Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Coup in Honduras

Some useful background reading.
Click on the links to read the complete articles.
Also, the public comments after each article are interesting...

The Rise, Repression and Uncertain Future of the Coup
By Benjamin Dangl
Zelaya has been criticizing and taking on the sweatshop and corporate media industry in his country, and increased the minimum wage by 60%. He said the increase, which angered the country's elite but expanded his support among unions, would "force the business oligarchy to start paying what is fair." Continue


Another US Destabilization Operation
By Barry Grey and Rafael Azul
While publicly opposing the military coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday, the Obama administration on Monday indicated that it will not cut off aid to the Central American country or demand Zelaya’s reinstatement.
Continue

Obama's Real Message to Latin America?

By Nikolas Kozloff
If it were ever proven that Obama sanctioned the overthrow of a democratically elected government this could completely undermine the U.S. President’s carefully crafted image. Continue


A Few Thoughts on the Coup in Honduras
By Jeremy Scahill

The US ties to the Honduran military and political establishment run far too deep for all of this to have gone down without at least tacit support or the turning of a blind eye by some US political or military official(s).
Continue


The Significance Of Washington's Coup Attempt In Honduras
By Shamus Cooke
Nearly all of the U.S. media’s writing about the Honduran coup is littered with negative references to Hugo Chavez, the “socialist project,” and other buzzwords meant to influence the reader toward acceptance of the coup. Continue


In Case You Missed It
Friendly Dictators

Written in 1995

They are democratic America's undemocratic allies. They may rise to power through bloody ClA-backed coups and rule by terror and torture. Their troops may receive training or advice from the CIA and other US agencies. US military aid and weapons sales often strengthen their armies and guarantee their hold on power
. Continue



Monday, June 29, 2009

A Fight For The Amazon That Should Inspire The World

The uprising In the Amazon will determine the future of the planet


By Johann Hari

"The Independent" -- Wednesday, 24 June 2009

While the world nervously watches the uprising in Iran, an even more important uprising has been passing unnoticed – yet its outcome will shape your fate, and mine.

In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the poorest people in the world have taken on the richest people in the world to defend a part of the ecosystem none of us can live without.

They had nothing but wooden spears and moral force to defeat the oil companies – and, for today, they have won.

Here's the story of how it happened....

...There is something thrilling about the fight in the Amazon, yet also something shaming. These people had nothing, but they stood up to the oil companies. We have everything, yet too many of us sit limp and passive, filling up our tanks with stolen oil without a thought for tomorrow.

The people of the Amazon have shown they are up for the fight to save our ecosystem. Are we?



Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent.

Continue



US Heavy Meddle in Iran

By Lord Baltimore

June 28, 2009 "Wide Asleep in America" --- The Western press has clearly taken a side and has successfully managed to drag its uninformed audience along with it. News reports all refer to the continuing groundswell of protest to the election results as an "unprecedented" show of courage, resistance, and people power against the government not seen in Iran since the 1979 revolution.

But what we have seen this past week seems to have far more in common with the events of fifty-six years ago, rather than just thirty.

In 1953, the United States government, at the behest of Britain, tasked CIA operatives Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. and Donald Wilber to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Iran, in order to put an end to the process of oil nationalization by Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. This nationalism "outraged the British, who had 'bought' the exclusive right to exploit Iranian oil from a corrupt Shah, and the Americans, who feared that allowing nationalization in Iran would encourage leftists around the world."

The coup d'etat, which took a mere three weeks to execute, was accomplished in a number of stages. First, members of the Iranian Parliament and leaders of political parties were bribed to oppose Mossadegh publicly, thereby making the government appear fragmented and not unified. Newspaper owners, editors, columnists and reporters were then paid off in order to spread lies and propaganda against the Prime Minister.

Furthermore, high-ranking clerics, influential businessmen, members of the police, security forces, and military were bribed, as well. Roosevelt hired the leaders of street gangs in Tehran, using them to help create the impression that the rule of law had totally disintegrated in Iran and that the government had no control over its population. Stephen Kinzer, journalist and author of All the Shah's Men, tells us that "at one point, [Roosevelt] hired a gang to run through the streets of Tehran, beating up any pedestrian they found, breaking shop windows, firing their guns into mosques, and yelling, 'We love Mossadegh and communism.' This would naturally turn any decent citizen against him."

In a stroke of manipulative genius, Roosevelt then hired a second mob to attack the first mob, thereby giving the Iranian people the impression that there was no police presence and that civil society had devolved into complete chaos, with the government totally incapable of restoring order.

Kinzer elaborates,
They rampaged through the streets by the tens of thousands. Many of them, I think, never even really understood they were being paid by the C.I.A. They just knew they had been given a good day’s wage to go out in the street and chant something. Many politicians whipped up the crowds during those days...They started storming government buildings. There were gunfights in front of important buildings.

