Dutch ING bank helps Uzbek dictatorship’s money laundering

Islam Karimov and Hillary ClintonThis blog has paid attention before to Islam Karimov. This dictator of Uzbekistan, who died in September 2016, used to boil oppositionists alive. Nevertheless, when she was United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton considered Karimov her “friend”.

This blog has also paid attention to the Dutch ING bank. Especially when the ING Bank raised CEO Ralph Hamers‘ salary by more than half this year to over 3 million euros. While rank and file ING workers received a a 1.7 percent increase; not enough to keep up with inflation.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, about just one of many ING money laundering cases:

ING got a mega fine of 775 million euros, it was announced this morning. The bank received the fine because no action was taken, while customers laundered hundreds of millions of money. The Public Prosecution Service has been investigating that money laundering since February 2016. …

The telecom company and the Uzbek presidential daughter

The Russian telecom provider Vimpelcom paid a total of 55 million dollars in 2007 and 2011 from an ING account to Takilant, a letterbox company in Gibraltar.

The money eventually ended up with Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the then president of Uzbekistan. It was a bribe, with which Vimpelcom bought access to the Uzbek telecom market.

ING’s transaction monitoring system did not issue any money laundering warnings about the 2007 and 2011 transactions. In 2012, ING received signals that Takilant was related to Karimova and was being used for money laundering and corruption practices. Only in April 2015 ING reported the transactions to the authorities. And that was only after a journalist has asked the bank questions.

Uzbekistan and CIA torture

This video from the USA says about itself:

Uzbekistan Cooperated with CIA Rendition & Torture Post-9/11, As Govt. Boiled Dissidents Alive

2 November 2017

Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged assailant in the Tuesday attack that killed at least eight people in New York City, is an immigrant from Uzbekistan, a country that is now the focus of much attention, with some in the media calling it a hotbed of Islamist terror. We go to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to speak with Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch. We’re also joined by Edward Lemon, postdoctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

Nazi mass murder of Soviet prisoners of war in the Netherlands

One of few photos of the Soviet prisoners, murdered in Amersfoort

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Unknown mass execution of Soviet prisoners commemorated in Amersfoort

Today, 15:25

Their graves are anonymous, their stories little known. The 101 Soviet soldiers who will be commemorated tomorrow at [former nazi concentration] Camp Amersfoort. Defeated on the battlefield, brought to the Netherlands as living propaganda material, beaten and killed.

“It was the second-largest mass execution of the war in the Netherlands”, says Remco Reiding of the Foundation Russian Field of Honour. “You could say that people would like to know.”

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of when nazi shots in the necks ended the brutal journey of the Soviets. Around a monument at Camp Amersfoort at dawn candles will be lit for the victims. It’s only the fifth time Reiding will organize the ceremony; previously there was little attention for the group.

“During the Cold War it was not customary to commemorate soldiers from a country that was our new enemy,” Reiding explains. “Moreover, these boys came from a far away country, and we have no information about their identity. So there are no family members who can visit a grave. Therefore, the story never came to life and was increasingly forgotten.”

The soldiers came in September 1941 in cattle trucks to Amersfoort after a two week journey. Prisoners of war from the Eastern Front, probably Uzbeks. They must have felt completely lost: displaced, starved, beaten, in a country where they did not speak the language.

“The Nazis took them to the Netherlands to show Dutch people what untermenschen [German nazi jargon: ‘racially inferior’ people] they were. They were exhibited: as a group they had to walk among rows of people through the city to the camp. Also inside the camp they had to stay outdoors for days, as a warning example for the Dutch prisoners.”

The plan failed immediately because the shocked Dutch spectators, contrary to expectations, , wanted to give wate,r fruit and bread to the soldier prisoners – what the Germans did not allow. An attempt to incite the soldiers against each other failed as well. “There was a German film crew who had to record how they would fight each other for a piece of bread; but when the bread was thrown over the fence, the opposite happened. It was divided neatly into pieces by the men, although they were terribly hungry.”

“The SS criminals failed”, wrote anti-nazi resistance newspaper De Waarheid. “At no time did they succeed in making discord between the Dutch and Russian prisoners.”

Skulls on desk

It seems that the Nazis wanted the Soviets to die of hardships. By disease, malnutrition and mistreatment 24 soldiers died within six months. Finally, in consultation with Berlin they decided on a mass execution of the rest of the group. The men were told that they would be transported to France, but after a short drive they arrived at the firing squad.

“You could say that they had no use anymore. The propaganda story had not worked and eventually the Nazis did not know what to do with them. Then they decided to shoot them dead.” Two skulls of the prisoners ended up on the desk of the camp doctor, as a curiosity. …

Reiding spent a lot of time to figure out the identity of the war dead, but the 101 Amersfoort men will forever remain anonymous: the Germans destroyed all information about them.

“That makes us morally responsible for these guys,” says Reiding. “Far away from home without the family knowing, slaughtered like beasts. That’s something we should keep in mind, even if only once a year.”

Yet Reiding also notes that once again there are tensions in relations with Russia by bickering over MH17, European embargoes and reports of Russian fake news. “A difficult relationship between the Netherlands and Russia is felt at all levels, so we feel that as well. But what we do is apolitical. The war victims of then, allies, should not suffer from contemporary politics.”

With 150 visitors Reiding expects tomorrow morning double the number of people last year, more than ever. “Of course it is early morning and we have a new tradition, but it is quite a nice result. We are very happy that for the first time a school, fifty pupils and their parents will join. It would be a good tradition to continue.”

Sociable lapwing discoveries in Uzbekistan

This video says about itself:

19 August 2010

Follow the amazing journey of one of the world’s rarest birds with BirdLife International, RSPB and Swarovski Optik.

Experience an extraordinary migration in real-time as we track nine Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwings, tagged with state-of-the-art satellite transmitters, from their breeding grounds in Kazakhstan to their wintering areas in tropical Africa.

Find out more

From BirdLife:

New Sociable Lapwing habitats discovered in Uzbekistan

By Stephanie Ward, Tue, 12/04/2016 – 09:08

The Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing is one of the world’s rarest and most threatened birds. It breeds in Kazakhstan and southern Russia and winters from Sudan to Pakistan and India. How it gets from its breeding grounds to its wintering areas is of great interest to conservationists, since hunting pressures along its migration routes is considered one of the main threats to the species’ population.

