They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Martin Ingram on British Spies in N Ireland

Martin Ingram, a pseudonym, was a British Army (Force Research Unit) covert agent in Northern Ireland.

cryptome: ... Let us move on to the topical issue of agents. Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness know, only too well, how and why agents operate? They operate to provide both tactical and strategic intelligence upon the target and to allow the persons charged with operating those agents to make informed decisions. Those decisions will be designed to disrupt the effective running of the target and to influence its' own decisions into areas which are controllable and desired. In other words make the enemy do what you want it to do without it knowing because you want that target to operate for as long as possible believing it is operating to its own agenda.

Now when we all stop smirking we can get back to the serious business.

If you are a Republican one would assume rightly you would be asking the following question of the movement. How do we counter this type of activity? (Espionage - or spying for the layman).

The obvious questions a republican should have been asking over the last twenty-five years are some of the following.

Firstly, you would put yourself in your enemies mind and work out your own Vulnerable Points (VP). You would then - armed with this information - develop a sophisticated security department, whose sole job would be to analyse and expose any agents who work against your interests, just like the Brits have. It would be manned by dedicated and trustworthy individuals and rotated and at unpredictable intervals to disrupt any long-term infiltration. Republicans would know that the one unit in its army that could cause the most harm if compromised would be the Security/ Intelligence Department.

What did the IRA do under Adams/McGuinness leadership? It established a unit manned by one ex-British marine ( J J Magee) and promoted [db link] Freddie Scappaticci to his deputy. Read more

Deficient Brain Exclusive: Camel Wrestling Festival

[slightly off topic, but we got the rights]

New Years Day Special


The Winners and Losers
The scams and the sausages [animal welfare angle]
... more to be revealed News Years Day - before midnight ONLY at Deficient Brain

Happy new year Turkey

Iraq: Chalabi - Mr 0.36% - gets oil

mercurynews/washingtonpost: Iraq replaces oil minister in face of industry turmoil

As a fuel crisis deepened in Iraq, the government replaced its oil minister with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, whose poor performance in the Dec. 15 elections was a setback in his recent attempt at political rehabilitation.

The oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr Uloom, was put on a mandatory, monthlong leave. He had previously threatened to resign over the government's recent decision to increase gas prices sharply, a move that has outraged motorists and sparked attacks on gas stations and fuel convoys. Read more

Memos 'prove' UK used Uzbek torture evidence

scotsman: Memos 'prove evidence used from Uzbek secret police'

A former British ambassador has defied the Foreign Office and published damning confidential documents which he says show the government knowingly used intelligence obtained by torture overseas.

Craig Murray, formerly the ambassador to Uzbekistan, could face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act after placing a series of memos between himself and the Foreign Office on the internet.

Mr Murray was intending to use his controversial material in a forthcoming book on his experiences in the former Soviet republic, but last week the Foreign Office told him not to publish the documents.

Mr Murray says the memos are proof that the government decided to use information obtained through torture by the notorious Uzbek secret police because it was useful in prosecuting the "war on terror". Read more

President Carter 'distressed' by torture of 8 year olds

lewrockwell: Since his retirement by Ronald Reagan, President Carter has given active service to the causes of human rights and peace. He has written a number of books, and now he has delivered a humdinger: Our Endangered Values (Simon & Schuster, 2005) in which he takes the Bush administration to task.

...Carter notes that the illegal detentions following 9/11 were hurriedly legalized by dubious methods which violate a number of constitutional protections of civil liberties. Carter is distressed that children as young as 8 years old are being held in indefinite detention and tortured. Confronted by Seymour Hersh, a Pentagon spokesman replied that "age is not a determining factor in detention." Read more

British and Greek Spies and Torturers Named

Greek/British torture - Cryptome has the timeline

Google List of Craig Murray Torture Docs

Exposed - UK government lies over torture

db: D notice? We are only sorry that we were late in publishing due to activities elsewhere. db look forward to imprisonment/martyrdom and consequential spin-off benefits.

December 29, 2005

Damning documentary evidence unveiled. Dissident bloggers in coordinated expose of UK government lies over torture.

Help us beat the British government's gagging order by mirroring this information on your own site or blog!

Constituent:"This question is for Mr Straw; Have you ever read any
documents where the intelligence has been procured through torturous means?"

Jack Straw: "Not to the best of my knowledge... let me make this clear... the British government does not support torture in any circumstances. Full stop. We do not support the obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use." - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, election hustings, Blackburn, April 2005
I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture... On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood. - Ambassador Craig Murray, memo to the Foreign Office, July 2004

With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition, the UK government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers.

The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.

Craig Murray is refusing to do this. Instead, the documents are today being published simultaneously on blogs all around the world.

The first document contains the text of several telegrams that Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful".

The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Craig Murray says:

In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.

After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this.

First document: Confidential letters from Uzbekistan

Letter #1
FM Tashkent
TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts

16 September 02

SUBJECT: US/Uzbekistan: Promoting Terrorism

US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and cynical policy.


The Economist of 7 September states: "Uzbekistan, in particular, has jailed many thousands of moderate Islamists, an excellent way of converting their families and friends to extremism." The Economist also spoke of "the growing despotism of Mr Karimov" and judged that "the past year has seen a further deterioration of an already grim human rights record". I agree.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners are currently detained, many after trials before kangaroo courts with no representation. Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights. Opposition political parties remain banned. There is no doubt that September 11 gave the pretext to crack down still harder on dissent under the guise of counter-terrorism.

Yet on 8 September the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in both human rights and democracy, thus fulfilling a constitutional requirement and allowing the continuing disbursement of $140 million of US aid to Uzbekistan this year. Human Rights Watch immediately published a commendably sober and balanced rebuttal of the State Department claim.

Again we are back in the area of the US accepting sham reform [a reference to my previous telegram on the economy]. In August media censorship was abolished, and theoretically there are independent media outlets, but in practice there is absolutely no criticism of President Karimov or the central government in any Uzbek media. State Department call this self-censorship: I am not sure that is a fair way to describe an unwillingness to experience the brutal methods of the security services.

Similarly, following US pressure when Karimov visited Washington, a human rights NGO has been permitted to register. This is an advance, but they have little impact given that no media are prepared to cover any of their activities or carry any of their statements.
The final improvement State quote is that in one case of murder of a prisoner the police involved have been prosecuted. That is an improvement, but again related to the Karimov visit and does not appear to presage a general change of policy. On the latest cases of torture deaths the Uzbeks have given the OSCE an incredible explanation, given the nature of the injuries, that the victims died in a fight between prisoners.

But allowing a single NGO, a token prosecution of police officers and a fake press freedom cannot possibly outweigh the huge scale of detentions, the torture and the secret executions. President Karimov has admitted to 100 executions a year but human rights groups believe there are more. Added to this, all opposition parties remain banned (the President got a 98% vote) and the Internet is strictly controlled. All Internet providers must go through a single government server and access is barred to many sites including all dissident and opposition sites and much international media (including, ironically, This is in essence still a totalitarian state: there is far less freedom than still prevails, for example, in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. A Movement for Democratic Change or any judicial independence would be impossible here.

