Archive | May 27th, 2016

‘UK trains armies on its own human rights blacklist’

NOVANEWS
Image result for UK HUMAN RIGHT CARTOON
Press TV 

The British government is providing military training to the majority of nations it has blacklisted for human rights violations, a new report reveals.

In a report published on Sunday, the Independent revealed that 16 of the 30 countries on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s “human rights priority” watchlist are receiving military support from the UK despite being accused by London itself of issues ranging from internal repression to the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense, since 2014, British armed forces have provided “either security or armed forces personnel” to the military forces of Saudi Arabia , Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burundi, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Britain is a major provider of weapons and equipment such as cluster bombs and fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in its year-long military aggression against Yemen that has killed nearly 9,400 people, among them over 2,230 children.

Since the conflict began in March 2015, the British government has licensed the sale of nearly $4 billion worth of weaponry to the Saudi kingdom.

British commandos also train Bahraini soldiers in using sniper rifles, despite allegations that the Persian Gulf monarchy uses such specialist forces to suppress a years-long pro-democracy uprising in the country.

Bahraini forces visited the Infantry Battle School in Wales last week, accompanied by troops from Nigeria, the Defense Ministry said.

Nigeria’s top military generals are accused by Amnesty International of committing war crimes by causing the deaths of 8,000 people through murder, starvation, suffocation and torture during security operations against the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists, according to the report.

Andrew Smith, with the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said Britain should not be “colluding” with countries known for being “some of the most authoritarian states in the world.”

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Nasrallah: Saudis want freedom in Syria but in Saudi a tweet gets you 1000 lashes

NOVANEWS

Badriddine

Mustafa Badreddine
American Herald Tribune 

The leader of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, heaps praise on the movement’s military commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in Syria last week, saying he was a front-runner in the fight against Israel.

“Badreddine played a key role alongside [his predecessor] Imad Mughniyeh… in the 2006 war against Israel before assuming several responsibilities including the dismantling of Israeli spy networks,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday.

Nasrallah was speaking to mark one week after Badreddine was killed.

He said Badreddine was tasked with overseeing Hezbollah’s security and military units in Syria since Takfiri militants initiated a war there in 2011.

Hezbollah fighters are combating alongside the Syrian government forces against a range of terrorist groups operating in the war-torn Arab country, including Daesh and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.

The Hezbollah leader said Badreddine was initially directing the Syria operation from Lebanon, but later “insisted” on traveling to Syria to oversee in person the sensitive operation.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah was against Badreddine’s presence in Syria as the group knew of the media controversy that would arise of his involvement in the war.

He noted that Badreddine’s presence in Syria helped Hezbollah prevent the fall of the country “into the hands of Takfiris and their American masters and spies in the region.”

The 55-year-old Hezbollah commander led Hezbollah’s military wing which is helping the Syrian government drive out foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists from Syria.

Badreddine also directed military operations against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and was a frequent target of attempts by Tel Aviv, Washington and its allies to assassinate or capture him.

He was the cousin and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated by Israel in 2008.

He said Hezbollah has not entirely ruled out Israel of having a hand in Badreddine’s killing, but the group has not found any clues during the probe that could directly hint at Israel’s role.

Nasrallah denied speculations raised in some Arab media that Hezbollah did not assign blame on Israel for Badreddine’s killing because it wanted to escape responsibility for retaliation, saying throughout 34 years of confrontation with Israel, the regime in Tel Aviv has never doubted the genuineness of Hezbollah pledges for carrying out such retaliations.

“Our history is a proof that when we vow to retaliate we honor our pledges,” Nasrallah said, adding that Hezbollah would not stand on ceremony to openly blame Israel for perpetrating a crime when the evidence exists.

Nasrallah said Badreddine’s murder came at the hands of Takfiri groups and was orchestrated by those actively seeking to undermine the resistance front, including the United States.

He said, however, that the death of the commander would not lead to Hezbollah withdrawing from Syria. “Badreddine’s blood will push us to a bigger presence in Syria… We will remain in Syria and more leader will go into Syria,” Nasrallah said.

Else in his speech blasted Al-Saud’s calls for « democracy » in Syria and said:

The Saudi regime wants early parliamentary and presidential elections in Syria. But Saudi Arabia from its very inception as a nation-state until now has never had elections on its own soil. There is a ‘king’ and a ‘royal’ family and a dictatorship. Does anyone dare open his mouth against the regime in Saudi Arabia?! If someone dares to post two lines on Twitter, the ‘royal’ family goes crazy and sentences him to 1,000 lashes. What kind of Islam is this?! What sort of religion is this?! This is the ugliest form of hypocrisy!

Nasrallah continued, “This is not about freedom or democracy or elections or constituons! This is about the Syrian government not kneeling! This is about #Syria refusing to be a tool of American-Zionist hegemony. This is because Syria holds on to Resistance, refuses to betray Iran, defends Palestine, demands the return of the Golan Heights and maintains its sovereignty. This is because Syria is still a bastion of Arabism. Mark my words, if Bashar al-Assad was to say right now that he’d become a slave of the US-‘Israeli’ project, the war against Syria would be over tomorrow.”

