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The open and shut case against Tony Blair
If Blair cannot give satisfactory answers to the questions below, there is only one conclusion: he should stand trial for war crimes.
By By Philippe Sands QC, Professor of law, University College, London | Stop the War
Here are the key questions to think about in assessing Mr Blair's performance, and that of the inquiry:
The case for war – "regime change"
Early on Mr Blair was told that military action for regime change would be illegal under international law. The inquiry has heard that he therefore justified action as disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, Alastair Campbell's diary entry for 2 April 2002 confirms that participants at one meeting "discussed whether the central aim was WMD or regime change" and that "TB felt it was regime change". So was regime change one of your aims?
"Solidly with the president"
Mr Blair claims no decision on war was taken until after parliament had voted on 18 March 2003. Yet evidence shows he communicated his unconditional support for regime change much earlier, in spring 2002. In January 2003 Mr Blair met President Bush at the White House. Sir David Manning, his foreign policy adviser, records the president telling Mr Blair that military action would be taken with or without a second Security Council resolution and the bombing would begin in mid-March 2003. The note records the reaction: "The prime minister said he was solidly with the president." Why didn't you tell the Cabinet or parliament that you were "solidly with the president" about military action with or without a second UN Resolution, when you reported on your meeting with President Bush on 3 February 2002?
In September 2002 the government published a dossier. Mr Blair's foreword said the intelligence established "beyond doubt" that Saddam was producing WMD and continuing efforts to develop nuclear weapons; we now know doubts were expressed. On 24 September 2002 Mr Blair told parliament that the intelligence was "extensive, detailed and authoritative"; we now know the intelligence was patchy and old. He also told parliament that Saddam night acquire a usable nuclear weapon in "a year or two"; no substantive intelligence supported that claim. How do you account for these misleading statements?
Legality Read more
This is the resistance to our empire that is sweeping the globe, unbeknownst to most of us in the United States:
This is footage from today in Vicenza, Italy, where 50 women and men entered the construction site of the proposed mammoth new US military base in a location called "Dal Molin". They chained themselves to cranes and other machines.
The campaign we need to support: http://www.nodalmolin.it
What Americans can do: http://peaceoftheaction.org
"European security is, not only to the individual nations, but to the world. It is, after all, more than a collection of countries linked by history and geography. It is a model for the transformative power of reconciliation, cooperation, and community"....However, "much important work remains unfinished. The transition to democracy is incomplete in parts of Europe and Eurasia."...
To elite trans-Atlantic policy makers the above paragraphs' meaning is indisputable: The use of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc - the true foundation of the "transatlantic partnership" - in waging war in and effectively colonizing the Balkans and in expanding into Eastern Europe, incorporating twelve new nations including former Warsaw Pact members and Soviet republics, is the worldwide paradigm for the West in the 21st century.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busy in London and Paris last week advancing the new Euro-Atlantic agenda for the world.
As the top foreign policy official of what her commander-in-chief Barack Obama touted as being the world's sole military superpower on December 10, she is no ordinary foreign minister. Her position is rather some composite of several ones from previous historical epochs: Viceroy, proconsul, imperial nuncio.
When a U.S. secretary of state speaks the world pays heed. Any nation that doesn't will suffer the consequences of that inattention, that disrespect toward the imperatrix mundi.
On January 27 she was in London for a conference on Yemen and the following day she attended the International Conference on Afghanistan in the same city.
Also on the 28th she and two-thirds of her NATO quad counterparts, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (along with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton), pronounced a joint verdict on the state of democracy in Nigeria, Britain's former colonial possession.
Afterwards she crossed the English channel and delivered an address called Remarks on the Future of European Security at L'Ecole Militaire in Paris on January 29. That presentation was the most substantive component of her three-day European junket and the only one that dealt mainly with the continent itself, her previous comments relating to what are viewed by the United States and its Western European NATO partners as backwards, "ungovernable" international badlands. That is, the rest of the world.
Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, warned on Friday that his country will not passively watch the deployment of a U.S. Patriot missile battery in Poland.
The US will supply the Patriots and 100 troops in Poland this year, to be stationed not far from the Russian Kaliningrad border.
"Do they really think that we will calmly watch the location of a rocket system, at a distance of 60 km from Kaliningrad?", the Russian diplomat said Friday.
Rogozin refused to clarify what the response of the Russian side would be to the deployment. "It is a matter for the military," is all he would say. Read more.
US Threatens Venezuela: Netherlands Has Granted US Military Use Of Its Islands In The Caribbean
by Vonk Netherlands and Hands off Venezuela | Global Research | Map
The government of the Netherlands recently granted the US military use of its islands in the Caribbean, with the excuse that this is to help in the “war against drugs”. In reality, this is a direct threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.
In the Dutch media articles have appeared about the “war-mongering” president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who is “preparing a war against Colombia”. Now Chávez has accused the Netherlands of supporting aggression against Venezuela, because the Netherlands has given permission to the American armed forces to use the military bases on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curaçao.
In the media Hugo Chávez, as always, has been presented like some “crazy populist”, and of course the “civilised Netherlands” are presented as being totally innocent.
Later Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, said the American military were on Aruba and Curaçao, as part of the “war against drugs”. He remains silent about what is really happening on Aruba and Curaçao.
Authors such as Noam Chomsky and Eva Golinger have pointed out in different articles that the so-called “war against drugs” has nothing to do with any battle against drug smuggling, but has been used for other causes such as fighting against guerrilla movements and the spying of other countries. Since the start of the “war against drugs” there has only been more smuggling and consumption of drugs.
The fact that the Netherlands are participating in this is quite normal, because the Dutch government has a tradition of supporting American imperialism. After Britain the Netherlands are the biggest ally of the U.S. in Western Europe. The cabinet of Prime Minister Balkenende gave political support to the invasion of Iraq that was based completely on lies. Now the Netherlands have troops in Afghanistan, officially to rebuild the country, but in practice to prop up the corrupt regime of Karzai.
The bases on Aruba and Curaçao
In 1999 the Netherlands and the U.S. signed an agreement for the establishment of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs). This meant that the American military could use air force bases on Aruba and Curaçao. While the bases were originally used for operations against drug smuggling and the Colombian guerrilla movement FARC, this changed with the election of George Bush. Venezuela was seen as a threat by then, because it was a beacon of hope for the poor and working people of Latin America. In 2002 there was a CIA-backed coup attempt against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez. Since then there have only been more intrigues against Venezuela. Read more.
MADRID — Spain's top investigating judge Baltasar Garzon is to probe suspected torture and ill-treatment of inmates at the US prison of Guantanamo Bay, a judical source said Saturday.
The judge will be acting on complaints lodged by a number of associations, focussing on one prisoner, Ahmed Abderraman Hamed, who has Spanish nationality, the source added, confirming a report published in daily El Pais
Three other detainees, Moroccan Lahcen Ikasrrien, Palestinian Jamiel Abdulatif al-Banna and Libyan Omar Deghayes would also be concerned as they had links with Spain.
In 2005 Spain declared itself competent to investigate any crime committed abroad, but after diplomatic problems the scope of the inquiries was reduced in 2009.
Spanish courts can now deal only with cases that have a clear link with Spain, or cases that are not being investigated in countries where the offences are alleged to have been committed.
Twelve months ago a new U.S. administration entered the White House as the world entered a new year.
Two and a half weeks later the nation's new vice president, Joseph Biden, spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference and said "it's time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia."
Incongruously to any who expected a change in tact if not substance regarding strained U.S.-Russian relations, in the same speech Biden emphasized that, using the "New World Order" shibboleth of the past generation at the end, "Two months from now, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather to celebrate the 60th year of this Alliance. This Alliance has been the cornerstone of our common security since the end of World War II. It has anchored the United States in Europe and helped forge a Europe whole and free." 