Karimov is a dictator who is committed to neither political nor economic reform. The purpose of his regime is not the development of his country but the diversion of economic rent to his oligarchic supporters through government controls. As a senior Uzbek academic told me privately, there is more repression here now than in Brezhnev's time. The US are trying to prop up Karimov economically and to justify this support they need to claim that a process of economic and political reform is underway. That they do so claim is either cynicism or self-delusion.

This policy is doomed to failure. Karimov is driving this resource-rich country towards economic ruin like an Abacha. And the policy of increasing repression aimed indiscriminately at pious Muslims, combined with a deepening poverty, is the most certain way to ensure continuing support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They have certainly been decimated and disorganised in Afghanistan, and Karimov's repression may keep the lid on for years -- but pressure is building and could ultimately explode.

I quite understand the interest of the US in strategic airbases and why they back Karimov, but I believe US policy is misconceived. In the short term it may help fight terrorism but in the medium term it will promote it, as the Economist points out. And it can never be right to lower our standards on human rights. There is a complex situation in Central Asia and it is wrong to look at it only through a prism picked up on September 12. Worst of all is what appears to be the philosophy underlying the current US view of Uzbekistan: that September 11 divided the World into two camps in the "War against Terrorism" and that Karimov is on "our" side.

If Karimov is on "our" side, then this war cannot be simply between the forces of good and evil. It must be about more complex things, like securing the long-term US military presence in Uzbekistan. I silently wept at the 11 September commemoration here. The right words on New York have all been said. But last week was also another anniversary -- the US-led overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. The subsequent dictatorship killed, dare I say it, rather more people than died on September 11. Should we not remember then also, and learn from that too? I fear that we are heading down the same path of US-sponsored dictatorship here. It is ironic that the beneficiary is perhaps the most unreformed of the World's old communist leaders.
We need to think much more deeply about Central Asia. It is easy to place Uzbekistan in the "too difficult" tray and let the US run with it, but I think they are running in the wrong direction. We should tell them of the dangers we see. Our policy is theoretically one of engagement, but in practice this has not meant much. Engagement makes sense, but it must mean grappling with the problems, not mute collaboration. We need to start actively to state a distinctive position on democracy and human rights, and press for a realistic view to be taken in the IMF. We should continue to resist pressures to start a bilateral DFID programme, unless channelled non-governmentally, and not restore ECGD cover despite the constant lobbying. We should not invite Karimov to the UK. We should step up our public diplomacy effort, stressing democratic values, including more resources from the British Council. We should increase support to human rights activists, and strive for contact with non-official Islamic groups.

Above all we need to care about the 22 million Uzbek people, suffering from poverty and lack of freedom. They are not just pawns in the new Great Game.


Letter #2
Fm Tashkent

18 March 2003


1. As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.


2. Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom.

3. Uzbekistan's geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here, and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the buildings from ten to twenty five years.

4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid -- more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov's vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He -- and they -- are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?

5. I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply have not happened (I see these are quoted in the draft EBRD strategy for Uzbekistan, again I understand at American urging).

6. From Tashkent it is difficult to agree that we and the US are activated by shared values. Here we have a brutal US sponsored dictatorship reminiscent of Central and South American policy under previous US Republican administrations. I watched George Bush talk today of Iraq and "dismantling the apparatus of terror… removing the torture chambers and the rape rooms". Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international fora. Double standards? Yes.

7. I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the US, at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan.

Letter #3


OF 220939 JULY 04




1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.


4. In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA. I queried the legality, efficacy and morality of the practice.

5. I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture.

6. On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood.

7. Sir Michael Jay's circular of 26 May stated that there was a reporting obligation on us to report torture by allies (and I have been instructed to refer to Uzbekistan as such in the context of the war on terror). You, Sir, have made a number of striking, and I believe heartfelt, condemnations of torture in the last few weeks. I had in the light of this decided to return to this question and to highlight an apparent contradiction in our policy. I had intimated as much to the Head of Eastern Department.

8. I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear that without informing me of the meeting, or since informing me of the result of the meeting, a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture. As the office knew, I was in London at the time and perfectly able to attend the meeting. I still have only gleaned that it happened.

9. I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured. Indeed this is true – the material is marked with a euphemism such as "From detainee debriefing." The argument runs that if the individual is not named, we cannot prove that he was tortured.

10. I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture. I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact

11. The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention;

"The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights."

While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also.

12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer:

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

13. Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless -- we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform.

14. I was taken aback when Matthew Kydd said this stuff was valuable. Sixteen months ago it was difficult to argue with SIS in the area of intelligence assessment. But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat. That is precisely what the Uzbeks give them. Furthermore MI6 have no operative within a thousand miles of me and certainly no expertise that can come close to my own in making this assessment.

15. At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.

16. I have been considering Michael Wood's legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material.

17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael's views on this.

18. It seems to me that there are degrees of complicity and guilt, but being at one or two removes does not make us blameless. There are other factors. Plainly it was a breach of Article 3 of the Convention for the coalition to deport detainees back here from Baghram, but it has been done. That seems plainly complicit.

19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale.


Second Document - summary of legal opinion from Michael Wood arguing that it is legal to use information extracted under torture:

From: Michael Wood, Legal Advisor

Date: 13 March 2003

CC: PS/PUS; Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield


1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

"Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made."

3. This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.


M C Wood
Legal Adviser

Posted by richard on December 29, 2005 02:22 PM in the category 7 UK Policy
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Friday, December 30, 2005

Poland in Iraq for the money shock

bloomberg: Polish President Lech Kaczynski agreed in his first major decision since taking up office a week ago to keep troops in Iraq for another year, contrasting with previous leaders' pledges to pull out at the end of 2005.

"In response to the prime minister's request, President Kaczynski prolonged the stay of 1,500 Polish soldiers and military personnel by Dec. 31, 2006,'' the president's press office said on its Web site yesterday evening. According to the Polish constitution, the president is head of the country's armed forces.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said on Dec. 27 that the Iraqi government had asked Poland to keep its forces there. Iraq held its first nationwide parliamentary elections since the U.S.-led military invasion of March 2003 on Dec. 15.

The Polish government wants closer ties with the newly elected Iraqi leaders in the hope of winning more business in the rebuilding of the country, Marcinkiewicz said. Poland has earmarked 131 million zloty ($40 million) in next year's budget for a prolonged military presence, he said.

Seventy-five percent of Poles oppose their country's involvement in Iraq, according to a June survey for the Warsaw-based Center for Public Research. Ukraine and Bulgaria, whose soldiers serve in a multinational force under Polish command, are pulling their troops out completely by the end of this year, while the U.K. and Italy have said they will scale back their presence. Read more

db: You want secret CIA prison? You want troops for illegal war? Anything is possible - just show us the money.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Iraq: Annan welcomes establishment of team to examine election complaints Emphasizing that Iraqis who have complaints about their recent elections should get a hearing, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the decision by the International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) to establish a team of experts to examine the issue.

