Friday, December 30, 2005

Torture Flights. Who is applying the brakes

Friday 30th December.


See Craig Murray's site. His new book is about to be published and it would seem that there are some people who do not want all of Craig's account of this time as UK ambassador to Uzbekistan to appear in print.

To quote from Craig's site, '
The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.'

The two documents appear on his site.

See also this Aljazeera report.

The Information Clearing House also publishes the two documents.

Why not save your own copy. I have. Spread the word about. Send a copy to your MSP, MP. Jack Straw the police and any one else you think should read these documents.

There are several good articles on the ICH site today and there is an update on the Guantanamo hunger strikers.

In my newsletter from ICH there was a great quote that I want to share.

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me...It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority. The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied..."The one I feed."


Saturday 31st December

The Scotsman reported that Margaret Smith, a Liberal Democrat MSP wants the Chicago Convention re examined.

About time too. It was drafted in 1944.

More questions concerning the CIA extraordinary rendition flights have been asked in the Westminster Parliament.
See Hansard for a full account.

It seems the EU is negotiating a new air sevices agreement with the US.












Monday, December 26, 2005

Torture Flights. Boxing Day 2005

I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas. I took the day off yesterday but I was aware that there are families who cannot be together at this time of year much as they want to be. I am thankful that my family could be together.

Ireland.

On Friday the Irish Human Rights Commission called on the Irish Government to seek permission from the US to inspect CIA aircraft. They say that assurances from the US are not enough to persuade them that CIA extraordinary rendition flights do not take place. They maintain that the Irish Giovernment is 'obligated' to inspect as a matter of urgency.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Torture Flights. Holyrood Debate.

Saturday 24th December

The atmosphere was electric in Holyrood during the debate. I watched most of it on the telly and was impressed with the passion displayed by all the speakers no matter how they eventually voted. All were agreed that the US definition of torture is not consistent with the definition accepted by us here in Europe and on the wider global stage.
The SSP and the Greens and the independent Campbell Martin were the most courageous in their commitment to stop the torture flights and reclaim for we Scots our integrity as a nation noted for it's enlightened humanitarianism.

The eventual vote grieved me.

The amendments to Frances Curran's motion were in my opinion unnecessary to the principle involved and ultimately scuppered what should have been a unanimous vote for the SSP motion.

But you can read the official report on the Holyrood site and how each MSP voted.

Actions do speak louder than words and on Thursday the Parliament voted for no action.
They voted for a Tory amended motion. They voted for believing Straw, Bliar, Bush and Rice. They voted for maintaining silence and denial about the torture flights.

Two other points I want to make.

I really did think it was disgraceful that so many MSP's absented themselves from the chamber during the debate.

Why were they not there?

I refuse to believe that they were busy doing Christmas shopping or having a long lie or some more 'legitimate' reason for not listening to an excellent debate on such an important issue.

There must have been an agreement not to attend. They should feel ashamed of themselves and understand that private sympathy for the campaign to stop the torture flights is not enough.
Party Loyalty above all other considerations is not reasonable when wrongs are being committed.
The sooner the Scots Parliament becomes responsible for all the issues that are now determined by Westminster the better.

New Labour, North and South of Hadrian’s Wall have failed us, but more importantly, are continuing to fail the victims and the families and loved ones of the victims of illegal kidnapping and torture.

SNP members abstained. I don't get the 'I don't want to take sides' behaviour in this regard. I will remember this when election time comes around. I personally will not be giving them any vote unless they change their tune.

A call for Scottish Independence is a cause I support but if SNP, MSP’s do not have the guts to stand up for Scotland and torture victims then I won’t stand up for them.

Please read the debate and take note of how your MSP voted. Ask them to explain why they voted the way they did. Let Dens Den know what they have to say.

The Glasgow Herald have a good report on the debate.



Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Torture Flights. Dissent

Two reports I found whilst browsing, about the protests at Prestwick, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

The first from the Scottish Socialist Party website.

The second from Cage Prisoners web site.

The SSP need no introduction to Scots. They have campaigned fearlessly for an end to the council tax but more recently for their campaign to stop asylum seekers being whisked off in the wee small hours of the morning to be returned to countries where they face incredible dangers, including kidnapping, torture and murder. These families are being rendered, not by the CIA, but by us. Well, when I say us, I mean 'our government'.

Another issue reserved for Westminster.

Anyway, the SSP figured very highly in the three protests as did the Stop the War coaltion and in Ayrshire the Friends of Refugees Ayrshire, were also supporters.

Cage Prisoners have an excellent site. Spend some time there. You will find the campaign page where they are calling for a national demo in London on the 21st January.

The Scotsman has reported that 50 Edinburgh residents handed in a letter to the American Consulate in Edinburgh yesterday. They are urging the American government to stop the CIA using Scottish airports for refuelling the torture flights. More information on BBC News.

I'll post more reports in the comments section as I find them.

