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The Banana That Roared August 21, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Ecuador, Humor, Political Commentary.
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Roger Hollander, August 21, 2012

Ecuadorian military leaders confer in preparation for awaited British invasion, photo Ferlinghetty Images.

Citing unacceptable threats to its revered sovereignty, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Delgado today officially declared war on Great Britain.  With unprecedented multi-partisan support from the Ecuadorian legislative assembly (37 of its 39 parties in support, with only the venerable Whigs – Pelacones in Spanish – voting in the negative, and the ultra right NSC – Neither Social Nor Christian – abstaining).

The news was taken with somewhat as a surprise at 10 Downing, with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron insisting to reporters in a crowded news conference that the Ecuadorians have no sense of humour, than anyone could tell their threat to storm the Embassy was merely a joke.  Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ricardo Patiño, in response muttered something about “mad dogs and Englishmen,” but when pressed by reporters he admitted he had no idea what it meant.  He added, that he had also once heard something about, “no sex please, we’re British,” but again conceded that he had not the slightest notion how it related to their bellicose imperialistic history.

Nevertheless, Ecuador’s declaration of war left the British government no alternative but to gear up for another conflict with a Latin American upstart nation.  “We once ruled the seas,” boasted Britain’s Supreme Admiral, Horatio Starboard, “but we still have one of the world’s finest Navies – second only to the US, China, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia.  Our problem is with the size of the country.  Ecuador is a small country.  I repeat, a small country, a very small country.  We are still trying to locate it on our radar and expect success at any moment.”

Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest serving Monarch since Queen Victoria (Reina Puritana in Spanish), who recently celebrated sixty years on the throne (no pun intended), which the British refer to as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, aptly named for the Royal Family’s Fort Knox sized repository of that precious gem), has called upon the government to re-instate former Prime Ministress Margaret Thatcher (Trabajdora en Pajas in Spanish) to lead the proud nation once again to victory against an ungrateful colony and upstart super power.  “Ecuador is just another one of those bad vines (Mal Vinas in Spanish), and Maggie will know how to handle them,” the Queen stated before nodding off.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks founder and leader, Julian Assange, remains holed up the Ecuador’s London Embassy, where he reports having had no difficulty releasing or taking leaks.  “I am learning a lot about this wonderful nation,” enthused Assange, “who would have ever thought there were so many different and wonderful ways to prepare rice and beans.  They even do it with lentejas (lentils in English)!”

Assange’s enemies were quick to jump on this latest statement by Assange, asserting that it confirmed their allegations of his commitment to Marxist-Lentilism.”

Assange’s attorney, celebrated Spanish jurist Baltazar Garzón, famous for his prosecution of Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet, points out that the British had no qualms about releasing mass murderer Pinochet but seem to be intent upon persecuting Assange for allegedly having had intercourse without using a condom.  “No sex please, we’re British,” he added with a wry smile

The Banana That Roared August 21, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Ecuador, Humor.
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Roger Hollander, August 21, 2012

Ecuadorian military leaders in confab to discuss impending British invasion, photo, Ferlinghetty Images.

Citing unacceptable threats to its revered sovereignty, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Delgado today officially declared war on Great Britain.  With unprecedented multi-partisan support from the Ecuadorian legislative assembly (37 of its 39 parties in support, with only the venerable Whigs – Pelacones in Spanish – voting in the negative, and the ultra right NSC – Neither Social Nor Christian – abstaining).

The news was taken with somewhat as a surprise at 10 Downing, with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron insisting to reporters in a crowded news conference that the Ecuadorians have no sense of humour, than anyone could tell their threat to storm the Embassy was merely a joke (LOL).  Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ricardo Patiño, in response muttered something about “mad dogs and Englishmen,” but when pressed by reporters he admitted he had no idea what it meant.  He added, that he had also once heard something about, “no sex please, we’re British,” but again conceded that he had not the slightest notion how it related to that nation’s bellicose imperialistic history.

Nevertheless, Ecuador’s declaration of war left the British government no alternative but to gear up for another conflict with a Latin American upstart nation.  “We once ruled the seas,” boasted Britain’s Supreme Admiral, Horatio Starboard, “but we still have one of the world’s finest Navies – second only to the US, China, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia.  Our problem is with the size of the country.  Ecuador is a small country.  I repeat, a small country, a very small country.  We are still trying to locate it on our radar and expect success at any moment.”

Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest serving Monarch since Queen Victoria (Reina Puritana in Spanish), who recently celebrated sixty years on the throne (no pun intended), which the British refer to as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, aptly named for the Royal Family’s Fort Knox sized repository of that precious gem), has called upon the government to re-instate former Prime Ministress Margaret Thatcher (Trabajdora en Pajas in Spanish) to lead the proud nation once again to victory against an ungrateful colony and upstart super power.  “Ecuador is just another one of those bad vines (Mal Vinas in Spanish), and Maggie will know how to handle them,” the Queen stated before nodding off.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks founder and leader, Julian Assange, remains holed up the Ecuador’s London Embassy, where he reports having had no difficulty releasing or taking leaks.  “I am learning a lot about this wonderful nation,” enthused Assange, “who would have ever thought there were so many different and wonderful ways to prepare rice and beans.  They even do it with lentejas (lentils in English)!”

Assange’s enemies were quick to jump on this latest statement by Assange, asserting that it confirmed their allegations of his commitment to Marxist-Lentilism.”

Assange’s lawyer, the celebrated Spanish Jurist Baltazar Garzón, vehemently denied this assertion and added that he cannot understand how the British could release Chilean Dictator and mass murderer Augusto Pinochet but want to punish a man for allegedly failing to use a condom.  “No sex, we’re British,” he added with a wry grin.

 

 

 

Ecuador President Rafael “We Are Not A Colony” Correa Stands Up To The Jackbooted British Gestapo August 17, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Ecuador, Latin America, Media, Sweden.
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opednews.com, August 16, 2012

Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts

A coward dies many deaths; a brave man dies but once.

The once proud British government, now reduced to Washington’s servile whore, put on its Gestapo Jackboots and declared that if the Ecuadorean Embassy in London did not hand over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, British storm troopers would invade the embassy with military force and drag Assange out. Ecuador stood its ground. “We want to be very clear, we are not a British colony,” declared Ecuador’s Foreign Minister. Far from being intimidated the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, replied to the threat by granting Assange political asylum.

The once law-abiding British government had no shame in announcing that it would violate the Vienna Convention and assault the Ecuadorean Embassy, just as the Islamic students in the 1979 Khomeini Revolution in Iran took over the US Embassy and held the diplomatic staff captive. Pushed by their Washington overlords, the Brits have resorted to the tactics of a pariah state. Maybe we should be worried about British nuclear weapons.