The team, which will include two representatives from the League of Arab States, is set to assess developments since 15 December, when parliamentary elections were held and its interim report was issued.

In welcoming the IMIE move, the Secretary-General also voiced strong support for ongoing efforts by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) to investigate and audit all complaints received before certifying the results of those elections.

In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Annan said the UN has encouraged the IECI to invite additional international observers to support this process. "It is critical that those Iraqi groups who have complained about the conduct of the election are given a hearing," he said. "This team of assessors, which was not involved in the conduct of the elections, offers an independent evaluation of these complaints." Read more

Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia

knightridder: Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

Five days of interviews with Kurdish leaders and troops in the region suggest that U.S. plans to bring unity to Iraq before withdrawing American troops by training and equipping a national army aren't gaining traction. Instead, some troops that are formally under U.S. and Iraqi national command are preparing to protect territory and ethnic and religious interests in the event of Iraq's fragmentation, which many of them think is inevitable. Read more

Sabotage, bad weather stop Iraq oil exports

reutersalertnet: A sabotage attack in the north and bad weather in the south have stopped Iraq's oil exports through land and sea, oil officials said on Thursday. Loadings at the Basra terminal offshore in the Gulf has been halted since December 25 due to storms and an explosion on Thursday cut pipeline flows to Turkey's Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean, they said. The pipeline, which has been mostly idle since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, only resumed operations last week. The security situation also forced Iraq's biggest refinery at Baiji north of Baghdad to shut down, an Oil Ministry spokesman said.Iraqi oil exports in November fell to 1.21 million barrels per day, their lowest in more than two years as the northern pipeline to Turkey stayed shut and poor weather delayed loadings in the south. Falling oil exports and fuel shortages, especially gasoline, have raised the level of popular frustration with the performance of successive Iraqi governments since Saddam Hussein was removed from power in April 2003. Link

FT: Iraqis look to raise oil output next year
Iraq hopes to boost oil production by 25 per cent in 2006 in line with a government plan that sees rising oil revenue reinvested in the petroleum sector but also requires foreign investment, the country's finance minister said on Wednesday "We hope....we'll be able to bring our production to at least 2.5 million barrels (per day) to 2.6m barrels by the end of 2006" Ali Allawi said. Iraq currently produces around 2m barrels per day. Read more

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

al-Zarqawi's days now numbered!

reutersalertnet: Interpol issues wanted notice for Qaeda Iraq chief

The world police body Interpol has issued an international wanted notice for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, tapping its global network to seek the arrest of the al Qaeda leader in Iraq.

Interpol said on Wednesday it had issued the so-called Red Notice at the request of Algeria, which wants Zarqawi arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of two Algerian diplomats in Iraq in July.

"This will decrease the likelihood that such a notorious suspect will be able to evade detection," Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said in a statement from the organisation's headquarters in Lyon, France. Read more

db: The US must have put them up to it.

Robert Fisk: Telling it like it isn't

ICH/latimes: I first realized the enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East when I went some years ago to say goodbye to a colleague from the Boston Globe. I expressed my sorrow that he was leaving a region where he had obviously enjoyed reporting. I could save my sorrows for someone else, he said. One of the joys of leaving was that he would no longer have to alter the truth to suit his paper's more vociferous readers.

"I used to call the Israeli Likud Party 'right wing,' " he said. "But recently, my editors have been telling me not to use the phrase. A lot of our readers objected." And so now, I asked? "We just don't call it 'right wing' anymore."

Ouch. I knew at once that these "readers" were viewed at his newspaper as Israel's friends, but I also knew that the Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu was as right wing as it had ever been.

This is only the tip of the semantic iceberg that has crashed into American journalism in the Middle East. Illegal Jewish settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land are clearly "colonies," and we used to call them that. I cannot trace the moment when we started using the word "settlements." But I can remember the moment around two years ago when the word "settlements" was replaced by "Jewish neighborhoods" - or even, in some cases, "outposts."

Similarly, "occupied" Palestinian land was softened in many American media reports into "disputed" Palestinian land - just after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, in 2001, instructed U.S. embassies in the Middle East to refer to the West Bank as "disputed" rather than "occupied" territory.

Then there is the "wall," the massive concrete obstruction whose purpose, according to the Israeli authorities, is to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from killing innocent Israelis. In this, it seems to have had some success. But it does not follow the line of Israel's 1967 border and cuts deeply into Arab land. And all too often these days, journalists call it a "fence" rather than a "wall." Or a "security barrier," which is what Israel prefers them to say. For some of its length, we are told, it is not a wall at all - so we cannot call it a "wall," even though the vast snake of concrete and steel that runs east of Jerusalem is higher than the old Berlin Wall.

The semantic effect of this journalistic obfuscation is clear. If Palestinian land is not occupied but merely part of a legal dispute that might be resolved in law courts or discussions over tea, then a Palestinian child who throws a stone at an Israeli soldier in this territory is clearly acting insanely.

If a Jewish colony built illegally on Arab land is simply a nice friendly "neighborhood," then any Palestinian who attacks it must be carrying out a mindless terrorist act.

And surely there is no reason to protest a "fence" or a "security barrier" - words that conjure up the fence around a garden or the gate arm at the entrance to a private housing complex.

For Palestinians to object violently to any of these phenomena thus marks them as a generically vicious people. By our use of language, we condemn them.

We follow these unwritten rules elsewhere in the region. American journalists frequently used the words of U.S. officials in the early days of the Iraqi insurgency - referring to those who attacked American troops as "rebels" or "terrorists" or "remnants" of the former regime. The language of the second U.S. pro-consul in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, was taken up obediently - and grotesquely - by American journalists.

American television, meanwhile, continues to present war as a bloodless sandpit in which the horrors of conflict - the mutilated bodies of the victims of aerial bombing, torn apart in the desert by wild dogs - are kept off the screen. Editors in New York and London make sure that viewers' "sensitivities" don't suffer, that we don't indulge in the "pornography" of death (which is exactly what war is) or "dishonor" the dead whom we have just killed.

Our prudish video coverage makes war easier to support, and journalists long ago became complicit with governments in making conflict and death more acceptable to viewers. Television journalism has thus become a lethal adjunct to war.

Back in the old days, we used to believe - did we not? - that journalists should "tell it how it is." Read the great journalism of World War II and you'll see what I mean. The Ed Murrows and Richard Dimblebys, the Howard K. Smiths and Alan Moorheads didn't mince their words or change their descriptions or run mealy-mouthed from the truth because listeners or readers didn't want to know or preferred a different version.

So let's call a colony a colony, let's call occupation what it is, let's call a wall a wall. And maybe express the reality of war by showing that it represents not, primarily, victory or defeat, but the total failure of the human spirit. Link

Iraqi police shoot dead prisoners

reuters/asharqalawsat: Iraqi police shot dead several prisoners in a shootout on Wednesday at a Baghdad military base after one prisoner grabbed a weapon from a guard and opened fire, Interior Ministry officials and police sources said.

