Friday, April 30, 2010

European MPs and Ministers Assess Gaza Today

European MPs and Ministers Assess Gaza Today - by Stephen Lendman

During a recent visit, a 50-person European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) assessed conditions on the ground firsthand, one year after Operation Cast Lead:

"to collect and document the facts, and then return to our respective countries and the European Parliament to push for actions that will bring immediate humanitarian relief and an end to the siege, as well as peace and justice to the Palestinian people," what they've long been denied under a repressive occupation.

ECESG (www.savegaza.eu) calls itself:

"an umbrella body of non-governmental organizations across Europe that advocates (for) the fundamental right of the Palestinian people in Gaza to live in peace and dignity without being subjected to any form of collective punishment....ECESG supports the restoration of (Gazans') inalienable rights....and lobbies for pressure to be exerted on (Israel) to lift its siege and end the human tragedy there."

Meetings were held with Palestinian Legislative Council members, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, and UNRWA Director of Operations, John Ging.

Areas toured were most affected, including Izbet Abet Rabu, the Al-Fakhoura School, and the Al-Salam neighborhood. Delegates also met with Al-Samouni family survivors who lost 23 members during the war.

They saw firsthand what human rights and various international organizations documented, including the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Goldstone Commission's damning indictment of Israeli crimes of war and against humanity after its extensive 2009 fact finding mission.

The combination of destructive war, siege, and humanitarian crisis has been well reported. Nonetheless, ECESG's report is important because it's current and by 50 European parliamentarians and ministers, able to reach other high level officials at home, perhaps with enough clout for action - if not now, toward it happening sooner.

Israel's edifice is weakening. It's just a matter of time until it's effectively pierced. The ECESG, Judge Goldstone, the Global BDS movement, and other committed activists will realize it by relentlessly hammering for peace, equality and justice. Nothing less must be accepted or tolerated.

Highlights of ECESG's Report - Destruction of Homes

Many thousands need "complete rebuilding (or) major repairs" - besides the huge backlog of others from previous Israeli-inflicted destruction. As a result, throughout Gaza, houses are half built for lack of materials, many "condemned as unhygienic or unsafe to live in."

Colin Low, UK House of Lords member and president of the European Blind Union said:

"I was immediately struck by the desperate condition of the inhabitants of Izbet Abed Rabu, a small village (in) northeastern Gaza. Some 300 - 400 houses, a factory and farmland had been completely razed to the ground. (What's left) could only be described as a bomb site through which I had to pick my way carefully. We met a family who were obviously (for over a year) living in the most abject of conditions - three or four generations, including an old lady....over 100, living in a tent without washing facilities of any kind and only a make shift fire on the ground for cooking."

Clear evidence also found showed Israeli forces targeted civilian homes with heavy-caliber weapons and shells - attacks unrelated to military necessity, but to target civilians and ease access for IDF troops.

"The use of such unwarranted weapons on civilian buildings....indicates a deliberate breach of" Fourth Geneva, unmentioned in the Goldstone report. It also corroborates Israeli NGOs (including Breaking the Silence) saying commanders ordered troops to intimidate the local population - kill civilians and destroy homes, other property and non-military structures to prevent a return to normalcy post-conflict.

The Al-Samouni family (that lost 23 of its 48 members) was also visited. Earlier, Masouda Al-Samouni told the Palestinians Centre for Human Rights (PCHR):

"I have no hope, no future, I lost everything in the offensive. I was in the corner with my children just watching. I was screaming and crying, I saw everything, the blood and the brains. There was smoke everywhere. I saw my brother-in-law falling down, and my mother-in-law. I realized that my three brothers-in-law and my mother-in-law were dead....I was injured in the chest and couldn't move....I was bleeding and five months pregnant."

Israeli soldiers entered Ateya Al-Samouni's home forcibly. He identified himself as the owner. "The soldiers shot him while he was still holding his ID and an Israeli driving license. The soldiers then opened fire inside the room" where 20 family members were sheltered, killing or wounding many. Other abuse followed, including Mona Al-Samouni witnessing her parents shot to death and Almaza A-Samouni, whose mother and six siblings were killed.

Survivors suffer from depression and nightmares. Like most others throughout Gaza, they live in deep poverty with no source of income and no publicity about their plight.

"It is shocking that such destruction and trauma are still festering more than a year after the invasion."

It's because of Israel's imposed siege, prohibiting vitally needed construction materials from entering, except for a few token truckloads a month for a 1.5 million population needing hundreds on a regular basis to rebuild.

School Destruction

As a result, education is in crisis for lack of facilities, supplies, and traumatized children unable to concentrate on learning. Even before the war, the siege heavily impacted schools. The previous year, 82% of government schools and 88% of UNRWA ones operated on double-shifts of necessity.

Post-conflict, it's much worse. Hundreds of schools were damaged, 18 or more entirely destroyed, and several others used as shelters were targeted to kill civilians, dozens in all.

International law prohibits attacking schools, hospitals, mosques, UN facilities and other non-military structures. Doing so is a war crime. Doing it in densely populated Gaza was gratuitous mass murder, especially since UNRWA head John Ging gave IDF forces exact coordinates of UN facilities, including schools attacked. He also said:

"I can tell you categorically that there was no military activity in (the Al-Fakhoura) school at the time of the tragedy. (Those murdered) were innocent people," sheltering from conflict.

The American International School was also visited, entirely destroyed and not rebuilt one year later. "To date, almost nothing has been rebuilt or repaired as a result of the ban on" construction materials. Gerald Kaufman, British MP said:

"The Minister of Education told us that the exam results at the schools are falling since (the war). Even worse, we were told by psychiatrists that children now routinely ask when they will die." Every day longer the siege continues further damages Gaza's youths.

Living Without Power

Although key lines were restored, 90% of Gazans experience up to 8 hours of stoppage daily, EU nations exacerbating conditions by cutting off pre-siege PEGASE program funding - subsidies for fuel purchases. As a result, over half of all Gazans have reduced or no power because the sole plant can't supply it. Refrigerators, stoves, heaters and other appliances can't be used. Children can't do homework in the dark. Emergency surgeries are disrupted or can't be performed, at times with life-threatening consequences.

Lack of Enough Clean Water

The supply and regular disruptions are a daily fact of life, especially for half the population in high-rise buildings "where water must be carried to upper stories using electric pumps." As a result, bathing, brushing teeth, doing laundry, washing dishes, and preparing meals at times are impossible.

Sanitation infrastructure was also badly damaged and not repaired. Gaza's Coastal Municipalities Water Utility said that since the blockade it's been hampered by few essential spare parts to operate. In addition, "The increased pumping....depleted the aquifer and accelerated the salin(ity) of the water."

Loss of pressure also lets polluted water enter pipes, sent straight to households when distribution resumes. "About 90 percent of the water supplied to Gaza residents is not suitable for drinking, according to" WTO standards because of sea and contaminated water infiltration. As a result, water-related illnesses are widespread, and conditions are worsening and life-threatening.

Easily preventable diarrhea causes 12% of childhood deaths, and of 40,000 "newborn babies this year, at least half are at immediate risk of nitrate poisoning; the incidence of 'blue baby-syndrome (methaemoglobinaemia) is exceptionally high."

Nitrate poisoning is a major problem. In some places, it's 300 times the WTO standard.

Based on availability for those who can afford it, buying water privately trucked in is the only alternative other than begging from neighbors or doing without at great risk.

Sanitation

Waste water treatment facilities suffered "a complete breakdown," according to Ibraheim Radwan of Gaza's Engineering Syndicate. He described the impact of raw sewage flows to the sea and at times streets with contaminants leaching into tap water.

Lack of enough power and fuel are the problems, without which facilities can't operate. As a result, Gaza's three purification plants run sporadically, and 80 million liters of sewage reach the sea daily, more than half the output. Half is partially treated, the remainder raw.

For dependent Gazans, it's like living atop a toxic waste dump containing the most hazardous contaminants, endangering health and human life.

Healthcare

Mohammed Al Aklouk, Chair of Gaza's Public Service Association, "described how the crises in construction, power, water and sanitation affect the vital provision of healthcare" for everyone in need. Facilities are doing what they can "within the constraints imposed by the blockade."

It's not easy because shortages of everything exist, and much was destroyed and not replaced. There's also "a chronic shortage of specialized medical personnel and access to training," besides spare parts, needed equipment, and dozens of unavailable drugs for cancer, heart, kidney and other diseases, and psychiatric disorders. What's available runs out and isn't replaced because of siege restrictions.

Most often, even for emergencies, care outside Gaza is also denied because crossings remain closed. In addition, doctors report an alarming increase in birth defects and other medical problems because of exposure to white phosphorous and other hazardous chemicals - war crimes when used as weapons. Worse ones against civilian men, women and children. Worst of all in densely populated Gaza.

According to Jolanta Szczypinska, Polish MP, "The white phosphorous that was used by the Israeli army in the heavily populated civilian area of Izbet Abed Rabu was still burning a year after the war."

Emotional as Well as Physical Suffering

As a result of the siege and conflict, a plague of psychological trauma afflicts Gazans, especially children, 73% of whom suffer emotional and behavioral disorders according to post-war studies. Most common are nightmares, involuntary urination, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, aggression and bed-wetting.

Save the Children's Osama Damo called Gaza "a traumatized nation." Out of fear, children can't sleep. "Others cry at the sound of loud noises, mistaking them for military jets and tanks coming to bomb their homes." The stress level endangers mental health and future for entire the population.

Gaza's Agriculture in Shambles

Pre-siege and conflict, it provided employment for 13% of Gaza's workforce, and it thrived with a capacity to grow around 400,000 tons of produce a year, a third for export.

It supplied much of Gaza's food needs. No longer after tanks and armored vehicles raised around 17% of arable land, including the same percentage of olive, date and other fruit orchards and over 9% of open fields. Greenhouses, livestock and shelters, irrigation channels, wells and pumps were also bombed or bulldozed, and replacement materials and parts are prohibited.

Further, up to one-third of agricultural land lies in so-called "no-go" areas - Israel's imposed "buffer zone," expanded to anywhere from 300 meters to two kilometers into Gaza. As a result, many farmers lost their livelihoods and nearly half of agricultural land can't be used.

