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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Child abuse part of War on Terror

I just read a Toronto Star article by Michelle Shepard concerning an appalling video that was just released showing 16 year-old Omar Khadr interrogated at Guantanamo in 2003.

Khadr faced special treatment for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a US medic. The Geneva Conventions were violated in this case. It's illegal under international law, under treaties signed by the US, to remove a person from the field of battle, to another nation--in this case Cuba. Also, the US must treat prisoners of war under established guidelines--the video shows Khadr under mental duress. He's apparently suffered psychological and physical trauma during his detention.

One poster, elmysterio, in the comment thread explains the situation thusly:
1) The US IS the belligerent party in Afghanistan, and DEFENDING yourself against an invading army is NOT a war crime.
2) One ‘Soldier’ killing another soldier on the battlefield does not constitute war crimes.
3) Omar Khadr was a CHILD soldier at the time of the incident.
4) There is reasonable doubt that Omar even threw the grenade that killed the US soldier.
5) Omar has been TORTURED and mistreated by the Americans in violation of both the Geneva conventions, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which mandates special protection for child soldiers.
6) By refusing to intervene in Omar’s case, Stephen Harper is complicit in torture and war crimes.

Even if he did do it--in this case throwing a grenade, killing a US soldier--Khadr can't be charged with a crime as he was too young.

The basis for protecting young people in armed conflict is well founded on the common tragedy of child soldiers involved in conflicts throughout the world. Thousands of African children were involved in the genocide in Rwanda, as well as in the civil war in Liberia. The Burmese government uses child soldiers in its war against the indigenous Karen people. Many of these children are cherished by the more ruthless commanders for their youthful indiscretion and capability to commit murder remorselessly.

Child soldiers are scarred deeply by their experiences--as active combatants, they participated in long campaigns of ongoing violence. Aid organizations across the developing world have made extensive efforts to rehabilitate these children. The international community has seen to it that boy soldiers could be properly rescued from the consequences of long-term internments with military forces.

The US, not quite getting it, seems to think that it can do whatever it wants to child soldiers, as if they bear the same level of culpability as older combatants.

The US has a big problem with an Iraqi juvenile detention facility as well. Posted on uruknet.de is the article "'Worse than the adult prisons' U.S.: Torture, murder at Iraqi juvenile prison" by Matthew LaPlante of the Salt Lake Tribune. The Iraqi facility shows just how atrocious Iraqis can be to one another, largely on the basis of racial and ethnic hatreds. The decrepit state of Iraq's juvenile justice system really undermines our nation-building efforts, and makes the results of regime change virtually unchanged from the now-nostalgic days of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay's torture of various innocents and failed Olympic hopefuls.

With its adult prisons in Iraq, the US is caught in the awkward position of holding onto predominantly Sunni detainees lest they be imprisoned by brutal Shia, who've been handed the keys to the kingdom, alongside the keys to the jails should the US pull out and leave a pro-Iranian Shia government in place which, through penetration by Shia militia, has shown itself capable of the mass murder of Sunnis. If the US frees the Sunni prisoners outright, it risks re-igniting the insurgency. If the US abandons the prisons, it risks re-establishing Saddam era-like conditions for enemies of the Shia regime, which might include any Sunnis.

Shia treatment of Sunni prisoners could make even Abu Ghraib look tame. An ancillary benefit of the occupation appears to be reducing prisoner abuse. Even if US treatment of Iraqi prisoners is in violation of international law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and US laws, our presence must be considered an improvement over the treatment Sunnis would face at the hands of the Maliki government.

A pattern of child abuse

The 2003 Khadr's interrogation video is a Canadian release. Khadr did end up in Guantanamo, though. A message was clearly meant to be sent to Khadr's family, and to any potential al Qaeda supporter that you can have your rights taken away. It didn't matter that Khadr had killed the American medic with a grenade, but rather he was essentially selected for the purpose of controlling the Arab population, in intimidating anyone--no matter their nationality--who might be thinking about openly voicing support for al Qaeda as Khadr's sisters apparently did. Guantanamo appears to be the physical manifestation of a tool for inspiring fear in Muslims worldwide. Behave or pay the price--the US is going after the terrorists among you. And if we can't find the terrorist, we'll find their family and even their children.

