Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel Murders Human Rights Workers Delivering Humanitarian Aid

UPDATE here 21 year-old activist Henochowicz lost her left eye after being shot directly in the face with a tear gas canister

The Huffington Post May 31, 2010

BY Marjorie Cohn

Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law
(San Diego, California USA)
Posted: May 31, 2010 03:02 PM Pacific Standard Time (California/USA)

On Sunday, Israel murdered human rights workers who were attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, because Gaza has been virtually cut off from the outside world by Israel. At least 19 people were reportedly killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops boarded the six-ship Freedom Flotilla convoy in international waters and immediately fired live ammunition at the people on board the ships. The convoy was comprised of 700 people from 50 nationalities and included a Nobel laureate, members of parliament from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Malaysia, as well as Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset and a Holocaust survivor.

Israel's armed attack on these human rights workers constitutes a clear breach of international law. The human rights workers should be released immediately, medical treatment should be provided for the wounded, and all humanitarian aid materials should be immediately transferred to Gaza.

Human rights organizations and bar associations, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Association of Jurists, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, MADRE, the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy, World Human Rights, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and the governments of Britain, France, Germany and Turkey have condemned the Israeli assault. The U.S. government has not yet spoken out in opposition to the assault by Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid.

There should be an international investigation of crimes committed during and after Israel's armed attack on the Freedom Flotilla and prosecution of all Israeli officials and soldiers responsible.

Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza, which constitutes unlawful aggression under General Assembly Resolution 3314 (1974). When the Security Council convenes, it should order Israel to cease its acts of aggression.
END Cohn article

Find original post: here

Earlier article with 7,000 COMMENTS: here

UPDATED article on Veterans Today with 45 COMMENTS here

From fellow-activist, Chuck Fager Director of Quaker House, Fayetteville, in my state: North Carolina USA:

Following the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla, we're planing a vigil/rally in Fayetteville at the Market House for Friday afternoon.

Besides the Gaza flotilla incident, the fact that this past week saw US casualties in Afghanistan pass 1000 will also be a focus of the vigil.

Apropos of all that, some of you may know that Ann Wright was with the flotilla. We just saw a YouTube video from today that showed her being led off the boat in Ashdod Israel, in custody. So she's all right; figures about actual casualties during the raids are still uncertain.

Here's the YouTube link:


NOTE from One Heart blogger:

I am not an historian yet am wondering if there are any correlations between current and past somewhat similar events such as following?

USS Liberty Incident here

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Report: War is Making us Poor : Sign to help End it!

Sent on May 30, 2010, at 10:06 a.m from Alan Grayson - Florida, USA

The direct cost of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan will hit $1 trillion. And in a few weeks, the House of Representatives will be asked to vote for $33 billion of additional "emergency" supplemental spending to continue the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. There will be the pretense of debate - speeches on the floor of both chambers, stern requests for timetables or metrics or benchmarks - but this war money will get tossed in the wood chipper without difficulty, requested by a President who ran on an anti-war platform. Passing this legislation will mark the breaking of another promise to America, the promise that all war spending would be done through the regular budget process. Not through an off-budget swipe of our Chinese credit card.

The war money could be used for schools, bridges, or paying everyone's mortgage payments for a whole year. It could be used to end federal income taxes on every American's first $35,000 of income, as my bill, the War Is Making You Poor Act, does. It could be used to close the yawning deficit, supply health care to the unemployed, or for any other human and humane purpose.

Instead, it will be used for war. Because, as (writer George)Orwell predicted in 1984, we've reached the point where everyone thinks that we've always been at war with Eastasia. Why?

Not because Al Qaeda was sheltered in Iraq. It wasn't. And not because Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. It isn't. Bush could never explain why we went to war in Iraq, and Obama can't explain why we are 'escalating' in Afghanistan.

So, why? Why spend $1 trillion on a long, bloody nine-year campaign with no justifiable purpose?

Remember 9/11, the day that changed everything? That was almost a decade ago. Bush's response was to mire us in two bloody wars, wars in which we are still stuck today. Why?

I can't answer that question. But I do have an alternative vision of how the last 10 years could have played out.

Imagine if we had decided after 9/11 to wean ourselves off oil and other carbon-based fuels. We'd be almost ten years into that project by now.

Imagine if George W. Bush had somehow been able to summon the moral strength of Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, or Martin Luther King Jr, and committed the American people to the pursuit of a common goal of a transformed society, a society which meets our own human needs rather than declaring "war" on an emotion, or, as John Quincy Adams put it, going "abroad, in search of monsters to destroy".


Imagine that we chose not to enslave ourselves to a massive military state whose stated goal is "stability" in countries that never have been "stable", and never will be.


"Imagine all the people, living life in peace."

Alan Grayson

Plz sign on and send this out to all US contacts:




The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are making us poor. Right now, America spends $159 billion on contingency operations for the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. That's enough money to eliminate taxes for everyone who makes under $35,000 a year, while cutting the deficit.

Progressive hero, Congressman Alan Grayson, is once again leading the charge to put an end to this disastrous spending. I signed the petition to support 'The War is Making You Poor' Act, an act that would cut waste, fraud and abuse in the disastrous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Join me and sign the petition at

Do it now.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How do we Seek Peace by Treating Suspects Inhumanely?

See end for link to comments at original site

My Brother Faces a Lifetime of Solitary Confinement on a Spurious Terror Conviction
By Mariam Abu-Ali, AlterNet
Posted on May 12, 2010, Posted here on May 23, 2010

A version of this piece first appeared in The Hoya, Georgetown University's newspaper.

My brother, Ahmed Abu Ali, has spent the past five years in solitary confinement, under 23-hour lockdown, in a 7x12 cell. He has one recreational hour in which he must get strip-searched if he wishes to leave his cell. He gets one unscheduled telephone call a month to his family, and receives the newspaper by the time news becomes history. If I send him a letter wishing him a happy birthday, he gets it 60 days later. When I visit him, once a year, I speak to him from behind a glass window. He is literally in a dungeon, over 20 meters beneath the ground.

Ahmed is not in a foreign prison, nor is he in Guantánamo; he is in a super maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.

Ahmed was not convicted of an act of violence nor was he charged with one. In 2003, Ahmed, a sociable 22-year-old, was studying abroad when he was detained in Medina, Saudi Arabia at the behest of the U.S government. My family, in tandem with several human rights organizations, filed a habeas petition demanding his return to the U.S., and the judge ruled in our favor.

After being held for nearly two years in Saudi Arabia without any charges or access to an attorney, Ahmed was transferred to U.S. custody. The U.S. government sought to avoid public embarrassment by charging him with nine counts of terrorism related conspiracy. The only evidence presented was a confession tape obtained under torture in Saudi Arabia, a country with documented prisoner abuse, as reported by the State Department. Additionally, the judge suppressed the defense's evidence of torture during the trial. During a pretrial hearing, Ahmed offered to show the scars on his back in the U.S. courtroom. The judge refused his request, but assured him he would not be mistreated in the United States.

Mistreatment would be an understatement, given the draconian conditions under which he is held. Ahmed was initially sentenced to 30 years, but the prosecution was not satisfied. They appealed to increase his sentence. Despite the fact that the so-called conspiracies, according to the judge, "did not result in a single actual victim," he is now serving a life sentence in solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).

Created in 1996, SAMs were imposed for a maximum of four months when a prisoner was deemed violent. Now, SAMs can be designated by the Attorney General for up to a year, and renewed continually thereafter resulting in perpetual isolation, a form of torture under international law. The SAMs limit certain "privileges," including, but not limited to, correspondence, visits, media interviews and telephone use. SAMs also restrict conversations between inmates and their lawyers by allowing them to be monitored by prison officials, violating attorney-client privilege and depriving inmates of their right to effective counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Ahmed was under SAMs even before his trial began. Imposing SAMs pre-trial cast a shadow of suspicion on a defendant, rendering him guilty until proven innocent.