Hizbollah Secretary Genral concluded his speech by saying: “I say to you with all confidence, throughout our 34 years, we have witnessed worse circumstances than what we’re dealing with today. And with our loyalty, steadfastness and commitment to the ongoing march on our path of Resistance, we shall overcome this new phase as well. In this battle, we are advancing and achieving victories. The Americans, the Zionists and Al-Saud said they’d gobble up #Syria five years ago, but yet Syria still stands today! This is because of the sacrifices of our martyrs. Indeed, Sayyed Mustafa’s blood and the blood of all our martyrs is the fuel which contributes to driving us to victory in this historic defense of the Ummah. Therefore our decision about continuing this fight is a simple one. I say to all of you who propagandized we’d leave Syria because of Sayyed Mustafa’s martyrdom – The martyrdom of any of our commanders has never made us leave any battle. Quite to the contrary, their martyrdoms will only make us increase our presence in Syria. We will be in Syria in greater numbers and different forms until victory. This is how we honor our martyrs and bring defeat to the US-Zionist-Takfiri-Saudi project. This project will fall; this project will be destroyed. I vow to you once more, Syria will never become the tool of our enemies and they will never get control of our region!”

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America Should Rule the World, Says Neocon Infested Think Tank Report

NOVANEWS
Image result for New American Security LOGO
By Stephen Lendman 

The neocon infested Center for a New American Security (CNAS) promotes endless wars on the phony pretext of protecting US security at a time America’s only enemies are ones it invents.

Its aim is solidifying US global dominance by eliminating all sovereign independent states. Several CNAS members hold or previously held key Obama administration posts.

The organization and like minded ones threaten world peace. They publish reports on militarism, terrorism, irregular warfare and national security challenges.

Its conferences feature top US military and government officials as speakers, promoting the gospel of America the indispensable nation with a divine right to rule the world.

Extremist policies groups like CNAS endorse risk influencing policymakers to launch WW III. Unchallenged power alone matters, they believe, no matter the human and material cost.

People everywhere have cause for concern. The fate of humanity and planet earth hang in the balance.

A new CNAS report co-produced by the neocon Project for the New American Century co-founder Robert Kagan (Victoria Nuland’s husband, responsible for replacing Ukrainian democrats with Nazi-infested putschists) is titled “Extending American Power: Strategies to Expand US Engagement in a Competitive World Order.”

Kagan and former Clinton state department official James Rubin co-headed “a group of current and former government officials, strategists and scholars…with the goal of… shap(ing) the national conversation on America’s role in the world during the run-up” to the November presidential election.

They produced a thinly veiled scheme for unchallenged US world dominance – claiming American leadership “is critical to preserving and strengthening the bedrock of today’s international order,” jeopardized they believe by rival world powers Russia and China, along with radical Islamic terrorists groups – ones America created and supports, they left unexplained.

They believe it’s vital to brainwash Americans to believe US world leadership is essential to preserve and extend its new world order dominance globally.

They urge adoption of stealth corporate coup d’etat, anti-consumer, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-fundamental freedom TPP and TTIP trade bills.

They urge America usurp sovereignty over parts of the world not its own, international law ignored. They call “the transatlantic community… both the foundation and the core of the liberal (sic) world order” – now threatened by nonexistent Russian aggression.

They support greater NATO commitment to militarism, including deploying larger numbers of combat troops near Russia’s borders.

They argue for using Ukraine as a dagger targeting its heartland, claiming it’s a way for it to “achieve political and economic stability,” controlled by Washington.

They urge supporting ISIS and like minded terrorist groups while pretending to oppose them. Assad must go, they demand, wanting him forcibly ousted, Syria partitioned on the phony pretext of creating “safe space” for its people to “relocate without fear of being killed by (his) forces.”

They endorse using Syrian territory to “arm, train, and organize” terrorist groups masquerading as moderates. They claim nonexistent Iranian aims for regional dominance must be prevented.

Neocon infested groups like CNAS and extremist policymakers they influence are the greatest threat to world peace – especially if war goddess Hillary Clinton succeeds Obama.

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Pakistan slams US drone strike reportedly killing Taliban chief

NOVANEWS

 

Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour

Pakistan has denounced the US drone strike believed to have killed the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

In a statement issued to the media, Pakistan’s foreign office said the drone strike was a violation of its sovereignty, adding that information about the drone strike was shared with the prime minister and the army chief after the strike.

“It may be recalled that the fifth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) held on 18th May had reiterated that a politically negotiated settlement was the only viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan and called upon the Taliban to give up violence and join peace talks,” the statement said.

Afghanistan’s spy agency known as National Security Directorate (NDS), senior officials in Kabul and some militant sources on Sunday confirmed that the Taliban leader was killed after the US drones targeted his vehicle in a remote area of in a remote area of south-west Pakistan, near the Afghan border, on Saturday.