After all was said and done, Prime Minister Mossadegh had been deposed and a military coup returned the monarchy to Iran by installing the pro-western Mohammed Reza Pahlevi on the Peacock throne. The Shah's brutal, tyrannical dictatorship - established, supported, and funded by the United States - lasted 26 years. In 1979, the Iranian people returned the favor.

So what have we been seeing in Iran this past week?

Whereas there is scant evidence of any actual voter fraud or ballot rigging in the recent reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the popular movement we've been seeing on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere is being treated by the American media as some sort of new revolution; an energized, grassroots, and spontaneous effort to overthrow the leaders of the Islamic Republic in favor of a secular, pro-Western "democracy."

Yet, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that, whereas there are surely thousands of sincere and committed activists and participants in the recent protests, what we are witnessing may very well be the culmination of years of American infiltration and manipulation of both the Iranian establishment and public.

Back in 2005, the United States government was already funding groups it designated as terrorist organizations to carry out violent attacks within Iran in order to destabilize the Iranian government.

In 2007, ABC News
reported that George W. Bush has signed a secret "Presidential finding" which authorized the CIA to "mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the Iranian government." These operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, included "a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions."


In May of that same year, the London Telegraph reported that Bush administration zealot John Bolton revealed that an American military attack on Iran would “be a ‘last option’ after economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution had failed.”

Two weeks later, the Telegraph independently
verified the ABC report, saying that, “Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.”


Daniel McAdams tells us that, at the time, "the president met with the Congressional Star Chamber, the “gang of 8″ House and Senate leaders, and was granted the authorization to use some $400 million for among other things, as the Washington Post reported, “activities ranging from spying on Iran’s nuclear program to supporting rebel groups opposed to the country’s ruling clerics…"

Then, in early May 2008, Counterpunch's Andrew Cockburn revealed that "Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents was 'unprecedented in its scope.'

"Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border - whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother-in-law's throat.

Other elements that will benefit from U.S. largesse and advice include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi Arabs of southwest Iran.

Of course, US officials denied any "direct funding" of Jundallah, but admitted regular contact since 2005 with its leader Abd el Malik Regi, who was widely reputed to be involved in heroin trafficking from Afghanistan. Funding has reportedly been funneled through Iranian exiles with connections in Europe and the Gulf States.

Furthermore, on June 29, 2008, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker confirmed all of these reports, writing, “Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and Congressional sources.

These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.” Among the activities Hersh cited were "gathering intelligence about Iran's suspected nuclear-weapons program", "undermining Iran's nuclear ambitions" and "trying to undermine the government through regime change [by] working with opposition groups and passing money."


But the US campaign against Iran didn't come to a halt with the ascension of President Obama. There is no evidence to conclude that the $400 million dollars Bush signed off on has been put to different use (like, say, funding public schools or healthcare.)

In early June 2008, Justin Raimondo of Antiwar
wrote, "Obama, with his peace overtures [to Iran], serves as the smiley-face mask for some pretty loathsome activities. The U.S. government claims to be fighting terrorism, yet is sponsoring groups that plant bombs in mosques, kidnap tourists as well as Iranian policemen, and fund their activities with drug-running in addition to covert subsidies courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers."

He continues,
"What’s going on in Iran today – a sustained campaign of terrorism directed against civilians and government installations alike – is proof positive that nothing has really changed much in Washington, as far as U.S. policy toward Iran is concerned. We are on a collision course with Tehran, and both sides know it. Obama’s public "reaching out" to the Iranians is a fraud of epic proportions. While it’s true that our covert terrorist attacks on Iran were initiated under the Bush regime, under Obama we’re seeing no letup in these sorts of incidents; if anything, they’ve increased in frequency and severity."

Days before the Iranian election, a suicide-bomber killed at least 25 people, and wounded over 125 others, inside a prominent Shi'a mosque in the city of Zahedan, in the southeast province of Sistan-Baluchistan. The rebel Sunni group, Jundallah, which is linked to the US, claimed responsibility for the blast, which was immediately followed up by attacks on banks, water-treatment facilities, and other key installations in and around Zahedan, including a strike against the local campaign headquarters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Last year, Jundallah ( which is committed to establishing a Baluchi Islamic state in southeastern Iran and parts of Pakistan and one of whose founding members is allegedly the infamously waterboarded al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) kidnapped 16 Iranian policemen and videotaped their execution. There was also recently an attempted bombing of an Iranian airplane, which took off from the southwestern city of Ahvaz on the Iraqi border, which has a heavily Arab population. These recent events add up to what Raimondo refers to as "a small-scale insurgency" arising in Iran’s southern provinces.

Both the White House and State Department immediately denounced these attacks and denied any involvement in what they called "recent terrorist attacks inside Iran." Furthermore, there were reports that the Obama administration was considering adding Jundallah to the State's Department's list of terrorist organizations.

However, analyst Steve Weissman
notes, "the administration suddenly backed away from making the terrorist designation or from otherwise indicating that it would stop the destabilization campaign."


