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Posts Tagged ‘Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

UPDATED: The U.S. War Machine Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood

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UPDATE — DECEMBER 31, 2009: The post below, originally published on July 26, 2008, was written as an outcropping of our disgust over the genocide and ethnic cleansing taking place in the United States’ brutal covert war in Somalia. We never finished this post and never will (see note at bottom of this page). However, the information herein continues to be as relevant today as it will be tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. (Think Obama constitutes a change from the Bush Administration’s warmongering for oil under the guise of fighting terrorism? Think again.)

Many Americans would be surprised to know that, throughout the course of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has also been busy with wars elsewhere in the world. Only, we don’t call them wars. We call them things like peacekeeping missions, nation-building or “low intensity conflicts.” Or, as is the case in Colombia, where the U.S. is at work wresting control of oil pipelines and trying to destabilize the bordering oil-rich countries, such as Venezuela, while demonizing the leaders of these countries, we call it a “war on drugs” — even as the U.S. is the pusher man working out of Colombia, using the proceeds from our drug sales to fund our war machine in South America. (Think about it. Has cocaine ever been cheaper or more available than since Clinton and Bush began their war on drugs in Colombia? The same is true of heroin in the Afghanistan drug trade). And we don’t, as a rule, fight these wars ourselves. Instead, we buy off corrupt dictators and/or destabilize and overthrow democratically elected leaders and install corrupt dictators of our own choosing. Then we build armies for them — funding, training and arming these paramilitaries to the tune of millions, so that they can fight our various covert and proxy wars on terror around the globe, which are, coincidentally, in the most mineral-strategic countries on the planet — from South America to Africa and the Middle East. It is no coincidence that the U.S. is the world’s largest arms supplier, our war machine generating loyalties, death and destruction in over 174 states and territories.


These wars are given little scrutiny on the media radar, even as they’re claimed to be part of the larger war on terror — or, in the case of, say, Sudan, they fly under the guise of humanitarian efforts. Much like Somalia, Yemen is not so strategic for its oil reserves, but for its natural gas reserves. Oh, and there’s also that matter of its location (location, location). Specifically, Somalia and Yemen are located across from each other, like mirrors, on either side of the opening from the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This strait connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden through which our oil and gas laden ships must pass.The U.S. has been covertly warring for years to control this shipping lane. As such, news stories — past present and future — on Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia and, yes, pirates are inseparable from this larger story, a story about a superpower that will use any ruse to get what it wants, up to and including climbing in and out of bed with friends, enemies and even the terrorists we claim to be fighting.

As for the collateral damage from our clandestine wars — genocide, ethnic cleansing and untold millions of human lives ground into starvation, disease, misery, death and civil war — America alternately ignores and feigns outrage. When it becomes strategically feasible and/or necessary, the U.S. military steps out of the shadows, setting up high-profile military installations, so that we may help these poor victims, or protect them from the “bad guys,” with whom we may or may not still be in bed. This is the story being replayed in countries throughout the world. Yemen is no exception.

Considering that during the months before 9-11, the FBI had their finger on the pulse of the pre-9-11 terrorist network in Yemen (to which the Bush Administration was in
“ignore” mode), it is curious that U.S.has subsequently enjoyed the sort of relationship with Yemen over the past 8 years, where we could rendition detainees there to be tortured at our CIA black sites in Yemen. Which makes it somehow ironic that the media is using the Yemen connections of the recent underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab
/AbdulMutallab, to help us recall and re-ignite our anger over 9-11. It seems the American public is now being signaled that it’s time to switch from from ignore-mode to the outrage-mode being feigned by our leaders. This is, of course, our cue, as patriotic, freedom-loving Americans to rally behind our pre-Christmas bombing campaign waged on the innocent men, women and children in Yemen, which promises to be an ongoing campaign in the war formerly known as Bush’s war on terror. It is no coincidence that this latest bombing campaign was already underway when the underpants bomber boarded the plane for America. Nor is it a coincidence that the trail of the underpants bomber is littered with questions that, for the official record, go unasked and unanswered.

Such has been the nature of America’s war on terror, beginning with 9-11. Our leaders can afford to be arrogant and sloppy because, truth be known, the U.S. is untouchable. We encourage those interested in these stories to do their own research. This page is a good starting point. Our apologies that we cannot finish our own effort out, and for any dead links on this page.


An odd coincidence: Pick any oil-rich spot on the globe, and you will find the U.S. engaged in the war on terror.