Several times, I've talked about the abduction of Khalid Shiek Mohammed's two sons in 2002. Here is an excerpt from Amnesty International's Report "Off the Record; U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the 'War on Terror'":
In September 2002, Yusuf al-Khalid (then nine years old) and Abed al-Khalid (then seven years old) were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces during an attempted capture of their father, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was successfully apprehended several months later, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that he was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program. He is presently held at Guantánamo Bay.

In an April 16, 2007 statement, Ali Khan (father of Majid Khan, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay) indicated that Yusef and Abed al-Khalid had been held in the same location in which Majid Khan and Majid’s brother Mohammed were detained in March/April 2003. Mohammed was detained by Pakistani officials for approximately one month after his apprehension on March 5, 2003 (see below). Ali Khan’s statement indicates that:
Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.(13)

After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest in March 2003, Yusuf and Abed Al Khalid were reportedly transferred out of Pakistan in U.S. custody. The children were allegedly being sent for questioning about their father’s activities and to be used by the United States as leverage to force their father to co-operate with the United States. A press report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that CIA interrogators had detained the children and that one official explained that:
"We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children...but we need to know as much about their father's recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care."(14)

This is clearly a moral outrage. All the individuals who participated in the torture of children should be tried for crimes against humanity. These people, no matter what uniform they might be wearing, are no better than the terrorists they presume to be saving us from.

Frontier justice and media cover

Bush's primitive West Texas style sense of justice--exemplified during his days as governor of Texas by his mocking of a death row inmate who pleaded for clemency--overshadowed any cooler minds after 9/11 got the administration all riled up. Torture was deemed justifiable if it got results and saved American lives. And transcending international treaties and laws was part of the Bush regime's assertion of executive privilege, and a flaunting of the law under the guise of War on Terror. The contrived circumstances for eviscerating the Constitution remain in place, uncontested by a servile Congress given over to Executive authority and bloodlust.

If what went on in the Iraqi facility were done by US guards, the corporate media would make no mention of it. Like the Abu Ghraib photos released only to Congress, the corporate media will help hide the wrongdoing of our government.

A media blackout on what has transpired in interrogation rooms of America's secret prison system has been going on for some time now. Like a good suspense, the public can only discover what went on (goes on?) piecemeal as videos and reports emerge. Through the use of extreme interrogation techniques, confessions can be arranged which offer politically popular examples progress in the War on Terror, whether or not the torture victims are guilty of the crimes they stand accused of, as oftentimes tortured detainees will say anything to stop the pain.

Exposing the evil conduct provides little direct benefit other than the fact that the grisly details heighten a state of fear like that of the movie Children of Men. In making people afraid, the State can grow in power and intimidate any who would try to limit its authority. Meanwhile, the fabric of society is ripped apart by the gross immorality of the deeds committed by the government's siege mentality and lawless police state tactics, coupled with the brutal resistance it can inspire.

In a democratic society, one ray of hope in holding the inappropriately behaving incumbents accountable is the role of former insiders telling all. Look no farther than Scott McClellan for an example of the truth coming out, that the American people were deceived, and that the media cooperated in the scheme. The War on Terror shows how vital a free and independent media is to the proper functioning of democracy. Otherwise, the people succumb to the Great Lie, or whatever propaganda the government wishes to spew.

Goebbels may have said that some creative re-telling was in order, to facilitate propaganda. In our day and age, at least in America, darkness reigns. Hopefully the light of truth will shine through, and while it won't make it to our TV networks, on the internet Americans can oppose collusion between the corporate empire and National Security State.

I think we can trace most of the deception and suppression of information to Zionists and the Right wing through the swap of political influence for campaign contributions. Hardcore Zionists (proponents for the expansion of Israel) control a large number of conglomerates who've been winners in the media consolidation game enabled by Bush's FCC deregulation. I've said on my blog that a quid pro quo exists between our government and the media. In exchange for political contributions, media moguls are given ever bigger slices of the public airwaves, draining independent and local-owned sources of news. Nowadays corporate media types lean towards Republicans although I'm sure loyalties could shift should the Democrats take the White House.