Very little is known about their path along the eastern flyway, from Kazakhstan to Pakistan and India. So when UzSPB (BirdLife affiliate in Uzbekistan) found 400 Sociable Lapwings at a reservoir in southwestern Uzbekistan in 2012, and when a few of the birds fitted with satellite tracking devices in Kazakhstan turned up in the same area and in adjacent parts of Turkmenistan, experts’ interest was piqued. New research from last year shows that this area, known on both sides of the border as Tallymerdzhan – is used by possibly the species’ entire eastern flyway population and perhaps a third or more of its global population.

In October 2015, researchers from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the UK carried out coordinated surveys of the area in both countries, and found as many as 4.225 birds in Uzbekistan and 3.675 in Turkmenistan. The total number of birds using the area was estimated at between 6.000 and 8.000. Birds use this area for around two months while they fatten up for the crossing of the Hindu Kush mountains that takes them to their wintering grounds, one of the longest stopover periods ever recorded in a long-distance migrant.

The discovery of the large population of Sociable Lapwings in the area suggests that the eastern flyway is as important in terms of numbers as the much better studied western flyway (that goes from Kazakhstan south into Syria and Saudi Arabia), and that Tallymerdzhan is one of the most important sites for the species globally.

The Sociable Lapwing is already included in the Red Data Books of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, but there are no environmental protection measures in place in Tallymerdzhan. Much of the area used by Sociable Lapwings falls inside the two Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in the area – Talimarzhan Reservoir and Tallymerjen – which were designated for other species (particularly wintering Common Crane Grus grus, Greylag Goose Anser anser and other waterbirds), but this does not confer legal protection.

The IBA in Uzbekistan needs to be expanded to include key steppes to the east and south of the reservoir, and both need recognition as sites vital to the survival of the Sociable Lapwing. The AEWA International Species Action Plan for Sociable Lapwing also needs updating in the light of the discovery that both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are important range countries. The eastern flyway population is substantially larger than previously known, and more work is required in range countries along this flyway to ensure that threats are monitored and minimised.

A system of monitoring needs to be developed to track future changes along the flyway and, if necessary, protective measures will need to be drawn up. The spread of arable agriculture, and perhaps desertification, can be monitored from satellite imagery, but periodic field visits should be undertaken to assess trends in numbers and threats to birds using the site.

CIA torturers and accomplices still not prosecuted

This video from the USA says about itself:

How The CIA Tortured Terror Suspects In Uzbekistan

9 December 2014

The West’s Torture Farm (2005) – How the United States shipped terror suspects to Uzbekistan

Watch Torturing Democracy, Journeyman’s collected playlist on CIA torture.

It’s one of the nastiest, most repressive dictatorships in Asia but its relationship with Washington has helped it avoid censure. Just how valuable an ally is Uzbekistan in the War on Terror?

Critics of the government risk being tortured to death, there’s no freedom of speech and all opposition parties are banned. “This is not a government. It’s a monster against its own people,” laments Prof Mirsaidov. In the name of fighting Islamic terror, Uzbekistan has jailed thousands of members of Hiz-but-Tahrir. The problem is, many claim they are innocent and confessions are extracted under torture. But despite its appalling human rights record, few Western governments seem willing to criticise it. Uzbekistan is now regarded as a key ally in the War on Terror.

It allows the US to use its airbases to support operations in Afghanistan and American agents are believed to have ‘rendered’ terrorist suspects to Uzbekistan to be tortured. However, there are growing fears that siding with this repressive regime to fight terrorism is counter productive. As former British Ambassador Craig Murray states: “Our short sighted policy in Asia is creating the terrorism we claim we are fighting.”

By Tom Carter in the USA:

Report makes case for prosecuting US war criminals

5 December 2015

This week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 159-page report titled, “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture.” This detailed report sets forth a compelling legal case for the criminal prosecution of senior US officials for their roles as conspirators and accomplices in the illegal Central Intelligence Agency torture program (2001-2009).

The report names names: “US officials who created, authorized, and implemented the CIA program should be among those investigated for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes. They include: Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Jay Bybee, OLC Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, an individual identified as ‘CTC Legal’ in the Senate Summary, CIA Director George Tenet, National Security Legal Advisor John Bellinger, Attorney General John Ashcroft, White House Counsel Legal Advisor Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the Vice President David Addington, Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes II, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush. In addition, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, CIA psychologist contractors who devised the program, proposed it to the CIA, and helped carry it out, should also be investigated for their role in the initial conspiracy.”

“We believe there is also sufficient evidence to investigate others who were not necessarily part of the initial conspiracy but who later joined it,” the report states. “Others should not only be investigated for torture but also for offenses such as war crimes, assault, and sexual abuse.”

The report reads like a criminal indictment. It provides point-by-point highlights of the CIA program in all its depraved and sadistic detail. The report also covers the attempts by the Bush administration to provide a pseudo-legal cover for the program, as well as attempts by the Obama administration to cover it up and shield the perpetrators from liability.

The report identifies specific US officials, victims, dates, documents, and other particulars, with emphasis on the roles of the senior officials who orchestrated the program. The report brings together material from numerous sources, including the heavily redacted executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, media reports, internal executive department memoranda, investigations by Human Rights Watch and other institutions, and even chilling hand-drawn images of the implements of torture by the victims themselves.

Entrance to CIA Black Site near Kiejkuty Village, Poland

It is difficult to find words to describe the CIA’s crimes. In November 2002, the CIA murdered Gul Rahman at the COBALT “black site” facility in Afghanistan by shackling him naked so that his body lay on a cold concrete floor. His corpse was covered in bruises and abrasions, and the cause of death was determined to be hypothermia. Rahman, who left behind a wife and four children, was likely innocent, a case of mistaken identity.

To punish hunger strikers, which were a constant problem at its various torture compounds, the CIA retaliated with a form of torture/rape that was euphemistically termed “rectal feeding.” This involved reducing a tray full of food to a puree and then injecting it into the victim’s rectum, “without evidence of medical necessity,” as the Senate report diplomatically describes it. (One imagines the guards’ scatological banter: “Oh, you don’t want to eat your lunch, do you. .. ?”)

