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Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category

Libya: Five Years On

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Five years ago, Libya’s one-time strongman Muammar Gaddafi was brutally murdered and mutilated by NATO and its Islamist allies on the ground.[1] Now, the writer and commentator John Wight argues that “Gaddafi’s crime in the eyes of the West was not that he was an authoritarian dictator – how could it be when their closest ally in the region is Saudi Arabia? His crime in their eyes, it was revealed in a tranche of classified Clinton emails, released by Wikileaks in January of [2016], was his intention of establishing a gold-backed currency to compete with the euro and the dollar as an international reserve currency in Africa. In this regard the then French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and then US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, were key actors in pushing for NATO intervention. Libyan oil was also a factor”.[2]

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On April Fools’ Day 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, former aide to President Bill Clinton, long-time confidante to Hillary Clinton, (as well as being a sometime journalist) e-mailed the following missive to Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of State (21 January 2009 – 1 February 2013): “According to sensitive information available to . . . these individuals, Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011 these stocks were moved to SABHA (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli. This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French.franc (CFA)”. And then adding this important note: “(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues: a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production, b.Increase French influence in North Africa, c. Improve his intemai political situation in France, d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world, e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa)”.[3]

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Blumenthal’s electronic missive purports that the driving force behind Gaddafi’s fall from grace and his subsequent bloody death was none other than the diminutive French President of Hungarian descent Nicolas Sarkozy, serving in the Élysée Palace between 16 May 2007 until 15 May 2012. As put by Wight, the “classified emails prove beyond any doubt that what took place in Libya was a monstrous crime for which those responsible have yet to be held accountable. On the contrary, Sarkozy is currently in the process of preparing a political return as French president, while Hillary Clinton is favorite to win the race for the White House against Republican nominee Donald Trump”, continuing that “[o]f the two, it is Clinton who was filmed clapping her hands and laughing at the news of Muammar Gaddafi’s murder in 2011. It is Clinton who pressed for the military intervention that ended in Libya’s destruction. And it is Hillary Clinton who has the gall to present herself as a moral giant in comparison to her rival for the US presidency”.[4]

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[1] “Whither Libya??? The Execution of Gadhafi, the NTC, and a New Prime Minister” The Erimtan Angle (02 Nov 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/whither-libya-the-execution-of-gadhafi-the-ntc-and-a-new-prime-minister/

[2] John Wight, “Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi” CounterPunch (21 Oct 2016). http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/21/hillary-clinton-and-the-brutal-murder-of-qaddafi/.

[3] “H: FRANCE’S CLIENT & Q’S GOLD. SID” ‘Hillary Clinton Email Archive’ WikiLeaks. https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/6528.

[4] John Wight, “Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi”.

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SNOWDEN

Snowden-2016SNOWDEN stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is written and directed by Academy Award-Winning Director Oliver Stone. The script is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena. Published on Apr 27, 2016.

Annalee Newitz writes that “it’s no surprise that Oliver Stone, a master of political thrillers, is turning the real-life version of Snowden’s experiences into a movie that feels—at least in the trailer—as tense and exciting as the latest Mission Impossible installment. Which is good but also means that you’ll need to forgive this movie for its unrealistic tech tropes. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, Looper) does a pitch-perfect impression of Snowden as a patriotic geek with smartass tendencies. Injured during military training, he sets his sights on intelligence work, where he scores off the charts on every task the government throws at him. And then one night, one of his fellow intelligence geeks shows him a tool that they can use to spy on everyone in the country. As Snowden has a crisis of conscience, we’re treated to one of those classic ‘hacking scene’ moments where a nonexistent piece of software behaves in ways that make no sense, swirling around and showing us random pieces of private data from all the social networks ever. I know, I know. This is not how it happened. Just go with it. Probably the best part of the trailer, which captures both the serious and mischievous sides of Snowden, is when we see him sneaking data out of the NSA contractor where he works by hiding it on an SD card inside a Rubik’s Cube. Then we see a rapid-fire series of scenes where the stakes get higher, Snowden meets with Glenn Greenwald (played by Zachary Quinto, AKA Spock), and the tension mounts as blinky lights illuminate everybody’s faces. It’s satisfying to see events that aroused so much passion around the world translated into an emotionally gripping story. But ‘story’ is the operative term here. Stone, who co-wrote the film, has taken a lot of liberties to turn this tale of people typing and talking into a suspenseful drama”.[1]

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[1] Annalee Newitz, ” Oliver Stone’s Snowden looks like the greatest techno-thriller ever” ars technica (27 April 2016). http://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2016/04/oliver-stones-snowden-looks-like-the-greatest-techno-thriller-ever/.

