I haven’t seen a whole lot of discussion about this story over the past week — in part, I suppose, because we’ve been trying to figure out why in the world people in the Middle East might have attacked our embassies and consulates. It seems to me to be precisely the sort of story we ought to spend our time discussing:
A prisoner who died in his cell at the Guantanamo Bay naval base during the weekend was a suicidal and mentally ill Yemeni who had won a U.S. court order for his release, only to have it overturned on appeal, according to his lawyer and court records.
[Adnan] Latif was captured near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in late 2001.
Administrative review boards at Guantanamo recommended he be transferred to his homeland in 2006 and again in 2008, recommendations that were never carried out.
Latif challenged his detention in the U.S. District Court in Washington, which ruled in July 2010 that he should go free. His lawyers argued that Latif had gone to Pakistan and then Afghanistan to seek medical treatment from an aid group for a severe head injury suffered in a car crash.
The U.S. government, which says Latif was an al Qaeda fighter recruited and trained in Afghanistan by the Taliban, successfully appealed against the District Court ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Latif’s appeal without comment in June.
Latif was among the Yemenis cleared for transfer by President Barack Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force in 2009, Remes said.
“He was never a threat to the United States and should never have been brought to Guantanamo,” Remes said. “He should have been released long ago not just because he was innocent of any wrongdoing but because humanitarian considerations cried out for his release.”
Obama imposed a moratorium on returning Guantanamo captives to Yemen after a Yemeni-trained Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane with a bomb in his underpants on Christmas Day 2009.
More here and here.
The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is. — Winston Churchill (via politicalprof)
We learned something new today. Er.
Anonymous asked: what do you think of Facebook?
At its best, it is a way for people to easily communicate with each other and for artists & musicians to promote their work.
At its worst, it is a complete waste of time and essentially a web of spies. Ordinary people spy on each other, businesses collect personal information in order to better market their products, and governments (primarily the U.S.) are using social media increasingly as a means of spying on the public.
And quite frankly, I think it atomizes people rather than brings them together. Think of family members staring at their phones rather than talking to each other.
The bad far outweighs the good. It is a vapid, Orwellian distraction that passes for “entertainment” among people yet is clandestinely being used to subjugate them.
Eleven years later, we are still at war
September 11, 2012
Eleven years later, we are still at war. Bullets, mortars and drones are still extracting payment. Thousands, tens of thousands, millions have paid in full. Children and even those yet to be born will continue to pay for decades to come.
On a single day in Iraq last week there were 29 bombing attacks in 19 cities, killing 111 civilians and wounding another 235. On Sept 9th, reports indicate 88 people were killed and another 270 injured in 30 attacks all across the country. Iraq continues in a seemingly endless death spiral into chaos. In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President, Obama claimed he ended the war in Iraq, well… not quite.
The city of Fallujah remains under siege. Not from U.S. troops, but from a deluge of birth defects that have plagued families since the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus by U.S. forces in 2004. No government studies have provided a direct link to the use of these weapons because no government studies have been undertaken, and none are contemplated.
Dr. Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, told Al Jazeera, “We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine. There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we’ve never seen them until now.” The photographs are available on line if you can bear to look at what we have wrought. George W. Bush will loudly proclaim his “Pro-life” bona fides, and he’ll tell you he believes “that every child, born and unborn, ought to be protected in law and welcomed into life.” Apparently, “every child” doesn’t apply to the children of Fallujah, and the “law” doesn’t apply to George W. Bush.
Our soldiers, some physically damaged by IED’s, some mentally destroyed by PTSD, will pay for these wars for the rest of their days. Drug and alcohol abuse is out of control. Suicide among the troops is an epidemic. 2,916 Americans were lost in the towers on that fateful day, many, many more have perished in the intervening years.
Today we will be asked to honor the men and woman of our armed forces, but what does honoring the veterans entail? In its most recent report, The Veterans Administration estimates about 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Mental illness plagues 45% of homeless vets and 70% suffer from some kind of substance abuse. So how do you honor our veterans? Are “Support Our Troops” ribbons still in vogue? How does our government honor our veterans other than use them as political pawns in stump speeches and cannon fodder for their wars?
84,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan. While the occupation is rarely mentioned in the U.S. mainstream media, that doesn’t mean the killing has stopped. On average, one U.S. soldier dies everyday. Not an enormous sum, unless it is your mother, father, son or daughter that has perished. Few Americans notice. Afghan loses are not reported. They have loved ones who grieve as well.
REMEMBER SEPTEMBER 11TH
“In the years leading up to the coup, U.S. trainers, many from the CIA, had whipped the Chilean military into an anti-communist frenzy, persuading them that socialists were de facto Russian spies, a force alien to Chilean society—a homegrown ‘enemy within’. In fact, it was the military that had become the true domestic enemy, ready to turn its weapons on the population it was sworn to protect. With Allende dead, his cabinet in captivity and no mass resistance in evidence, the junta’s grand battle was over by mid-afternoon…Killing and locking up the government was not enough for Chile’s new junta government, however. The generals knew that their hold on power depended on Chileans being truly terrified, as the people had been in Indonesia. In the days that followed, roughly 13,500 Chileans were arrested, loaded onto trucks and imprisoned, according to a declassified CIA report. Thousands ended up in the two main football stadiums…death replaced football as the public spectacle. Soldiers prowled the bleachers with hooded collaborators who pointed out “subversives”; the ones who were selected were hauled off to locker rooms and skyboxes transformed into makeshift torture chambers. Hundreds were executed. Lifeless bodies started showing up on the side of major highways or floating in murky urban canals.” (92-93) Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
The single mother myth -
“Women’s inequality is a persistent feature of U.S. society—but contrary to the New York Times, the answer doesn’t lie in turning back the clock, writes
War Drums Beat Ever More Loudly Over Iran by Noam Chomsky -
It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.
The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.
Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.
Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.
Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.
All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair - to Iran.
Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.
Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.
Iran too has carried out aggression - but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.
Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.
The Nonaligned Movement - the governments of most of the world’s population - is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members - India, for example - adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.
The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”
Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace. In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.
If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability - this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence - that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.
Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.
Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.
Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.
Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.
Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service - which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.
The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.
Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.
Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.
To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel - “Atlas Shrugged” - who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.
It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish - and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.
The Katrina experience pointed to a larger conclusion about United States policy - that while millions of people in Africa and Asia, and even poor people in the United States, were dying of malnutrition and sickness, while natural disasters were taking huge tolls of life all over the world…the United States government was pouring its enormous wealth into war and the building of empire. — Howard Zinn, The Unraveling of the Bush Presidency