(Incidentally, one of the only two provinces in Iran that went for Mousavi last Friday was Sistan-Baluchistan and crowds of about 2,000 people have taken to the streets in Ahvaz since the election.)

Support for Jundallah - which in what could be the result of a savvy public relations suggestion by the Pentagon, recently changed its name to the Iranian People's Resistance Movement - is just one way the United States has worked to foment an anti-Iranian united front within the country on the verge of the Presidential elections.

As such, we are
told, "the U.S. is, in effect, conducting a secret war against Tehran, a covert campaign aimed at recruiting Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities – who make up the majority of the population in certain regions, such as in the southeast borderlands near Pakistan – into a movement to topple the government in Tehran, or, at least, to create so much instability that U.S. intervention to 'keep order' in the region is justified."


Ken Timmerman, the executive director of the right-wing Foundation for Democracy in Iran, which is the Persian Service of Voice of America (VOA), "spilled the beans on activities of the other arm of US meddling overseas, the obscenely mis-named National Endowment for Democracy, in a piece written one day before the election," McAdams tells us. Timmerman apparently stated that “there’s the talk of a 'green revolution' in Tehran," prompting McAdams to "wonder where that 'talk' was coming from. Timmerman did not appear to be writing from Iran."

McAdams continues,
Timmerman went on to write, with admirable candor and honesty, that:
“The National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars during the past decade promoting ‘color’ revolutions in places such as Ukraine and Serbia, training political workers in modern communications and organizational techniques.

“Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.”

Yes, you say, but what does a blow-hard propagandist like Timmerman know about such things? Well, he should know! His very spooky Foundation for Democracy in Iran has its own snout deep in the trough of NED’s “open covert actions” against the Iranian government.

How does the “Foundation for Democracy in Iran” seek to “promote democracy” in Iran with our tax dollars? Foundation co-founder Joshua Muravchik gives us a hint in his subtly-titled LA Times piece, “Bomb Iran.”

Additionally, Weissman warns of Timmerman's devious sincerity: "Please note that this comes from a very involved right-wing critic who personally knows the expatriate Iranian community," he writes. "It is impossible to know how much government money went to these groups, since Congress has purposely exempted the National Endowment for Democracy from having to make public how it spends taxpayer money."

Even more recently, commentator Stephen Lendman reports that former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig told Pasto Radio on June 15 that "undisputed" intelligence proves CIA interference in the internal affairs of Iran. "The documents prove that the CIA spend $400 million inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election" and to incite regime change for a pro-Western government.

So, are we finally seeing that $400 million pay off in Iran this past week?

There are plenty of clues that reveal the Iranian street protests we're seeing daily in the news may not be all we're told they are. Indeed, the sheer numbers of protesters are impressive and anyone who feels that an injustice has occurred should certainly take to the streets - and not be subject to any sort of police brutality - but much of what we've seen and heard in the past two weeks shows signs of orchestration and bears fingerprints of foreign manipulation.

Many of the protesters we have seen are well-dressed westernized young people in Tehran who are carrying signs written in English, reading, “Where is My Vote?” and other such slogans in English. If the young voters of Iran were addressing their frustrations to their own government, why weren't they speaking the same language? Protesters seen in many YouTube videos and interviewed on American television also speak perfect English.

An early message received through a social networking site after the election, sent to the National Iranian American Council and subsequently reported by the American media, came from (allegedly) an Iranian in Tehran. It
read:
“I am in Tehran. Its 3:40 in the morning. I’ve connected with you [by hacking past the government filter]. It’s a big mess here. People are yelling from their houses – ‘death to the dictator.’ They are setting up a military government. No one dares to go out. No one has seen Mousavi today. Rumor has it that they have arrested him. I don’t have an email but I will contact you again. Help us."

The idea of an Iranian, aware of the long history of US interference in Iranian affairs, beseeching an audience in America for "help" is, to put it lightly, dubious.

(The same should definitely be said about a recent OpEd featured in the New York Times last Sunday which was supposedly written by "a student in Iran." The article, clearly hoping to galvanize the American readership into strongly supporting pro-Mousavi protesters against the Iranian government, was almost surreal. In it, the author - curiously named "Shane M." which is perhaps the least Iranian name ever - denies the accuracy of pre-election polling by writing, "let’s not cloud the results with numbers that were, like bagels, stale a week later."

Later, he describes a scene from the widespread pre-election pro-Mousavi street parties in Tehran, including this observation: "A girl hung off the edge of a car window “Dukes of Hazzard” style." What possible young "Iranian student" would casually reference bagels and Dukes of Hazzard is beyond me, but I can probably think of a few CIA agents that may enjoy both.)


As for the widespread claim, published in nearly every major newspaper, that Mousavi had been disappeared, imprisoned, or put under house arrest, it obviously wasn't true considering that the very next day Mousavi was addressing a crowd of tens of thousands in the middle of Tehran from the roof of his car.

Furthermore, the chants we hear of “death to the dictator, death to Ahmadinejad” don't make much sense coming from Iranian citizens.