On Saturday, the US Department of Defense announced in a statement that it had mounted the strike against Mansour “in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.”
File photo shows a picture of the leader of Taliban militant group, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

The Pentagon announced on Saturday that the operation had been authorized by President Barack Obama.

The development comes as relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been tense in recent years over the ongoing militancy.

Senior Afghan officials blame elements inside the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for supporting the Taliban militants and sheltering its leadership, while Islamabad blames the Afghan government for giving shelter to the militants on its side of the border.

Moreover, senior officials in Kabul have been frustrated by what they see as Islamabad’s refusal to honor a pledge to force Taliban leaders based in Pakistan to join negotiations.

They have long blamed Pakistan for turning a blind eye to the Taliban militant group whose leadership is widely believed to be based in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, near the border.

The Taliban has seen a string of defections ever since the news about the death of its founder and long-time leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, broke in late July 2015.

Mullah Omar died at a hospital in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi in April 2013.

Pakistan, which wields influence on the insurgent group, mediated the first round of direct peace talks between delegates from the Afghan government and the Taliban last summer, but a planned second meeting was canceled after news broke that Taliban’s founder and long-time leader Mullah Omar had died two years ago. In recent months, a four-member group comprising Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan has been attempting to revive the talks.

There have also been growing differences among Taliban elements over the negotiations, with some vowing to fight for power instead of taking part in the talks.

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Goldman Sachs is funding Hebron settlers

NOVANEWS

Goldman Sachs is funding Hebron settlers

Redice.tv

For years American taxpayers have been bankrolling Jewish-only illegal settlements in the West Bank with hundreds of millions of dollars funneled through tax-exempt non-profit organizations (we’ve covered the issue on Mondoweiss since 2008). One of the organizations which is a frequent recipient of these donations is the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund which supports Hebron’s settler community.

Haaretz reports that Goldman Sachs has a “clear pattern” of giving to Israeli rightwing groups through their Charitable Gift Fund, including the notorious Jewish zealots in Hebron.

From the article Why Is Goldman Sachs Funding the Violent, Racist Jewish Settlers of Hebron?“:

So why did Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund, a foundation connected to the world’s most powerful investment bank and run by Goldman Sachs’ top executives, donate $18,000 to the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund that bankrolls this humanitarian nightmare?

On their IRS tax records, Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund declared the purpose of the gift was “International Humanitarian Program” to needy Hebron families. With revenues of $2,250,000 the Hebron Fund can deliver from hunger quite a few of the 700 Jewish settlers of the city.

Grants to the Hebron Fund are not an isolated occurrence. There is a clear pattern in the Fund’s giving to Israel rightwing groups or their American fronts. In 2012-2013 they gave $708,000 to the American-Israel Education Foundation, AIPAC’s educational arm; $15,000 to the American Jewish International Relations Institute, a right wing organization which “monitors, tracks, and combats anti-Israel voting patterns at the United Nations”; and $6,100 to the American Friends of the Likud Party.

Though the case of granting money to the Jewish community of Hebron is particularly striking, we should see the funding of the Hebron settlement as only one example in the context of hundreds of millions of dollars backing the full range of West Bank settlements.

Of course, Hebron settlers aren’t the only ones experiencing Goldman largesse. Bernie Sanders has made an issue of the $675,000 Clinton received in speaking fees from the investment house just in 2013. And no wonder. Simon Head writes at the New York Review of Books that the connection raises important questions about potential corruption:

These long-running ties with Goldman have paid off for the Clintons. According to a July 2014 analysis in the Wall Street Journal, from 1992 to the present Goldman has been the Clintons’ number one Wall Street contributor, based on speaking fees, charitable donations, and campaign contributions, the three pillars of what I’ve called the Clinton System. As early as 2000, Goldman was the second most generous funder—after Citigroup—of Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, with a contribution of $711,000. In the early 2000s, Bill Clinton was also a Goldman beneficiary, receiving $650,000 from Goldman for four speeches delivered between December 2004 and June 2005. (The transcripts of these speeches do not appear to be currently available.)

By the winter of 2006–2007, however, Goldman and its CEO Lloyd Blankfein were becoming deeply involved in the collapsing housing bubble—and engaging in the practices that have since resulted in years of investigations and lawsuits….

As long as Clinton refuses to reveal the content of her Goldman speeches, the suspicion will remain that she has cast a blind eye on Goldman’s dark years and that her campaign pledge to “rein in Wall Street” cannot be taken seriously.

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Rebecca Gordon: Terror, Torture and US Wars of Vengeance Diminish Our Humanity

NOVANEWS

By Mark Karlin

Truth-out.org

Who will be held accountable for torture, mass killing and assassinations by senior US government officials?Who will be held accountable for torture, mass killing and assassinations by senior US government officials? (Image: Troy Page / Truthout; Adapted: ArtMakesMeSmile, DecadeNull, LoveMissB)

With the Nuremberg tribunal after World War II, the United States helped establish the international principles guiding the prosecution of war crimes. But the US refuses to apply these principles to itself. American Nuremberg makes the case for indicting the officials who have presided over torture, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations and more since 9/11 in the name of national security. Order your copy of this provocative book by donating to Truthout today!