Let’s be clear, Assange is not a fugitive from justice. He has not been charged with any crime in any country. He has not raped any women. There are no indictments pending in any court, and as no charges have been brought against him, there is no validity to the Swedish extradition request. It is not normal for people to be extradited for questioning, especially when, as in Assange’s case, he expressed his complete cooperation with being questioned a second time by Swedish officials in London.

What is this all about? First, according to news reports, Assange was picked up by two celebrity-hunting Swedish women who took him home to their beds. Later for reasons unknown, one complained that he had not used a condom, and the other complained that she had offered one helping, but he had taken two. A Swedish prosecutor looked into the case, found that there was nothing to it, and dismissed the case.

Assange left for England. Then another Swedish prosecutor, a woman, claiming what authority I do not know, reopened the case and issued an extradition order for Assange. This is such an unusual procedure that it worked its way through the entire British court system to the Supreme Court and then back to the Supreme Court on appeal. In the end British “justice” did what the Washington overlord ordered and came down on the side of the strange extradition request.

Assange, realizing that the Swedish government was going to turn him over to Washington to be held in indefinite detention, tortured, and framed as a spy, sought protection from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. As corrupt as the British are, the UK government was unwilling to release Assange directly to Washington. By turning him over to Sweden, the British could feel that their hands were clean.

Sweden, formerly an honorable country like Canada once was where American war resisters could seek asylum, has been suborned and brought under Washington’s thumb. Recently, Swedish diplomats were expelled from Belarus where they seem to have been involved in helping Washington orchestrate a “color revolution” as Washington keeps attempting to extend its bases and puppet states deeper into traditional Russia.

The entire world, including Washington’s servile puppet states, understands that once Assange is in Swedish hands, Washington will deliver an extradition order, with which Sweden, unlike the British, would comply. Regardless, Ecuador understands this. The Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that Ecuador granted Assange asylum because “there are indications to presume that there could be political persecution.” In the US, Patino acknowledged, Assange would not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty in a trumped-up case.

The US Puppet State of Great (sic) Britain announced that Assange would not be permitted to leave Britain. So much for the British government’s defense of law and human rights. If the British do not invade the Ecuadorean Embassy and drag Assange out dead or in chains, the British position is that Assange will live out his life inside the London Embassy of Ecuador. According to the New York Times, Assange’s asylum leaves him “with protection from arrest only on Ecuadorean territory (which includes the embassy). To leave the embassy for Ecuador, he would need cooperation that Britain has said it will not offer.” When it comes to Washington’s money or behaving honorably in accordance with international law, the British government comes down on the side of money.

The Anglo-American world, which pretends to be the moral face of humanity has now revealed for all to see that under the mask is the face of the Gestapo.

 

 

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, has held numerous university appointments and is Contributing Editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. His columns are at (more…)

 

Imperial Affront: Ecuador Will Face US Wrath for Asylum Decision

(about the author)

opednews.com

It is apparent that the nation of Ecuador will now be in the frame for what American foreign policy elites like to call, in their dainty and delicate language, “the path of action.” Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday for one reason only: the very real possibility that he would be “rendered” to the United States for condign punishment, including the possibility of execution.

None of the freedom-loving democracies involved in the negotiations over his fate — Britain, Sweden, and the United States — could guarantee that this would not happen … even though Assange has not been charged with any crime under U.S. law. [And even though the sexual misconduct allegations he faces in Sweden would not be crimes under U.S. or UK law.] Under these circumstances — and after a sudden, blustering threat from Britain to violate the Ecuadorean embassy and seize Assange anyway — the government of Ecuador felt it had no choice but to grant his asylum request.

As we all know, some of America’s top political figures have openly called for Assange to be put to death for the crime of — well, what was his crime, exactly, in American eyes? His crime is this: he published information leaked to him by a whistleblower — exactly as the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, Fox News, etc., etc., do on a regular basis. Some American leaders and media blowhards have demanded he be executed for “treason,” although, as an Australian citizen, he cannot commit treason against the United States. Others say his leaking of classified documents (none of them remotely as sensitive as, say, the much-celebrated Pentagon Papers from the Vietnam Era) has put “American soldiers in danger” — even though America’s own military and intelligence officials have repeatedly stated that no one has been harmed from the publication of documents on Wikileaks.

No one has been physically harmed, that is. Of course, great harm has been done to the pride of the puffed-up poltroons who strut and preen atop the imperial battlements, thinking themselves the lords of all the earth and the apple of every little peon’s eye. Their crimes and lies and third-rate minds were exposed — in their own words — by Wikileaks: and it is for this that Assange must pay. (And be made an example of to all those who might do likewise.) Our imperial elites (and their innumerable little yapping media sycophants on both sides of the political fence) simply cannot bear to have American power and domination resisted in any way, at any time, for any reason, anywhere, by anyone. It offends their imperial dignity. It undermines their extremely fragile, frightened, frantic egos, which can only be held together by melding themselves to an image of monstrous, implacable, unstoppable power.

It also — and by no means incidentally — threatens to put a slight crimp in their bottom line, for the American system is now thoroughly militarized; the elite depend, absolutely, on war, death, terror and fear to sustain their economic dominance. As the empire’s chief sycophant, Thomas Friedman, once put it: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” You really can’t put it any plainer than that. The only path to prosperity is through domination by armed force. Others must die, must suffer, must quake in fear, to preserve our comfort. This is Modern American Militarism in a nutshell: the ruling ideology and national religion of American society today.

Anything or anyone who threatens this dominance — or just disagrees with it, or simply wants to be left alone by it — is automatically judged an enemy of the imperial state. You must accept the system. You must get with the program. You cannot question it. The beliefs or religion or ideology of the resister (or perceived resister) do not matter in the slightest. Even the impact (or lack of impact) of the resistance doesn’t matter. It is resistance that it is the crime. It is the refusal to acknowledge the greatness and goodness of the strutters on the battlements, and the legitimacy of their armed domination over the earth, and over you.

It is not enough that you obey; you must be seen to obey. You must obey cheerfully, without complaint — just ask any of thousands and thousands of your fellow citizens who have been tasered or beaten or arrested for failing to show due deference to a police officer or security guard or any of the many other heavily armed figures out there who can stop us, hold us, put us away — or put us down — on the merest whim.