According to UK House of Lords member Baroness Jenny Tonge, children lack basic nutrients "to develop properly. The result: anemia, stunted growth, attention deficit disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc."

Employment or Lack of It

Operation Cast Lead destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of businesses and factories. As a result, an estimated 120,000 private sector jobs were lost. Gaza's tunnel economy compensates but can't replace a normally functioning economy, impossible under siege prohibiting a way to rebuild.

Solutions Not Forthcoming

With Fatah running the West Bank and Hamas (Gaza's legitimate government, bogusly designated a terrorist organization) in charge of Gaza, "most funds are being channeled to the West Bank instead of Gaza and 80 percent of Gaza's population is living under the poverty line."

Commenting, British MP Robert Marshall-Andrews said:

"We find greater-than-apparent significance in the destruction of parliamentary, administrative and police buildings....when we place it in the context of similar actions that have been systematically conducted in the past few years in areas such as Nablus and Ramallah. By destroying civilian infrastructure for both politics and policing, the Israeli forces continue to undermine the argument they make about Palestinians not being able to be a partner for peace that can deliver security."

Maliciously taking away their livelihoods and the argument increases several fold. "The people of Gaza await justice!"

ECESG's Call to Action

Rhetoric aside, EU nations failed to translate words to actions. They and America must take the lead to end the blockade to prevent June 2010 from being its third anniversary. Specifically ECESG calls for:

-- ending the siege;

-- arresting suspected war criminals and holding them accountable;

-- inviting the Palestinian Legislative Council to EU capitals for engagement with European Parliament officials;

-- the international community must respect and support future Palestinian elected officials, whether or not they approve voter choices;

-- violence against civilians must be condemned "from any source and for any reason;" and

-- a unity Fatah-Hamas government is essential, without explaining that Hamas was democratically elected; Fatah usurped West Bank power and holds it illegally.

"Unity" requires letting Hamas serve the people who elected it, not a bogus coup d'etat regime with no legitimacy, working against the interests of its own people by allying with Israel and Washington for its own interests.

According to British MP Clare Short:

"What is clear to me is that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is very dire, and regardless of the politics of the situation, all parties - the EU, US, Egypt, the Arab League and Israel - should take much more vigorous action as a matter of urgency to relieve it. If they do not, a deprived and traumatized generation fueled by hatred and a desire for revenge will become a ticking time-bomb in the explosive cauldron of the Middle East."

Short left out that Washington and Israel generate it - Israel an occupier with imperial aims; America its funder, weapons and technology supplier, and partnered hegemon with global ambitions.

Short of a policy and direction change, Gazan and West Bank Palestinians will continue to suffer until the entire region erupts with unpredictable consequences for all parties involved. So far, nothing is being done to prevent it, leaving an explosive situation unaddressed.

A Final Comment

On April 19, Gaza's Health Ministry warned that an ongoing fuel shortage is exacerbating an already grave humanitarian crisis. The announcement followed the April 9 closure of the Strip's only power plant, causing a total blackout.

Hospitals and clinics turned to emergency generators, but they need fuel, so the problem persists. Health Ministry Director General Medhat Abbas called the situation "devastating" in explaining its importance for refrigeration, labs and blood banks as well as emergency services. He asked the international community for immediate and urgent help, what up to now has been entirely absent short of rhetoric.

As a result, Palestinians continue to suffer and die, out of sight and mind of world leaders who largely don't give a damn. Why else would they tolerate nearly three years of medieval siege that's slowly starving 1.5 million people to death, a holocaust they refuse to acknowledge or prevent.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

National Public Radio's Pro-Israeli Bias

National Public Radio's (NPR) Pro-Israeli Bias - by Stephen Lendman

Since established in 1970, NPR ignored its public trust in favor of privilege, corporatism, militarism, imperial wars, and Israel's vilest crimes, including collective punishment, illegal occupation, targeted killings, land theft, dispossessions, home demolitions, crop destruction, mass incarcerations, torture, violence, and the 2008 - 09 Gaza war inflicting mass deaths, permanent injuries, vast devastation, and human misery against defenseless civilians, imprisoned under siege since June 2007, and afflicted by a dire humanitarian crisis as a result - exacerbated by conflict and intermittent attacks, issues NPR ignores or understates.

It's notorious for its biased, shoddy reporting, pseudo-journalism, creeping commercialism, distracting non-news, and deceiving listeners it's public, non-profit, and impartial. Savvy media consumers know better and tune them out for delivering the same slanted coverage found on major networks and in broadsheets like The New York Times, Washington Post, and others - grossly favoring power, and when it comes to Israel it's interests matter. Palestinian ones don't, so news is carefully filtered to distort facts, and report lies that when repeated enough become truths.

In its May/June 2004 issue, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) asked "How Public Is Public Radio?" in examining its guest list choices - on all issues (including Israel), mostly government officials, corporate think tank representatives, professionals representing their interests, and other elite sources, the public comprising a tiny 7%.

"For a public radio service intended to provide an independent alternative to corporate-owned and commercially driven mainstream media," it said, "NPR is surprisingly reliant on mainstream" sources, the public nearly entirely shut out, and when included they're largely nameless "people in the street," quoted in one-sentence sound bites with no impact.

In December 2001, FAIR's Seth Ackerman discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "Illusion of Balance" along with a companion November/December 2001 "Study of NPR's Coverage of Deaths in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

It found an 81% likelihood that an Israeli death would be reported compared to 34% for a Palestinian. Among under age 18 Palestinians, only 20% were reported compared to 89% of Israelis, FAIR concluding that "being a minor makes your death more newsworthy to NPR if you are Israeli, but less" so, or not at all, if Palestinian.

The imbalance is far greater today with few if any Israeli deaths, many Palestinian ones, but few ever reported and when done, it's dismissive, brief, and/or falsified as to the cause.

FAIR October - February 2002 Action Alerts "repeatedly criticized NPR for describing periods when only Palestinians were being killed....as times of 'relative calm (or) comparative quiet,' " yet barely concealing outrage about Israeli deaths, only caused in response to unreported IDF or settler-initiated violence.

Mainstream US media, including NPR, suppress stories like the London Guardian Rory McMarthy's on April 17, 2009 headlined, "Teargas canister shot kills Palestinian demonstrator," saying "Bassem Abu Rahmeh is (the) 18th person to die since 2004 during demonstrations against (the) West Bank('s)" Separation Wall.

Before being killed, Abu Rahmed begged Israeli soldiers not to shoot lest they kill an Israeli, his last words in Hebrew being: "Officer, officer, officer, listen, you killed an Israeli, wait a moment, wait a moment!" Instead, a high-velocity gas canister hit him in the chest and killed him.

"The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident," of course, meaning whitewash, cover-up, and exonerating soldiers to commit repeated atrocities and get away with it - but try finding that explained on NPR or any mainstream US news service where Palestinian suffering is a non-story.

On April 6, 2007, Felice Pace's CounterPunch article discussed NPR's Weekend Edition, Saturday saying host Scott Simon "managed to do yet another NPR (Middle East) News interview (March 31)....in which he completely ignores the central influence of the Palestinian People's plight," affecting the entire region, contributing to its instability.

From 1990 - 2009, Linda Gradstein was NPR's Israel correspondent, at the same time accepting pro-Israeli organization honoraria, the Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah and Nigel Parry reported on February 19, 2002 in their article headlined, "Special report: NPR's Linda Gradstein takes cash payments from pro-Israeli groups."

Despite a clear conflict of interest, professional ethics, and NPR policy, she worked as a paid Israeli propagandist, EI writers concluding:

"for some reason or other, Gradstein (was) effectively exempt from NPR's own regulations. These revelations only broaden existing concerns about the integrity of NPR's Middle East reporting and honesty of Linda Gradstein....the sad truth is that (she) rarely (met the minimum) standards," nor do other NPR reporters covering foreign or domestic policies. They like other major media reporters are paid liars.

NPR Misinformation on East Jerusalem

Jews claim all Jerusalem as its historic capital, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring, during a May 22, 2009 Jerusalem Day ceremony (commemorating the city's 1967 reunification), that:

"United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."

For Muslims, it's Islam's third holiest site, containing the 35-acre Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram al-Sharif), including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as its capital, yet Israel is dispossessing them one settlement expansion and home demolition at a time, world leaders turning a blind eye, letting it happen, despite disingenuous opposition rhetoric often quoted in mainstream reports, including NPR.

On March 26, Mondoweiss.net published Henry Norr's article headlined, "When it comes to E. Jerusalem, 'NPR' misleads and misinforms," offering examples from 22 recent broadcasts.

NPR calls the city "Israel's capital," its "undivided (or) unified capital," with a historic claim to it all. In contrast, Occupied East Jerusalem is dismissed as "disputed territory," its final status "only (to) be determined through negotiations" that may or may not occur, but given how previous ones were structured it won't matter.

In three accounts, NRP quoted Netanyahu saying "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago," despite Judaic roots dating only from around 1,800 BC, the Old Testament calling Abraham the first Hebrew for refusing to worship the period's common idols, and organized Judaism dates from Moses around 1,500 BC.

One "Talk of the Nation" report featured an Israeli analyst saying East Jerusalem settlement construction will continue because the entire city is "the heart and soul of the Jewish people." Analyst James Fallows told listeners that Israelis consider East Jerusalem settlements "necessary for their survival."

Other reports described expropriated areas as idyllic "neighborhood(s)," hilltop "communit(ies)," pious Jews there "focus(ing) on their religious studies and pay(ing) little attention to the outside world." Their large families require settlement expansions to accommodate them, so Palestinians have to go, no matter that they and their ancestors lived there for centuries.

Yet Israelis say East Jerusalem's 250,000 Palestinians have no historic claim to the city they "want" for their "future state" and "aspire" to be their capital - mindless that it already is and that no government, including America, recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital or has an embassy there.

The November 1947 UN Partition Plan (Resolution 181) designated Jerusalem an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council, still binding today. The 1949 UN Resolution 273 gave Israel UN membership conditional on its implementing Resolutions 181 and 194 (December 1948) granting Palestinians their universally accepted "Right of Return - topics NPR never explains.

Though rarely discussed or reported, world governments and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) consider East Jerusalem occupied. Even the ICRC says so, calling Israeli actions there "illegal" under international law, specifically the 1907 Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva's Article 49 stating:

"Individual or mass transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of the motive." Neither shall "The Occupying Power....deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

In addition, numerous UN resolutions established "no legal validity" for occupied land acquisitions or settlement building. When violations occur, no nation may recognize or support them or the responsible state.