Up to six guards were killed, one police source said, before security forces began firing into the unarmed prisoners.

There was confusion over casualty figures. Another police source and an Interior Ministry official initially said more than 20 prisoners were killed but a second official insisted there were 15 casualties in all, some only wounded, and that these included one dead guard and one wounded officer.

Later, a source at Baghdad police headquarters said it was still unclear just how many people were killed but that the first prisoner to seize a rifle had shot dead six guards.

The various accounts converged in saying that the trouble began when the prisoner grabbed a weapon from one of the guards and shot him. One Interior Ministry official said that the guard was wounded while a second prisoner also took a Kalashnikov rifle from another guard and shot him dead.

A police source said the prisoners, being held at the Adala Iraqi army base -- known to U.S. forces as Camp Justice -- in the northern, Shi''ite district of Kadhimiya, were on a morning recreation break when the incident began. Read more

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Iraq: Elected Sunnis can't serve

knightridder/thestate: An Iraqi court has ruled that some of the most prominent Sunni Muslims who were elected to parliament last week won't be allowed to serve because officials suspect they were high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

Knight Ridder obtained a copy of the court ruling, which has yet to be circulated to the public.

The ruling likely will dampen Bush administration hopes that the election would bring more of the disaffected Sunni minority into Iraq's political process and undermine Sunni support for the insurgency.

Instead, the decision is likely to stoke fears of widening sectarian divisions in a nation already in danger of descending into civil war.

Adil al Lami, the chief electoral official of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, told Knight Ridder that he would honor the court's decision and that none of the accused Sunnis would appear on the final list of parliament members.

The commission is still counting ballots and said it would have the final list of winners sometime next month. Link

'Little Red Book' prank ends in tears

southcoasttoday: The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.
The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.
Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.
But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details. Read more

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Iraq: U.S. Airstrikes Take Toll on Civilians

washingtonpost: U.S. Marine airstrikes targeting insurgents sheltering in Iraqi residential neighborhoods are killing civilians as well as guerrillas along the Euphrates River in far western Iraq, according to Iraqi townspeople and officials and the U.S. military.

Just how many civilians have been killed is strongly disputed by the Marines and, some critics say, too little investigated. But townspeople, tribal leaders, medical workers and accounts from witnesses at the sites of clashes, at hospitals and at graveyards indicated that scores of noncombatants were killed last month in fighting, including airstrikes, in the opening stages of a 17-day U.S.-Iraqi offensive in Anbar province.

These people died silently, complaining to God of a guilt they did not commit," Zahid Mohammed Rawi, a physician, said in the town of Husaybah. Rawi said that roughly one week into Operation Steel Curtain, which began on Nov. 5, medical workers had recorded 97 civilians killed. At least 38 insurgents were also killed in the offensive's early days, Rawi said.

In a Husaybah school converted to a makeshift hospital, Rawi, four other doctors and a nurse treated wounded Iraqis in the opening days of the offensive, examining bloodied children as anxious fathers soothed them and held them down.

"I dare any organization, committee or the American Army to deny these numbers," Rawi said.

... The number of airstrikes carried out each month by U.S. aircraft rose almost fivefold this year, from roughly 25 in January to 120 in November, according to a tally provided by the military. Accounts by residents, officials and witnesses in Anbar and the Marines themselves make clear that Iraqi civilians are frequently caught in the attacks.

On Nov. 7, the third day of the offensive, witnesses watched from the roof of a public building in Husaybah as U.S. warplanes struck homes in the town's Kamaliyat neighborhood. After fires ignited by the fighting had died down, witnesses observed residents removing the bodies of what neighbors said was a family -- mother, father, 14-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy and 5-year-old boy -- from the rubble of one house.

Survivors said insurgents had been firing mortars from yards in the neighborhood just before the airstrikes. Residents pleaded with the guerrillas to leave for fear of drawing attacks on the families, they said, but were told by the fighters that they had no other space from which to attack. Read more

US commission a 'group of shit-eaters' - Castro Fidel Castro, the Cuban president, has dismissed Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, as mad woman deserving of pity.

His comments came in response to a meeting that Rice held this week with a US government commission intended to prepare for a "democratic transition" in Cuba after Castro.

"I am going to tell you what I think about this famous commission: they are a group of shit-eaters who do not deserve the world's respect," Castro told the Cuban parliament.

"In this context, it does not matter if it was the mad woman who talks of transition - it is a circus, they are completely depraved, they should be pitied."

Castro's assessment of Rice and the commission came after comments on Thursday, when he called Michael Parmly, head of the US interests section in Havana, a "little gangster". Read more

Allegations of ill-treatment after protest by Iraqi detainees

guardian: Detainees held by the British army in Iraq have been involved in disturbances this week in protest at being held without charge or trial, the Guardian has learned.

The governor of Basra has made representations to the British after complaints by family members who say that their relatives have gone on hunger strike in the Shaiba detention facility south of Basra.

Families of the men say that they were prevented from visiting their relatives on Thursday and blocked the road to the base in protest. They say that when a few did gain access they heard allegations of beatings and of men being attacked by dogs. Read more

Egypt jails Ayman Nour

Opposition politician Ayman Nour supporters cry in despair outside a court in Cairo December 24, 2005. An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced Nour, a former presidential candidate, to five years in jail on forgery charges. Reuters/Tara Todras-Whitehill

Friday, December 23, 2005

New Warrants For CIA Operatives

cnn/ap: A judge has issued European arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA operatives in connection with the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from a Milan street in 2003, a prosecutor said Friday.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro said the warrants allowed for the arrest of the suspects in any of the 25 EU member countries. Previously, Italy had issued arrest warrants for the 22 inside Italy.

Spataro has already sought the extradition of the 22 from the U.S. However, the request has remained with Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, who has sought more court documentation on the case before making any decision on whether to forward it to Washington, Spataro said.

Earlier this week, Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a top U.S. ally, suggested the government may not push the prosecutors' request with Washington saying, "I don't think there is any basis in the case." Read more

Rumsfeld and Blair in Synchronized Iraq display

washingtonpost: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced today that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq would be reduced by two brigades early next year, a move which would cut U.S. forces there by 8,000 to 10,000 troops.

The "adjustment," as Rumsfeld called it, would leave between 129,000 and 131,000 troops in the country, down from a baseline of 138,000. That baseline number was augmented for Iraq's election by another 12,000 troops. Read more

reuters: British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a lightning trip to Iraq, said on Thursday that the situation was entirely different from a year ago and signaled Britain could start scaling down its troop presence in six months. Blair, on his fourth trip to Iraq since the 2003 U.S-led invasion, said good progress was being made in training Iraqi security and police forces to protect the country. Read more

U.S. Exit Strategy in Iraq: Hand Quagmire to Iran

pacificnews: Arab media are tracking Iran's continued importance to U.S. policymakers seeking a way out of Iraq.

For Arab media commentators across the region, the provocative speeches of Iran's new president merely aim to distract attention from that country's increasingly central role in Washington's emerging exit strategy from Iraq.