Although Britain is acting as the beard in this case, the government of the Nobel Peace Laureate is clearly driving the action. It is simply inconceivable that Washington will not find ways to punish Ecuador for this act of lèse-majesté. What form it will take remains to be seen (although it could begin with covert backing for Britain’s violation of the Ecuadorean embassy in London). But the fragile, frantic strutters will not let this pass.

***
UPDATE: Just to make it clear, sexual assault is a very serious matter. To say that the accusations now being made against Assange would not constitute a crime under U.S. or UK law is not to diminish the right of all women to be free from sexual assault in any form.

But these concerns have nothing to do with what is being played out in London right now. Assange has not actually been criminally charged with sexual assault, although this claim is repeated unceasingly in stories about the situation. [Including my post above, when I carelessly wrote "charges" in place of "allegations"; now corrected.] He is wanted for questioning in a case involving such allegations; a case which was at first dismissed by a prosecutor then reopened later by a different prosecutor. This prosecutor did not charge Assange with a crime, but wanted to question him further in the process of re-examining whether formal charges are warranted.

Now here is one of the many bizarre turns in this story. Assange was in the UK after the case was re-opened. If the prosecutors wanted to question him, they could have done so at any time, either by coming to London or interviewing him via video hookup. There are ample precedents in European and Swedish law for either course. They refused to do so. (They have also refused Ecuador’s offer to have Assange interrogated in their London embassy.) Assange has also said he would return to Sweden for questioning if the government there would guarantee he would not be extradited to the United States. This was also refused.

Given the fact that Swedish prosecutors have repeatedly turned down opportunities to question Assange about the case — even though they say this is their sole aim — it is not entirely unreasonable to assume, as Assange has done, that there is some other intention behind the process that has led to the standoff we see today. If the primary concern was justice for the two women involved in the allegations, who have had the case hanging over their heads for almost two years, Assange could have been questioned by Swedish authorities at any time during that period, and the process of resolving the case, one way or another, could have moved forward. But this has not been done.

As Assange’s lawyer, Per Samuelson, notes:

“In August 2010, Assange was interviewed by the police for the first time, then released. A month later, the prosecutor requested an additional police interrogation be held, insisting this time that it be done with Assange behind bars. She called for Assange’s arrest, issued a European arrest warrant and ordered that he be deported from the UK. Stockholm district court and the Svea court of appeal upheld her request and arrested Assange in absentia.

“Neither Assange nor I can understand the motivation. Why couldn’t the second police interview be conducted with Assange at liberty? Assange is not a Swedish citizen. He does not reside in Sweden. His work has worldwide impact and he must be able to travel freely to accomplish this. He would happily have presented himself for interrogation and, had the case gone to trial, willingly returned to Sweden to face charges. All this could have been done while he remained at liberty. Had Sweden handled the case in this way, the issue would have been resolved a long time ago.

“Instead, Sweden insists on Assange’s forcible removal to Sweden. Once there, he will immediately be seized by police and put in jail. He will be taken to the detention hearing in handcuffs, and will almost certainly be detained. He will remain in custody for the duration of the proceedings. This is unnecessary. The prosecutor is at liberty to withdraw the arrest warrant and lift the detention order, and a hearing in Sweden could be arranged very quickly. The prosecutor could also arrange a hearing in the UK or at the Swedish embassy in London.”

Again, it seems evident that the Swedish authorities did not want to pursue any of these options, but have instead sought relentlessly to put Assange in a Swedish jail and keep him there. Whatever their motives for this heavy-handed course of action, concern for victims of sexual assault does not seem to be among them.

 

Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many (more…)

UK Unions Plot a Winter of Discontent as They Ballot More Than a Million Workers for Biggest General Strike Since 1926 September 14, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Europe, Revolution.
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Published on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 by the Daily Mail/UK

 

Millions of workers including police, firefighters, health workers, teachers and prison officers could strike over bitter pension row Unions describe potential walk-out as ‘unprecedented’ in scale and ‘the biggest fight of our lives’ Unison says they will be ‘vilified’ for striking but urges members to ‘stay strong’

by Anna Edwards

A ‘winter of discontent’ looks imminent as Unison, the country’s biggest public sector workers’ union, gave formal notice today that its 1.1 million members will be balloted for industrial action in the bitter row over pensions.

A crowd of protesters made their feelings clear in London as marches take place across the country, sparked by a proposed increase in the retirement age for public sector workers and paying more into their pensions The Government face the threat of the biggest outbreak of industrial action since the 1926 General Strike after unions served notice of ballots over the row which will see workers pay an extra 3.2 per cent in pension contributions.

Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said 9,000 separate employer groups would be involved in the action, describing the ballot as ‘unprecedented’ in scale.

He blamed the Government for the ballot decision, which could see workers in school, hospitals, police and voluntary sectors, join the move.

He said: ‘A ballot unprecedented in scale will cover over a million workers in health, local government, schools, further education, police, the voluntary sector and the environment and private sector.

‘It’s a decision we don’t take lightly and the stakes are high, higher than ever before, but now is the time to make our stand.

‘It will be hard, we’ll be vilified, attacked, set against each other, but we must stay strong and united.’

The union was joined by Unite and the Fire Brigades Union, who all gave notice of ballots in the worsening row over pensions and launched angry attacks against the Government.

Mr Prentis announced to the TUC Congress in London that unions were involved in the ‘fight of our lives’ over the Government’s controversial reforms of pensions, which will see workers pay an extra 3.2 per cent in contributions.

He said Unison would work with the GMB and Unite, which could mean the country grinding to a halt if millions of the members decide to strike together.

His announcement was met with a standing ovation as delegates applauded the move, which brings the prospect of a winter of strikes closer.

Mr Prentis accused the Government of an ‘unprecedented’ attack on workers with its ‘audacious and devious’ pension reforms.

Mr Prentis said that exhaustive talks had not worked for the unions: ‘We’ve been patient, we’ve co-operated, but there comes a time when we say enough is enough because, if we don’t, they’ll be back for more.

Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite, told the conference: ‘When the coalition came to power we knew we faced the fight of our lives, we knew they would seek to weaken and divide us.

‘While we will never walk away from talks, neither can we sit on our hands. We will support days of action and tactical selective action.’

The Fire Brigades Union’s ballot of its 43,000 members raises the threat of a walkout without ‘Green Goddess’ military cover.

Firefighters last took national strike action in 2003, when Green Goddesses were used as emergency cover, but the ageing military vehicles have since been taken out of service.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, which has already announced fresh industrial action in November, said today’s moves showed that opposition was growing to the Government’s ‘raid’ on public sector pensions.

‘Following the hugely successful strike by civil servants, teachers and lecturers in June, there is a clear momentum behind our campaign that ministers cannot ignore, and they must now enter into serious and open negotiations.

