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By Andy Worthington on Binyam Mohamed
I only ask because two weeks ago, as part of a long-running court case in which Binyam Mohamed, former Guantánamo prisoner and victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture, is trying to persuade the British government to disclose evidence in its possession relating to his illegal imprisonment and torture, the government’s policy of resisting disclosure by whining that it would cause irreparable damage to the intelligence-sharing relationship between the US and the UK entered a critical new phase when a letter was delivered to the British government. Later revealed to Mohamed’s lawyers, it was marked as being the “Obama administration’s communication”, but had the names of the agency involved and the letter’s author blacked out.
I am worried and need your help.
With elections in a few weeks, there is little talk about Germany's troops in Afghanistan nor of the current leadership's support for the terrible U.S. war, which threatens only to expand under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
We in the Peace Movement in the United States once again find ourselves unable to influence the policies of our own government. But you, dear Germany, are in a key position to do so.
Even if it is true that Germany's soldiers are not engaged in combat in Afghanistan (and I strongly doubt that official story), their presence there bolsters the Bush regime's belligerent policies, many of which are being expanded, not reduced, by President Obama. The recent accidental killing of 150 civilians by the U.S. military is just the tip of the iceberg that Germany, by being part of Bush's and now Obama's "Coalition of the Willing," offers for our future.
Bushies claimed missile "defense" in Europe was to protect against Iran. I didn't realize anyone intended to take that seriously until this:
US-Russian Team Deems Missile Shield in Europe Ineffective
By Joby Warrick and R. Jeffrey Smith, The Washington Post
A planned U.S. missile shield to protect Europe from a possible Iranian attack would be ineffective against the kinds of missiles Iran is likely to deploy, according to a joint analysis by top U.S. and Russian scientists.
The U.S.-Russian team also judged that it would be more than five years before Iran is capable of building both a nuclear warhead and a missile capable of carrying it over long distances. And if Iran attempted such an attack, the experts say, it would ensure its own destruction.
"The missile threat from Iran to Europe is thus not imminent," the 12-member technical panel concludes in a report produced by the EastWest Institute, an independent think tank based in Moscow, New York and Belgium.
How and why a Spanish judge might put Bush administration lawyers on trial for actions at Guantanamo Bay.
By Phillipe Sands
It is an interesting legal question: Can a Spanish criminal court prosecute U.S. officials for laying the groundwork for the torture of Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo Bay? A Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, has ordered an inquiry into whether six senior Bush administration officials -- including former Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales -- were responsible for "an authorized and systematic plan for torture," according to a court document. Times editorial writer Marjorie MillerMarjorie Miller asked British barrister and law professor Philippe Sands, author of the book "Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values," to explain the legal underpinnings of such a procedure.
By DANIEL WOOLLS, AP
MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge said Tuesday he will ask the United States if it plans a probe of six senior Bush administration officials accused of creating a legal framework for torture of terror suspects, before deciding whether to open his own investigation.
Judge Eloy Velasco said Spain can act only if the United States has not conducted a torture investigation of its own and does not plan one.
Velasco is handling a complaint filed by human rights lawyers under Spain's principle of universal justice, which holds that grave crimes like terrorism, genocide or torture can be prosecuted here even if alleged to have been committed abroad.
"As we are in a preliminary phase, it seems more in line with our complex system of universal prosecution" to ask the Obama administration what its plans are for the six Bush administration officials named in the complaint, including former US attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Velasco wrote in a five-page ruling.
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have announced that they intend to keep the promise of former president George W. Bush to send $242 million in military aid to Georgia in the 2010 budget.
This comes at the very time that NATO war games are being prepared in Georgia, right on Russia's southern border. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev sounded the alarm about the NATO military operations saying, "“Military exercises can’t be conducted where the war has been recently unleashed. Those who took a decision to conduct them will bear responsibility for their negative consequences."
Russia vows to help South Ossetia and Abkhazia protect their borders against a new Georgian attack that could well come following the NATO war games and efforts by the US to rearm Georgia after their failed attack on Russia last summer. NATO is accusing Russia of destabilizing the Southern Caucasus region by building up its military stronghold on the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The absurdity of NATO blaming Russia for securing their southern border, at the very time the US and NATO are surrounding them, indicates the real agenda underway.
MADRID (AFP) — A Spanish judge on Wednesday opened an investigation into an alleged "systematic programme" of torture at the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp, following accusations by four former prisoners.
Poland's Krystian Zimerman, widely regarded as one of the finest pianists in the world, created a furor Sunday night in his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he announced this would be his last performance in America because of the nation's military policies overseas.