"The (American) decision to open direct contacts with Iran means that Iraq will be handed over to Iran," Fadel Al Rabee, a spokesman for the National Iraqi Alliance, told "Behind the News," a daily news program on Al Jazeera. "The U.S. is ignoring the Saudi advice not to do so. Instead, they are allowing the Iranian influence to grow stronger in Iraq," Al Rabee added.

He said the U.S. exit strategy is similar to the one used by the French to drag the Americans into Vietnam before they left. In this way Shiite Iran will become a "partner in the occupation of Iraq" and inevitably find itself head-to-head with the Sunni-led national Iraqi resistance.

"The U.S. is helpless in Iraq and needs Iran in Southern Iraq and to negotiate with the Shiites," Al Watan Al Arabi magazine quotes Ayatollah Mahdi Haeri, a spokesman of the Iranian Muslim Scholars Abroad. "The Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jafari, who keeps saying that the U.S. must speak with Iran to achieve security in Iraq, is trying to mediate a deal between Iran and the U.S.," Maeri adds.

There is already speculation that 50,000 U.S. soldiers will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2006 and the rest will be stationed in 12 American bases throughout the country. According to Al Jazeera, the U.S. Congress has allocated $236 million to build another permanent base in 2005.

Abdel Al Barri Atwan, chief editor of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper writes that the Americans have realized that their policies toward Iraq have increased Iran's influence in Iraq, and are looking for ways to take advantage of this reality.

At the same time, Atwan says the United States is planning to exploit Arab countries' growing animosity toward Iran by selling them tons of weapons. Atwan adds, "Just like the Gulf countries were fooled into spending their wealth for American weapons to fight Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, they might be fooled again to spend their huge surplus from the increase in oil prices to do the same thing." Read more

BAE Systems says UK, Saudi Arabia sign agreement on closer defence ties

Asia Times:Iran and the US exit strategy in Iraq

Thursday, December 22, 2005

UK Court backs ruling on death of Iraqi

FT: The government has lost its challenge to a ruling that had overturned its refusal to order an "independent and effective" inquiry into the death of an Iraqi civilian who was allegedly killed unlawfully by British troops.

The man was Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old hotel worker, who was arrested with eight other men at a hotel in Basra two years ago. However, families of five other Iraqi civilians who are seeking inquiries into their deaths but were denied by the High Court, lost their appeals.

Meanwhile, the three Court of Appeal judges gave both the government and the families permission to seek a final decision from the House of Lords.

Shami Chakrabati, the director of Liberty, thecivil and human rights group, said: "The government should be warned that the House of Lords may well go much further than the Court of Appeal. Link

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Iraq: This difficult, noble, and necessary cause

And tonight, I ask all of you listening to carefully consider the stakes of this war, to realize how far we have come and the good we are doing ... and to have patience in this difficult, noble, and necessary cause. - Bush

Independent: ... The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.

Islamic fundamentalist movements are ever more powerful in both the Sunni and Shia communities. Ghassan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator, said: "In two and a half years Bush has succeeded in creating two new Talibans in Iraq." Read more

India, China partner in $573m Syrian oil deal - more to come?

asiatimes: India, China pin down $573m Syria deal

India and China, the most aggressive shoppers for oil and gas assets in the world, and normally archrivals in the race for overseas oilfields, have finally come together to pursue their energy security in the global arena.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the two largest oil companies in the respective countries, announced on December 20 that they had jointly won a bid to acquire 37% of Petro-Canada's stake in Syrian oilfields for US$573 million. ONGC and CNPC, both state-owned, will have equal stakes in the al-Furat oil and gas fields.

"We are very excited about this breakthrough of joint acquisitions with CNPC," said Subir Raha, the chairman of ONGC, who maintains a very high profile in not only the country's oil and gas industry but the globally as well.

"CNPC and ONGC have been working together as joint operators in Sudan for the last three years. While we have worked together as joint operators and have gained confidence in each other's technical capabilities, we had never joined hands to own a foreign property jointly. This [will] be the first time, then, that an Indian company [will] acquire an oil property along with a Chinese company."

Indeed, as experts have said, although in monetary terms a $573-million deal may not be very significant, this one is significant because ONGC's overseas arm ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) had competed with Chinese firms for oil properties in Central Asia, West Africa and Latin America in the recent past. Read more

Iraqis Reject Increased Fuel Costs

Tyres burn as Iraqis protest against the increase in fuel prices, in
the southern city of Basra, 500 kms from Baghdad. Thousands of
angry Iraqis took to the streets to protest government-imposed
gasoline price increases as the oil minister threatened to resign if
the measure was not reversed.(AFP/Essam Al-Sudani)

Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

IPS: For two days demonstrations have continued across Iraq in protest against the government's decision to raise the price of petrol, cooking and heating fuels.

With costs increased up to nine-fold, Iraq's oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum has threatened to resign. Yet this has done nothing to quell the outburst of anger in Iraqis towards the sudden and drastic price hike.

Iraq's Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told reporters that the Cabinet raised the prices in order to curb a growing black market. Jihad said that kerosene prices were raised fivefold, cooking gas threefold, and diesel was raised nine-fold.

Iraqi response to the recent hiking of fuel prices has been one of indignation and disapproval.

''Are we responsible for fuelling the American occupation forces with petrol from our refineries?" asked Akram Mohamed, a consumer. ''Can you believe they receive our gasoline then use it to kill our people? This is something unacceptable to every honorable Iraqi!"

''It's a gift from the government after the elections," said Mohamed sarcastically, ''Nobody wants the responsibility of raising the fuel prices and they are afraid to announce it. That's why they raised it the day after the elections."

Mohamed, who told IPS he had been driving his car as a taxi for decades, believed the incoming government did not want to be responsible for raising the fuel costs and believed members in the current government were following orders from the U.S.

''This is the kind of sovereignty we Iraqis have," he added, while waiting in a fuel line.

Announcement of the price increase on the Dec. 19 brought clashes between police and demonstrators in Amarah, 290 km southeast of Baghdad. When demonstrators refused to leave the front of the provincial government headquarters, scuffles ensued.

Meanwhile in Tikrit, over 500 people protested, while demonstrators marched in the streets of Najaf, Suleiminiyah, Kut, Kerbala, Baghdad, Samawa and many smaller cities.

On the same day roads and petrol stations in Basra were blocked by hundreds of demonstrators who burned tires and protested in front of the governor's headquarters.

The price for a liter of locally produced fuel was increased seven-fold to around 12 cents per liter.

While black market prices are already eight times the amount of those at petrol stations, some stations in Baghdad were charging 11 times the amount of the normal price - a phenomenon which led many Iraqis to believe some of the stations were taking advantage of the already huge price increase.

