Brits beg Obama for Special Dispensation over participation in US torture program

Preppie Crimelords

The government stands accused of seeking to conceal Britain’s role in extraordinary rendition, ahead of the release of a declassified intelligence report that exposes the use of torture at US secret prisons around the world.

The Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation programme, due to be released in days, will confirm that the US tortured terrorist suspects after 9/11…

Now, in a letter to the human rights group Reprieve, former foreign secretary William Hague has confirmed that the UK government has held discussions with the US about what it intends to reveal in the report which, according to al-Jazeera, acknowledges that the British territory of Diego Garcia was used for extraordinary rendition…

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve, accused the UK government of seeking to redact embarrassing information: “This shows that the UK government is attempting to censor the US Senate’s torture report. In plain English, it is a request to the US to keep Britain’s role in rendition out of the public domain.”

Lawyers representing a number of terrorist suspects held at Guantánamo Bay believe their clients were rendered via Diego Garcia. Papers found in Libya indicated that the US planned to transport Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, an opponent of Muammar Gaddafi, and his wife via the territory, an atoll in the Indian Ocean leased by Britain to the US. The government has denied Belhaj was rendered via Diego Garcia, but there are suspicions that others were held on the atoll.

Crider said the UK’s attempts to lobby the US into redacting parts of the report “turns the government’s defence in the Libyan renditions case of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife entirely on its head”…

“The government protested America would be angered if this kidnap case ever went to trial – and now we learn the British government is leaning on the Americans not to air Britain’s dirty laundry. It exposes their litigation stance as mere posturing,” she added.

Confirmation that a British territory was involved in extraordinary rendition could leave the government vulnerable to legal action. Last month the European court of human rights ruled that the Polish government actively assisted the CIA’s European “black site” programme, which saw detainees interrogated in secret prisons across the continent…

The judges concluded that not only was Poland “informed of and involved in the preparation and execution of the [High Value Detainee] Programme on its territory”, but also “for all practical purposes, facilitated the whole process, created the conditions for it to happen and made no attempt to prevent it”, prompting lawyers to ask what else it has been used for since.

The exposure of how far Tony Blair would go to maintain the UK as the United States’ 51st state will open that nation to more than embarrassment for their crimes. Criminal prosecution of the kind already historically required against the United States – should proceed against co-conspirators. Breaking treaties, abrogating human rights on a global scale should have consequences. Citizens of countries committing such crimes have a responsibility to speak out, to demand that the thugs in charge of government should bear the responsibility for those crimes.

Tony Blair and William Hague deserve prison time as much as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Israelis shell a UN emergency shelter — kills 15, injures 200

This is how Israel brings Western democracy to the Middle eastMichael Longari/AFP/Getty Images

At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside…

In an interview with Al Jazeera Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN’s humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said his organisation had been in contact with Israeli forces as fighting closed in on the shelter.

“We gave the Israelis the precise GPS co-ordinates of the Beit Hanoun shelter. We were trying to co-ordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted…”

He called the attack “tragic and appalling”…

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed.

This is a designated emergency shelter,” he said. “The location was conveyed to the Israelis.

“This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.

Thoughtful, concerned citizens of many nations want a UN investigation into Israeli war crimes like this and others. Of course, that doesn’t include representatives from the United States government. It really doesn’t matter how many civilians are killed by Israel’s military – to Congress, the White House, to the less-than-courageous journalists of the center and right mass media.

It has never mattered to the Israeli government or their kriegsmaschine.

United Nations says Israel must remove settlers

Zohan battles a terrorist

U.N. human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.

A three-member U.N. panel said private companies should stop working in the settlements if their work adversely affected the human rights of Palestinians, and urged member states to ensure companies respected human rights.

“Israel must cease settlement activities and provide adequate, prompt and effective remedy to the victims of violations of human rights,” Christine Chanet, a French judge who led the U.N. inquiry, told a news conference.

The settlements contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory and could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations report said.

“To transfer its own population into an occupied territory is prohibited because it is an obstacle to the exercise of the right to self-determination,” Chanet said…

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reacted to the inquiry’s findings by repeating his position that “all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law”…

Israel’s foreign ministry swiftly rejected the report as “counterproductive and unfortunate.” Palestinians welcomed the report, saying it vindicated their struggle against Israel…

…Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO official, told Reuters in Ramallah: “This is incredible. We are extremely heartened by this principled and candid assessment of Israeli violations.”

It’s time to confront American corporations doing business with Israel in the captive lands. Just because the Colonial Israeli government – and Israeli corporations – agree on a policy of Lebensraum makes collaborating US firms no less guilty.

Secret report confirms torture added nothing to our safety

cheney by toles

The public debate over the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” during the Bush-Cheney administration will be reignited in the coming days, thanks to a new congressional report…

President Obama banned the use of torture as one of his first acts in office. But some (though not all) Republicans claim that “enhanced interrogation techniques” on al Qaida operatives following 9/11 kept the country safe.

And a few more, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, even go as far to argue that intelligence from “enhanced interrogation techniques” made it possible for Obama to order the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The contempt I feel for these fascist-minded creeps beggars description.

But a 6,000-page report, scheduled to be approved on Thursday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, is expected to conclude that “none of this enhanced interrogation worked,” according to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff at the State Department during Gen. Colin Powell’s term.

“[Torture techniques] did not, as Cheney has alleged, lead to the killing of bin Laden,” Wilkerson, a frequent Cheney critic, told Ed Schultz on Tuesday’s edition of The Ed Show on MSNBC. “It was counterproductive. It was damaging to our reputation and he’s still lying about it…”

The Senate Intelligence Committee, however, is not planning to make the findings of the report immediately public, The Hill reports. Even if the secretive panel approves the report on Thursday, there will still be a lengthy review process in which the White House, the intelligence community and members of the panel will determine what information can be declassified and released to the public.

Wilkerson believes at least “portions” of the report should be made public.

“We should have some reckoning,” Wilkerson told Schultz. “If we’re not going to hold people accountable, we should at least let the American people know what was done in their name that basically constituted war crimes.”

Torture has been rationalized away in modern times by the worst murderers, the most egregious and arrogant thugs in history. From Himmler to Cheney, these corrupt slimeballs convince themselves of their success by adding crimes against humanity to their roll of deceit and lies.

Governments founded on their lies dishonor the nations they serve, the citizens they say they represent. Though history makes it clear that these torturers demonstrate only contempt for the ordinary people they say they are saving.

US war crimes envoy appears at International Court


A US envoy for war crimes has appeared at the International Criminal Court for the first time.

Stephen Rapp spoke as an observer at the court’s annual meeting in the Hague, saying the US was keen to better understand the workings of the court. The US has in the past refused to join the ICC, which was set up in 2002 to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The court can only try people from countries which have ratified it

Mr Rapp attended the annual meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, which is made up of 110 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute that founded the court in 2002.

He mentioned again the US concerns over the term “aggression” in the statute.

“Our view has been and remains that should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred,” he said.

Once again, our government takes baby steps at repairing the damage of decades of conservative cowardice. Our politicians are so bloody afraid of being adjudged responsible for our actions – political, military and corporate – that we’d rather stay out of the legal process altogether.

Instead of being a force for good, we’ve been a force for non-compliance and copouts.