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Obama making Guantanamo off-limits to press

Obama making Guantanamo off-limits to press

Press TV
September 29, 2009

The Obama Administration is denying journalist access to the Guantanamo detention facility despite pledging ‘transparency’ about the infamous prison.

The reporters, who were previously allowed to peek into the prison while covering military trials of the detainees there, are no longer given such authorization, FOXNews reported on Monday.

Arguing in favor of the decision, Defense Department Spokesman Bryan Whitman said “Past experience has led me to believe it is best to keep these visits focused on the purpose of the trip, which in this case is military commission motions,” not the detention camps.

“…the decision, according to multiple sources, is coming out of Washington and the Defense Department,” said the network’s Catherine Herridge.

“…it is clearly not consistent with the administration’s stated goal of transparency,” she added.

Under the banner of the war on terror, former president George W. Bush set up the facility in a US naval base in Cuba shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Ever since, the prison has earned notoriety for conducting torture-aided interrogations of alleged ‘terror’ suspects.

The White House has now even adjourned the military trials at the Guantanamo, taking away the only opportunity journalists had to access the prison.

Shortly after his inauguration in January, Obama signed an official order to shut down Guantanamo within a year, describing it as a “sad chapter in the American history.”

Recently, however, the White House reportedly decided against the closure, citing legal and logistical complexities surrounding the detention and prosecution of inmates held without any charges.

The recent news blackout came, according to Herridge, after a May incident in which two Chinese detainees at Guantanamo’s Camp Iguana compound “held up signs questioning whether the president was a communist or a Democrat and they questioned whether Mr. Obama was oppressing them because they had not been released five months after the president promised to close Guantanamo within a year.”

“…multiple sources have told us this incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” asserted Herridge. “It was highly embarrassing for the Defense Department and for the White House and this was, interestingly enough, the last trip for the journalists to the camps to cover the commission hearings.”

Over 220 inmates are currently held at Guantanamo, widely regarded as one of many American torture chambers reserved for Muslims with “suspected” ties to anti-US terrorism. Many inmates remain in prison unaware of any charges against them and with no right to a legal counsel.

 



Lieberman Has No Plans To Investigate Blackwater

Lieberman Has No Plans To Investigate Blackwater, Corrupt Iraq Contractors

Huffington Post
October 10, 2007

Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who chairs the Senate committee responsible for government oversight, says he has no plans to investigate Blackwater and other Iraq war contractors accused of potentially criminal wrongdoing. Roll Call reports (sub req’d):

Though Lieberman said he gets “angry when I hear about fraud or corruption in the spending of American dollars,” he said he in part chooses what to have hearings on by “watching who else is doing what,” noting that [House oversight chairman Henry] Waxman has held several hearings on Iraq oversight, as have the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. “You’ve got to set your own priorities, and it was clear to me that other committees were going to pick this up,” said Lieberman.

Roll Call notes that on the day Iraq revoked Blackwater’s license after the shooting of 17 civilians, Waxman immediately announced hearings on private security contractors. Lieberman “announced two firefighting grants for the towns of Bolton and Willington in his home state.”

Lieberman has held only one hearing all year on “reconstruction challenges in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” compared to eight hearings on Iraq and contracting abuses in the House.

 

US detains nearly 25,000 in Iraq

AFP
October 10, 2007

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military is holding nearly 25,000 people in its prisons in Iraq, 860 of whom are under the age of 16, the general in charge of their detention said on Wednesday.

Eighty-three percent of inmates are Sunnis and 16 percent are Shiite, General Douglas Stone told a press conference in Baghdad.

Egyptians, Iranians, Saudis and Syrians number among 280 foreign nationals imprisoned by the US military in Iraq, he said.

There are two prisons run by the Americans on Iraqi soil: one at their Camp Cropper base outside Baghdad, the other at Camp Bucca near the southern port of Umm Qasr.

These prison receive an average of 60 news inmates each day, according to Stone, while the average length of time for incarceration of a detainee is 300 days.

Since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in mid-September, the US military has freed around 50 to 60 prisoners every day.

Civilians killed in military strike
http://www.washingtontimes.com/ar….IGN/110100041/1003

Security guards fired randomly: Iraq official
http://today.reuters.com/news/art…_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ.xml

 



Supreme Court refuses torture case

Supreme Court refuses torture case

AP
October 9, 2007

WASHINGTON – A German man who says he was abducted and tortured by the CIA as part of the anti-terrorism rendition program lost his final chance Tuesday to persuade U.S. courts to hear his claims.

The Supreme Court rejected without comment an appeal from Khaled el-Masri, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that state secrets would be revealed if courts allowed the case to proceed.

