Tag Archive for 'war on terror'

US – The Land of Hypocrites

While condeming other countries for inhumane treatment of detainees the US Government is at the same time using the same inhumane treatment on its own detainees in a deliberate effort to break them.

I’m referring to the treatment of Bradley Manning, the person alleged to have leaked secret information to Wikileaks. He’s been held in solitary confinment for seven months now. He’s been denied pillows and blankets for no apparent reason. He’s not allowed to sleep when he wants to, and his one hour per day “exercise” time has strict limitations, for example he’s not allowed to run for some reason. There is no good reason for any of it. He’s not on suicide watch, although I guess if this keeps on going for much longer, he soon will be. It seems as if his treatment is entirely punitive. He’s been punished for something he’s not even been convicted yet. Not only that, but even if he was convicted his treatment would still not be appropriate.

There are significant second order consequences to treating people like this, as outlined in the article, but what’s most interesting is how the general opinion has changed in recent years to accept treatment of this kind, becase “those rotten terrorist belong in jail”. As described by Glenn Greenwald:

I think the worse part, is that very few people care what kind of conditions the incarcerated endure. We have essentially accepted prison-rape. The New Yorker piece asks is solitary confinement torture? I’d ask, even if it is torture, whether we even care?

It’s the perfect example of do as we say, not as we do. On the other hand the US is always preeching to other non-democratic nations how important human rights are and you savages are doing it wrong, and then on our own backyard we’re doing the EXACT same thing. Other countries are catching on to the deceit. So much for the “moral superiority”. It even looks like human rights organizations are investigating US for violations of human rights due to this.

And before some Internet tough guy starts accusing me of defending Bradley Manning’s actions…I’m doing no such thing. If he actually did what he’s alleged to have done, he’s guilty and deserves appropriate punishment for his crimes. Torture is not an appropriate punishment, especially since he hasn’t actually been convicted of anything yet.


Security Theatre in the Theatre District

Everyone seems to be quite pleased with themselves right now about “preventing” a new terror attack on New York City.

I do hope someone in an authoritative position in the Department of Homeland Security realizes soon that the bomb failed to detonate and it was only spotted after it was triggered.

Someone’s been planning the attack for some time, and nobody noticed. Someone loaded a car with gasoline and other explosives, drove it to mid-manhattan, and nobody noticed. Assuming the perpetrator(s) was/were foreign, they had to travel to US, and none of the lists and other security measures at the borders caught them.

What a great success this was.


Murders at Guantanamo Bay

Harper’s Magazine writes about a cover-up of murders of three Guantanamo Bay prisoners June 9th 2006.

The article convincingly documents how interrogators transferred three prisoners from their prison cells to a “black site” outside of the regular prison compound and tortured and killed them. The commanding officers at Guantanamo Bay then covered up the murders as suicides.

After a whistleblower came forward the Department of Justice also participated in the cover-up.


The New York Times documents war crimes by the US Government

A New York Times article documents the plight of a Pakistani citizen, Mr. Muhammad Saad Iqbal, who was arrested in Indonesia in 2002, then transferred to Egypt by CIA to be tortured.

He was finally released from Guantanamo Bay in August of 2008 after more than six months in captivity. He had repeatedly been cleared by lie detectors and other interrogation techniques of having anything to do with Al Qaeda. Yet it took the US six years to release this man.

He’s been on antibiotics for more than five years and is dependent on multiple drugs. He has multiple infections in his ears and suffers from injury to his back that’s making walking difficult. He’s attempted suicide twice and went on hunger strike three times while held illegally by the United States.

You have to wonder about a Government that’s supposed to be the champion of democracy and justice all over the world, and does things like this to innocent people. Here’s hoping a jury awards this man a multi-billion dollar settlement once his lawyers get around to suing the US Government for torture, kidnap and illegal detainment.


Police kill an innocent man, claim “we did nothing wrong”

The inquest into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes in London underground in 2005 is currently under way in UK.

The police killed Mr. de Menezes suspecting him to be a terrorist about to blow up the London underground during the hysteria surrounding the terrorist attacks in the London underground. Mr. de Menezes was mistakenly identified as a terrorist suspect when in fact he was just an ordinary person traveling in the underground. He was shot in the head at close range and killed by the police.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick had some interesting comments at the inquest:

But if you are asking me did we do anything wrong or unreasonable, then I don’t think we did.