Unfortunately, my brother's case is not an anomaly. Civil rights violations are an integral part of the "war on terror" and have become entrenched in the U.S. court system and in prison policy.

Fahad Hashmi is a young student from New York, who received his B.A from Brooklyn College and his master's from London Metropolitan University. In 2006, he was arrested at an airport in the United Kingdom and held in England's notorious Belmarsh prison for 11 months. Like Ahmed, Fahad was charged with conspiracy on the basis of flimsy evidence. While in the UK, he allowed an acquaintance to stay at his apartment for two weeks. The government alleges that this acquaintance had socks, raincoats and ponchos in his luggage during his stay that would later get delivered to Al-Qaeda. The government's case rested on secret evidence and on the testimony of an acquaintance who then became an informant to get a reduction on his own prison sentence.

Fahad was extradited back to New York, where was held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center without a trial under SAMs for the past three years. Under 24-hour electronic surveillance, he is required to shower and relieve himself in view of a camera. Furthermore, his limited family visits have been suspended for the past five months.

Extreme sensory deprivation often leads to hunger strikes and results in the deterioration of prisoners' physical and mental health. Medical and scholarly research has shown that such sensory deprivation results in depression, lethargy and psychosis in otherwise healthy prisoners. After studying inmates in solitary confinement, Craig Haney, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, noted that they "begin to lose the ability to initiate behavior of any kind -- to organize their own lives around activity and purpose … In extreme cases, prisoners may literally stop behaving," lapsing into catatonic states.

Senator John McCain, who spent more than two years in isolation while detained in Vietnam, has said that solitary confinement "crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment." Last year, Ahmed's conditions were so unbearable, he went on a hunger strike for two months, losing 50 pounds.

Fahad's health has degraded immensely, a fact that would have compromised his ability to participate in his defense during his trial, which was scheduled to begin on April 28. Instead, Fahad reached a plea bargain on the eve of his trial. In addition to facing the prospect of a 70-year prison sentence, the court granted the government's request for an anonymous jury with extra protection. The Center for Constitutional Rights called it "a clear attempt to influence the jury by creating a sense of fear for their safety and to paint Mr. Hashmi as already guilty." Fahad's plea should not be presumed as an admission of guilt; the biased circumstances led him to accept a chance for a lesser charge.

Ahmed's or Fahad's innocence is not the point, although I believe both are guilt-free. Rather, I write because regardless of their innocence or guilt, it is their right to be treated humanely. If we believe in the inherent dignity of each human being, then we should be outraged by these abuses. Unfortunately, abuse here in the United States rarely receives media attention. President Obama promised to close down Guantánamo; let us demand that he closes down the Guantánamo-style prisons on U.S. soil, too. Anyone with a true understanding of American values ought to demand an immediate end to these cruel and unusual punishments.

Mariam Abu-Ali is a senior at Georgetown University.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online here

COMMENTS at Alternet dot org CLICK here and plz add your courteous comment here on this site with at least a first name.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Saturday, 22 May 2010, 18:30
Posted by Justice for Aafia Coalition

Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh (MWAE) and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) present:


A woman’s tale of

Rendition Torture Secret Prisons
Saturday 22nd May 2010


Augustine Church,
41 George IV Bridge,

Speakers include:

Aamer Anwar - Scottish Human Rights Lawyer
Mujahid Islam

Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani woman who has lived and studied in America. She is currently Prisoner Number 90279-054 in New York’s Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.

In 2003 Aafia “disappeared” along with her three children while visiting her mother in Pakistan.

Evidence now shows that she was “Prisoner 650” in the notorious Bagram. As a US Detainee she was given no rights to question her treatment and has suffered physical and mental torture.

In 2008 she was taken to the US to stand trial. After all the investigations done on her, the only thing they charged her with was "assaulting and attempted murder of US personnel in Afghanistan" while she was in prison. She was convicted in March 2010 on flimsy evidence.

In the Brooklyn Detention Center she is being denied phone calls and letters while she awaits sentencing (scheduled for 16 August). This is inhumane and she is becoming very ill.

SACC is a member of the Justice for Aafia Coalition, an umbrella body of organisations campaigning for the release and return to Pakistan of Aafia Siddiqui and for the opening of a full investigation into the circumstances of her detention and the fate of her children. We are also demanding that while Aafia Siddiqui remains in US custody she must be treated humanely. The humiliating and degrading strip and cavity searches must stop. She must be allowed contact with her family. She must be allowed letters, phone calls, visits and reading material.

MWAE: Muslim Women Association of Edinburgh

SACC: Scotland Against Criminalising Communities

Justice for Aafia Coalition

Location : Augustine Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
Contact :

To see Peaceful Response to the "Draw Muhammad FB Day)

GO here

BREAKING: Detainees in Afghanistan Refused Petition of US Courts

Breaking News Alert

The New York Times
Fri, May 21, 2010 -- 11:35 AM ET

Judges Rule that Detainees at Base in Afghanistan Cannot Petition U.S. Courts for Release

A federal appeals court said on Friday that the civilian courts do not have authority to hear the cases of three detainees imprisoned at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.

The detainees had petitioned the courts seeking to be freed.

The jurisdiction of the U.S. courts does not extend to foreigners held in the Bagram facility in the Afghan theater of war, three appeals court judges said in a unanimous
decision. The appeals judges said a U.S. district judges hould have thrown out the detainees' petitions.

Read More:

Now get New York Times breaking news alerts sent to your mobile phone.
Sign up by texting NEWSALERTS to 698698 (NYTNYT).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Malay Mail

Former US Army Captain James Yusuf Yee

'Ghosts' of Guantanamo Bay
Submitted by mala on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

When Former US Army Captain James Yusuf Yee objected to the systemic and sanctioned mistreatment of detainees at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, the very government he served turned on him. Here, the prison camp’s former chaplain spoke to The Paper That Cares about his ordeal and his now relentless pursuit to educate the world about Islam

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 14:43:00

UPHOLDING TRADITION: Yee comes from a family of military servicemen

WHEN Chinese-American Captain James Yusuf Yee was assigned in November 2002 to be the Muslim chaplain at the now infamous Guantanamo Bay US military prison camp for 'alleged terrorists', he thought his job was to give a better understanding to his supervisors about Islam and its practices, in order for his commanders to better treat the prisoners.

Little did he know that it was the start of a journey which would expose the prisoner abuses in the camp, also known as 'Gitmo', located on the south eastern corner of Cuba.

"My job was to defend religious freedom, religious rights and to advocate for religious accommodation," said Yee, in a one-on-one interview with The Malay Mail after a visit to the Home of Hope, a shelter for orphans, underprivileged children, single mothers and the elderly that is run by Pertubuhan Al-Khaadem, a non-governmental organisation.

Mugshot posted by Malay Mail

Find the Article here

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If we're too busy for peace - - -

Aren't we too busy for war?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maher Arar Needs Our Global Action Now!

Maher Arar: Obama Admin stands with Bush officials! Plz take action...


Following is from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Please see our case page for more legal information and to watch CCR Senior Staff Attorney and Mr. Arar's lawyer Maria LaHood explain the background of the case and what is at stake with our petition to the Supreme Court. here

Register your dismay with President Obama and demand that his administration take five specifics steps towards justice for Maher Arar. (See the Link above)

Please stay tuned for more developments in this critical case. Thank you for taking action.

