Friday, October 29, 2010

There is never an argument to defend the use of torture

Published in The Herald (Scotland) on 29 Oct 2010 ALSO see very simple action in post just below...

I was once tortured.

It happened in Bosnia in 1995 during the last months of the war there, after I was abducted near the Herzegovinan town of Mostar. The gunmen who took me prisoner claimed to be Croatian militiamen, but were, in reality, little more than thugs and gangsters.

During my short captivity, along with other civilian prisoners, I was bound and beaten with rifle butts before being singled out one night to be shot. To this day, I’ve never really been able to figure out what then followed – a mock execution or simply a case of my captors, who were drunk at this point – making a cock-up of trying to kill me.

The last I remember of that night, was kneeling with my hands tied behind my back looking down into a ditch where others lay twisted and lifeless. Then there was the sound of a pistol being cocked before being put to the back of my head. A second later, there was an empty click and some mocking laughter before a thump on the back of my neck sent me to oblivion into the ditch where I later regained consciousness lying alone among a heap of bodies.

Perverse as those events were, what also still puzzles me was the motive behind my captors’ behaviour. In short, there was nothing to be gained from the treatment they meted out. No secret or strategic information, nothing useful of a military or intelligence nature to be elicited from me. Evidently, they appeared driven by little more than some kind of primitive sadism.

But what if saving lives depended on such behaviour? Would it then be acceptable? Indeed, in these dangerous times, could it be argued that torture is a necessary evil on behalf of those tasked with fighting terrorism?

According to Sir John Sawers, the head of British overseas spy agency MI6, the answer is a resounding no. “Illegal and abhorrent under any circumstances, and we have nothing whatsoever to do with it,” Sir John emphasised yesterday, in the first public speech by a serving MI6 chief in its 100-year history. No sooner had Sir John issued his rebuttal than there was sceptical echoes of “yeah, right” resounding from myriad political lobbies and quarters.

Such cynicism is understandable. After all, it would be naive in the extreme to accept the notion that our security services – MI5 and MI6 – have never tortured anyone in the course of their operational activity. And even if you were gullible enough to buy into the suggestion that Britain’s spies haven’t had a hands-on approach to such methods, those they do business with often have fewer scruples when it comes to a bit of water boarding, electric shock interrogation, mock executions or the countless other methods that exist for extracting information through physical and psychological violence.

Yet the strange thing is, I find myself empathising with some of the dilemmas Sir John highlighted in his speech yesterday.

How many of us can begin to imagine the decision-making that goes with being in receipt of credible intelligence that could save innocent lives, while knowing at the same time it had been obtained through torture by a dubious regime with little regard for human rights?

Put another way, I suppose it’s a bit like the bar-room debate: what if your own wife, children or other family members were directly under threat at the hands of terrorists and the only way to avoid them being killed was for the security services to torture an individual known to have solid information that could help prevent their deaths? Would you countenance such a course of action? Given that MI5 and MI6 are compelled by UK and international law to avoid action that could lead to torture taking place, it must sometimes feel a bit like fighting terrorism with one hand tied behind your back. What’s more, as Sir John also rightly pointed out yesterday, in the unforgiving world in which his agents have to operate, “these are not abstract questions just for philosophy courses or searching editorials … they are real, constant operational dilemmas”.

But before we get too cosy with the idea that our secret services spend most of their time fretting over such things, or, indeed, that torture might have a role in the fight against terrorism, let’s pause and consider a few other points.

For a start, information obtained through torture is notoriously unreliable. In fact, most of those countries who readily make use of it in the war on terror do so largely because of systematic failings within their own capacity to gather dependable human intelligence.

Don’t misunderstand me here: I’m not saying that torture can never produce reliable intelligence, but time and again from wars of the past to those more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan it has proved to be the exception rather than the rule. We need only think back to how much pain, suffering and injustice was perpetrated in the name of intelligence gathering by the rendition process or in places like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to realise the extent of its failings.

How interesting it will be to see the outcome of the so-called Gibson Inquiry announced earlier this year by Prime Minister David Cameron aimed at examining claims that British security services were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, the best known of whom is Binyam Mohamed.

At the end of the day, real democracies don’t do torture. In today’s war on terror, far from being a necessary evil, torture is plain evil: a morally reprehensible act that is in itself is a form of terrorism.

No matter how much we try to justify it as a means to an end, in fighting today’s war on terror, it simply can never be so. Those states that advocate its use are little better than those morally bankrupt thugs at whose hands I, along with countless others, suffered in Bosnia all those years ago.

As the French Algerian author, Albert Camus, eloquently put it: “Torture has perhaps saved some, at the expense of honour … even when accepted in the interest of realism and efficacy, such a flouting of honour serves no purpose but to degrade our country in her own eyes and abroad.”

SIMPLE ACTION: Help Reduce Torture for US Detainee

Plz go to Educators for Civil Liberties dot org here Add your signature

SIMPLE ACTION: Help Stop Delivery of Bulldozers to Israel

Sign a petition to the Obama Administration asking it to stop the delivery of Caterpillar D9 bulldozers to the Israeli military, and to investigate Israel’s violations of U.S. laws committed with Caterpillar equipment. here STOP Caterpillar

Earlier this week, Israeli media reported that Caterpillar is suspending the delivery of tens of D9 bulldozers—valued at $50 million—to the Israeli military. This represents a significant step towards holding Israel accountable for its use of Caterpillar bulldozers, which are provided at U.S. taxpayer expense as military aid, to commit human rights violations.

This news comes in the midst of a civil trial in Israel brought by the family of Rachel Corrie, an American student activist, who was crushed to death in 2003 by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer while nonviolently protecting a Palestinian home from demolition by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Rafah, Gaza.

In 2005, CCR sued Caterpillar on behalf of the Corries and four Palestinian families whose family members were killed or injured when bulldozers demolished their homes on top of them. The suit, which was ultimately dismissed, charged Caterpillar with aiding and abetting war crimes and other serious human rights violations on the grounds that the company provided bulldozers to the IDF knowing they would be used unlawfully to demolish homes and endanger civilians. Learn more about the use of Caterpillar bulldozers by Israel to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians

On a related note, the Rachel Corrie Foundation has submitted a paper as part of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States, which will take place next week, documenting how the United States has failed to uphold its human rights obligations in Rachel’s case. CCR also submitted a report highlighting serious shortcomings in the U.S. response to corporate human rights violations, including in the case of Caterpillar. CCR will be co-hosting a panel discussion at the UPR on corporate accountability that will feature Sangina Patnaik, Rachel Corrie’s cousin.

Thank you for signing the petition.


Annette Dickerson
Director of Education and Outreach

Thursday, October 28, 2010


29 October 2010 8:00am - 9:00am ET Looks like there's still time for local folk to sign up Registration and all day event copy and past for dissemination and/or CLICK


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Are They Hiding? Obama Administration Defending Black Site Prison At Bagram Airbase

- The Public Record - -

Posted By Dave Lindorff On October 26, 2010 @ 9:03 pm In World |

A victory for the government in a federal court in New York City Monday marks another slide deeper into Dick Cheney’s “dark side” for the Obama Administration.

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been seeking to force the Pentagon to provide information about all captives it is holding at its huge prison facility at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul in Afghanistan, Federal District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York has issued a summary judgment saying that the government may keep that information secret.

The lingering question is: Why does the US government so adamantly want to hide information about where captives were first taken into military custody, their citizenship, the length of their captivity, and the circumstances under which they were captured?

Says Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, “The military says that they can’t release the information because it would be a threat to national security, but they provided that information for the prisoners at Guantanamo.”

And of course, as our leaders informed us repeatedly, those captives at Guantanamo, who hailed from all over the globe, including Afghanistan, were allegedly “the worse of the worst”–at least until it turned out that many of them were wholly innocent of anything. had been framed and turned in for a bounty, or were mere children when picked up, like Omar Khadr, the 24-year old Canadian man who just copped a guilty plea to avoid a sham tribunal before 7 officers and potential life imprisonment, after being captured at 15, tortured at Bagram, and held for nine years at Guantanamo (on a charge of killing an American soldier in battle).

The court ruling keeping the information about the thousands of prisoners held at Bagram secret may be a victory for the government, but it is hardly a victory for America’s image in the world, or for the troops battling in Afghanistan, who will be attacked all the harder by people induced to fight to the death to avoid capture and consignment to the hellhole in Bagram (now known as Parwan Prison), which has become Afghanistan’s Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo rolled into one.

One of the things that concerns the ACLU is that by not even making public the circumstances under which Bagram detainees were brought into the prison, it appears likely that the administration is hiding the reality that many “probably don’t deserve to be there,” says the ACLU’s Goodman. She explains, “There could be plenty of people sitting there who were just caught up in house sweeps in Kabul, for instance.”

