I am innocent

Muntazar al-Zaydi

Muntazar al-Zaydi

Muntazar al-Zaydi, an Iraqi jouralist who created the ‘shoe intifada’ by throwing his shoes at George Bush, the former president of the United States of America, said in his second appearance in court that he is innocent.

Muntazar al-Zaydi appeared for the second time in front of Abd al-Amir Ihsan, an Iraqi criminal judge in the region al-Karkh of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital. He is being charged with throwing his shoes at Bush.

The judge said that after al-Zaydi is convicted he will be sentenced to three years in prison for bothering the president of a foreign country on an official visit.

This Iraqi journalist emphasized in his court appearance that he is innocent. Al-Zaydi added: “My reaction was natural and any Iraqi who was in my place would have done the same thing.”

Yahya al-‘Atabi, al-Zaydi’s lawyer, stated: “We are predicting this because he is being charged with bothering a president of a foreign country on an official visit. He is facing up to 15 years in prison.”

Today, when al-Zaydi was entering the courtroom he was informed that two of his coworkers in the television station Al-Baghdadiyah were killed in an explosion in the region of Abu Ghrayb. When he heard this he started crying.

No journalist was able to attend the court hearing; the only people who were able to enter the courtroom were the team of lawyers. When Al-Zaydi’s family members were refused entrance they screamed that this is an American court.

Al-Zaydi was born on the 15th of January, 1979 and was brought into the courtroom wearing brown prison clothing and being escorted by many security agents.

The judge opened the court hearing by reading the answer given by Iraq’s prime minister to a question raised by the court. The answer stated: “George Bush’s visit was an official visit when the shoes were thrown.”

Al-Zaydi’s team of lawyers consists of 25 people who want the charges to be dropped because, as they claim, all Al-Zaydi was doing was showing his contempt for Bush’s policies in Iraq.

Islam Times

Bush Officials Authorized Torture of US Citizen, Lawyers Say

Jose Padilla

Jose Padilla

Attorneys for US citizen Jose Padilla — who was convicted of material support for terrorist activities in 2007 — say that high-level Bush Administration officials knew their client was being tortured during the time he was held an enemy combatant in a South Carolina brig, because of the command structure and that then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld employed in approving harsh interrogation tactics.

Rumsfeld approved the harsh interrogation techniques early in Bush’s presidency. In Iraq, a cheat sheet titled “Interrogation Rules of Engagement,” revealed that some of them required the Iraq commanding general’s approval.

Among those requiring approval are tactics Padilla’s mother and lawyer say he was the victim of: “Sleep adjustment,” “Sleep management, “Sensory deprivation,” “isolation lasting longer than thirty days” and “stress” positions.” It wouldn’t be a shock if military guards went beyond the traditional treatment of a US prisoner, given Rumsfeld’s approved techniques and that Padilla was is legal limbo as an enemy combatant and eligible to be held for years without charge.

Padilla and his mother filed suit against the US government last year alleging a litany of harsh interrogation practices they said were tantamount to torture. His lawyer also says he was held in isolation for years while held at the South Carolina brig.

“They knew what was going on at the brig and they permitted it to continue,” Tahlia Townsend, an attorney representing Padilla, told the Associated Press Thursday. “Defendants Rumsfeld and [Deputy Paul] Wolfowitz were routinely consulted on these kinds of questions.”

The Justice Department is attempting to get the case dismissed. Padilla’s suit alleges mistreatment and that Padilla’s being held as an enemy combat was unconstitutional.

Dismissal might quietly shut the door on a troubled case that drew broad attention because the Bush Administration had deemed a US citizen an enemy combatant, the quasi-legal terminology used to hold suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 and accused of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a major U.S. city, but those charges were dropped. He was declared an enemy combatant after his arrest, and held at the brig from June 2002 until January 2006, again without charge.