Many AIPAC members hold prominent positions in the media. In the Bush administration, Zionist neocons shaped the Iraqi war policy as well as crafting a largely anti-Arab (not coincidentally Israel's chief rivals in the Middle East) response to 9/11.

The strategic goal for the Zionists, and a major political objective was to implement a strategy of military aggression towards Iraq and other nations that threaten Israel's military and economic dominance over the region. Zionist sympathizers offer extensive plans to help the Jewish state, and operate through a loose federation coordinated by groups like AIPAC and JINSA. Recently they've faced competition from the new J Street organization, a Jewish lobby in the US oriented around engagement with Israel's enemies, and a less militarized solution to resolving Arab-Israeli problems.

Bush Press Conference July 15th

Bush, who said he was loathe to respond to comments by a Presidential candidate, did have some advice for Obama in his press conference Tuesday. Obama should listen to (Ambassador to Iraq) Crocker and Petraeus, Bush said. Perhaps thinking about Obama's upcoming trip to Iraq, Bush then told Obama to go listen to the Iraqis! I laughed when I heard that--surely Bush knew that the Iraqis has asked us to leave!

Bush quickly covered up his gaffe, and went on to explain how the Iraqis want us to leave, so we needed to meet certain security benchmarks. Bush didn't say what the victory conditions exactly were, or what sanctions the Iraqi government would face if they failed to do their part. Still he stumbled and blew the advice for Obama portion of the press conference so badly it showed how utterly stupid Bush's gibberish can be.

Talking with the Iraqis would produce an answer quite different from what Petraeus or Crocker would say: get out now, that's how you can make things better. Nonetheless Bush did succeed in glossing over the glaring fact that the Iraqis want us gone.

Maybe the days of the Iraqi government relying on the US military to legitimize itself have passed, with the surge's supposed success and decline in the apparent threat posed by Al Qaeda in Iraq. As we've stood up, and neutralized the threat, so have we reduced our value to the Iraqi government, who needs us less now. The credibility of the Iraqi government depends on its ability to please the majority Shia, who are led by the influential Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

According to needlenose.com's swopa--and other sources listed there--, Sistani has expressed his discontent with the potential Status of Forces Agreement:
"As the head of a government installed in large part though the will of Ayatollah Sistani (and against the wishes of the U.S. occupation), it’s part of Maliki’s job to placate the Bushites…but he has to obey Sistani. And if Sistani refuses to allow a deal that legitimizes the occupation indefinitely, then I don’t think there’s going to be one."
At some point the US almost needs the Iraqi to have a threat, or military problem that only we can solve. Otherwise, the Iraqis might not need us at all.

Under this new relationship, the Iraqi/US security dialogue will easily lose any sense of reality, like trying to reason with mobsters offering their services where no need exists.

Here's how the two governments might talk to each other:
"Oops, failed to meet the security benchmarks again," says the Iraqi government.
"Oh. OK, get it right in the future then, OK? Oh and by the way have you signed that Status of Forces Agreement yet?" the U.S. government might inquire.
"Ah, yeah, about that...we're not sure about giving you permanent bases and control over our airspace" the Iraqis would say.
"Sure, once you sign the agreement, we'll talk about leaving," the US might ask, while refusing to commit to any timetable.
"Can you just leave...please?" the Iraqis might ask.
"Sure, we'll talk about leaving once you sign the agreement."
"But if we sign the agreement, you can stay here forever," the Iraqis, exasperated, might say.
So on and so forth. Sounds like we'll never leave. And we can't, or the Baghdad government would go overtly pro-Iranian, which would show how much of a failure the invasion and occupation have been. At least while our troops are there they "need" us, to protect them (or is it their oil?) from al Qaeda and Iran. A protection racket indeed.

* * *

More on Obama

Looks like criticism of Obama over the FISA cave reached a crescendo last week. Rightfully, many of Obama's primary supporters have discovered for the first time where their candidate stands on certain issues.