As a result of this form of torture, Guantanamo prisoner Mustafa al-Hawsawi developed medical conditions described as an “anal fissure” and “symptomatic rectal prolapse.” In other words, he was bleeding and part of his large intestine was protruding outside his body.

The most imaginative horror film director could not conceive of the sheer lunacy of the CIA torturers, who apparently were given free rein to act on every sadistic whim. In his book Guantanamo Diary, current inmate Mohamedou Ould Slahi describes being locked in a specially prepared freezing cold room “full of pictures showing the glories of the US: weapons arsenals, planes, and pictures of George Bush… For the whole night I had to listen to the US anthem… All I can remember was the beginning, ‘Oh say can you see…’ over and over.”

Narrow windowless box with speakers on each side of victim's ears (Copyright 2012 Ben Soud)

Shackling in “stress positions” reminiscent of the medieval Inquisition, the use of insects, sexual humiliation and assault, forced nudity, female guards smearing menstrual blood on prisoners, asphyxiation, sensory deprivation, prolonged isolation, lack of sanitation, beatings, loud music, blowing cigar smoke in prisoners’ faces, sleep deprivation, mock executions, threats to rape and kill family members—the list of depravities goes on for page after page. At least one prisoner tried to kill himself by chewing into a vein on his arm.

“Many detainees were held by the CIA in pitch-dark windowless cells, chained to walls, naked or diapered, for weeks or months at a time,” the report states. “The CIA forced them into painful stress positions that made it impossible for them to lie down or sleep for days, to the point where many hallucinated or begged to be killed to end their misery. It used ‘waterboarding’ and similar techniques to cause near suffocation or drowning, crammed detainees naked into tiny boxes, and prevented them from bathing, using toilets, or cutting their hair or nails for months. ‘We looked like monsters,’ one detainee said of his appearance while in CIA custody.”

The Human Rights Watch report demonstrates the extent to which the Senate report, in all its horror, actually understates the CIA’s crimes. For example, the Senate report mentions Adnan al-Libi being tortured with sleep deprivation for “46.5 hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours, with a combined three hours of sleep between sessions.”

Small wooden box in which victims would be locked (Copyright 2012 Ben Soud)

“When Human Rights Watch interviewed al-Libi, long before the Senate Summary was released,” the report states, “he said he thought one of his sleep deprivation episodes lasted for more like 15 days, though he said he was in a windowless cell with little ability to track time with great accuracy. He also said the sleep deprivation was accomplished by forcing him to stand all those days with his hands chained above his head, feet shackled to the ground so that if his legs buckled, he would have to hang from his arms in order to try and sleep—something impossible to do. He endured this while diapered and otherwise naked. Once released from the standing sleep deprivation position and allowed to shower, al-Libi said he could not move his arms and so guards had to bathe him. ‘I was there for 15 days, hanging from my arms, another chain from the ground. They put a diaper on me but it overflowed so there was every type of stool everywhere.’ He said he had hallucinations and felt like he was going insane and was going to die.”

Other prisoners reported hearing al-Libi’s screams while he was being tortured.

The Senate report last year revealed that the CIA did not actually obtain any significant intelligence through the torture program. While this does not make the torture any more or less criminal, it constitutes what a future war crimes tribunal might call an “aggravating factor.” In other words, the CIA was more or less doing it for fun.

In addition to a concentrated synopsis of the CIA’s crimes, the Human Rights Watch report also cites an impressive battery of international legal treaties as well as domestic statutes and precedents that outlaw torture. These include the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the international Convention against Torture, and other treaties. Under American law, the torturers and their enablers could be prosecuted under the federal Torture Statute.

Human Right Watch cites a 1983 case where a ten-year sentence was handed down to a Texas sheriff for torturing six prisoners. “The method of torture was to handcuff the detainees ‘to a table or chair with the face wrapped tightly with a towel. The head would be pulled back, they said, and water would be poured over the towel until, fearing drowning, they would talk,’” (citing a New York Times report).

Wooden board for water torture (Copyright 2012 Ben Soud)

The Human Rights Watch report also refers to the precedent set by the Nuremberg prosecutions of leading Nazis after the Second World War, which “held that torture and war crimes cannot be legitimate functions of a government official.” Finally, CIA agents or US officials traveling abroad could be arrested and investigated by foreign governments for their roles in the torture program.

With all this material collected in one place and rigorously presented, the Human Rights Watch report makes an overwhelming case. It is clear that there are numerous high-level war criminals residing in the United States who deserve to be arrested, indicted, and prosecuted. These individuals committed shocking crimes, and yet the whole American political establishment has united to cover up their crimes and shield them from accountability.

Indeed, the establishment media in the US has almost completely buried this week’s Human Rights Watch report, just as it has buried the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, published a year ago this month. None of the presidential candidates from either of the big-business parties has made a serious demand for the prosecution of US war criminals, from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. Nor have they demanded the release of the full Senate report.

Indeed, Trump has openly presented himself as a proponent of “enhanced interrogation”—a term that closely resembles the euphemism “Verschärfte Vernehmung” (intensified/sharpened questioning) employed by the Gestapo. This state of affairs is made possible by the cowardice and complicity of the Democrats and the Obama administration, which have gone out of their way to coddle and shield Bush-era torturers. …

Before the Senate report was released, Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry called Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to discourage her from publishing it. …

Nevertheless, the inclusion of the demand for prosecutions in the Human Rights Watch report is a significant event.

The recipient of a $100 million donation from George Soros in 2010, Human Rights Watch has a history of tacit support for “human rights imperialism” around the world. The organization’s dispatches from Iraq under headlines like “Help Yezidi Survivors” (which were used as justification for US military escalation), its support for the fascist-led “Maidan” coup in the Ukraine, and its declaration that the January Charlie Hebdo attacks were an attack on “freedom of expression” are all indicative of a certain role the organization plays in bourgeois politics.

In this light, the demand for prosecutions is an expression of the glaring contradictions and hypocrisy of American foreign policy, which commits the most heinous violations of human rights in the name of human rights.

There is a concern in some sections of the political establishment that the example of CIA torture, without even so much as a token prosecution, will render Washington’s claim to be the self-appointed guarantor of human rights around the world even more unbelievable than it already is. These concerns, to a certain extent, motivated the Senate Intelligence Committee’s original investigation into the program.