Thursday 22nd.
There will be debate this morning at 10.30, in Holyrood about the torture flights. You can watch on Holyrood live television.

I have sent a letter to Irene Oldfather urgung her to break her silence on this subject.

Dear Irene,

It's not too late to register disgust over the CIA torture flights.
Carolyn Leckie now has a motion condemning the flights and importantly calling for a police investigation.
Given that the police in England are now conducting their own investigation, what can be the justification for the police in Scotland to continue not to.
The Scottish Executive has stated that they will support any police investigation into this illegal and immoral practice.
There will be a debate today in Holyrood, concerning the torture flights and I will follow it with interest and will post the result on Dens Den.
Scotland’s reputation as the Best Wee Country is not standing up to international scrutiny.
Please, I am urging you again to reconsider your position on the issue of the Extraordinary Renditions.
Silence is not an acceptable answer. In my opinion it only supports those who would use our Country for their nefarious purposes.
At this time of the year we should try to remember what Christmas is meant to signify.
I was taught that it was about the birth of the Prince of Peace.
What greater gift then can there be then, than to stand up for those whose peace has been destroyed by the unlawful kidnappings and rendering process which can result in torture.

Stand up for Scotland Irene and for the victims of torture.

Yours in peace.




Friday, December 16, 2005

Torture Flights. Out of the Box

Friday 9.30am

There is a must see Channel 4 video, 'Kidnap and Torture American Style' on The Information Clearing House.

18.00pm.

Visit the Despatches Channel 4 website for more information.

I have only just watched all of this film. I am finding it hard to find words.

I want to cry, I am angry, I am feeling kinda numb.

Assurances. What do they mean? A great big nothing. They mean nothing to me. No, not nothing. They do mean something . They mean, that they don't really meant it when they say 'Let me assure you'.

No weapons of mass destruction, No torture. No state involvment in torture or kidnapping or facilitating torture flights.

Let me assure you George and Condi 'I am not assured.'

I try when I can to avoid seeing or reading accounts of tortures.

I was brought up with war documentaries showing me the realities of war, of camps, of detention centres, and gas chambers. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, of Agent Orange, of My Lai.

I've seen it already.

My children have seen it.

I want for my grandchildren one day to be able to tell their children that all these crimes against humanity are a thing from the past, before 'ordinary people' made it stop.



George Bush has said 'If you are not with us, then you are against us'.

Who are the, 'us', Oh Great Bush?

It ain't me. It ain't millions of other 'ordinary people'.

Is it the 'extraordinary ' people you share your values with?

I am struggling not to give full vent to the stream of vitriolic that is now coursing through me.

Why?

Because I know that violence breeds violence.

I am not a terrorist. I am not a fundamentalist of any kind.


I am not a Muslim or a Christian or any kind of Religous person, but I am a human being and can't, won't, and never will accept, that kidnapping people, drugging them, flying them to countries where there will be sadistic torturers waiting, with razor blades, electricity cables, threatening rape, and denying any of the hard won rights that have been won ,for and by, so called, 'ordinary people', is right. Is ever morally justified.



George Bush, doesn't care. He just doesn't care.

As for the rest of the architects of the' Project for the New American Century', they do.

They care very much.

They care that the interest of BIG money is free to claim everything that will increase the millions to their shareholders.

This value system based on greed and exploitation and an unquenchable desire for power, domination and absolute control, is cracking up.

Like a mirror.

And 'things' just don't 'look' right. The image is distorted by the treachery, and secrecy, and violence, perpetrated by our so called representatives who are supposed to reflect, protect and advance the greatest of all human quests.

The quest to live in peace, love, dignity, security and freedom.

As for Tony Blair and Straw and Reid and Hoon et al. They are not fit to be weilding the power of the state.

The power we have invested in them to wield wisely, justly and with proper regard for human rights is undeserved.
If they can't, don't, or won't care about the victims of renditions leading to torture, why on earth would
we believe that they care for everyone else in some kind of need? Whether that need is for
the sanctuary of asylum, a decent job, or house ,or education, or more basic needs, like food and shelter.

9pm.

Newsnight ran a programme last night where the format was loosly based on trial procedures.

Their programmes are available to watch again for about 24 hours. If you do miss it, the site is still worth visiting. Viewers have left comments there. Click on the Editor's column while you are there.

Saturday 17th

There will not be a public inquiry into the July 7th bombing. But there should be.

Please sign the petition.

Monday 19th

According to BBC reports more than 150 people protested at Scottish airports in Scotland.