To read the rest of this report, please visit

Dave Lindorff is the founder of the news site, now a news collective consisting of journalists Lindorff, John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles M. Young.

URL to article: or CLICK here

Copyright © 2009 The Public Record. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Early Analyses of the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs By Stephen Soldz (President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility)

From: Stephen Soldz []
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 10:43 AM
To: 'Stephen Soldz'
Subject: Iraq War Logs: Early highlights

Folks, my latest summarizes early analyses of the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs:

At OpEd News dot com here

October 25, 2010

Iraq War Logs: Early highlights

By Stephen Soldz

The Wikileaks release of the Iraq War Logs on Friday has rightly aroused great interest. There has been excellent coverage in English by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (apparently sort of a British version of ProPublica in the US), Aljazeera, and the Guardian. The New York Times also had coverage, some of which was useful, but, as so often with the Times, their presentation was too influenced by official US military perspectives.

Much of the attention has focused upon reports of over 1,000 incidents of torture and detainee abuse by Iraqi government soldiers and police witnessed or reported to US troops. Rather than investigate or take action against Iraqi torturers, US troops were ordered to turn a blind eye to these abuses. In addition to ignoring the torture by Iraqi forces, the US was further complicit in that US forces knowingly turned over prisoners to Iraqi units known and expected to torture. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture has called upon the US to investigate these torture claims. The British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also called for an investigation.

Clegg said: "We can bemoan how these leaks occurred, but I think the nature of the allegations made are extraordinarily serious. They are distressing to read about and they are very serious. I am assuming the US administration will want to provide its own answer. It's not for us to tell them how to do that."

Asked if there should be an inquiry into the role of British troops, he said: "I think anything that suggests that basic rules of war, conflict and engagement have been broken or that torture has been in any way condoned are extremely serious and need to be looked at.

"People will want to hear what the answer is to what are very, very serious allegations of a nature which I think everybody will find quite shocking."

The War Logs also detail horrific and repeated attacks on civilians as well as other potential war crimes, including the killing of guerrillas attempting to surrender, a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

CBS News has used the material in a different way. They took the comments made by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld ad top generals during one week to the field reports from that week. In what will no doubt be a total surprise, they demonstrate that the US officials lied over and over.

Much has been made of the civilian deaths reported on the Logs. The NYT, true to form, emphasized that most of the reported deaths were Iraqi on Iraqi. This may be true. However, the Logs also provide evidence that many civilian deaths at the hands of US troops were either not reported or were misreported as being deaths of "insurgents." Thus, in the October 2004 battle for Samarra, the Logs report no civilian deaths, whereas an AP reporter reported 23 women and 18 children among the dead and Iraq Body Count (IBC) reports 48 civilians dead in the battle. And in the brutal April 2004 battle for Fallujah, again, the Logs report not one civilian death while independent reports indicate that hundreds of civilians were killed; IBC estimated that 600 civilians died in that battle.

There are two possible explanations here. One is that the Logs were influenced by a deliberate policy to downplay civilian deaths. The other explanation would be that US troops really could not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Both possibilities are chilling.

These Logs are an amazing resource. They will allow us to systematically compare the war as experienced by US troops with the war as described by US officials, and the war as observed by Iraqis and by independent observers. These comparisons should help us understand, not just the Iraq war, but the very nature of modern counterinsurgency wars of occupation. Perhaps these Logs will help citizens of the US and of the world understand the barbarity of modern warfare and put an end to it.

Stephen Soldz
Director, Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development
Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
1581 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446

President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Israel's Treatment of Palestinian Children

found at electronicintifada with this article here A Palestinian teenager shot in the ankle while scavenging for building material, October 2010. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)EREZ CROSSING, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Crossing through the metal-caged tunnel that leads from the Israeli side of the boundary into northern Gaza towards the Palestinian checkpoint, several groups of young Palestinian men and boys can be seen scavenging through piles of rubble.

"Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."

Right after 911 I was in a bookstore looking for something relevant and left the store with a Harper's Magazine which came out AFTER 911 - this was highlighted in an unusual way on the front cover with the quote above on this post from a particular Chris Hedges article which he'd written BEFORE 911...The entire article is a must read for any not yet familiar with the treatment of so many Palestinian children:
Chris Hedges, "A Gaza Diary", Harper's Magazine, October 2001 here

Here's TODAY's - this is NINE years after Hedges article:

Israel Shooting and Electric-Shocking Palestinian Children

By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, October 25, 2010

Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine Section (DCI/Palestine) "is a national section of the international non-government child rights organisation and movement (dedicated) to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children," according to international law principles.

Two earlier articles addressed their work, accessed though the following links:

Imprisoning Palestinian Children

Israeli Soldiers Sexual Abuse of Children

Both covered Israel's systematic, institutionalized use of torture of Palestinian children as brutally as against adults. DCI/Palestine's latest September Bulletin adds more, saying:

"For the first time....three (documented) cases of children reporting being given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators (occurred) in Ari'el Settlement." Each was accused of stone throwing. Electric shocking extracted confessions although the boys maintain their innocence.

DCI and PACTI (the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel) demanded Israel investigate reports that a Gush Etzion settlement interrogator "attached car battery jump leads to the genitals of a 14-year old boy in order to obtain a confession to stone throwing."

The August 5 incident involved four boys walking near a road used by settlers when an Israeli jeep approached. "Just for fun," one boy waved. The jeep turned, was joined by others, and chased the boys. They were seized, blindfolded, painfully shackled, detained, and taken to the Zufin settlement, then to the Ari'el settlement where one boy, Raed, was interrogated.

Though innocent, "Threat of electrocution" made him confess to stone throwing, after which his head was slammed against a cupboard. He was also punched in the stomach, and a second interrogator shocked him with a handheld device, making him dizzy and shiver. He then signed a confession in Hebrew he couldn't understand, was transferred to Salem Interrogation and Detention Center, after which he was taken to Megiddo Prison, in violation of Fourth Geneva's Article 76, pertaining to the rights assured protected persons detained under occupation.

A second incident involved a 17-year old boy, Malek, falsely accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. About 30 soldiers arrested and brutalized him like Raed before transferring him to Ofer Prison. On arrival, he was painfully struck on the head, then interrogated and threatened with physical violence and rape if he didn't confess. "He denied both accusations" during a two hour interrogation.

On September 15, 13-year old Khalil was arrested and accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail. At 1AM, Israeli soldiers smashed windows of his family's home, searched it, and took him to Ma'ale Adumin settlement. Though innocent, he was threatened with rape and intimidated to confess. He signed a six page document in Hebrew he didn't understand and has been detained at Ofer prison.

An earlier incident involved 16 year old Moatasem, arrested on March 20. He remains in administrative detention without charge or trial, at best hoping for a December release. Like the others, from arrest to detention, he was brutalized. During interrogation, he was asked about a plot involving a riot, bullets and weapons with no further explanation, something he knew nothing about and said so. On March 25, he was ordered administratively held for six months, then extended three more on September 26.

On average, from January 2008 - September 2010, Israel held over 300 Palestinian children captive, about 10% of them aged 12 - 15. Usually when complaints or requests for investigations into child arrests and mistreatment are submitted to the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAG), responses aren't forthcoming or issued raised are denied.

Shooting Children Collecting Building Gravel

Separately, DCI/Palestine reported on 12 incidents from May 22 - October 14, 2010, involving children aged 13 - 17, collecting gravel near Gaza's border fence with Israel. Under siege, Israel banned construction materials, forcing hundreds of men and boys to scavenge for what they can find, collecting gravel, placing it in sacks, loading it on donkeys, then selling it to builders for concrete.

In border watch towers, Israeli soldiers at times shoot and kill donkeys. They also target workers, usually shooting at their legs. In recent DCI/Palestine-documented cases, children reported being shot while working from 50 - 800 meters from the border.

In addition, a UN January 2009 - August 2010 study reported at least 22 Gazan civilians killed and 146 injured by live fire adjacent to Israel's border, including 27 children...

READ more here


October 23, 2010...2:00 pm
I Must Write As Long As Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Schools

by James M. Wall on his blogsite: "Wall Writings"

...The American public does not know about the Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian girls’ school building near Nablus this past week. Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog is a flashing light of warning to the American public, tells the story of the attack on the school:

The phrase “ethnic cleansing” conjures up a swift, comprehensive act of expulsion. But in reality, moving a large population off its land is the death of a thousand cuts, a slow, inexorable process of stealing property, harassment, forcing people into a condition of malnutrition.

The Native Americans in the Americas, the Aborigines in Australia, and the Palestinians in Israel/Palestine were only sometimes forced off their land suddenly and en masse. The gradual processes told, in the long run.

The amazing thing about what is being done to the Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank by Israeli illegal aliens is that it is happening in full view of the world, reported on by wire services, and yet remains invisible to Western publics.

