Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Torture Flights. And all the rest

One of the most disturbing articles that I have read recently is from the Army War Academy Quarterly. The article written by Ralph Peters in 1997 draws a future vision of the USA. Given that it was written 9 years ago and considering all that has been done by the US in the intervening years, I can't help but draw the conclusion that his vision for the US is being enacted. At the time of writing he was assinged to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, where he was responsible for 'future war'!

Read it on the Information Clearing House site and recoil in horror at the prospect that this mans students are now at the commanding heights within the US military and government departments such as the Dept. of Defense.

To my mind this future world is the natural outcome of the type of thinking which informed the Project for the New American Century.

It has though come to my attention that some supporters of the Project are now changing their minds.

Francis Fukuyama writes in the Guardian that the 'US needs to reframe it's policy not as a military campaign but as a political contest for hearts and minds.'
It's not that the man has ditched the neo conservative project in it's entirity, but the means by which it is achieved.
The US should according to him practise a benevolent hegemony rather than the aggressive type it has been practising. That would ensure American economic, political and cultural dominance.

What he fails to admit in his arguement is that there are many peoples who reject the way of life which results from the excercise of imperialist market economics. That's why the political situation in the South American continent is so threatening to the neo con agenda.

Are we just supposed to forgive and forget the crimes that have been committed in the names of Democracy, Freedom and Liberty?

Because we won't. We never believed that these were the reasons to begin with. It is about oil and the petro dollar. Many of us were not fooled and the truth is seeping out.

Watch this video from ICH. It is about an hour and half long but worth the watch. Calling on an impressive array of experts it discloses many of the lies and deceits which were devised as a justification for the Iraqi war.

Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe writes in the Guardian that yesterday the deadline passed for European contries to submit the information they have concerning the torture flights and secret detentions. He has asked the governments of the member states to explain which laws they have adopted to protect individuals form forced disappearances, secret dententions, and extraordinary rendtions to places where they can be exposed to cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment, but also how they have enforced these laws since January 1st 2000. He promises we will only have to wait days rather than weeks for the results.

In the meantime Jack Straw is really having the pressure applied regarding government knowledge of the torture flights. Peter Hain, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, all join with Germany's Angela Merkel call for the closure of Guantanamo Bay torture camp, one of the final destinations of the torture flights.

The Bush administration thinks otherwise. See here, and here.

Tony Bliar can only repeat that Guantanamo is an anomaly. With more and more leaks about US and UK abuses in Iraq and in the torture camps throughout the Middle East, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, it really does not seem to be anomalous at all, but an accepted and promoted practise. The Foreign Affairs Committee first report is highly critical read it here. The World at One, BBC News, interviewed the chairperson of this committee and played excerpts from Tony Bliar's weekly press meeting where he was questioned on Guantanamo and extraordinary renditions. You should be able to listen again. He sounds like he is getting quite annoyed with the constant questioning on these subjects. He like John Reid is asking for us all to be understanding of the measures used to win the war on terrorism. In other words, excuses are being offered and now local authorities in Iraq have withdrawn cooperation.

Recent disclosures by National air Traffic Services tell us that torture flight planes have travelled through British airspace about 200 times in the past 5 years. Read on the Independent, along with an article concerning a leaked Amnesty report which condems Britains Human Rights record. Amnesty concludes with the statement that detainees in Belmarsh are subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment
There have also been reports that bogus call signs have been used as a way of concealing the true nature of these disgusting flights.
Read more about the pressure on Jack Straw on the BBC site. Note there is a section on the right where you can have your say. Have a read at some of the comments. Contributions have come from all over the world. I am surprised though that the 'debate' has been closed and that you can no longer add a comment of your own. Surprising, in view of the fact that new reports are coming in and more are expected. Maybe the BBC will reopen the debate.

Another story concerning the use of the new anti terror laws here in Britain concerns the filmakers, actors and their real life counterparts, in the new movie The Road to Guantanamo. They were all detained at London Luton Airport on their return from the Berlin Film Festival . As Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, who has represented some of the Guantanamo detainees says, 'This may be a farce, but it is an ugly farce. The film won a Silver Bear Award and will be screened on Channel 4 on March 9th. Not to be missed. Read more about this story and others on Craig Murray's site. Check out Craig's posting on Uzbekistan while you are there.

While many of us wonder how it is that American citizens can allow their president to acquire an unprecednted level of political power, we seemnot have noticed that something similar is happening here in Britain. The Mother of Parliaments is being robbed of it's voice. OUR voice. The proposed Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill could do away with debate, parliamentary procedures and even jury trials. Read about it here on the BBC news site.

I found an excellent resource in another blog. This one I reckon is from Ireland. The blogger has a good list of articles you can access. It's called Extraordinary Renderings.