El-Masri, 44, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was mistakenly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers and was detained while attempting to enter Macedonia on New Year’s Eve 2003.

He claims that CIA agents stripped, beat, shackled, diapered, drugged and chained him to the floor of a plane for a flight to Afghanistan. He says he was held for four months in a CIA-run prison known as the “salt pit” in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

After the CIA determined it had the wrong man, el-Masri says, he was dumped on a hilltop in Albania and told to walk down a path without looking back.

The lawsuit against former CIA director George Tenet, unidentified CIA agents and others sought damages of at least $75,000.

“We are very disappointed,” Manfred Gnijdic, el-Masri’s attorney in Germany, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his office in Ulm.

“It will shatter all trust in the American justice system,” Gnijdic said, charging that the United States expects every other nation to act responsibly, but refuses to take responsibility for its own actions.

“That is a disaster,” Gnijdic said.

El-Masri’s claims, which prompted strong international criticism of the rendition program, were backed by European investigations and U.S. news reports. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that U.S. officials acknowledged that el-Masri’s detention was a mistake.

The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied el-Masri’s account and, in urging the court not to hear the case, said that the facts central to el-Masri’s claims “concern the highly classified methods and means of the program.”

El-Masri’s case centers on the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects are captured and taken to foreign countries for interrogation. Human rights activists have objected to the program.

President Bush has repeatedly defended the policies in the war on terror, saying as recently as last week that the U.S. does not engage in torture.

El-Masri’s lawsuit had been seen as a test of the administration’s legal strategy to invoke the doctrine of state secrets and stop national security suits before any evidence is presented in private to a judge. Another lawsuit over the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, also dismissed by a federal court on state secrets grounds, still is pending before the justices.

Conservative legal scholar Douglas Kmiec said the Bush White House uses the doctrine too broadly. “The notion that state secrets can’t be preserved by a judge who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution, that a judge cannot examine the strength of the claim is too troubling to be accepted,” said Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University.

The court has not examined the state secrets privilege in more than 50 years.

A coalition of groups favoring greater openness in government says the Bush administration has used the state secrets privilege much more often than its predecessors.

At the height of Cold War tensions between the United States and the former Soviet Union, U.S. presidents used the state secrets privilege six times from 1953 to 1976, according to OpenTheGovernment.org. Since 2001, it has been used 39 times, enabling the government to unilaterally withhold documents from the court system, the group said.

The state secrets privilege arose from a 1953 Supreme Court ruling that allowed the executive branch to keep secret, even from the court, details about a military plane’s fatal crash.

Three widows sued to get the accident report after their husbands died aboard a B-29 bomber, but the Air Force refused to release it claiming that the plane was on a secret mission to test new equipment. The high court accepted the argument, but when the report was released decades later there was nothing in it about a secret mission or equipment.

Press TV’ reporter in Afghanistan beaten by US forces
http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-22/0710094257002956.htm

US Air Raids Quietly Continue to Kill in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
http://www.motherjone….7/09/5612_us_air_raids_in.html

U.S. warns against Turkish action in Iraq
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071009..yJ5AmOgr4c2COttqs0NUE

Iraq tells US to ditch Blackwater
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7035115.stm

 



Monks Killed in Burma Protests
October 4, 2007, 7:13 am
Filed under: Burma, Concentration Camp, Eugenics, Genocide, Gulag, Protest, Torture, UN

Thousands of Monks in Burma to be imprisoned; Thousands more reported dead

Wikinews
October 1, 2007

Several reports coming out of Myanmar today suggest that thousands of monks involved in protests against the Burmese government will “be sent away” to prisons outside of the capital city of Rangoon. Other reports are stating that the number of monks killed by Burmese troops are in the thousands. According to reports by BBC News, at least 4,000 or more monks have been arrested and questioned by government authorities in their recent crackdown on protests favoring democracy for the nation. It is reported that they are being held at the Government Technological Institute, the Kyaikkasan racing track and in a prison called Insein Prison. From these locations, they will be transported to prisons located in the extreme northern part of Burma. The monks have not been allowed to wear their robes and are in shackles, and some of them have been beaten. Many have also initiated a hunger strike, refusing to eat.

Although the Burmese government reports only 10 monks to have been killed, other reports from activists and media agencies say that the death toll is in the thousands.

Pictures have surfaced claiming that thousands of dead monks have been dumped inside the Burmese jungles. Many of the monks who managed to escape capture from troops have dressed in civilian clothing and have begun to hide inside their temples or have fled Rangoon.