Further, the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples condemned "colonialism in all its forms and manifestations," including settlements deemed to be illegal.

International laws are clear and unequivocal. NPR never reports or explains them - that:

-- all Israeli settlements are illegal;

-- growing numbers of Jews oppose them;

-- many support the global BDS movement (boycott, sanctions, and divestment);

-- more now leave Israel than arrive; and

-- Palestinians are systematically persecuted, terrorized, and denied rights afforded solely to Jews, and are being dispossessed of property they owned and did "most of the building (on for) over the last 1,500 years."

Their voices are virtually shut out. Instead, feature interviews are presented like "All Things Considered" host Robert Siegel's with Israel's US ambassador Michael Oren, saying:

"....Jerusalem is sovereign Israeli territory, and it has the same status as Tel Aviv. And just as Israelis have a right to build anywhere in Tel Aviv, they have a right to build anywhere in the city of Jerusalem."

Or another with Martin Indyk (former US Israeli ambassador and Netanyahu brother-in-law) hyping Iran as an "existential threat" when last September Reuters quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak saying "Iran does not constitute an existential threat to Israel....Israel is strong. I don't see anyone who could pose an existential threat," though he called Iran a challenge to the whole world without being more specific.

NPR pro-Israeli propaganda persists in deference to the Israeli Lobby and its funding sources, much of it corporate, from special interest foundations, and wealthy donors strongly supportive of Israel as are virtually every member of Congress and all administrations, Republican and Democrat.

No matter, according to a FAIR May 17, 2005 Action Alert headlined, "CPB (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) Turns to NPR as Latest 'Bias' Target." It quoted a May 16 New York Times report about the CPB considering "a study on whether NPR's Middle East coverage was more favorable to Arabs than to Israelis - further evidence that the agency intends to police public media for content it deems too 'liberal.' "

Past FAIR analyses clearly exposed NPR's pro-Israeli coverage - recently more extreme, making it impossible for listeners to know truths NPR suppresses, much like The New York Times and rest of America's print and broadcast media, in contrast to Haaretz writers Amira Hass and Gideon Levy who tell it heroically to Israeli and world readers.

A Final Comment

Among its 25 top 2005 censored stories, Project Censored's No. 11 pick headlined, "The Media Can Legally Lie," a CMW Report, Spring 2003 by Liane Casten titled, "Court Ruled that Media Can Legally lie." It covered a unanimous February 2003 Florida Court of Appeals decision for Fox News, saying no rule prohibits distorting or falsifying news.

It pertained to 1996 Jane Akre/Steve Wilson Fox affiliate WTVT, Tampa reports on bovine growth hormone (BGH) dangers, Monsanto's hazardous to human health genetically engineered milk additive. At first, the station loved them, but headquarters Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to admit falsifying evidence and produce bogus reports on BGH safety.

They refused, threatened to inform the FCC, were fired, and sued - a district court jury deciding on their behalf, awarding Acre alone $425,000 in damages. Fox appealed and won, the Appellate Court saying Acre wasn't protected under Florida's whistleblower statute, it loosely interpreted to mean employers must violate an adopted "law, rule, or regulation." Fox simply followed "policy" entitling its stations to lie - whether on product safety or falsifying facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

NPR and other US major media operations take full advantage, keeping their listeners and readers in the dark and uninformed, while Palestinians are systematically persecuted, out of sight and mind, except for people concerned enough to learn the truth and tell it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for April 29 & May 1 and 2

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for April 29 and May 1 and 2, 2010

Thursday, April 29 at 10AM US Central time: Catherine Austin Fitts

Fitts is an investment advisor, entrepreneur, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner under GHW Bush, and former Managing Director and board member of the Wall Street firm, Dillon Read & Co., Inc.

She's now editor of Solari.com and runs Solari, Inc. as an "online media company focused on ethical investment and preserving family wealth. Long ago, (she) made a promise (never again to) act against the best interests (of her) own people (and to do her best) to leave a better world for generations to come."

Her latest views on the economy, corporate pillaging, Goldman Sachs charges, and overall conditions in the country will be discussed.

Saturday, May 1 at noon US Central time: Dave Lindorff

Lindorff is an award-winning investigative reporter/ journalist for the past 37 years. He's written for numerous publications in America and abroad, and is a regular contributor to popular web sites.

He's also a prolific author of books, including The Case for Impeachment: Legal Arguments for Removing President George W. Bush from Office, This Can't Be Happening: Resisting the Disintegration of American Democracy, and Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For Profit Hospital Chains.

Lindorff's latest writing will be discussed.

Sunday, May 2, at noon Central time: John Kozy

Kozy is a retired philosophy and logic professor, now blogging on social, political, and economic issues. He taught for 20 years and has been a writer for another 20. Visit his web sites at www.jkozy.com and www.johnkozy.mindsay.com.

Kozy's latest writing will be discussed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Growing Public Anger in America

Growing Public Anger in America - by Stephen Lendman

The Pew Research Center (PRC) for the People & the Press is "an independent, non-partisan public opinion research organization that studies attitudes toward politics, the press and public policy issues."

On April 18, it published a report titled, "Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor," saying:

"By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days." A new PRC survey confirms it, and why not under a "perfect storm of conditions" - a wrecked economy for millions fueling distrust and an "epic discontent with Congress and elected officials" who betrayed them.

People want help, by a reformed, not activist government, and Republicans as well as Democrats draw ire. Growing numbers want less government, except for regulating Wall Street, and "ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb."

For its part, though small, the Tea Party is a potential wild card, its sympathizers inclined to support Republicans, yet Republican-leaning independents say the movement represents their point of view better than the GOP.

Other PRC findings were as follows:

-- 22% reported trusting Washington always or most often, "among the lowest measures in half a century;"

-- 19% said they're "basically content;"

-- 25% had a favorable opinion of Congress in a follow-up early April survey, compared to 25% from the March one; it's Congress' lowest score in a quarter century of PRC studies;

-- under the Obama administration, congressional ratings plunged - from 50 - 25%;

--40% say the administration does an excellent or good job; 17% "say the same about Congress;"

-- federal agencies and institutions score better, but far worse than in 1997-1998; only six of 15 got positive ratings, including the military (80% good or excellent) and the Postal Service (70%);

-- lowest rated were the Education Department, FDA, Social Security Administration, EPA, NASA, and CDC;

-- 50% cited inefficient government programs; another 38% said it has wrong priorities;

-- 38% said Washington affects their lives positively, 43% negatively;

-- 42% believe their state government has a positive effect, 51% for their local one;

-- respondents mostly feel frustration rather than anger - 56% expressing the former sentiment, 21% the latter, and 19% feeling content;

--30% feel Washington is a major threat to their personal freedom, the most intense anti-government sentiment among Republicans, persons leaning Republican, independents, and Tea Party supporters;

-- no single factor drives public discontent; several include distrust about the state of the nation; the administration in charge (mostly expressed by Republicans and others right of center, less so Democrats); financially stressed independents; and the overall negative view of elected officials fuels government distrust;

-- Democrats are also impacted, many fewer today saying they trust government than under Clinton; 40% of Democrats rate Congress favorably - "the lowest positive rating for Congress ever among members of the majority party;"

-- for the most part, individual congressional members are blamed; they're the problem, not the system say respondents;

-- both parties scored lowest ever in Pew surveys - 38% rating Democrats favorably, 37% for Republicans;

-- specific criticisms included special interest influence; concern for their careers, not the public; unwillingness to compromise; and are profligate and out of touch;

-- 25% said Washington has a positive affect on the country; 24% said the same about Congress; corporations scored as poorly at 25%, the major media at 31%, unions 32%, and the entertainment industry 33%;

-- less than one in five expressing anti-goverment sentiment rates banks and other financial institutions positively;

-- poor performance is the most common government criticism, 74% saying it does a fair or poor job; another criticism is over misguided priorities with regard to doing little to help the public;

-- government size and power is mentioned, 52% calling it a major problem and 58% saying it interferes too much in state and local matters;

-- most respondents want less, not more government with fewer services; 40% say the opposite;

-- despite negative views about large corporations, 58% said government went too far interfering with free enterprise; 40% disagree; banks and financial institutions are the exception, 61% wanting more regulation; and

-- anti-government sentiment seems certain to loom large in November to the detriment of incumbents; a large turnout is also expected.

On March 18, Pew released a report titled, "Health Care Reform - Can't Live With It, Or Without It," saying:

"Gloomy Americans bash Congress, are Divided on Obama." Findings showed:

-- 92% rated the economy negative;

-- 85% said jobs are hard to find;

-- 54% indicated someone in their household out of work or seeking it in the past year, and only 24% reported higher pay or a better job since early 2009;

-- concern about rising health care costs were expressed, and respondents were more negative than positive about Obamacare;

-- asked to describe Congress in a word, "dysfunctional, corrupt, self-serving, (and) inept" most often were mentioned; 86% of one-word-describers viewed Congress negatively, only 4% positively;

-- public anger and disillusionment affected Obama's approval rating, about as many disapproving as approving, a substantial decline in recent months; notably, he's losing support among his base, Democrats struggling because of lower incomes and lost jobs and homes; most critics, however, are on the political right as expected;

-- deep divisions showed up on Obamacare, 81% of Republicans and 56% of independents opposed while 62% of Democrats are in favor;

-- pro or con, 71% expect rising health care costs under the bill; 26% said they had trouble paying for medical care, another 24% paying their mortgage, 21% having been laid off, and 15% having their pay cut or forced to work fewer hours;

-- overall, 70% said they had one or more job or financial related problems in the past year and believe future prospects look grim; only 7% rated the economy excellent or good; most worrisome was jobs, especially for middle and lower income earners;

An April Pew Economic Policy Group study titled, "A Year of More: The High Cost of Long-Term Unemployment" (defined as six months or longer) determined 44% "met or exceeded that standard - the highest rate since World War II."

In addition, 23% have been unemployed for a year or more (3.4 million people). It's affecting nearly all industry and occupation sectors, all age groups, and once unemployed, education helps little. Further, job skills erode. Long-term unemployment is a mark of cain. It makes it harder competing against other candidates, and those affected generally get lower pay in a new job.