In this vein, why has there been such a preponderance of al Qaeda terrorists (or, rather, a preponderance of **propaganda about **al Qaeda) surrounding the oil fields of the world over the past 7 years?

The current war in Iraq is not the first U.S. war for oil. Nor is it the first war for oil that has claimed massive civilian casualties, which were then concealed by the U.S. media. This is the first war for oil, however, fought on the grounds that a foreign country posed a direct threat to the U.S. — false grounds — which our government intentionally deceived us into believing. This is also the first war for oil fought under the mantle of spreading freedom and democracy, even as the U.S. government funds and arms both sides in a civil war: Shiites against Sunnis and Sunnis against Shiites — who then terrorize, torture, slaughter and commit ethnic cleansing of the very Iraqi populations we’re supposedly fighting to “save” from the evil terrorists. There’s a term for the type of warfare being waged by the U.S. in Iraq. It’s called war crimes.


That the American people have not demanded accountability from Congress, and have largely remained silent about the atrocities of this war – whether through complacent ignorance or sheer disbelief that our government could actually commit such atrocities — has only served to condone this war and the policies of this administration. Our collective silence has, in effect, given Bush-Cheney carte blanche to wage other wars on terrorism – wars now being fought in countires throughout the world, with scarcely a mention in the U.S. media.

Unknown to most Americans is that dozens of countries throughout the world have now been accused of harboring al Qaeda terrorists. Unknown to most Americans is that the Bush-Cheney Administraion is and has been waging clandestine wars in these countries, under the banner of “fighting terrorism,” sometimes called “peacekeeping missions” and “nation-building.” Unknown to most Americans is that we are currently spending millions of dollars in each of these countries, to fight mere handsful of alleged al Qaeda terrorists, whose existence — in many instances — is based on “intelligence” as leaky as the intelligence that sent us to war in Iraq. The potential and the reality (as seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan) is that these wars result in “chasing needles by burning haystacks,” as entire populations of innocent civilians are brutalized by the Bush-Cheney war machine , as it pursues small handsful of terrorists, who may or may not even exist.

In Iraq, alone, the Bush-Cheney war machine left in its wake over 4 million “displaced” Iraqi citizens — driven from their homes through violence and ethnic cleansing. From this point forward, if there were any questions left regarding the true intention of the U.S. forces, one need look no further than the billions of U.S. dollars spent building the enormous network of permanent U.S. bases over the past 7 years. These mega-bases have been built with every U.S. lifestyle amenity imaginable — from Baskin Robbins to Burger King, from miniature golf to swimming pools, from Hertz Rent-a-Car to department stores, and from football stadiums to movie theatres — not to mention air-conditioning, satellite internet access, cable television and international phone service.
The average Iraqi citizen has not enjoyed some of these amenities — such as electricity, food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care — since the days of Saddam Hussein. Ironically, construction on the permanent U.S. bases in Iraq proceeded swiftly toward completion, while U.S. work on to restore the most rudimentary of services for Iraqis — such as water purification, food, health care and electricity — fell to the wayside.

A Crude Awakening

Despite what we, in America, hear on the evening news, the words ‘victory’ and ’success’ do not belong in the same sentence with the word ‘Iraq.” The situation in Iraq is one of humanitarian crisis. Five years into the U.S. invasion of their country, Iraq is now deemed, the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Human rights and relief agencies throughout the world (International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Oxfam) have described the situation as “disasterous,” as a “dire humanitarian crisis,” calling Iraq, “one of the most dangerous countries in the world…. a place of carnage and despair.” Our vice-president, Dick Cheney, recently described Iraq as a “successful endeavor,” a sentiment we hear echoed daily from our mainstream U.S. media. Would the American public be silent, if they knew that we are waging similar wars in dozens of countries?
Question: When is a war a war?
Is it a war, if it’s called a ‘low-intensity conflict’? Is it a war, if only a small number of U.S. military troops are sent in? And is it a war, if the soldiers are from private mercenary armies hired through U.S. corporations? And is it a war, if our military funds, trains and arms rogue armies to fight these wars? Is it a war if the military’s stated purpose is ‘peacekeeping’ or to lend humanitarian aid? And what if it’s a little of each? Is it a war?
The answers lie in the oil fields: If U.S. military engagement and/or aid results in the U.S. gaining control of a country’s oil/mineral profits — at the expense of the native populations, who suffer impoverishment, torture, ethnic cleansing and/or genocide as a result of our actions — then that military engagement is, indeed, a war. It is a war for oil.  
Curious to know just how many wars are being fought for oil, we decided to take a head count of each and every country where the U.S. is fighting the war on terror. Our bet is that each and every one is also, ultimately, a war for oil. Whether the resulting silence from this truth is deafening, or not, is anyone’s guess.