In this interview, Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg: The US Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 Crimes, says if US officials are not held accountable for torture and other alleged war crimes committed after 9/11, the American people and US leaders are likely to allow these crimes to be committed again.

Mark Karlin: When Obama assumed the presidency in 2009, there were a lot of leaked news reports that his advisers were debating prosecuting Bush administration officials for torture. However, Obama decided against it. Why did you choose to address this issue now, in your 2016 book?

Rebecca Gordon: Because here it is 2016, and no one has been held accountable for the crimes committed in the so-called war on terror. One result is what we’ve seen during the current season of primary elections: Republican candidates for president are competing to see who can promise to commit the most crimes.

“There’s a reason why there are laws against starting wars, and that is because war creates so much painful death and human misery.”

We’ve heard Ben Carson [the former GOP candidate] say he was okay with the deaths of thousands of children if that’s what it takes to defeat ISIS. We’ve heard Ted Cruz offer to carpet bomb them into submission, and promise to “find out” whether sand can glow in the dark.” A candidate for president promising to use nuclear weapons! And then there’s the presumptive Republican candidate, Donald Trump, who’s said he’ll bring back waterboarding“and a hell of a lot worse” — along with explaining that the way to get terrorists’ attention is by murdering their families.

The decision not to prosecute — or in some way hold accountable — officials who are very likely responsible for war crimes makes it that much more likely that the next time this country is frightened, we’ll do the same things all over again, or “a hell of a lot worse.”

Rebecca Gordon. (Photo: Hot Books)Rebecca Gordon. (Photo: Hot Books)

Can you summarize what the Nuremberg tribunals were and why they were such an important precedent?

As it gradually became clear that Germany would be defeated in World War II, the great powers — the US, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union — began to discuss how they would deal with the Nazi leaders who’d started the war, and had overseen the horrors of the Holocaust. One option was simply to line them up and shoot them. Instead, they decided to establish a legal tribunal and put them on trial in the city of Nuremberg, Germany. The trials went on for some years, but the best remembered is the first trial of the highest Nazi government officials to survive the war, along with some of their bankers and supporters in industry — 22 men in all.

“Waterboarding has been described in the mainstream press as ‘simulated drowning.’ But there’s nothing simulated about it.”

The Nuremberg trials — imperfect as they were — mark an important step in world history. It was the first time that the international community used legal proceedings to enforce the international laws and customs of war. Individual soldiers had been tried for war crimes before, either by their own countries or their adversaries, but never before had nations come together to try officials at the highest level of government for such crimes.

And some of [the] crimes they prosecuted were also new. The organizing committee chose the name “crimes against humanity” to describe the unprecedented attempt to destroy entire categories of human beings, including of course Jews, Roma, political enemies, the ill and disabled, and social “undesirables,” such as homosexuals and [sex workers].

There was another “new” kind of crime, however, which the Americans and the British fought to have included — crimes against peace, “namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances.” Although the international laws and customs of war had for centuries made it illegal to start a war, it wasn’t until Nuremberg that the world had a way of enforcing those laws.

All these crimes, together with the procedures for trying them, were laid out in a document called the London Charter.

In the Nuremberg tribunals after World War II, both Nazi officials and military personnel were put on trial. Do you believe that would be ideally the case for post-9/11 US war crimes?

To be perfectly frank, I have conflicted feelings about this. On one hand, I believe that people at the highest levels of the US government are responsible for terrible crimes in the war on terror and should be held accountable. On the other, I can’t help but be aware that we’ve been living through an unprecedented expansion of incarceration in this country. We’ve seen our jail and prison population of 750,000 in 1975 rise to the estimated 2.2 million people imprisoned today — a population that is vastly disproportionately made up of African Americans and Latinos.

Clearly, something is deeply wrong with the US criminal justice system and its emphasis on punishment by incarceration, which makes it an imperfect vehicle at best for bringing our war criminals to justice.

Ideally, the people I name in American Nuremberg would be tried in aninternational venue, in trials similar to the ones held at Nuremberg. And there’s an obvious place for that to happen: the International Criminal Court. Unfortunately, the United States is not a party to the treaty that created the ICC. We did sign the treaty, but in 2002, the Bush administration notified the ICC that the US was withdrawing its signature and that the Senate would never ratify the treaty. Congress went even further, making it a federal crime to cooperate with the ICC in trying any US national.

Who are some of the key people you single out as potential individuals who would be prosecuted for their role in authorizing, overseeing or carrying out crimes against humanity, such as torture, extraordinary renditions, assassinations, deadly night raids that killed untold civilians etc.?

They’re the usual suspects: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, and sadly, President Barack Obama for his drone assassinations. The book documents the crimes of at least 30 members of the previous and/or current administrations, CIA’s torture program.