Yours truly,

Annette Dickerson
Director of Education and Outreach

Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway 7th floor NY, NY 10012

This nomorecrusades dot blogspot dot com is my Rights & History Site which I've kept small for some time but am making the oneheartforpeace dot blogspot dot com much more inter-cultural, inter-ethics/faith and seeking out the more positive/youth friendly items there...

Today, however, this same Action item is there for wider attention to the case of Maher Arar - Also scroll below here to related items on the SPAIN prosecutors case against US agents (this time connected to my state, NC) and more on the torture sites in Bagram...

The US does torture: Bagram for one place...

Face It: With Bagram, the United States Does Torture
May 13, 2010 at 9:08AM by Charles P. Pierce

Bagram's been a dirty little secret for a while now. The concentration for the most part has been on Guantánamo. It's closer to the U.S. mainland, and it's some place with which some of us have been conversant since even before JFK and Khrushchev started playing chicken in the Caribbean, causing those of us attending Catholic school within six miles of a primary target to dive under our desks every three minutes during October of 1962, and it became even more famous as the setting for Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men, which, among its other charms, was a candy-assed extended liberal legal brief in defense of William Calley — or, at least, in defense of how William Calleys get made. In the witchery of the past decade, Gitmo always has been our familiar. Bagram is the dark place over the horizon.

If the BBC's reporting this week is correct, then the U.S. military — and, by extension, the U.S. government — has been caught lying once again as to what is being done to other human beings in the name of the people of the United States. And it's becoming very plain that we have no real objection not only to the lying, but to the various exercises in inhumanity that the lying is meant to protect.

The president of the United States has demonstrated very little real interest in revealing what his predecessors were about, and even less interest in punishing them for their crimes, and he has suffered no perceivable political damage as a result. We are told now, by him, and by his underlings, that the United States no longer tortures, but there is no real reason any more to trust the United States government on this score, no matter who may be temporarily in charge of it. We are a constitutional, self-governing republic that has decided to torture. Period. It would be good if we could look ourselves in the face and admit it to ourselves. At the very least, we could give ourselves a break from our own tattered sanctimony.

EARLIER: McChrystal's Record and the Nuances of Interrogation
JOHN H. RICHARDSON: Welcome to the Middle Ground on Torture
THOMAS P.M. BARNETT: Why Nothing Came of the Torture Probe
IN-DEPTH: My Father, the Guantánamo Defense Attorney
VIDEO: Meet the Man Behind A Few Good Men
Photo Credit: AFP via Getty

Read more: World Politics Blog (See more from No More Gitmos, International Justice Network, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Jeremy Scahill, and more to come here)

Also see Asian Times dot com

HRW Release: US: Revoke Guantanamo Ban on Four Journalists

May 12, 2010
4:07 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Tel: +1-212-216-1832
US: Revoke Guantanamo Ban on Four Journalists
Pentagon’s Action Further Discredits Military Commissions

WASHINGTON - May 12 - The US Defense Department's decision to ban four journalists from covering military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay contradicts the Obama administration's pledge of greater transparency and further discredits the commissions, Human Rights Watch and other organizations said in a letter to the Department of Defense today.

The banned journalists are Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail, and Steven Edwards of Canwest News Service.

On May 7, Col. David Lapan, the Defense Department's director of press operations, informed the four that they were barred from returning to Guantanamo because they had revealed the name of a witness who had testified during hearings for Omar Khadr, a Canadian who is being prosecuted for allegedly killing a US soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old.

The witness was known to the court only as "Interrogator No. 1," but his identity was already known to the public because he had been convicted for detainee abuse in a widely publicized court-martial in 2005. The witness had also previously given an on-the-record interview to Shephard of the Toronto Star.

"Banning journalists for revealing the name of a witness whose identity was already publicly known is a pointless and vindictive form of censorship," said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. "It makes it seem like the Pentagon is trying to clamp down on reporting that is the public's only source of critical information about Guantanamo."

In addition to Human Rights Watch, the letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and the National Institute of Military Justice, all of whom attend the military commissions on a regular basis.

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

SPAIN: US Agents sought

Pieter Breugel the Elder, The Storm at Sea (1568)
Credit goes to Scott Horton for posting

Relates to our current storms of sea and sky...

from BLOG at Harper's Magazine:
"No Comment" by Scott Horton
May 12, 12:39 PM

Arrest of 13 CIA Agents Sought in Spain
Prosecutors attached to the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid are reportedly requesting that Judge Ismael Moreno issue an order for the arrest of thirteen CIA agents involved in an extraordinary rendition operation from 2004, the newspaper El País reports this afternoon, citing sources within the court.

The case relates to Khaled El-Masri, a greengrocer from Neu-Ulm, Germany, seized by the United States as a result of mistaken identity while he was on vacation in the former Yugoslavia. El-Masri was placed on a CIA-chartered jet that arrived in Macedonia from Palma de Majorca in January 2004, en route ultimately to Afghanistan. It appears that Majorca was used regularly as a refueling and temporary sheltering point for the CIA, with the knowledge of the prior conservative government. While held in the notorious CIA prison known as the Salt Pit, El-Masri was apparently tortured during extensive interrogations before intelligence officers realized that they had seized the wrong man. The Washington Post reported that CIA agents, fearing the consequences of releasing him, argued for his continued detention and in fact held him for at least several weeks after his release had been ordered. Condoleezza Rice, then national security advisor to President Bush, intervened and directed his release. El-Masri’s CIA abductors entered Spanish territory using forged British passports, according to the prosecutors. They are seeking James Fairing, Jason Franklin, Michael Grady, Lyle Edgar Lumsen III, Eric Matthew Fain, Charles Goldman Bryson, Kirk James Bird, Walter Richard Greensbore, Patricia O’Riley, Jane Payne, James O’Hale, John Richard Deckard and Héctor Lorenzo, according to information provided by the Spanish Guardia Civil. The case is also under investigation in Germany.

The Spanish prosecutors have been closely studying the prosecution in Italy of 23 American agents in connection with another extraordinary rendition, involving an Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar, who was seized off the streets of Milan and taken to Egypt, where he was tortured. The Italian proceedings occurred in absentia after the Americans fled to avoid arrest. The trial resulted in the conviction of 23 Americans, 21 of them intelligence operatives. A criminal proceeding relating to the kidnapping and torture of El-Masri is also underway in Germany.
Find the blog at harpers dot org

See More here at Horton's Blog harpers dot org slash subjects slash nocomment slash


Also this just in from North Carolina Stop Torture Now!
Today, the Attorney General of Spain requested that a Spanish judge issue arrest warrants for 13 U.S. citizens who helped kidnap and disappear German citizen Khaled el-Masri as part of the Bush Administration’s program of “extraordinary rendition.”

At least three of the U.S. citizens are pilots employed by Aero Contractors and live in Johnston County . Their pseudonyms are James Fairing, Eric Matthew Fain, and Kirk James Bird.