Pick a Continent, Any Continent…

Say, Africa. Although Africa is but one stop on Dick Cheney’s proposed world tour for oil, it’s a good place to start, since the entire continent stands to be devoured, beginning with its name. Renamed in February 2007 (for military purposes only, mind you) Africa is now called the U.S. African Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM). As shown on this map, USAFRICOM was created from the existing United States European Command (USEUCOM), United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) and United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). Whatever that means. It is with some haste, then, that we inventory the African countries involved in Bush-Cheney’s global war on terror.

Lost in all the flurry of Bush’s February 2007 announcement of the surge in Iraq was his concurrent announcement of another surge — this one on the continent of Africa. Having neatly accomplished ‘Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems’ in their war for oil distribution in Iraq, Bush-Cheney — poised, now, to undertake another empire — easily won congressional approval for “African solutions to African problems.” aka, U.S.AFRICOM: the U.S. African Command and its military arm ACOTA. A Department of Defense military operation, AFRICOM was created by Bush-Cheney to enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa. Started in October 2007, and set to be fully operational by September 30, 2008, AFRICOM is installing military commands in a total of 53 African countries – that’s all of Africa, except Egypt.

In an August 2007 congressional briefing, State and Defense Department officials emphasized to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that AFRICOM’s aim is to boost cooperation on anti-terrorism and peacekeeping activities, and programs that promote regional stability. In this same briefing, Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant for African affairs, echoed this sentiment — assuring Congress that AFRICOM is focused on security, not combat. On the heels of this assurance, however, she nonetheless cautioned: ” I would anticipate that there would be an increase in the amount of exercises we conduct and other military-to-military cooperation activity.”

Many in Africa are understandably suspicious. Believing, perhaps, that past is prologue — the majority of countries are protesting the presence of AFRICOM, as are many individuals around the world, including some high-profile activists, such as Danny Glover , who consider the ongoing U.S.-British militarization of Africa to be little more than a strategy toward gaining control of Africa’s natural resources, most notably its oil. As one critic noted: “Peace operations” and “nation building” are what the military and the mercenaries call their activities. But just like Bush’s “healthy forests” and “clear skies” initiatives, the names mean the opposite of what they do.


The Oil Fields of Africa: Black Gold, Texas Tea

The conundrum the Bush-Cheney Administration faces in Africa is the same all the world over: how to pry the mineral rights from the rightful owners — the African people, in this case — while convincing Congress and the American public that our presence is purely benevolent? The events of September 11th provided an easily path: wage war on terror. This path is all the easier in Africa, where so many countries are already under the control of corrupt, suppressive dictators, whose loyalties are easily purchased.

The tactics used by Bush-Cheney are generally the same, however, no matter what the county. First, they make a case for terrorism in the country – preferably al Qaeda. Then, and not necessarily in this order, they (1) provide U.S. military assistance to fight terrorism, (2) accuse any one who disagrees with the U.S. military presence of being a terrorist insurgent, (3) incite existing cultural tensions toward divisiveness or civil war, (4) fund and arm the “goods guys” and/or the “bad guys” (aka terrorists) to physically remove — through either ethnic cleansing and sometimes genocide — the native populations living on the lands around the oil fields and pipelines, (5) if these populations protest, label them as terrorist insurgents.

Throughout each step of the process, U.S. oil interests are expanded and secured — under the guise of “economic development” for the host country. When all is said and done, however, it is the U.S. who owns the controlling interests in their oil fields. Of course, by the time AFRICOM was created, Bush-Cheney had already done the legwork, having identified terrorist influences in most of the oil-rich African countries set to receive AFRICOM’s military commands. And in a few countries — such as Somalia and Sudan — they’d already accomplished steps 1 through 5.

_____________________________

As an aside, a smattering of quotables on the topic:

After the end of the Cold War, U.S. policy toward Africa was driven by President George H. W. Bush’s vision of a “New World Order.” …. President Bush announced in his 2006 State of the Union Address his intention to “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025,” …. analysts estimate that Africa may supply as much as 25% of all U.S. oil imports by 2015. — from the Report for Congress, “Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa,” March 10, 2008.

Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we’ve known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. — From President George H.W. Bush’s speech, “Toward a New World Order,” delivered before the nation and a joint session of Congress, September 11, 1990

Along with Latin America, West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest growing sources of oil and gas for the American market. African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur, making it suitable for stringent refined product requirements, and giving it a growing market share for the refining Centers on the East Coast of the U.S.Dick Cheney, May 16, 2001

In the aftermath in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, it is increasingly clear that the United States ignores Africa at its peril….The continent’s failed states and huge swaths of ungoverned territory offer sanctuary to terrorist groups.American Enterprise Institute May 2004 conference bulletin: Leave No Continent Behind: U.S. National Security Interests in Africa

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works. Armed Forces Journal, June 2006. “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look,” by Ralph Peters

_____________________________

It is easy to understand, then, the fears of African citizens, who feel helpless to the incoming U.S. military presence in their countries. Some in America know this same helplessess, as we’ve seen war protesters branded as terrorist sympathizers or “homegrown terrorists” in recent years. The difference between Americans and Africans is that we do not have a history (up to this point, anyway) of being forced from our homes by the U.S. military, or of witnessing the mass slaughtering of our families, neighbors, communities, of whole towns of people, who protested the policies of the U.S. government. The fear of these African countries is understandable, then, as America’s war on terror turns its calculating eye toward the oil fields of Africa.

U.S. Oil & Mineral Claims vs. Terrorist Claims in Africa:
An Alphabetical Compendium of Coincidences
 
**Benin (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Burkina Faso (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Cape Verde (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
Guinea-Bissau
**Lesotho
Liberia
**Madagascar
**Malawi
**Mali
**Mozambique
**Namibia
Niger
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Swaziland
**Tanzania
Togo
Zambia
Zimbabwe
** these countries receive aid through compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government corporation, created by Bush in 2002, to “undercut terrorism by attacking poverty overseas.” While most of these countries lack significant oil reserves, their geographical & political relationships with oil-rich countries lends a strategic importance to U.S. interests in Africa.
* * *
 
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our original idea with this post was to document every mineral/gas/oil-rich country in the world where the U.S. is engaged in various military operations. Frankly, the task is too disgusting to continue. To anyone interested in such things, just google to find which countries have rich reserves of oil and gas (or gold, diamonds and other minerals). Then google the name of any of these countries + “al Qaeda” or “insurgents” or “Dick Cheney” or “U.S. military,” or “USNORTHCOM” or “Blackwater,” or “mercenary armies,” or the name of either Bush Jr. or Sr.
Dig just a little, and you will find the U.S. in the thick of it, secretly funding covert and proxy wars, arming and training paramilitaries. You can also google terms such as: genocide, ethnic cleansing, humanitarian crisis, starvation, rape, death squads, disease, etc. and find your way to the U.S. through the back door, so to speak. One notable exception to the rule will be Darfur, where China beat us to the punch. In Sudan, however, the U.S. and China seem to be in partnership, each country jockeying for their fair share of oil and carnage.
Depending on the country, you may also find a “war on drugs,” particularly in South America, but also in Afghanistan. This is how the U.S. funds some of it’s illegal wars, as there is only so much money that can be hoodwinked out of Congress to fund our covert wars. But drug money is only one of the many ways the U.S. gets around the inconvenience of laws that forbid us to provide military aid to countries engaged in genocide, torture, renditions, illegal imprisonments and so on.
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The Art of Trying Terrorist Suspects (without really trying)

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UPDATE: I stand corrected. When I wrote the post, below, I predicted that the plans to try terrorist suspects in federal courts would be aborted once the left and right had finished their political theater (one side pretending to aspire to justice, while the other lobs their usual “soft-on-terror” accusations plus a heapin’ helping of fearful predictions of danger should the trials be allowed to take place), the end result being that — to the blame of no one — justice could continue to be deferred. I now see that, in one fell swoop, the debate over the trials — as well as the debate over the closing of Guantanamo — has instead been neatly suffocated by the recent underpants fire on Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Until the following questions have been openly asked and comprehensively answered (sans any bogus excuses about state secrets and/or blame games and attacks against those who would deign ask such questions) concerning the incidents surrounding this purported terrorist plot, it would be difficult to conclude this to be anything but a different brand of political theater, designed to do exactly what it will — derail plans to close Guantanamo and put an end to this nonsense about due process of law:

  1. Who was the well-dressed Indian man described in this CNN interview, who allegedly assisted Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab in boarding the plane without a passport?
  2. What was the identity and purpose of the man aboard Flight 253 (described in the same interview, above) who oddly, to the notice of at least one passenger, began videotaping the flight hours before the underpants incident and, during the fire, was the only one standing up, as he intently filmed the incident?
  3. On whose say-so was Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab working for al Qaeda?
  4. On whose say-so did al Qaeda claim responsibility for this plot?