Six months before, while Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he rushed to the nation of Georgia five days after the end of the country's five-day war with Russia as an emissary for the George W. Bush administration, and pledged $1 billion in assistance to the beleaguered regime of former U.S. resident Mikheil Saakashvili.
To demonstrate how serious Biden and the government he represented were about rhetorical gimmicks like reset buttons, four months after his Munich address Biden visited Ukraine and Georgia to shore up their "color revolution"-bred heads of state (outgoing Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is married to a Chicagoan and former Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush official) in their anti-Russian and pro-NATO stances.
While back in Georgia he insisted "We understand that Georgia aspires to join NATO. We fully support that aspiration."
In Ukraine he said "As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine, and we recognize no sphere of influence or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation makes,"  also in reference to joining the U.S.-dominated military bloc. Biden's grammar may have been murky, but his message was unmistakeably clear.
Upon his return home Biden gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, the contents of which were indicated by the title the newspaper gave its account of them - "Biden Says Weakened Russia Will Bend to U.S." - and which were characterized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies as "the most critical statements from a senior administration official to date vis-a-vis Russia." 
Vincezans Appeal for International Support To Preserve Invaluable Archaeological Heritage From Destruction By US Military
To the associations, to the movements, to everyone who, in these years, have put effort and struggle to preserve the landscape, the history and the cultural traditions of our territory we are asking for an extraordinary mobilization to protect the archaeological findings in the Dal Molin area.
The excavations for the construction of the US military base are actually progressing at full speed and in addition to the destruction of one of the last oasis of green and trees of the city and putting under serious risks our groundwater resources, are now endangering even the finding and the salvage of a new archaeological site on the origin of our “veneto” heritage.
The artifacts and the findings so far discovered give shape to the existence of a palaeo-veneto village dating back to a period (8000 years B.C.) preceding by several centuries the one considered as the original first site in Vicenza area.
The risk that all this invaluable heritage will end up buried and destroyed forever under the foundation of a US military outlet is very high!
We are simply asking for the formal inspection of the value and consistence of such findings, through the channel and procedure which normally apply to the Italian archaeological sites: that is to stop the works and the intervention of the “Sovraintendenza dei beni Architettonici del Veneto”.
We are asking to do this with transparency, making the results of the inspection available to the citizens. We think that this is a necessary procedure, but we think that without a mobilization of the city even this request will be ignored, as happened before for the denied referendum for the construction of the Dal Molin site and the demand for the investigation on the environmental impact of the new base.
Vicenza can not forget that in the 70s Querini park, the most beautiful park in town, was saved from cement thanks to the mobilization of the citizens, of the associations and the movements.
For the Dal Molin matter, Vicenza can not accept to compromise its future, insult its present and destroy its past to do a favor to a foreign power.
That’s the reason why we invite everybody, citizens, associations and movements who care for the city and its artistic and environmental heritage, to gather in this fundamental and binding demand for truth.
German govt. proposes compromise on troop increase
By Elsa Rassbach
Prior to the Afghanistan Conference in London on Thursday (Jan. 28th), the German government has today announced that it will sending "up to" 500 additional German troops to Afghanistan and also "freeing up" 350 more soldiers as a "flexible reserve." The German troops are to pursue a more "defensive approach" that will focus on protecting civilians and training the local security forces.
The German troop increase is far less than the Pentagon wanted. According to today's Reuters article: "The United States and NATO had pressed Berlin to bolster its military presence in Afghanistan by up to 2,500 troops."
The war in Iraq had "no basis in international law", a Dutch inquiry found today, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade.
In a series of damning findings, a seven-member panel in the Netherlands concluded that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law.
"The Dutch government lent its political support to a war whose purpose was not consistent with Dutch government policy," the inquiry in the Hague concluded. "The military action had no sound mandate in international law."
In a further twist, it emerged that the UK government refused to disclose a key document requested by the Dutch panel.