‘We will now join our colleagues from across the public sector to discuss the nuts and bolts of this fightback, which we fully expect will mean industrial action on a scale not seen for many years.’

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, which is not allowed to take industrial action, warned that his members would defy the law if no deal was reached on pensions.

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB, announced that his union’s 250,000 public sector members will also be balloted for strikes, warning that industrial action could last for months.

‘We are not talking about a day – we are talking about something that is long and hard and dirty, running through the winter, into next year and following the legislative programme right into the summer.’

The dispute will involve hospital and ambulance workers, meals-on-wheels staff, refuse collectors and cemetery workers, he said.

Mr Strutton said recent talks over pension reform had been held between Government ministers and local authority leaders, with unions ‘not even in the room’.

Public sector unions will meet later today to discuss co-ordinated action ahead of more talks with the Government planned for next week.

Joining them, workers at four British Sugar plants are to be balloted on industrial action in a dispute over pay and the ‘soaring cost of living’.

Unite said 250 members based in the East of England will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of strikes after rejecting a 3.5 per cent pay offer.

The union said it was seeking a pay deal equal to RPI inflation, currently running at 5.2 per cent, plus 0.5 per cent for the year to next April.

Regional officer Mick Doherty said: ‘Our members are being hit very hard by the soaring cost of living.

‘British Sugar is a very profitable company and despite its complaints that the sugar beet crop was hit by last winter’s bad weather, it is well able to afford a decent pay rise.’

The Government hit back at the ‘disappointing’ strikes, saying they had tried to reach a negotiation with unions.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman described the calls for strike ballots as ‘disappointing’, and slammed the industrial action would be irresponsible at a time of economic difficulty.

‘Our view is that the best way forward is to continue with talks and we have always been very clear that we should try to have a constructive dialogue with the unions,’ said the spokesman.

‘Clearly, it is disappointing that there have been calls for industrial action, particularly as the talks are still ongoing.

‘On pensions, we have been very clear about the need for reform, but we have also been making the point that even after these reforms come through, public sector pensions will still be amongst the very best available.’

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, answering questions after a speech in London, said: ‘It is very regrettable that they are rushing to announce days of strikes when the discussions are still ongoing.

‘It would lovely to wave a magic wand and say we have discovered pots of gold, and the ageing population is not ageing, and, hallelujah, pension funds are entirely sustainable.

‘We entered into these discussions in good faith and we will continue to do so.”

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who is leading negotiations for the Government, told BBC News: ‘I think the public will be really fed up if they see industrial action damaging the economy, damaging their ability to get to work and earn their own living when (they) may be paying more towards public sector pensions than they are towards their own.

‘We want this to be a proper settlement so that we know that public sector workers are going to be able to enjoy these good pensions – better pension schemes than are available almost anywhere else – but that’s on a sustainable basis.

‘I don’t want governments to be coming back in five or 10 years’ time and saying ‘We need to have another go at this because it wasn’t sorted out properly in 2011′.

‘I think the unions need to think about the effect on the public and the effect on the economy and on their own members.

‘Their own members want to be going to work, they don’t want to be giving up a day’s pay, or more than that, at a time when we are all of us working under major constraints.’

Increasingly militant transport union leaders joined in with the walkout threats, warning they were planning the ‘biggest campaign’ of civil disobedience in Britain’s history.

They plan to disrupt public services and block motorways as well as declaring they are ready to ‘go to prison’ in protest at proposed changes to pensions.

In a bid to persuade them to stop striking and wrecking the Games, transport bosses have offered hefty bonuses to railway workers amid fears the militant RMT union could wreck the Games with strikes.

Train drivers will pocket up to £1,800 simply for turning up for work during the London Olympics next summer.

Last night, MPs condemned the payments as a ‘bribe’ and accused the unions of holding the public to ransom.

Astonishingly, the Daily Mail understands that the £1,800 bonus deal with Tube drivers does not even include a no-strike clause.

The glaring omission leaves them free to pocket the cash and still cause mass disruption with industrial action.

A senior source connected with the talks said: ‘The drivers could have demanded fur coats for the wives or football season tickets for the men if they wanted.

‘It’s an amazing deal but one which the Tube had to do. There was no alternative.’

Union sources revealed a battle plan has been devised, mapping out ‘blocks’ of strikes running in ‘target areas’ for two to three days at a time.

One union leader said to expect scenes reminiscent of the 1978 ‘winter of discontent’ when rubbish filled the streets.

Another, unnamed, told the BBC: ‘In some areas there will be two or three days. In other areas it will be continuous. In other areas it will be a rolling programme.’

 

© 2011 Associated Newspapers Ltd

Flying the Flag; Faking the News September 3, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Iraq and Afghanistan, Media, War.
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1 comment so far

Friday 03 September 2010

by: John Pilger, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

photo
(Photo: DVIDSHUB / Flickr)

Edward Bernays, the American nephew of Sigmund Freud, is said to have invented modern propaganda. During the First World War, he was one of a group of influential liberals who mounted a secret government campaign to persuade reluctant Americans to send an army to the bloodbath in Europe. In his book, “Propaganda,” published in 1928, Bernays wrote that the “intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses was an important element in democratic society” and that the manipulators “constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country.” Instead of propaganda, he coined the euphemism “public relations.”

The American tobacco industry hired Bernays to convince women they should smoke in public. By associating smoking with women’s liberation, he made cigarettes “torches of freedom.” In 1954, he conjured a communist menace in Guatemala as an excuse for overthrowing the democratically-elected government, whose social reforms were threatening the United Fruit company’s monopoly of the banana trade. He called it a “liberation.”

Bernays was no rabid right winger. He was an elitist liberal who believed that “engineering public consent” was for the greater good. This was achieved by the creation of “false realities,” which then became “news events.” Here are examples of how it is done these days:

False Reality: The last US combat troops have left Iraq “as promised, on schedule,” according to President Barack Obama. TV screens have filled with cinematic images of the “last US soldiers” silhouetted against the dawn light, crossing the border into Kuwait.

Fact: They are still there. At least 50,000 troops will continue to operate from 94 bases. American air assaults are unchanged, as are special forces’ assassinations. The number of “military contractors” is currently 100,000 and rising. Most Iraqi oil is now under direct foreign control.

False Reality: BBC presenters and reporters have described the departing US troops as a “sort of victorious army” that has achieved “a remarkable change in [Iraq's] fortunes.” Their commander, Gen. David Petraeus, is a “celebrity,” “charming,” “savvy” and “remarkable.”