As Paul Craig Roberts
points out, "Every Iranian knows that the President of Iran is a public figure with limited powers. His main role is to take the heat from the governing grand Ayatollah. No Iranian, and no informed westerner, could possibly believe that Ahmadinejad is a dictator. Even Ahmadinejad’s superior, Khamenei, is not a dictator as he is appointed by a government body that can remove him."

Roberts goes on to say,
The demonstrations, like those in 1953, are intended to discredit the Iranian government and to establish for Western opinion that the government is a repressive regime that does not have the support of the Iranian people. This manipulation of opinion sets up Iran as another Iraq ruled by a dictator who must be overthrown by sanctions or an invasion.

Early reports of the Tehran rallies revealed that pro-Mousavi protesters were throwing rocks at Iranian police and security forces, as well as burning police motorcycles, city buses, and even private and government buildings. In contrast, we also heard of riot police beating protesters, gas and water cannons being used on crowds, and Basiji paramilitary groups opening fire on peaceful demonstrators.

Even though Iranian officials have blamed recent street violence on Mousavi supporters and marchers point to pro-government gangs, accusing them of staging incidents in order to justify further "crackdown" of dissent, the truth may be even more sinister. As one pro-Mousavi protester, who has taken part in every single march so far this week, told Newsweek, "I think some small terrorist groups and criminal gangs are taking advantage of the situation."

American money well-spent, perhaps.

According to the national intelligence services, a group of US-linked terrorists who had planned to set off twenty explosions in Tehran were discovered. Nevertheless a bomb still went off near the shrine of Iran's revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing one and injuring two.

Despite the rise in violence in the past week, Khamenei has consistently differentiated between what he believes are rebel groups and non-political protesters and "the electoral fans and supporters" of Mousavi. He is quoted as saying that "those who devastate the public assets and private belongings of the people are carrying out the aggressive actions without any political purposes" and urged the defeated presidential candidates to utilize "legal venues" to voice their complaints. Khamenei stated, "the destiny of elections would be determined on the ballots, not on the palm of the streets."

Officials in the Iranian government are well-aware, and appropriately suspicious, of foreign meddling in their domestic affairs. Ali Larijani, the pragmatic, moderate conservative Speaker of Parliament and frequent Ahmadinejad opponent, said recently in a live televised speech, "those who under the mask of political fans of a certain movement or candidate impose damages to the public properties or paralyze the daily life of ordinary people are not among the protestors who want their votes to be virtuously preserved," adding that "the liberty of demonstrations should be respected, and those who are in charge of issuing certifications to legitimize the protesting rallies should cooperate and issue them constructively."

The Western media is certainly not helping matters. It should be remembered, first off, that both the BBC and New York Times played important roles in the 1953 overthrow. Bill Van Auken's The New York Times and Iran: Journalism as State Provocation tells us of the documentation of journalism as the media arm of the imperial state, including the direct military participation of one of its CIA-connected reporters in the coup against Mossadegh:

In 1953, [the New York Times] correspondent in Tehran, Kennett Love, was not only a willing conduit for CIA disinformation, but also acknowledged participating directly in the coup. He subsequently wrote of giving an Iranian Army tank column instructions to attack Mossadegh's house. Afterwards, the Times celebrated the coup and demanded unconditional support for the Shah’s regime.

The BBC is known to have spearheaded Britain's own propaganda campaign, broadcasting the code word ("exactly") that launched the coup d'état itself. Even the rise and importance of new media has to be viewed critically - something Western journalists aren't very good at. CNN recently created a new disclaimer icon to account for all the "unverified" material they've been broadcasting 'round the clock in their effort to stand with protesters and against the Iranian government.

The Iranian "twitter boom" has, to a certain extent, been engineered by a small group of anti-Ahmadinejad advocates in the United States and Israel. Whereas media organizations excitedly report about young Iranians twittering away on the streets of Tehran, it's clear that most of the activity is simply Americans "tweeting" amongst themselves. Nevertheless, the US government requested that Twitter postpone a scheduled downtime for maintenance so that tweeting from Iran could go uninterrupted. But, of course, this isn't meddling.

Additionally, Caroline McCarthy of CNET News reports that "Users from around the world are
resetting the location data in their profiles to Tehran, the capital of Iran, in order to confuse Iranian authorities who may be attempting to use the microblogging tool to track down opposition activity." While I'm not sure about "confusing" Iranian authorities, I am sure that actions like this serve to overhype the scope, reach, and importance of social networking and alternative media in Iranian politics and activism.

The voices of the Iranian people should, of course, be heard and listened to - but the twittering mass of American, European, and Israeli support can hardly be said to speak on behalf of the Iranian public.


This disingenuous statement of President Obama may offer us some insight. In the early days of the post-election protests, he said, "It is not productive, given the history of US and Iranian relations to be seen as meddling in Iranian elections."