Hardest hit have been minorities, men, younger workers, and those less educated or skilled, Pew concluding overall that:

"The nation's long-term unemployment rate is historically high, and it has had a substantial impact on families, government budgets and the country's overall economic health. (Study findings showing) that nearly a quarter of the unemployed have been out of work for a year or more casts new light on the extent of the problem" that promises to be persistent for a long time to come.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Iraq Today: Afflicted by Violence, Devastation, Corruption, and Desperation

Iraq Today: Afflicted by Violence, Devastation, Corruption, and Desperation - by Stephen Lendman

Seven years under occupation, Iraqis still cope with what Refugees International calls "a dire humanitarian crisis that sees huge numbers of displaced (and other Iraqis) struggl(ing) to survive," a situation "for which the US bears special responsibility" but does nothing to correct.

Recent UNHCR figures estimate around 4.5 million refugees, nearly 2.8 million internal ones (IDPs), a third of these in squatter slums in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah al-Din. Many fear returning home. Most are impoverished. Settlements lack basic services, including water, sanitation, electricity, and health care. Education is difficult where available.

Camps are built in precarious places - under bridges, alongside railroad tracks, and near garbage dumps. In 2009, they were ordered to vacate. They remain. The directive was postponed, but they fear eviction with nowhere else to go, and little help for their needs and welfare.

Most get no government, US, UN or NGO aid given security's top priority. "The zero-risk mentality of the burgeoning security industry has hijacked more rational and creative thinking" to provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance.

As a result, the occupation grinds on while conditions deteriorate, "3,000 new individuals registering for refugee status each month," adding to a growing crisis. They lack proper shelter, food, health care and other essentials, living day to day fearing greater misery, disease or death.

In February 2010, the International Rescue Commission (IRC) issued a report titled, "A Tough Road Home" on uprooted Iraqis in Jordan, Syria and Iraq, saying since last visiting the region in February 2008:

"the needs of displaced Iraqis have become more acute, while international concern and assistance have diminished. In particular, assistance from European countries has begun to fall off," given concern for their own situation at home.

For their part, refugees and IDP's fear returning, citing persistent violence, insecurity, and little access to housing, other services, and jobs as well as mistrusting the Americans, puppet government, and fearing persecution.

Conditions for IDPs are precarious, international law guaranteeing no protection, nor can they get economic aid or the right to work where they live. They desperately want to go home, rebuild their lives, but need safe and stable conditions to do it as well as resolution of property disputes to allow it.

External refugees also want to return. Others fear persecution and won't, but sustainable reintegration structures and basic services don't exist, and no plans are in place to institute them. As a result, millions of Iraqis remain scattered internally, in neighboring Syria and Jordan, and other countries, trapped in poverty, fear, and uncertainty under worsening conditions.

Like IDPs, external refugees face an ongoing struggle to survive without reliable incomes or safety. Besides lost loved ones, property and savings, they're traumatized, see no end to their suffering, and feel hopeless, frustrated and desperate.

In his March 15 article titled, "The New 'Forgotten' War," Dahr Jamail noted Afghanistan getting most attention while the "Iraq occupation falls into media shadows," except briefly after significant violent events killing dozens or a prominent figure.

Yet hundreds die most months. Millions have been killed, irrepararably harmed, and displaced - victims of genocide.

Essential services are spotty or nonexistent, and persistent depravation on October 11, 2009 got Iraqis in Baghdad streets to chant, "No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers," according to AP.

Exacerbating conditions, including a four year long draught "plagues most of Iraq. In the country's north," AP, on October 13, 2009, reported inadequate water "forced more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes since 2005, with 36,000 more on the verge of leaving."

Cancer is another issue, the result of "more than 1,700 tons of depleted uranium" used during the war and invasion besides more during the Gulf War. "Literally every local person I've spoken with....during my nine months (in the country) knows someone who either suffers from or has died of cancer."

It's a war/occupation-inflicted plague that will claim many thousands more lives for years to come, including children born with DU-caused deformities, especially in heavily bombed areas.

After two decades of war, sanctions, and occupation, Iraqis have suffered horrifically from one of the greatest ever crimes of war and against humanity - ongoing, destructive, devastating, unreported, and unaccountable.

War Takes Its Toll on Both Sides

Consider an April 24 Army Times report headlined, "18 veterans commit suicide each day," saying:

"Troubling new data show there are an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department (VA)."

About 7% succeed. Another 11% try again within nine months. VA's hotline gets about 10,000 calls a month from current and veteran service members - troubled, desperate for help they're not getting, and in danger of taking their lives to escape.

On April 24, New York Times writers James Dao and Dan Frosch headlined, "In Army's Trauma Care Units (WTUs), Feeling Warehoused," saying:

"For many soldiers, they have become warehouses of despair, where damaged men and women are kept out of sight, fed a diet of powerful prescription pills and treated harshly by noncommissioned (and commissioned) officers."

They suffer from wounds, loss of limbs, depression, PTSD, and despair, yet their treatment "has made their suffering worse." Since 2007, at least four WTU soldiers committed suicide. Coverups try to hide them, and according to Lt. Col. Andrew L Grantham, WTU commander, "These guys are still soldiers, and we want to treat them like soldiers." In other words, they're to blame, not the army, Pentagon or White House.

Not for Iraq's toxic environment either, affecting US forces like Iraqis, endangering their health, welfare, and lives that for many will be lost, with or without physical wounds.

Iraq A Toxic Wasteland

Twenty years of war, sanctions, and occupation left vast parts of the country's land, water and air contaminated by scores of pollutants, including depleted uranium, chemicals, toxic metals, oil, bacteria, and other poisons.

The Gulf War was an environmental disaster. It destroyed power and chemical plants; factories; dams; water purification facilities; sewage treatment and disposal systems; oil wells, pipelines, refineries, and storage tanks besides bringing the entire country to its knees, the result of vast gratuitous destruction. In 2003, it was repeated, a "shock and awe" blitzkrieg intermittently continued.

Tigris and Euphrates river waters are contaminated and unsafe. According to Dr. Ibrahim Ali, a Baghdad laboratory owner, "It is definitely not good for human consumption, and every time we analyze it we find something new that might, in time, cause death. Various kinds of bacterial pollution and germs we are finding can be as dangerous as biological weapons."

Imagine a cocktail of oil, gasoline, heavy metals, depleted uranium, pesticides, fertilizers, benzene, other chemicals, various other pollutants, and the result is poisoned water and fish producing an epidemic of typhoid, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, and diarrheal diseases if consumed, cancer and other diseases later.

Four years of drought added other woes, reducing food and feed grain crops by 40% or more, threatening as well to turn fertile farmland into a dustbowl. Lack of rain and dust storms dropped Tirgis and Euphrates levels by half in some places, creating "a real serious disaster," according to agricultural experts.

The combination of war, pollution and drought wrecked Iraq's ecosystem, drying up fertile farmland and marshes, turning arable land into desert, killing trees and plants, and making a Garden of Eden a wasteland, much perhaps never to be reclaimed.

Empowering bio-pirates, agribusiness predators, is another crime, the result of (Paul) Bremer's Order 81 (April 26, 2004) - "Amendments to the Patents, Industrial, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law."

It crippled traditional farming by protecting developer rights of new and improved plant varieties (GMO seeds), forcing farmers to plant them, prohibiting traditional seed saving, and instituting Technology User Agreements, requiring annual royalties to companies like Monsanto.

Bremer's 100 orders turned Iraq into a giant free-market paradise, a hellish nightmare for Iraqis. They colonized the country for capital - pillage on the grandest scale, a cutthroat capitalist laboratory, weapons of mass destruction.

Iraqis got no role in the planning nor were given subcontracts to share the benefits. New economic laws instituted low taxes, 100% foreign investor ownership of Iraqi assets, the right to expropriate all profits, unrestricted imports, and long-term 30-40 year deals and leases, dispossessing Iraqis of their own resources, so no future government could change them.

One of them is oil, ahead of passing the Iraq Hydrocarbon Law, what former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he'll do quickly if his coalition forms the new government as well as honor all signed deals in place.

Its provisions include a radical restructuring of Iraq's oil industry, shifting the country's reserves from public to private hands with locked in deals as long as 30 years. If enacted, it will be theft on the grandest scale, legalized plunder of most of the nation's oil and all yet to be discovered. Big Oil will be free to expropriate all profits with no obligation to invest anything in Iraq's economy, nor partner with Iraqi companies, hire local workers, respect union rights, or share new technologies.

With or without it, foreign investors are signing deals, ExxonMobil the first US company in 35 years last November. Others are being finalized and more will follow - on favorable terms for the giants to the detriment of Iraqis. Based on current negotiations, foreign companies will produce most Iraqi oil, whether on grand or grandest theft terms to be determined.

Under Bremer laws, free-market pillage was sanctioned. Mass layoffs followed, social services cut, and local infrastructure rebuilding ignored. Corporate interests alone were addressed. Iraq became a metaphor for everything wrong with cutthroat capitalism, showing it to be predatory, heartless and bankrupt.

Violence and Corruption Plague Iraq

The 2007 launched Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks countries annually according to peacefulness, identifying key peace or violence drivers. Of the 144 countries in its 2009 report, Iraq ranked last, Afghanistan second last.

On a 1 - 5 scale, 1 the most peaceful, Iraq scored 5 on:

-- number of deaths from organized internal conflict;

-- level of organized internal conflict;

-- perceptions of criminality in society;

-- respect for human rights;

-- potential for terrorist acts;

-- number of homicides per 100,000 people;

-- level of violent crime;

-- ease of access to weapons of minor destruction; as well as

-- low scores in numerous other categories, showing the country to be violent and dysfunctional, the result of war, occupation, and an internal struggle to free Iraq to sovereign control.

Notably unmentioned is that Iraq, the cradle of civilization, no longer exists - destroyed, balkanized, and colonized for capital, planned genocide murdering its people.

Annually, Transparency International (TI) ranks 180 countries on their perceived level of public sector corruption, claiming a 90% confidence of accuracy. Its latest 2009 lowest scores went to Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Iraq.

Not addressed were free and open elections, impossible under occupation. Those held are media hyped and manipulated for stability. A democratic process is absent.