In 2008, Padilla and his mother, Estela Lebron, filed a lawsuit accusing the government of mistreating and illegally detaining Padilla while he was held near Charleston, South Carolina. Padilla suffered “extreme isolation, sensory deprivation, severe physical pain, sleep deprivation, and profound disruption of his sense and personality, all well beyond the physical and mental discomfort that normally accompanies incarceration,” according to the lawyers’ claim. Such treatment bears the hallmarks of harsh interrogation techniques approved by then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and used by interrogators of other enemy combatants held at the US’ Guantanamo Bay and Iraqi prisons.

In particular, they singled out then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Padilla has alleged he was shackled in painful “stress positions,” a technique used at Guantanamo Bay that a bipartisan U.S. Senate panel ruled last year was the direct result of Bush administration detention policies, not individual guards or interrogators.

The original charge leveled at Padilla when he was arrested in 2002 was that he was part of a “dirty bomb” al Qaeda plot. By the time he was charged five years later, government lawyers had dropped the charge.

The following are excerpts from Padilla’s 2006 motion (PDF link) which describe the claims of torture in more detail:

A substantial quantum of torture endured by Mr. Padilla came at the hands of his interrogators. In an effort to disorient Mr. Padilla, his captors would deceive him about his location and who his interrogators actually were. Mr. Padilla was threatened with being forcibly removed from the United States to another country, including U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was threatened his fate would be even worse than in the Naval Brig. He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often
he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla. Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.
….

It is worth noting that throughout his captivity, none of the restrictive and inhumane conditions visited upon Mr. Padilla were brought on by his behavior or by any actions on his part. There were no incidents of Mr. Padilla violating any regulation of the Naval Brig or taking any aggressive action towards any of his captors. Mr. Padilla has always been peaceful and compliant with his captors. He was, and remains to the time of this filing, docile and resigned B a model detainee.

In sum, many of the conditions Mr. Padilla experienced were inhumane and caused him great physical and psychological pain and anguish. Other deprivations experienced by Mr. Padilla, taken in isolation, are merely cruel and some, merely petty. However, it is important to recognize that all of the deprivations and assaults recounted above were employed in concert in a calculated manner to cause him maximum anguish. It is also extremely important to note that the torturous acts visited upon Mr. Padilla were done over the course almost the entire three years and seven months of his captivity in the Naval Brig. For most of one thousand three hundred and seven days, Mr. Padilla was tortured by the United States government without cause or justification. Mr. Padilla=s treatment at the hands of the United States government is shocking to even the most hardened conscience, and such outrageous conduct on the part of the government divests it of jurisdiction, under the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment, to prosecute Mr. Padilla in the instant matter.

insight-info

Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail

George Bush

George Bush

Karl Rove recently described George W. Bush as a book lover, writing, “There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one.” There will be many histories written about the Bush administration. What will they use for source material? The Bush White House was sued for losing e-mails, and for skirting laws intended to protect public records. A federal judge ordered White House computers scoured for e-mails just days before Bush left office. Three hundred million e-mails reportedly went to the National Archives, but 23 million e-mails remain “lost.” Vice President Dick Cheney left office in a wheelchair due to a back injury suffered when moving boxes out of his office. He has not only hobbled a nation in his attempt to sequester information – he hobbled himself. Cheney also won court approval to decide which of his records remain private.

President Obama was questioned by George Stephanopoulos about the possibility of prosecuting Bush administration officials. Obama said: “We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth. … I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward … what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.”

Legal writer Karen Greenberg notes in Mother Jones magazine, “The list of potential legal breaches is, of course, enormous; by one count, the administration has broken 269 laws, both domestic and international.”

Torture, wiretapping and “extraordinary rendition” – these are serious crimes that have been alleged. Obama now has, more than anyone else, the power to investigate.

John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has just subpoenaed Rove while investigating the politicization of the Justice Department and the political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Rove previously invoked executive privilege to avoid congressional subpoenas. Conyers said in a press release: “I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court. … Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who blocked impeachment hearings, is at least now calling for an investigation. She told Fox News: “I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of the – for example, the Justice Department – to go unreviewed. … I want to see the truth come forth.”

Why not take it a step further?

Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who led the charge in Congress for impeachment of Bush and Cheney, has called for “the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process of truth-seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation.”

