eulogising him, and Isis pledged to launch 100 attacks in revenge for his death.

But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa’ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar’s approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence “literally shouting at me across his office: ‘9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.'” In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia “militancy” is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups.” She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa’ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad. This policy may now be changing with the dismissal of Prince Bandar as head of intelligence this year. But the change is very recent, still ambivalent and may be too late: it was only last week that a Saudi prince said he would no longer fund a satellite television station notorious for its anti-Shia bias based in Egypt.

The problem for the Saudis is that their attempts since Bandar lost his job to create an anti-Maliki and anti-Assad Sunni constituency which is simultaneously against al-Qa’ida and its clones have failed.

By seeking to weaken Maliki and Assad in the interest of a more moderate Sunni faction, Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, as happened previously in its Syrian capital Raqqa, potential critics and opponents are disarmed, forced to swear allegiance to the new caliphate and killed if they resist.

The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy. A striking example of double standards by the western powers was the Saudi-backed suppression of peaceful democratic protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain in March 2011. Some 1,500 Saudi troops were sent across the causeway to the island kingdom as the demonstrations were ended with great brutality and Shia mosques and shrines were destroyed.

An alibi used by the US and Britain is that the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain is pursuing dialogue and reform. But this excuse looked thin last week as Bahrain expelled a top US diplomat, the assistant secretary of state for human rights Tom Malinowksi, for meeting leaders of the main Shia opposition party al-Wifaq. Mr Malinowski tweeted that the Bahrain government’s action was “not about me but about undermining dialogue”.

Western powers and their regional allies have largely escaped criticism for their role in reigniting the war in Iraq. Publicly and privately, they have blamed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for persecuting and marginalising the Sunni minority, so provoking them into supporting the Isis-led revolt. There is much truth in this, but it is by no means the whole story. Maliki did enough to enrage the Sunni, partly because he wanted to frighten Shia voters into supporting him in the 30 April election by claiming to be the Shia community’s protector against Sunni counter-revolution.

But for all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki’s failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. “I guess they just didn’t believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad,” said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.

Of course, US and British politicians and diplomats would argue that they were in no position to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. But this is misleading. By insisting that peace negotiations must be about the departure of Assad from power, something that was never going to happen since Assad held most of the cities in the country and his troops were advancing, the US and Britain made sure the war would continue.

The chief beneficiary is Isis which over the last two weeks has been mopping up the last opposition to its rule in eastern Syria. The Kurds in the north and the official al-Qa’ida representative, Jabhat al-Nusra, are faltering under the impact of Isis forces high in morale and using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army. It is also, without the rest of the world taking notice, taking over many of the Syrian oil wells that it did not already control.

Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open. As Kurdish-held border crossings fall to Isis, Turkey will find it has a new neighbour of extraordinary violence, and one deeply ungrateful for past favours from the Turkish intelligence service.

As for Saudi Arabia, it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target. It is the unnamed head of Saudi General Intelligence quoted by Dearlove after 9/11 who is turning out to have analysed the potential threat to Saudi Arabia correctly and not Prince Bandar, which may explain why the latter was sacked earlier this year.

Nor is this the only point on which Prince Bandar was dangerously mistaken. The rise of Isis is bad news for the Shia of Iraq but it is worse news for the Sunni whose leadership has been ceded to a pathologically bloodthirsty and intolerant movement, a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, which has no aim but war without end.

The Sunni caliphate rules a large, impoverished and isolated area from which people are fleeing. Several million Sunni in and around Baghdad are vulnerable to attack and 255 Sunni prisoners have already been massacred. In the long term, Isis cannot win, but its mix of fanaticism and good organisation makes it difficult to dislodge.

“God help the Shia,” said Prince Bandar, but, partly thanks to him, the shattered Sunni communities of Iraq and Syria may need divine help even more than the Shia.