Check out Indymedia Ireland. You will find information about a candlelight march that is planned for today at 5-o-clock. They want the torture flights to be boarded by the police, for the planes to be searched for radioactive weapons and for an end to the harrassment of peace activists at Shannon airport.

International Womens Day is on March 8th. CodePink a womens anti war group based in the US are calling on women from all over the world to protest on March 8th at US embassies. Lots of links and articles here too.
There is a list of events here and it includes events in London and in Belfast.
Other sites to visit concerning events are, SACC, Stop the War Edinburgh, Amnesty UK Scotland, and Indymedia Scotland.

Another site in Scotland to visit, has been set up by a group which helps asylum seekers who are facing removal. They need support. Positive Action In Housing can be found here.


Good article in The New Yorker.Don't miss this.

I began this post with an article from the War Academy Quarterly and am finishing it with another article from the excellent ICH. It is another writers nightmare. Check your Conscience at the Door:We're Building an Empire.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Torture Flights. Intelligent Design?

It is normal for project designers, when embarking on a grand scheme, to predict public opposition, and millions are spent in marketing the advantages of the project.
Meetings are conducted behind closed doors. After all, the success of the project depends, in part, on hiding the true costs from the public. Be those costs, economic, social or environmental. As with any grand project, modifications have to be made as the project proceeds. It may be that the conditions on the ground do not fit with the initial surveys. Opposition may be stronger than was predicted. The builders may not have the necessary equipment and materials to complete the construction within the projected timescale. Health and safety measures may be inadequate, wages low, few benefits and a prolonged period away from home, family and friends. The workers themselves may be treated badly and commitment to the project falters. Investigations commence, often prompted by revelations by media organisations. Corrupt practises and incompetence’s, uncovered. Supporters begin to question the wisdom of continued support. Managers lose their jobs or are moved to other less important projects. No one is held responsible but a scapegoat is found and someone says sorry for the mistakes.

But the people who commissioned the designers remain firm in their resolve to see the project complete and a newer marketing strategy is hastily put together.

The blueprint for this world crisis is available for us to read. I am referring to The Project for the New American Century. You will find it on the Information Clearing House site.
If you haven't read it before, I urge you now to waste no more time. Read it. Try to find the time to read this bit of research on the Project as well.

There are so many informative articles on the ICH.

The Urgency of Now: Stopping the war on Iran. for instance.

Intelligence,Policy, and the War in Iraq, for another. Ex CIA official, Paul. R. Pillar confirms that faulty intelligence was used to sell the Iraqi invasion to an already fearful American public. Read about it in the Washington Post. The 'cherry picked' intelligence, was not, he says, the basis for the war, but it was part of the marketing exercise.

In the meantime the Iraqi town of Siniyah has become a prison, trapping thousands of civilians inside. People cannot go to work and children can’t attend school. Life is dangerous.

How many more abuses do we have to witness. More importantly how many more abuses do people in the war zones and beyond have to endure?

How many more crimes will be committed in our name before the ‘coalition of the willing’ is willing no more?

The Bush Commission has heard the evidence. The worlds press reports daily accounts of human rights abuses. We see the pictures on our television screens.

We know about the disgraceful and shameful treatment of detainees in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, and Uzbekistan. We know about telephone tapping and mail interception, torture flights, the use of white phosphorus, and the results of the terrible assaults on Fallujah and Tel Afar,

But the Project continues.

All over the world, television companies are transmitting the images of 4 Iraqi youths being beaten up by British soldiers. The soundtrack is sickening. The sadistic pleasure is all too audible. The indifference of other soldiers who witness the beatings and pass by is just as disgusting. These are real children, real soldiers, real beatings, and real pain. If this is how hearts and minds are won it is a dismal failure and more importantly criminal and immoral.

The BBC has reported that the interim government in Basra has suspended communications with coalition forces.

But this is war, dirty and brutal, as every war has always been, and the US and UK, lead partners in the coalition of the willing, say the war must continue.

They keep repeating the same slogan; The War on Terror is for our security. No price is too high.

Millions of people worldwide horrified by the actualities of war are saying the war must stop. Every day, new voices are added to the millions who oppose the war on terror. Rose Gentle, Cindy Sheehan and other Gold Star Families for Peace, and Craig Murray, for instance.

A Scottish based Royal Air force officer, Flight-Lieutenant Michael Kendall-Smith, is taking the first step towards a court martial for refusing to return to Iraq on the grounds that the war is illegal.

US soldiers have fled to Canada and have set up a support group. Courage to Resist.

Like any project this war does get re-evaluated.

Read the statement of Christoff, the director in charge of Iraqi reconstruction. He presented his findings to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Very little has gone to plan.