American meddling, Mr. Obama? Never! Especially not when our government is responsible for thirty years of sanctions, overt and covert operations designed to weaken one of the only countries that has ever successfully stood up to American imperialism in the face of aggressive efforts to foment dissent and promote regime change.



Please also read Jeremy R. Hammond's exceptional piece on Foreign Policy Journal, entitled
"Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran's Election?"





Sunday, June 28, 2009

Agent Orange Victims Betrayed

Watch this excellent 6 minute video from
Len Aldis, Secretary of the British-Vietnam Friendship Society,
about recent developments in the international campaign for
Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange,
and how you can help.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAi-kAn9yWg

Click here to Sign the Petition: "Justice for Victims of Agent Orange"


Saturday, June 27, 2009

7 Years In Chains

Detained At 14, Tortured and Released At 21


Video

El-Gharani was treated with appalling brutality. After being tortured in Pakistani custody, he was sold to US forces, who flew him to a prison at Kandahar airport, where, he said, one particular soldier “would hold my penis, with scissors, and say he’d cut it off.

Guantánamo’s Youngest Prisoner Released To Chad

June 06, 2009 -- The long ordeal of Mohammed El-Gharani, Guantánamo’s youngest prisoner, has finally come to an end. Reprieve, the legal action charity that represents him, reports today that he has been sent back to Chad.

A Saudi resident and Chadian national, El-Gharani was just 14 years old when he was seized by Pakistani forces in a random raid on a mosque in Karachi, but was treated appallingly both by the Pakistanis who seized him, and by the US military. I provided a detailed explanation of the abuse to which he was subjected in an article last year, “Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child,” which I condensed for an article in January, when I explained:

As with all but three of the 22 confirmed juveniles who have been held at Guantánamo, the US authorities never treated him separately from the adult population, even though they are obliged, under the terms of the UN’s Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (on the involvement of children in armed conflict) to promote “the physical and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict.”

Instead, El-Gharani was treated with appalling brutality. After being tortured in Pakistani custody, he was sold to US forces, who flew him to a prison at Kandahar airport, where, he said, one particular soldier “would hold my penis, with scissors, and say he’d cut it off.” His treatment did not improve in Guantánamo. Subjected relentlessly to racist abuse, because of the color of his skin, he was hung from his wrists on numerous occasions, and was also subjected to a regime of “enhanced” techniques to prepare him for interrogation — including prolonged sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation and the use of painful stress positions — that clearly constitute torture. As a result of this and other abuse, including regular beatings by the guard force responsible for quelling even the most minor infractions of the rules, El-Gharani has become deeply depressed, and has tried to commit suicide on several occasions.

In January, over seven years after his initial capture, El-Gharani finally had his case reviewed in a US court, following the Supreme Court’s ruling, in June 2008, that the prisoners had habeas corpus rights; in other words, the right to ask a court why they were being held. Judge Richard Leon, who had granted the habeas petitions of five Algerian prisoners in November, ruling that the government had failed to establish a case against them, was, if anything, even more dismissive of the claims against El-Gharani.

In his habeas petition, El-Gharani insisted, as he had throughout his detention, that he “traveled to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia at the age of 14 to escape discrimination against Chadians in that country, acquire computer and English skills, and make a better life for himself,” and that he “remained there until his arrest,” although the government claimed that he “arrived in Afghanistan at some unspecified time in 2001,” and was “part of or supporting Taliban or al-Qaeda forces,” for a variety of reasons, including claims that he received military training at an al-Qaeda-affiliated military training camp, fought against US and allied forces at the battle of Tora Bora, and was a member of an al-Qaeda cell based in London.

Noting that the government’s supposed evidence against El-Gharani consisted of statements made by two other prisoners at Guantánamo, and that, moreover, these statements were “either exclusively, or jointly, the only evidence offered by the Government to substantiate the majority of their allegations,” Judge Leon stated that “the credibility and reliability of the detainees being relied upon by the Government has either been directly called into question by Government personnel or has been characterized by Government personnel as undermined,” and dismissed all the claims, reserving particular criticism for the claim that El-Gharani had been a member of a London-based al-Qaeda cell.

As I wrote in January,

This was, indeed, the most extraordinary allegation, as El-Gharani was just 11 years old at the time, and, as his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, explained in his book The Eight O’Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Seeking Justice in Guantánamo Bay, “he must have been beamed over to the al-Qaeda meetings by the Starship Enterprise, since he never left Saudi Arabia by conventional means.”

Leon’s verdict was marginally less colorful, but no less devastating. “Putting aside the obvious and unanswered questions as to how a Saudi minor from a very poor family could have even become a member of a London-based cell,” he wrote, “the Government simply advances no corroborating evidence for these statements it believes to be reliable from a fellow detainee, the basis of whose knowledge is — at best — unknown.”