Fact: There is no victory of any sort. There is a catastrophic disaster; and attempts to present it as otherwise are a model of Bernays’ campaign to “rebrand” the slaughter of the first world war as “necessary” and “noble.” In 1980, Ronald Reagan, running for president, rebranded the invasion of Vietnam, in which up to three million people died, as a “noble cause,” a theme taken up enthusiastically by Hollywood. Today’s Iraq war movies have a similar purging theme: the invader as both idealist and victim.

False Reality: It is not known how many Iraqis have died. They are “countless” or maybe “in the tens of thousands.”

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Fact: As a direct consequence of the Anglo-American-led invasion, a million Iraqis have died. This figure from Opinion Research Business is based on peer-reviewed research led by Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, whose methods were secretly affirmed as “best practice” and “robust” by the Blair government’s chief scientific adviser, as revealed in a Freedom of Information search. This figure is rarely reported or presented to “charming” and “savvy” American generals. Neither is the dispossession of four million Iraqis, the malnourishment of most Iraqi children, the epidemic of mental illness and the poisoning of the environment.

False Reality: The British economy has a deficit of billions, which must be reduced with cuts in public services and regressive taxation, in a spirit of “we’re all in this together.”

Fact: We are not in this together. What is remarkable about this public relations triumph is that, only 18 months ago, the diametric opposite filled TV screens and front pages. Then, in a state of shock, truth was unavoidable, if briefly. The Wall Street and city of London financiers’ trough was on full view for the first time, along with the venality of once celebrated snouts. Billions in public money went to inept and crooked organizations known as banks, which were spared debt liability by their Labour government sponsors.

Within a year, record profits and personal bonuses were posted, and state and media propaganda had recovered its equilibrium. Suddenly, the “black hole” was no longer the responsibility of the banks, whose debt is to be paid by those not in any way responsible: the public. The received media wisdom of this “necessity” is now a chorus, from the BBC to the Sun. A masterstroke, Bernays would surely say.

False Reality: The former government minister Ed Miliband offers a “genuine alternative” as leader of the British Labour Party.

Fact: Miliband, like his brother David, the former foreign secretary, and almost all those standing for the Labour leadership, is immersed in the effluent of New Labour. As a New Labour member of Parliament and minister, he did not refuse to serve under Blair or speak out against Labour’s persistent warmongering. He now calls the invasion of Iraq a “profound mistake.” Calling it a mistake insults the memory and the dead. It was a crime, of which the evidence is voluminous. He has nothing new to say about the other colonial wars, none of them mistakes. Neither has he demanded basic social justice: that those who caused the recession clear up the mess and that Britain’s fabulously rich corporate minority be seriously taxed, starting with Rupert Murdoch.

Of course, the good news is that false realities often fail when the public trusts its own critical intelligence, not the media. Two classified documents recently released by WikiLeaks express the CIA’s concern that the populations of European countries, which oppose their governments’ war policies, are not succumbing to the usual propaganda spun through the media. For the rulers of the world, this is a conundrum, because their unaccountable power rests on the false reality that no popular resistance works. And it does.


 John Pilger, Australian-born, London-based journalist, film-maker and author. For his foreign and war reporting, ranging from Vietnam and Cambodia to the Middle East, he has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism. For his documentary films, he won a British Academy Award and an American Emmy. In 2009, he was awarded Australia’s human rights prize, the Sydney Peace Prize. His latest film is “The War on Democracy.”

Ministers Must Explain Destruction of ‘Torture Flight’ Papers, Says Panel of MPs August 9, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Criminal Justice.
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Published on Sunday, August 9, 2009 by The Observer/UK

Foreign affairs select committee calls for disclosure on why Diego Garcia documents have vanished

by Mark Townsend

Ministers must explain why crucial documents relating to CIA “torture flights” that stopped on sovereign British territory were destroyed, a panel of MPs has said.

[Britain's Foreign Minister David Miliband looks on ahead of an European Union Foreign Ministers meeting on Iran in Corfu June 28, 2009. (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis/Files)]Britain’s Foreign Minister David Miliband looks on ahead of an European Union Foreign Ministers meeting on Iran in Corfu June 28, 2009. (REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis/Files)

A damning appraisal by the influential foreign affairs select committee on Britain’s role in the rendition of terror suspects and alleged complicity of torture condemns the government’s lack of transparency on vital areas of concern.In particular, the MPs, in a report released today, call for an explanation for the missing papers, which might explain the role of Diego Garcia, the British overseas territory, in the US’s “extraordinary rendition” programme. The report says: “We recommend that the government discloses how, why and by whom the records relating to flights through Diego Garcia since the start of 2002 were destroyed.”

Foreign secretary David Miliband admitted 18 months ago that two US planes refuelled on the Indian Ocean island. The committee now wants a detailed account of the record-keeping and disposal policy regarding flights through the territory and “elsewhere through UK airspace”.

It also criticises the government’s inability to offer assurances that ships anchored outside Diego Garcia’s waters were not involved in the rendition programme. “The government must address the use of UK airspace for empty flights that may be part of a rendition circuit,” says the report.

Amnesty International said the MPs’ verdict underlined the need for a full, independent inquiry into the UK’s involvement in “war on terror” and human rights abuses.

The committee also voiced disquiet over claims that British intelligence officers were complicit in the torture of detainees held overseas. According to documents revealed by the high court last month, an MI5 officer visited Morocco three times during the time British resident Binyam Mohamed claims he was secretly interrogated and tortured there.

Of concern to the foreign affairs committee were claims relating to the involvement of the British security services and the practices of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence officers, who are known to routinely condone torture.

Details of the investigations the government has carried out into any of the claims should be made public, according to MPs. Mike Gapes, chairman of the committee, said it was time ministers also disclosed the guidance given at the time to intelligence officers interviewing suspects.

He said details of people captured by UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and placed in US custody should be divulged as part of a drive to improve transparency. The committee report notes: “We conclude that the potential treatment of detainees transferred by UK forces to the Afghan authorities gives cause for concern, given that there is credible evidence that torture and other abuses occur within the Afghani criminal justice system.”

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

Eyes wide shut: A look at British news censorship March 17, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Media.
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By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor


www.onlinejournal.com, March 13, 2009

 

I hope the late Stanley Kubrick won’t mind my borrowing the title of his film, which was shot in London and the Home Counties. I don’t think he would if he knew that February 12, 2009, marked “the enforcement date for section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008.” As reported in the UK’s Guardian, from that date on “a photojournalist who documents political dissent on the streets — and sometimes the fields — of Britain,” would be subject to prosecution under that act.