Millions have served time in federal prisons for crimes that fall far short of those attributed to the Bush administration. Some criminals, it seems, are like banks judged too big to fail: too big to jail, too powerful to prosecute. What if we apply Obama’s legal theory to the small guys? Why look back? Crimes, large or small, can be forgiven, in the spirit of unity. But few would endorse letting muggers, rapists or armed robbers of convenience stores off scot-free. So why the different treatment for those potentially guilty of leading a nation into wars that have killed untold numbers, torture and widespread illegal spying?

Which brings us back to Bush and books. Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451” is one of the titles in the National Endowment for the Arts’ “The Big Read.” This ambitious program is “designed to restore reading to the center of American culture.” Cities, towns, even entire states choose a book and encourage everyone to read it. In “Fahrenheit 451” (the temperature at which paper spontaneously combusts), books are outlawed. Firemen don’t put out fires, they start them, burning down houses that contain books. Bradbury said: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” The secretive Bush administration is out of power; the transparency-proclaiming Obama administration is in. But transparency is only useful when accompanied by accountability.

Without thorough, aggressive, public investigations of the full spectrum of crimes alleged of the Bush administration, there will be no accountability, and the complete record of this chapter of U.S. history will never be written.

insight-info

Conservatives Lost More Than An Election

Chuck Baldwin

Chuck Baldwin

That Barack Obama trounced John McCain last Tuesday should have surprised no one. In fact, in this column, weeks ago, I stated emphatically that John McCain could no more beat Barack Obama than Bob Dole could beat Bill Clinton. He didn’t. (Hence a vote for John McCain was a “wasted” vote, was it not?) I also predicted that Obama would win with an electoral landslide. He did. The real story, however, is not how Barack Obama defeated John McCain. The real story is how John McCain defeated America’s conservatives.

For all intents and purposes, conservatism–as a national movement–is completely and thoroughly dead. Barack Obama did not destroy it, however. It was George W. Bush and John McCain who destroyed conservatism in America.

Soon after G.W. Bush was elected, it quickly became obvious he was no conservative. On the contrary, George Bush has forever established himself as a Big-Government, warmongering, internationalist neocon. Making matters worse was the way Bush presented himself as a conservative Christian. In fact, Bush’s portrayal of himself as a conservative Christian paved the way for the betrayal and ultimate destruction of conservatism (something I also predicted years ago). And the greatest tragedy of this deception is the way that Christian conservatives so thoroughly (and stupidly) swallowed the whole Bush/McCain neocon agenda.

full article: www.insight-info.com

American people back Iran`s right to enrich uranium: Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky lashed out at western media reports saying Tehran was “defying the world” over its nuclear program.

“That’s a funny definition of the ‘world’. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), for example which is the majority of countries, endorses Iran’s right to enrich uranium,” said Chomsky.

“Now nobody thinks they have the right to develop nuclear weapons, however that’s different issue. But the majority of the (American) population agrees (on Iran’s right to enrich uranium),” he added.

Iran has repeatedly stressed that having nuclear arms would be against its Islamic teachings and laws.

The distinguished 80-year-old professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said, “Public opinion here overwhelmingly holds that Iran should have the right to develop nuclear energy…”

Chomsky reaffirmed also that Iran was “of course entitled to uranium enrichment as a member of the NPT.”
The US scholar made clear that most Americans reject the Iran policy of President George W. Bush.

“With regard to Iran, a substantial segment of pretty mainstream opinion has been harshly critical of the confrontational approach and has called for negotiations and diplomacy,” Chomsky said.

He added there could have been a US-Iranian “rapprochement for the last 10 years.”

“It did not happen because of the extremism of the Bush administration was simply directed at making relations harsher, more bitter, militarizing them and that’s why the Bush administration even antagonized allies,” Chomsky said.