What might surprise your readers more than the names is the action I identify as the most serious of all the crimes or the war on terror. Like the Nazis’ crime against peace, it was the source of many of the other crimes, including the renditions and torture, the assassinations and detentions without charge. That crime is, to quote the London Charter again, the “planning, preparation, initiation [and] waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances.” I am talking about the crime of invading Iraq, a nation which had not attacked the United States, and which did not threaten our nation in any way.

“As a country, we are now more comfortable with torture than we were in the years immediately following 9/11.”

Dick Cheney, his adviser Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and other neocons who’d served in previous administrations walked into the Bush administration with a plan. They intended to overthrow Saddam Hussein, destabilize Syria and remake the whole Middle East in ways they considered more conducive to the interests of the United States. (It’s no accident that those “national” interests happened to coincide perfectly with the desires of the major US oil companies and of Cheney’s previous employer Halliburton, the world’s biggest purveyor of oil field services.)

The plan itself had been kicking around since the 1990s, when its authors first tried to convince Benjamin Netanyahu to adopt it, and later when the Project for the New American Century tried to sell it to President Bill Clinton. It had served as the main agenda item for Cheney’s secret meetings in early 2001 with oil company heads to develop a new national energy strategy. But the terrorist attacks of September 11 finally provided the pretext that they needed.

By September 12, George W. Bush was already looking for “any shred” of evidence tying 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. It is now clear that many of the first tortures the CIA committed, including that of Abu Zubaydah, and under the Pentagon at Guantánamo, were carried out in order to get someone to say that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. He wasn’t, but that didn’t stop torture victims from saying what their interrogators wanted to hear.

There’s a reason why there are laws against starting wars, and that is because war — especially modern war — creates so much painful death and human misery. In modern times, the majority of those who suffer in wars are not the government officials who start them, nor even the soldiers who fight them, but the ordinary civilians who are caught up in them. We don’t know how many people have died in Iraq as a result of the US invasion and occupation. Depending on the counting method, reputable organizations have reported figures between 250,000 and a million excess violent deaths. And that doesn’t even begin to account for the suffering caused by the destruction of the country’s infrastructure, let alone the misery unleashed by the war in a now thoroughly destabilized Syria.

I want to digress a moment. Much of the mass media continually use waterboarding as the only issue involved in US torture or war crimes. However, we have countless evidence that waterboarding was only one form of torture used by the US. We even have photographs in the public domain of prisoners who died of torture at Abu Ghraib. Why do you think the mass media only mention waterboarding, in general, as the only torture conducted post-9/11?

That’s a good question. I think it’s because, unless you know what it is, waterboarding doesn’t really sound so bad. After all, water is the source of life; how terrible can it be?

Waterboarding has been described in the mainstream press as “simulated drowning.” But there’s nothing simulated about it. Interrogators strap the victim to a board and tilt it so his feet are elevated above his head. They cover his face with a wet cloth, and then gradually pour water through the cloth until he almost drowns. The pouring then stops, the victim coughs and/or vomits, and the process is repeated.

The CIA did this to Abu Zubaydah 83 times over two months, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture. At one point during this endlessly repeated ordeal, the committee reports, Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.”

Each of those 83 uses of what was called “the watering cycle” consisted of four steps:

“1) demands for information interspersed with the application of the water just short of blocking his airway 2) escalation of the amount of water applied until it blocked his airway and he started to have involuntary spasms 3) raising the water-board to clear subject’s airway 4) lowering of the water-board and return to demands for information.”

But of course there were many other kinds of torture, as we have known for some years now. These include: rape and other sexual assaults, prolonged isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, excruciating “stress positions,” in which the prisoner’s own body becomes an instrument of torture, rectal “feeding” and “rehydration,” as well as death threats to prisoners and/or their families. The list, sadly, goes on.

You mention in the book that even if such a war crimes trial were convened in the US, it would end up as largely symbolic. Why is it important to conduct it anyway in such a scenario?

I talk about the option of organizing a people’s tribunal. What I have in mind is a serious undertaking, conducted by highly respected individuals, ideally from across the political spectrum. Their charge would be to make a public identification of the crimes committed and the people responsible. Such a group, known as The Constitution Project, began this process in 2013 and issued an excellent, well-documented report on detainee treatment, which found that the “nation’s most senior officials, through some of their actions and failures to act in the months and years immediately following the September 11 attacks, bear ultimate responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of illegal and improper interrogation techniques.”

Clearly, a tribunal of the kind I’m suggesting would not have the force of law, or even subpoena powers, let alone the power of punishment. Still, I think that it could, if done carefully and well, go a long way toward establishing a permanent record of the crimes that were committed — and continue to be committed — in the name of the American people.

Would such a trial possibly help slow down or stop what you wrote about in another book, Mainstreaming Torture?