The world reacts in horror when the Taliban in Afghanistan torch girls’ schools. But Israeli squatters just set fire to the store room of a Palestinian girls’ school, and the whole school would have gone up in flames if that warehouse had not been near a water main. The Israeli illegals left behind graffiti saying ‘regards from the hills.’...

...Ziad Abbas works for the Middle East Children’s Alliance on a project to bring clean water to the children of Palestine. He grew up in Palestine. He writes in Counter Punch, that his work is especially personal to him because of his own childhood experiences of growing up deprived of water...

...I write about these things because American churches are still hung up on not offending their Jewish neighbors, thus choosing interfaith harmony over justice.

I write about these things because major denominational meetings, like this past summer’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, dickered and delayed and finally decided to study further how they might best deal with the “problems” in the Middle East.

Since that Presbyterian GA meeting, two-year-old Abu Lasheen died waiting for permission to travel to an Israeli hospital. Since that meeting, Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian girls school, leaving behind graffiti on the wall that said, “regards from the hills”. Something about the insensitive arrogance of that graffiti implies there was not enough room on the wall to add, in Clint Eastwoodian fashion, “we’ll be back.”

I write about the American media’s blindness to the narrative of the suffering in Palestine because Tom Friedman continues to fool his liberal readers by pretending to criticize Israel when his criticism always includes the AIPAC approved list of what he insists are “facts”, but which are either outright lies or distortions of reality.

The most recent example was Friedman’s October 20 column which calls on Israel to help President Obama line up world opposition to Iran by reaching a friendly agreement with Palestinian negotiators.

Friedman opens his column with a set of “stubborn facts” which are really just a repeat of the acceptable Israeli narrative which, of course, he assures his readers are “stubborn facts”. Only, they are not...

...Iran’s President Ahmedinejad never used the phrase, “wipe Israel off the map”. That was an initial mistranslation into English which the media loved and never let go. The media has refused, as Friedman does here, to go back and obtain the original statement by Ahmedinejad in a speech he gave to a Persian audience.

The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran’s first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, when he said that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” just as the Shah’s regime in Iran had vanished.

He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The “page of time” phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon. There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.

...sources have confirmed that Israel’s invasion plans were already on the drawing board when a border skirmish erupted, giving Israel the excuse it wanted to launch a war that, indeed, “brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese.”

Who brought those deaths, injuries and destruction to the Lebanese? Israel, of course.

Careful research would quickly demonstrate to Friedman and every other pro-Israel pundit and politician that Friedman’s “stubborn facts” are either false or distorted.

I will continue to write on Israel and Palestine as long as pundits like Thomas Friedman have access to the pages of the New York Times, and the American public remains ignorant of the actual facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine.

The photo at the top ... is of two Bedouin girls, in school uniform, returning to their houses after a school day in Abu Farda near the West Bank city of Qalqilia on October 6, 2010. (MaanImages/Khaleel Reash)

READ this article in full here

Earlier this year, there was quite a piece on "Double Standards..." at here

"Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims."
–Prof. Arnold Toynbee, Foreword to the Transformation of Palestine, 1971

"Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial."
–Ariel Sharon

"Well, it's a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel then we bring up the holocaust. When in this country US) people are criticizing Israel then they are anti-Semitic. And the organization (Israel Lobby) is very strong and has lot of money. And the ties between Israel and American Jewish establishment are very strong – and they are strong in this country as you know. And they have power which is ok."
–Shulamit Aloni, Former Israeli Minister of Education, On Democracy Now, August 14, 2002

Honorable President of Harvard University Dr. Drew Faust
Honorable Members of the Board of Directors
Harvard Faculty Members
Harvard Student Organizations

Dear Madame President Faust;

I must strenuously and in the strongest terms possible protest the silence and inaction of Harvard University toward the outrageous, inhumane, offensive, even racist eugenic proposal that Dr. Martin Kramer, a Visiting Scholar at Harvard made during his speech at the Israeli Herzliya Conference on January 31, 2010.

In that speech Dr. Kramer implored the West to stop its Pro Natal services to the already besieged and starving Gaza Palestinian pregnant mothers and infants as a method of controlling the rapid birth rate in Gaza as a matter of political and social policy. To him such control will naturally lead to a decrease in the radicalization of Palestinian youth which he calls "superfluous men" as well as relieve the "demographic threat" to Israel's Jewish identity.

How racist is the term "superfluous men" to describe young Palestinian men who are constant fodder for Israeli soldier's bullets, missiles, and tank shells (as soldiers themselves have told "Break the Silence" group of former IDF Soldiers) as unnecessary and wasteful human beings.

Dr. Kramer's eugenic proposal not to provide Pro Natal care, which I take he means Pre and Post Natal care, is tantamount to genocide of fetuses and infants. Pregnant mothers would not receive the preventive care, regular OB exams, nutritional guidance (such as providing Folic Acid and Vitamins given their already malnourished state), appropriate vaccines or a healthy medically supervised delivery in hospitals, which all are damaged by Israel's assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. Infants would not receive the necessary medical care, or intensive care if necessary (difficult given the lack of electricity, oxygen, or antibiotics in Gaza), regular immunizations, nutritional guidance, or regular Pediatric checkups. Dr. Kramer shouldn't worry about a Palestinian population explosion; Israel's militarily with our tax dollars and weapons is determined not to leave any Palestinian child behind.

His proposal meets the accepted definition of eugenics, passive euthanasia, and genocide and no amount of spin cover up, rationalization, justification, taken out of context lies; nor the canard of Freedom of Speech that's available to Pro Israelite hate mongers to the exclusion of Pro Justice proponents for Palestinians and peace in the Holy Land.

In addition to Israel's three year physical devastating siege of Gaza, Dr. Kramer is proposing another physical and medical siege, this time of a Palestinian woman's womb that would ultimately result in a secondary ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that has continued unabated since 1947...


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Peacebuilding: Focus for 24 October, U.N. Day

Sent by Fellowship of Reconciliation

By: Rene Wadlow Topics: As we mark U.N. Day this October 24th, we are reminded that the United Nations remains the only universally representative and comprehensively empowered body the world has to deal with threats to international peace and security.

As Brian Urquart, one of the early U.N. civil servants said:

“In the great uncertainties and disorders that lie ahead, the U.N., for all its shortcomings, will be called on again and again because there is no other global institution, because there is a severe limit to what even the strongest powers wish to take on themselves, and because inaction and apathy toward human misery or about the future of the human race are unacceptable.” However, the nature of the threats to international security is ever changing.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Kidnapping in Milan–Six Questions for Steve Hendricks

Plz see blogger's note at bottom...

A Kidnapping in Milan–Six Questions for Steve Hendricks
By Scott Horton Harper's Magazine Find the original posting from Oct 13, 2010 here

Steve Hendricks, an investigative journalist who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and Helena, Montana, has just published A Kidnapping in Milan, his in-depth study of the botched CIA renditions operation in Italy that led to the conviction of 23 U.S. government operatives for kidnapping and other crimes. I put six questions to Hendricks about his new book.

1. You trace the evolution of the notions of rendition and extraordinary rendition, initially as a tool of American law enforcement, and then as a political tool of the American executive dealing with adversaries abroad—especially drug dealers and terrorists. How does the program developed by the second Bush Administration differ from its predecessors?

Response: September 11, 2001, the CIA carried out at least seventy extraordinary renditions—the vast majority, it seems, under Clinton. We know very little about most of these renditions, but the fact of our knowing little suggests they were carried out with a degree of discretion and competence. Under George W. Bush, the quantity of renditions went up and the discretion and competence went down. At the very least Bush rendered several score victims, and more probably a couple hundred. His demands for renditions were so great that, for example, the CIA’s in-house air fleet didn’t have enough planes, so the agency had to lease torture taxis from outside the agency. The CIA also rented many of the renderers—the on-the-ground planners, the heavies who actually grabbed the victims, the in-flight medics, you name it. A lot of them were poorly trained. Then there was Bush’s brazen approach to covert action, which filtered down to the lowest level of the CIA. Even in the best of times, the CIA thinks it can get away with murder (sometimes literally), but under Bush the hubris reached heights not seen since the anything-goes Cold War days. A lot people involved in renditions believed they would never be punished, even when breaking the laws of other countries. For all these reasons, the CIA’s renderers left a lot of prints in a lot of places, Milan being the foremost example.

Bush’s other big innovation in renditions was his infamous black sites. Clinton had always been happy to pass the undesirables he captured to our Third World clients like Egypt and Syria. He preferred to wash his hands of whatever savagery was visited upon them. Bush fils, however, hung onto a lot of these guys, mostly to try to beat some intelligence out of them, an endeavor that enjoyed very little success.