Scott Horton has a blog post about this development, in which there’s a link to the El Pais article on it:


Here’s a news service article:



(ANSAmed) - MADRID , MAY 12 - The Audiencia Nacional prosecutor's office has asked judge Ismael Moreno for the arrest of 13 CIA agents, accused in alleged cases of 'rendition', that is, the kidnapping of individuals and their illegal transfer by plane carried out against foreign citizens suspected of terrorist activities. It is reported today by El Pais. Among the cases under inquiry, the accusation of kidnapping, made in October 2006 by German citizen of Lebanese origin, Jaled el Masri, who was stopped on January 23 2004 in the Republic of Macedonia and transferred by plane to Afghanistan , where he is said to have been tortured. The plane made a stop at the Spanish airport at Palma , where the real identity of the crew, made up of agents from U.S. intelligence, was hidden. The prosecutor accuses the 13 CIA agents of the crime of falsification of official documents, considering that the flight by which El Masri was kidnapped, and his passage through Spain , has been "circumstantially corroborated". The CIA agents whose arrest is being demanded by the prosecution, and whose names figure in a report by the Guardia Civil are: James Fairing, Jason Franklin, Michael Grady, Lyle Edgar Lumsen III, Eric Mattew Fain, Charles Goldman Bryson, Kirk James Bird, Walter Richard Greensbore, Patricia O'Riley, Jane Payne, James O'Hale, John Richard Deckard and Hector Lorenzo. The agents overnighted in a luxury hotel in Majorca the night before the one in which the plane on which they were travelling, a Boeing 737 marked N3139, flew from Skopje for the alleged kidnapping of El Masri and his forced transfer to Afghanistan . The prosecution underlines that it does not ensue that the alleged U.S. spies "had any type of authorisation from the Spanish authorities to operate on Spanish territory under false identity and in the exercise of official missions". The kidnapping and alleged torture of El Masri are the subject of an inquiry in Germany , where there is a trial under way against CIA agents for these crimes. (ANSAmed)

2010-05-12 13:58

Smearing Goldsmith: The Usual Suspects

May 13, 11:10 AM Current issue: May 2010 Harper's Washington Babylon blog

By Ken Silverstein
From Matthew Yglesias:

I find it a bit curious that strident defenders of Israeli foreign policy take a harder line on Richard Goldstone’s apartheid-era conduct than does Nelson Mandela and the leadership of the African National Congress. It’s almost enough to make you think that some of these attacks on Goldstone are offered in bad faith, and are more motivated by dislike for his conclusions about Israeli conduct during the Gaza war than genuine concern about his past conduct.

[MORE at Washington Babylon at harpers dot org (Harper's blogs online)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Erik Prince at Tulip Time 2010

Photo from Holland Sentinel dot com Dennis R.J. Geppert/The Holland Sentinel XE Owner and Holland native, Erik Prince, center, along with former State Representative Bill Huizenga, right, his mother Elsa Prince, far left, and Robert A. Sirico, president of Grand Rapids based Acton Institute, watches the Volksparade from atop the Clock Tower Building on 8th street in downtown Holland Wednesday afternoon.

This episode needs some great Op-eds...let me know if you see any? So here are just a few items of interest about this "much waited for" event...funny that some of the local citizens were asking for No Controversy for Tulip Time 2011 the question comes up, does this mean no more Erik Prince showings (one of the most controversial figures on earth today) or no more rallies for peace or both? I can't find a good link to the Erik Prince speech...does anyone have it?

Here's the jist:

"Erik Prince told a sold-out Tulip Time lunch crowd that the worth of a warrior is not best defined by his deeds, but by his enemies. The founder of Blackwater and Holland native described his own enemies as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and “noisy leftists.” find in one of the major letters to The Sentinel.

And this is from a letter to The Sentinel:

"I went around the route and counted 114 protesters at 1050. They came from Chicago, Zoo, GR, Traverse City and locals according to leaders I talked with.



'The protesters were orderly and did not respond to shouts and insults from the cars going into the parking lots. I was only there 15 minutes talking to the protesters. Middle fingers from persons in a huge Hummer and two guys shouting insults and get out of America to the protesters in a Lexus happen in the one area for 5 min I was there at that spot. There were police completely around the field house. I have never seen so many high end vehicles in one place in my life! If this had been a terrorist target they would have gotten most of the big bucks in West Michigan! Thank goodness it did not happen."

For brief background as to why I put this mini saga on this site, NO More Crusades Find the article from August of 2009 "Erik Prince and the Last Crusade" (for oil & control? Certainly not for taking back what is our to take? How is all this killing for spiritual well-being and cooperation in such a world as ours today?) Some sites of this article have replaced them so your own simple search may be better than my link over time...

ONLY if you want to go a little further...some of the Comments to these items are more interesting than the preceding in many cases...

The following were all from a google search and are NOT my writing...Find LOTS of comments in these links:

LETTER — Erik Prince lumps liberals in with al-Qaida, Taliban

Let me get this straight, we “noisy leftists” are lumped with al-Qaida and the Taliban and as a group, we are the enemies of Erik Prince? And we should disregard and ignore “deeds” (including allegations of murder, bribing government officials and illegal transport of automatic weapons among others) and judge his worth based on his enemies? FIND this item here

Mon May 10 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
LETTER — Erik Prince drew the wrong lessons from history -Erik Prince of Blackwater/Xe, in his Tulip Time speech decried Washington’s “excessive government spending.” In so doing, he was biting the hand that feeds him. His corporation has been the beneficiary of government contracts worth more than $1 billion, many awarded without competitive bidding. GO here

Mon May 10 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
LETTER — No, deeds, not enemies, are what matters: Thursday’s Sentinel reported on Erik Prince’s statement that a warrior’s worth is not best defined by his deeds but by who his enemies are. I would suggest otherwise. It is indeed by our actions that we are all ultimately defined and will ultimately be judged, whether as individuals or a nation as a whole. SEE the item here

Sun May 09 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) LETTER — Dizzy from the spinning on Erik Prince...It sure would have been nice to see a picture in The Sentinel Thursday of all those Erik Prince protesters (because there weren’t many) but it sure was nice to single out that one bad sign and a person who thought it was Halloween. SEE the item here

Thu May 06 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
Critic Scahill discusses dark side of Blackwater : Erik Prince will only tell part of the Blackwater story in front of a public audience like the Tulip Time luncheon, said journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” here

Fri May 07 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
# Journalist Scahill writes about Prince, Holland - Jeremy Scahill, the journalist who wrote “Blackwater: The rise of the world’s most powerful mercenary army,” wrote a piece for The Nation Monday exposing the content of an Erik Prince speech. here

Wed May 05 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
About 60 protesters march in rain as Erik Prince speaks at Tulip Time Luncheon -
As Erik Prince prepared to give his speech in DeVos Fieldhouse, Sebastiano Picciuca stood in the rain outside with about 60 other protesters. here

Wed May 05 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) Erik Prince gets standing Holland ovation from Tulip Time crowd here

Wed May 05 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) Erik Prince here

Thu May 06 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) Tulip Time will allow news coverage at Prince talk - Members of the news media will now be allowed to attend and report on Erik Prince’s sold out Tulip Time talk Wednesday at Hope College. But audio and video recording devices aren’t permitted, according to a press release distributed Monday by Tulip Time. GO here

Some of you may also want to go to Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now! and on facebook and join the interesting discussion about related current issues. And plz add your comments for peace, truth and understanding here and after some of the letters above. Thanx for tuning in!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dancing in Broken Urdu

This is about two young men on a mission to film their hero. Both the hero and the youthful perspective, humor and goodwill are both interesting and moving to me. I hope some readers here will also have a few comments and information about this topic and hero? The world is so in need of such today!

So many years later there were many who still complained and questioned, “Why must you pick up Christians and Hindus in your ambulance?” And I was still saying, “Because the ambulance is more Muslim than you.” p.359 Mirror To The Blind

The Edhi Production Blog is a journal maintained by (the disarming and talented} Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq, two filmmakers who have set out to document the life of Abdul Sattar Edhi. This blog hopes to chronicle their journey following the elusive humanitarian and his foundation.