I think that the failure to bring anyone to trial has contributed to a measurable change in Americans’ attitudes toward torture. Before the September 11 attacks, the majority of people in this country opposed torture. Things changed afterward, but the really disturbing thing is that the longer time stretches since those attacks, thelarger the percentage of Americans who tell pollsters that torture is sometimes or often justified. As a country, we are now more comfortable with torture than we were in the years immediately following 9/11.

Logistically, how would such an “American Nuremberg” be implemented as an actual tribunal with legal standing?

Unfortunately, unless the executive branch develops an appetite for federal prosecutions — which seems very unlikely — we will probably never see an American tribunal with legal standing. Other options include congressional hearings into the waging of the war on terror, which is just imaginable if the Democratic Party were to regain control of one or both houses of Congress; a US decision to join the International Criminal Court and/or individual prosecutions in other jurisdictions, such as Spain or Switzerland, should any of these alleged criminals find themselves in those countries.

In your introduction, you cite that infamous quotation from Richard Nixon in a post-presidential interview with David Frost: “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” That about says everything about the modern-day development of unaccountable and absolute executive power in the US, doesn’t it?

It certainly does. Frost was asking Nixon about crimes that he might have committed, either in ordering the break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate apartment building, or in the cover-up of the break-in. Nixon’s response perfectly encapsulates the attitude of the federal executive in this country today: As the supposed “leader of the free world,” the US presidency holds the power to define both what is legal and what is right. If they did it, then whatever it was, it was legal. And good.

You write that the so-called war on terror has forced us to sacrifice our sense of human empathy. Can you discuss that a bit more?

No regime tortures everyone. Every government that decides to employ torture first designates a particular group of people as legitimate targets. In Chile under the dictator Augusto Pinochet, torture victims were called “humanoid” — to distinguish them in the minds of both the torturers and the Chilean people from actual human beings. Our words are “terrorist” and “Islamofascist,” but the effect is the same — the placing of the enemy outside the human circle. And that dehumanization is the first step toward the destruction of empathy.

I also think that in the last 15 years the federal government has worked to stoke our fear, constantly reminding us of the threat we face. In effect, we’ve been offered a deal, which goes something like this: “Remember that you are in terrible danger from terrorists. Fortunately, you can count on your government to protect you. You let us institute mass surveillance of your email, internet use and phone calls; you let us do what ever we need to over here on ‘the dark side’ — torture, assassination, the occasional undeclared war; and in return, we promise that you will always be safe.”

The things the government has promised and done on “the dark side” are illegal and immoral. Accepting them as the necessary price of “security” makes us ever more willing to accept the next outrage. Indeed, over time we become used to hearing about these crimes, so that it takes more and more to shock us. At the same time, we become more willing to allow anything to happen, if it will ensure our own survival. There’s a word for people whose first and only concern is their own survival. In English, we call them cowards.

But in the end the government’s deal is a lie. There is no such thing as perfect security. As we saw at the Boston Marathon and more recently in San Bernardino, no amount of surveillance, war-making or torture can prevent a few angry and disaffected people from buying guns or building bombs and turning them against other human beings. That is the world we live in. That is the species we belong to. The question is, what kind of human beings do we want to be?

MARK KARLIN

Mark Karlin is the editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout. He served as editor and publisher of BuzzFlash for 10 years before joining Truthout in 2010. BuzzFlash has won four Project Censored Awards. Karlin writes a commentary five days a week for BuzzFlash, as well as articles (ranging from the failed “war on drugs” to reviews relating to political art) for Truthout. He also interviews authors and filmmakers whose works are featured in Truthout’s Progressive Picks of the Week. Before linking with Truthout, Karlin conducted interviews with cultural figures, political progressives and innovative advocates on a weekly basis for 10 years. He authored many columns about the lies propagated to launch the Iraq War.

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Labour leader preparing to call for Tony Blair’s war crimes trial

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) and former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair
Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) and former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is reportedly preparing to call for an investigation into former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes in the wake of a long-awaited Chilcot inquiry into the country’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will publish a 2.6 million-word report on July 6, following seven years of analyzing evidence about how the British government acted before the invasion of Iraq and during the war.

According to a Labour spokesperson, Corbyn will stand by comments he made during the party’s leadership contest last year that the Iraq war was illegal and all those who committed a crime should be put on trial.

“If [Tony Blair has] committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who’s committed a war crime should be [charged],” Corbyn said.

“I think it was an illegal war, I’m confident about that, indeed Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore he has to explain to that,” he added.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair ©AFP

The Labour spokesperson said “we look forward to the release of the Chilcot [inquiry] report into the Iraq war and reading the evidence he has uncovered.”

Corbyn was against the Iraq war and had voted and campaigned against it despite the party’s endorsement of the move under Blair.

Blair told British MPs before invading Iraq that intelligence showed former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “active”, “growing” and “up and running” nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were the basis of launching the war.

In 2004, however, a US report said that Saddam Hussein had destroyed his last WMD over a decade ago and had no capacity to build new ones.