2. The focus of your book is one extraordinary rendition operation: the CIA’s February 17, 2003 seizure of a Muslim cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, usually referred to as Abu Omar, off the streets of Milan, and his transportation to Egypt, where he was tortured and abused over a period of a couple of years. What led you to the case of Abu Omar, and what does it tell you about the renditions program?

Response: The case was compelling for many reasons, not least of which was that Abu Omar’s kidnappers were exposed in spectacular fashion. They left a trail of cell-phone traces, hotel receipts, tollway farecards, credit card numbers, computer files, even a couple of witnesses, all of which enabled Italian investigators to document their crime in stupefying detail. I was also fascinated by the chief investigator, Armando Spataro, a charismatic man who held holy the rule of law no matter how powerful the lawbreaker. Another thing that greatly interested me was that, at the time the CIA kidnapped Abu Omar, the Italian counterterror police had him under thorough and fruitful surveillance. They knew where he was going, what he was planning, to whom he was talking, and they were learning a lot about how the terrorists in his cell were working. When the CIA swooped in and took him, they badly damaged Italy’s work against terrorists. The case, in other words, looked like a good example of how the “war on terror” made the West less safe from terrorists.

A lesser but important finding is that we’re not sending Jason Bournes and James Bonds to do our covert operations. A lot of our black-ops types may know what they’re doing, but we also have a lot who don’t, both in the field and at headquarters in Langley. This doesn’t help our struggle against the bad guys or our standing in the world. When the CIA was founded in 1947, there was a great debate about whether it should be only in the intelligence-gathering business or in the covert-action business as well. The fiasco in Milan is just the latest in a long chain of botched subversions that suggest the CIA isn’t competent to do covert operations.

3. The Abu Omar case led to the indictment and trial of 26 American officials involved in the rendition and the conviction of 23 of them, as three got off on a technical defense of diplomatic immunity. The Wall Street Journal called the chief prosecutor, Armando Spataro, a “rogue” and intimated that he was motivated by anti-American prejudices. You studied his handling of the case in intimate detail. Are the Journal’s characterizations accurate?

Response: The Journal’s editorial writers have long been way out in the right field, and every now and then they race through the warning track and crack their heads against the wall. (Would that it would knock some sense into them.) Armando Spataro spent the 1970s and 1980s prosecuting leftist terrorists, the 1990s prosecuting the Mafia, and the 2000s prosecuting Islamic terrorists. Like several other Italian magistrates, he has a great record of tracking, trying, and imprisoning terrorists, which is more than you can say for the rogues in the Bush Administration. Evidently the Journal favors law and order when it comes to welfare cheats and dope pushers but not when a law-and-order man like Spataro goes after the Journal’s fellow travelers on the right.

Spataro’s supposed anti-Americanism might surprise the FBI and DEA, which have commended him for his successful collaborations with the United States on Mafia and drug cases, and the State Department, which hosted him for a comparative study of the American and Italian justice systems. For decades Spataro has traveled extensively throughout America, and the walls of his office are decorated with all manner of American art. He has long believed that the U.S. Constitution is one of the most beautiful pieces of literature in the world. He merely wants America, as so many Americans do, to live up to it.

4. One question that hung over the entire operation was whether it had been coordinated with and approved by the government of then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Certainly there was solid evidence that senior figures in Italian intelligence knew about the operation in advance and approved of it. What conclusions did you draw about this, and if it was approved by the prime minister, why did prosecutors proceed with the case?

Response: We still don’t know, and perhaps never will, precisely what Berlusconi knew when. But former high-ranking intelligence officials in both Italy and the United States have said it is unthinkable that the CIA would have carried out an operation like this without first getting Berlusconi’s approval. Certainly Berlusconi was an exceedingly eager abettor of the Bush “war on terror,” and if the Bush Administration had asked for his approval, it’s a good bet he would have said yes.

Spataro could nonetheless proceed with his prosecution because in Italy magistrates are almost entirely independent of the prime minister and parliament, as federal judges in the United States are independent of the president and Congress. Far from being a disincentive, once Spataro discovered that the rot went to the top—that Italy’s seniormost intelligence officials had illegally helped the CIA with the kidnapping (and duped other Italian counterterrorists into believing they hadn’t)—he thought it was imperative to follow the criminal trail as far as it led and prosecute the powerful as vigorously as the foot soldiers. The kidnapping had Watergate-level implications for Italy; it was a crime not just against Abu Omar but against the nation. Spataro believed, correctly, that for the benefit of the nation, the wrongdoers needed to be thoroughly “outed” and just as thoroughly prosecuted.

5. No evidence ever emerged to suggest that Abu Omar was actually involved in any pending plot to attack Americans or American interests at the time he was snatched. Nor did he prove to be the significant leader of any military group. At most he appears to have been a recruiter with rabidly anti-American views. So why was Abu Omar targeted and seized?

Response: Abu Omar was almost certainly a terrorist but, as you say, of middling or even lowish rank and without imminent plans to attack. Because the Italians had him under thorough surveillance, they almost certainly would have been able to arrest him if his plans changed, and in any case they were going to arrest him in a month or two when they had gotten all the intelligence they could from his cell. In other words, there was no reason at all to render him, even by the CIA’s own criteria, which amounted to getting the “worst of the worst” off the streets before they could do serious harm.

The most convincing theory to explain why the CIA snatched Abu Omar is that the agency’s chief of station in Italy, Jeff Castelli, wanted a promotion. After September 11, renditions were all the rage in the CIA. Station chiefs around the world were collecting scalps. Several Italians and Americans who worked with Castelli believe he convinced Langley to approve the rendition by exaggerating the threat Abu Omar posed and denigrating the Italians’ monitoring of him. Castelli had boosters at Langley who were grooming him for a higher post, and at least one or two of them were among those who weigh the merits of proposed renditions and approved or denied them. Probably Castelli’s boosters were overly eager to help their man get his scalp.

A lesson here is that although we think of the CIA as a spy agency, it is also—I might even argue it is foremost—a bureaucracy, and its bureaucrats have most of the motivations of bureaucrats elsewhere. Sure, they work for the good of their country as they perceive it, but they’re also looking out for themselves, and career often trumps country. The opportunity for mischief is all the greater because the CIA has very successfully fought off outside oversight and hidden its sins under the opaque cloak of national security.

6. Did Barack Obama end the extraordinary renditions program? If not, what changes did he introduce to it?

Response: A lot of Americans think Obama ended it, but the program is alive and well. Obama did ban U.S. personnel from torturing captives, but, after some initial obfuscation, he said through subordinates that he intended to continue extraordinary renditions, which is to say to continue torture-by-proxy, which is to say to violate, as Bush did, the UN Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signatory. In court Obama has argued, again just as Bush did, that lawsuits against the United States by victims of renditions must be dismissed because they jeopardize national security.

Where Obama differs from Bush is that his renditions seem to be fewer and quieter. At least, we can infer they’re fewer because we aren’t hearing about them. It’s possible that he has rendered only a very small handful of people. On the other hand, Clinton rendered dozens of people so quietly that we heard almost nothing of them at the time, and we still know little about most of them. Another difference is that Obama shut down Bush’s black sites, so America has probably returned to the Clintonian practice of handing our captives to our Third World confederates more or less immediately. But it falls to future reporters and historians to discover whether Obama’s crimes against humanity are few or many, even if they don’t live up the impressive mark of his predecessor.

My Note:

I have just finished the informative book -A Kidnapping in Milan- myself and went to hear the author speak and answer questions at a bookstore nearby. The research, exceptionally original, clear, corroborated and with and rich, novel-like writing - all well beyond the usual for any similar volume. There's a lot of courage within these pages and in Hendrick's Q & A sessions above and one I attended - which have covered quite a bit of new territory and giving both new and older information strong reinforcement. Thus, my conclusion - as has been Hendricks - is to resoundly verify that Torture and Rendition via USA official capacity are not by a long shot over and this would include the recent contracting with Dr. Seligman. More about this later. Secondly, that the point has been made once more and stronger than ever that the alibi "But I was only following orders." has no place within any intelligent courtroom or standard of universally-accepted ethics.

There is, however, one sad and distressed note I wish to add to this posting. In my reading, I noticed how continually Muslims are portrayed in negative light. Yes, it's true that this book zeroes in on one particular case which is not considered by the author one of resounding innocence and/or heroism. Also, neither are Christians and Christian groups portrayed in the best of light. I was less sure that Jews were "in the shadows" exactly. The only positive desciptions I found of Muslims - I even carefully looked up all the indexed references referring to Muslim or Islam -was that of one a kindly, honest medical student and the brief mentions of Maher Arar and of Binyam Mohammed.

How might we writers find reasonable ways - especially with such provocative and potentially inflaming topics - to show at least as background a few of the many people and groups which demonstrate the most positive aspects of Islam and Muslims and those with such a background. Many many from and with a Muslim background are among the most laudable peacemakers on the planet these days?