The document – allegedly a letter from Tony Blair asking for the support of the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende – was handed over in a breach of diplomatic protocol and on the basis that it was for Balkenende's eyes only, an inquiry official told the Guardian.
"It was a surprise for our committee when we discovered information about this letter," said Rob Sebes, a spokesman for the Dutch inquiry. "It was not sent with a normal procedure between countries – instead it was a personal message from Tony Blair to our prime minister Jan Peter Balkanende, and had to be returned and not stored in our archives. Read more.
We are shocked at suggestions by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Ivan Lewis and foreign secretary David Miliband that Britain may consider changing its laws to avoid any future attempts to prosecute suspected war criminals, Israeli or otherwise. The UK must not renege on its international treaty obligations, particularly those under the fourth Geneva convention to seek out and prosecute persons suspected of war crimes wherever and whoever they are, whatever their status, rank or influence, against whom good prima facie evidence has been laid. We reject any attempt to undermine the judiciary's independence and integrity. A judge who finds sufficient evidence of a war crime must have power to order the arrest of a suspect, subject to the usual rights to bail and appeal.
The power to arrest individuals reasonably suspected of war crimes anywhere in the world should they set foot on UK soil is an efficient and necessary resource in the struggle against war crimes, and must not be interfered with (Report, 6 January). Nor should the government succumb to pressure from any foreign power to alter this crucial aspect of the judicial process. We urge the government to state clearly that it will not alter the law on universal jurisdiction and will continue to allow victims of war crimes to seek justice in British courts.
Revealed: Jack Straw’s secret warning to Tony Blair on Iraq
By Michael Smith | Times Online
Straw said Iraq posed no greater threat to the UK than it had done previously. The letter said there was “no credible evidence” linking Iraq to Al-Qaeda and that the “threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September”.
Implying Blair was already seeking an excuse for war, it warned of two legal “elephant traps”. It states “regime change per se is no justification for military action” and “the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh [UN] mandate may well be required”.
A “SECRET and personal” letter from Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, to Tony Blair reveals damning doubts at the heart of government about Blair’s plans for Iraq a year before war started.
The letter, a copy of which is published for the first time today, warned the prime minister that the case for military action in Iraq was of dubious legality and would be no guarantee of a better future for Iraq even if Saddam Hussein were removed.
It was sent 10 days before Blair met George Bush, then the US president, in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. The document clearly implies that Blair was already planning for military action even though he continued to insist to the British public for almost another year that no decision had been made.
The letter will be a key piece of evidence at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war when it questions Straw this week. Read more.
Almost a quarter of voters (23%) believe Tony Blair deliberately misled MPs over the Iraq war and should face war crimes charges, an opinion poll has found.
Most people also think the former PM, who is due to give evidence to the official inquiry into the war within weeks, knew Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
The YouGov survey for the Sunday Times found less than a third (32%) accepted that Mr Blair "genuinely believed in the threat" which he used to publicly justify sending UK troops, while 52% thought he had "deliberately misled" the country. Read more.
THE PEOPLE'S DOSSIER VERSUS THE DODGY DOSSIER | Stop The War | Press Release
Have you submitted your question to Tony Blair for the People's Dossier, which Stop the War will be presenting to the Iraq Inquiry? Hundreds of questions have been sent in, including contributions from Hans von Sponeck, the former UN coordinater in Iraq, musician Brian Eno and a number of military families.
Sami Ramadani, from Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, has sent in this question:
Mr Blair, you have often said that you "strongly believed" you were doing "the right thing" when you sent British troops to invade and occupy Iraq. Considering that Hitler and other war criminals strongly believed that what they were doing was right, do you think that strongly believing in something makes it right, or pardonable if it proved to be terribly wrong?
Last week Alistair Campbell told the Iraq Inquiry he defends "every single word" of the dossier presented to parliament in September 2002. Blair wrote in the forward that it showed "beyond doubt" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when both he and Campbell knew full well that the intelligence had not produced any evidence that they existed.
The second "dodgy" dossier" published in February 2003 was an even more blatant fabrication intended to justify war crimes.