Despite this long-overdue court victory, El-Gharani’s suffering in Guantánamo did not come to an end. In April, he was finally allowed to call one of his relatives in Chad, but took the opportunity to call the Arabic broadcaster al-Jazeera instead, telling them, as Reuters described it, that “he had been beaten with batons and teargassed by a group of six soldiers wearing protective gear and helmets after refusing to leave his cell.” He explained, “This treatment started about 20 days before Obama came into power, and since then I’ve been subjected to it almost every day,” and added, “Since Obama took charge he has not shown us that anything will change.”

El-Gharani’s return to Chad is not without its problems. He is currently being held by the security services, although they have stressed to his lawyers that it is just a formality and that they fully understand the horrors he has been through. More troubling is the fact that, although he has extended family in Chad who will take care of him, he cannot be reunited with his parents, because they live in Saudi Arabia. Representatives of Reprieve are expected to fly out to Chad this weekend, to help with his rehabilitation, but in the meantime El-Gharani himself has said only that he is, of course, delighted to be free, and is looking forward to undertaking an education, to make up for the lost years and lost opportunities while he was held in Guantánamo.

As Zachary Katznelson, Reprieve’s legal director, explained to me in a telephone conversation this evening, “Reprieve is delighted that, after seven long years of unjust, illegal incarceration, Mohammed is finally out of Guantánamo Bay. A federal judge looked at his case in January, and found that there were never any valid grounds to hold him. He should have been released long ago, but we’re glad that justice has finally been served.”


Note: For another article about prisoners, see: Who Are The Four Guantánamo Uighurs Sent To Bermuda?

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.



Click on http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22926.htm

to read or post comments


* * *

"Even Guantánamo Bay Is Better Than This.”

By William Fisher

June 27, 2009 "Bill Fisher" -- -An investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has revealed that former detainees at the U.S. Bagram airbase in Afghanistan were beaten, deprived of sleep, and threatened with dogs.

The BBC’s conclusions are based on interviews with 27 former detainees who were held at Bagram between 2002 and 2006.

None of these men were ever charged with a crime. Hundreds of detainees are still being held in U.S. custody at the Afghan prison without charge or trial.

Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, told us, "The BBC investigation provides further confirmation of the United States' mistreatment of prisoners at Bagram. These abuses are the direct consequence of decisions made at the highest levels of the U.S. government to avoid the Geneva Convention and forsake the rule of law. For too long, the unlawful detention and mistreatment of prisoners at Bagram has gone on outside the public eye. Hopefully, this investigation will help change that." ....

"Torture and abuse at Bagram is further evidence that prisoner abuse in U.S. custody was systemic, not aberrational, and originated at the highest levels of government. We must learn the truth about what went wrong, hold the proper people accountable and make sure these failed policies are not continued or repeated." ....

No prisoner in Bagram has been allowed to see a lawyer, or challenge his detention. According to the BBC, the U.S. justice department argues that because Afghanistan is an active combat zone it is not possible to conduct rigorous inquiries into individual cases and that it would divert precious military resources at a crucial time.

“These men were never in Afghanistan until the UK and the US took them there,” said Stafford Smith.

“It is the height of hypocrisy to take someone to Bagram and then claim that it is too dangerous to let them see a lawyer. Even Guantánamo Bay is better than this.” ....

Since coming to office, US President Barack Obama has banned the use of torture and ordered a review of policy on detainees, which is expected to report next month.

But unlike its detainees at the US naval facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the prisoners at Bagram have no access to lawyers and they cannot challenge their detention.


See also Indefinite prison time for detainees?:

Under the proposal, detainees considered too dangerous to prosecute or release would be kept in confinement in the U.S. or possibly overseas, two administration officials said Friday.

Continue


Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

At what number does it become genocide?



click here to learn more


Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq "1,331,578"


Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In U.S. War And Occupation Of Iraq 4,315


Cost of U.S. War and Occupation of Iraq

$681,715,088,474
For more details, click here.


Friday, June 26, 2009

"Stolen Election". . . or Stolen Truth?

Not surprisingly, my recent email & blog posting on the current crisis in Iran,
inspired many responses - supportive and critical - and this is a great thing!

Informed and stimulating debate and discussion is exactly what we need!
We don't have to all agree!
But I think we do all have to engage in a constructive way.

I will try to write a personal response to all your emails, but please forgive me if it takes some time!

Thankyou to one friend who sent me this following article,
which I think gives some interesting insights into our understanding of Iran.

I believe Friedman's comments about how the views of a minority of English-speaking residents of a country can have greater access to Western media, and therefore give us a distorted understanding of reality, apply just as well to the past American War against Viet Nam!


WESTERN MISCONCEPTIONS MEET IRANIAN REALITY

By George Friedman

In 1979, when we were still young and starry-eyed, a revolution took place in Iran. When I asked experts what would happen, they divided into two camps.

The first group of Iran experts argued that the Shah of Iran would certainly survive, that the unrest was simply a cyclical event readily manageable by his security, and that the Iranian people were united behind the Iranian monarch's modernization program. These experts developed this view by talking to the same Iranian officials and businessmen they had been talking to for years -- Iranians who had grown wealthy and powerful under the shah and who spoke English, since Iran experts frequently didn't speak Farsi all that well.