More about this as well as some richly-needed quotes from the book later...


Friday, October 15, 2010

AAFIA interview // Torture Doc back // Detainee Issues and Related

I decided to leave the URL's as they are for easy copy/pasting/sending...

Sunday, October 17 Sunday noon central interview & to be archived:
Elaine Whitfield Sharp - one of the lawyers representing political prisoner Aafia Siddiqui, sentenced on September 23 to 86 years imprisonment for alleged crimes... In March 2003, home visiting her family in Karachi, Pakistan, she was abducted, secretly detained, and brutally tortured and abused for years in US custody. Her story is painful, horrific, ongoing, and will be discussed on air. With Stephen Lendman

EU to review Macedonia's Role in Extraordinary Rendition - ACLU

Several on Omar Khadr and on Military Commissions (The don't teach us this in law school)

Earlier interview with Omar's sister

The Cuban Five and US Rights Abuses October 15 2010:

"Torture Doc" - Seligman again:

Physicians for Human Rights Calls for Pentagon Inspector General ...
Oct 14, 2010 ... Physicians for Human Rights Calls for Pentagon Inspector General Inquiry into Alleged “No-Bid” Contract to Dr. Martin Seligman ...

Psychologists and Torture—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)
Oct 15, 2010 ... The group has called for a full investigation of Seligman's relationship to the torture programs and of his no-bid contract with the Defense ...


Updated on Milan Appeals

Earlier Summary/ Condensed Interview with wife of Abou Elkassim Bitel:

Earlier Related Amnesty and ACLU Reports (on Bitel):
Aafia interview // Rendition // Torture Doc back // Abou Elkassim Bitel // Bagram Abuse and more...

Site to free Abou Elkassim Bitel

Afghan detainees claim US abuse

Abuse in Bagram

New Claims contradict US Military Denial (of abuse in Bagram) See also on this site item referring to Soros' site

See earlier related items

Secret prisons at Bagram Air Force Base include the "Dark Prison" and "Salt Pit. .. The paper said Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have compiled

Moazzam Begg interview on Pakistan TV

Andy Worthington's latest is about detainees captured in Pakistan and still in Gitmo

As always, keep watching (better sign up for) No More Guantanamos:

Case of Abou Elkassim Bitel Part One (Summary of Interview)

RELATED items in post below and in posts to follow...

Here's just the "bare bones" of an earlier extra- long interview (excerpted and sometimes re-organized by date/topic into a rough summary). The interview is with Britel Kassim's wife - a case which involves Italy, US, Morocco and Pakistan (NOTE dates go WAY back). Hopefully some of these methods and lack of oversight have changed in some ways and places and by certain officials - although reassurances are hard to come by - see the link for full interview with Cage Prisoners below):

FROM Interview with Khadija Pighizzni Written by Asim Qureshi
Wednesday, 09 January 2008

Abou Elkassim Britel is an Italian citizen of Moroccan ethnicity, married to an Italian convert to Islam. On 10th March 2002, whilst in Lahore translating books on Islam, he was detained on a false passport charge, and subsequently interrogated and tortured by Pakistani security services. Transferred to Islamabad to be questioned by US intelligence agents, he was prevented from contacting the Italian embassy to prove the authenticity of his passport. On 24th May 2002, he was rendered to Morocco (with the co-operation of the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs), where he was detained incommunicado in Témara by the Moroccan secret service until February 2003. Released without charge and granted a border pass by Italian Embassy, he was again arrested on 16th May 2003 before the bomb attacks in Casablanca. He was brought to Témara in secret detention for other 4 months. Condemned to fifteen years in jail, his sentence was reduced to nine years on appeal. Despite the European Parliament having solicited the Italian government to obtain his immediate release, he remains incarcerated in the Äin Bourja prison of Casablanca, where he is to be released in 2012. Cageprisoners spoke exclusively to Britel’s wife, Khadija Anna Lucia Pighizzni, about her husband’s plight and her fight for justice. (NOTE that a lot has happened between interview on 2008 and today October 15, 2010)

CAGEPRISONERS: How long had your husband been in Pakistan before he was first arrested?

KHADIJA PIGHIZZINI: My husband had been travelling since June 2001.

CP: What had brought your husband to Pakistan?

KP: Kassim and I had an ongoing project, involving the translation of Islamic books from Arabic to Italian. My husband was seeking funds to finance the translation of Tafsir Ibn Kathir. We have a small website, Islàmiqra' translations of topics and authentic Islamic texts...( )...useful for the Italian-speaking people who do not understand Arabic.

CP: When did you find out about the arrest of your husband?

KP: My husband disappeared on the 10th of March 2002. I had spoken to him on the phone that day. In the evening, he was stopped in Lahore at a police road block while he was travelling with his luggage on a taxi. As soon as they saw his Italian passport they told him it was false and took him to the police station. Then he disappeared until the 11th of February 2003.

CP: You claim your husband was tortured by Pakistani security services during his initial detention?

KP: Kassim still finds it difficult to relate what he’s been through. Even though he does speak about it now, he is not up to telling the whole story.

My husband was psychologically tortured with death threats against him and threats of violence against the female members of his family. They told him that the Italian ambassador was not interested in him “because he was a terrorist”.

As for the physical torture, I know he was beaten severely, with a cricket bat at times. The handcuffs he wore around his wrists were tied behind his back with chains and he would be hung from the prison bars or off the ceiling for a long time. He would be blindfolded and his hands and feet would be chained so that he could not defend himself nor predict where he was going to be hit. The cell did not include a toilet and he was not allowed to relieve himself except once every 24 hours, when he was given a bucket. For three days he was sleep deprived, while tied to a gate.

When I saw him again after 11 months, he still had patches of yellow on his skin where he’d been severely beaten. This treatment, inflicted on him by the Pakistani police and secret services, lasted a very long time. At the beginning of April 2002 after another violent interrogation, Kassim was in critical condition, exhausted and continuously prone to fainting, so they gave him medical attention for about a week.

My husband was transferred to Islamabad the 5th of May 2002, to the Pakistani secret services. He was then taken four times, tied and blindfolded, to a villa where he was interrogated by US agents

CP: In what way was your husband denied access to the Italian embassy in Pakistan?

KP: Kassim was never allowed to meet or talk with the Italian Ambassador, which was something my husband kept asking for, since the day he was stopped by the police. He wanted to prove the authenticity of his passport. He kept asking both the Pakistanis and the Americans...

CP: To what extent were US government agencies involved in the questioning of your husband?

KP: Kassim was interrogated four times in a villa where the Americans were based. He was taken there blindfolded and under great secrecy. He said he wouldn’t talk to the Americans because of the illegal nature of his situation, and also because they wouldn’t allow him to meet with the Italian ambassador. On the contrary, they claimed that the ambassador didn’t want to meet with him...

The head of the Pakistani secret services was present, and threatened to torture him. At that point Kassim said he would have them tried in The Hague, so they offered him money in exchange for information about Usama Bin Laden. My husband persisted in asking to speak to the Italian Ambassador. His attitude angered his interrogators, provoking them to swear against the Italian Ambassador, Italy, Europe and more subtle threats towards his family. On the last occasion, the interrogation was performed by a new person, who introduced himself as David Morgan. He said he had just arrived from Washington and wanted to know why Kassim was refusing to talk, to which my husband replied by reiterating that he wanted to speak to the Italian Ambassador. Once again they told him that the Ambassador didn’t want to talk to him, so my husband asked them to bring him the phone and let him speak to him directly. They refused to do so because he was “a prisoner”. At this stage, Morgan asked him several questions about his life and filled in a form. He informed him he would meet the Moroccan Ambassador, rather than the Italian one, but that meeting never took place.

After a few days the Pakistanis told him he would be going back to Italy.

CP: What is your response to this?

KP: I understood from an NGO report that the Americans were paying very well for non Pakistani prisoners, perhaps, because of this, my husband, like many others, was 'sold'.

The Pakistani police denied him all rights. He complained when he saw a policeman putting Kassim's wrist watch in his pocket - the policeman in turn just laughed at him.

CP: How much communication did you have with your husband during his imprisonment in Pakistan?

KP: I understood that something had happened to him, but didn’t know exactly what.

On the night of the 7th June 2002, his brother (who was also living in Italy) received a telephone call from someone who claimed to have been in prison with Kassim in Pakistan. The caller asked for something to be done urgently for Kassim, as his life was in danger.

However, what we didn’t know at that time was that Kassim had already been EXTRAORDINARILY RENDERED via a CIA flight to Temara, Morocco, at the headquarters of the DST (Directorate for the Surveillance of the Territory).

CP: Do you know if he was granted legal access during that time?

KP: Yes, we know that he wasn’t given any rights whatsoever, it was no other than illegal and secret detention, he was never asked to sign anything NOR WAS HE EVER TRIED FOR ANY CRIME.