The Project for the New American Century is not an ‘Intelligent Design’. Over 100,000 deaths are testament to that. Let alone the financial costs, which are now running into trillions.

How many families could have been rehoused after the Katrina hurricane? How many people could have been saved if the money had been spent on making the City of New Orleans secure before the hurricane?

How many schools built or medical centres or debt written off to struggling developing countries? How many hungry children could have been fed.

This war in Iraq and the one in Afghanistan were always primarily about protecting and increasing American economic and political interests. Not the interests of the American peoples, but the interests of capital, financial and industrial. The war on terror has always been an ideological smokescreen every bit as deadly as the phosphorus and uranium tipped shells contaminating Iraqi land, poisoning the soil, the water and causing birth abnormalities.

Now the spectre of a nuclear-armed Iran is the new marketing tool to justify continued US and UK exploitation of another countries natural resources. Another deadly smokescreen that will result in even more horrors, more abuses, more terror. More men, women and children robbed of a future. More severely physically and psychologically injured casualties.

So. What’s to be done?

There are lots of different things that can be done. It doesn’t matter what it is that you do as long as you do something.

Write a letter, an e mail or a send a fax to your representative. Even if all you say is Stop the War.

Find out is there are any motions tabled in your parliament calling for an end to the wars or for police investigations into the torture flights. Urge your elected representatives to sign them.

Join a group, which is campaigning against the wars or the illegal kidnapping, detention and torturing of human beings.

It could be Amnesty, CND, SCND, Stop the War Coalition. There will be some type of campaigning group near you. Find it.

Sign petitions whenever they appear. Quite often the sites I have mentioned have one already waiting for your signature.

Write to you local press or Radio station. They are often looking for new people to correspond with them.

Send messages of solidarity to the detainees in Guantanamo through sites like Cage Prisoners and SACC

Look out for details of marches, and protests in the national and local media and in the independent sector like Indymedia.

Put a poster up in a window, lots of sites will let you download one. Make your own if you have no ink in your printer.

Look out for people leafleting in your town, join them and help.

Get a group of friends together and fly Liberty’s paper aeroplanes and let the local press know when and where.

Invite a speaker from one of the groups I’ve mentioned, to your local church group or social club, student union or any other group you belong to.

Join a political party that opposes these wars. Make your voice heard.

Don’t vote for a party that has supported these wars. But vote. The major political party’s rely on non-voters; apathy is one of the weapons in the warmongers’ arsenal.

Learn about non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. Keep it peaceful.

Participate in the movement for social change in some way.

Get yourself educated.

When I was a student, a long time ago, one of my tutors had a poem of Bertolt Brecht on his wall. It inspired me then. It may help to inspire you now.

By Bertolt Brecht

Praise of Learning

Learn the elementary things!

For those whose time has come

It is never too late!

Learn the ABC. It won't be enough,

But learn it! Don't be dismayed by it?

Begin! You must know everything.

You must lake over the leadership.

Learn, man in the asylum!

Learn, man in the prison!

Learn, woman in the kitchen!

Learn sixty year olds!

You must take over the leadership.

Seek out the school, you who are home

less!

Acquire knowledge, you who shiver!

You who are hungry, reach for the book:

it is a weapon.

You must take over the leadership.

Don't be afraid to ask, comrade!

Don't be talked into anything.

Check for yourself!

What you do not know yourself

you don't know.

Scrutinize the bill,

it is you who must pay it.

Put your finger on each item,

ask: how did this get there ?

You must take over the leadership.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Torture Flights. Telling the Truth.

According to the Mirror newspaper another CIA plane dropped into the UK on Saturday. It was the RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk base.

Of course there is no way of knowing the purpose of the landing. It's hard to believe that the torture flights would still be using UK airports but there again the US and the UK have been pretty brazen about the use of torture as a legitimate means of gathering intelligence.

I hope the plane spotters are keeping their eyes peeled.

Whilst the world media, governments and the blogosphere debate the why's and the wherefores of cartoon depictions of an ancient and revered prophet, Craig Murray, a contemporary truthteller, has been obstructed in the publishing of his book, Murder in Samarkand.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth office is not keen on Craig’s book getting into print. Read about the changes that Craig was willing to make in accommodating the FCO's censorship.

But now Craig has decided to 'publish and be dammed'.

I hope that the British media will give this brave stand of his even half as much coverage as it has to the aforementioned published cartoon.

Craig has sent a message.

As you may know, I have written a book, now called Murder in Samarkand, about what I witnessed of our complicity with tyranny, torture and oil grab in the name of the War on Terror.