In this week’s report, Human Rights Watch states: “Globally, the US unwillingness to prosecute CIA torture weakens US authority to oppose torture and other abuses abroad, provides a ready excuse for countries unwilling to prevent or prosecute torture in their own countries, and undermines global respect for the rule of law.”

The socialist demand for the prosecution of US war criminals is not aimed at promoting illusions in any section of the American political establishment, the US justice system, or international judicial bodies, which have already proved themselves incapable of timely bringing US war criminals to justice. In the event that any US war criminals are ever prosecuted within the framework of bourgeois politics, it will be only to that token extent deemed necessary to placate popular anger.

The de facto immunity enjoyed by US war criminals is an expression of class justice, which is in turn a product of class society. In America, a worker can be fired, losing his livelihood and access to food and shelter, for the infraction of “stealing” $2 worth of empty pop bottles abandoned in a WalMart parking lot.

Meanwhile, torturers and mass murderers, corporate looters, financial parasites who steal billions, political perjurers, killer cops and their lying accomplices, in effect, the entire ruling class and its political agents, are free to commit crimes with impunity.

Any genuine demand for the prosecution of US war criminals must be a demand for an end to class justice and class society. The abandonment by the American ruling class of the rule of law and democratic norms is bound up with the growth of social inequality and the crisis of capitalism. Driven to pursue more and more unpopular policies to defend its privileges, the capitalist class jettisons democracy and the rule of law and turns to dictatorship.

The CIA torture program (which officially ended in 2009) did not occur in a vacuum, but took place simultaneously with the massive expansion of the coercive power of the state apparatus, the outbreak and escalation of aggressive war, the speculative frenzy preceding the financial crash of 2008, and the assault on democratic rights. The same years saw the militarization of police domestically, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, the introduction of massive illegal domestic surveillance programs, attacks on workers’ wages and living standards across the board, the assertion of the president’s power to jail US citizens without charges or trial, and so forth.

The breakdown of democracy and the rule of law, together with the turn to dictatorship, represents in every country the social interests and objective historical trajectory of the capitalist class. However, there remains a long tradition and historical impulse for democracy in the working class. Only the powerful intervention of the international working class, on the basis of a socialist program, will see America’s war criminals brought to justice.

INSIDE THE CIA’S PLAN TO TRICK ITS OWN EMPLOYEES “Senior CIA officials have for years intentionally deceived parts of the agency workforce by transmitting internal memos that contain false information about operations and sources overseas, according to current and former U.S. officials who said the practice is known by the term ‘eyewash.'” [WaPo]

Dictatorial friends of United States governments

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre gesturing as he leaves a Dakar courthouse after a hearing on June 3, 2015. An official truth commission report in 1992 accused his regime of committing some 40,000 political murders -- although only 4,000 victims were officially named. (Photo: Sey Llousey/AFP/Getty Images)

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Five human rights abusers backed by the U.S. whom you never heard of

By Sudarsan Raghavan

September 8 at 5:18 PM

You’ve probably never heard of Hissene Habre, but you should have.

Your taxes helped fund his brutal regime in Chad in the 1980s for eight years. The former dictator was one of Washington’s many “men” in sub-Saharan Africa. Backed by American dollars, they brutalized their own people in the name of fighting communism or terrorism. They were feted by American presidents and invited to state dinners in Washington, even as they jailed and tortured anyone they deemed a threat to their way of life.

In Habre, the United States and its close ally France saw a way to counter Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. Brought to power by covert CIA support under the Reagan administration, Habre’s security forces were trained by key American allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. Habre used them generously and lethally: His secret police are accused of killing some 40,000 people in political prisons between 1982 and 1990, according to findings by a Chadian truth commission. An additional 200,000 had been unjustly imprisoned and tortured.

Now, Habre is finally being held accountable. His trial for allegedly perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes began this week in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, where Habre, 72, has lived in exile, peacefully, for the past quarter-century. A special court, formed especially to prosecute him, will serve as a test of whether African nations, who have a long history of dictators among them, have the power and the will to punish one of its own members.

On Monday, Habre was hauled into court by masked guards as he shouted in protest and tried to resist being seated inside the court.

Justice could soon be served for all the relatives of Habre’s victims. But the support of vicious human rights abusers remains an integral part of U.S. foreign policy.

Here are five of the most egregious U.S.-backed violators operating today that Americans have never heard of.

[1.] Islam Karimov — president of Uzbekistan … has brutally quashed all political opposition and jailed dissidents and journalists. Human rights activists speak of forced child labor and systematic oppression of anyone who poses a threat to the regime. The most infamous abuse occurred in 2005,  when Karimov’s security forces fired into a crowd of demonstrators in the city of Andijan, killing hundreds, according to activists.

Now, the Obama administration is courting Karimov, seeing Uzbekistan as vital to U.S. goals in Afghanistan, as well as to fend off the growing presence of the Islamic State in Central Asia. This year, the United States gave about 300 armored vehicles to Karimov’s military, the largest donation of military hardware from the U.S. to a former Soviet Central Asian country.

2. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa — king of Bahrain

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa waves to reporters after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Sept. 8. (Photo: Christophe Ena/AP)

The Sunni Muslim monarchy, led by Khalifa, cracked down heavily on largely Shiite protesters during 2011 Arab Spring revolutions with the help of soldiers from neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. More than 30 were killed, mostly at the hands of Bahraini security forces, and hundreds more were wounded, according to human rights groups. Hundreds more were arrested and scores faced trials before a military court.

Washington has significant geopolitical interests in Bahrain. Key U.S. ally Saudi Arabia backs Bahrain, and the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet  is stationed in Bahrain. So it comes as no surprise that the U.S., after initially criticizing the monarchy for the crackdown, has resumed military aid to a nation that the watchdog group Freedom House describes as “Not free.”

Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman have criticized Freedom House for excessively criticizing states opposed to US interests while being unduly sympathetic to regimes supportive of US interests. Eg, Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, wrote that the executive director of Freedom House told him in 2003 that the group decided to back off from its efforts to spotlight human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, because some Republican board members (in Murray’s words) “expressed concern that Freedom House was failing to keep in sight the need to promote freedom in the widest sense, by giving full support to U.S. and coalition forces”. Human rights abuses in Uzbekistan at the time included treatment of prisoners who were killed by “immersion in boiling liquid,” and by strapping on a gas mask and blocking the filters, Murray reported.

