Friday, June 23, 2006
We have mail from serving officers in positions to know somewhat of the situation in Guantanamo.
It began with a question from me to a serving officer:
What would you do if you were suddenly put in charge of the detention program?
which prompted this reply:
I'd call them all POWs, open the camp to Red Cross and country representatives, and, depending on the conflict with which they are associated, release some, detain others, and with those very few that actually are terrorists, I'd get them before a recognized tribunal and put them away forever. Most are at worst "unprivileged belligerents" an interesting term considering our own use of non-uniformed personnel in combat roles (special forces and CIA pop to mind). Your average unprivileged belligerent is someone who took up arms to fight the US without a uniformed arm force's immunity. Interestingly, neither the Taliban (the de facto government of Afghanistan) nor the Northern Alliance (our allies) had most of their forces in an actual defined, uniformed military.
Gitmo itself is a bizarre world. Legal access to clients is so severely limited, it takes 3 weeks notice and then the prison seldom manages to get counsel to see the client in a timely way or usually on the correct date. It's a moot point, since counsel can't show him documents or discuss the witnesses against him. "Full and fair trial" is the goal they set, and but military defense counsel is usually blinded by the fact that being lawyers they view it all with a predeliction for U.S. style trials, most especially courts-martial. As with most of those who aren't prosecutors in the system, I wonder why we didn't just adopt the rules for courts-martial and be done with it. Oddly enough, the rules specifically contemplate they will be used in military commissions.
A serving officer
I then asked Is there a reasonable way out that is politically possible?
Is there a path out of here? Because the situation seems to me to be ethically unsound and likely to corrupt the soldiers involved in it; politically unsound for either republic or empire; and strategically disastrous since it has no upside I can see at all. It won't deter and it won't recruit and it won't seduce.
It is, as Talleyrand said, a mistake.
Now how the hell do we get out of here?
Simply put, it would mean admitting an error. When the President issued his order in November 2001, they really thought the commissions would be used to try bin Laden and similarly situated terrorists. What they ended up with were low level soldiers. The only thing close to a typical terrorist is the guy they allege was the propagandist for al Qaeda. Important find? Sure. Planner? Decision maker? No. Not even a go-out-and-blow-stuff-up-guy. Those that are charged are literally just soldiers, even if illegal soldiers. Khadr, charged with murder, allegedly killed a soldier in a fire-fight. By most definitions, that's not a war crime, just a crime crime.
Say the defense cousel wins and the client is acquitted: he returns to his cell. Say he's convicted, and gets 20 years: he goes back to the same cell. Is that really worth the million dollars they're gonna pay to achieve that? Not to mention the whole torture evidence issue. Admissable, certainly under the "rules." How a U.S. tribunal got to that point, I'll never know.
Google for the story of the two prosecutors who alleged misconduct in their shop. It's an interesting read. I think it was in the New Yorker.
A serving officer
That caused me to ask around among my sources, and came up with this:
The General Counsel's office at DOD is a large part of the problem. Not military, not litigators, political animals only, and they are gumming up the works in a big way. I have to say, I only see a political solution, and it would require Pres. Bush get some pretty significant changes in his advisors, which I don't see happening.
As for the commissions, there are those in the office of the Appointing Authority (essentially the convening authority) who want defined rules and a system that looks much more like a court-martial. That solves small pieces of the problem, but not the large one, should we be doing this at all. The chief prosecutor likened the defendants and their counsel to vampires, and the court process to the sunlight, but he misses the point. Yes, the defense counsels are actively fighting going to court, but it's because of the fundamentally unsound nature of the proceedings. If you were told you were being criminally charged, you could be sentenced to life in prison and guilt or innocence were based on whether you were an upright bi-ped, you'd be fighting ever getting in that tribunal, not spending time trying to show that you are an irregular quadraped. The defense is going to lose, it's a forgone conclusion. What defense counsel is doing now is making the record clear so that upon review no one could call these "full and fair trials."
As for Gitmo's prison, I feel for those soldiers that guard those detainees. They are young, inexperienced, not trained for that duty but trying real hard, as young soldiers do. Force feeding a 120 pound detainee chained to a wheelchair is not soldiering. We have a small, very small, segment of the military police trained to do prison work, but they aren't trained for POW work long term, and those that think POWs (or detainees) and criminal prisoners represent the same issues are wrong. In positions of power, but wrong.