Blair, Straw, Dearlove to get brutal verdict 

Meanwhile,  a former government minister, who asked for anonymity, told the Sunday Times that the Chilcot inquiry report will deliver an “absolutely brutal” verdict on Blair, his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove.

“It will be absolutely brutal for Straw. The build-up to war is very crucial,” the source who had the knowledge of the inquiry said.

“It will damage the reputations of a number of people, Richard Dearlove as well as Tony Blair and others,” the source added.

The former minister further noted that the report also has a second part that depicts how “we really did make a mess of the aftermath.”

Tony Blair pictured with George W Bush in February 2001 at Camp David. ©AFP

The report’s section about the UK’s withdrawal from the Iraqi city of Basra in 2007 was “embarrassing”, the source also said, adding the report would conclude  that the Blair government did not have “the full picture” before invading the Arab country because of Blair’s informal “sofa-style” approach.

Last week, the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond reportedly began rallying support for the impeachment of Blair. Salmond said any prosecution of Blair should be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the inquiry reveals that the Labour prime minister made a secret commitment to former US President George W. Bush to support the war.

The Chilcot inquiry was launched in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown into the Iraq invasion by the United States and the UK and its aftermath that saw British forces remained in the Arab country for six years.

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Britain Is Training The Armed Forces Of Brutal Regimes On Its Own Human Rights Watchlist

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Image result for Britain Is Training The Armed Forces CARTOON

British soldiers are training troops for regimes on the UK’s own human rights watchlist, including authoritarian states such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Burma and Bahrain.

Information released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) shows that since 2014 UK military personnel have given training to 16 countries whose record on human rights is dubious to say the least.

These include countries the UK has recently attacked such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan; Gulf theocracies such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; former colonies Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sudan; and even global rivals such as China.

Burundi, Colombia, Egypt, Somalia and war-torn Yemen also feature on both lists.

The UK recently announced it would be stepping up training in Oman, which, while not featured on the watchlist, is reported by human rights NGO Amnesty International to be rife with abusive detention and torture.

Troops from Oman and Nigeria – a country renowned for internal corruption – have recently been hosted at the British Army’s Welsh infantry school.

UK campaigners have been quick to round on the apparent hypocrisy.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told the Independent the fact the states in question are on the list “is a sign of how oppressive they are.”

The UK military should not be colluding with or legitimising human rights abusers,” he said.

A military spokesperson said all overseas training is carried out according to the UK government’s Overseas Security and Justice Assistance Guidance.

The fundamental right of all humans to fair treatment is intrinsic to all British Military training activity,” he said.

However, the revelation appears to chime with what Amnesty International has branded a global downgrading of the UK’s human rights obligations in favour of alliances and trade.

Following the group’s annual report in February, Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen said British links with China and Saudi Arabia have shown the UK is willing to compromise on human rights.

She said she believed the replacement of William Hague as foreign secretary with Philip Hammond has contributed to the lack of focus on human rights.

Allen warned Britain is setting “a dangerous precedent to the world on human rights.

There’s no doubt that the downgrading of human rights by this government is a gift to dictators the world over and fatally undermines our ability to call on other countries to uphold rights and laws,” she said.

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NeoChristians Use Scofield Bible to Justify War

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Pastor Abandons Zionism: Chuck Baldwin's Shocking Admission

Maidhc O Cathail is author of this well researched piece, which we can not fault so we quote it all. We hope you will visit the author’s website for other interesting works.  Our own film documentary on the subject, Christian Zionism, The Tragedy and The Turning, 29 minutes, is ideal for presentation to church groups who should listen.

Zionism’s Un-Christian Bible

Maidhc O Cathail

“For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgement.”

– The New Scofield Study Bible

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign should widen its scope to target non-Israeli companies who contribute significantly to the oppression of Palestinians. As part of this broader strategy, priority should be given to one of the most egregious offenders, the prestigious British publisher, Oxford University Press. As unlikely as it may seem, the world’s largest university press is responsible for one of the greatest obstacles to justice for Palestinians – The Scofield Bible.

Since it was first published in 1909, the Scofield Reference Bible has made uncompromising Zionists out of tens of millions of Americans. When John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, said that “50 million evangelical bible-believing Christians unite with five million American Jews standing together on behalf of Israel,” it was the Scofield Bible that he was talking about.

Although the Scofield Reference Bible contains the text of the King James Authorized Version, it is not the traditional Protestant bible but Cyrus I. Scofield’s annotated commentary that is the problem. More than any other factor, it is Scofield’s notes that induced generations of American evangelicals to believe that God demands their uncritical support for the modern State of Israel.

Blessing Israel

Central to Christian Zionist belief is Scofield’s commentary on Genesis 12:3. For the sake of clarity, Scofield’s notes have been italicized in the following passage:

“‘I will bless them that bless thee.’ In fulfilment closely related to the next clause, ‘And curse him that curseth thee.’ Wonderfully fulfilled in the history of the dispersion. It has invariably fared ill with the people who have persecuted the Jew – well with those who have protected him. The future will still more remarkably prove this principle.”