Asked whether the US-Iranian estrangement could finally end, he pointed to the possibility of a “working relationship” between both adversaries.

full article: www.insight-info.com

The American Triangle of Depression

Stock Market

Stock Market

Ten months ago (January 18th, 2008) Henry Paulson, the American Secretary of the Treasury, announced that in the long run the economical structure of America is solid and that he believes that the economy will grow. Official members of George W. Bush’s government, for instance the Chair of the Federal Reserve, did not say anything about the downfall of the American economy. Two months later (March 16th, 2008) the Secretary of the Treasury repeated his reliance on the American economy and emphasized that he has complete trust of the American financial institutions and that the American marketplace can resist difficulty.

Four weeks before the American economic sun set, people woke up from their slumber and heard that huge and old American banks, American financial institutions, and American insurance agencies went bankrupt. The news of America’s financial crisis and bank crises hit like a bomb and shook the world’s financial system for a few minutes. The American stock market fell 40 percent and the stocks of large stock markets in the world fell dramatically. The week that world leaders, for instance Dr. Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, were in New York attending the annual session of the United Nations, the American Secretary of the Treasury, who was the managing director of a huge American financial institute – Goldman Sachs on Wall Street – put forth tireless effort to confirm George Bush’s 700 billion dollar plan in the congress in order to prevent the complete fall of the American banking system which the American economy has not seen since the time of the previous president Franklin Rosevelt, in the 1930s.

This financial crisis and bankruptcy of United States banks was not astonishing for people who read the analyses regarding America and the events of the world in the Kayhan Newspaper. Exactly ten months ago (January 31st, 2008) when Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury reported about a healthy American economy, the Kayhan Newspaper predicted an American financial crisis in an article titled Depression in America. I wrote there that this country is practically in an economic crisis. The first paragraph of that article was started with: “The depression has started in America, but the government and treasury department have yet to announce it. There is has always been a three to six month gap between an economical event and its official announcement in the history of the American economy. The depression of 2008, which we are still in, is not an exception to this rule. News regarding the depression must be given gradually and slowly because the modern economy has a direct connection with people’s imagination and trust. America has the largest economy in the world and in the age of internationalizing capital, work, and technology any change in the financial and banking areas of America will have a large effect on the international economy.” This has happened.

full article: www.insight-info.com

The Closing of the American Border

American Border

American Border

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government seemed to put forth a unified stance on the need to combat terror. But you say in your book that there was actually a fierce internal fight between two groups – you call them The Cops versus The Technocrats. Who are they?

Indeed, this fight began the very night of 9/11. Jim Ziglar, who was the head of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the time, was strongly opposed to what the Ashcroft Justice Department did after 9/11, which was to use immigration laws aggressively as a counter-terrorism tool, to hold people on immigration violations if they believed they had even the slightest connection to terrorism.

There was one faction that said, “Look, we need to use immigration law aggressively as our main tool in the war on terrorism.” Another group of people, most of them under Tom Ridge in the White House, and later the Department of Homeland Security, said, “Look, if we do that, all we’re going to succeed in doing is driving away people that we want and need to come to the United States. We need to be more targeted and intelligent about how we strengthen our border after 9/11.”

You quote George W. Bush saying to his customs chief, “You’ve got to secure our borders against a terror threat, but you have to do it without shutting down the U.S. economy.” How did the ones who were all for using immigration law win out?

The ones who wanted to strengthen border controls intelligently knew what they wanted to do, but it was a long process. You needed to develop new systems to identify more accurately who was coming into the United States and who you had reason to be concerned about.

The people in the Justice Department who wanted to use immigration law didn’t need to wait. Immigration law is an incredibly powerful tool for arresting and detaining any foreigner. One of the officials that I interviewed said, “Immigration law is like tax law – you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Neither respected nor feared

Elihu Root

Elihu Root

In an exalted phrase, the keynote speaker at the Republican convention reviewed the record of the administration, and asked, “When have we rested more secure in friendship with all mankind?” That wasn’t in St. Paul, where the Republicans are gathered this week, but at the 1904 Republican convention in Chicago, when the speaker was Elihu Root, a past Secretary of War and future Secretary of State.

His words were sonorous then, and they are haunting now. They will not be repeated this year, because they could not be. A senior American politician might have said something similar in 1920, or 1945 or 1960. But no Republican now – and no Democrat – could utter Root’s words without inviting utter derision.