Because, if the only authorities for answering questions #3 and #4 are either IntelCenter or SITE (the official Bush-Cheney Ministries of Propaganda, aka “terrorist monitoring firms,” run by the supreme Reichsministers of Propaganda, Rita Katz and Ben N. Venzke, who have been responsible for most, if not all of the ludicrously fraudulent al Qaeda and bin Laden tapes released since 9-11), then that’s evidence enough that — 2008 election results notwithstanding — that wascally wat Cheney is still at the helm.

Flying to the Sabbath on a Broomstick

From the vantage point of our comfy armchairs, it’s difficult to imagine what crimes any one of us might confess under the duress of “enhanced interrogation.” To what would you confess if someone stormed into your living room and shoved a loaded gun into your mouth? Or, more true to life, if you were stripped naked and hung by your wrists from the ceiling until you fell unconscious from the pain? Or had an electric prod shoved up your rectum?

What if someone threatened to do these things to your child? To what would you confess? Malfeasance? Petty larceny? Murder? Flying to the Sabbath on a broomstick? Plots to blow up bridges?

We are all witches as soon as we are tortured. — Jesuit priest Von Spee, denouncing confessions by torture, from his  1627 book, “Cautio Criminalis,”

water-torture-damhoudere-15561

"The Water Torture" 16th century woodcut by Joos de Damhouder, illustrating how to interrogate witch suspects under torture

As could be predicted, the announcement of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tral instantaneously split America down the middle. On the right are the godly, law-abiding, pro-Americans. On the left are the godless, terrorist-appeasing anti-Americans. Before we get too far into this argument, let’s get one thing straight: The reason the folk on the right object to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s trial is because they don’t trust the American judicial system.

The folk on the right don’t trust our constitution, and they don’t want to hear a bunch of liberal, tree-hugging crap about habeas corpus, due process and international treaties. (God help the folk on the right, should they ever find themselves on the wrong side of the legal system to which they aspire). What they want is 100% assurance that the accused will be convicted. Period. The finer points of law — such as evidence of guilt — have become moot. After all, there are some crimes so horrible, that the mere accusation is enough to taint a person with guilt. Coddling such people with attorneys and due process of law is an affront to real justice.

To these folk, real justice is what you do with the raw anger in your gut — not this fancy-pants, Harvard Law school mumbo jumbo designed to mollycoddle evil. Real justice is Biblical: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and so on. This is why the folk on the right are still on board with the same administration that, for 8 years, blatantly spat on the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions and, instead, resorted to torturing people to exact punishment and extract evidence — even as we’ve known for centuries that people will say anything to make the torture stop:

Such confessions do not arise out of the clear blue. Here’s how it works:

The interrogators accuse the detainee of a crime, supplying him/her with the details of the alleged crime (e.g. kissing the anus of a demon or plotting  to blow something up). The detainee is then — over a period of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and/or years — beaten, cut, sliced, subjected to electric shock, freezing cold, left naked and forced to stay awake for days on end, hung from the ceiling by his wrists, starved, suffocated, water-tortured, and/or threatened with rape or death to himself, his wife or his children (who may, indeed, be heard screaming in an adjoining room) and otherwise tortured, threatened, humiliated and terrorized until he confesses to the crime(s). Next, the interrogators demand the names of his co-conspirators — supplying the detainee with the names and specifics of their alleged crimes (e.g. supplying broomsticks or bombs to other witches). He is then tortured until he tells the interrogators what they want to hear. New arrests follow. The accused co-conspirators are likewise tortured into confessing crimes and fingering still more co-conspirators. New arrests follow….

Our country has spent a lot of air time over the past several years, deliberating from comfy armchairs (What is torture?), debating from media roundtables (Did we torture?), engaging in parlor games (Is torture wrong?), and daintily sipping sophisms from silver spoons (When is torture justifiable?).

Aside from being immoral, inhumane, a violation of the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (notwithstanding the legal and semantic sleights-of-hand concocted through the Bybee and Bradbury torture memos), a violation of the terms of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, a violation of the the U.N. Convention Against Torture, and in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in short, a violation of all international law) — torture is not only wrong and unjustifiable in all circumstances, but it goes against natural law.

Natural law? Say what?