If you haven't sent in your question yet, please do so now. Blair will be appearing at the Iraq Inquiry within the next three weeks and we want the People's Dossier to be representative of everyone who protested in such vast numbers against his warmongering under the slogan "not in our name".
HOW TO SEND YOUR QUESTION
"Whereas Israel's geopolitical location could offer an 'external base' for the defence of the West, NATO's military and economic status could provide added security and economic benefits for the host state.
"In a rapidly changing strategic environment, Israeli policy makers are recognising definite advantages, especially in security affairs, in developing closer ties with NATO. The present Israeli government's enthusiasm for this project can be seen in an ambitious set of proposals submitted to the Alliance," which included "joint military training [and] future joint development of weapons systems." 
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is pressuring its 28 member states and dozens of partnership affiliates on five continents to contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan, the Jerusalem Post reported on January 13 that "Israel is launching a diplomatic initiative in an effort to influence the outcome of NATO's new Strategic Concept which is currently under review by a team of experts led by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright." 
NATO is crafting its updated Strategic Concept to replace that last formulated in 1999, the year of the military bloc's expansion into Eastern Europe and its first full-fledged war, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.
Madeleine Albright, arguably the individual most publicly identified with orchestrating both NATO's absorption of three former Warsaw Pact members, including her native Czech Republic, and in launching Operation Allied Force, co-chairs NATO's Group of Experts with Jeroen van der Veer, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell until June of 2009.
Brown pressed to appear at inquiry before the election
By Patrick Wintour | Guardian.co.UK
Gordon Brown was today facing intense pressure to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry before the general election, on the basis that voters have a right to be informed about his role in the lead-up to the war.
The prime minister tried to sidestep the issue in the Commons by saying he was happy to give evidence, but adding that Sir John Chilcot's inquiry had ruled he should not do so before the election.
The demand for Brown to give evidence was initially made by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, but was later backed by the Conservatives. It adds to the impression that Labour is in danger of finding that the decision to invade Iraq is going to dog the government in the 2010 election, if not as much as it did in 2005.
Many senior Blairites are privately contemptuous that Brown agreed to hold the inquiry in the run-up to the election, and then conceded it should hold public sessions. Read more.
By David Swanson
Whenever I write about U.S. politics, people ask me "Don't you have any good news?" (Unless the Republicans are in power, in which case people ask me "Who are you going to vote for?") But I do have good news, boatloads of good news, if Americans want to hear it.
If a city or state next to yours were to achieve a dramatic breakthrough for democratic representation, environmental sustainability, healthcare, education, peace, or justice, wouldn't that be good news? Wouldn't you trumpet that news where you live and demand the same of your elected officials?
When the United States gets something right nationally, and even when we don't, we're happy to assume that others around the world would like to imitate it. Some of us think bombs are the best way to help them do so. Others prefer diplomacy. But we all pretty much believe in sharing our wisdom.
Did the CIA Deploy a Blackwater Hit Team in Germany?
By Jeremy Scahill | Nation
German prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the CIA deployed a team of Blackwater operatives on a clandestine operation in Hamburg, Germany, after 9/11 ultimately aimed at assassinating a German citizen with suspected ties to Al Qaeda. The alleged assassination operation was revealed last month in a Vanity Fair profile of Blackwater's owner Erik Prince.
The magazine reported that after 9/11, the CIA used one of Prince's homes in Virginia as a covert training facility for hit teams that would hunt Al Qaeda suspects globally. Their job was find, fix, and finish: "Find the designated target, fix the person's routine, and, if necessary, finish him off," as the magazine put it.
According to Vanity Fair, one of the team's targets was Mamoun Darkazanli, a naturalized German citizen originally from Syria. Darkazanli has been accused by Spain of being an Al Qaeda supporter with close ties to the alleged 9/11 plotters who lived in Hamburg. The Blackwater/CIA team "supposedly went in 'dark,' meaning they did not notify their own station--much less the German government--of their presence," according to Vanity Fair. "[T]hey then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down." Authorities in Washington, however, "chose not to pull the trigger." Read more.