As a result, US choices govern, puppet leaders, not democrats, and rampant corruption follows, the kind New York Times writers Marc Santora and Riyadh Mohammed highlighted in their October 28, 2009 article headlined, "Pervasive Corruption Rattles Iraq's Fragile State," saying:

"Corruption is a phenomenon that forms a real threat to the structure of the state," according to interior minister Jawad Bolani. His report detailed corruption throughout his ministry employing one in four public sector employees:

-- money skimmed from salaries;

-- contracts manipulated and fudged for personal gain;

-- ghost police officers on payrolls so commanders can take their pay, and other officers fired to steal theirs;

-- criminals freed by well-placed bribes, their records expunged for payment;

-- detainees abused by guards to extort money from relatives; and

-- political corruption to secure loyalty of large portions of the security apparatus.

Corruption runs from top officials to street corner cops, according to investigators without listing names.

But in early 2009, a fraud scandal related to food distribution forced the trade minister to resign, and the deputy transportation minister was arrested after being caught trying to bilk a security firm for more than $100,000 to get a contract for Baghdad International Airport.

"Going after corruption (can exact) a high cost," said The Times writers. One official, "after issuing an audit report on the Iraqi Supreme Criminal Court, which examines (Saddam Hussein-era crimes), was informed - through the local media, he said - that a judge on that court had issued an arrest warrant for him." It first read for "the extermination of the human race, (then) changed to an accusation of fraud."

Human Rights Abuses in Iraq

In April 2010, Amnesty International released a report titled, "Iraq: Human Rights Briefing," covering major media suppressed crimes, including:

-- thousands detained without charge or trial, some for years in overcrowded conditions, gravely affecting their health and safety;

-- torture, ill-treatment and other abuses against men, women and children, including beatings with cables and hosepipes, prolonged suspension by their limbs, electric shocks to sensitive parts of their bodies, breaking of limbs, removal of toenails with pliers, and rapes, among others;

-- unfair trials, with low quality court appointed lawyers, using torture extracted confessions to convict;

-- the death penalty, increasingly imposed in the last five years; currently, at least 1,100 detainees have been sentenced to death; over 900, including 17 women, have exhausted all means of appeal or clemency; government supplied information on executions is suppressed, many carried out secretly;

-- killings and other human rights abuses by armed groups, including kidnappings, torture, bombings, and other attacks;

-- impunity for prison guards, US and Iraqi security forces, and security contractors after whitewashed or no investigations of their crimes;

-- violence against women (domestically and on streets), given little or no protection by authorities;

-- refugees and internally displaced people enduring severe hardships as explained above;

-- human rights abuses in Kurdistan, including those explained above; and

-- future prospects.

AI's conclusion - "the human rights situation in the country remains grave. All parties to the continuing conflict have committed gross abuses and the civilian population continues to bear the brunt of the ongoing violence. The security situation is still precarious despite some improvement in 2009. Attacks on civilians, arrests, kidnapping, armed clashes" happen daily.

AI covers vital issues without explaining their cause:

-- an ongoing war and genocide;

-- Iraq illegally occupied;

-- a US approved puppet government in place;

-- a proxy army doing America's bidding;

-- no concern for vulnerable civilians;

-- the absence of vital infrastructure;

-- a longstanding humanitarian crisis;

-- the inability of millions of Iraqis to cope; and

-- a brutal colonizer addressing none of the above issues or the right of Iraqis to sovereign freedom, peace and security - only possible free from occupation.

The BRussels Tribunal (BT)

In February 2010, BT published Professor Souad Al-Azzawi's report titled, "Violations of Iraqi Children('s) Rights Under the American Occupation," saying:

"Numerous violations to Iraqi children's rights have continuously and systematically been committed under the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq," including:

-- targeting them and other civilians during the invasion;

-- American forces murdering them, sometimes by massacres, during raids in Fallujah, Haditha, Mahmodia, Telafer, Anbar, Mosul, and most other Iraqi cities;

-- killing them by bombings and other attacks;

-- detaining, torturing, and raping them;

-- impoverishing them;

-- starving them, causing acute malnutrition;

-- starving whole cities as collective punishment;

-- killing one in eight children (650,000) by microbial pollution, lack of sanitation, and clean drinking water;

-- inflicting grave harm through chemical and radioactive munitions;

-- a failed health care system by design, including by "the international assassination of medical doctors;"

-- a dysfunctional education system, available only to 30% of Iraqi children;

-- a crippled economy, ongoing violence and killings, American troop raids on civilians, and horrific hardships gravely harming Iraq's men, women, and children; and

-- a 4.5 million orphan population, according to a Ministry of Labor estimate; others say five million; 500,000 live on streets with no institutional help; others are in US and Iraqi-run prisons or internally or externally displaced.

Al-Azzawi concludes saying that since 1991, US administrations committed "genocide amongst the Iraqi population, including the children." After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War, imposed genocide began with crippling sanctions, then continued during war and occupation.

"The (ongoing) excessive and unnecessary use of power against the civilian population, and the intentional targeting of even unborn children (through chemical, radiological and other weapons as well as other means reveals) a premeditated plan to depopulate Iraq."

As a result, children live in "an environment of total chaos, violence and terror." Genocide will only stop when US forces leave, but their crimes will affect Iraqis for generations. The historic record will last forever, including in the collective public memory.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Terrorizing Immigrants

Terrorizing Immigrants - by Stephen Lendman

On April 20, Reuters headlined, "Arizona passes tough illegal immigration law," saying:

State lawmakers "passed a controversial immigration bill on Monday (April 19) requiring police in the state (to) determine if people are in the United States illegally, a measure critics say is open to racial profiling."

Called "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act," the Arizona House and Senate passed it, sending it to Governor Jan Brewer who signed it on April 23 to make it Arizona law.

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) works for "a just immigration and refugee policy in the United States (for) all immigrants, regardless of immigration status....advocating for their full labor, environmental, civil and human rights."

"We are ALL Arizona," it said before the bill became law. "Stop the Criminalization of Immigrants, End Racial Profiling! Tell AZ Governor to Veto (this) Anti-Immigrant Bill," saying:

"The Arizona State Legislature just passed a law (SB 1070) that legalizes unchecked racial profiling by police of anyone they 'suspect' is undocumented. It would criminalize all undocumented immigrants as 'trespassers' and subject them to misdemeanor or, in some cases, felony charges for a new 'trespass' crime."

In a letter to Governor Brewer urging her veto, NNIIR said:

"If you sign SB 1070 into law, you will make Arizona a police state unprecedented in modern US history.

By vetoing SB 1070, you will help to safeguard the health and safety of immigrants and people of color in the state of Arizona. Your veto will be a resounding NO to unbridled racial profiling by police of anyone they 'suspect' (by skin color, spoken language, or other characteristics) is undocumented. Your veto will say NO to the criminalization of immigrants and YES to respecting (the) constitutional rights of all persons, regardless of their immigration status or citizenship.

Don't take Arizona backwards to a police state where racial discrimination is legalized. Please stand up for our human and civil rights.

VETO SB 1070 today."

Brewer, however, signed it into law giving police authority to stop anyone for any reason, question their residency legitimacy, and demand proof of legal entry or citizenship, without which anyone may be arrested, fined, jailed, and/or deported without cause.

On April 19 in his article headlined, "Immigration Bill Reflects a Firebrand's Impact," New York Times writer Randal C. Archibold said Senator Russell Pearce who wrote the bill once "appeared in a widely (2007) circulated photograph with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference."

In 2006, he was criticized "for speaking admirably of a 1950s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback, and for sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment - inadvertently, he said - from a white supremacist group."

SB 1070 requires immigrants to carry authorization papers. Failing to do so is a crime. Pearce said he's on a mission to rid the state of undocumented immigrants and discourage others from coming.

At issue is will other states and Washington enact similar measures, clear police state constitutional violations if they do. If so, no one will be safe from illegal searches and seizures - on streets, in their vehicles, at work, in stores, at school, places of worship, or at home at any hour, day or night, if authorities demand papers on threat of arrest, fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation, without habeas or due process rights.

Since 2005, state legislators throughout the country gave immigration issues increasing attention, enacting 1,305 related laws in 2008 alone. They affect employment and right to a driver's license. Others call for punitive measures, ones violating civil liberties.

Other AZ 1070 provisions include:

-- "A law enforcement officer, 'without a warrant,' may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States;"

-- anyone may be confronted to prove "any claim of residence or domicile" as well as their identity;

-- "if the person is an alien," they must prove they're in the country legally;

-- "trespassers" may be arrested, jailed, fined, and/or deported;

-- anyone providing "means of transportation, procurement of transportation or use of property (or knows) the person or persons transported (aren't documented) citizens, permanent resident aliens or persons otherwise lawfully in this state (is) in violation of the law;"

-- "moving, concealing, harboring or shielding of unlawful aliens" is unlawful; and among other provisions,

-- "an employer shall not knowingly employ an unauthorized alien;" doing so is a crime.

Targeting Immigrants

In September 2009, NNIRR published a report titled, "Guilty by Immigration Status" on violations of immigrant family, worker, and community rights in 2008. Worrisome is that anti-immigrant police state measures may be used against anyone authorities target. As a result, no one is safe or legally protected, even law abiding residents and citizens.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division violates the constitutional rights of targeted persons questioned, detained, jailed, and/or deported, solely for their suspected immigration status.

According to an Amnesty International report titled, "Jailed Without Justice," immigration detentions in the last decade tripled - from 10,000 to 30,000 daily through 2008. Over 300,000 men, women and children are detained annually, and the numbers are rising. They include asylum seekers, torture survivors, victims of human trafficking, lawful residents, parents of lawful children, and suspected undocumented immigrants.

Hundreds of facilities around the country detain them, pending criminal and/or deportation proceedings. According to James Pendergraph, former ICE executive director of State and Local Coordination (on August 21, 2008):

"If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we (ICE) can make him disappear."

In her December 16, 2009 Nation magazine article titled, "America's Secret ICE Castles," Jacqueline Stevens explained that besides publicly known detention sites:

"ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants - nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag" - a blatantly illegal act, given that persons in them have "disappeared," their constitutional rights with them.

Facilities have no beds, mattresses, showers, drinking water, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, mail, legal information, or the ability to contact an attorney. The Obama administration stonewalls attempts for information and won't address complaints - policies common in police states; Obama more ruthless as Bush.