The Martens Clause

Introduced in a preamble to the 1899 Hague Convention, the Martens Clause was intended to bridge the gap between the basic principles of humanity and the existing international treaties on armed conflict — treaties which can never be said to be complete, as they constantly evolve according to the new inventions of war. The Martens Clause provides that, just because something is not explicitly prohibited by a treaty doesn’t mean it is legal:

“Until a more complete code of the laws of war is issued, the High Contracting Parties think it right to declare that in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, populations and belligerents remain under the protection and empire of the principles of international law, as they result from the usages established between civilized nations, from the laws of humanity and the requirements of the public conscience.”the Martens Clause, July 29, 1899 ¹

In other words — should the law fail to spell this out — we human beings are expected, during wartime, to observe the basic laws of humanity and should refrain from doing those things that are innately, universally understood to be unconscionable.

Not exactly a law, but a guiding principle or aspiration, the Martens Clause has long been the topic of debate, interpretation, re-interpretation and, at times, dismissed as irrelevent. The International Law Commission interprets the Martens Clause as such: “[it] provides that even in cases not covered by specific international agreements, civilians and combatants remain under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience.” ¹

One notable example of the importance of the Martens Clause was the Nuremberg trials, conducted at a time when international laws and treaties had yet to catch up with the inventions of that particular war. According to Rupert Ticehurst, Lecturer in Law at King’s College School of Law, London:

…. the judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which to a great extent relied on natural law to determine the culpability of the Nazi high command, confirmed the continuing validity of natural law as a basis for international law in the twentieth century.

“In contrast to positive law,” writes Ticehurst, “natural law is universal, binding all people and all States. It is therefore a non-consensual law based upon the notion of the prevalence of right and justice.¹

Whether or not this should apply to the current war — fka “the war on terror” — doesn’t appear to be a topic of debate. But it should be. We should be asking ourselves:

Are all prisoners entitled to the principles of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience? Or just certain ones? And if we classify our prisoners as “enemy combatants” and “detainees” can we ignore all the laws governing prisoners of war and, instead, indefinitely imprison them — never charging them with a crime, yet barring all avenues for release; forever denying them access to an attorney, formal charges, the right to testify and present evidence?

Equally important: Is a man still considered innocent until proven guilty? And do confessions extracted under torture and/or the threat of harm to one’s family constitute evidence?

Or have we human being finally discovered that one special exception that nullifies all known laws and codes of human conduct? Have we finally discovered that there is, indeed, a class of human beings who — regardless of their innocence or guilt — are exempt from equal protection under the law? Have we become so divine in our wisdom, that we can now dispense with such quaint notions as the law of the land and, instead, allow our most primal responses to fear to serve as the foundation for justice in America?

Enter King George

The reasons why the Bush-Cheney Administration chose to crush both the spirit and letter of both international treaties and U.S. constitutional law — and, with them, the most basic principles of humanity — are still up for debate. But the end result was this: they polluted the entire judicial process.

Having broken all known laws regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and criminal suspects, it then became necessary for the Bush Administration to rewrite, reinterpret and, alternately, nullify our 225-year old Constitution and Bill of Rights, so as to legalize torture and crimes against humanity. And to ensure that no one tried to stop them, they waged a campaign of fear, bolstered by the timely releases of scary, albeit fraudulent, audios and videos disseminated by their paid propaganda hacks at SITE and IntelCenter. And to discredit constitutionally-minded lawmakers and scholars, they accused them of being elitist and “soft on terror.” And to discredit a skeptical public, they branded anyone who disagreed with their agenda as either a terrorist appeaser or a conspiracy theorist. And to ensure that the eyes of the world would never know the details of their crimes, they slapped labels such as “state secrets” and “national security” onto the sloppy paper trail left in their wake.

And, to be sure that the voices of these prisoners would never heard — that their testimony and the lack of evidence against them would never be known — the Bush Administration concocted a brand new judicial systems for trying their torture victims.

Hence, the President’s Military Order of November 13, 2001, one of the first great assaults on democracy and the U.S. Constitution, which empowered the Department of Defense with the sole authority to try these prisoners, unencumbered by the scrutiny of the judicial branch of our government. Hence, the later Military Commissions Act of 2006 — crafted by a Republican Congress to thwart an earlier 2004 Supreme Court decision that granted habeas corpus to these detainees. Hence the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which the Supreme Court ultimately decided in their 2008 ruling were inadequate to meet the terms of habeas corpus, since they did not allow the detainees to be represented by lawyers, gave them limited ability to present evidence on their behalf, and left no mechanism for their release, should a federal court find inadequate reason to hold them.  Hence an 8 year assault on the U.S. Constitution through a series of new-fangled systems of justice designed to forbid the accused from presenting evidence or plead a defense, with access to attorneys — if allowed at all — so limited, abridged and censored as to be little more than a token nod to procedure within a sham system of justice.