Ahmed Chalabi, accused of providing false information to the Bush Administration which led to the invasion of Iraq and who is now Iraq's deputy Prime Minister, justified the government's decision by stating that 330 million dollar of the funds generated by the increase would ''be redistributed to poor families''. [db: less 60% handling charge]

''I heard Ahmed Chalabi say that those of us who don't have cars are missing out on how the government is helping the Iraqi people," said 36 year-old Ismael Hamoudi, ''To hell with that bastard for lying about helping when so many people are now suffering; this will affect everything in the market. Now all our food will be more expensive since it is brought from outside the city and who will pay for the increased transportation cost? We will, because everything will be more expensive now!"

The Iraqi government in Baghdad has defended the move, saying it was made in order to help jump-start the flagging economy in Iraq by generating 500 million dollar with the move.

Shortly after protesters in Basra temporarily blocked the main road between Basra, Amarah and Baghdad, the governor of Basra, Mohammed al- Waeli, called an emergency provincial council meeting. During the meeting members decided not to honor the price increases, and orders were given to petrol stations to respect the decision.

Amjad Abdul Qadr, a 21 year-old college student at Jadriya University in Baghdad, expressed deep concern over the higher prices.

''I'm filling my father's car now but we have no extra money anymore," he told IPS, ''How can we exist with prices so high?"

Since the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi government has subsidized fuel prices. However, today the U.S.-backed Iraqi government is under pressure from the World Bank, headed by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, to cut the subsidies which have been keeping the fuel prices down.

Iraq is currently importing nearly half of all its fuel, with the government spending over 6 billion dollar each year on the importing of oil products from other countries.

Amjad's father, 55 year-old teacher Mr. Abdul Qadr said, ''Those bastards ruling Iraq now are animals. I will have to keep my son from going to school so he can work with me. I have seven girls to finance, to hell with school. We can't find bread to feed them."

Qadr expressed worries common to many Iraqis since the announcement was made by the government: that he should sell his car, take another job, find a way to make both ends meet.

"We don't have our car for entertainment but for survival," he added, "What I would like to tell the new government is that by doing this now they are digging their graves, but they should know there will be a day when everybody will have his revenge on them."

Less than three days after the initial announcement was made in Baghdad, at least two more of Iraq's 18 provinces have, like Basra, rejected the price hike.

With the southern provinces Misan, Basra and Dhi Qar having refused to implement the government increase and Iraqis around the country seething with anger, it appears likely other provinces will join in the rejection. Link

Feds visit student who requested 'Little Red Book'

southcoasttoday: Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior

A senior at UMass [University of Massachusetts] Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.
The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."
Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.

The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.

The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.

The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung.

In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book.

The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said. Read more

Link from cryptome

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

U.K. minister 'lied over CIA flights'

UPI: The British Foreign Office privately accepts that CIA rendition flights did pass through its territory, a diplomatic source told United Press International.

The well-placed source said the Foreign Office "totally accepts" that the United States used British airfields to transfer prisoners abroad for interrogation, and is "extremely worried" about the political consequences.

The revelation comes amid growing signs of divergence between London and Washington over the way in which the war on terror should be conducted.

When British Prime Minister Tony Blair learnt in April 2003 that the United States had bombed a Baghdad hotel in which several media organizations were housed, killing three journalists, he "literally jumped out of his chair," the source told UPI. The Foreign Office was "horrified," considering the attack to be "obscene," the source said.

London took the same attitude towards a U.S. suggestion that it would attack the Qatar headquarters of the Arabic language television al-Jazeera, the source said.

Foreign Office officials threatened to resign if the Americans went ahead with the attacks, revealed in a Downing Street memo leaked to the British media earlier this year.

Blair reportedly talked U.S. President George W. Bush out of the attacks, warning it could fuel a worldwide backlash. The Mirror newspaper quoted a source as saying: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it."

The government has threatened newspaper editors with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if they publish further details of the memo.

Ministers appear desperate to dispel any signs of a rift between London and Washington over methods used in the "war on terror."

The revelation that the Foreign Office accepts that CIA rendition flights passed through Britain comes in direct contrast to official denials by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who last week "categorically" denied that any such flights had taken place.

He told the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday: "Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories, that officials are lying, that I'm lying ... that Secretary Rice (U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) is lying, there is simply no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition."

However, the source told UPI that although the Foreign Office had not known of the CIA rendition flights at the time, it was now aware that it should have known.

Ministers were "extremely worried" about the issue, the source said. Both Downing Street and the Foreign Office were simply "hoping it is going to go away."

It is alleged some 210 flights operated by the CIA have passed through Britain since September 2001. Human rights groups say many of the flights were carrying prisoners to secret facilities abroad for interrogation using torture. The United States has acknowledged the practice of rendition but insists its personnel do not practice torture.

Last week the European Parliament approved a full investigation into allegations that the CIA used European territory for renditions and for the secret detention of terror suspects, after the EU's human rights watchdog reported that the claims were "credible." Read more

Understanding Torture - U.S Techniques

lewrockwell: The President of the United States George W. Bush and his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, ("Condi" to her friend) have gone on the record emphatically stating that the United States does not employ torture as a method of obtaining information from detainees. Yet Vice President Dick Cheney recently went before Congress to try to exempt the CIA from proposed anti-torture legislation.

What exactly is torture, and what methods do the CIA employ? According to Merriam-Webster, torture is defined as:

1 a : anguish of body or mind : AGONY b : something that causes agony or pain
2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.

One method allegedly used or not used is called "waterboarding". Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, defines waterboarding, "In the medieval form of waterboarding, a victim was strapped to a board and tipped back or lowered into a body of water until he or she believed that drowning was imminent. The subject was then removed from the water and revived. If necessary the process was repeated.

"There are other forms of waterboarding, but all of them have in common that the victim almost drowns but is rescued or re-animated just before death occurs. The torture is designed to be both psychological and physical. The psychological effect is that the victim is led to believe that he or she is being executed. This reinforces the torturer's control and makes the victim experience mortal fear. The physical effects are extreme pain and damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and sometimes broken bones because of the restraints on the struggling victim." Read more

Noam Chomsky: US cannot tolerate a sovereign, democratic Iraq

Radio Nederland: Transcript of a special Amsterdam Forum with Noam Chomsky
Transmission date: 18 December 2005

Let's start off by talking about the elections in Iraq. Let's hear how President Bush was billing them just a few days ahead of the vote:

President Bush: "By helping Iraqis build a strong democracy, we're adding to our own security and, like a generation before us, we are laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. Not far from here, where we gather today is a symbol of freedom familiar to all Americans - the Liberty Bell. When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public, the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration and a witness said: 'It rang as if it meant something.' Today the call of liberty is being heard in Baghdad and Basra, and other Iraqi cities, and its sound is echoing across the broader Middle East, from Damascus to Tehran, people hear it and they know it means something. It means that days of tyranny and terror are ending and a new day of hope and freedom is dawning."

Professor Chomsky, how do you see the elections? Do you see them as an important milestone for Iraq?