Since little mention of this major incursion of civil liberties has crossed the pond, and even less has been picked up by American “media,” I thought I’d pen a word or two about it. As with the deadly, former Bush administration, terror legislation has been rough-handedly applied by the British government. Great Britain is now using section 76, CTA-2008, to not only criminalize protestors but to criminalize those foolish enough to think they’re free enough to report on said dissent, i.e., photographers and filmmakers.

From February 12 on, it is an offense to “elicit information” or even “attempt to elicit information” about any member or former member of the armed forces, intelligence services, or even a police officer in Great Britain. It’s been an offense in Northern Ireland since 2000, even before 9/11 got the “War on Terror” going with its false flag attack, i.e., inside job. Though in all fairness and due respect, Northern Ireland had some history with terror in protecting itself from the Motherland’s armies and henchmen. And Great Britain had its purported 7/7/05 subway terror attack (by who is another question).

In short, you can now be arrested either for taking or publishing a picture of a police officer if the police think it is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.” If you were so accused by the crown prosecution, it would be up to you to prove you had “a reasonable excuse” to take the picture in the first place: “Ey, I was only trying to get the goat standin’ behind the bloody Bobbie beatin’ that protestor over the head” or something like that out of Monty Python’s soon to be Bollywood film, Queen Mother’s Best Meet the Terrorist Threat.

But this is no joke, unfortunately, since once the government could nick you with CTA-2008-77 you’d be in deep trouble. “Anyone for lunch in the Tower? Today, it is photo-journo heads on a platter, deliciously served with jellied eyeballs.”

That aside, Vernon Coaker, junior Home Office minister responsible for police, security and community safety, wrote in a letter to the National Union of Journalists in December as to when the police could “limit” photography in a public place, “This may be on the grounds of national security or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person’s own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others.”

Well, yeah, all those flashes going off, and what about the phone-cams, blink, blink, blink, I mean, blinding (like A-Rod at Yankee Stadium shooting for his 500th homer in 2007). Then there’s the video news guys, what with their wide-eyes in your face, mikes, lights veritable chaos. Ah, but we know the real deal: nobody wants to embarrass the government for the recession when the beggars come banging their cups on the gates of Buckingham Palace, or hammer the well-suited G-20 over the Lindsey refinery dispute these last few weeks. Tsk, tsk.

So, section 76 will make a handy bookend with section 44 of the Terrorism Act of 2000 with which to bludgeon photojournalists. In response, hundreds of photojournalists gathered on February 16 outside of New Scotland Yard at 11 a.m., both photographers and filmmakers with cameras in hand to exercise their democratic right to take a photograph in a public place. Here, here, chaps! Well done, lads and ladies!

Yet, the larger implications of this Terror Act add-on are like viruses; laws like this have a way of crossing the pond on the sodden winds of change. If they can do this to British photojournalists, some bright light in Washington will want to import it here. We are still dealing with the issues of torture and rendition, where to imprison the former inhabitants of Guantanamo, and whether Bush and Chaney and their henchmen should be brought to trial over their war crimes, both in inciting the war in Afghanistan, then Iraq, after the War on Terror incited by 9/11.

And so, it would be major, like high concept, baby, if American photojournalists, writers, newsmen, and other famous faces could weigh in on this issue to help our cousin in Great Britain.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net. read his new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 onat www.jerrymazza.com, Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

US Influence in Iraq Far From Over March 1, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan.
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by Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, March 1, 2009

Barack Obama won the votes of many Americans by promising to swiftly end the Iraq War and bring U.S. troops home. He denounced George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq as a “violation of international law.”

So will U.S. troops leave Iraq? Will those responsible for this trumped-up war face justice?

No, on both counts.

President Obama says U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq by August 2010. However, the U.S. military occupation will not end. What we are seeing is a public relations shell game.

The U.S. has 142,000 soldiers and nearly 100,000 mercenaries occupying Iraq. Obama’s plan calls for withdrawing the larger portion of the U.S. garrison but leaving 50,000-60,000 troops in Iraq.

To get around his promise to withdraw all “combat” troops, the president and his advisers are rebranding the stay-behind garrison as “training troops, protection for American interests, and counterterrorism forces.”

At a time when the U.S. is bankrupt and faces a $1.75 trillion deficit, the Pentagon’s gargantuan $664 billion budget (50% of total global military spending) will grow in 2009 and 2010 by another $200 billion to pay for the occupation of Iraq and Obama’s expanded war in Afghanistan. Throw in another $40 billion to $50 billion for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Obama insists the U.S. will withdraw from Iraq. But his words are belied by the Pentagon, which continues to expand bases in Iraq, including Balad and Al-Asad, with 4,400-metre runways for heavy bombers and transports.

AIR BRIDGE

They are key links in the U.S. Air Force’s new air bridge that extends from Germany to Bulgaria and Romania, Iraq and the Gulf, then onward to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Besides Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone and U.S. embassy (the world’s largest), the Pentagon reportedly wants to retain 58 permanent bases in Iraq (by comparison, there are 36 in South Korea), total control of its air space and immunity from Iraqi law for all U.S. troops.

The U.S. also will retain major bases in neighbouring Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Diego Garcia. U.S. oil companies are moving in to exploit Iraq’s vast energy reserves, the Mideast’s second largest after Saudi Arabia.

U.S. troop levels will remain high during Iraq’s December elections to ensure “security,” according to the Pentagon. In other words, ensuring the U.S.-selected regime “wins” the vote. Iraqi parties, notably Baath, opposing the U.S. occupation, are banned from running. Many Iraqis believe the U.S. will never leave their nation.

In short, contrary to all Obama’s high-blown rhetoric about pulling out of Iraq, Washington clearly intends it will remain a U.S. military, political and economic protectorate. Washington is following exactly the same control model the British Empire used to rule Iraq, and exploit its oil: Install a figurehead ruler, keep him in power using a “native” army (read today’s Iraqis army and police). RAF units based in Iraq (read U.S. air bases) bomb any rebellious areas. Smaller British ground units based in non-urban areas are on call to put down attempted coups against the king. The U.S. plan for Iraq is identical.

Obama made clear that officials responsible for the Iraq war, torture, kidnapping or assassination will not be prosecuted. The theft of over $50 billion in U.S. “reconstruction” funds sent to Iraq is being hushed up.

By contrast, Britons are demanding release of cabinet documents leading to war that are likely to expose Tony Blair’s lies and illegalities.

BYGONES

There is no corresponding call for justice in the United States. Obama tells the public, let bygones be bygones. Unless, of course, it’s Osama bin Laden.