In its second annual report, NNIRR deals only with immigrants, based on 141 documented accounts of human rights abuses, including testimonies of immigrant workers, families, and community members directly affected in 2008.

A troubling pattern emerges of systemic abuse, including due process violations, and no accountability or oversight in immigration enforcement and services. As a result, draconian forms of "social, economic and political control (are pervasive) from the womb to the workplace."

Targeted persons include anyone suspected of being foreign. The result is clear racial, ethnic and religious profiling and criminalization, many thousands daily affected. The report "underscores that ICE immigration raids, (roundups, and) enforcement operations are only the 'tip of the iceberg' " - a small percent of the overall arrests and detentions, "representing less than 2% of all persons detained and deported in 2008."

As as result, communities are destabilized. Immigrants live in fear, never knowing where or when they may be next, in some cases affecting citizens and permanent residents rounded up in illegal sweeps. The administration, Congress, states and local authorities are involved. And states like Arizona went further, literally taking the law into its own hands in violation of constitutional protections.

Key Findings

-- ICE "intimidate(s) and destabilize(s) communities;" the toll is severe;

-- lawless workplace abuses and labor violations are committed;

-- the numbers of suspected immigration violators are at an all-time high and rising;

-- arrests, detentions, and "deportations separate and devastate families, traumatize communities, (and) trample and violate due process rights;"

-- inter-agency and local collaboration undermine community safety and leave anyone vulnerable to abuse; through November 2008, over 840 local, county, and state police officers were trained and certified under ICE's 287(g) program, authorizing the DHS secretary:

"to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn US (ICE) officers."

-- militarized immigration enforcement violates constitutional rights and causes deaths; and

-- federal, state and local xenophobia promotes and condones extremist laws and hate violence.

In addition, repressive tactics are increasing at an alarming rate, including:

-- federal, state and local authorities targeting non-white immigrants, permanent residents, and citizens for their color, race, ethnicity, and/or religion;

-- funding and detention facilities (including secret ones) for immigrants are expanding rapidly;

-- "Fugitive Operation" teams seek "criminal aliens" through Operations "Community Shield" and "Secure Communities" in greater than ever numbers; the result is growing numbers of criminal prosecutions;

-- programs like the "Secure Border Initiative" patrol borders and other points of entry, operating repressively; "Operation Streamline" practices "zero tolerance border enforcement," including filing criminal charges against suspected immigration violators;

-- in FY 2008, 6,000 new Border Patrol agents were hired, doubling their numbers since 2002;

-- high-profile immigration raids, roundups, detentions, prosecutions, and/or deportations have exponentially increased the number of people affected and their families; in 2009, over 400,000 persons were jailed; from 2005 - 2008, detention space for immigrants increased by 78%; the Obama administration institutionalized the trend; suspected immigration violators comprise the fastest growing prison population in the country;

-- discriminatory immigrant profiling is rampant; ICE and local authorities are emboldened to crack down hard;

-- since 2001, immigration laws are used "to detain persons under the guise of criminal investigation and even for routine traffic violations;"

-- conditions in detention are horrific, and include physical and sexual assaults and over 104 deaths since 2003, including persons seeking asylum; and

-- "Operation Endgame."

It aims to detain and deport all "removable aliens" and suspected terrorists by 2012. It criminalizes immigration status, militarizes border and interior control, and merges immigration services and enforcement in the interest of "national security." Its four pillars include:

(1) Criminalizing immigration status, using new forms of racial, ethnic, and religious profiling. Suspected undocumented immigrants may be arrested, detained, and/or deported for minor offenses like traffic and other violations. A nationwide system of public, private, and secret jails are in place and are being constructed. Anyone looking or sounding foreign is at risk. Without warrants, those arrested are denied bail and legal counsel, and face unreasonable searches and seizures. Repressive and at times deadly force is used, followed by abuse under inhumane detention conditions.

(2) Immigrant and border communities have been militarized. Harsh "prevention through deterrence" is practiced.

(3) Immigration services and enforcement is part of "securitizing" the homeland.

(4) Neoliberal trade and other policies are the root cause of international migration, creating a migrant worker population being exploited as cheap labor or persecuted for their status.

Other Study Findings

-- ICE enforcement intimidates and destabilizes communities and harms local economies; agents conduct raids clad in black clothes, wearing bulletproof vests and ski masks, and carrying high-powered rifles and side arms;

-- high-profile workplace raids are used to instill fear;

-- ICE enforcement is extremely costly; for example, the May 12, 2008 Postville, Iowa raid jailing of 389 workers (using 800 agents) at the AgriProcessors plant cost $5.2 million or an average of $13,368 per worker;

-- Warrantless ICE raids arrest permanent residents and citizens along with undocumented immigrants, calling them "collateral" arrests, and use excessive force doing it, including illegal entry into homes;

-- quotas, or enforcement by the numbers, is policy to ensure greater congressional funding;

-- unaccompanied children, as young as 12 or younger, are deported on their own;

-- unscrupulous employers take advantage, subjecting vulnerable immigrants to harassment, sub-standard wages (at times withheld), unpaid overtime, no benefits, uncertain employment, and unsafe working conditions;

-- immigrants believe government is the enemy to be feared and avoided; and

-- hate violence against immigrants has increased, including racist murders.

Crisis at the Border

"US immigration and border control is causing a humanitarian crisis in migrant deaths and rights violations (by) funneling migrants through the most isolated desert and mountain regions of the US-Mexico border."

As a result, thousands have perished, disappeared or suffered irreparable damage to their health and well-being. Those reaching America face "a gauntlet of social, economic and political exclusion, criminalization," and jail if caught.

Border wall, virtual fencing, and other impediments make entry hard, and affect the civil liberties of US citizens along border areas, including landowners forced to give up property for planned construction - at a cost of up to $8 billion when completed.

For example, in November 2007, DHS notified the South Texas Lipan Apache community and others that their lands would be confiscated despite broad opposition by environmentalists.

Even the US-Canadian border is affected in states like New York, Michigan, Washington and others with Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities. Discriminatory racial, ethnic and religious profiling intensified. Roving and fixed checkpoints interdict passenger and commercial vehicles for identity checks and physical inspections. Immigrant populations are targeted, arrests and deportations then made.

The Asian Law Caucus, Muslim Advocates and similar organizations have documented a systematic pattern of abuse, including intrusive questioning and detentions on grounds of religious affiliation and inquiries made about foreign travel. Over 20,000 Border Patrol agents perpetuate these practices on northern and southern borders.

Final Thoughts

America's homeland is repressively militarized and unsafe. Habeas rights, judicial fairness and other constitutional protections are ignored. Lawlessness prevails. Everyone is vulnerable. Freedom is at risk. Police state repression is deepening. Knowing the dangers is a wake-up call for action. Latino immigrants, people of color, Muslims, and anyone called a threat to national security are most vulnerable.

Ahead, expect stepped up militarized harshness, extinguished civil and human rights, and intensified crackdowns. Streets will be patrolled. Privilege will be protected from beneficial social change, the kind fast disappearing in a nation disengaged from its soul, always one more in name than fact, now a memory. As a result, complacency and indifference no longer are options. Activism is the antidote for change.

In Washington on March 21, 2010, over 200,000 people rallied for immigration rights. At issue was legalization, not planned bogus reform, for people who say they earned it. Attendees were largely Latinos, African Americans, Koreans, Filipinos, Muslim immigrants, and their families.

In New York on May 1 (May Day), another rally is planned for immigrant rights, jobs, high quality public education, and against war and repression. The May Day 2010 Unity Coalition urges a "powerful and massive united fight-back" for immigrant rights and against war and economic injustice. It asks working communities to take a:

"courageous stand against the massive layoffs, loss of homes, health insurance, and the deepening erosion of our rights to organize and bargain collectively for livable wages and just work conditions. This May Day must once again demand legalization for all workers and declare that we will not allow our origin of birth to divide us from another."

Nor can we tolerate imperial wars, banker bailouts, or lost jobs, freedoms, and personal well-being. But wishing won't make it so. Realizing equity and justice takes commitment. The alternative is too grim to imagine.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fabricating Terrorism: Victims of UK Injustice

"Fabricating Terrorism:" Victims of UK Injustice - by Stephen Lendman

Launched in October 2003, Cageprisoners is a human rights organization dedicated to raising the "awareness of the plight of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay" and other War on Terror victims. As a "comprehensive resource," six words explain its mission: "education, campaign, support, motivation, co-operation (and) prevention" for its efforts to educate the public, campaign for Guantanamo and other detainee repatriations or their asylum, and have prisoner rights guaranteed under international law, including humane treatment not to be:

-- tortured;

-- indefinitely detained;

-- disappeared; or

-- denied proper legal representation, due process, judicial fairness, and access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), medical personnel and families.

In April 2009, its report titled, "Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in renditions and torture" followed its same-titled 2006 report. Part I covered 13 cases with evidence based on detainee testimonies, interviews with security service officials, and other research.

Part II updated it (including 16 other cases - 29 in all), focusing on Britain's claim to be a human rights leader. Stating it ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2003, its practices belie its commitment.

Prior to 9/11, Britain became complicit in America's War on Terror, and the worst of its crimes, including renouncing the rule of law, due process, and judicial fairness in persecuting innocent people, subjecting them to barbaric torture, other abuses, and long internments.

Muslims were targets of choice for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and at times charity. They've been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence and bogus charges, convicted in sham proceedings, then incarcerated as political prisoners for practicing Islam at the wrong time in America and Britain.

Targets were kidnapped, illegally detained, then extrajudicially disappeared to black sites, called extraordinary or irregular rendition, or the practice of forcibly transferring someone from one nation to another. The term is undefined in law.

Sourcewatch calls it "transferring or flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation without the benefit of formal legal proceedings."

Others say it's "torture by proxy" in secret US or foreign black sites where anything goes and commonly does. According to the ACLU, current policies trace back to the Clinton administration, then were broadly expanded post-9/11 to Guantanamo, Bagram, Afghanistan, and facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, prison ships, and elsewhere. According to former CIA agent Robert Baer:

"If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. It you want someone to disappear - never to see them again - you send them to Egypt."