Sometimes an opportunity for reform comes along that is "strategic" in that it changes the playing field for efforts to win other reforms in the future. The passage of the National Labor Relations Act - establishing the right of American workers to organize unions and bargain collectively - was a strategic reform. It increased the power of people previously excluded from power, and thereby reduced the power of corporate interests. But the right of workers in America to organize has been steadily eroded by unpunished abuses by anti-union employers. Passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is easy to justify on the basis of guaranteeing the basic human rights of working Americans. When the Employee Free Choice Act is signed into law, millions of private sector workers will have greater protection from having their rights violated. What difference would that make? Ask Steve Arney.
European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers.
Many European officials and civil liberties groups said they were disappointed by President Obama's opposition to trials of CIA interrogators who subjected terrorism suspects to waterboarding and other harsh tactics. They said the release last week of secret U.S. Justice Department memos authorizing the techniques will make it easier for foreign prosecutors to open probes if U.S. officials do not.
WHAT: Vicenza City Councilwoman testifies before Congress on behalf of Italian citizens opposed to a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy
WHEN: 10 am, April 23, 2009
WHERE: U.S. Capitol Building, H-143
WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, April 23 a delegation of Italian citizens opposed to a new U.S. military base in Vicenza, Italy, will testify before the House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.
Vicenza is a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcase of renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The new base will be located in a residential area completely surrounded by houses and just one mile from the historic city center. Vicenza is already home to several U.S. military installations, including Camp Ederle, which dates back to 1955, and was just recently designated as Army Command for Africom.
Judge wants to keep Gitmo case alive
By Al Goodman, CNN Madrid Bureau Chief
MADRID, Spain (CNN) — A Spanish judge moved Friday to keep alive an investigation into six former Bush administration officials for alleged torture of prisoners at the U.S. detention camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba.
He acted just hours after prosecutors urged the case to be dropped, according to a court document.
Spanish judge keeps Guantanamo probe alive
MADRID, April 17 (Reuters) - A Spanish judge considering possible criminal action against six former Bush administration officials for torture at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay defied pressure to drop the case on Friday.
Rep Sanchez Tells Italians They Must Accept New US Military Base, and That Convenience for Attacking Africa Is Key
Here's an update on Vicenza, Italy, from Stephanie Westbrook:
More here: http://afterdowningstreet.org/vicenza
See below an informal trip report on a recent lobbying trip from Vicenza to DC as well as a rough translation of an interview with Rep. Loretta Sanchez appearing yesterday on the Vicenza newspaper. She was apparently in Venice on holiday and met with Dal Molin Special Commissioner Paolo Costa. She talks about the importance of Vicenza for Africom.
The original is at:
Vicenza and the base at Dal Molin "Here's why Obama wants it"
Vice-President of the "National Security" Committee visits Commissioner Costa in Venice. Loretta Sanchez: "These are options that have been voted by U.S. Congress, and it's not a coincidence that Defense Secretary Gates was reconfirmed. There will be no second thoughts"
Venice. "The military policy of the United States is passed by Congress.
Keith Murphy and David Swanson discuss this on the Urban Journal: Listen.
By David Swanson
The official story is that Spain has decided not to prosecute Bush's torture lawyers. Yet the known facts suggest something else entirely.
1-We know that the prosecutor who initiated this effort wants to prosecute Bush. He wrote about it months ago. We know that he and his colleagues see targeting the lawyers first as a step in Bush's direction and more likely to move forward than a case that starts at the top.
2-We know from Scott Horton's reporting that Spain and the Obama administration have been communicating about this case.
Nice that Fox News couldn't find a talking head in Spain who could stick to their talking points.
[I discussed this on Air America with Nicole Sandler at 1:30 p.m. ET -- DS]
By Scott Horton, Daily Beast
Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantanamo. By Scott Horton.
Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid. But the decision is likely to raise concerns with the human rights community on other points: they will seek to have the case referred to a different judge.
Watchdog removes City of London force, whose officers helped police G20 protests, from inquiry
Earlier this week the Independent Police Complaints Commission appointed the City of London force to investigate the incident, despite its officers having been involved in policing the protest, instead of using its own investigators.
By DIANA JOHNSTONE, CounterPunch
NATO creates threats wherever it goes. That is its business. Whether in Afghanistan or in Strasbourg, the foreign military presence provokes violent rebellion, especially from young men who feel challenged. Their violent rebellion is cited to justify an increase in repressive violence. And so it goes…
This cycle of violence was played out last Saturday, April 4, in Strasbourg, where thousands of police and a small number of Black Block street fighters stole the show from what should have been the launching of a new European mass movement against NATO war policy. The peace demonstration was squashed and disintegrated by armed police as black-hooded youths threw stones and set fires.
By Gaither Stewart
(Rome) Protests, broken heads and hundreds of arrests at the G20 in London, bloody demonstrations in Kehl and Baden Baden and Strasbourg at celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of NATO, workers uprisings across the face of France, and on Saturday in Rome’s Circus Maximus a mammoth manifestation organized by the CGIL trade union underline the abyss separating the New Class of capital from labour. The current and spreading revolt of labour against capital seems to mark the second phase of the crisis of capitalism, as a consequence of the financial crisis caused by the New Class of an elite that has illogically chosen to separate itself from labour in the Occidental world.