Actually I do, but before talking about that, I should just bring up a kind of a truism. No rational person pays the slightest attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no matter who they are. And the reason is they're completely predictable, including the worst monsters, Stalin, Hitler the rest. Always full of benign intent. Yes that's their task. Therefore, since they're predictable, we disregard them, they carry no information. What we do is, look at the facts. That's true if they're Bush or Blair or Stalin or anyone else. That's the beginning of rationality. All right, the basic facts we know: when Bush and Blair invaded Iraq, the reason was what they insistently called a 'single question.' That was repeated by Jack Straw, by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, everyone. 'Will Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction?' That was the single question, that was the basis on which both Bush and Blair got authorization to use force. Within a few months this single question was answered and the answer came out the wrong way and then all of sudden...

This was weapons of mass destruction you're talking about?

Yes. Then very quickly it turned out that that wasn't the reason of the invasion. The reason was what the President's liberal press calls his 'Messianic Mission' to bring democracy to Iraq and immediately everyone had to leap on the democratisation bandwagon and it began to be described as the most noble war in history and so on and so forth. Well, anyone with a particle of sense would know that you can't take that seriously and, in fact, if you look at the events that followed, it just demonstrated that. The US tried, in every possible way, to prevent elections in Iraq. They offered effort after effort to evade the danger of elections. Finally, they were compelled to accept elections by mass non-violent resistance, for which the Ayatollah Sistani [moderate Shi'ite leader] was a kind of a symbol. Mass outpourings of people demanding elections. Finally, Bush and Blair had to agree to elections. The next step is to subvert them and they started immediately. They're doing it right now. Elections mean you pay some - in a democracy at least - you pay some attention to the will of the population. Well, the crucial question for an invading army is: 'do they want us to be here?' Well, we know the answer to that. The British Ministry of Defence carried out a poll a couple of months ago, it was secret, but it leaked to the British Press - I don't think it's been reported in the US. They found that 82 percent of the population wanted the coalition forces, British and US forces to leave. One percent of the population said that they were increasing security.

But isn't this the start of a process that could see the occupying troops from America and Britain leaving? We've seen an awful lot of Iraqis taking part in the elections, two thirds, we're told. The turnout was quite high...

But hold on a second, the US and Britain announced at once, at once, we will not have a timetable to withdraw. So yes, you can all want us to leave, but we won't have a timetable for withdrawal. Now of course, there's a conflict, the Iraqis have forced the occupying powers to allow some kind of electoral process. What the occupying powers are doing now is perfectly clear and very familiar, very familiar. We've had a long history of this in Central America, the British ran an empire, the Japanese ran an empire, and the Russians ran an empire in Eastern Europe. The way they want it to work - standard procedure - you want the local forces to run their own countries, so Poland under the Russians, the Polish army runs it, the Polish civilians are the bureaucrats, Russians are in the background. The same in say, El Salvador, the US-run state terrorist forces are the military, the civilians are local, and the US is in the background. If anything goes wrong, they move in, the same with the British in India, the same with the Japanese in South Korea.

So you see this is a step to set up a sort of puppet government and not something that's really representative of ordinary Iraqis?

That's what they are trying to do, but there's always a conflict about that. Many of the Western backed or Russian or Eastern or other backed tyrants rose up. However, it is as clear as a bell that the US, and Britain behind it, are doing everything they can to prevent a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. And they are being dragged into it step by step. Now there's a good reason why the US cannot tolerate a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. We're not allowed to talk about it because there's a party line. The party line we have to rigidly adhere to says you're not allowed to talk about the reasons for invading Iraq. We're supposed to believe that the US would've invaded Iraq if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main exports were pickles and lettuce. This is what we're supposed to believe. Now the truth of the matter, obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, is that Iraq has huge oil resources, maybe the second in the world, mostly untapped, that it's right in the middle of the main energy-producing region of the world and that taking control of Iraq will strengthen enormously the US's control over the major energy resources of the world. It will, in fact, give the US critical leverage over its competitors, Europe and Asia, that's Zbigniew Brzezsinski's [President Carter's national Security Adviser] accurate observation. That's the reason. Now suppose that Iraq were to become sovereign and democratic, what would happen? Just think of the policies they would undertake. I mean, we can run through them, it would be a nightmare for the US.

You maintain that they would want to maintain control. This is an email from a listener, sent to us on the eve of the elections from Iraq, who just simply calls himself Mohammed:

Mohammed's email: "Tomorrow it's going to be us who decide and I can feel the greatness of the responsibility because the result will draw the shape of our future and will determine how long it will take till we can announce victory in this war; our war against the past, against the past's illusions and the past's mistakes."

What would you say to a comment like that? We hear that a lot from Iraqis. I spoke to some people from the Iraqi community here in the Netherlands just a few weeks ago and they were expressing very similar sentiments that they felt they were in some way having their destiny in their own hands for the first time.

That's exactly what I've been saying for the last three years and I just said it again here. The victory of the non-violent resistance in Iraq, which compelled the occupying forces to allow elections, that's a major victory. That's one of the major triumphs of non-violent resistance that I know of. It wasn't the insurgents that did it - the US doesn't care about violence, they have more violence. What it can't control is non-violence and the non-violent movements in Iraq, partially with Sistani as a kind of figurehead, but it's much broader than that, it compelled the occupying forces to allow elections and some limited, very limited degree of sovereignty. And yet we should be trying to help them in these endeavours.

In that sense you see that there's a positive influence from these elections and you see that those forces can grow out of these elections and take more control in Iraq?

I certainly hope so, but they're going to have to be fighting Britain and the US tooth and nail all the way. The question is what Westerners will do about it. Will we be on the side of the occupying forces, which are trying to prevent democracy and sovereignty? Or will we be on the side of the Iraqi people, who want democracy and sovereignty? But in order to ask that question we first have to free ourselves of the doctrinal blinders, which prevent us from understanding what is actually happening. Read more

Iraq: Farmers cultivate chemical weapons site

azzaman: A dozen landless and poverty-stricken farmers have pitched their tents in Muthana, the chemical weapons site which once produced thousands of tons of chemical precursors, nerve agents and mustard gas.

Muthana was the largest chemical weapons production and storage site in Iraq and it took U.N. weapons inspectors three years to dispose of its chemical warfare munitions.

Thousands of tons chemical agents including mustard gas, Sarin, Tabun and VX were burned on the 5 km by 5 km facility. Thousands of barrels still lie there, some full and some empty.

But the risks have not deterred Widha al-Shamari to move to the site and cultivate part of its land with tomatoes, cucumber, onions and other vegetables.

"It is an empty land. It now belongs to nobody and it is arable and fertile and very good for agriculture," said Shamari, one of the farmers on the site.

Asked whether he feared that the site was still contaminated and that some of the barrels still had chemical agents in them, Shamari said: "We have pushed all the barrels aside and used some to fence off our own areas. No one has told us anything about the dangers. No one has objected to our presence here," he said. Read more

UK Airport protests over CIA 'torture flights'

The Times: More than 150 human rights campaigners staged protests at three airports against alleged secret CIA "torture flights" yesterday. MSPs joined groups such as Stop the War Coalition at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick to demonstrate over claims by Amnesty International that so-called "extraordinary rendition" flights have landed on Scottish soil.