An Israeli military delegation has canceled an official visit to Britain, officials said Tuesday, the latest in a string of politicians and army officials to put off travel to the U.K. because of fears of war crimes prosecution.
Israel complained that the practice, spearheaded by pro-Palestinian activists, is harming relations, and Britain's visiting attorney general said an urgent solution must be found.
The Israelis called off their trip because their British army hosts could not guarantee they would not be arrested, the Israeli officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Neither the Israeli military nor the British government would comment.
The incident underlined the effectiveness of a pro-Palestinian legal campaign to harass Israeli officials in the wake of war crimes allegations after Israel's devastating invasion of Gaza a year ago to stop rocket attacks. Read more.
Secular campaigners in the Irish Republic defied a strict new blasphemy law which came into force today by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations online and promising to fight the legislation in court.
The new law, which was passed in July, means that blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£22,000).
It defines blasphemy as "publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted".
The justice minister, Dermot Ahern, said that the law was necessary because while immigration had brought a growing diversity of religious faiths, the 1936 constitution extended the protection of belief only to Christians.
But Atheist Ireland, a group that claims to represent the rights of atheists, responded to the new law by publishing 25 anti-religious quotations on its website, from figures including Richard Dawkins, Björk, Frank Zappa and the former Observer editor and Irish ex-minister Conor Cruise O'Brien. Read more.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British ambassador to the UN, testified before an official inquiry, the Committee of Inquiry on the Iraq War, into the decision to invade Iraq and intelligence information as the basis for the decision.
This is about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and war crimes; it is important evidence. This committee will decide whether Tony Blair will be charged with war crimes.
This video can't be embedded. Click the picture to view the testimony.
Lithuania's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected a report from lawmakers saying the country had hosted secret CIA prisons as part of the "war on terror."
"There are neither facts nor information that secret CIA detention centers existed in Lithuania," the ministry said in a statement, contradicting Amnesty International statements a day earlier based on a report by Lithuanian lawmakers.
"It has neither concluded that the territory of Lithuania was used to transfer persons under suspicion of terrorism nor that such persons had been brought in or transported from the territory of Lithuania," the Foreign Ministry said of the parliamentary report.
Amnesty International said a day earlier that the former Soviet republic, now a NATO member, had become the first country to admit it hosted secret CIA detention centers for terror suspects. Read more.
Revealed: Bush White House Raised Terror Alert Based On Con Man's Wild Al Jazeera "Decoding" Claims
A new article reports how a Nevada-based software firm employee duped the CIA into believing he held the key to decoding secret terrorist messages.
By Liliana Segura | AlterNet
From the Dept. of You-Can't-Make-This-Shit-Up, TPM Muckracker reports:
A self-styled Nevada codebreaker convinced the CIA he could decode secret terrorist targeting information sent through Al Jazeera broadcasts, prompting the Bush White House to raise the terror alert level to Orange (high) in December 2003, with Tom Ridge warning of "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experience on September 11," according to a new report in Playboy.
We all knew the DHS color-coded terror alerts were bogus and politically-motivated -- Ridge himself recently admitted as much -- but this? This is just ... loony tunes.
According to TPM, "the man who prompted the December 2003 Orange alert was Dennis Montgomery, who has since been embroiled in various lawsuits, including one for allegedly bouncing $1 million in checks during a Caesars Palace spree. His former lawyer calls him a 'habitual liar engaged in fraud.'" Read more.
The Lithuanian government has concluded that the CIA operated a secret "black site" in Lithuania for high-level Al Qaeda detainees, and that a second secret CIA facility was established in the heart of the capital city of Vilnius. The government began an investigation after an exclusive ABC News report that the CIA operated a secret black site prison for terror suspects in the Baltic country in 2004 and 2005.