Here is a short account from one of the protesters at Prestwick.

good turnout despite the weather.
Around 30 people turned up in the pouring rain to protest against the use of Prestwick airport as a stop over for CIA torture flights.
The airport's slogan of! Pure dead Brilliant! was changed for the day by protestors holdng up banners saying "Pure dead Torture"
Althought the demo was small a wide variety of groups were represented, from community councils to political parties. Speakers from the SSP in the form of 2 MSPs -Rosemary Byrne and Carolyn Leckie were joined by contributions from the young SNP group and Friends of Refugees as well as members of the Stop the War coalitionand a message from Chris Ballance the Green MSP was read out . There were also people from no political or campaigning group They all agreed to be back at the airport if the flights do not stop, and all will be continuing the campaign until no CIA flights come from Prestwick


I went to Prestwick with a small group to hand in a letter for Steven Fitzgerald, the man responsible for managing Infratils asset.

I am writing to you Mr Fitzgerald about the daily reports of extraordinary renditions which are published in national newspapers and other media, not only here in Scotland but also throughout Europe, the Americas and in Oceania

The CIA regularly fly to Glasgow Prestwick Airport to refuel, what we in Scotland call, ‘torture flights.’

It appears that the CIA illegally kidnaps, drugs, blindfolds and handcuffs people they suspect of being terrorists. They then fly them to third countries where there is a real risk of their suspects being tortured. Indeed, we know that tortures have taken place. We have read accounts of these tortures, eg, waterboarding, which the US government have sanctioned as an acceptable interrogation technique or beatings, electric shocks, or the threat of, or actual rape. One victim’s account included his penis being cut with a razor blade

Torture is also illegal. It is also morally unacceptable.

It is also unacceptable that Scottish airports, including Prestwick are being used to facilitate these flights. In fact, Glasgow Prestwick is a favoured refuelling spot.

Do you have any knowledge concerning these torture flights?

I am sure that your company does not want to be associated with them. No decent publicly minded company would. Your company professes the advantages of partnership with local communities, but the community here in Ayrshire do not want our county and our’Pure, Dead, Brilliant’ airport to be party to facilitating the CIA in their extraordinary renditions

In her recent trip to Europe, Condoleeza Rice admitted that a ‘mistake’ has been made in that an innocent man was kidnapped by the CIA and transported to a third country where he was tortured.

But he is not the only one.

When I first read of the CIA’s extraordinary renditions I was appalled to discover that only a few miles from my home these flights land and refuel. I immediately wrote to my MP, Brian. H. Donohoe to express my concern. Unfortunately his reply offered me no assurances that no such illegal practices are taking place.

I would like to remind you that complicity in torture is illegal according to international and domestic law. Individual governments are being advised to investigate these alleged crimes, furthermore, individuals can be held responsible if there is evidence that it was known that the torture flights were or are taking place.

I also wrote to all the MSP’s in Holyrood and many of them are as appalled and disgusted as myself. The European MP’s for Scotland are also against these flights. In the European political arena Westminster and Holyrood many questions have been asked and at present there are motions calling for police investigations to be instigated.

Does your company have any authority to prohibit the refuelling of the CIA owned or chartered flights at Glasgow Prestwick?

If not, can you tell me which institution or individual does have that authority?

If your company does have that authority, will you not use it to stop facilitating this inhumane, immoral and illegal practise?

Does the CIA pay any fees for the services Glasgow Prestwick provides, or is it the private companies who own the aircraft, which pay, what I can only describe as ‘blood money’?

Glasgow Prestwick is a regional gateway for business and our Local Authorities here in Ayrshire are really keen to promote tourism, but the reputation of Scotland and Ayrshire is being brought into disrepute and by facilitating the extraordinary renditions I believe, as do many others, that our Country, county and airports are even bigger possible targets for unwanted terrorist activity.

So many of us here in Ayrshire, Scotland, Europe and the wider global community travel through Glasgow Prestwick and we no longer feel as secure as we should be, because of the CIA policy of abduction to third countries including Guantanamo, Cuba, where we know that torture is routinely practised.

I have sent a similar letter to BAA concerning the use of other Scottish and UK airports asking them to answer similar questions.

I think that I should add that my letter writing campaign has grown since my first letter to Brian H. Donohoe. I started a blog, Dens Den, where the replies to my letter are published and now a new group has been formed which will ceaselessly campaign to end the renditions and torture.

This letter will be published on the site as will your reply should you chose to respond.

I urge you to do all that you can to bring an end to the inhumane, immoral and illegal practise of extraordinary renditions.

I look forward to your response.

Tuesday 20th

Carol has posted reports about the protests in the comments section. Thank you everyone who made it to one of the airports and thank you for all the work that was done to get the protests organised so quickly.

I am hoping now, that more people will try to do something to stop these horrible flights.

Update on Guantanamo marchers.

The marchers spent three days at the base fasting and praying and then returned back to the states.

They were detained for a while and had to explain why they went to Cuba without first getting permission.

But visit their site at Witness against Torture to read their own accounts.


There is an interesting item in the Sunday Times about moonlighting soldiers. They moonlight in Iraq too according to the report I linked to in an earlier post. A Fistful of Contractors.

I have recieved a mail from Ian who wrote to Katy Clark. An MSP. She is concerned about the torture flights.