Between 600,000 and one million Iraqis died as a result of President George W. Bush’s aggression, which cost nearly $1 trillion and some 4,500 U.S. dead. Four million Iraqis remain refugees. The U.S. holds over 20,000 Iraqi political prisoners.

Mr. President, this is not a bygone. It’s a historic crime that demands justice. Keep your word about withdrawing from Iraq. Enough with the Bush doubletalk.

Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World

Guilty: Britain admits collusion, new torture claims emerge March 1, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Britain, Torture.
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Sunday, 1 March 2009, www.independent.co.uk

HARAZ GHANBARI/AP

The US government held Binyam Mohamed, below, at Camp Delta from 2004 until his release last week

 

Evidence from last British resident in Guantanamo reveals the full story of how terror suspects were illegally maltreated. Robert Verkaik reports

Britain faces fresh accusations that it colluded in the rendering and alleged torture of a second UK resident now being held at Guantanamo Bay. The new claims bring further pressure on ministers to come clean about the scale of the Government’s complicity in the rendition and torture of dozens of terror suspects captured by the Americans after 9/11.

 

His case comes after that of Binyam Mohamed, 30, released from the US naval base in Cuba last week, and whose claims of UK involvement in his torture are being investigated by the Attorney General. Now allegations made by Shaker Aamer, the final British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, raise concerns that both MI5 and MI6 were widely involved in the US rendition and torture programme operated in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 9/11.

Mr Aamer, 42, says he was rendered from the Pakistan border to Afghanistan where he claims he was tortured. He was passed by Pakistani groups to the Northern Alliance who sold him to the Americans. The CIA arranged for his detention in Afghanistan and final transfer to Guantanamo Bay.

He adds that two MI6 or MI5 officers, a man and a woman, interrogated him after he had been subjected to beatings and sleep deprivation by the Americans while being held at a prison in Kandahar in January 2002. He has told his UK lawyers that the British woman officer called herself “Sally”.

A few weeks later he says an MI5 officer was present while he was being tortured by CIA agents in an interrogation cell at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in January or February 2002. This time he claims a man called “John”, who introduced himself as being from British intelligence, was in the room when his head was repeatedly “bounced” against a wall and he was told that he was going to die.

Mr Aamer’s statement will be used in a High Court challenge against the British government to force ministers to release information about his detention and interrogation in 2002.

The new charges of British complicity in rendition and torture are the latest to be made against the British government which has always denied using torture or helping others use it. But a series of embarrassing revelations has shown the public may not have been told the whole truth. After blanket denials that the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia was used by the Americans for “torture flights”, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was forced to admit last year that the UK Government had been misled by the US administration. Mr Miliband said the British outpost on the Indian Ocean island had twice been used by the US as a refuelling stop for the secret transfer of two terrorism suspects in 2002 to Morocco and Guantanamo Bay.

Then, on Thursday, it was the turn of the Defence Secretary, John Hutton, to make an embarrassing admission to Parliament. He told MPs that Britain had helped in the rendition of two Iraqis captured by British forces and sent to Afghanistan for interrogation by US agents as recently as 2004.

Pressure is now growing on the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, to say what he was told about the US rendition programme when he was Foreign Secretary between 2001 and 2006.

Zachary Katznelson of the human rights charity Reprieve, representing Mr Aamer, said: “We must know whether MI5 or MI6 has information about Mr Aamer’s detention and torture so that we can show that any evidence against him obtained under such conditions cannot be relied on by the US in any prosecution.”

Mr Katznelson alleges Mr Aamer had been tortured by American agents for several days before he was interrogated by British intelligence officers. He said: “Mr Aamer has told us that on one occasion he was beaten and his head was bounced against the wall. They were screaming at him ‘you are going to die’. He says that during this abuse a member of the British security services was present in the room who witnessed what was happening.”

From Bagram, Mr Aamer was flown to Guantanamo Bay, where he is on hunger strike in protest at his alleged mistreatment and continued separation from his family. He also claims to have been beaten and tortured during his detention in Cuba.

Reprieve said the full story of Britain’s involvement in US rendition and torture had not been told and that ministers’ recent admissions were only the tip of the iceberg.

“This Government has misled us again and again,” said Reprieve executive director Clare Algar. “Surely we must immediately have the public inquiry into the Government’s conduct of the ‘War on Terror’ demanded by so many,” she said.

Andrew Tyrie MP, the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, says the latest revelations require a full inquiry into Britain’s role.

Mr Katznelson said Mr Aamer’s evidence showed British collusion in rendition and torture was “systemic”.

Binyam Mohamed also claims that British agents questioned him before he was sent to Morocco where he says he was brutally tortured before being taken to Cuba. He also said one of the British officers who interrogated him introduced himself as “John”.

Mr Mohamed was arrested by Pakistani immigration officials at Karachi airport in April 2002 when intending to return to the UK. He alleges that he was tortured in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan between 2002 and 2004, including being beaten, scalded and having his penis slashed with a scalpel.

The MI5 agent who interviewed Mr Mohamed in Pakistan in early 2002 told the High Court last year that the US and UK both wanted information from him because they regarded him as a terror threat. The question was how it should best be obtained.

A telegram sent by MI5 requesting US permission to see Mr Mohamed made the case that the security service’s “knowledge of the UK scene may provide contextual background useful during any continuing interview process … This will place the detainee under more direct pressure.”

In his note of the meeting with the British resident, the MI5 officer recalled: “I told Mohamed he had an opportunity to help us and help himself. The US authorities will be deciding what to do with him and this will depend to a very large degree on his degree of co-operation.” Could witness B be the same MI5 agent who Shaker Aamer said had called himself “John”? Or was it coincidence that both British residents came up with same name for their interrogator?

The truth may not be known until Britain releases secret evidence about the Mohamed case. In a ruling last month, the High Court recommended that these documents be made public, but the judges stopped short of making it an order. Lawyers for Mr Miliband had warned that intelligence relations with the US would be seriously harmed were the documents to see the light of day. Lawyers believe these documents may also help to show whether “John”, or someone else from MI5 or MI6, also interviewed Mr Aamer.

Mr Aamer, his wife and their three children left London in 2001 to go to Afghanistan to work with a children’s charity. But Mr Aamer, a Saudi Arabian national who came to the UK in 1996, was captured on the Pakistan border in December 2001. Mr Aamer was transferred to Kandahar and Bagram air base and then flown on to Guantanamo Bay. For four years he has been held in solitary confinement because the Guantanamo camp guards believe he wields too much influence over other detainees. He has never seen his youngest son, who was born after his capture.