Apparently, not even pro-establishment, United States government-subsidized Freedom House succeeds in labeling unfree Bahrain ‘free’. They had to leave that ‘honour’ to Rupert Murdoch and various far right ‘think tank’ sycophants of the Bahraini absolute monarchy.

“The Obama Administration’s  decision to lift the hold on military assistance to Bahrain cannot be attributed to improvements in political rights or civil liberties in Bahrain because no such improvements exist,” Mark P. Lagon, president  of Freedom House, said this summer in a statement. “Thousands of Bahrainis remain imprisoned  for voicing opposition to the government, and reports of torture are widespread. If anything, punishment and discrimination for ordinary Bahrainis is deepening.  As a result of its latest decision, the United States has stepped away from trying to improve respect there for fundamental human rights.”

3. Emomali Rahmon — president of Tajikistan

Under Rahmon, Tajikistan’s human rights abuses have grown. He has cracked down hard on political opponents as well as independent media. His security forces routinely use torture to obtain confessions, according to Human Rights Watch. They have also targeted lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, and cracked down on religious freedoms. Freedom House describes the country as “Not free.” Last month, the group said that a banning of an opposition by Rahmon’s government confirms that the country is now a “dictatorship.”

Rahmon, in a 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks, was described, along with his family, as playing “hardball to protect their business interests, no matter the cost to the economy writ large.” It described a culture of “cronyism and corruption” plaguing the country. The United States, though, considers Rahman as vital to American interests in Afghanistan and preventing Islamic militancy and opium smuggling from spreading into Central Asia.

In late August, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, head of U.S. Central Command, visited Rahmon in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to discuss bilateral cooperation in counterterrorism and to fight the drug trade.

[4.] Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov — president of Turkmenistan

Berdymukhamedov, who came to power in 2006, presides over one of the world’s most repressive nations. Virtually every basic right — from freedom of expression to media to religion — is denied. Berdymukhamedov and his relatives control all aspects of public life. According to Human Rights Watch, relatives of people jailed during  waves of mass arrests in the late 1990s and early 2000s still do not have any information about their fates.

Berdymukhamedov, though, has allowed U.S. military aircraft en route to Afghanistan to fly through his country’s air space. Also attractive to U.S. interests in the region is Turkmenistan’s vast gas reserves — the largest in Central Asia. He has discussed strengthening energy relationships with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Washington views Turkmenistan as a vital piece of its goal to bolster Afghanistan’s economy by creating a new “Silk Road” — investment projects and regional trade blocs that would bring economic growth and stability to Central Asia. Chief among the projects is a long-proposed gas pipeline that would flow from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan.

This year, Freedom House named Turkmenistan one of its 10 “worst of the worst” nations in terms of democracy, human rights and other basic freedoms. The list includes North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic — and Uzbekistan and Equatorial Guinea.

[5.] Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — president of Equatorial Guinea

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, and wife Constancia Mangue De Obiang arrive for a dinner hosted by President Obama for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit on Aug. 5, 2014. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

He’s Africa’s longest-reigning autocrat, in power since 1979. Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Obiang and his family own luxury properties around the world, drive expensive cars and fly in a private jet, as the vast majority of his people live in dire poverty, and one fifth of children die before age 5.

There is virtually no freedom of the press, no political opposition. Allegations of torture of political prisoners abound. Washington has long sought to keep strong ties with Obiang because of Equatorial Guinea’s oil reserves, seen as a way to lessen dependence on Middle East crude. U.S. oil companies are one of Equatorial Guinea’s largest investors, playing a lead role in oil and gas exploration and extraction. Last year, during the U.S.-Africa leaders summit, President Obama posed for a photo with Obiang and his wife, who were his guests at a White House dinner. The magazine Mother Jones at the time labeled Obiang one of Obama’s “5 most atrocious dinner guests.”

Sudarsan Raghavan has been The Post‘s Kabul bureau chief since 2014. He was previously based in Nairobi and Baghdad for the Post.

Uzbekistan dictatorship bans political science

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan map

Weekly The Observer in Britain writes today that the bloody dictatorship in Uzbekistan has banned political science:

In a decree issued on 24 August and later made public, higher education minister Alisher Vakhabov ordered that the words “political science” be dropped from the name of the last remaining course in the subject widely taught in the country, which will now be called The Theory and Practice of Building a Democratic Society in Uzbekistan. It also required universities to move all literature relating to political science from the “general fund to a special fund”, which means students and academics will need permission to access it.

So, in Uzbekistan, the dictator calls his dictatorship ‘democracy’.

Tony Blair, George W Bush, Hillary Clinton and other NATO country politicians seem to agree with this, eagerly wooing the Uzbek dictatorship as a ‘friend’ and a military ally.

I bet the dictatorship’s higher education minister Alisher Vakhabov would be willing to make an exemption about this new rule for at least one political science professor: Herfried Münkler from Germany. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler supports war. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler supports national chauvinism. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler supports dictatorship. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler hates refugees.

Leading rights defender confined to ‘psychiatric treatment’ for seeking to expose forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields: here.

British military advisers trained Uzbek troops in “marksmanship” shortly before a massacre in which hundreds of people were killed. The training was part of a larger programme funded by Britain despite concerns expressed by the Foreign Office at the time over the Uzbekistan government’s human rights record: here.

Dictatorship boiling humans alive, new Pentagon anti-ISIS ally?

This video says about itself:

How The CIA Tortured Terror Suspects In Uzbekistan

The West’s Torture Farm (2005) …

Watch Torturing Democracy, Journeyman’s collected playlist on CIA torture: here.

It’s one of the nastiest, most repressive dictatorships in Asia but its relationship with Washington has helped it avoid censure. Just how valuable an ally is Uzbekistan in the War on Terror?

Critics of the government risk being tortured to death, there’s no freedom of speech and all opposition parties are banned. “This is not a government. It’s a monster against its own people,” laments Prof Mirsaidov. In the name of fighting Islamic terror, Uzbekistan has jailed thousands of members of Hiz-but-Tahrir. The problem is, many claim they are innocent and confessions are extracted under torture.