Read her letter on the comments section of this post.


Wednesday 21st

Good article in Common Dreams.


Another piece on the Privatisation of Interrogation from Democracy Now. You can read, watch or listen.

Here is a message from the Guantaname Marchers.

Dear Friends,

On Saturday, December 17th, the last group of the Guantanamo 25 returned
to the United States, flying into Newark with bags of dirty clothes and a
lot of good stories. We were stopped by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets
Control) and questioned about our activities in Cuba. They went through
our bags, made copies of papers and our passports, and had us fill out a
questionnaire. We are not sure what will come of this "processing," but we
are pretty confident that threatening letters from the U.S. government
will soon darken our mail boxes. We will let you know what happens.

But, enough about us! We want to thank all of you for your prayers and
support and fasting in solidarity with the prisoners. We walked and
vigiled as a group of 25, but we were constantly aware of all of you
walking and vigiling with us.

In the few days since we returned, we have been overwhelmed with
appreciation for our Witness Against Torture. Pressure against torture and
illegal detention grows along with hunger and thirsting for justice.

As we prepare for the holidays, we are especially grateful for everyone in
our communities who had double portions of work while we were gone. We are
also grateful for the work of a few extra hardworking people-- Mike
McGuire, Matt Smucker, David Meieran and Jonathan Greenburg.... their
media and web expertise, tireless phone work and attentiveness to us on
the ground made our witness possible, and made it possible for others to
know about it, and witness with us.

The group will be meeting soon to evaluate the action and consider next
steps. In the meantime, we will continue to update the website
(www.witnesstorture.org). If you have photos or reports from solidarity
actions, please email press@witnesstorture.org.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Torture Flights and the Campaign Against Renditions and Torture

Thursday 15th December.

11.30 am

I have had requests from several people to form an umbrella group concerning Extraordinary Renditions.

Today such a group has been formed.

Campaign Against Renditions and Torture or CART for short.

The first group is Ayrshire based and I hope that other parts of Scotland will set up local groups.

More information concerning CART will be posted here on Dens Den.



Update on Guantanamo Marchers.

The marchers have now completed their 5 day, 50 mile march and are waiting for permission to enter the base. They are at the gates which are 9 miles from the detention camps. They pray and fast while they wait.

So far they have received no word at all in response to their requests to visit the detainees.

They have asked for people to e mail the camp. pao@usnbgtmo.navy.mil

You can learn more about their progress at the website for Witness Against Torture.

6.30pm.

I have received an e mail from John Purvis, one of our European MP's inresponse to an e mail I sent him back in October.

It was worth waiting for.

He replied...

Dear Ms Morton

You may be interested to know that today the European Parliament voted on a resolution to set up a temporary committee to investigate the "presumed use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners" (see attached document). Temporary committees’ powers, composition and term of office are defined at the same time as the decision to set them up is taken, and they can last no longer than twelve months, except where Parliament extends that term on its expiry. You can follow the work of this committee once it is set up on the European Parliament's Committee website: http://www.europarl.eu.int/activities/expert/committees.do?language=EN

Yours sincerely

Judith Crawford
Parliamentary Assistant

The attached document is as follows

JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION

pursuant to Rule 103(4) of the Rules of Procedure,

on presumed use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners

European Parliament resolution on presumed use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners

The European Parliament,

having regard to Article 6 and 7 of the EU Treaty,

having regard to Articles 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights,

having regard to Articles 1, 4, 19, 47 and 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

having regard to Articles 2, 3 and 11 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

having regard to written questions E-2203 and E-2204/05, tabled by Martine Roure, Giovanni Claudio Fava and Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler (PSE) on 9 June 2005 to the Commission and to the Council, on cases of ‘extraordinary renditions’ in the territory of the European Union,

having regard to the EU-US Transatlantic Dialogue and in particular to the EU-US summit of 20 June 2005 and the resulting EU-US declarations on the fight against terrorism and on democracy, freedom and human rights,

having regards to the provisions of the EU-USA agreement on judicial cooperation and extradition,

having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas international terrorism poses one of the greatest threats to society within the EU and to those values,

B. whereas on 2 November 2005 the Washington Post alleged that the CIA had been holding and interrogating terrorist suspects at secret facilities in Eastern Europe as part of a global covert transport, prison and interrogation system known as ‘extraordinary rendition',

C. whereas cooperation in the field of intelligence remains a competence of the Member States and their bilateral and multilateral relations,

D. worried that in the context of the fight against international terrorism that has been conducted since 9/11, fundamental European and international rights have apparently been violated,

E. whereas allegedly these and other terrorist suspects are in US or foreign custody as ‘ghost detainees’, meaning that they may have been kidnapped and are detained incommunicado without any legal rights or access to counsel or the Red Cross/Red Crescent,