CP: How long have you been married to your husband?

KP: We have been married now for 12 years. Our marriage has always been a source of joy and happiness for both of us. Even though Allah has not blessed us with any children, our relationship was still very strong and we tried living our lives based on the principles of Islam.

Kassim used to translate for me, initially to help me with the religion and from there the idea came to dedicate our time to translating books which were considered fundamental for Islam. We thought it was a way to help our community, the Italian Muslim community which was still very ‎’young’.

I would say that our relationship is healthy and fruitful because it allowed us to improve ourselves spiritually and for this I seek a reward with Allah. At the same time I thank Allah for this, it is a precious gift for both of us.

CP: What qualities make your husband special?

KP: My husband is an honest man, with sound morals. He is intelligent and inquisitive; he loves knowledge, just like me. However, he is more down-to-earth. He knows how to plan and write with patience and determination. He is observant and a good listener. We can have a heated discussion without causing bad feelings between us, as he can laugh at himself when needed.

CP: What effect has this ordeal had on you and his family?

KP: It’s been ALMOST SIX YEARS since my husband disappeared, and this has caused me perpetual suffering as I’ve never managed to get used to his absence. He left with a return ticket...

(the following excerpt has been slightly "re-organized" from interview to make sure certain facts/dates are more accessible)

(from KHADIJA): "The first organisation to help us in Morocco was the AMDH (Moroccan Association for Human Rights). Later in 2004, the FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) republished the story. I’ve always kept Amnesty and HRW informed of any changes in my husbands situation. In 2007 Amnesty did a report on Italy for the UN Convention Against Torture in which it highlighted Kassim’s case. HRW has also included a section in its last annual report. I reiterate that in Italy no human rights organisation has ever given us any help."

NOTE: See URL just below for many other abuses to both wife and husband including:

*local newspaper had their headlines full of grand accusations, but never quite told the whole story. They never seem to miss an opportunity to write negative things against Muslims. "It is very difficult to keep going when the newspapers launch an attack on you in your face that your husband is a dangerous terrorist, when the neighbours stop greeting you and when, sometimes, you are afraid of being physically attacked because you see the hatred in their faces."

*There seem to be many people who are afraid; they react by insulting me verbally when I’m out on the streets or on the bus. I’m not sure if that’s due to my hijab or because they know who I am.

*In prison/jail/etc/Airplane, etc. her husband underwent: bruises and injuries and many other sorts of violent treatment such as food and healthcare deprivation; prohibition of reading and writing materials; no beds; they never have warm meals and are often given food that has gone off; scarce water; short and very infrequent visits; intimidating the families, forced to wait for hours and the requisition of goods (for example oil, honey or fruit.) However, there have been slow but constant improvements thanks to the struggle of the detainees (two prolonged hunger strikes in 2005 and 2006, and several others)...constantly suffers from head aches.

* KP: Pakistan, 24th May 2002. (blogger's note: Not quite clear whether officials here were all Pakistani officials and/or some US-directed or trained by CIA?) He was taken to the airport by car, travelling handcuffed and with a hood on his head. After about half an hour waiting, someone grabbed him abruptly, having come onto him very quietly. He seized his neck with powerful strength, so much so that Kassim thought he was going to die. He was taken to a place that turned out to be a bathroom. Everything happened very fast. Brandishing a knife, they cut his clothes and took them all off. He was then able to see 4 or 5 men all dressed in black, with only the eyes showing, all around him. They searched him all over, also in the intimate parts, took a picture and quickly put his clothes back on cutting most of his t-shirt off. They put a sort of nappy on him and blindfolded him again. They made him wear what felt like metallic underpants to which they attached chains connected to his handcuffs and to his legs.

They took him to the aeroplane and forced him to lie down on his back; another passenger got on the plane after him. He was forbidden from moving from that position and every movement was punished by being hit, maybe with a stick, maybe with a shoe... he could not tell. Not having realised he had a nappy on, he held his bladder the whole journey with tremendous discomfort. His back was in great pain, when he asked to be allowed to turn they covered his mouth with tape.

While the plane was landing, they managed to swap his metal handcuffs with some plastic ones. After hearing the Moroccan dialect he understood where he had arrived. Some Temara policemen were waiting for him and transported him to the town. The route of this plane was recorded among the documents of the TDIP (European commission for CIA flights): the Gulfstream N379P, known as the "Guantanamo Express", flew on the 24/25 May 2002 from Islamabad to Rabat, took off the same day in the direction of Porto and landed in Washington on May the 26.

(ongoing difficulties with Italy are mentioned and more abuses are named when husband held in Temara see dossier which was held by Amnesty as well: Temara is not a jail, it’s a place used in order to obtain confessions, statements, forced cooperation... Binyam Mohamed (currently held in Guantanamo) gives a tragic account about Temara...

Kassim’s first detention in Temara (25.05.02-11.02.03) was spent in total isolation. He had to undergo distressing interrogations, during which he was always tied and blindfolded. He was sleep-deprived and kept hearing the screaming of other detainees. Only when they thought he was broken to the point of accepting to work as their collaborator in Italy, the secret services decided to let him go...The second secret and illegal detention in Temara was extremely harsh. Not only was he given the aforementioned treatment, in fact, much harder because of the political repression occurring in the country, but also his own family was often interrogated in rooms near his. On top of that Kassim was denied a change of clothes, enough water, any soap and the comfort of a copy of the Quran. He was always handcuffed, except for fifteen minutes, for his meal. He was tied even in the toilet. He was trying hard to keep himself clean for prayer, he was in extreme conditions, in order to clean his teeth he would pull a thread from the only pair of trousers he had...
They let him out of that place only once he signed, like everyone else, a paper he was not allowed to read.

* brief release in Temara, on the 11th of February 2003.

...I rushed to Morocco to take care of him, with the intention of taking him home. But many complications took place"

I arrived in Morocco the 28th of September 2003. I went to see him in Salé and I noticed the deep marks of his handcuffs and how thin he had become, even though I could only see him from afar and through a double net. I saw many other incredible and shameful things, like the trial factory, where even three verdicts would be reached on the same day, given out by the same court...

(she also "feared the torture of the bottle" )

...that they would give him chemicals...I also had a different type of fear, a moral one: when you get such violent and humiliating treatment how is it possible to remain yourself and not be overwhelmed by the desire of revenge? Alhamdulillah, my husband has been cruelly harmed but he has preserved his balance and his intelligence, his mind is focused on the future and I am very proud of him.

SEE URL for interview for more of the many complications of this "release" - the results of the torture, the need for wife to go unpaid to attend husband, separation of family members from Kassim, long road to some small health improvements etc. Finally they tried to get Moroccan embassy to escort us to the airport, in order to guarantee our departure yet although they tried several times, they were always refused with the given reason “you are guests, this is not your country”. In the end, after giving it a lot of thought, Kassim notified the embassy that he would have crossed the frontier in Melilla.

Other possible sources to research more on the case:

Since 2006, despite the prominent involvement of the Parliament Commission on CIA flights (TDID), the newspapers are silent - with the exception of an important report by Claudio Gatti for the prestigious newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore”, on the 30th of May 2007, just before Bush visited Italy. The enquiry related the actions of ACLU towards the company that catered for the logistic support needed for the rendition, and it also told Kassim’s story. This article was also published by the International Herald Tribune and by El Pais, while the other Italian newspapers ignored it, even though my husband is the only Italian citizen known to be a victim of rendition....The story is accurately followed by a newspaper called Carta, while one named Diario, that published two articles, today is no longer in the shops...See On it you can also listen to Kassim’s voice.There are several sites and blogs that talk about his story, I remember,, Cronique de Guantanamo, but there are others, like Cageprisoners that also talks about the articles published in the USA.

In September 2006 due to involvement of the TDIP Commission in Abou Elkassim Brite case, finally the Italian magistrates archive the case “considering that the latest enquiries, the phone conversations and the bank evidence do not support the accusations”...

In April, his Italian solicitor Francesca Longhi, who went to Morocco to meet him, was not allowed to enter the prison! [See "Italian authorities drag their feet in Britel case", ]

My husband’s health, as I have already mentioned, is in very bad condition. After enduring violent interrogation, he has incurred a great hearing and sight loss on the left hand side, he suffers from permanent pain in his joints and, especially, his back. He also has problems with his urinary tract. He gets tired very easily and he has difficulty in paying attention for a sustained period of time. I doubt he will be able to work with all these problems, once he manages to get out of prison, but what I know for sure is that he is wasting precious years of his life...

CP: What do you make of the findings of the European Parliament on the case of your husband? Does it give you hope in the justice of the legal system?

KP: The contribution of the European Parliament is very important for us, because it has established the truth regarding facts I have always told and that none seemed to believe.