How about getting started? GO here

and here

These two filmakers are new to me yet I see that they suit well this blog-site and share so many of the values that are so suitable here at nomorecrusades and also at oneheartforpeace dot blogspot dot com. They and the man they have chosen -- all three demonstrate the merciful, honest depth, good humor and faith we may be joyfully surprised if we find to this degree. Yet we may find this kind of light more often than expected if we PAY ATTENTION. Connie

Edhi Documentary GO here VISIT and SUPPORT!

See More here

Terms for you and I to learn.

ghoomshuda – گم شدہ
someone who ran away or went missing

lawaaris – “ ﻻوارس
one who has no family; completely alone

Cartoon – کارٹون
the name a lawaaris ghoomshuda gave himself because he didn’t know his own

bat-ball - بيٹ بال
not really baseball, not really cricket. played in the large field at the Edhi Village by Cartoon and his friends

ithwar – اِتوار
Sunday; day of the week when Edhi-sahib and his family visit the Edhi Village

abba – ابّا
what Cartoon and other lawaaris boys at the Edhi Village call Abdul Sattar Edhi; father

We Must Watch the Headlines and Read Deeper...

Plz read the following:


At the VERY least, we must ask even if such events turn out as we are told they are by US authorities, WHY is America abandoning their promises for a true constitution and a true democratic government, leaving arrests and detainees "innocent" in the public minds unless and until PROVEN guilty?

And why aren't we holding accountable those who's crimes are all the greater because they are speaking "for the people" and yet continuing to ignore promises to the Geneva Accords and other International treaties? That's us folk--aren't we STILL "the people"?

Plz also go to the following sites and sources of information which are doing just this -- digging deeper and not allowing themselves to be spoon-fed nor easily pacified by false security:

The Nation dot com USA (Especially items by Jeremy Scahill

Information Clearing House USA

About Aafia Blog Pakistan

Jang Pakistan

Counter Currents USA

Watch for more to be added

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 8, is International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Day

Photo found on this site here

The Red Cross and Red Crescent is marking 8 May, World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, by focusing attention on both the challenges and opportunities presented by urbanization.

Urban dwellers already make up half of the world’s population and there number is set to rise rapidly over the next decades. There is much that is positive about this process. For many people, moving to the city means having a better job and better services. But for millions city life also stands for violence, poverty, pollution and increased vulnerability. An estimated one billion people live in slums or other sub-standard housing.

For the first time, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population is living in urban areas, a figure that is forecast to rise to more than 60 per cent in 2030. Cities in the developing world are expected to account for 95 per cent of urban growth over the next two decades.

Violence, poverty, food shortages, insufficient health care, inadequate access to water and sanitation and escalating human vulnerability are among the many challenges facing people in cities and other densely populated areas around the globe. Yet the urban way of life also presents enormous opportunities and can serve as an engine of social inclusion, cultural expression, diversity and economic growth.

Around the world, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working with city leaders and civil society to address urban challenges by aiming at their root causes. They focus on promoting diversity, opposing discrimination, and joining in efforts to provide decent social services and to ensure that adequate protection, preventive health-care, education and disaster risk reduction measures are taken. Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are at the heart of the Movement’s endeavours to strengthen urban communities.

Here is an exceptional tribute by a Pakistani news service. Apologies that I can't find the original source to give credit yet. Nevertheless, here it is.

Today, May 8, is International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Day. Founded in 1863 the Red Cross – and later the Red Crescent founded in 1877 – have become universal symbols for non-partisan humanitarian relief and aid. Worldwide, there are over 97 million volunteers that support the work that goes on in almost every country. The ICRC has been active in Pakistan since Partition when it was in the thick of the massive refugee crisis of 1947, the wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971 and virtually every other mass-casualty incident in our history. ICRC delegates monitor the condition of Pakistani nationals in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram in Afghanistan; and pass Red Cross messages between detainees and their families, often as the only form of communication they have. Today, the civilian population is at risk like it never was, and the various arms of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent have themselves become the subject of attack in Kohat and Quetta, yet they continue to serve the humanitarian imperative.

In the first three months of this year alone the Pakistan Red Cross and Red Crescent distributed food to 350,000 people in Bannu, Hangu, Khyber and Kohistan where they brought relief to avalanche victims. Support was given to our hospitals through the Ministry of Health and to basic health units across the entire area currently suffering conflict and upheaval. The ICRC has held awareness sessions for around 20,000 IDPs on the dangers posed by unexploded weapons/munitions and distributed food to IDPs living with host families in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The list of interventions made by the Red Cross and Crescent in Pakistan could fill pages of newsprint and still not do justice to the efforts they make on our behalf.

We note the remarks of Donna Chanda, the ICRC's Movement Coordinator in Islamabad: "The partnership between the ICRC and the PRCS in Pakistan adds another dimension to what we can achieve on behalf of victims… by working together we are much stronger than the sum of the parts of the Movement. On this Movement day, know that we remain fully committed to our work in favour of the victims of the fighting in Pakistan." We have much to thank Cross and Crescent for and we look forward to their sustained support for years to come. They are an asset that we need to protect, perhaps a little better than we do currently.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MOTHER'S DAY -- Peace Action Suggestions (from military families)

As we all know, Sunday May 9th is Mothers Day - what many people don't know is that Mothers Day originated as a way to speak out against the casualties and violence of the Civil War. It reminds people that there are currently two senseless wars going on! It provides an opportunity for public discussion and education about the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan. Please consider:

♦ Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. See an MFSO Gold Star mother, Celeste Zappala's letter to the editor and draw from it as an inspiration and example! See letter: here

♦ Find local activities to bring the anti-war message to. Lots of local groups host events for mothers day, and you can bring the anti-war message to them.

♦ Reach out to other MFSO members. One of the most important functions of MFSO is the support we give each other - during deployments, after our loved ones have returned, and in the tragic circumstances of casualties and injuries. If you would like to be in touch with other MFSO members to offer or receive support, please contact MFSO Organizer Nikki Morse at


It only takes 5 minutes and your call DOES make a difference!

In coalition with several National organizations, we call on our legislators to take two vital actions that are a strong start to bringing our troops home and defunding of the wars that are risking our truest national treasure.

Please call you Congressman and Senators to cosponsor the Feingold/McGovern Bills (Senate Bill S. 3197 and House Bill H.R. 50150 calling for troop withdrawal. To see if your Rep is a sponsor and read the text of the bill, GO here to find the CO-SPONSORS...


Tell your Senators and Representatives to vote against the upcoming $33 billion supplemental and fully fund the swift and safe removal of all of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is very important that both messages get across - the McGovern bill is an important step forward, but Congress must also vote against funding that continues the wars and occupation, and instead support the swift and safe removal of all our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Call today! Congressional Hotline is 202-224-3121

To identify your Congressmen and Senator go to here

Your message to Congress:

"As your constituent and military family member (or as a military family supporter) I urge you to vote against the $33 billion supplementary spending bill to pay for the escalation of troops in Afghanistan and the continuation of this war and occupation!

Plz Co-sponsor McGovern's H.R. 5015 and Feingold's S 3197 that is an enforceable start to withdrawal from Afghanistan. I want you to do everything you can to insist that President Obama develop a rapid, real and complete plan to bring our troops home now."

Next steps:

♦ Please email and let us know you made your calls.

♦ Connect with us on Facebook.

♦ For more ideas and ways to participate, contact MFSO Organizer Nikki Morse at


Memorial Day represents a somber time to recognize the human cost of war. Many MFSO chapters and members participate in local activities with this message. This year it will also mark an opportunity to draw a connection between the financial and human cost of war, as May 30th the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is projected to top $1 trillion dollars.

We are looking for ways to make these connections - if you are interested in being part of the planning, please contact MFSO Organizer Nikki Morse at

For more information about Military Families Speak Out, please visit: here for more information about Gold Star Families Speak Out, please see here

Why do MEN (or Americans/Israelis) Love War?