F. whereas such detainees may be subject to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or torture,

G. whereas judicial, parliamentary or official inquiries have been launched in several Member States to investigate the alleged role of the CIA in the abduction and subsequent transport and illegal detention of these ‘ghost detainees’,

H. whereas such inquiries, as well as press disclosures and reports by NGOs such as Human Rights Watch have indicated codes and references of the aircraft and airport facilities allegedly used by the CIA for the transport of suspects subject to extraordinary rendition,

I. whereas any aid or assistance to agents of another State in conduct amounting to secret deprivation of liberty and torture, including aid or assistance in the transportation by aircraft and use of airport facilities, is also a violation of Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights,

J. whereas on 21 November 2005 the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe set up an inquiry into these allegations under Article 52 of the ECHR, asking the 45 governments that are parties to the ECHR to provide answers by 21 February 2006,

K. whereas the matter has legal, moral and security implications for the conduct of the fight against terror that the European Union has pledged to fight and win,

L. whereas the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has appointed a rapporteur, Dick Marty, to lead this inquiry,

M. whereas it is of the utmost importance to carry out a full investigation into any allegation of US breaches of human rights and the rule of law and the complicity of European governments, given the very serious implications for the respect of fundamental rights in the European Union,

1. Reaffirms its determination in the fight against terrorism but stresses that this fight cannot be won by sacrificing the very principles that terrorism seeks to destroy, notably that the protection of fundamental rights must never be compromised;

2. Expresses the belief that the fight against terrorism must be fought by legal means and that this new kind of war must be won while respecting international law and with a responsible attitude on the part of governments and public opinion alike;

3. Strongly condemns any use of torture, including cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;

4. Recalls that Article 6 of the EU Treaty obliges the Union and Member States to respect fundamental rights as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and as they result from the Member States’ common constitutional traditions, and that international obligations as well as those common principles forbid the use of torture;

5. Recalls that Article 7 of the EU Treaty foresees the possibility for the EU, in the event of a serious and persistent violation of fundamental rights by a Member State or of the risk thereof, to suspend certain rights, including the right to vote in Council, as recently restated by Commission Vice-President Frattini;

6. Expresses its deep concern at the allegations concerning the role of the CIA in the illegal kidnapping, transportation, secret detention and torture of terrorist suspects, as well as at the alleged presence of CIA secret detention sites inside the territory of the European Union and candidate countries;

7. Stresses that full transparency and mutual respect for basic principles of legislation is essential for a further strengthening of EU-US relations and cooperation in the fight against terrorism;

8. Welcomes the Council of Europe’s investigation into the allegations and urges all Member States promptly to give any relevant information in relation to this;

9. Calls on the Council and Commission to clarify the press reports concerning an agreement of 2003 between the European Union and the United States giving the US access to ‘special’ transit facilities;

10. Calls on all the governments concerned to make every effort to investigate the allegations made so far and to provide all necessary information to the Commission and the Council of Europe;

11. Believes that in parallel with, and learning from, the inquiry of the PACE rapporteur Dick Marty, the European Parliament must conduct its own parliamentary inquiry, which should at a minimum be conducted through a Temporary Committee set up under Article 175 of its Rules of Procedure, and drawing on the expertise of its network of fundamental rights experts, with a view to examining inter alia:

(a) whether the CIA has been involved in ‘extraordinary rendition’ of ‘ghost detainees’ detained incommunicado without any legal rights or access to counsel, subjected to cruel treatment or torture, and transported within the territory of the European Union, including through flights and detention at secret sites;

(b) whether such a practice could be considered legal in the territory of the European Union according to Article 6 of the EU Treaty, Articles 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the ECHR, and the EU‑US agreement on extradition and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;

(c) whether EU citizens or legal residents were among those involved in ‘extraordinary rendition’ operations, illegal detention or torture in the framework of alleged covert CIA operations in the territory of the EU;

(d) whether Member States, public officials or persons acting in an official capacity were involved or complicit in the acknowledged or unacknowledged illegal deprivation of liberty of individuals, including rendition, transfer, detention or torture, whether by action or omission;

12. Is committed to opening the procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union if investigations confirm the allegations that any Member State has given assistance, whether by act or omission, to agents acting on behalf of other governments in conducting such practices;

13. Calls on the 16-17 December 2005 European Council to discuss these issues and demands that the current UK Presidency and future Austrian Presidency, together with European Parliament President Josep Borrell, urgently establish the necessary contacts with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the US Congress, national parliaments and the Council of Europe;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States and applicant countries, the Council of Europe and both houses of the US Congress.


Things are moving. I am sure that persistent public and media pressure is responsible.

I am not saying that there aren't politicians who do care, who want answers and more importantly, want an end to the use of illegal kidnappings and the torture of detainees, but in Scotland, the existing arrangement between Holyrood and Westminster appear to effectively gag the Labour politicians in particular.


I am pleased to say that there are many in the Scottish Parliament who do object quite openly.