In a report released Tuesday, the National Security Committee of the Lithuanian parliament recommended that intelligence officials be criminally investigated for their role in establishing the prisons. In addition to the prison outside Vilnius that was located and revealed by ABC News, the report says that Lithuanian intelligence made a guesthouse in downtown Vilnius available for CIA use as early as 2002, though they could not prove that it had been used.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius criticized the U.S. government for establishing the prisons, saying it had manipulated Lithuanian officials with "essentially Soviet methods" into breaking the law. However, he suggested that the second prison, which could only hold one prisoner in a single cell, had never been used. Read more.
In August this year, US media reports claimed that Lithuania, Poland and Romania all hosted secret CIA interrogation centres.
But the parliamentary report appears to absolve Lithuania's political leaders of responsibility for any human rights violations that may have been committed by the CIA, the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Moscow.
It says even the president was unaware of exactly what the US intelligence service was doing.
The CIA used at least two secret detention centres in Lithuania after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US, a Lithuanian inquiry has found.
The report by a Lithuanian parliamentary committee says that in 2005 and 2006 CIA chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania.
It says that no Lithuanian officials were allowed near the aircraft, nor were they told who was on board. Read more.
Courts Free Faraj Hassan, Government’s Case Falls Through | Press Release
Today the Courts ruled that the control order imposed by the government on Faraj Hassan (also known as prisoner AS) was illegal in nature. His case was bought before the courts after the Law Lords ruled in June that the use of secret evidence in the imposition of control orders by the government was illegal. The evidence which neither Hassan or his Solicitors were able to see until last June was used to incarcerate him in HMP Long Lartin for four years from which he was released onto a control order in 2007. He has been under the control order since then until this morning.
Today’s ruling shows that the use of secret evidence contravenes emphatically the principle of due process. What became apparent throughout the case was that the evidence used by the government was circumstantial, false or negligently poor in nature. Yet due to the use of it as secret evidence it was never forced to meet the internationally recognised standards of evidence required in a prima facie case to deny an individual of his liberty.
Faraj Hassan said about the ruling:
“A control order is nothing more than a euphemism for what is basically Apartheid style house arrest. Likewise there should be no doubt that its purpose is the same as well: to break you and make you want to leave that country.”
Cageprisoners spokesperson Moazzam Begg said:
“If a person cannot hear the evidence that is being used against them, then how can they and their legal teams mount an effective defence? The use of secret evidence makes a mockery of due process and allows the government to abuse its power. Let us hope today’s ruling was another significant step in restoring the legal system which has become so eroded in Britain”
For interviews with Faraj Hassan or Cageprisoners please contact the Press Office on (+44) 207 953 4074 or Humza Qureshi on (+44) 772 862 7911.
From TomDispatch this evening, a fabulous near end-of-year piece by Rebecca Solnit on our apocalyptic imagination versus the real apocalypse that may await us -- Rebecca Solnit, "Terminator 2009, Judgment Days in Copenhagen."
Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch regular and author of A Paradise Built in Hell, recently watched Terminator 2 on a TV set in New Orleans, the Superdome where thousands were trapped after hurricane Katrina just out the hotel window. In a fever dream, possibly from swine flu, she conjurs up Sarah Palin ("a Terminator cyborg sent from the future to destroy something -- but what?") and the film's heroine Sarah Connor, attempting to save the human race from a plague of Terminators, but in the wrong apocalypse. How comfortable, she thinks, T2's apocalypse now seems in which our own intelligent machines set out to destroy us when, unfortunately, it's our perfectly dumb ones that seem determined to do the actual deed, while the leaders of the world's major greenhouse gas emitters fail to agree in a meaningful way at Copenhagen and elsewhere.
Like Solnit's state in New Orleans, our world might be mistaken for a fever dream of some sort. After all, the Terminator who, in T2, saves John Connor (and so the world), is now the governor of California, a "state with an uncertain shoreline," thanks to globally rising waters, a conservative who has nonetheless tried to deal with climate change. She considers the governor releasing California's 2009 "climate adaption strategy" on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, which "with even modest further rises in sea-level... will disappear entirely. Hasta la vista, baby." And assesses our world and its fate from the coast of California to Copenhagen.