But despite its appalling human rights record, few Western governments seem willing to criticise it. Uzbekistan is now regarded as a key ally in the War on Terror. It allows the US to use its airbases to support operations in Afghanistan and American agents are believed to have ‘rendered’ terrorist suspects to Uzbekistan to be tortured. However, there are growing fears that siding with this repressive regime to fight terrorism is counter productive. As former British Ambassador Craig Murray states: “Our short sighted policy in Asia is creating the terrorism we claim we are fighting.”

The non-democratic governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are part of the United States military coalition fighting, officially, ISIS (aka ISIL) terrorism. Even though both the Bahraini and Saudi regimes have some disturbing similarities with, and links to, cruel ISIS.

They are far from being the only dictatorships to which the United States sells arms. Look at Uzbekistan.

Islam Karimov and Hillary ClintonLook at Islam Karimov. This dictator of Uzbekistan boils oppositionists alive. Nevertheless, when she was United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton considered Karimov her “friend”.

From Al Jazeera:

August 28, 2015 12:50AM ET

The United States on Thursday asked Uzbekistan to join the multinational coalition it leads against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying Central Asia’s most populous state was free to choose how to the fight against the armed group. …

Uzbekistan, a majority Muslim nation with a population of 31 million, has been a strategic NATO partner in post-Soviet Central Asia, assisting a U.S.-led war on the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. …

Uzbekistan, a gold and cotton producer whose 78-year-old strongman president, Islam Karimov, has been in power since Soviet days, has been criticized by Western governments and human rights bodies for clampdowns on dissent and basic freedoms. …

The criticism was very much more often by human rights bodies than by Western governments (like Tony Blair’s government in Britain).

While noting the need for “closer ties and better sharing information between our security establishments,” Rosenblum lauded Uzbekistan for progress in eliminating child labor in cotton fields, for which Uzbekistan had also been strongly criticized.

He said, however, that more needs to be done in eliminating involuntary adult labor in cotton production.

British daily The Guardian writes about this:

Uzbekistan ban on child labour forces more adults into cotton workforce

Report claims 4 million adults including teachers, businessmen and students pressed into working on cotton harvest

The United States State Department recently claimed there was human rights ‘progress’ in the Bahraini absolute monarchy as well, saying that was an excuse for selling arms to that dictatorship again. Tortured Bahraini political prisoners have not felt any of that ‘progress’.

If the United States government and other NATO governments want to oppose ISIS, then it would be much better to instead remove the only effective forces fighting ISIS, the Turkish and Syrian Kurds, from the lists of so-called ‘terrorists’. Lists which used to include Nelson Mandela, Senator Edward Kennedy, etc.

George W Bush’s friendships with dictators

This video from the USA says about itself:

31 March 2015

U.S. Policy in Afghanistan Created Hundreds of Little Dictators

Author and journalist Anand Gopal discusses the legacy of the war in Afghanistan at the Hofstra Conference on the George W. Bush Presidency.

Tony Blair does not only get lots of money from helping dictators. Recently, he expressed his preference for dictatorship over democracy.

And now, to George W Bush; Blair’s partner in starting the Iraq war, because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction … sorry, that was a liebecause Iraq was part of a conspiracy planning the 9/1 atrocities in the USA … sorry, that was a lie as well … because Bush and Blair wanted so much to bring democracy to Iraq … sorry, that was … etc.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Five times former President George Bush ‘legitimised’ repressive regimes

Alex Horne

Sunday 12 April 2015

On 10 April, Barack Obama ended a political stalemate that has lasted half a century when he shook hands with President Raúl Castro of Cuba.

The President described the meeting, which was almost universally hailed as a positive breakthough, as “historic” – but not everyone was pleased.

The not-quite-presidential-candidate and accidental Latino, Jeb Bush, took to Twitter to ask: “Why legitimize a cruel dictator of a repressive regime?”

Rather than asking his 175,000 followers this question, Jeb could have looked for answers closer to home, starting with his brother, George W, who met with repressive regimes on more than one occasion…

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

George W Bush meets the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Photo by Rex Features

The relationship between the Bush family and the House of Saud is well documented but still unsettling, given the Saudi Royalty’s penchant for fundamentalism and abusing power.

During his presidency Bush met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia many times and was papped in a number of intimate situations with the man.

The king ascended to the throne in 2005. During his reign he set up a secretive committee to ensure the transfer of power within the family, oversaw the Al-Yamamah arms deal and imprisoned hundreds of reformers during the Arab Spring.

Ilham Aliyev

George W Bush meets Ilham Aliyev, dictator of Azerbaijan. Photo by Rex Features

In 1996 Governor Bush made Ilham an honorary Texan for all the good work he did allowing US oil companies into Azerbaijan.

Their relationship remained on good terms when Aliyev was voted to replace his ex-KGB father in 2003. Non-government organizations were banned from monitoring the votes and the election was widely held to be corrupt.

Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld visited Azerbaijan six weeks after the election and toasted his victory.

Years of human rights abuses failed to make Bush rethink his friendship with Aliyev. When he was re-elected in another corrupt election in 2008, Bush congratulated him and said: “We support Azerbaijan’s efforts directed in strengthening democratic institutions.”

Hosni Mubarak

George W Bush meets Hosni Mubarak, dictator of Egypt. Photo by Rex Features

Mubarak had been in power for nearly thirty years before he was ousted during the 2011 Arab Spring.

After the Egyptian uprising, Human Rights Watch said that torture and police abuse under Mubarak were one of the main factors in the protests.

Between 1993 and 2008 there were 460 reported cases of torture and 167 deaths due to ill-treatment.

When Bush met Mubarak in 2008 he said ““I appreciate the example that your nation is setting.”

General Pervez Musharraf

George W Bush meets Musharraf, dictator of Pakistan. Photo by Rex FeaturesGeneral Pervez Musharraf took control of Pakistan in a coup. He suspended constitutional rule twice during his time in office and ordered the detention of 10,000 critics. He has been charged with involvement in the murders of a Baloch leader and Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

George W managed to look past all this, though, calling the general “a leader with great courage and vision”. Bush stayed a night in Pakistan at the general’s request and invited him to Camp David in 2003.

Islam Karimov

George W Bush meets Islam Karimov, dictator of Uzbekistan. Photo Alex Wong/Getty Inmages

For many years the US condemned Islam Karimov’s regime in Uzbekistan. The country’s economy relies heavily on child and forced labour and its security service is infamous for its brutality and widespread powers.