I don't know if you noticed, but I've tried really hard to keep my doubts about Obama buried deep in my last posts, as not to give Obama's foes any more ammunition, as I do recognize just how destructive a McCain presidency would be. (Pardon me the indulgence to my ego of assuming anyone actually reads what I write and what I say would thus matter.)
Contrary to what you might see constantly posted in forums, failing to vote for Obama is tantamount to voting for McCain. Don't get me wrong--I don't like the two party duopoly and choice of lesser evils it seems to produce in the choice of candidates. I guess if Obama is really that bad, as Mike Whitney ponders in "Worse than McCain" on Counterpunch, you should vote for a protest candidate, but don't be surprised when four more years comes as a result of the protest.

Maybe 'four more years' isn't so bad, if we want to see the US crater and therefore be more willing to face the need to change its political system. In the comment stream under a Norman Solomon article on Obama, 'thong-girl' writes:
"It’s really too bad we can’t vote Bush into office for four more years, that way, we’d see him truly hit bottom and, possibly, the masses would storm the White House and deal with him the way he deals with those whom he hates. McCain is a loser and always has been and I doubt he will even be audible by November. Obama is simply too ambitious and not willing to face the music. The bottom is the only place from which our nation can change. We don’t have much further to go to get to the bottom, but we’re not quite there yet."

Hitting bottom may be necessary before Americans wake up, and even then they would have to mobilize to effect change in a system that's clearly broken, built on the continued evisceration of our Constitutional rights as evidence by the Senate's capitulation on FISA and telecom immunity.

Also, in the Solomon article's comments, user Dick Reilly comments that Obama fans "have been left with little more than treadmarks on their backs as the 'Hope and Change' campaign bus merrily makes another right turn."

Lacking Reilly's flair for imagery, I posted the following:
"Assuming an Obama wouldn't mean much change in the direction our country is going, who is thinking of getting out of our country entirely?
The thought of voting for that dried-up old shrimp McCain is too much to bear. So is the premise that a progressive candidate can make it to the roster. Protest voting in a narrow election is the only place it matters, and that can imperil progressives (and future generations) if a demagogue like Bush ascends the throne as a result.
Where were all these great comments when the Democratic primary was still going on? I faced a lot of criticism for criticizing Obama, although I also had some praise for him. I simply said I didn't think he would be able to win, largely on account of his race. It appears as if I was right, but the reason for Obama's downfall appears to be shift to the right, and the corresponding alienation of his liberal base, which he apparently takes for granted.

I acknowledge the necessity for getting the Democrat elected. Yes, Obama may be taking progressive votes for granted, but that could be a huge mistake being that it only took a few thousand Floridians voting for Nader to "win" it for Bush in 2000 (alongside some hanging shads, butterfly ballots, and disenfranchised voters.)

The damage has been done to Obama's reputation as a progressive. Some progressives do understand the need for politicians to move to the "center", but a double standard has emerged where Obama supporters now unconditionally accept whatever position their candidate takes, under the mistaken belief that Obama will revert to more progressive ideologies after the election.

I would argue the opposite: once Obama is in, he'll have no concern for what the little people have to say. So the election provides the last chance for progressives to get their piece of Obama before the corporations and elite surround him with their influence. Unfortunately, the risks of not electing Obama are dire, just as they were in 2000 for the protest voters in Florida who catapulted George W. Bush to victory. Still, if progressives do nothing, and unconditionally accept Obama's decisions, they're little more than a flock of believers who follow a Great Leader rather than a set of independent thinkers more representative of the US general population, which has yet to fall under Obama's spell.

Clinton Comeback?

For the good of the party, we may have to bring Hillary back! Hillary would help cement the bonds between Obama followers and the rest of the progressive community. Also, Clintonian expertise would be invaluable in facing what may be a very difficult Presidency, coming on the heels of Bush II, with rising inflation, unemployment, and gas prices. Will Bill Clinton shoot his mouth off? Why, naturally. Maybe Barack and Hillary can find some faraway island with lots of young girls to entertain Bill.

Undoubtedly Obama's development as a politician owes much to Hillary, who was one of his mentors in the Senate. By his recent reaching out to the right, Obama has shown himself to be quite a triangulator, shifting his positions to an electoral sweet spot, a proverbial middle ground that may not really even exist outside the minds of creative political consultants inside the Beltway.