“Many more people have been killed in recent days than you’ve heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand,” said a deserter of the Burmese army and a former intelligence officer, Hla Win. He also states that he deserted the army when he was ordered to kill monks in what he called a “massacre of holy men.”

“I decided to desert when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred monks on to trucks. They were to be killed and their bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate in this,” added Win.

An unnamed diplomatic official from Sweden also claims that at least 40 monks were beaten to death, then their bodies were burned.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Gambari, an envoy for the United Nations is in Burma attempting to resolve the issues there and meet with government officials, but he has been unsuccessful so far in arranging a meeting. New reports say that the government is making Gambari wait another day before there will be the possibility of a meeting.

“He [Gambari] will come back tomorrow and he will meet with the senior general tomorrow in Naypyidaw,” said an unnamed U.N. Information Ministry official. Gambari is waiting to meet with Senior General Than Shwe, the head of the junta, to urge a resolution to the violence. This is the second day the meeting has been postponed.

 


Thousands of protesters and monks missing in secret gulag of the generals

Times Online
October 3, 2007

With its rusty barbed wire fence, dense tropical foliage and acreage of decaying buildings, the former Government Technology Institute in Rangoon would be a spooky place at the best of times. In the past week, however, if reports circulating in Rangoon are correct, it has been transformed from an abandoned ruin to a place of mass suffering and repression.

According to Western diplomats and at least one Burmese government official, the technical institute has become a temporary concentration camp for 1,700 of the victims of last week’s brutal suppression of the democracy uprising. It provides a partial answer to one of the lingering questions about the Burmese junta’s crackdown: where are the monks, democracy activists and journalists who have been rounded up and spirited away over the past six weeks?

Despite the international attention given to the quashing of the anti-Government marches, the crackdown remains undocumented. Apart from admitting that 13 people have died, a figure regarded by most observers as an underestimate, the authorities have given no details of the numbers of those arrested and detained.

Most people have vanished without trace, many of them the Buddhist monks who formed the backbone of the tens of thousands of people who turned out last week in Rangoon and Mandalay. “We think that at least 30 have been killed, about 1,400 people have been arrested,” Alexander Downer, the Australian Foreign Minister said. “This is a brutal regime and we’ve seen it at work over the last few days.”

One international organisation based in Rangoon has made a provisional reckoning of 40 dead, based on reports from hospitals, 1,000 monks arrested and 3,000 secular detainees. The only thing of which one can be sure is that somewhere in the country large numbers of people are being held in an invisible prison camp, without charge, without legal recourse and without the ability to communicate.

One of them is Win Zaw, 56, a former university teacher and now a Burmese journalist who works for the Japanese newspaper, Tokyo Shimbun. At 12.30am on Friday he answered a knock on his door to six strangers in civilian clothes. Two of them introduced themselves as representatives of the Home Ministry; the rest remained silent. They told Mr Win Zaw that they wanted him to come with them for questioning.

Since then, despite repeated enquiries to the authorities, his family has heard nothing from him and they are increasingly anxious about his health. Mr Win Zaw is a diabetic and his supply of insulin will run out in nine days.

The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended its visits to prisons at the end of last year after the junta insisted that its delegates must be accompanied by government-nominated observers, a condition that the ICRC insists is unacceptable. In the absence of any concrete information from the Government, foreign embassies in Rangoon do their best to sift through the huge number of phone calls made to them by local people.

Several consistent reports have emerged from this mountain of information of monks and secular detainees being held at former educational institutes and sports venues around Rangoon. The news agency Agence France Presses quoted an unnamed government official who confirmed what foreign diplomats have suspected for days — that about 1,700 people have been held at the Government Technology Institute campus, including 200 women and one monastic novice, aged 10.

Even on the ground it is difficult to confirm such stories, but something is going on at the campus. Armed police and soldiers can be glimpsed through the barbed wire and trees all along its perimeter fence, and guarding its main gate. Many buildings are derelict, but one of the biggest — a blue and green striped warehouse-like structure with a high roof and no windows — has a concentration of soldiers outside. According to AFP it is in a building like this that the prisoners are being detained. Many of the monks have been forcibly deprived of their monastic robes; some have gone on hunger strike, a continuation of the policy of refusing alms from members of the regime as a token of resistance.

The streets of Rangoon continued to be quiet yesterday as the United Nations special envoy on Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, flew out after a four-day visit.