Chris Ballance of the Green Party tabled a motion and Carol and myself wrote to the MSP's urging them to sign. Many of them did.
Carolyn Leckie of the Scottish Socialist Party has now raised another motion.

S2M-3709 Carolyn Leckie: Stop the "Torture Flights"—That the Parliament expresses extreme concern following the publication of autopsy reports, obtained under freedom of information legislation, of detainees held overseas who have died in the custody of the US Government which show that, of 44 autopsies of detainees, 21 of the deaths were homicides, 8 of which appear to have resulted from abusive techniques used on detainees, information which can be obtained at http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405/; believes that the admission of Condoleeza Rice about the practice of "rendition" and the latest information that Glasgow and Prestwick airports are the airports most often used for refuelling these alleged "torture flights" means that Scottish airspace and land has been used to facilitate the practice of torture and human rights abuses; believes that, given the widespread awareness of this information, the Westminster Government, Scottish Executive and Scottish police forces cannot claim to have no knowledge of this practice and have an unequivocal responsibility to bring into custody anyone who lands these planes in Scotland or who assists these flights in full knowledge of their purpose; notes that the former Law Lord and judge, Lord Steyn, has said that UK ministers may be guilty of war crimes if they are aware of the flights; believes that the Executive should issue a statement about its intentions in relation to its criminal justice and human rights responsibilities and indicate what it is doing to stop Scottish airspace and Scottish facilities being used for the purposes of facilitating torture and human rights abuses, and further believes that any workers at Scottish airports who refuse to co-operate with these flights and any citizens who take action to prevent these flights, or to bring perpetrators to justice, are upholding international law and should be commended for doing so.

Supported by: Frances Curran, Campbell Martin, Ms Rosemary Byrne*, Chris Ballance*


Only 4 MSP's have signed it so far.

I guess it's back to the letter writing. Please join me.

8.45pm

The BBC has reported the Bush may have agreed to ban torture and degrading treatment of foreign terror suspects.









Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Torture Flights. Blood Money from the Heavens.

Wednesday 14th

At Last. Some people are beginning to get, what I believe, closer to discovering how it is that that Jack Straw can say that no documents have been found that would show that the US and the UK governments have agreed that Scottish and other UK airports have been used to facilitate torture flights.
It's like trying to put a jigsaw together. We have the picture, we have the pieces, but some of the pieces have been obscured or have not been turned up.
We may even have too many pieces and not sure which ones to use.

Well lets try to fit together what we can.

We know the flights take place. We know they land in European countries. We know that people are being tortured.
If, it's true, that no permissions have been sought or given, except for the ones requested by Clinton and agreed to by Straw then there can be only one other way these flights have been able to function.
I am suggesting that after Jack Straw refused the Clinton administration in one case of rendition the US and the US security services had to come up with some other means to get their suspects into the hands of torturers.

By chartering private aircraft they comply with the Chicago Convention. Remember private aircraft don't need sepcial permission.

By outsourcing some of the services needed to fight the 'War on Terror', governments have been able to circumvent domestic and international laws.
There is a superb document written by David Isenberg for a group called British American Security Council.
BASIC for short. It's aptly named 'Fistful of Contractors'.

It's about the roles played by Private Military and Security Companies.

Just as 'Extraordinary Rendition is a fancy name for Torture Flights so it is with the Private Military and Security Companies.

What we are talking about, is mercenaries.

Please try to find the time to read this research report. It is 138 pages and can take some time to download but it is worth the effort.

There are so many listed here I wont list them but I will concentrate on telling you more about a few throughout the coming days.
Most of them are American but some of the biggest are British. And they are raking in the dollars.
That is why Straw is turning a blind eye. He is keeping the business community happy. Without these private firms, the war in Iraq and the wider war on terror would not have been sustained for as long as it has been. They are vital.

But check a 'Fistful of Contractors' for yourselves.


9am.

The Council of Europe are really getting quite serious about this issue.
They are not accusing any government yet of complicity but are strongly advising all national governments to investigate. The evidence they have although circumstantial is piling up and in Senator Marty's words have credibility.

Will our government comply with this advice? Or will they continue to dodge and weave.


3.30pm.

I may of course, be way off target regarding the private Military and Security Companies and the explanation is to be found within the filing cabinets of our own security services. They surely must know how these renditions work.

In the meantime I sent the 'Fistful of Contractors' document to Irene Oldfather my MSP and to Brian. H. Donohoe with a letter.

Dear Irene and Brian,

It has been difficult for me to believe that CIA flights could land and refuel in Scotland and other UK airports without the knowledge or permission of the government.

Perhaps the reason that Jack Straw could find no documents concerning the flights is because none exist in the government’s own files.

I believe though that evidence may be found elsewhere.

I am referring to the filing cabinets of the Private Military and Security firms, which play such a pivotal role in Iraq and in the wider 'War on Terror'

This document, 'Fistful of Contractors', was written for the British American Security Council. I am sure you will have heard of it Brian.