The second group of Iran experts regarded the shah as a repressive brute, and saw the revolution as aimed at liberalizing the country. Their sources were the professionals and academics who supported the uprising -- Iranians who knew what former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini believed, but didn't think he had much popular support. They thought the revolution would result in an increase in human rights and liberty. The experts in this group spoke even less Farsi than the those in the first group.

Misreading Sentiment in Iran

Limited to information on Iran from English-speaking opponents of the regime, both groups of Iran experts got a very misleading vision of where the revolution was heading -- because the Iranian revolution was not brought about by the people who spoke English. It was made by merchants in city bazaars, by rural peasants, by the clergy -- people Americans didn't speak to because they couldn't. This demographic was unsure of the virtues of modernization and not at all clear on the virtues of liberalism. From the time they were born, its members knew the virtue of Islam, and that the Iranian state must be an Islamic state.

Americans and Europeans have been misreading Iran for 30 years. Even after the shah fell, the myth has survived that a mass movement of people exists demanding liberalization -- a movement that if encouraged by the West eventually would form a majority and rule the country. We call this outlook "iPod liberalism," the idea that anyone who listens to rock 'n' roll on an iPod, writes blogs and knows what it means to Twitter must be an enthusiastic supporter of Western liberalism. Even more significantly, this outlook fails to recognize that iPod owners represent a small minority in Iran -- a country that is poor, pious and content on the whole with the revolution forged 30 years ago.

There are undoubtedly people who want to liberalize the Iranian regime. They are to be found among the professional classes in Tehran, as well as among students. Many speak English, making them accessible to the touring journalists, diplomats and intelligence people who pass through. They are the ones who can speak to Westerners, and they are the ones willing to speak to Westerners. And these people give Westerners a wildly distorted view of Iran. They can create the impression that a fantastic liberalization is at hand -- but not when you realize that iPod-owning Anglophones are not exactly the majority in Iran.

Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote. Supporters of his opponent, both inside and outside Iran, were stunned. A poll revealed that former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi was beating Ahmadinejad. It is, of course, interesting to meditate on how you could conduct a poll in a country where phones are not universal, and making a call once you have found a phone can be a trial. A poll therefore would probably reach people who had phones and lived in Tehran and other urban areas. Among those, Mousavi probably did win. But outside Tehran, and beyond persons easy to poll, the numbers turned out quite different.

Some still charge that Ahmadinejad cheated. That is certainly a possibility, but it is difficult to see how he could have stolen the election by such a large margin. Doing so would have required the involvement of an incredible number of people, and would have risked creating numbers that quite plainly did not jibe with sentiment in each precinct. Widespread fraud would mean that Ahmadinejad manufactured numbers in Tehran without any regard for the vote. But he has many powerful enemies who would quickly have spotted this and would have called him on it. Mousavi still insists he was robbed, and we must remain open to the possibility that he was, although it is hard to see the mechanics of this.

Ahmadinejad's Popularity

It also misses a crucial point: Ahmadinejad enjoys widespread popularity. He doesn't speak to the issues that matter to the urban professionals, namely, the economy and liberalization. But Ahmadinejad speaks to three fundamental issues that accord with the rest of the country.

First, Ahmadinejad speaks of piety. Among vast swathes of Iranian society, the willingness to speak unaffectedly about religion is crucial. Though it may be difficult for Americans and Europeans to believe, there are people in the world to whom economic progress is not of the essence; people who want to maintain their communities as they are and live the way their grandparents lived. These are people who see modernization -- whether from the shah or Mousavi -- as unattractive. They forgive Ahmadinejad his economic failures.

Second, Ahmadinejad speaks of corruption. There is a sense in the countryside that the ayatollahs -- who enjoy enormous wealth and power, and often have lifestyles that reflect this -- have corrupted the Islamic Revolution. Ahmadinejad is disliked by many of the religious elite precisely because he has systematically raised the corruption issue, which resonates in the countryside.

Third, Ahmadinejad is a spokesman for Iranian national security, a tremendously popular stance. It must always be remembered that Iran fought a war with Iraq in the 1980s that lasted eight years, cost untold lives and suffering, and effectively ended in its defeat. Iranians, particularly the poor, experienced this war on an intimate level. They fought in the war, and lost husbands and sons in it. As in other countries, memories of a lost war don't necessarily delegitimize the regime. Rather, they can generate hopes for a resurgent Iran, thus validating the sacrifices made in that war -- something Ahmadinejad taps into. By arguing that Iran should not back down but become a major power, he speaks to the veterans and their families, who want something positive to emerge from all their sacrifices in the war.

Perhaps the greatest factor in Ahmadinejad's favor is that Mousavi spoke for the better districts of Tehran -- something akin to running a U.S. presidential election as a spokesman for Georgetown and the Lower East Side. Such a base will get you hammered, and Mousavi got hammered. Fraud or not, Ahmadinejad won and he won significantly. That he won is not the mystery; the mystery is why others thought he wouldn't win.