The police shoot and kill an innocent man, and they have the audacity to say that? Incredible.


In Soviet Troy, the Government sanctions art

Upstate New York has been all up in arms about all kinds of things lately.

An Iraqi artist named Wafaa Bilal wanted to exhibit his project at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York. He was using a modified video game to have viewers view the Iraq war from the Iraqi point of view. And not just any Iraqi’s point of view, but a suicide bomber’s at that.

That didn’t go so well with the local neo-cons, who first got RPI to cancel the exhibit by pressuring them with withdrawn donations and “safety” issues. Apparently the FBI was also alerted about a possible “terrorist” threat.

A local art gallery called Sanctuary for Independent Media then decided to let Mr. Bilal exhibit there.

That wasn’t ok with the local neo-cons either, who continued to protest against the art exhibit. One of the leading voices protesting was one Robert Mirch, Republican Majority leader in the city of Troy.

The day before the exhibit was to go on, the Sanctuary for Independent Media premises were shut down by the Department of Public Works for building code violations. It appears that the doors of the 108-year-old building the gallery resides in were 3 inches too narrow. And that’s a violation. The gallery had been cited for the violation some time ago, and at that time given until mid April to correct the issues. It is not mid April yet. It just happens Mr. Mirch is the commissioner of the Department of Public Works in the city of Troy. What a coincidence!

Well done Robert! Keep up the good work up there in Troy! We are all so very proud of you.


Everyone crossing the border to the US is guilty until proven innocent

The Washington Post is writing about an alarming development in the “war on terror”.

It seems that instead of being content on just searching people’s electronic devices, without a warrant or other grounds, the US Customs officers are now copying information out of travelers’ laptops, cell phones, mp3 players and other electronic devices that store information on them.

Nobody’s been able to find out what they’re actually doing with the data after it’s been copied. Where is it stored, who sees it, what is done with the information. Nobody knows.

Everything seems to be free game. Call logs from cellphones, browsing histories from browsers, Word documents, etc.

Naturally companies whose employees travel out or into the US often are quite concerned. The Washington Post article lists several real concerns about this “policy”. How are they to protect trade secrets, sensitive information about clients or journalistic sources when the information can be copied at will by minimum wage flunkies on the US border.


Cover Your Ass Security

Bruce Schneier, a security expert, writes in Wired about how security policies in the US are based on cover your ass mentality rather than careful planning and assessment of real security threats.

He calls the concept Cover Your Ass Security. I’d call it After The Fact Security myself. He gives great examples of how security policy always changes after the fact as a response to a specific attack that already happened elsewhere.


Boston terror scare

Is it just me, or are those cartoon characters flipping the finger? If so, that’s strangely appropriate given what happened in Boston the other day.

See the linked article about a ABC News segment that pretty much sums up the whole “terrorist” plot angle quite nicely.

To commemorate the moment the people at raplica.com have created two most excellent T-Shirts:  Never Forget and ATHF is the bomb. Links via T-Critic.


Once a terrorist suspect, always a terrorist suspect?

A Syrian born Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, was detained in 2002 in JFK airport in New York, NY, USA on a connecting flight to Montreal. He was arrested under suspicion of terrorism, interrogated for 11 days by the FBI, then deported to Syria for further “interrogation”. Turns out the Syrians are rather fond of torturing their terror suspects. The FBI, of course, was completely unaware of this. Suuuuuuuuure.

The reason Mr. Arar was detained in New York was that Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had supplied the FBI information that was later found inaccurate.

The Canadian Government has issued a formal apology over its role in Mr. Arar’s detainment and torture and has agreed to pay about $10M in compensation to Mr. Arar as reported by CNews.

Meanwhile the US Government is refusing to apologize or remove Mr. Arar from the terrorism watch list. They refuse to investigate the issue at all.

It seems to be that in the name of the war on terror, the US Government is effectively terrorising innocent people.

How proud must Osama bin Laden be. Mission truly and utterly accomplished.