Can I suggest Brian that you pass this information on to Mr Straw.

It may help him answer future questions concerning the role of private companies in Iraq and the 'War on Terror' and may help him to get to root of the torture flights and of the torturers themselves.

I know that the government is aware that there are rather a lot of these companies operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

The quick disappearance of the alleged Polish torture camp may be explained by the fact that these companies are very efficient in moving their people.

I know too that there is some concern about these companies and how they can be regulated.

Hope that this information will be helpful.

I have passed it on to several other people so I suppose the PMC's will come under greater scrutiny now.

Yours sincerely


Brian's researcher replied.

Denise

Thank you for your email to Brian Donohoe MP.

As requested, Mr. Donohoe has passed this information to the Foreign Secretary’s Office for comment. In addition, Mr. Donohoe has requested an urgent meeting with Jack Straw to seek clarification on this issue.

Kind Regards

Nicola

Jack doesn't have an e mail address we can access so that was very nice of Brian to make sure that Jack will get the his very own copy of 'A Fistful of Contractors'.

Wish I could afford to print out a copy. It's hard on the eyes reading 138 pages on a computer.









Saturday, December 10, 2005

Totrure Flights. Chasing them out of the Skies.

Saturday 0.17

Action Planned

An action at Prestwick Airport is expected to take place on December 18th.

For details see Indymedia.

Excellent article in the Nation. It was written as a response to G.W. Bush's statement made in Panama City. The 'We do not do torture', speech.
An hour and halfs drive from where Bush made his statement was the 'School of the Americas.' It has now moved to Fort Benning Georgia. This is where torturers learned their bloody trade. The writer Naomi Klein is concerned that the history books are being rewritten and that Americas use of torture is being presented as a new phenomenon. What she argues is new, is not that torture is a new practise for the US but the 'openness'. She argues that by 'daring to torture unapologetically and out in the open, Bush has robbed everyone of 'plausible deniability'.

Peter Wishart SNP MP for Perth and Perthshire North has asked a question in the House of Commons concerning the extraordinary renditions or more correctly about the workers who service the flights. They may be open to charges of aiding and abetting torture.

I have already raised this issue with the British Airport Authority in a letter. I will write to the owners and managers of Prestwick and we will see if they, unlike BAA, will respond.

I can't remember if I have already given you a link to a valuable resource I use.

It's a voluntary group called TheyWorkForYou.com. You can request notification if your MP asks a question in the house or even if any MP asks a question about something that concerns you. In my case I have asked for notification if my own MP. Brian. H.Donohoe asks any question and also if any MP asks a question concerning the torture flights. There's also lots of other interesting stuff there, like how your MP has voted.
Check it out.

11.30am

Today is International Human Rights Day.

We are aware that there are peace campaigners in Iraq being held by a group who have threatened to execute them.
Today.
We are so far away and have no control over what will happen but that is no reason do not try to help. I know that it is a very small thing to do but you could add your signature to an online petition to help get them released, unharmed. These people have been trying to bring the truth about the realities, the horrors, abuses, torture's and other crimes against humanity that have been committed in Iraq.

Update on Guantanamo Marchers.

Today the marchers will arrive in Guantanamo about 12 miles from the base. They report that today there will be vigils all over the US and in other parts of the world to support Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, to stop torture and to end illegal detentions.

Brave men and women.

Sunday 11th
9.45am.

Poland is now commencing an enquiry into the claims that the CIA have secret prisons or interrogation centres in their territory.
Finland, Iceland, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden are also investigating the claims that their airports are being used as transit points on the torture flight path.

Liberty have sent a letter to Jack Straw and you can find it on the Times Online site.

They want the police to investigate the claims that Uk airports are being used for the torture flights. If they don't they intend to take the case to court.

Is that what we will have to do in Scotland? Our police aren't exactly chomping at the bit to investigate.
A lack of curiosity?
Or have some high ranking officers known for some time.
Maybe they think that their silence offers them some protection from charges of complicity.
What ever the reason for their turning a blind eye, it is apparent that they do not want to investigate or that they have been asked not to by Bliar or one of his advisors within our own security services or even his lawyer.
I'm sure that legal advice will have been sought and that he will know not to say anything that could implicate him.The same goes for Straw and all the rest of them.
They should remenber that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

3.00pm

There is a well written summary about Condi Rice and her recent European visit on the OpenDemocracy site.

6pm.
Browsing through some cabinet documents available on the net I came across a publication named,
Intelligence Oversight. There is a section on Responsibilty and accountability
It appears that the Deputy First Minister for Scotland can sign warrants for serious crimes.
It is hard to imagine that the Government security services have no knowledge about the CIA flights.
They use the information from the torture victims and there has been allegations that British security agents have been present at tortures, providing the torturers with questions.
Did they inform the relevent Ministers of State. Ultimately, it states, the Prime Minister has overall responsibilty.