This marvelous post manages to catch the dark edge of a difficult and dangerous situation, but in the normal Solnitsian fashion, with hope for what we -- all of us -- can still do. She concludes:
"The learning curve for so many of us, for so many people and even nations, has been speeding up impressively. If we had 40 years to figure it all out, we might be headed toward just the sort of victory that civil society has, in fact, achieved on so many other environmental and human-rights ideas. But there aren’t decades to spare. It needs to happen now. It should have happened even before the last century ended.
"Even in my fever dream, with the Superdome just out the window, I couldn’t help noting the key axiom repeated in Terminator 2: 'The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.'
"So here’s the lesson: there are no superheroes but us.
"And here’s the question: what are you going to do about it?"
It’s clear now that, from her immovable titanium bangs to her chaotic approximation of human speech, Sarah Palin is a Terminator cyborg sent from the future to destroy something -- but what? It could be the Republican Party she’ll ravage by herding the fundamentalists and extremists into a place where sane fiscal conservatives and swing voters can’t follow. Or maybe she was sent to destroy civilization at this crucial moment by preaching the gospel of climate-change denial, abetted by tools like the Washington Post, which ran a factually outrageous editorial by her on the subject earlier this month. No one (even her, undoubtedly) knows, but we do know that this month we all hover on the brink.
I’ve had the great Hollywood epic Terminator 2: Judgment Day on my mind ever since I watched it in a hotel room in New Orleans a few weeks ago with the Superdome visible out the window. In 1991, at the time of its release, T2 was supposedly about a terrible future; now, it seems situated in an oddly comfortable past.
What apocalypses are you nostalgic for? The premise of the movie was that the machines we needed to worry about had not yet been invented, no less put to use: intelligent machines that would rebel against their human masters in 1997, setting off an all-out nuclear war that would get rid of the first three billion of us and lead to a campaign of extermination against the remnant of the human race scrabbling in the rubble of what had once been civilization. Read more.
Last week, as I explained in a recent article, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who was seized in Afghanistan in 2001 after traveling to Afghanistan with his friend Moazzam Begg (and their families) to establish a girls’ school in Kabul, won a significant victory in the British High Court. Lord Justice Jeremy Sullivan ruled that evidence in the possession of the British government, regarding his torture in US custody in Kandahar, Afghanistan, before his transfer to Guantánamo, must be made available to lawyers working on his behalf in the United States, so that they can make representations to the Obama administration’s interagency Task Force, which is currently reviewing the cases of the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo, and is expected to reach a decision sometime next month.
The documents include claims that British agents were, on occasion, present during brutal interrogations that punctuated a regime in which Aamer was “subjected to weeks of torture including sleep deprivation over nine days, cold water torture which led to frostbite, ‘hog tying’ and regular beatings along with threats that he would be sent to be tortured in Egypt, Jordan, or Israel.” As a result of this treatment, Aamer has claimed that he made false confessions, which are being used against him, even though a military review board under the Bush administration cleared him for release from Guantánamo in 2007.
On Wednesday, the legal action charity Reprieve, which represents Aamer in the US, announced that, at a hearing on Thursday, the British security services would argue that they are not required to release the information to Aamer “because he has not been formally charged with a crime.” This prompted Reprieve’s director, Clive Stafford Smith, to exclaim, “Essentially, MI5 are saying they would owe Shaker this evidence if the Americans would bother to charge him. But because Shaker will have no charge and no trial, they say he has no right to any evidence at all and must continue to face indefinite detention with no end in sight. What kind of down-the-rabbit-hole argument is this?” Read more.
There is no one more qualified than Reg Keys -- whose son Tom was killed in Iraq -- to comment on Tony Blair's admission to the BBC that, if he hadn't used the non-existent weapons of mass destruction to justify a war crime, he would have found another "argument" -- that is, another lie. VIDEO.