Drawing on Scofield’s speculative interpretation, John Hagee claims, “The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God.”

However, as Stephen Sizer points out, in his definitive critique, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? “The promise, when referring to Abraham’s descendants speaks of God blessing them, not of entire nations ‘blessing’ the Hebrew nation, still less the contemporary and secular State of Israel.”

Apparently unaware of this more orthodox reading, The New Scofield Study Bible, published by Oxford University Press in 1984, enhanced Scofield’s interpretation, by adding, “For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgement.” Reading such tendentious comments, a bible-believing Christian could easily assume, for example, that God will punish the 114 countries which endorsed the Goldstone Report.

“Sustained by a dubious exegesis of selective biblical texts,” Stephen Sizer concludes, “Christian Zionism’s particular reading of history and contemporary events … sets Israel and the Jewish people apart from other peoples in the Middle East….it justifies the endemic racism intrinsic to Zionism, exacerbates tensions between Jews and Palestinians and undermines attempts to find a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, all because ‘the Bible tells them so.’”

The incredible Scofield

In his 2008 book, The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary State, Jonathan R. Adelman describes the crucial support Israel receives from Christian fundamentalists as “totally fortuitous.” The incredible career of the man who wrote “the Bible of Fundamentalism,” however, casts considerable doubt on that assertion.

Two years after Scofield’s reported conversion to Christianity in 1879, the Atchison Patriot was less than impressed. Describing the former Atchison resident as the “late lawyer, politician and shyster generally,” the article went on to recount a few of Scofield’s “many malicious acts.” These included a series of forgeries in St. Louis, for which he was sentenced to six months in jail.

Being a “born again” preacher, however, did not preclude Scofield from becoming a member of an exclusive New York men’s club in 1901. In his devastating biography, The Incredible Scofield and His Book, Joseph M. Canfield comments, “The admission of Scofield to the Lotos Club, which could not have been sought by Scofield, strengthens the suspicion that has cropped up before, that someone was directing the career of C. I. Scofield.”

That someone, Canfield suspects, was associated with one of the club’s committee members, the Wall Street lawyer Samuel Untermeyer. As Canfield intimates, Scofield’s theology was “most helpful in getting Fundamentalist Christians to back the international interest in one of Untermeyer’s pet projects – the Zionist Movement.”

Others, however, have been more explicit about the nature of Scofield’s service to the Zionist agenda. In “Unjust War Theory: Christian Zionism and the Road to Jerusalem,” Prof. David W. Lutz claims, “Untermeyer used Scofield, a Kansas city lawyer with no formal training in theology, to inject Zionist ideas into American Protestantism. Untermeyer and other wealthy and influential Zionists whom he introduced to Scofield promoted and funded the latter’s career, including travel in Europe.”

Absent such powerful connections, it is hard to imagine “this peer among scalawags” ever getting a contract with Oxford University Press to publish his bible. Nevertheless, it remains a mystery why OUP chose to endorse such a sectarian work.

Atonement

If there had been no Scofield Bible, American presidents influenced by Christian Zionism, such as Truman, Johnson, Reagan and George W. Bush, would most likely have been less sympathetic to Israeli demands, and consequently more attentive to U.S. interests. Moreover, the American people might have been spared the well-publicized pro-Israeli rants of John Hagee, Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, not to mention the lucrative End Times “prophecy” peddled by Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

But it is the people of the Middle East who have suffered most at the hands of an expansionist Israel, emboldened by the unswerving allegiance of America’s Christian Zionists, who were led to believe that Scofield’s words were God’s will.

Although much needless suffering has already been caused by the Scofield Bible, perhaps it’s not too late for Oxford University Press to publicly disavow its harmful book. Among its many victims are 3.5 million Palestinian refugees whose right to return is fervently opposed by Christian Zionists, who believe that the land belongs exclusively to “God’s chosen people.” At the very least, OUP could demonstrate remorse for its role in promoting ethnic cleansing by compensating those refugees with the considerable profits accrued over the past century from sales of its Zionist bible.

Christian Zionism, The Tragedy and The Turning, 29 minutes, is ideal for presentation to church groups

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Romans 13 Neo-Christians Sorry Excuse for War

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Christian Zionists and Neo-Christians routinely justify the wars of aggression by the United States of America by citing the thirteenth chapter of the book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul. We Hold These Truths’ award winning documentary,Christian Zionism: The Tragedy and The Turning, Part I  was recently challenged by a veteran, who wrote in part: “I am not a Christian Zionist…Charles E. Carlson (at the ~4:00 mark) does not know his bible either.
He does not understand Romans 13, and the fact that the State does wield
the power of the sword.” In this podcast we look at Romans 13 and what should be our take away from it based on a ground breaking article, Romans 13: Neo-Christians Sorry Excuse for War written by Chuck Carlson a few years ago. Did Romans 13 give German Christians the authority to follow Hitler wherever he led them? (29 min.)

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