Feeling the Bern: Hilary 2016

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The American progressive writer John Stauber (cfr. THE BEST WAR EVER)[1] appears to have predicted what would happen to Bernie the moment the latter stepped on to the stage, “(as could any objective fool)” have . . . and now that the dice has finally been cast, he opines that this is “the Democrat’s political equivalent of the Bill Murray movie classic Groundhog Day, except the progressive candidate never wins the girlfriend, er, nomination, in the end. Instead, the Sanders, Deans, Browns, and Jacksons, the progressive champions of their election cycle, only change themselves from watchdogs and guard dogs to lap dogs, ensuring that cynical and outraged progressives follow their champion-cum-Pied Piper to become advocates for defeating the Republicans in November”.[2]

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Stauber goes on to say that “Bernie is an old man. He has lived a fine and worthy public life, but unfortunately he will fade into the sunset without taking the brave step of leading his supporters into finally forming a viable left party in the United States. That would be a true legacy and accomplishment. Even the right wing oligarchs of the Republican Party have realized that the shared monopoly both corporate parties wield over the political process makes a viable third party almost impossible. Yet, for all the noble tirades of the Progressives from Bill Moyers to Bernie Sanders about the power of money and how it must be removed from the process, it is the process itself that is the problem. Two parties, both pro Wall Street and pro military-industrial complex, control the political system. A majority of voters opted out of this farce democracy long ago, so only a minority votes for these parties. Big money has ensured ever tighter domination by the super rich, but even with the dream of meaningful finance reform, the shared monopoly that corporate oligarchs control with their phony two-party system is the real problem”.[3]

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‘Sanders on Whether He Would Tell Supporters to Back Hillary: ‘Make These Decisions Yourself’ . . . A young man at the Bernie Sanders–Chris Hayes MSNBC town hall tonight told him about how he and a lot of other Democrats just can’t see themselves voting for Hillary Clinton in the fall. He asked, “Will you encourage your supporters to vote for Secretary Clinton?” . . . “We’re not a movement,” Sanders said, “where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, that you should all listen to me. You shouldn’t. You make these decisions yourself.” So basically, as far as Sanders is concerned, it’s incumbent upon Clinton to earn the votes of his supporters by speaking to the issues that they care about (posted 25 April 2016)’.

The inimitable Pepe Escobar puts it like this: “[s]o it’s a go for Zeus to launch the thunderbolt. Neo-Athena – minus the wisdom – Hillary Clinton, Queen of Chaos, Goddess of War, Empress of the Perma-Smirk, will finally have her shot at the U.S. presidency. After the Battle of New York, she’s on top on number of votes; number of states; number of pledged delegates; number of superdelegates. It seems as inevitable as death and offshore accounts. ‘I don’t think she’s going to be indicted’; thus spoke Donald Trump to Fox News in relation to Servergate. ‘The Democratic Party is going to protect her.’ And yet, assuming he clinches the presidency, Trump said he would pursue charges against Hillary concerning her subterranean email server. Charles Koch, for his part, now admits Hillary might make a better President than, well, Trump or any other Republican (‘It’s possible, it’s possible’) – as much as, in some respects, he considers Bill was a better President than George W. Bush. So would Koch’s billions support Hillary? ‘We would have to believe her actions would be quite different from her rhetoric.’ Which brings us to Hillary as Queen of Turbo-Charged Casino Neoliberalism. And once again, the evidence insists to suggest that her actions do not exactly match her rhetoric”.[4] Oh yes, here we go again. The Empress of Chaos as the Queen of Turbo-Charged Casino Neoliberalism on the domestic and globalist front, while talking nice and giggling uncontrollably, as the next Gaddafi dies screaming . . . or, as put by the always eloquent John Pilger, “Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country”.[5] Does this now mean that the only hope for a better world is . . . Trump, I mean Drumpf?!??? There are those who hold this opinion: “Trump is a media hate figure. That alone should arouse our scepticism. Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than David Cameron. It is not Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama . . . The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system . . . As presidential election day draws near, Clinton will be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies – just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about hope”.[6]

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[1] “THE BEST WAR EVER — by John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton” The Erimtan Angle (08 Oct 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/the-best-war-ever-by-john-stauber-sheldon-rampton/.