Mr Aamer’s lawyers have filed a 16-page claim arguing for his removal from isolation in Guantanamo Bay prison. The British government has recently begun pressing the US administration for Mr Aamer’s release.

It is understood that a party of Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials who visited Mr Mohamed in Cuba shortly before he was cleared for release, also had limited contact with Mr Aamer, who has lost half his body weight after a series of hunger strikes. An FCO spokesman said the Americans had told the British Government that they still had security concerns about Mr Aamer and would not release him.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that they took Mr Aamer’s allegations very seriously and had launched an “urgent review” of the case. He said that Britain did not carry out or collude in torture.

How the Government changed its story from denial to regret

No one told us

20 November, 2005

“These are privately chartered aircraft and they don’t need to tell us who is on board.”

Department of Transport

We don’t keep track of such things

22 November, 2005

“Where passengers do not leave the airfield, the MoD … does not record details of passengers.”

Adam Ingram, then Defence minister

No one asked us

30 November, 2005

The Government is “not aware of the use of their territory or airspace for the purposes of extraordinary rendition, nor have we received any requests, [or] granted any permission for the use of UK territory or airspace for such purposes”.

Foreign Office

It never happened

5 December, 2005

“We have no evidence to corroborate media allegations about use of UK territory in rendition operations.”

Foreign Office

We have no record

13 December, 2005

“Careful research has been unable to identify any occasion … when we have received a request for permission by the United States for a rendition through the United Kingdom territory or airspace …. Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories … there is simply no truth in claims that the UK has been involved in rendition.”

Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary

There’s no evidence

22 December, 2005

“I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all.

“I am not going to start ordering inquiries into this, that or the next thing when I have got no evidence to show whether this is right or not.”

Tony Blair, then Prime Minister

We’ve done nothing illegal

20 January, 2006

“Anything we do in relation to rendition is in compliance with our international obligations. We fulfil our legal obligations.”

Tony Blair’s spokesman

They’d have to ask us first

16 February, 2006

“We have made clear to [the US] we expect them to seek permission to render detainees via British airspace.”

Ian Pearson, then Foreign Office minister

We’ve never given permission

7 October, 2006

“Mr Hoon … made clear that the British Government has not approved and will not approve a policy of supporting the transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to suspect that they face the risk of torture.”

Foreign Office

OK, they did it twice. But that’s all

25 February, 2008

“The two flights from the US already identified are the only ones we are aware of.”

Foreign Office

Yes, we were involved. And we shouldn’t have been

27 February, 2009

“In retrospect, it is clear to me that the transfer to Afghanistan of these two individuals should have been questioned at the time.”

John Hutton, Defence Secretary

UK must come clean on torture accusations February 26, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Torture.
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By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer, www.onlinejournal.com


Feb 26, 2009, 14:33

 

During the murky eight years of George W. Bush’s White House tenure, there is little doubt that the hands of some British officials became grubby trying to please their US ally.

It has only been a month since ex-President Bush flew off to relative obscurity in Texas but it feels like an age ago. So much has changed climate-wise.

The new administration is making nice with Muslims around the world, has pledged to proactively seek a two-state solution and is rushing to get out of Iraq.

Moreover, President Barack Obama has promised to close Bush’s Guantanamo and has already taken steps to outlaw the practice of torture. His attitudes are as day to Bush’s long dark night. The problem is Bush’s exit leaves Britain holding the baby.

These are all moves which must have provoked a sigh of relief among Whitehall’s mandarins. After all, the former Blair government was arguably arm-twisted into Iraq and was never comfortable with kidnapping individuals on flimsy pretexts before locking them up while awaiting the verdicts of kangaroo military tribunals.

That was the official stance. But now there is evidence that the British secret service may have been complicit in the torturing of “detainees” (a nice innocuous word that deprived incarcerated suspects of their rights under the Geneva Conventions).

And it must be said that if the UK was seriously offended by their treatment, the government would not have waited years before seeking the repatriation of its own citizens and residents.

Now that torture has once again rightfully reverted to being a dirty word within so-called free and democratic societies, Britain’s Foreign Office is trying its best to wipe the stains from its carpet or, to be more precise, is endeavouring to hide them under a rug.

For years, former British detainees eventually allowed to return home have spoken of undergoing harsh interrogations at Camp Delta carried out by American and British interrogators.

Ruhal Ahmad — one of the “Tipton Three” featured in the 2006 docudrama, The Road to Guantanamo — told newspapers that he was interrogated in Afghanistan by an M15 officer and a representative of the Foreign Office.

“All the time I was kneeling with a guy standing on the backs of my legs and another holding a gun to my head,” he recounted. However, such firsthand accounts were not taken seriously until recently.

The case that has recently hurtled the UK’s possible involvement in torture into the spotlight is that of an Ethiopian with British residency, who returned to Britain Monday after being confined to Guantanamo for seven years, where, according to a medical report, he suffered malnutrition, stomach complaints, sores, organ and ligament damage, as well as physical and emotional bruising.

His British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, claims “he has a list of physical ailments that cover two sheets of A4 paper. What Binyam [Mohammad] has been through should have been left behind in the Middle Ages.”

But when Mohammad’s plight was taken to a British court, the judges were hamstrung by Foreign Secretary David Miliband who suppressed evidence under the banner of national security.

He claimed that the US administration had warned it would cease sharing intelligence in the event such evidence became public knowledge.

The clearly irritated judges urged the Obama administration to reconsider its position and expressed astonishment “that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials and relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.”

In reality, the court had been misled. It transpired that the Foreign Office had actually requested the US to issue a letter in those terms to umbrella its own reluctance to disclose British involvement in the torture. This revelation has triggered accusations of cover-up.

Obviously, the right hand does not know what the left hand is up to, as British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has asked Attorney-General Baroness Scotland to investigate “criminal wrongdoing” by UK and US security services related to Mohammad’s allegations.

Now the civil liberties group Human Rights Watch (HRW) is heaping more pressure onto Miliband by alleging that British intelligence officials have interrogated British citizens subsequent to their abuse or torture. HRW has issued a report suggesting at least 10 British detainees have been tortured with the knowledge or collusion of MI5.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office has responded with “our policy is not to participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment, for any purpose.” Great! Then prove it!

There is a chance that Mohammad may pursue his case. In that event, Britain should come clean.

If mistakes were made, so be it. There are too many people in the know for them to be swept under a cosy rug.

Mohammad and others like him deserve recompense and an apology. And poised, as we are, on a promised new era of morality and the rule of law, we deserve the truth.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at heardonthegrapevines@yahoo.co.uk.

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