For a time on Friday, it seemed that Mousavi might be able to call for an uprising in Tehran. But the moment passed when Ahmadinejad's security forces on motorcycles intervened. And that leaves the West with its worst-case scenario: a democratically elected anti-liberal.

Western democracies assume that publics will elect liberals who will protect their rights. In reality, it's a more complicated world. Hitler is the classic example of someone who came to power constitutionally, and then preceded to gut the constitution. Similarly, Ahmadinejad's victory is a triumph of both democracy and repression.

The Road Ahead: More of the Same

The question now is what will happen next. Internally, we can expect Ahmadinejad to consolidate his position under the cover of anti-corruption. He wants to clean up the ayatollahs, many of whom are his enemies. He will need the support of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This election has made Ahmadinejad a powerful president, perhaps the most powerful in Iran since the revolution. Ahmadinejad does not want to challenge Khamenei, and we suspect that Khamenei will not want to challenge Ahmadinejad. A forced marriage is emerging, one which may place many other religious leaders in a difficult position.

Certainly, hopes that a new political leadership would cut back on Iran's nuclear program have been dashed. The champion of that program has won, in part because he championed the program. We still see Iran as far from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon, but certainly the Obama administration's hopes that Ahmadinejad would either be replaced -- or at least weakened and forced to be more conciliatory -- have been crushed. Interestingly, Ahmadinejad sent congratulations to U.S. President Barack Obama on his inauguration. We would expect Obama to reciprocate under his opening policy, which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden appears to have affirmed, assuming he was speaking for Obama. Once the vote fraud issue settles, we will have a better idea of whether Obama's policies will continue. (We expect they will.)

What we have now are two presidents in a politically secure position, something that normally forms a basis for negotiations. The problem is that it is not clear what the Iranians are prepared to negotiate on, nor is it clear what the Americans are prepared to give the Iranians to induce them to negotiate. Iran wants greater influence in Iraq and its role as a regional leader acknowledged, something the United States doesn't want to give them. The United States wants an end to the Iranian nuclear program, which Iran doesn't want to give.

On the surface, this would seem to open the door for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Former U.S. President George W. Bush did not -- and Obama does not -- have any appetite for such an attack. Both presidents blocked the Israelis from attacking, assuming the Israelis ever actually wanted to attack.

For the moment, the election appears to have frozen the status quo in place. Neither the United States nor Iran seem prepared to move significantly, and there are no third parties that want to get involved in the issue beyond the occasional European diplomatic mission or Russian threat to sell something to Iran. In the end, this shows what we have long known: This game is locked in place, and goes on.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com.

Copyright 2009 Stratfor.



U.S. Dollars Support Iranian "Dissidents"

By Ken Dilanian

The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents, records and interviews show, continuing a program that became controversial when it was expanded by President Bush. Continue


Chavez sees US, Europe behind Iran protests: He said protests and violence that have rocked Iran since the contested vote appear part of a recurring strategy by U.S. and European intelligence agencies to destabilize "enemy" governments.

US 'has agents working inside Iran': Brent Scowcroft said on Wednesday that "of course" the US had agents in Iran amid the ongoing pressure against the Iranian government by protesters opposed to the official result of its presidential election.

Iranian envoy: CIA involved in Neda's shooting?: Though the video appeared to show that she had been shot in the chest, Ghadiri said that the bullet was found in her head and that it was not of a type used in Iran.

Israel keeps Mossad chief on for Iran "shadow war": Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended the tenure of the Mossad chief to an eighth year on Sunday, a testament to the spymaster's perceived success in waging shadow wars against Iran and its allies.


The Propaganda War Against Iran

By Bill Van Auken

The opposition is lauded as democratic and reformist, while incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters are portrayed as virtual fascists. One would scarcely imagine that the two men represent rival factions within the same ruling establishment. Continue


Destabilization 2.0

Soros, the CIA, Mossad and the new media destabilization of Iran

By James Corbett

It's the 2009 presidential election in Iran and opposition leader Mir-Houssein Mousavi declares victory hours before the polls close, insuring that any result to the contrary will be called into question. Western media goes into overdrive, fighting with each other to see who can offer the most hyperbolic denunciation of the vote and President Ahmadenijad's apparent victory. Continue


An interesting reminder of other "stolen elections", in this email I received:

"This must be some kind of a joke.

The US news media and its controllers has its
knickers in a knot over election fraud in
Iran.

I don't know what's going on in in Iran, but
I know election fraud is rampant in the US.

But the US news media isn't interested in
telling THAT story.

Details:

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/465.html

From the movie "Uncounted"

Bush should not have been president in 2000 and he should not have been president in 2004.

The evidence of organized vote-counting fraud in both elections was overwhelming, but the news media and the Democratic party did nothing.

And nothing has changed since 2004....






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Erlich: Gives a different view - the Uprising in Iran is about more than just the elections, and western interference is not welcome. view