They said that the UK would be acting illegally by allowing Scots airports to be used for any refuelling flights taking terror suspects to United States-friendly regimes where torture could be used in interrogations. Speaking from Edinburgh airport, Colin Fox, the Scottish Socialist Party leader, called for action from police chiefs and answers from Jack McConnell, the First Minister. "US denials that their regime traffics terrorist suspects for the purpose of torturing them are based on an Orwellian redefinition of torture, which excludes techniques that most civilised people would regard as torture," Mr Fox said. "It is an outrage that the UK Government accepts these denials. The Scottish people are not going to follow others into the murky depths of history, claiming that they didn't know what was being done in their name."

Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders Police said there were 50 protesters at each of the three airports and the demonstrations were peaceful with no arrests. Link

Iraq: Sunni electoral list complains of fraud

aki: The Sunni electoral list, the 'Iraqi Consensus Front', has appealed to the electoral commission to recount the votes in the 15 December elections. During a news conference held on Tuesday in Baghdad, the leaders of the different parties which make up the Sunni alliance, Dafir al-Aani, Adnan al-Duleimi and Arfan al-Hashimi, gave the media a long list of examples of electoral fraud which they said occurred in numerous cities around the country and favoured the Shiite lists.

The Sunni list therefore asked the electoral commission to recount the votes, saying it considered the results emerging form various cities around Iraq wrong. "We are the second most voted for list in these elections after the Shiite one," al-Aani said, "but this is not emerging in the results and for this reason we cannot consider any post-electoral alliance because we do not recognise the results which are being presented by the electoral commission." Read more

Poll: Iraq speeches, election don't help Bush

cnn:President Bush's approval ratings do not appear to have changed significantly, despite a number of recent speeches he's given to shore up public support for the war in Iraq and its historic elections on Thursday.

A CNN/USA Today Gallup poll conducted over the weekend found his approval rating stood at 41 percent, while more than half, or 56 percent, disapprove of how the president is handling his job. A majority, or 52 percent, say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, and 61 percent say they disapprove of how he is handling Iraq specifically. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points. Read more

Major defeat for Ayad Allawi - Butcher of Fallujah

post-gazette/latimes: Secular candidates not doing well in Iraq elections

A Shiite Muslim coalition built around Iraq's current governing alliance won a commanding number of seats in Dec. 15 elections, according to preliminary results released yesterday and unofficial reports from around the country.

Preliminary reports from 11 of Iraq's 18 provinces and other vote estimates indicate that Islamic-led parties or coalitions from all main ethnic groups will win at least 175 of the 275 seats in the new parliament. In addition, officials of the main Kurdish alliance in northern Iraq said they expected to win about 55 seats.

Despite millions spent on a highly visible mass media campaign, the results appeared to be a major defeat for Ayad Allawi, the pro-Western secular Shiite and one-time CIA-backed opposition figure favored by American officials in Baghdad and Washington [db: and London]. Read more

db: Is this the end of Allawi? Has he booked his flight to London? Political failure and ignominy in Iraq is no barrier to setting up a lucrative private medical practice in Knightsbridge.

Costly commodities spark global change

bbcnews: Oil, gas, gold, copper, platinum - 2005 was the year of high commoditiy prices. Now the world is realising that the era of cheap oil and other raw materials is over.

Easy access to oil and gas has become a thing of the past

The financial markets reflect the harsh reality of increasingly scarce resources.

Brent Crude currently trades close to $60 a barrel, up from about $40 a barrel in early January, and from about $25-30 a barrel 18 months ago.

Other commodity prices have also soared, in part because of rising industrial demand from manufacturers, though also due to strong interest from investment funds.

And the boom is far from over.

"We have significantly increased our short-term and long-term commodity price forecasts to reflect our expectation of sustained tight markets and ongoing deficits in 2006," observes investment bank Morgan Stanley in a recent report. Read more

Monday, December 19, 2005

'We do not torture' - check the small print

Torture is banned
We do not torture
We run secret prisons
We do not give the Red Cross access to our secret prisons
Our secret prisons contain the 'disappeared ' [ghosts]
We have now banned cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees
We have now permitted the use of information obtained through the application of
'coercive interrogation techniques' when determining whether to hold
captives 'indefinitely'

We do not abuse detainees
We have barred captives from any form of legal action against us, ever
Rex the Dog got adopted
Shoot that dog

Guantanamo humans abandoned, Rex the dog adopted

db: Below AP publishes 114 words on Rex the Dog, whilst the following three issues, between them, get 66 only: 1. Guantanamo Bay captives lose right to file habeas corpus law suits 2. Captives lose right to file any kind of legal action against the US - even after release 3. Military panels determining whether to hold detainees indefinitely to rely on information gained from 'coercive interrogation techniques ...................Orwell rolls in his grave [see sidebar].

forbes/ap: House Approves Sweeping Defense Bill

Congress is acting swiftly to send President Bush a military bill that bans cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody and sets uniform interrogation guidelines for American troops.

The sweeping measure setting Pentagon policies and funding levels also includes a military pay raise and allows an Iraq war veteran to adopt a bomb-sniffing dog named Rex. Read more

Morales: U.S. using drug policies to militarise region

reuters: Evo Morales, who won Bolivia's presidential election [and] vows to end a U.S. campaign against coca growing, stepped up his criticism of American anti-drug policies on Monday, accusing Washington of using drug fighting efforts to militarise the region.

In his first news conference since claiming victory on Sunday Morales -- who took a surprisingly strong majority and will be Bolivia's first Indian leader -- insisted he was opposed to drugs but disputed Washington's methods.

"The fight against drug trafficking is a false pretext for the United States to install military bases and we're not in agreement," he told reporters.

"We support an effective fight against drugs. Neither cocaine or drug trafficking are part of the Bolivian culture," he said in his stronghold of Cochabamba as the first official results from Sunday's vote trickled in. Read more

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bolivia's hero vows to break US shackles

"We will renegotiate all contracts - they are illegal, since congress has never ratified them, the state will recover the property of its natural resources, but we are open to foreign investment in exchange for a share of the business."

observer: On a barren landing strip in Bolivia's mining heartland of Oruro, hundreds of people, including miners carrying dynamite charges, stir at the sight of an approaching small plane. It's a stampede by the time it lands, as the crowds rush down the slope to greet an emerging heavy-built man. He is Evo Morales, a 46-year-old Aymara Indian, leading candidate in today's presidential elections and leader of a left-wing revolution that may soon engulf most of South America.

Morales is on the verge of becoming the first wholly Indian leader in Latin America. According to most polls, Morales's advantage over his closest rival, the former conservative President Jorge Quiroga, is at least five points. Despite having little chance of an absolute majority, forcing the newly elected rightist congress to choose the new President in January, congress is expected to nominate Morales if he wins the popular vote, due to fears of civil unrest, which has toppled two centre-right Presidents in two years.

Morales is riding a wave of anger from Bolivia's impoverished Indian majority who have not seen any benefits from years of free-market policies and the sale of the country's natural resources by a mostly white elite to huge multinationals. Read more