In 2005, the British All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (APPG) was established to investigate charges of UK involvement, because "more likely than not (targets) may be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." Made up of a "cross party grouping of MPs and Peers from the British parliament," it calls the practice:

"a process by which a detainee is transferred from one state to another, outside normal legal processes (where they're held in) secret detention....for the purposes of interrogation, often in circumstances where they face a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment."

"This applies to the UK as it does to the US - as the authors state plainly that:

seemingly innocuous acts (e.g. allowing refueling at airports of aircraft of another State) can become wrongful under international law if those acts facilitate Extraordinary Rendition."

Besides being illegal, "the moral case is unassailable: there is simply no justification whatsoever for the UK or the US engaging in torture, whether by direct or indirect means." Nor can it provide reliable information or combat terrorism. Yet the practice continues unabated.

In November 2009, APPG published its "legal proposals to criminalise UK involvement in extraordinary rendition" in a report titled, "Extraordinary Rendition: Closing the Gap."

It called the practice "illegal, immoral, a stark breach of the rule of law and ineffective as a counterterrorism tool." It's unaddressed sufficiently in British law, so it called for "effective legislation to ensure that the UK does not facilitate or support such a practice now or in the future."

It stated that:

-- evidence shows that extraordinary rendition is longstanding, but more frequent during America's War on Terror;

-- it expressed great concern about Britain's involvement; clear evidence shows it, but "no prosecutions have taken place to date;"

-- it called for new legislation to criminalize specific practices, including providing transport facilities like airports or planes at home or in British territories;

-- it stated "There is no doubt that the UK has been involved with the US rendition programme," but the government has been silent on the practice even though there's been "direct involvement of MI5 officers;"

-- it cited a Joint Committee on Human Rights report titled, "Report on Allegations of UK Complicity in Torture" providing evidence it's true;

-- it mentioned other evidence as well, including detainee testimonies, interviews with legal representatives and insiders, investigative journalists' accounts, exhibits, parliamentary inquiries, and information gotten under Freedom of Information legislation;

-- it cited Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture saying he received "credible evidence from well-placed sources familiar with the situation" of Britain's involvement; and

-- it affirmed that "It is unlawful to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of a criminal offence" like illegal renditions and torture, calling for complicit government officials to be held accountable.

Torture Becomes Official US Policy - Britain Endorses It

On September 17, 2001, a secret White House finding empowered the CIA to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders," authorizing a covert (black site) global network to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment. In response to an ACLU lawsuit, George Bush acknowledged its existence without revealing program specifics, such as detainee locations or details of their confinement.

Claiming "the United States does not use torture," he admitted that "an alternative set of procedures" were involved for information not gotten by conventional means.

According to former CIA Counterrorism Center chief, Cofer Black (in September 2002): "After 9/11, the gloves came off - old" standards no longer apply. They never did but Washington now officially endorses them. UK officials are less forthcoming, but willingly partnered in America's high crimes and abuses, undermining their commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

According to Britain's Lord Bingham, "English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years."

The 1984 UN Convention against Torture defines it as:

"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether or physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

Article 3 states:

"No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler') or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."

Article 4 says:

"Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture."

In his book titled, "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back," Moazzam Begg wrote:

"The sad fact is (the UK government) acted duplicitously, immorally and unlawfully. It is not just their uncritical acceptance of and obedience to torturous conditions, regimes, and physical restraint or worse. They were there by choice." They were complicit "in breach of international law (but remain) unperturbed in using information" known to be worthless and "abhorrent to the British way of life."

Fabricating Terrorism II covers 29 case studies "mostly detailing the experiences of British citizens and British residents granted asylum (showing how they) passed through a subterranean system of kidnappings, ghosted to 'black sites,' suffering abuse and torture" to extract information and confessions known to be unreliable and false." In addition, no one was charged with terrorism or other crimes. UK authorities knew it before their rendition, yet allowed it and their torture to happen.

Cageprisoners "found systematic violations of international law," showing senior government officials lied to Parliament, its committees and the public regarding their complicity with America. UK security forces were present during torture interrogations. They supplied falsified evidence leading to kidnappings, renditions, illegal detentions and torture. No evidence proves their direct participation, but they're "unequivocally guilty of facilitating" the above practices and enlisting other States as willing partners. "Not exactly a clean pair of hands."

Cageprisoners published its report in April 2009. Torture, abuse and degrading treatment continue unabated globally under the Obama administration despite promises to end them.

Treatment at Guantanamo and Other Torture Prisons

Despite no involvement in terrorism, prisoners are subjected to horrific torture, abuse, and humiliating treatment as "unlawful enemy combatants" - now called "unprivileged enemy belligerents," defined as anyone (with or without evidence) suspected of "engag(ing) in (or materially supporting) hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

International law expert Francis Boyle calls it this legally nihilistic "quasi-category....where human beings (including US citizens) can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried by kangaroo courts (with no right of appeal, convicted), executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to" unspeakable treatment.

Whatever its wording, the notion is "a long-defunct World War II era legal category of dubious provenance....superseded by the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949" and their Common Article 3, requiring detainees to be treated humanely and prohibiting:

-- "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture (and) degrading treatment."

No longer under the bogus War on Terrorism where imperial rights replace human ones.

Of the original 517 Guantanamo detainees:

-- few at most committed violent acts;

-- many were randomly seized, guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time;

-- 95% were sold for bounty - $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for alleged Al Queda members; and

-- 20 were children, some as young as 13, yet were treated as horrifically as adults.

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was victimized, despite no evidence of his involvement, yet in custody, he:

-- was initially held in Afghanistan;

-- had no lawyer;

-- was isolated at black sites for over two years, including the secret "Dark Prison" near Kabul International Airport, infamous for its brutalizing torture in total darkness;

-- another north of Kabul called the "Salt Pit," where in 2002, a detainee was stripped naked and left chained to the floor in frigid temperatures until he died;

-- in Afghanistan, Mohammed was hog-tied, stripped naked, hooded, and repeatedly abused in numerous ways, including being:

-- kept in prolonged isolation for months;

-- waterboarded numerous times;

-- chained naked to a metal ring in his cell in a painful crouch in intense heat and extreme cold;

-- subjected to deafening sounds round the clock for weeks;

-- forcefully thrown against walls, a procedure called walling;

-- suspended from the ceiling by his arms so his toes barely touched the ground;

-- beaten with electric cables;

-- given electric shocks; and

-- forced to endure a variety of stress positions for extended periods, causing excruciating pain until -

-- in 2006, he was sent to Guantanamo where his torture continued, including being waterboarded over 180 times and subjected to numerous other tortures.

Since its 2002 opening, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) represented hundreds of Guantanamo detainees, publishing detailed accounts of their treatment that remain unchanged, appalling, and illegal. Besides the above listed ones, they include:

-- 20 or more daily hours in tiny cells with virtually no human contact;

-- severe discipline for the slightest infraction;

-- holes for toilets;

-- burning lights 24 hours a day;

-- sleep deprivation;

-- painful shackling;

-- physical attacks by guards;

-- confinement in boxes in extreme stress positions causing severe physical and psychological pain and trauma;

-- under restraint for hunger strikers, force feeding through their noses and throats abrasively enough to draw blood - a procedure causing excruciating pain;

-- instances of severe beatings causing deaths; in some cases, willful murders; and

-- to exact confessions, some are told they won't be killed, but will taken to the brink of death and back repeatedly.

War on Terror Rendition and Torture Case Studies

Examples of UK involvement in several are recounted - subjecting innocent victims to barbarous tortures. They're explained to arouse public outrage enough to stop them and hold those involved (in America and Britain) accountable and punished.

Farid Hilali - A British Resident of Moroccan Nationality

Initially detained in 1999 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he was tortured and interrogated at the behest of Britain's security services, then sent to Morocco for more. After release, he came to the UK, was arrested on immigration charges, then re-arrested when Spain charged him with terrorism, specifically for alleged 9/11 involvement. The evidence was entirely bogus, but it stuck.

During his UAE interrogation, a British government representative was present. Introducing himself, he explained: "If you want to come out of this problem, you have to cooperate with the British government;" that is, tell what you know meaning say what they wanted to hear, no matter how false.

Failing to "cooperate," Hilali was violently beaten for an extended period, isolated in a dark cell for three days with no food or water, had no human contact, was told it was only the beginning, and it continued in Morocco - not to learn about him, but about Britain and others there, alleged terrorists despite no evidence.

In testimony to his lawyers, Moazzam Begg said MI5 agents first visited him in 1998. Hilali wrote him from Dubai explaining he was arrested in Pakistan, transfered to Dubai authorities, and severely tortured to confess that he belonged to the Armed Islamic Group (GAI) connected to bin Laden.

His case is significant in one respect. It occurred pre-9/11, showing rendition and outsourced torture predated it, but intensified greatly thereafter, Britain very much involved as it remains today.

Binyam Mohamed - a British Resident of Ethiopian Nationality

After being granted UK asylum in 1994, he converted to Islam, then travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to learn more about his new faith. Post-9/11, Pakistani authorities arrested, interned, and abused him in the presence of MI6 officers.

He was then renditioned to Morocco, held from July 2002 - January 2004, and reported the following abuse:

-- numerous penis mutilations;

-- sustained, severe beatings;

-- sensory deprivation in solitary confinement;

-- deafening music for days; and

-- being administered mind-altering drugs intravenously.

British authorities gave interrogators questions and were kept informed, apparently directing the entire process.

In January 2004, Mohamed was flown to Afghanistan, held at the "Dark Prison" near Kabul airport, and remained there until May for more torture, including:

-- soldiers smashing his head against a wall;

-- being hung by his wrists for days so his toes barely touched the ground;

-- deafening hip hop music and other harrowing sounds, and throughout the process, CIA operatives, doctors and psychiatrists were present.

He was then taken to Bagram Airbase, forced to sign a confession that he planned a dirty bomb attack on a US city, so to end his abuse he said "whatever they wanted to hear."

In September 2004, he was transferred to Guantanamo, placed in "super maximum" Camp V, further abused, explaining MI6 officers were very much involved, and at one point said he'd be tortured.

"Mohamed's case is one of the most disgraceful examples of how the rendition process (is) used by (America, Britain, and other) governments in order to extract information (detainees have no knowledge of or involvement in) through illegal and inhuman means."

He was an innocent victim, later released, and now resides in Britain.