GO here to See PHOTOS Capturing Conflict - view some of the highlights - er low-lights of The history of war, as told through iconic photographs...also at Newsweek see Book Excerpt: ‘The War Lovers’ by Evan Thomas and more War Stories coverage (Strange that Newsweek would wait so late to question our US involvement in wars and occupations before and since 911 and that they have supported war by their own investments. (GE for one example.) Also take a look at Chris Hedges who has written plenty to ask ourselves why are we (or men?) so committed to war?

NOTE: I found this item above first today at Veterans Today dot com - a surprising site with plenty to say about many headlines today (See the Top 10 - for example) - plz take a look at what Duff has also said regarding the outrageous events surrounding Dr. Aafia Siddiqui - in fact - STILL keeping her imprisoned, perhaps for life? (With a child still missing and the other two kidnapped children scarred of course - for life)...

Even if just a small fraction of what these very experienced, highly active, outspoken guys are saying pans out 100%, how can we ignore them given what we know by now from even our most recent history? (For some parallels, look up Prof. Alfred McCoy's work and see various items on Rabbis for Human Rights to find corroborated items from among the Jewish/Israeli rank.)

Brother of Fahad Hashmi Speaks to Need for Dialogue

Statement of Faisal Hashmi on Behalf of Family of Syed Fahad Hashmi


May 3, 2010 - Earlier this week our beloved son and brother Fahad pleaded guilty to a single charge of material support for terrorism. He took the plea after spending four years in prison, three of them in complete isolation.

Fahad’s lawyer David Ruhnke said Fahad "made the best deal that was available under the circumstances…the government wanted to lock him up for the rest of his life. They were not successful in that goal."

With credit for time served, Fahad could be free by the time he's 40.

We welcome the fact that Fahad will leave prison with much of his life in front of him, however we are extremely troubled by the process that has brought us to this point. We are troubled not only for our family but by the message a case like Fahad’s sends to our community.

It disturbs us greatly that a young man known as a pillar of his Queens community, who worked and studied hard and who, in the tumult of growing up Muslim in America, choose a path of religious and political activism, came to be demonized as an extreme danger to the country he called home. Even though he was not accused of violence or of belonging to a terrorist group he was denied the fundamental elements of due process, tortured through solitary confinement and faced the prospect of going before an anonymous jury based in part on the prosecution’s ugly assertion that his friends and family were as dangerous as they alleged Fahad was.

Furthermore, the case against Fahad relied on secret evidence based in large part on the testimony of a government informant with a history of lying. The material support statute under which he was charged is notoriously flawed and the subject of outrage from civil libertarians. It enables the government to take a grain of truth and bury it in an ocean of innuendo and outright lies.

Except for our presence at the recent plea hearing Fahad has not been permitted to see us for almost six months. We continue to be concerned about the conditions of his confinement and will fight for the lifting of the draconian Special Administrative Measures that remain in place.

My father brought our family to this country 27 years ago not only because of the economic opportunities presented but also because he believed in the values of justice and fair-play that are supposed to underpin democracy.

Fahad’s treatment makes a mockery of those values. The message this case sends to the Muslim community is that we are being watched and that we are less valued in American society and less entitled to the protections under the Constitution.

We do not see this as the end to our struggle for justice. In seeking justice for Fahad we hope that we have shed light on the need to start a dialogue on the treatment of Muslims in America today. We believe the principles on which this country was founded compel us to speak out against the treatment of our community. We are an integral part of this society and we should not be treated as less valuable citizens.


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

RE: Extraordinary Rendition: OPed on finding common ground

Christina Cowger's Opinion Piece written soon after the "Weaving a Net of Accountability" conference and now publicly more available

The "WEAVING a Net of Accountability" conference on North Carolina ’s role in US torture and extraordinary rendition was a few weeks ago and has left it's crucial mark and challenged many more of us to find a way to seek peace and reconciliation while we also expose war crimes. More more Plz GO to accountabilityfortorturenc dot org

An electronic link to Christina's oped: here

A special gratitude to Christina, Robin, Josh, an amazingly well-informed and professional panel of law students, Ed Horgan of Shannon Watch Ireland, Scott Horton, the well-told stories and sources of info from Kinston, ACLU NC and many others leaders and nuts/bolts persons participating in this unusually well-organized, informative and well-presented conference!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BLACKWATER'S Crusade Mentality Exposed

Eric Prince

photo credit goes to Jeremy Scahill and rebelreports dot com

Tomorrow on Wednesday May 5, Erik Prince is scheduled to speak at DeVos Fieldhouse as the keynote speaker for the "Tulip Time Festival" in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. Although he is doing his best to ban journalists, reporters and others are protesting these efforts.

Published on The Nation dot com USA

Excerpt from the article below: "...a stunning glimpse into...Blackwater...a company that generates 90% of its revenue from the United States government. (Prince) proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight "terrorists" in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence. He expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention and described Blackwater's secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan "barbarians"..."


Jeremy Scahill | Originally posted at The Nation magazine on May 3, 2010
and re-posted by several other news sources - Posted on No More Crusades on Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Erik Prince, the reclusive owner of the Blackwater empire, rarely gives public speeches and when he does he attempts to ban journalists from attending and forbids recording or videotaping of his remarks. On May 5, that is exactly what Prince is trying to do when he speaks at DeVos Fieldhouse as the keynote speaker for the "Tulip Time Festival" in his hometown of Holland, Michigan. He told the event's organizers no news reporting could be done on his speech and they consented to the ban. Journalists and media associations in Michigan are protesting this attempt to bar reporting on his remarks.

Despite Prince's attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. The people of the United States have a right to media coverage of events featuring the owner of a company that generates 90% of its revenue from the United States government.

In the speech, Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight "terrorists" in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence. He expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention and described Blackwater's secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan "barbarians" who "crawled out of the sewer." Prince also revealed details of a July 2009 operation he claims Blackwater forces coordinated in Afghanistan to take down a narcotrafficking facility, saying that Blackwater "call[ed] in multiple air strikes," blowing up the facility. Prince boasted that his forces had carried out the "largest hashish bust in counter-narcotics history." He characterized the work of some NATO countries' forces in Afghanistan as ineffectual, suggesting that some coalition nations "should just pack it in and go home." Prince spoke of Blackwater working in Pakistan, which appears to contradict the official, public Blackwater and US government line that Blackwater is not in Pakistan.

Prince also claimed that a Blackwater operative took down the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W Bush in Baghdad and criticized the Secret Service for being "flat-footed." He bragged that Blackwater forces "beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene" during Katrina and claimed that lawsuits, "tens of millions of dollars in lawyer bills" and political attacks prevented him from deploying a humanitarian ship that could have responded to the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami that hit Indonesia.

Several times during the speech, Prince appeared to demean Afghans his company is training in Afghanistan, saying Blackwater had to teach them "Intro to Toilet Use" and to do jumping jacks. At the same time, he bragged that US generals told him the Afghans Blackwater trains "are the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan." Prince also revealed that he is writing a book, scheduled to be released this fall.