A serving officer in a position to observe
This was a few weeks ago. We then had other mail about Guantanamo regarding the suicides there. This produced this letter:
Your readership has a fairly typical reaction to those at Gitmo, and it's not unreasonable. The public has been told repeatedly, and by those very high in power, that Gitmo houses "the worst of the worst." Mind you, one would assume that the detainees charged would be either a representative sample or would be the worst identified offenders. Here is a link to the charge sheets of the detainees currently charged: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/commissions.html . One thing that you will notice right away is that, if true, the allegations hardly equate to what you or I would consider "terrorist" let alone worst of the worst.
The detainees who have been charged were moved from (in most cases) a maximum security facility where they could see and speak to other detainees pretty much twenty-four/seven. They could essentially see other detainees from their cells, and interacted regularly. Now, the charged detainees are in solitary cells where they are limited to one hour per day of human interaction when they are exercised. Even then, they only see one or two other detainees at a time. The official reaction to complaints about this treatment is to point out that the prison is modeled on one existing in the U.S. now. The caveat that is unspoken, however, is that the people in that existing U.S. prison are convicted prisoners, being punished. Ostensibly, no element of "punishment" exists in our treatment of detainees. In fact, to be in the "segregation" area of the U.S. prison, you have to demonstrate that you are a security risk, or a threat to the life or health of others. A couple of the charged detainees were in the highest privilege status of well-behaved prisoners, a status earned by months and months of compliant behavior - - now they are in solitary.
Before rooting for more suicides, your readers need to remember the Boston "Massacre". The British soldiers and their officer were tried (and but for two of the eight or so, acquitted). Their lawyer, the man who would follow Washington in the Presidency, John Adams, saw much the same reaction among his fellow colonists as we now see toward the detainees. History repeats.
A serving officer
I have a few more letters from others, but I do not see how I can edit to conceal identities; and while at least one officer is willing to be identified, I don't really want to be the one who does that. If the officer wants to go public, that's not my business; but I won't contribute. I do think this an important discussion. Part of my inquiries included some comments I have from troops who have had prison guard duty and can't wait to get out of it and back to anything including patrols in Baghdad.
Not entirely unconnected
Regarding today's note on the reaction to the beheading of our soldiers:
Subject: Our military
The restraint shown by our soldiers in confrontation with the barbarians over there is unbelievable. Considering what the troops have to strike back with and the fact that they don't, is a blessing of a high order that the Iraq's will probably never appreciate.
The Boston Massacre remark isn't really directly central to the story but I have highlighted it because it shows the way a liberal society should, indeed must for its own survival, treat justice & the law.
Report by Royal Society of Edinburgh warns of power 'rationing' Crisis due to station closures, economic growth and increase in households Without significant investment 'surplus capacity' gone by 2015Interesting what the politicians say & who seems to have said nothing.
Alec Johnstone, the Conservative Party energy spokesman, said: "This is another example of how policy can disadvantage the most vulnerable. The current hang-up with insisting such a large percentage of energy supply comes from renewables is just not acceptable if it means people will be denied access to power supplies.That it is good news, rather than merely natural that the Tories support nuclear, even without using the word, shows how much David Cameron has lowered expectations. Nonetheless it is good news. The SNP remark is just silly but why was there no equal amount of idiocy from Nicol Stephen of the SLD?
"Ministers have to realise [this will] not only cause consumers difficulties but also cause real problems for the economy in terms of ensuring people have a job."
But the Green Party and the SNP accused the RSE of looking through "nuclear-tinted spectacles" at the issue.
Mike Weir, the SNP energy spokesman, said: "We are a considerable net exporter of energy. However, in the longer term we need to look towards other energy sources, whether that is from our coal
Elsewhere in the same issue is an item pushing the global warming scare but again honest reporting has required the actually mention that the warming is only 0.6C over the last century though it is buried well below the headline.
Scientists believe world is at its hottest for 2,000 yearsRUSSELL JACKSONI commented
THE world is hotter than it has been for four centuries - and probably the hottest for 2,000 years - the United States' most prestigious scientific organisation said yesterday.
In a report to the US Congress, the National Academy of Sciences reported that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia".
A panel of top climate scientists told politicians that the Earth is heating up and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming".
Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1F during the 20th century.