Jamal Al-Harith - A British Citizen

After converting to Islam, he spent years abroad learning about his new faith. On October 2, 2001, he attended a Pakistan religious retreat, feared he'd be suspected as a British spy, tried leaving for Turkey, but Taliban forces seized and imprisoned him. After the Afghan invasion, he contacted Britain's Kabul embassy, then followed ICRC advice to remain where he was while they tried to arrange for his UK return.

However, US Special Forces intercepted him, said he could fly home, yet took him to Kandahar Airbase where he was stripped naked and beaten, then sent to Guantanamo where he was:

-- shackled up to 15 hours a day;

-- confined to open-air cells and exposed to extreme temperatures, rats and snakes;

-- physically beaten by guards;

-- psychologically tortured;

-- denied medical treatment;

-- served rotten food and unsafe drinking water; and

-- subjected to religious abuse.

MI5 operatives had full knowledge of his treatment, abandoned one of their subjects, and tried to get him to confess to terrorism, even after checking his background and finding nothing incriminating.

In March 2004, Al-Harith was released, is currently, with other detainees, suing top Bush administration officials for redress, saying:

"They deprived me of my liberty, interrogated and tortured me and let me go without even a word of apology."

Omar Deghayes - A British Resident of Libyan Nationality

Like Moazzam Begg, Deghayes wanted to experience life under Taliban rule after seeing how western media distorted it. When war broke out, he left for Pakistan, was arrested and visited numerous times by British officials who said they'd help but didn't, even though they knew he was innocent.

In mid- 2002, he was taken to Bagram Airbase, then to Guantanamo, where torture and abuse took his sight in one eye. He was falsely charged with fighting for the Chechen mujahideen and traveling to Iran with other alleged terrorists.

After six years of incarceration without charge or trial, he was released and now lives in Britain where he's involved in projects helping others at Guantanamo and elsewhere - innocent victims, detained without charges, tortured, and abandoned by their governments.

Shaker Aamer - A British Resident of Saudi Nationality

Working as an Arabic translator in Britain, he went abroad to earn more, and performed charity work in Afghanistan where, post-9/11, an Afghan family kidnapped him, sold him to the Northern Alliance, who turned him over to Americans for bounty.

He was badly abused, taken to Bagram Airbase, starved for nine days, horrifically treated, then moved to Kandahar, beaten, and deprived of sleep. Two British agents visited him, knew he was innocent, witnessed his torture, and didn't help.

After transfer to Guantanamo, torture and abuse continued for another four years. "The complicity of the British government in Aamer's situation is undeniable...."

Yet he was respected for being kind and leading others in a hunger strike to stop horrific, abusive treatment. It took its toll, reflected in his own words, saying:

"I am dying here every day, mentally and physically. This is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for many years....I have many problems from the filthy yellow water....I have lung problems from the chemicals they spread all over the floor....I am already arthritic at 40 because I sleep on a steel bed, and they use freezing air conditioning as part of the interrogation process. I have ruined eyes from the permanent, 24-hour fluorescent lights. I have tinnitus in my ears from the perpetual noise....I have ulcers and almost permanent constipation from the food. I have been made paranoid, so I can trust nobody, not even my lawyer. I was over 250 lbs. I dropped to 130 lbs in the hunger strike."

On February 19, 2010, the London Guardian's Adam Gabbatt headlined his article, "Shaker Aamer: last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay."

Now aged 42, he's a former Londoner with a British wife and four children, in US custody since 2001 after traveling to Kabul to do charity work in June. In December 2007, his release was thought imminent, but he's still incarcerated. After leading a 2005 hunger strike, he was isolated in a six by eight foot cell where he remains, innocent, abused, and guilty of being Muslim in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tarek Dergoul - A British Citizen

In July 2001, he took an extended holiday to Pakistan, then Afghanistan for a prospective business opportunity. While there, Northern Alliance fighters sold him for bounty to Americans. Britain was complicit from the start.

Incarcerated at Bagram, UK representatives participated in interrogations, understood his situation, yet facilitated his transfer to Guantanamo. In March 2004, he was released, arrested on arrival in Britain, then let go without charge the next day. His experience traumatized him enough to remain silent for months. Finally he spoke publicly, explained his ordeal, and that he suffers from migraines, memory loss and depression.

Moazzam Begg - A British/Pakistani National

In July 2001, he moved to Kabul with his family to continue work on a girls school he helped fund. In October, they left for Islamabad, Pakistan for safety where, in January 2002, Pakistani intelligence and CIA agents abducted him, took him to Kandahar, then Bagram and Guantanamo. He was falsely called an enemy combatant and al-Qaeda member, charges he categorically denies.

During internment, he was kicked, beaten, suffocated with a bag over his head, stripped naked, chained by his hands to the top of a door, left hanging, and led to believe he'd be executed. Mostly in isolation, he was tortured, interrogated over 300 times, threatened with death, and witnessed the murder of two detainees.

After his 2005 release, he documented his experiences in two books: "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back," and "Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar," explaining his experiences and Britain's complicity, saying:

"one of the hardest truths I've had to face since my return has been the complicity of my own government in what happened. For me the questions remain. Who provided false information to the US, and allowed my detention in the first place? Who exploited my situation to the maximum at every stage of my ordeal in Islamabad, in Kandahar, in Bagram, and in Guantanamo? Who was then, as now, the closest ally of the US? (Contrary to Foreign Office letters to his father, he) was interrogated by British intelligence in these very places - places where people, in the same situation as me, were tortured to death."

Zeeshan Siddiqui - A British Citizen

In May 2005, he was arrested in North West Pakistan, allegedly for involvement with UK Islamic militants, but he was never charged. After his 2006 release, he told the BBC:

"I was drugged. I was forcibly injected with chemicals. I had chemicals injected up my nose which burnt my nasal passage and burnt my throat. I was forcefully inserted with a feeding tube and forcefully fed, even though I was capable of feeing myself. I was chained to a bed for approximately 11 days in a row and was not allowed to even use the bathroom. I had a catheter forced up me, only in order to stop me using the bathroom, then this catheter was forcefully pulled out and I was made to bleed.

Then I had the shackle pressed into my wrists so tightly that it slit (them). Then I was threatened with sexual abuse. For example, one person came along and started opening up my clothes. They forcefully stripped me and started touching up my body and telling me that they would commit sexual abuse if I did not cooperate."

British and Pakistani intelligence interrogated him. According to his lawyer, he was severely tortured to extract false confessions of Al Qaeda movements and other terrorist networks. After release, he returned to Britain, was put under a control order restricting his travel, and requiring that he report regularly to local police, even though authorities knew he was innocent. In Pakistan, he performed humanitarian work and had no terrorist connections.

Mohammed Naeem Nor Khan - A Pakistani Citizen

In July 2004, Pakistani authorities arrested him in Lahore after two Malaysian students claimed he was involved in an Al-Qaeda cell. After 18 months of incarceration, he was denied legal representation, the right to defend himself in court, and became a "ghost detainee," despite no incriminating evidence against him.

Allegedly his computer science background made him suspect. In June 2005, the UK Telegraph said MI5 officials interrogated him, obtaining a confession of his involvement in a London cell planning to attack London's Heathrow Airport. It was gotten under duress, the result of torture and abuse.

Never charged or tried, Kahn was released in 2007 after three years of lawless detention and serious abuses.

Abu Faraj Al-Libbi - A Libyan Citizen

After his May 2005 arrest, George Bush called him Al-Qaeda's No. 3, declared a "critical victory in the war on terror," but intelligence officials had doubts. He wasn't one of the FBI's most wanted or on the State Department's "Reward for Justice," list offering up to $25 million for capturing alleged terrorists.

After internment, he was disappeared, taken to a secret Islamabad location, and interrogated by US and Pakistani authorities. Also by UK officials about the July 7, 2005 London transport system bombings and other information he had. He was later taken to Guantanamo where he remains.

Alam Ghafoor - A British Citizen

On a business trip to Dubai with three friends, British authorities asked local authorities to detain and interrogate him. Ghafoor explained:

He was "confronted by a group of unidentifiable men (who) didn't say who they were (and he didn't know). I was taken into a building, put into a room, sat down, and there was this deathly silence."

He was then "surrounded by six or seven Arabs, two or three shouting in English, two or three shouting in Arabic, and one trying to speak in Urdu. There are all these fingers pointing with them saying to me, 'You are the bomber, you are linked to London bomb, we want information from you now.' I was totally gobsmacked, I was like, 'I don't know anything about this.' "

He tried explaining to no avail. They kept him in detention, deprived him of sleep for four days. He felt he was losing his mind and the walls were closing in, finally saying he divulged all he could, but if they'd provide pen and paper he'd write whatever they wanted.

After a few days, they let him shower, shave, and dress in his own clothes. At that point, a British Embassy member met him, saying she'd get him out as soon as possible. He explained he'd been tortured, humiliated and degraded. Throughout questioning, he asked why he was there and was told that British intelligence requested it.

Azhar Khan - A British Citizen

On arrival in Cairo in July 2008, Egyptian authorities detained and subjected him to cruel and inhuman treatment, revealing Britain's involvement. He was held for two days, got no food or water, and couldn't make calls or leave the room.

He was then cuffed, hooded, covered with a blanket, and taken to a secret prison for interrogation, at which time he was subjected to electroshocks, beatings, starvation, sleep deprivation, and painful stress positions for extended periods. He was asked nothing about Egypt, only about Britain and people he allegedly knew there. MI 5 was involved.

Later released to the UK, he was never charged and remains free.

All 29 detainees were innocent and uncharged, yet were victimized by horrific torture, abuse, and the involvement of their own government - serious crimes against humanity under Fourth Geneva's prohibitions against "violence to life and person (including) cruel treatment and torture" as well as provisions for the rights of "protected persons."

Complicit with America, Britain still denies them, in breach of Geneva and other international laws. Post-9/11, War on Terror priorities supercede human rights and civil liberties. Muslims became targets of choice, and still do for their faith at the wrong time in both countries.

Yet writing in the Daily Telegraph in early February 2010, Jonathan Evans, MI5 director-general in 2007, said:

"We in the UK agencies did not practice mistreatment or torture (earlier) and do not do so now, nor do we collude in torture or encourage others to torture on our behalf."

He lied as do his American counterparts.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.