Obama's victory in the primary did not spell an end to "Clintonism"-- a derogatory term based on the James Carville-influenced brand of political sleazebaggery, connivance, and audacious capacity for pandering to constituencies. Hillary was blamed for being too much about issues, while Obama was lauded for his focus on values, character, and change.

Perhaps Clintonism has been reborn in Obama, who appears more willing to tack right on a number of issues, if he thinks that will bring him more votes. Like other commentators, I've said Obama needs to be true to his positions, and use that righteous mantle of forthright honesty to make his case to the American people. Even voters who don't agree with his position on various issues might vote for him if they think he's a person who follows his convictions.

The best example of these identity politics was George Bush. Even today, people will say how they don't particularly agree with him on this issue or that issue, but think he's basically a good guy. They identified with the man George Bush, and didn't with the eminently more qualified yet barely likable Gore and Kerry. Bush was just a guy. Whether he could do the President's job was secondary, at least with the 50% or so of Americans who actually voted. More educated and enlightened populations would likely be dismayed by the prospect that the President of the United States was chosen not based on his ability to manage the office for which he was running, but how similar to average voter Bush was thought to be.

Where have these identity politics taken us? To a poorly run America, one whose young people are increasingly falling behind other industrialized nations. While continuing to lengthen, our life expectancy is dropping in rank relative to other countries. Our manufacturing infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is losing out. Bridges are collapsing. Fields flooding. The end is near.

Maybe the Christian evangelicals sought a candidate who would bring on the apocalypse, someone who would speed up the events leading to the second coming of Jesus. A whole category of End Times literature and prophecy has been made available to Christian fundamentalists. Perhaps Bush fell under the spell that Armageddon's time had come, and perhaps he's even worked to assure the total destruction of the human species, preceded by a time when non-believers would be Left Behind as true believers ascend to heaven.


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  • At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lt.C. Ralph Peters on Omar Khadr Gitmo Tape: "We should have killed that punk on a battlefield where it was legal to do so!"

    Watch video at http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/07/ltc-ralph-peters-on-omar-khadr-gitmo.html

  • At 2:56 AM, Blogger jbpeebles said…

    More breaking news on this story has emerged in The Toronto Star. See the middle portion to the right of that article, where there's a box of links designated for issues connected to Khadr's torture.

    Here's a quote by a Canadian judge cited in the article:
    "Justice Dennis O'Connor, who headed the inquiry into the Maher Arar affair, warned in his 2006 report that while information sharing is vital for intelligence agencies trying to thwart possible terrorist attacks, it is a 'highly sensitive and potentially risky exercise.'"

    Arar was an outrage and set the precedent for additional illegal behaviors, as rendition always has been. In his legalese, the judge is saying you can't coerce testimony--it taints everything, even the people involved in the subsequent trial that admit it, screwing whatever case could be made. Hmm, womder why they'd do that--perhaps the accused aren't going to be found guilty any other way (nor could they be found guilty in any conventional court of law.) In all the Gitmo, all the anti-terror effort, why do we start with Osama's limo driver. WTF is bin Laden?

    O'Conner goes on:

    "If it is determined that there is a credible risk that the Canadian interactions would render Canada complicit in torture or create the perception that Canada condones the use of torture, then a decision should be made that no interaction is to take place."

    Now you might be able to see just how important it has been to maintain a blackout on Guantanamo, at least until the show trials run their course.

    No, there are few real terrorists in Gitmo, which is in keeping with the 9/11 hijackers being a front group for explosives rigged in the buildings, including WTC 7 which housed the SEC's safe and evidence of stock market manipulation, implicating many of the same neo-con Zionists who enticed Bush to attack Iraq.

    Yes, it's all been a set up. The torture came because the so-called terrorists didn't bring down the buildings, the bombs did.

    People say anything to make the torture stop. They're just the patsies for the parasites we have yet to find and purge who blew up the buildings. Our gov't fed the Zio-media with the Official Explanation which is proving to be a total fabrication. This means they run deep and have entrenched themselves at the top levels of government.

    Sorry, but it's the only feasible explanation.

  • At 6:36 PM, Blogger American Muslim, not Muslim-American said…


    You are one dumb nazi fuck, aren't you?


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