Here we see a slant on a slant. The headline does not entirely reflect the story. "Last 400 years & potentially the last several millenia" is not quite the same as definitely saying 2,000 years. 400 years ago was the end of the medieval warming period when Vikings settled Greenland & grapes grew in York so saying this is nothing new. Dr Mann's Hockeystick theory that the warming graph is about to (or was in 1999) take off spectacularly (& denied the existence of the medieval warming) has been shown to be based on mathematics which may politely be refered to as thoroughly disproven. The NAS may feel required to sound on message regarding catastrophic global warming, when all the politicians have formed a "consensus" but even so they still say that throughout the 20thC total warming was only 1F (0.6C) which is well within historic variability & isn't any sort of catastrophe..
Thursday, June 22, 2006
On the other hand it is clearly being used as an excuse by our leaders in an intensely dishonest & dangerous way.
Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty we (the nuclear club) have a duty to
Article VIThat early date being sometime after March 5th 1970.
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
So when our government decide we must get ready to replace Trident with something less obsolete they are not practicing what they preach.
Rather worse, to my mind, is this
MINISTERS have boosted spending on Britain's top-secret nuclear research base to almost half a billion pounds a year as they examine plans to introduce a new generation of "mini-nukes" to replace Trident.If we are going to start producing "bunker burster" bombs to launch first strikes against states whom we classify as "rogue" (currently on the basis that they might like to develop the Bomb but the defintion is infinitely malleable) then we are quite definitely not thinking of using nuclear weapons as merely a deterent". We are spending these billions so that we can launch a tactical nuclear war against non-nuclear powers (only North Korea of all the states we call "rogue" is nuclear). This is entirely opposite from the "mutually assured destruction" which has been our justification for keeping the bomb all these year. Apart from being a legal breach of the NPT it removes its entire moral justification. If the objective is to disarm to take the Bomb out of the military options that is one thing, & something which everybody can agree is, whether achievableor not, a good objective. If instead it is purely to allow the US & a few favoured allies, a monopoly in, not just possession of, but use of nukes, this is something which nobody outside the Plan for a New American Century & a few acolytes abroad can support. It is something which will inevitably force other powers to build their own.
Scotland on Sunday revealed two years ago that Britain was considering abandoning its long-range nuclear missiles in favour of cheaper "mini-nukes" that could be used to strike rogue states.
Ministry of Defence chiefs and ministers are understood to be in advanced negotiations with the United States
over developing a new range of much smaller and cheaper "bunker-busting" nuclear weapons that could be used to launch first-strike attacks on enemies.
Ministers have consistently denied that they have already decided to replace the Trident warheads, carried on four submarines based at Faslane, on the Clyde. Maintaining Britain's independent nuclear weapons swallows up to 3% of the MoD's budget, about £1bn a year.
Ministers maintain that the increased budget at Aldermaston is required to maintain the safety of Britain's existing stockpile of nuclear weapons.
But Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, argues there is a more sinister motive.
He said: "There is a conspicuous recruitment drive, which would indicate that they are clearly doing some work on a new nuclear warhead."
But Britain is also believed to be working closely with the United States on options for replacing the submarine-borne Trident warheads, which are expected to reach the end of their lives in 2025. Hundreds of British nuclear scientists have visited a series of nuclear weapons laboratories, including the Los Alamos complex.
But Frank Barnaby, a nuclear physicist who advises the Oxford Research Group, said the increased activity clearly pointed to an advanced programme of work to replace Trident.
He said: "If Aldermaston is recruiting these bright young scientists it will have to give them something to do to keep them busy"
I don't know if Iran isactuallyy building nukes & perhaps more importantly, in their eyes as much as ours, doing so merely to prevent being bullied but it is certain that the US is being the bully. I am quite certain that had Yugoslavia not decided in the 1970s deliberately not to go nuclear for the sake of the stability of Europe, that we would never have supported the genocidal Nazis there that we did. Equally I am certain that Europe in particular is to small & full of nuclear capable powers to survive having a large number of nuclear states pointing at each other. A few years ago the SNP had a spokesman who had elsewhere putforward the vie that, on independence, Scotland should buy some intermediate range missiles, film thee with BC (baterial or chemical) warheads & take our seat at the top table. The SNP fired him when they found out but that is exactly what Britain is doing. If like Yugoslavia we were under a genuine threat from adefinablee enemy this might bedefensiblee but we are clearly not. We are being an ever worse example to a world that MUST learn to give up some level of sovereignty in confidence building measures & not to rattle nuclear sabres at each other.