The UN has provided no details of the substance of his trip but he did eventually see the junta leader, General Than Shwe, and has had a second meeting with the detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_wVOdemFgg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apANXJNRSYA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhoZwFqjSi0

Defector: Burma’s junta has executed thousands of monks
http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/node/6491

Burma: Thousands dead in massacre of the monks dumped in the jungle
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/articl….%20the%20jungle/article.do

Burma blogger posts photos of dead monks
http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com/2007/….photos-of-dead.html

BBC: Burmese monks ‘to be sent away’
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7022437.stm

BURMA’S main internet link remained shut for a third day straight
http://www.news.com.au….,22049,22509496-5001028,00.html

Stallone and Crew Saw Myanmar Aftermath
http://www.columbian.com/….tNews/AP10012007news207188.cfm/

3,000 join Burma protest in London
http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/pm/weblog.php?id=P282

Myanmar: Thousands Of Monks To Be Jailed
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7022437.stm

Myanmar: Thousands Of Monks Dead
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages…ldnews.html?in_article_id=484903

 



Martial Law Threat is Real: Lucky that the Military is Breaking Down

Martial Law Threat is Real: Lucky that the Military is Breaking Down

After Downing Street

July 27, 2007

Fbiiraqisbein_mn

The looming collapse of the US military in Iraq, of which a number of generals and former generals, including former Chief of Staff Colin Powell, have warned, is happening none too soon, as it may be the best hope for preventing military rule here at home.

From the looks of things, the Bush/Cheney regime has been working assiduously to pave the way for a declaration of military rule, such that at this point it really lacks only the pretext to trigger a suspension of Constitutional government. They have done this with the active support of Democrats in Congress, though most of the heavy lifting was done by the last, Republican-led Congress.

The first step, or course, was the first Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed in September 2001, which the president has subsequently used to claim—improperly, but so what? —that the whole world, including the US, is a battlefield in a so-called “War” on Terror, and that he has extra-Constitutional unitary executive powers to ignore laws passed by Congress. As constitutional scholar and former Reagan-era associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein observes, that one claim, that the US is itself a battlefield, is enough to allow this or some future president to declare martial law, “since you can always declare martial law on a battlefield. All he’d need would be a pretext, like another terrorist attack inside the U.S.”

The 2001 AUMF was followed by the PATRIOT Act, passed in October 2001, which undermined much of the Bill of Rights. Around the same time, the president began a campaign of massive spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, conducted without any warrants or other judicial review. It was and remains a program that is clearly aimed at American dissidents and at the administration’s political opponents, since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would never have raised no objections to spying on potential terrorists. (And it, and other government spying programs, have resulted in the government’s having a list now of some 325,000 “suspected terrorists”!)

The other thing we saw early on was the establishment of an underground government-within-a-government, though the activation, following 9-11, of the so-called “Continuity of Government” protocol, which saw heads of federal agencies moved secretly to an underground bunker where, working under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney, the “government” functioned out of sight of Congress and the public for critical months.

It was also during the first year following 9-11 that the Bush/Cheney regime began its programs of arrest and detention without charge—mostly of resident aliens, but also of American citizens—and of kidnapping and torture in a chain of gulag prisons overseas and at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.

The following year, Attorney General John Ashcroft began his program to develop a mass network of tens of millions of citizen spies—Operation TIPS. That program, which had considerable support from key Democrats (notably Sen. Joe Lieberman), was curtailed by Congress when key conservatives got wind of the scale of the thing, but the concept survives without a name, and is reportedly being expanded today.

Meanwhile, last October Bush and Cheney, with the help of a compliant Congress, put in place some key elements needed for a military putsch. There was the overturning of the venerable Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which barred the use of active duty military inside the United States for police-type functions, and the revision of the Insurrection Act, so as to empower the president to take control of National Guard units in the 50 states even over the objections of the governors of those states.

Put this together with the wholly secret construction now under way–courtesy of a $385-million grant by the US Army Corps of Engineers to Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc–of detention camps reportedly capable of confining as many as 400,000 people, and a recent report that the Pentagon has a document, dated June 1, 2007, classified Top Secret, which declares there to be a developing “insurgency” within the U.S, and which lays out a whole martial law counterinsurgency campaign against legal dissent, and you have all the ingredients for a military takeover of the United States.

As we go about our daily lives–our shopping, our escapist movie watching, and even our protesting and political organizing—we need to be aware that there is a real risk that it could all blow up, and that we could find ourselves facing armed, uniformed troops at our doors.

Bruce Fein isn’t an alarmist. He says he doesn’t see martial law coming tomorrow. But he is also realistic. He says, “This is all sitting around like a loaded gun waiting to go off. I think the risk of martial law is trivial right now, but the minute there is a terrorist attack, then it is real. And it stays with us after Bush and Cheney are gone, because terrorism stays with us forever.” (It may be significant that Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for president, has called for the revocation of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq, but not of the earlier 2001 AUMF which Bush claims makes him commander in chief of a borderless, endless war on terror.)