In short, these prisoners have been brought to trial before the Military Tribunals for no other reason than to be pronounced guilty. Or, as has more often been the case, to be pronounced as being inherently dangerous, sans any evidence — beyond that extracted under torture — to support this claim. In the latter scenario, these prisoners are left suspended in indefinite limbo, mired in procedural mumbo jumbo under the guise of state secrets, as part of the systemic effort to make sure that the truth about these prisoners is never heard outside the prison walls.

The beauty of these new American systems of justice is that, by invoking the “state secrets” privilege, King George and his presidential progeny have, thus far, been able to evade — in the interest of national security — judicial scrutiny and at least some of the international condemnation over our illegal detentions, extraordinary renditions and “disappearances,” prisoner abuses, torture and other war crimes.

Our Dirty Little Secret

The fact is this: Untold numbers of prisoners in Guantanamo are not being held because of they’ve committed any crime, but because of the crimes committed against them. The only way to covering up these crimes is through “indefinite detention” — by keeping these prisoners forever locked away — barring them from all legal or judicial recourse, barring the outside world from ever hearing of the torture and extraordinary rendition to which they’ve been subjected.

We in America are told that these prisoners are dangerous. And we’re told that the evidence of their dangerousness must be kept secret, else it would threaten our national security. What we haven’t been told — and what the prisoners, themelves, have yet to be told — are their charges: With what crimes exactly, are these men being charged? What are they guilty of?

The answer for many of the prisoners is this: nothing. They have not been charged with one single crime — and they never will be — because the only evidence against them is that which has been coerced through torture. And, despite years of effort and armies of investigators,  King George was never able to find any evidence to substantiate the crimes to which these tortured prisoners confessed.

Many Americans, reacting to the gut horror of the September 11th, have become hardened to the tenets of justice.  To them, the term, “due process of law,” is a dirty phrase. To them, it is still not well enough that our country has already extracted more than 100 million of pounds of flesh — collateral damage, it’s called — from the innocent Iraqi and Afghani mothers, fathers and children who have been blown to pieces by our bombs and our guns.

To them, the deaths of these innocents is a small price to pay for….. For what? What exactly do we hope to accomplish at this point, beyond saving face in Afghanistan and raising the stock market value of the defense contractors? What, exactly, do we hope to buy with the million-dollar-per-soldier bandages we are slapping on our gaping hypocrisy of a war in Afghanistan? Our real war, now, is in Pakistan — a war we carelessly blundered into existence and, in the process, created a real potential for nuclear armegeddon.

God forbid that any in this country would commit treason by asking the real question we need to be asking: What are the seeds to this whole war? Because the seeds were planted long before September 11th. At the risk of over-simplifying the issue, I would propose that, were the United States to (1) lessen its dependency on fossil fuels, and (2) discontinue its blind support, funding and arming of Israel’s campaigns of aggression and violence, and (3) stop torturing and illegally detaining people, (4) stop funding covert wars and arming proxy militias, and (5) begin honoring international treaties, that the complexion of world politics would be fundamentally changed for the better.

God forbid that anyone but a conspiracy theorist would point out that all of our wars — overt, covert and by-proxy — are in the most mineral and oil-strategic spots on the globe; or would draw a relationship between America’s sanction of Israel’s terrorism and al Qaeda terrorism; or would point out that our torture and illegal detention programs have only recruited retaliation. God forbid that any in this country would ask: 

What’s the net difference between al Qaeda retaliating for their grievances against America by plowing planes into buildings and killing nearly 3,000 innocents, and America’s retaliating for grievances against al Qaeda by plowing bombs into villages for 8 years straight — killing, perhaps, more than a million innocents?

How many pounds of flesh is enough?

King George and Lord Cheney have told us — and Obama concurs — that terrorists kill and torture because they are innately evil, while America kills and tortures to spread spread freedom and democracy. Yet, it was democracy and freedom that also died on September 11th — a crime for which Osama bin Laden never claimed credit, outside of the controversially-sourced December 13, 2001 video (and subsequent others, equally controversial); a crime that compelled America’s war on terror, whose by-product has been unprecedented levels of wealth and power for those political and corporate profiteers (from Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales, to Cofer Black and Erik Prince ), whose pockets have been filled from the blood of our wars.

The Trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that the prevailing right and the sycophant left in America are up in arms over the prospect of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being tried in federal court. Aside from the fears over what might be revealed, in the way of facts, such trials do not come with a 100% guarantee that the accused will be convicted.

Having said this — and knowing what I know of our country’s history over the past 8 years  — I have to wonder: Why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

Why did the DOJ and the Obama Administration choose this particular prisoner — the most hated, despised man on the planet, aside from Osama bin Laden — to use as the test case in America’s return to the standards of justice?

Could it be that the Obama Administration really doesn’t want this trial to take place? Could it be that they, like the Bush Administraion before them, they would like to just sweep the whole matter under the rug and keep forever hidden from scrutiny the crimes committed by our government?

I think so.

Otherwise, the first case on the docket would have been a prisoner such as Guantanamo detainee, Majid Khan — in all likelihood an innocent man — who was tortured into making confessions in 2003, yet has never been legally, officially, formally or otherwise charged with a crime. A man who has been rotting in secret prisons, then in Guantanamo, for the past 6-1/2 years.  A man for whom — few who know the facts of his case could argue — justice has been grossly perverted and denied.

Call me jaded, but I see red flags in the DOJ/Obama Administration announcement of the intention to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court, rather than putting the full weight of our judicial system behind Majid Khan and the hundreds of others like him, whose fates have already been ruled on by the Supreme Court.

In a nutshell, the Supreme Court ruled this in 2008: Either charge these prisoners with a crime, or set them free.

So why has the Obama Adminstration, just like the Bush Administration, choosen to ignore this directive? It would appear that neither administration wants to openly acknowledge, before the entire free world, that our war on terror is not only immoral and illegal, but is being orchestrated by same ilk of men who would — upon coercing a man to confess flying to the Sabbath on a broomstick — sincerely believe that the end justifies the means.

To what crimes would you confess if someone stormed into your living room and kidnapped your infant niece? Or if you were suffocated with water? Or stripped naked and hung by your wrists from the ceiling until fell unconscious from the pain? Or had an electric prod shoved up your rectum?

What if someone threatened to do these things to your child? To what would you confess? Malfeasance? Petty larceny? Murder? Flying to church on a broomstick? Plots to blow up bridges?

And would you accuse others, as well?

Majid Khan is but one of many “co-conspirators” whose name happened to come up during one of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s 183 waterboarding sessions during March 2003 — back when the Bush-Cheney Administration was desperate to find any intelligence, even cooked intelligence, to justify going to war in Iraq.

Beyond the confessions extracted through the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — and, later, the torture of Majid Khan — that there is not one scintilla of evidence that Majid Khan is guilty of any crime, terrorist or otherwise. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself has several times acknowledged that he sometimes told the interrogators exactly what they wanted to hear, just to make the torture stop.

Yet, the questions still drift from our comfy armchairs: When is torture justifiable?

The answer is this: Never. Beyond the fact that is is immoral, inhumane and illegal, it has also made it impossible to try these detainees in a just court of law. There is no justice system on this planet, unless in kangaroo courts in the most oppressive, dictatorial regimes — courts much like our own Military Tribunals — that could do anything but throw out the charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. While — from what we’ve been told — there exists actual evidence of his guilt, the pool of justice has been so thoroughly polluted that it is all but impossible to ascertain his guilt or innocence through legal channels. The best that can be hoped is to stage a show trial, so that he may formally be pronounced guilty.

Time will tell, but I predict that the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will never take place in federal court. I predict that, instead, Americans on the left and the right will continue to step-up the rhetoric.  Words will be twisted behind people’s backs until, finally, someone in the Obama Administration or the Department of Justice cries, “Uncle!”

We’ll know the battle’s over by the silence left in its wake. It’s the same silence that was heard from the witches left dangling from the gallows; it’s the silence left by the burning bodies hanging from the lynching trees; it’s the sound made by a thousand tortured souls echoing from our illegal prisons. It’s the sound that justice makes, after being dragged kicking and screaming to the grave.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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1. The Martens Clause and Armed Conflict by Rupert Ticehurst BA LLM,  Lecturer in Law, King’s College School of Law, London (article from the International Committee of the Red Cross website).

FOR MORE READING:

Guantanamo Voices: Guantanamo Basics: Answers questions on the prisoners at Guantanamo related to their detention, crimes and the judicial process