All that changed after 9/11 and in 2002 Bush pledged $500m in aid to Uzbekistan, $79m of which went to the security services. Bush went on to sign a declaration of support for Uzbekistan’s law enforcement agencies.

CIA torturers and their accomplices in other countries

This 9 December 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

USA: “Obama failed to investigate CIA torture allegations,” says HRW executive director

Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director (in English): “President Obama came into office and as far as we know he stopped the torture and that was important. But he has absolutely refused to permit broad investigation of the torture, let alone prosecution of the torturers using the slogan “We are going to look forward not back”. He decided to move on. He had more important things to do than to prosecute this blatant illegality. So, unfortunately, we get this important report form the senate intelligence committee, it’s an important statement of the truth, but there is no prospect of prosecution and that’s a very dangerous state of affairs. Because what that means is that some future president facing a future security threat is going to look at torture as a policy option.

President Obama could have said “No this is illegality, we are going to prosecute this illegality, we are going to be clear that it should never happen again.” But by choosing to move on, to forget about the past, not to prosecute this serious crime, Obama is keeping torture as a misguided, wrongful policy option for some future American president. It’s not too late to change that, Obama still has two more years, so I hope he heeds the lesson from the senate intelligence committee report and recognizes that this was not just wrong, it was not just unhelpful but it was illegal and should be prosecuted.

Another video from the USA used to say about itself:

Obama Does Nothing Despite Horrifying Torture Report – #NoFilter

11 Dec. 2014

This clip is from The Point with Ana Kasparian. …

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released the gruesome details about the interrogation tactics that were used by the CIA under the Bush Administration. Aside from waterboarding, detainees were forced to undergo rectal rehydration and other methods of torture. Should the Bush Administration face prosecution for this?

By Alex Lantier:

US torture report exposes European powers’ involvement in CIA crimes

12 December 2014

The publication of the US Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture has exposed the European powers’ complicity in ghastly crimes of US intelligence. Even though European states’ complicity in CIA torture and rendition operations has been documented for nearly a decade, no European officials have been held accountable.

In 2005, the Council of Europe tasked former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty with preparing a report on secret CIA prisons in Europe. He released two reports, in 2006 and 2007, documenting the complicity of dozens of European states in setting up facilities for illegal CIA rendition and torture. The states involved included Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Albania.

The existence of approximately 1,000 CIA flights and of secret prisons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Bucharest (Romania), Antavilas (Lithuania), and Stare Kiejkuty (Poland) has since been confirmed.

Nonetheless, after the US Senate recognized CIA use of the grisliest forms of torture—including murder, sexual assault, sleep deprivation and forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs—officials across Europe reacted by insisting that they should enjoy immunity.

Top officials of the Polish government, which is appealing a July ruling against it over its role in CIA torture by the European Court on Human Rights, denounced the report. “Certain secrets should stay that way,” said Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Polish prosecutors have been investigating the case for six years, including a two-year investigation of former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, without bringing any charges. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was waterboarded as soon as he arrived at Stare Kiejkuty. One medical officer there noted: “We are basically doing a series of near-drownings.”

Other detainees at Stare Kiejkuty, which housed Saudi, Algerian and Yemeni detainees, were subjected to mock executions with a power drill while standing hooded and naked.

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski lamely claimed that CIA officials did not explain how they planned to use their secret prisons in Poland. “It was a question as we saw it only of creating secret sites,” he said, adding that he closed down the facility in 2003 because “the Americans’ secret activities began to worry” Polish authorities.

Lithuanian officials confirmed that the black site named “detention center Violet” by the US Senate report appears to be the Lithuanian detention center near the capital, Vilnius, identified in a 2009-2010 parliamentary investigation. Lawmaker Arvydas Anusauskas told Reuters, “The US Senate report, to me, makes a convincing case that prisoners were indeed held at the Lithuanian site.”

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi detainee now kept at Guantanamo Bay, has stated that he was kept and tortured at the site. Washington paid the Lithuanian government $1 million to “show appreciation” for operating the prison, according to the US Senate report, though the funds were reportedly paid out through “complex mechanisms.”

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has asked Washington to confirm whether or not the CIA tortured prisoners at its secret prisons in Lithuania.

British Prime Minister David Cameron dismissed the issue of torture and Britain’s role in rendition flights to countries including Libya, saying that it had been “dealt with from a British perspective.” He told the public to trust British intelligence to police itself, as official investigations had “produced a series of questions that the intelligence and security community will look at … I’m satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.”

In fact, the CIA torture report has revealed the advanced state of collapse of democratic forms of rule not only in the United States, but also in Europe. What has emerged across Europe since the September 11 attacks is the framework of a police state far more technically powerful than even the most ruthless dictatorships of twentieth-century Europe. The methods deployed as part of the “war on terror” will also be used against opposition in the working class to unpopular policies of austerity and war.

European governments participate in the digital spying on telecommunications and Internet activities of the European population, carried out by the US National Security Agency and its local counterparts, as revealed by Edward Snowden. They also are planning joint repression of social protests, based on talks between German federal police, France’s Gendarmerie, and other security forces with the European Commission.

“During my investigation, people called me a traitor and said I was making things up,” Marty told the Tribune de Genève. “The Europeans disappointed me. Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others blocked the establishment of the truth. In fact, most European countries actively participated in a system that legitimated large-scale state crimes.”

“I think we must recall, and it is very important, that this operation, this anti-terrorist policy, was decided and carried out under the aegis of NATO,” Marty told Swiss television channel RTS.

“The United States invoked Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that if one member of the alliance is attacked militarily [e.g., as Washington claimed, on September 11], all NATO members are required to come to its aid,” Marty said. Once this was accepted, he added, “there were a whole series of secret accords between the United States and European powers. And all the European countries pledged to grant total immunity to CIA agents, which is manifestly illegal.”

The European powers’ participation in the CIA torture program underscores the utter hypocrisy of the humanitarian pretensions used to justify operations ranging from NATO wars in Syria and Libya to this February’s NATO-backed, fascist-led putsch in Ukraine.

The ferocious opposition of the European ruling elites to attempts to bring this criminality to light is the clearest indication that the democratic rights of the population cannot be secured by appeals to any section of the state. The defense of the population’s democratic and social rights is a question of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against European capitalism.