Today there might be a more bitter question: When has America rested less secure in friendship with all mankind?

And that explains the intense interest which this year’s presidential election has inspired beyond the shores of the United States. It’s not just Obamania – there’s no point in denying that Senator Barack Obama is the man most people outside the United States would like to win – but he was one of three potential candidates until Senator Hillary Clinton conceded defeat who were all fascinating simply in personal terms: a septuagenarian war hero, a woman, a black man.

The election absorbs us in Europe – and others in Africa and Asia – because we can see that a general crisis spreading around the globe is directly linked to the follies and failures of American policy. In his new book, “The Much Too Promised Land,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which he used to be engaged as a State Department official, Aaron David Miller puts it with lapidary succinctness.

Having stumbled for eight years under the Clinton administration over how to make peace in the Middle East, and then for eight years under the administration of George Bush the Younger over how to make war there, the United States finds itself “trapped in a region which it cannot fix and it cannot abandon.” Still more to the point, throughout that region, for all of her seeming might, America is “not liked, not feared and not respected.”

full article: www.insight-info.com

A hot but happy summer

America’s goal was to seek revenge from Hizbollah for its victory in the 33-Day-War and establishing a government completely dependent on it in Lebanon. But, this scenario was destroyed with the strategical error of Fuad Siniora’s cabinet deciding to take away Hizbollah’s telecommunication capabilities.

 About six months ago, David Walsh, an undersecretary for the Department of State, in a travel to Saudi Arabia talked about a hot and difficult summer for Lebanon. Soon after these remarks American politicians and military started changing their actions in the region. Washington, with the excuse of strengthening the Lebanese military and helping the government in Beirut, armed the 14th of March Political Party and prepared them for a hot and difficult summer with many weapons. A few months ago over 3000 armed personnel were ready to play their role carrying out American orders. In this framework, George Bush labeled Hizbollah a terrorist organization and his readiness to destroy it. The general that was the head in Afghanistan and Iraq was deployed to Beirut to announce the readiness of the paramilitary wing of the 14th of March Political Party for this hot and difficult summer. The last link to this scenario was the deployment of the American Battleship Cole to the Mediterranean and its entrance to the Lebanese shore.

 Everything was ready for Walsh’s hot summer until America, with the excuse of a Lebanese civil war and the effects of it in the region and well as world peace and with a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the direct presence of its military in Lebanon.

Full article: www.insight-info.com

No apologies for downing Flight 655

Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by the US Navy’s guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on Sunday July 3, 1988, killing all 290 passengers, including 66 children, and crewmembers onboard.

The civilian airliner, carrying passengers from Iran, Italy, the UAE, India, Pakistan and the former Yugoslavia, was en route from Iran’s southern city of Bandar Abbas to Dubai when it was hit by two SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles launched from the warship commanded by Captain William C. Rogers III.

Following the tragic incident, ranked seventh among the deadliest airliner fatalities, unapologetic US officials said their naval officers had mistaken the Iranian Airbus A300 for an F-14 Tomcat fighter.

They went on to claim that the Vincennes crew had been under a simultaneous psychological condition called ‘scenario fulfillment’, and had therefore confused their training scenario with reality and responded accordingly.

Iran declared the incident an international crime, saying that even if the warship crew had mistaken the Airbus for an F-14 the tragedy was the result of the US Navy’s negligence and reckless behavior.

Iran further argued that the aircraft was flying within the Iranian airspace and did not have an attack profile, and as the warship crew were fully trained to handle ‘simultaneous attacks’ by enemy aircrafts they could have handled the situation in a manner that would not claim civilian lives.

When the matter was taken to the United Nations Security Council in July 1988, the then US Vice President George H.W. Bush defended the Vincennes crew’s action and said that given the situation the officers in question had acted appropriately.
 

Eventually, the UN Security Council Resolution 616 was passed, which expressed “deep distress” over the downing, “profound regret” for the loss of life, and stressed the need to end the Iraq-Iran war.

Full article: www.insight-info.com

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