The speech was delivered January 14 at the University of Michigan in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, ROTC commanders and cadets, businesspeople and military veterans. The speech was titled "Overcoming Adversity: Leadership at the Tip of the Spear" and was sponsored by the Young Presidents' Association (YPO), a business networking association primarily made up of corporate executives. "Ripped from the headlines and described by Vanity Fair magazine, as a Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier and Spy, Erik Prince brings all that and more to our exclusive YPO speaking engagement," read the event's program, also obtained by The Nation. It proclaimed that Prince's speech was an "amazing don't miss opportunity from a man who has 'been there and done that' with a group of Cadets and Midshipmen who are months away from serving on the 'tip of the spear.'" Here are some of the highlights from Erik Prince's speech:

Send the Mercs into Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria

Prince painted a global picture in which Iran is "at the absolute dead center... of badness." The Iranians, he said, "want that nuke so that it is again a Persian Gulf and they very much have an attitude of when Darius ran most of the Middle East back in 1000 BC. That's very much what the Iranians are after." [NOTE: Darius of Persia actually ruled from 522 BC-486 BC]. Iran, Prince charged, has a "master plan to stir up and organize a Shia revolt through the whole region." Prince proposed that armed private soldiers from companies like Blackwater be deployed in countries throughout the region to target Iranian influence, specifically in Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. "The Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places," Prince said. "You're not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It's way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very small, very light footprint." In addition to concerns of political expediency, Prince suggested that using private contractors to conduct such operations would be cost-effective. "The overall defense budget is going to have to be cut and they're going to look for ways, they're going to have to have ways to become more efficient," he said. "And there's a lot of ways that the private sector can operate with a much smaller, much lighter footprint."

Prince also proposed using private armed contractors in the oil-rich African nation of Nigeria. Prince said that guerilla groups in the country are dramatically slowing oil production and extraction and stealing oil. "There's more than a half million barrels a day stolen there, which is stolen and organized by very large criminal syndicates. There's even some evidence it's going to fund terrorist organizations," Prince alleged. "These guerilla groups attack the pipeline, attack the pump house to knock it offline, which makes the pressure of the pipeline go soft. they cut that pipeline and they weld in their own patch with their own valves and they back a barge up into it. Ten thousand barrels at a time, take that oil, drive that 10,000 barrels out to sea and at $80 a barrel, that's $800,000. That's not a bad take for organized crime." Prince made no mention of the nonviolent indigenous opposition to oil extraction and pollution, nor did he mention the notorious human rights abuses connected to multinational oil corporations in Nigeria that have sparked much of the resistance.

Blackwater and the Geneva Convention

Prince scornfully dismissed the debate on whether armed individuals working for Blackwater could be classified as "unlawful combatants" who are ineligible for protection under the Geneva Convention. "You know, people ask me that all the time, 'Aren't you concerned that you folks aren't covered under the Geneva Convention in [operating] in the likes of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan? And I say, 'Absolutely not,' because these people, they crawled out of the sewer and they have a 1200 AD mentality. They're barbarians. They don't know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there."

It is significant that Prince mentioned his company operating in Pakistan given that Blackwater, the US government and the Pakistan government have all denied Blackwater works in Pakistan.

Taking Down the Iraqi Shoe Thrower for the 'Flat-Footed' Secret Service

Prince noted several high-profile attacks on world leaders in the past year, specifically a woman pushing the Pope at Christmas mass and the attack on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, saying there has been a pattern of "some pretty questionable security lately." He then proceeded to describe the feats of his Blackwater forces in protecting dignitaries and diplomats, claiming that one of his men took down the Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at President Bush in Baghdad in December 2008. Prince referred to al-Zaidi as the "shoe bomber:"

"A little known fact, you know when the shoe bomber in Iraq was throwing his shoes at President Bush, in December 08, we provided diplomatic security, but we had no responsibility for the president's security--that's always the Secret Service that does that. We happened to have a guy in the back of the room and he saw that first shoe go and he drew his weapon, got a sight picture, saw that it was only a shoe, he re-holstered, went forward and took that guy down while the Secret Service was still standing there flat-footed. I have a picture of that--I'm publishing a book, so watch for that later this fall--in which you'll see all the reporters looking, there's my guy taking the shoe thrower down. He didn't shoot him, he just tackled him, even though the guy was committing assault and battery on the president of the United States. I asked a friend of mine who used to run the Secret Service if they had a written report of that and he said the debrief was so bad they did not put it in writing."

While the Secret Service was widely criticized at the time for its apparent inaction during the incident, video of the event clearly showed another Iraqi journalist, not security guards, initially pulling al-Zaidi to the floor. Almost instantly thereafter, al-Zaidi was swarmed by a gang of various, unidentified security agents.

Blackwater's Forward Operating Bases

Prince went into detail about his company's operations in Afghanistan. Blackwater has been in the country since at least April 2002, when the company was hired by the CIA on a covert contract to provide the Agency with security. Since then, Blackwater has won hundreds of millions of dollars in security, counter-narcotics and training contracts for the State Department, Defense Department and the CIA. The company protects US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and other senior US officials, guards CIA personnel and trains the Afghan border police. "We built four bases and we staffed them and we run them," Prince said, referring to them as Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). He described them as being in the north, south, east and west of Afghanistan. "Spin Boldak in the south, which is the major drug trans-shipment area, in the east at a place called FOB Lonestar, which is right at the foothills of Tora Bora mountain. In fact if you ski off Tora Bora mountain, you can ski down to our firebase," Prince said, adding that Blackwater also has a base near Herat and another location. FOB Lonestar is approximately 15 miles from the Pakistan border. "Who else has built a [Forward Operating Base] along the main infiltration route for the Taliban and the last known location for Osama bin Laden?" Prince said earlier this year.

Blackwater's War on Drugs

Prince described a Narcotics Interdiction Unit Blackwater started in Afghanistan five years ago that remains active. "It is about a 200 person strike force to go after the big narcotics traffickers, the big cache sites," Prince said. "That unit's had great success. They've taken more than $3.5 billion worth of heroin out of circulation. We're not going after the farmers, but we're going after the traffickers." He described an operation in July 2009 where Blackwater forces actually called in NATO air strikes on a target during a mission:

"A year ago, July, they did the largest hashish bust in counter-narcotics history, down in the south-east. They went down, they hit five targets that our intel guys put together and they wound up with about 12,000 pounds of heroin. While they were down there, they said, 'You know, these other three sites look good, we should go check them out.' Sure enough they did and they found a cache--262,000 kilograms of hash, which equates to more than a billion dollars street value. And it was an industrialized hash operation, it was much of the hash crop in Helmand province. It was palletized, they'd dug ditches out in the desert, covered it with tarps and the bags of powder were big bags with a brand name on it for the hash brand, palletized, ready to go into containers down to Karachi [Pakistan] and then out to Europe or elsewhere in the world. That raid alone took about $60 million out of the Taliban's coffers. So, those were good days. When the guys found it, they didn't have enough ammo, enough explosives, to blow it, they couldn't burn it all, so they had to call in multiple air strikes. Of course, you know, each of the NATO countries that came and did the air strikes took credit for finding and destroying the cache."

December 30, 2009 CIA Bombing in Khost

Prince also addressed the deadly suicide bombing on December 30 at the CIA station at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan. Eight CIA personnel, including two Blackwater operatives, were killed in the bombing, which was carried out by a Jordanian double-agent. Prince was asked by an audience member about the "failure" to prevent that attack. The questioner did not mention that Blackwater was responsible for the security of the CIA officials that day, nor did Prince discuss Blackwater's role that day. Here is what Prince said:

"You know what? It is a tragedy that those guys were killed but if you put it in perspective, the CIA has lost extremely few people since 9/11. We've lost two or three in Afghanistan, before that two or three in Iraq and, I believe, one guy in Somalia--a landmine. So when you compare what Bill Donovan and the OSS did to the Germans and the Japanese, the Italians during World War II--and they lost hundreds and hundreds of people doing very difficult, very dangerous work--it is a tragedy when you lose people, but it is a cost of doing that work. It is essential, you've got to take risks. In that case, they had what appeared to be a very hot asset who had very relevant, very actionable intelligence and he turned out to be a bad guy... That's what the intelligence business is, you can't be assured success all the time. You've got to be willing to take risks. Those are calculated risks but sometimes it goes badly. I hope the Agency doesn't draw back and say, 'Oh, we have to retrench and not do that anymore,' all the rest. No. We need you to double down, go after them harder. That is a cost of doing business. They are there to kill us."