Behind these findings there is the MP Mr Fava, who strongly believes in the fact that every person has the right to be treated humanely, with respect, and to be judged with fair justice. I have published most of these findings on my website because the sufferings we have been going through are everybody’s concern. Furthermore, I feel this is a very different attitude when compared to a political position of silence towards such serious crimes, so unworthy of Europe. I hope that the European Parliament manages to force the countries involved in this matter into allowing the truth to prevail.

CP: What has given you the ability to be patient in the face of your difficulties? What advice would you give to others in the same situation as yourself?

KP: The faith and trust I have in my husband...Alhamdulillah, I have tried to remain patient and to use my intelligence and knowledge in order to understand what was happening around me. I have tried not to lose hope, even in the most difficult moments, and I have knocked (and still do) at many doors, without losing faith.

In such difficult times I have managed to meet great people. It will be enough to mention one of them: Francesca Longhi, solicitor, has always tried to understand the situation and has also been very patient when explaining to me legal intricacies.

I advise those who are in my same situation to keep having faith and never lose hope. They should tell the truth and always struggle to make it well known as well as be patient, keeping in mind that “God never burdens a soul beyond its means: to its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits.” (Qur’an, 2: 286).

READ the interview intact and in full at Cage Prisoners here See three more EARLIER items listed below...

A more recent summary from October 2010 follows in nomorecrusades post just below this one:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

ITALY appeals trial of CIA kidnapping case begins & related

The appeals trial in the CIA-led kidnapping of an Egyptian terrorism suspect from the streets of Milan opened Tuesday with the prosecution seeking to incriminate Italian secret service agents acquitted in the initial trial.

The Associated Press Original Posting here


The appeals trial in the CIA-led kidnapping of an Egyptian terrorism suspect from the streets of Milan opened Tuesday with the prosecution seeking to incriminate Italian secret service agents acquitted in the initial trial.

Twenty-three Americans and two Italians were convicted in November in the 2003 kidnapping of the Egyptian cleric - the first legal convictions anywhere in the world involving the CIA's extraordinary renditions program.

But the judge at that time also acquitted three American diplomats, citing diplomatic immunity, along with five Italian secret service agents, including the former chief, citing state secrecy.

In Tuesday's opening session, the prosecution asked the court to reintroduce incriminating statements by several of the Italian agents that were later thrown out after a higher court ruled they were protected under state secrecy.

The court reserved its decision until the next session Monday.

As allowed in the Italian system, both the prosecution and defense attorneys are appealing the verdict.

In explaining his verdict in February, Judge Oscar Magi was direct in his criticism of the use of state secrecy, saying it created "a logical and judicial paradox" when it came to evaluating the potential roles of Italian military intelligence in the kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003, from a Milan street.

The judge said the fact that the CIA ran the operation on Italian soil "allows the presumption" that Italian secret services were at least aware or "maybe even complicit."

Former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady received the top sentence of eight years in prison. The other 22 convicted American defendants, including former Milan consular official Sabrina De Sousa and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Romano, each received a five-year sentence. Two Italians got three years each as accessories for their role in trying to derail the prosecutors' investigation.

After being kidnapped in Milan, Nasr was transferred to bases in Aviano, Italy, and Germany. He was then moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released, but was not been permitted to leave Egypt.

Romano's lawyer renewed his request made during the trial that his client be tried by an American court, saying Italian judicial authorities did not have jurisdiction over Aviano base under the NATO agreement.

The defense for the former head of military Intelligence Nicolo Pollari also requested that Premier Silvio Berlusconi and former Premier Romano Prodi, along with their respective defense ministers, be called to testify, arguing they could prove his innocence.

The convicted Americans, who were tried in absentia, cannot travel to Europe without risking arrest as long as the verdicts remain in place

A recent summary from the case of Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel - October 2010 as follows:

The kingdom of Morocco for years has been criticized by the world for all the wrongful procedures it employs in its confrontations with so-called “terrorists” or in some cases certain branches of Islam. The Moroccan NGOs persist in their work regarding these procedures, evidently, because of the egregiousness of human rights violations (secret detentions, confessions extorted under torture, intimidating them and their families, etc.).

The NGOs seek the liberation of the majority of them who are considered innocent. Some believe that the state now wants to break them by force, because several documents admitting responsibility have been signed. (Whether under torture or no, is one of several questions yet doesn't rule out that 1) the torture/intimidation/threats were unlawful and inhumane and 2) that the "info" allegedly received was not accurate due to force/coercion/torture.

The United States could have (may be likely to have) special knowledge about this case. Morocco continues to arrest people accused of terrorism and then “doesn’t know” what happens to them next so they say. This may be due to the "need" to show commitment to Europe and the USA.

NOTE: Some rights advocates and others who've followed this case have concluded that Kassim was taken there by a CIA plane and the US is responsible for what happened to him.

In other reports, the U.S. State Department has several times criticized the brutality of the Moroccan security forces.

Not known at this point is whether or not the Italian Consulate has visited Britel. Evidently, no news has been offered the family at this posting.

Summary of an article from Alkarama : Prisons marocaines : L’escalade de la répression

Britel is one of about 100 people detained in different Moroccan prisons who were transferred to Kenitra on October 9, 2010. The transfer was carried out with exaggerated violence. They were awakened in the middle of the night, handcuffed and blindfolded, and their personal effects including their clothes were taken from them. When the prisoners arrived at Kenitra, the highly excited guards beat them, threatened them with death, and stripped them completely. Anyone who expressed even a mild protest was suspended and beaten for long hours.

This reception was (evidently) directed by the Director of the Kenitra Prison, Mustapha Hadjli, who (evidently) encouraged the guards to torture the prisoners. Most of those transferred were Muslims, serving stiff sentences after unjust trials that occurred in the last few years. Family members who were allowed to visit their loved ones on October 11, 2010, confirmed the prisoners showed signs of beating and torture. The relatives themselves were subjected to particularly humiliating body searches.

This repression clearly represents a serious escalation in the treatment of political prisoners in Morocco – people who were arrested for their political and religious convictions and subjected to show trials that often relied on evidence obtained using torture. This treatment reflects the political authorities’ choice of confrontation rather than appeasement in its dealings with the opposition.

Alkarama, 12 Octobre 2010

Here's another report:

On Friday the 8th or Saturday the 9th of October, at 6 am, Abou Elkassim Britel endured a coerced transfer from Oukasha jail to the jail at Kenitra, Morocco. Deprived of his clothes, clock and all other personal effects, Kassim was made to get in a car blindfolded, and when he arrived at Kenitra, was thrown on the floor and roughly mistreated with kicking and beating.

Already sick and tired from the years of imprisonment and torture, he was put in a cell without clothes, food, bed, or blankets, suffering from the bruises and wounds. He is hungry, and has been deprived of his food supplies.

Sunday evening his wife, not having more recent news from him than Thursday, sounded the alarm.

On the 11th of October this year, 2010, one of his sisters succeeded in meeting with him. Kassim, in tears, told the story and asked to be visited soon by the Italian Ambassador or the Consul.

This is the general English-language web site in solidarity with Kassim Britel here

More EARLIER items on or including mention of El Kassim Britel:

1) See Quite Thorough Interview from 2008 recounted the beginning of the detention/imprisonments in full at Cage Prisoners here See three more EARLIER items listed below...

2) Earlier actions called for on behalf of Elkassim Britel here ;

3) Earlier US voting by one vote to approve Torture and Rendition here ;

4) When Federal Appeals Court Adopted Obama "STATE-SECRETS" Doctrine to block torture case here

Steve Hendricks, an investigative writer who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and Helena, Montana, has just published A Kidnapping in Milan or Click here his in-depth study of the botched CIA renditions operation in Italy that led to the conviction of 23 U.S. government operatives for kidnapping and other crimes. [Scott Horton] put six questions to Hendricks about his new book. . . . [This is the final one.]

[Question 6] Did Barack Obama end the extraordinary renditions program? If
not, what changes did he introduce to it?

[Answer]A lot of Americans think Obama ended it, but the program is alive and well. Obama did ban U.S. personnel from torturing captives, but, after some initial obfuscation, he said through subordinates that he intended to continue extraordinary renditions, which is to say to continue torture-by-proxy, which is to say to violate, as Bush did, the UN Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signatory. In court Obama has argued, again just as Bush did, that lawsuits against the United States by victims of renditions must be dismissed because they jeopardize national security.
Where Obama differs from Bush is that his renditions seem to be fewer and quieter. At least, we can infer they’re fewer because we aren’t hearing about them. It’s possible that he has rendered only a very small handful of people. On the other hand, Clinton rendered dozens of people so quietly that we heard almost nothing of them at the time, and we still know little about most of them. Another difference is that Obama shut down Bush’s black sites, so America has probably returned to the Clintonian practice of handing our captives to our Third World confederates more or less immediately. But it falls to future reporters and historians to discover whether Obama’s crimes against humanity are few or many, even if they don’t live up the impressive mark of his predecessor.