[2] John Stauber, “#FeelTheBern Goes #UpInSmoke” CounterPunch (27 April 2016). http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/27/feelthebern-goes-upinsmoke/.

[3] John Stauber, “#FeelTheBern Goes #UpInSmoke”.

[4] Pepe Escobar, “Hillary: Wall Street’s Golden Girl” CounterPunch (27 April 2016). http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/27/hillary-wall-streets-golden-girl/.

[5] John Pilger, “Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable” RT Op-Edge (29 March 2016). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/337590-trump-clinton-censoring-pilger/.

[6] John Pilger, “Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable”.

CIA Torture Report: Coercive Interrogation Techniques

‘The US Senate has released a long-delayed report about torture techniques by the CIA, triggering widespread international anger. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights has called for the prosecution of the US officials who ordered the crimes including torture against detainees. Ben Emmerson said the CIA and senior Bush administration officials who planned and authorized crimes must be prosecuted. Emmerson said under international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. Meanwhile, Amnesty International says the US Senate report makes it clear that the CIA was acting unlawfully from day one. The rights body said the torture program gave the green light for crimes. And Human Rights Watch said the report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are fiction (10 Dec 2014)’.

Some time ago, President Obama did famously say “We tortured some folks”,[1]  and his predecessor, Bush Junior, sure did.

(8 December 2014)

CIA Director Brennan had this to say on the SSCI Study regarding the Bush Era practices involving coercion and torture: “Over the past several decades, and especially since the terrible tragedy of 9/11, the CIA has been at the forefront of our Nation’s campaign against al-Qa’ida and other terrorist organizations worldwide. The women and men of the CIA have operated around the globe, 24-hours-a-day, working with their U.S. colleagues as well as with foreign partners to prevent terrorist attacks. As a result of these efforts, including the many sacrifices made by CIA officers and their families, countless lives have been saved and our Homeland is more secure. As part of the CIA’s global effort to dismantle al-Qa’ida and to prevent future terrorist attacks, the Agency was directed by President Bush six days after 9/11 to carry out a program to detain terrorist suspects around the world. Certain detainees were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs), which the Department of Justice determined at the time to be lawful and which were duly authorized by the Bush Administration. These techniques, which were last used by the CIA in December 2007, subsequently were prohibited by an Executive Order issued by President Obama when he took office in January 2009”.[2]  The report itself, the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, states that this “updated conclusion asserts that the ‘CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees. ‘The Study attempts to validate this conclusion by relying upon four faulty premises. The first faulty premiseis that ‘seven of the 39 CIA detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques produced no intelligence while in CIA custody’. If true, that means that 82 percent of detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques produced some intelligence while in CIA custody, which is better than the 57.5 percent effectiveness rate of detainees not subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques”.[3]  Following this somewhat blanket assessment, the report asserts that “[r]egardless, these statistics do not provide any real insight on the qualitative value of the intelligence information obtained. The true test of effectiveness is the value of what was obtained—not how much or how little was obtained”.[4]

[1] “Obama and Torture: Yes, We Can and Oh Yes, We Did!!!” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (13 August 2014). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/obama-and-torture-yes-we-can-and-oh-yes-we-did/ https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/obama-and-torture-yes-we-can-and-oh-yes-we-did/.

[2] “Statement from Director Brennan on the SSCI Study on the Former Detention and Interrogation Program” CIA (09 Dec 2014). https://www.cia.gov/news-information/press-releases-statements/2014-press-releases-statements/statement-from-director-brennan-on-ssci-study-on-detention-interrogation-program.html.

[3] “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program” Senate Select Committee on Intelligence http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/study2014/sscistudy3.pdf.

[4] “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program”.