In purely power rivalry terms our trident, presumably any replacement, does notactuallyl provide us with a real seat at the top table anyway. Unlike France's Bomb our is made in the USA & entirely dependent on US made spare parts. This gives us a perfect right to have our opinions heard as long as & only as they arepreciselyy the opinions of the current US President. We have thus maintained the illusion of being a world power while losing the actuality. Being prepared to at least downgrade our capability to produce Armageddonn would earn us more respect.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This is the photo used by the Guardian, ITN etc etc to prove that the Trnopolje camp was a concentration camp. Penny Marshall & other journalists gave evidence in the ITN-LM libel case in connection with LM Magazines' article showing it was faked. As a result the judge said that LM's claims were "essentially true" but advised the jury to find against them because they had not put sufficient emphasis to the possibility that ITN had done this faking "accidentally".
The manner in which this faking was done was firstly by filming not OF people within barbed wire but FROM within a barbed wire enclosure & secondly by concentrating the filming on Fikret Alic with out mentioning that his starved look was not in any way because of starvation but because he was suffering from TB.
Whether or not this was accidental I couldn't say however if it was this produces greater problems for ITN. This film turned out to be the most important story ever broken by ITN. ITN sold it round the world & never noticed it was being used to "prove" the existence of a concentration camp.For many years up until the present it has been presented by ITN as true, even the court's finding of accidental fakery, was accidentally not noticed by them. Penny Marshall's ITN career, still at ITN, has not been harmed by this accident. The difference between accident & intentional act is that you can never, by definition, say it won't happen again. This means that, since 1992, ITN have never been honestly been able to claim that any news item has not been faked accidentally. When they claim Bliar "honestly" believed the WMD lie they may accidentally lying. When the news ends with the funny animal story about an amorous hamster we do not know whether ITN staff have accidentally been using a vibrator on it.
However it is not merely that these liars have faked these pictures to create one concentration camp.
OMARSKA This, on the other hand is a photo of the Omarska concentration camp, an entirely different place, if you believe in the integrity of the Guardian, ITN & the western media generally.
Finally, while it is undoubtedly the case that the claims that these photos represent separate places & were not faked concentration camps, is an example of the very highest pinnacle of honesty of which these "news" institutions are capable, then or now The claims by Emperor's Clothes that no concentration camps existed (that these were refugee camps - an entirely different thing) is of an entirely different order of accuracy.
Also, accidentally, censored by our media. This article by Counterpunch which goes into some detail about the real & undenied but censored Srebrenica Massacre of thousands of Serb civilians also mentions what The Moslem Nazi leader said about the concentration camp story.
On his death bed, he readily admitted as much to his ardent admirer Bernard Kouchner, in the presence of U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke. Kouchner reminded Izetbegovic of a conversation he had had with French President Mitterrand in which he "spoke of the existence of 'extermination camps' in Bosnia."Bernard Kouchner whose history as a pro-Nazi apparatchik closely parallels that of Paddy Ashdown & is thus not going to be lying against the Nazi cause.
You repeated that in front of the journalists. That provoked considerable emotion throughout the world. [...] They were horrible places, but people were not systematically exterminated. Did you know that?
Yes. I thought that my revelations could precipitate bombings. I saw the reaction of the French and the others-I was mistaken. [...] Yes, I tried, but the assertion was false. There were no extermination camps whatever the horror of those places. (2)
2. Bernard Kouchner, "Les Guerriers de la Paix", Grasset, Paris, 2004, pp. 372-375.
So there it is - yet again the very highest standard of honesty of our media is proven to be noting but racist genocidal, allegedly accidental Nazi lies.
PS *Norman Fraser, longtime readers will know, is the guy who produced a lying document about how I had written letters to newspapers, using the party's, name to put forward "illiberal" policies like wealth creation, freedom & opposing genocide which lead to my expulsion from the party. He is still actively undermining liberalism in the name of liberalism
PPS The BBC have given no reply to my reply to their request that I be more specific in my accusation that they bbc-wont-deny-being-genocidal-nazi-liars I replied citing the Dragodan Massacre, carried out under UK government authority, of at least 210 civilians. Just to remind them that I am srill here.
Monday, June 19, 2006
This apparently took place at the Hunterian Museum which forms part of the University buildings & is only a few hundred yards from where I live. As somebody who has written previously about Professor Smith's theories & their impostance to liberalism I would have very much liked to have been present.
A good idea.