This video is called How The CIA Tortured Terror Suspects In Uzbekistan. It says about itself:

The West’s Torture Farm (2005) – How the United States shipped torture suspects to Uzbekistan.

Watch Torturing Democracy, Journeyman’s collected playlist on CIA torture.

By Mike Head in Australia:

Successive Australian governments complicit in US torture

12 December 2014

Successive Australian governments, Labor and Liberal-National, have directly collaborated, or systematically covered up Canberra’s involvement, in the CIA torture regime that was partially revealed in this week’s US Senate Intelligence Committee report.

Despite being heavily redacted, the 500-page unclassified executive summary of the report on US torture describes, in detail, brutal crimes that clearly violate the Geneva War Conventions and the Convention against Torture.

In response, there has been a deafening silence within the Australian political establishment. Not a word of condemnation of the United States government has been heard from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his ministers, or any of their predecessors, Labor or Coalition. Nor have the Greens uttered a word.

If a similar report had been issued in China, Russia or Syria, or any other country targeted by Washington and its allies, there would have been non-stop cries of “war crimes” and “human rights abuses.”

This line-up speaks volumes about the readiness of all these parties to continue their complicity in the unspeakable abuses committed by Washington, and to utilise similar methods themselves.

The practices described in the Senate report—such as prolonged sleep deprivation, head-banging, sensory deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and confinement in stress positions—match those inflicted on three known Australian victims: Guantánamo Bay detainees David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib; and Jack Thomas, who was tortured in Pakistan.

In the US, the Republican Bush administration authorised the “enhanced interrogation program” and the Democrat Obama administration blocked all efforts to hold accountable those responsible. In Australia, the Howard Coalition government was a willing partner in the torture program and the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments fought tooth and nail to shield Howard and his ministers from political and legal liability.

The whitewashing continues under the current Abbott Coalition government.

A day after the Senate report was released, David Hicks challenged Attorney-General George Brandis at an official human rights function in Sydney. “I was tortured for five-and-a-half years in Guantánamo Bay in the full knowledge of your party. What do you have to say?” Hicks called out.

Hicks has previously detailed extensive periods of solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, severe beatings and forced druggings at the hands of his American captors, all with the knowledge and approval of Australian officials.

Brandis, who was a junior minister in the Howard government, scuttled off the stage. Yesterday, he vilified Hicks as a “terrorist.” Brandis’s slander is just another indication that the abuses of fundamental legal and democratic rights committed by the US and its allies will only worsen.

In 2007, Hicks only agreed to plead guilty to a trumped-up US Military Commission charge of supporting a terrorist organisation in order to be released from the Guantánamo hell-hole, where he had been incarcerated for nearly six years without a trial. It was a political fix orchestrated by the Howard government, which was facing mounting public outrage over its collusion in Hicks’s indefinite detention.

Hicks is currently appealing against his conviction, after US courts last year ruled that the charge laid against him was invalid because no such offence existed in 2001, when he was detained.

The Howard government, backed by the then Labor Party opposition, supported the Bush administration’s criminal practices. It echoed Washington’s claims that Hicks was among “the worst of the worst” terrorists and repeatedly denied any knowledge that he was tortured.

Once in office, the Rudd Labor government endorsed an Australian Federal Police “control order” on Hicks and blocked access to government documents on his treatment by the US military.

It was the same with Mamdouh Habib, who also spoke out on Wednesday. He was captured in Pakistan in October 2001 and sent to Egypt under the CIA’s rendition program. Like Hicks, he was tortured with the Howard government’s full knowledge. “I’m suffering when I see every day America accusing people of terrorism and they are the terrorists themselves,” he told reporters.

Habib was finally released from Guantánamo in 2005, without any charge being laid against him, after evidence of his torture began to emerge. In 2007, court documents proved that Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer were given detailed briefings on Habib’s complaints of torture as early as mid-2002. One briefing stated: “[Mr Habib] said he was tortured. Water was dripped on his head and he was administered electric shocks … Mr Habib said he was trussed upside down and his body beaten. He said he sustained broken ribs, two broken toes and bleeding from his penis.”

Four years later, following eye-witness accounts confirming that Australian officials witnessed Habib’s rendition and torture, the Gillard government made an out-of-court settlement with him. After a five-year legal battle against Canberra’s bipartisan coverup, Habib was offered a payment to absolve the Australian government of liability.

In Jack Thomas’s case, the Howard government went further, placing him on trial for terrorism offences on the basis of an alleged confession he made as a result of torture. In January 2003, Thomas was detained at Karachi airport while trying to return to Australia. After being starved, shackled in stress positions and threatened with violence to his family by US and Pakistani operatives, he was further interrogated by Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) officers.

Thomas’s initial conviction was overturned on appeal in 2006. The judges documented, in detail, the torture and “emotional manipulation” inflicted on him, and ruled that the criminal violence made his statements inadmissible.

Not a single member of the Howard government or the AFP-ASIO security apparatus has been held to account for these horrific crimes, despite the violations of international law and the Australian Criminal Code, which makes it a crime, punishable by up to 25 years’ jail, to “aid, abet, counsel or procure” a “grave breach” of the Geneva Conventions.

This week’s silence in the political elite has been accompanied by a dearth of commentary in the mainstream media. A solitary editorial appeared yesterday, in the erstwhile liberal Melbourne Age. It began with the proposition: “Torture does not work. Worse, it encourages extremists and damages the moral credibility and international authority of those using it.”

In other words, the Age’s objections were tactical. If torture “worked,” it would be fine. The editorial further asserted: “The extent of Australia’s knowledge of and involvement in the US rendition program may never be known.” This is nothing but a cover for the Howard government and its Labor accomplices.

None of these crimes is an aberration. They flow from the entirely fraudulent “war on terror,” which serves as a pretext for predatory wars in the Middle East and the erection of a police-state framework at home. Since 2001 there has been a relentless assault on basic democratic rights in Australia, including sweeping “anti-terrorism” laws, large-scale military-police mobilisations in capital cities, and mass surveillance by the spy agencies, as part of the global US network.

Far from lessening its involvement in Washington’s atrocities, Canberra’s part has intensified. US bases in Australia, such as Pine Gap, now play vital roles in the latest criminal program of the CIA and the Obama administration—drone assassinations of individuals, including US citizens, placed on presidential “kill lists.”