The full interview is at: or GO here

The following article may be related to recent federal rulings as well as the many year history of torture and rendition by the hands of US authorities - GO here

By coincidence, it also related to the following quote from a book which came out October 11, 2010 (found following under one of the reasons given on author's website as to why he wrote this book)

"I was also intrigued because the victim was probably a terrorist, not an utter innocent, which added a shade of gray to a story that might otherwise have been more black and white. I wanted to see if I could make a convincing case that TORTURE WAS WRONG no matter who its victim was.”

"A Kidnapping in Milan": The CIA on Trial tells the story of the CIA's rendition in 2003 of a radical imam from Milan to Cairo, of the imam's torture in Egypt, and of one Italian magistrate's struggle to put the CIA's kidnappers on trial. Amnesty International USA (and locally, the WNC ACLU) is promoting the book as part of its Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. More info about the book:

Why Steve Wrote the Book

“The barbarisms of America’s ‘War on Terror’ appalled me, as did reporters who went along with the barbarisms,” Steve says. “I was particularly taken aback by the Bush (and now Obama) claims that torture-by-proxy makes us stronger. I wrote A Kidnapping in Milan because few reporters have shown what torture really looked like, because the Italian magistrate who was prosecuting the CIA kidnappers was a charismatic figure, and because I wanted to see if he would succeed in his struggle against American lawlessness. Also, before the CIA kidnapped Abu Omar, the Italians seemed to have had him under thorough and fruitful surveillance, and the snatch appeared to have badly damaged Italy’s work against terrorists. This case, in other words, looked like a good example of how the ‘War on Terror’ made the West less safe. I was also intrigued because the victim was probably a terrorist, not an utter innocent, which added a shade of gray to a story that might otherwise have been more black and white. I wanted to see if I could make a convincing case that torture was wrong no matter who its victim was.”

I'm including the following just in case you'd like to read more about the author and the book - Synopsis and Why Steve Hendricks wrote the book - GO here

MEDIA on "Kidnapping in Milan" here

SEE more reports on Abou Elkassim Britel and Italy on CIA Suits to follow.

TV Mainstream Show - Place of Islam in the USA: Heated Town Hall Debate

ABC GO here Heated Debate Over Place of Islam in the United States: Should Americans Fear Islam (Full Story & 834 Comments)

My apology for that which is anything but intelligent and peace/justice oriented. Remember also that many if not most knowledgeable about Islam or desiring to understand a "different" perspective with openness may well not be going to ABC but rather another source...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bishops Meet on Middle East Peace Beginning Sunday October 10th

From October 10-24th

Special Assembly of Bishops for the Middle East Opens Sunday October 10th

Since the Community of Sant'Egidio has a special love and commission to care for the poor, perhaps this will be the missing "edge" for this event?


Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Community of Sant'Egidio, was appointed Auditor in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East which opens Sunday, October 10 at the Vatican.From October 10 to 24, at the Vatican, the Special Meeting for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops on: «The Catholic Church in the Middle East: communion and witness. "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4, 32)».The Secretary-General, with the approval of the Holy Father has appointed auditor, among others, Professor Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Community of Sant'Egidio.

LINKS: News on the Synod ( auditors (


See also the WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY events (be sure to add Stoning and Extra-Judicial Executions)Death Penalty USA here
Amnesty I and USA here and REPRIEVE (UK) here

ONGOING through October 14th: International Days of Action to End the War in Afghanistan - 2010

See events in: Springfield, OR | San Antonio, TX | Phoenix, AZ | Nashville, TN | New York, NY | Corvallis, OR | Tampa, FL

October 7 marks the 8th year of the war on Afghanistan. Join Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out as we continue to resist this ongoing war and occupation. Because of his increase of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, this is becoming President Obama's war and we must hold him accountable, however we must never forget that citizen money and citizen silence allows the war in Afghanistan to continue. Veterans For Peace encourages each chapter to hold local events to actively resist this war and occupation. VFP has been on the leading edge of those pressuring Obama to end this war - HELP US KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

International Days of Action to End the War in Afghanistan - 2010


WEBSITE for International Days of Action GO here All events will be listed here. If you have an event you would like listed, please add it to this online form.

See also VFP Working Groups

GO to VFP Website to also see:
GI Resistance
Latin America
Prosecute War Criminals
How is the War Economy Working for You?


Springfield, OR - Chapter 159
LOCATION OF EVENT: Gateway Mall, Springfield OR
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: In conjunction with other peace groups in our region, we will be staging a "die-in" at a local mall. Our goal is to vividly portray the sight of human beings killed in war.
TIME: 1600
DATE: 7 October


San Antonio, TX - Chapter 126

LOCATION OF EVENT: SanAnton,TX >CITY HALL north/corners...flores/commerce
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: 'PEACE-VIGIL' type bring own posters or stand w us FOR AS LONG AS YOU LIKE
TIME: 4-6 pm
DATE: Thursdays - oct 7
CONTACT INFORMATION: vfp/coord#126 larry skwarczynski also


Phoenix, AZ

NAME OF EVENT: Nine Years of War and Time to Rethink Afghanistan
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: Vigil and Teach-In on Afghanistan Speakers: Mike Hearington,Veterans for Peace who will show the Wikileaks video and will speak about the human "cost of war." In addition,Dr. Robert Gibbs from the University of AZ. and Linda Brown of AZ. Advocacy Network who will present the "Oreo Cookies" financial cost of the war.
TIME: 6-9 pm
DATE: October 7th, 2010
SPONSORED BY VFP CHAPTER: VFP Phoenix Chapter, part of End the War Coalition

Nashville, TN - Chapter 089
NAME OF EVENT: Vigil for Peace
LOCATION OF EVENT: in front of Centennial Park, across the street from Borders Books, at West End Ave and 25th Ave. Nashville
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: Vigil for Peace This is the 9th anniversary of the US's 2001 invasion in Afghanistan. The occupation continues, and escalates, with no end in sight. A few of us will rally -- standing on the sidewalk with signs visible to passing rush hour traffic -- in front of Centennial Park, across the street from Borders Books, at West End Ave and 25th Ave.
TIME: 4:30-6:30
DATE: Oct 7


New York, NY - Chapter 034
NAME OF EVENT: Anniversary Protest
LOCATION OF EVENT: Times Square Recruiting Station 43rd St. & Broadway, NYC
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 will join Gold Star Mothers, Military Families Speak Out, and others from 5 PM to 7 PM To mark this sad occasion. ALL are welcome.
TIME: 5 PM to 7 PM
DATE: October 7, 2010
CONTACT INFORMATION: Hugh Bruce, 347-312-2958


Corvallis, OR - Chapter 132

NAME OF EVENT: Demonstration and Vigil
LOCATION OF EVENT: Benton County Courthouse, Corvallis, Oregon
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: Veterans For Peace will join with other local peace activists for an hour-long demonstration and vigil which has been going on continuously, EVERY since the U.S. attacked Afghanistan on October 7th, 2001. We will be writing postcards to Bradley Manning, and signing petitions to urge our Congressmen to co-sponsor H.R. 6282, which would repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40).
TIME: 5:00 pm to 6:00
DATE: Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Tampa, FL
NAME OF EVENT: Vigil for Peace
LOCATION OF EVENT: 3699 West Gandy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33611
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: Description Observe the 9th Anniversary of the Invasion of Afghanistan 10-7-01 Saturday, October 16 from Noon to 1:30 PM Vigil for Peace is held on the corner of Dale mabry and Gandy just 2 kilomters North of the main gate of MacDill USAFB and the home of US Central Command and US Special "Black" Operations. Sponsors are members of Veterans for Peace, INC and other peace groups. We are there to honor the Warrior, but not the War and CALL to BRING ' EM HOME! We Vigil for those who do not have a voice, the innocent civilians who perished, and those of our brave men and women who have fallen. We know the cost of this war is hurting our economy and is not creatinf Jobs for Americans. Everyone is welcome to participate in this peaceful VIGIL FOR PEACE in Tampa, FL that is observed on the third weekend of every month on the sidewalks located on the sidewalks intersecting Dale Mabry Hwy and Gandy Blvd on the sidewalks near the CROSSTOWN MOBIL 3699 W GANDY BLVD TAMPA,FL 33611 I as a member of VFP, Inc and I call for a social/meal meeting after the event on Saturday and include all participants. Ranch House Grill (813) 831-9759 4426 W Gandy Blvd Tampa, FL (We need help to put up and take down a mock Arlington National Cemetery.)

TIME: Noon to 1:30 PM
DATE: October 16, 2010
CONTACT INFORMATION: Jay Alexander@727-525-8769,
SPONSORED BY VFP CHAPTER: Vigil for Peace is run by members of VFP