The document entitled The Handling of Detainees by UK Personnel in Afghanistan Guantanamo Bay and Iraq, covers reports of torture inflicted by US and UK personel. This was one of the documents that I sent to my Local MP and MSP's.

Monday 12th.

On radio 4 this morning I heard Jack Straw say that after a careful search no documents could be found that would show that the CIA asked for permission to refuel at Scottish or English airports.
It's my understanding that under the Chicago Convention, which Cathy Jamieson referred to, no permission is neccessary for private aircraft to land.
I think there needs to be some clarification as to the status of these planes.

Visit Blairwatch today. There's a good article about last weeks Law Lords ruling on evidence extracted by torture. It includes a telegram from Craig Murray to the Foreign and Commonwealth office detailing what he knew about torture in Uzbekistan.





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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Torture Flights, Scotland and Beyond.

The torture flights are now being reported daily in our media. More European countries are expressing their concern about the use of their airspace and airports in facilitating torture flights.
Protest groups have formed and actions against the flights are taking place. I believe that there will be more protests, some of which will take place in Scotland.
I will try to keep informed of any protests, and will appreciate it, if anyone hears of any actions being taken anywhere, if you could let Dens Den know.

In the meantime, I would like to recommend The Sunday Herald, BBC News web site, Craig Murray's web site, and Amnesty UK. I have signed up for the daily newsletter from the Information Clearing House. In todays newsletter for instance there are articles from the Guardian concerning the torture flights. You will also be able to read news reports from all over the world. Another very good site is Democracy Now. It is a US site. It is too easy to forget that not all Americans are oblivious to the realities of this world. Although I do think that there are many people in the US who were shocked by what they learned in the wake of the Katrina Hurricane. There are also some very good articles in the Guardian.




The letter writing campaign will continue and replies will be published. Please write to Chief Constable William Rae. contactus@strathclyde.pnn.police.uk or to your Chief Constable if you live outside of the Strathclyde area.
I have sent Chief Constable Rae a link to documents released by the US Department of Defense concerning autopsy reports on people who have died whilst under the care of US intelligence services.
21 deaths have been recorded as homicide.

Goodness knows how many more have survived brutal interrogation and how many more will die.

Is this the way to persuade non democratic countries to embrace democracy?

7pm

I have just heard a snippet of Harold Pinters acceptance lecture for the Nobel Prize for Literature and think that it's definately worth hearing more. He castigates the US and the UK for the horrible bloody mess of a country, that they have made of Iraq.

You will find the page at the Nobel Prize site. I don't know as yet whether or not he refers to the criminal acts of the CIA regarding the handing over of human beings to torturers but I will be surprised if he doesn't.
Good for you Harold.

7.30pm

I have just read it It is so very, very good. He says what I think a lot us of would say. He really made that opportunity to speak as a citizen. My blood ran cold when he recounted a conversation between a US Ambassador and a Nicaraguan priest.

I've just read that Harold Pinter has been admitted to hospital.

Thursday 12pm
The Law Lords have just ruled that evidence extracted under torture should be ruled as inadmissable. Read more here on the BBC news site.

I have also recieved information that Shannon airport is also being used by the CIA to refuel and that somehow Amnesty have managed to get their hands on flight logs. Read more about this at the Amnesty UK site.

Please write to your Regional Police.

3pm.
I have just read a very good article at the Information Clearing House site. Written by an S. Brian Wilson who at one time was head of an ASAF combat unit in Vietnam. He is now a peace campaigner. He argues that the use of torture is historic and widespread in the US.
From the early pioneers, who slaughtered the Native peoples through to today in Iraq and Guantanamo.
Let us remember though that the early pioneers were from the shores of Britain and the rest of Europe.

Friday 9am.

Witnesses Against Torture are an American group who are on a march to Guantanamo. They arrived in Santiago De Cuba on Monday 5th and will march 50 miles to Guantanamo hoping to arrive there on Monday 12th. I recieved a message from them and I have put it in the comments section below this post. On their site is a solidarity letter to the Commander of the Naval Base at Guantanamo, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush. If you visit the site why not sign their letter.

6.30pm.

Earlier on to day I found out that Prestwick Airport is owned by a private company named Infratil and managed by another called HRL Morrison & Co.

Morrison & Co are an investment bank and will be headed up by the type of person who will put 'profit before people'.
For example, Sreven Fitzgerald who is Chief Executive for Prestwick worked for the Australian Department of Transport and wasresponsible for 'overseeing' the privatisation of Austrailia's airport infrastructure.

Infratil and HRL Morrison &Co. share directors. Lloyd Morrison is not only Chief Executive of Morrison's but also a director of Infratil.

In business anybody's money is as good as anybody else's.

I wonder how much they get in fees from the CIA for furnishing them with a 'torturers stopover' point?