Prince to Some NATO Countries in Afghanistan: 'Go Home'

Prince spoke disparagingly of some unnamed NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan, saying they do not have the will for the fight. "Some of them do and a lot of them don't," he said. "It is such a patchwork of different international commitments as to what some can do and what some can't. A lot of them should just pack it in and go home." Canada, however, received praise from Prince. "The Canadians have lost per capita more than America has in Afghanistan. They are fighting and they are doing it and so if you see a Canadian thank them for that. The politicians at home take heavies for doing that," Prince said. He did not mention the fact that his company was hired by the Canadian government to train its forces.

Prince also described how his private air force (which he recently sold) bailed out a US military unit in trouble in Afghanistan. According to Prince, the unit was fighting the Taliban and was running out of ammo and needed an emergency re-supply. "Because of, probably some procedure written by a lawyer back in Washington, the Air Force was not permitted to drop in an uncertified drop zone... even to the unit that was running out of ammo," Prince said. "So they called and asked if our guys would do it and, of course, they said, 'Yes.' And the cool part of the story is the Army guys put their DZ mark in the drop zone, a big orange panel, on the hood of their hummer and our guys put the first bundle on the hood of that hummer. We don't always get that close, but that time a little too close."

Blackwater: Teaching Afghans to Use Toilets

Prince said his forces train 1300 Afghans every six weeks and described his pride in attending "graduations" of Blackwater-trained Afghans, saying that in six weeks they radically transform the trainees. "You take these officers, these Afghans and it's the first time in their life they've ever been part of something that's first class, that works. The instructors know what they're talking about, they're fed, the water works, there's ammunition for their guns. Everything works," Prince said. "The first few days of training, we have to do 'Intro to Toilet Use' because a lot of these guys have never even seen a flushed toilet before." Prince boasted: "We manage to take folks with a tribal mentality and, just like the Marine Corps does more effectively than anyone else, they take kids from disparate lifestyles across the United States and you throw them into Parris Island and you make them Marines. We try that same mentality there by pushing these guys very hard and, it's funny, I wish I had video to show you of the hilarious jumping jacks. If you take someone that's 25 years old and they've never done a jumping jack in their life--some of the convoluted motions they do it's comical. But the transformation from day one to the end of that program, they're very proud and they're very capable." Prince said that when he was in Afghanistan late last year, "I met with a bunch of generals and they said the Afghans that we train are the most effective fighting force in Afghanistan."

Prince also discussed the Afghan women he says work with Blackwater. "Some of the women we've had, it's amazing," Prince said. "They come in in the morning and they have the burqa on and they transition to their cammies (camouflage uniforms) and I think they enjoy the baton work," he said, adding, "They've been hand-cuffing a little too much on the men."

Hurricane Katrina and Humanitarian Mercenaries

Erik Prince spoke at length about Blackwater's deployment in 2005 in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, bragging that his forces "rescued 128 people, sent thousands of meals in there and it worked." Prince boasted of his company's rapid response, saying, "We surged 145 guys in 36 hours from our facility five states away and we beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene." What Prince failed to mention was that at the time of the disaster, at least 35% of the Louisiana National Guard was deployed in Iraq. One National Guard soldier in New Orleans at the time spoke to Reuters, saying, "They (the Bush administration) care more about Iraq and Afghanistan than here... We are doing the best we can with the resources we have, but almost all of our guys are in Iraq." Much of the National Guard's equipment was in Iraq at the time, including high water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators.

Prince also said that he had a plan to create a massive humanitarian vessel that, with the generous support of major corporations, could have responded to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis across the globe. "I thought, man, the military has perfected how to move men and equipment into combat, why can't we do that for the humanitarian side?" Prince said. The ship Prince wanted to use for these missions was an 800 foot container vessel capable of shipping "1700 containers, which would have lined up six and a half miles of humanitarian assistance with another 250 vehicles" onboard. "We could have gotten almost all those boxes donated. It would have been boxes that would have had generator sets from Caterpillar, grain from ADM [Archer Daniels Midland], anti-biotics from pharmaceutical companies, all the stuff you need to do massive humanitarian assistance," Prince said, adding that it "would have had turnkey fuel support, food, surgical, portable surgical hospitals, beds cots, blankets, all the above." Prince says he was going to do the work for free, "on spec," but "instead we got attacked politically and ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in lawyer bills the last few years. It's an unfortunate misuse of resources because a boat like that sure would have been handy for the Haitian people right now."

Outing Erik Prince

Prince also addressed what he described as his outing as a CIA asset working on sensitive US government programs. He has previously blamed Congressional Democrats and the news media for naming him as working on the US assassination program. The US intelligence apparatus "depends heavily on Americans that are not employed by the government to facilitate greater success and access for the intelligence community," Prince said. "It's unprecedented to have people outed by name, especially ones that were running highly classified programs. And as much as the left got animated about Valerie Plame, outing people by name for other very very sensitive programs was unprecedented and definitely threw me under the bus."
Source URL:here The Nation homepage here

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What could happen with a Love like this?

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,"You owe Me."
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

This photograph above and the poem is attributed to Hafez,
a great Persian poet of whom Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Hafez was a poet for poets"

Both the above and this below remind me how sacred is this earth and the WHOLE of the people within it which day by day are being denied their sacredness and the respect due to creation and the Creator. These also inspire me to want my every moment and every choice to demonstrate my love and honor for the same.

Both are re-found with gratitude to this site: here

St. Francis of Assisi prayers or hymns are favorite among both spiritual and creation-centered music. Maybe this is because they are often joyful as well as reverent of nature as sacred. Sometimes people in the so-called "bible-belt" are often thought to treat nature as removed from the Creator. Yet this may be changing.

Perhaps in the past this separation of the sacred values from the secular ones so completely - while necessary in some civil rights respects - has allowed for regretful decisions to be made. Some of these decisions have allowed for the trashing of huge areas of pristine forests and bodies of water and allows pollution to be dumped on lands where people live, breathe and make their livings. Even as I'm posting, I'm sadly reflecting on the way oil has wrecked and is now wrecking the livelihood and well-being of people in such diverse places as Nigeria and Louisiana.
And greed or desperation for oil has been one dynamic leading to the various wars and occupations taking place on the planet - a kind of Crusade for Oil.

Thus perhaps the value of music and poetry has increased - in order to help restore our relationship to one another globally as well as to the whole of creation.

On the Feast of St. Francis, in some churches, people are even encouraged to bring in their pets for blessings and the following lyrics are sung...

May you of other traditions and beliefs provide some slack for some of the "theology" we have inherited which may sound amiss to you here and still may need some revision in the future. In the meantime, find here what you are able as commonalities among the One heart of us all...

All Creatures Of Our God And King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light,
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
By some biographers, St. Francis is credited with writing more than 60 prayer-like poems or hymns in all. Some songs - perhaps even this one - may be someone else's work. Perhaps there are not enough competent biographers and historians available. I met a highly respected Franciscan priest who claimed that the song "Instrument of Your peace" was not actually written by St. Francis. Still, because the words are so like St. Francis' own, they are still compatible and valuable in our storehouse of spiritual tradition. If any have references to origin, do let me know.