Indeed, the revised Insurrection Act (10. USC 331-335) approved by Congress and signed into law by Bush last October, specifically says that the president can federalize the National Guard to “suppress public disorder” in the event of “national disorder, epidemic, other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident.” That determination, the act states, is solely the president’s to make. Congress is not involved.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has added an amendment to the upcoming Defense bill, restoring the Insurrection Act to its former version—a move that has the endorsement of all 50 governors–but Fein argues that would not solve the problem, since Bush still claims that the U.S. is a battlefield. Besides, a Leahy aide concedes that Bush could sign the next Defense Appropriations bill and then use a signing statement to invalidate the Insurrection Act rider.

Fein argues that the only real defense against the looming disaster of a martial law declaration would be for Congress to vote for a resolution determining that there is no “War” on terror. “But they are such cowards they will never do that,” he says.

That leaves us with the military.

If ordered to turn their guns and bayonets on their fellow Americans, would our “heroes” in uniform follow their consciences, and their oaths to “uphold and defend” the Constitution of the United States? Or would they follow the orders of their Commander in Chief?

It has to be a plus that National Guard and Reserve units are on their third and sometimes fourth deployments to Iraq, and are fuming at the abuse. It has to be a plus that active duty troops are refusing to re-enlist in droves—especially mid-level officers.

If we are headed for martial law, better that it be with a broken military. Maybe if it’s broken badly enough, the administration will be afraid to test the idea.

Related News:

Homeland General: Attack ‘Could Happen Any Day’
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/c….av=rss_nation/special

CIA Bin Laden Chief: Next Attack ‘Bigger Than 9/11’
http://www.newsmax.com/sc….12905.shtml?s=lh

Bush Insists Al-Qaeda In Iraq Threatens U.S.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/24/wa….DsnJGXc9wBRegw

Airports warned about terror dry runs
Neocons Press Pakistan Endgame
U.S. threatens action in Pakistan
US academics admit aiding Iran “Democracy Drive”
Christians United for Israel call on US to attack Iran immediately
Sam Brownback: I’m Ready To Strike Iran
Cheney Pushes Bush to Act on Iran
Neocon Bill Kristol expects Bush to attack Pakistan
White House Gets Defensive Over Accusation Bin Laden is Dead
Senior Qaeda figure in Iraq a myth: U.S. military
Old-line Republican Warns ‘Something’s in the Works’ to Trigger a Police State
White House Preparing to Stage New 9/11 – Reagan Official
Former Reagan Official: Bush May Stage False Flag Events To Reinstate Draft
My wake-up call: Watch for another 9/11-WMD experience
Proof Bin Laden Tape Is 5-Year-Old, Re-Released Footage
“New” Osama video released; Update: Mystery solved — new video matches video shot in 2001
Tonkin Gulf II and the Guns of August?
Absurd Terrorism Theories Invade The Homeland
Bin Laden Uncovers Secret Formula to Halt Ageing Process
Another Dubious Osama Tape Appears When The Neo-Cons Need It Most
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U.S. Intel Officer: Al Qaeda Leadership Allowed To Operate Freely
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Terror Commander: New Attack Will Dwarf Failed Bomb Plot
Ron Paul: U.S. In “Great Danger” Of Staged Terror
The Politico Covers Ron Paul’s Staged Terror Warning
Sheehan: Distinct Chance Of Staged Attack, Martial Law
Bush Administration Prays For More Dead Americans
Signal to Attack? Worries Over Latest al Qaeda Tape
Bill Kristol Expects Bush To Attack Pakistan
Bush: Insurgents in Iraq same as 9/11 attackers
Military Analyst: West Needs More Terror To Save Doomed Foreign Policy
White House Claims No Specific Terror Threat
Al-CIAda Has Rebuilt Strength U.S. Says
Iraq’s Al-Qaeda Threatens To Attack Iran
Al-CIAda Cell In The U.S. Or On Its Way
Bush denies al Qaeda as strong today as pre-Sept 11
Olberman Rips Into Chertoff on “Countdown”
Al-CIAda Warns of Fresh Terror Attacks
On Cue, “al-Qaeda” Threatens Iran
U.S. Government Uses Al-Qaeda to Attack Iran
Rick Santorum predicts “some unfortunate events” will give Americans a “very different view of this war”
Officials worry of summer terror attack
NBC: ‘Dirty bomb’ danger at home?
Secret ..: U.S. Fears Terror ‘Spectacular’ Planned
BREAKING: A Potential Attack on Chicago in the Works?
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