Strenuous attempts to clear my text with the government have failed, so we are going ahead without government clearance. No ex-civil servant is allowed to publish memoirs without clearance (so much for freedom of speech). That is a big risk for a publisher to take. I have found an excellent publisher, but they have a major parent company with a 50% ownership stake, and it is vital that we convince them that it is commercially worth the gamble.

I am therefore appealing to people to pre-order the book, which is available on www.amazon.co.uk or www.whsmith.co.uk. If you don’t want to make that up-front financial commitment, you can print out the details from the site, and take it in to a bookstore to order.

You might also consider if you know any institutions or libraries which might order.

I will, of course, make money from the book. But, frankly, after a year of campaigning on these issues with virtually no income, I am not shy about that. This is not a sell – we really do need the orders to be sure to get the truth out.

Craig.

I will be buying your book Craig. I hope that there will be many others who do the same.

Now some info on the vigils that took place last weekend in Scotland.

You will find some photographs on the Scotland Against Criminalizing Communities site. You will be able to access the submission they made to the Parliamentary Committee on Control orders and a letter from a detainee.

Fly the Campaign Plane. Details at Liberty. They have a competition going to see who can come up with the most inventive place to fly your plane. You can download a template for printing out later or they will send you some

Good article in Seven Days The Mag with the Sunday Herald. Taking Politicians at their words.

There's also an article by one of my favourite authors Kurt Vonnegut. In fact there are two. Second one here. Give them a read.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Torture Flights. Another leak hits the headlines.

The leak this time is about a discussion between Bush and Blair regarding starting the war in Iraq. It reads to me like they would have been happy to provoke Saddam Hussein. Information Clearing House covers ths leak.
The Guardian also has an article on the White House leak as well as an article about soldiers who are suing the MOD for the way their lives have been blighted by the injuries they suffered in the Iraqi war.

Good article in the Guardian. It's capitalism or a habitable planet- you can't have both. by Robert Newman .

I agree with that and I don't believe that we will ever have a peaceful planet while the capitalist way of doing business dominates.

The St. Petersburgh Times explains why detainee abuse by CIA operatives and civilian contractors manage to avoid criminal prosecution.
Several good articles in the SSP paper the Voice. I'd start with the front page which is about the death of the 100th British troop in Iraq. Ther's also a good contribution from Morag Balfour, Gie's Peace.

Listen to Craig Murray amongst others including Harry Belafonte give his evidence at the Bush Commission

Remember to visit the Scotland Against Criminalising Communites site for info on the vigils this weekend at Scottish airports. While therehave a read at John Pilgers article on Blairs Bombs.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Torture Flights. Death and more Deaths.

Within 24 hours, a second Scots soldier met his death in Iraq. This brings the number of UK troop deaths up to 100.
More families suffering heartbreak. More children who will grow up without their Daddy. No more unwrapping Christmas presents with a loved parent. No more Birthdays with Dad. No more playing or fooling about having fun. No more goodnight kisses and cuddles. No more letters or phone calls home. More children, wifes, grandparents, friends trying to understand why this sacrifice was deemed neccessary by Tony Blair and his war cabinet.

Allan Douglas was 22 years old. Another young life ended. He had no time to make a family of his own.

Gordon Alexander Pritchard was 32. He leaves his wife with three young children all under the age of 5.

Candle lit vigils were held throughout Scotland. Rose Gentle who attended the vigil in Glasgow said that it is important to remember that these young men were someone's son or father and asked when the troops will be coming home. her son Gordon was killed in Iraq and since then has campaigned ceaselessly to get justice for Gordons death.

In the US another anti war mother, Cindy Sheehan, was arrested. She had been invited to listen to George Bush's State of the Union speech.
The reason?
Her tee shirt bore the number of the US dead.
2245.
She tells her own story on the Information Clearing House.

Two articles to read at ICH are, The US has become a rogue nation. by Paul Craig Roberts and The Pestilent Presidency. by Manuel Valenzuela.

If you have never visited Iraq Body Count, now would be a good time to do so. Civilian deaths in Iraq are enormous.
We will probably never know the true figure.
All for oil and the petro dollar. Listen to this interview with William R. Clark.

Two brief reports in the Guardian concerning the torture flights. US rendition planes did use British airspace.
and MP's investigate British role in torture flights.

Endless War, by Dr.Paul Rogers is also worth a read.

You can find a list of the vigils which took place last night throughout Scotland on the Stop the War Coalition site.
You will find a list of groups based in Scotland which work to bring about the end of the illegal war in Iraq on the Edinburgh STWC site.

You can download and print out posters from STWC. There are heaps of links and resources on this site for you to use. Use them. Please.Write to your MP.
This war must stop.
Visit the Scotland Against Criminalising Communities site to keepup to date on times and places of vigils and marches.
There will be vigils at Scottish Airports this weekend. February 5th. Details on the SACC site.