ROME (AFP) — Several hundred thousand workers, pensioners, immigrants and students filled a Rome park on Saturday in protest at the Italian government's handling of the financial crisis.
Led by Italy's largest union, the left-wing Italian General Confederation of Labour, many wore red hats or waved the CGIL's red flag as helicopters circled above Rome's Circo Massimo, an ancient hippodrome.
"There's too big a gap between what needs to be done and what is being done," CGIL leader Guglielmo Epifani told the throng, with banners reading "Together to Build a Different Future" and "Down with the New Mussolini."
"It's a pleasure to see the park filled once more," he said, recalling a mass protest in 2002 that drew three million people to the same venue to protest a bill that would have annulled a law protecting against unfair dismissal.
By Marjorie Cohn, San Francisco Chronicle
[An opposing view follows.]
A Spanish court has initiated criminal proceedings against six former officials of the Bush administration. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes and Douglas Feith may face charges in Spain for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay.
If arrest warrants are issued, Spain and any of the other 24 countries that are parties to European extradition conventions could arrest these six men when they travel abroad.
Does Spain have the authority to prosecute Americans for crimes that didn't take place on Spanish soil?
A friend wrote this morning, "The headline should read - Obama talks peace and plans for war."
At the 60th anniversary NATO celebrations President Obama begged for more troops in Afghanistan from alliance member nations. They urged him forward but few countries offered help.
Then in Prague Obama called for the world to get rid of its nuclear weapons. Very commendable.
The Washington Post reported this morning that, "For those worried about a unilateral American disarmament, Obama promised that the country would keep enough nuclear weapons to defend itself and its allies as long as the weapons existed in other nations....He also reiterated his pledge to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe as long as Iran poses a possible nuclear threat to the region."
A new report by Cageprisoners into the involvement of British authorities in torture and rendition details alarming findings that are too recurrent to ignore. Today Cageprisoners publishes, Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in Renditions and Torture, which highlights 29 cases of individuals who have been subjected to renditions or torture with recurrent allegations of the direct involvement of the British officials even before 9/11.
Strongly reminiscent of the case of former Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed, the report details the experiences of Farid Hilali, who, years prior to the 'War on Terror' in 1998, was first tortured in Dubai, UAE and then rendered to Morocco where he was further abused – all with the knowledge and collusion of British intelligence officials.
Spokesman for Cageprisoners, Moazzam Begg, said of the report,
03 April 2009
|Czech honor guard change shifts in front of Prague castle gate, where President Obama will meet with counterpart, Sunday|
Czechs opposed to U.S. plans to install part of a missile defense system in their country say they will go ahead with a protest march during President Barack Obama's visit to Prague this weekend, despite a ban on the demonstration. The protests come as opinion polls suggest many Czechs fear the missile shield could lead to tensions with Russia and more insecurity in Europe.
The Czech capital Prague saw a variety of protests in recent months against a planned U.S. missile defense system. Many oppose the plan - originally pushed by the Bush administration - to install radar dishes near Prague as part of the project. Interceptor rockets would be based in neighboring Poland.
By Ian Cobain, The Guardian
MPs are to undertake the most far-reaching inquiry into Britain's role in human rights abuses in decades as allegations mount to suggest that officials repeatedly breached international law.
The Commons foreign affairs select committee will examine Britain's involvement in the detention, transfer and interrogation of prisoners held during the so-called war on terror. Among the matters to be examined later in the year are allegations, reported in the Guardian over the past two years, that British intelligence officers colluded in the torture of Britons held in Pakistan and Egypt.
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - France is ready to take a detainee from Guantanamo Bay when the prison camp is shut down, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
He said he had long been a critic of Guantanamo but that if Obama needed allies to take detainees from the facility in order to close it, then France would agree.
"We can't condemn the United States because they have that camp and then wash our hands of it once they close it. That's not what being allies is about," Sarkozy said during a joint news conference with Obama.
"Yes, we talked about it, and yes, we reached an agreement," he said, adding there was one Guantanamo detainee connected to France.
Obama expressed his appreciation to Sarkozy for "being good to his word."
"I made the decision to close Guantanamo because I do not think it makes America safer," he said.
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation
With President Obama announcing his new strategy for US/NATO escalation in Afghanistan, the April 3-4 NATO Summit in Baden-Baden and Kehl, Germany, and in Strasbourg, France, takes on added urgency -- as will the demonstrations by thousands of protestors from over 20 European countries and the US.
Member states will attempt to use the summit as an occasion to celebrate the alliance's 60th anniversary, France's return to NATO, and perhaps offer a new "Strategic Concept" as an interventionist force around the world. Activists will articulate an alternative vision focused on securing global peace and confronting domestic challenges at home, including a call for the dissolution of NATO.