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US/IRAQ: Rules of Engagement “Thrown Out the Window” by Dahr Jamail

Dandelion Salad

by Dahr Jamail
Global Research, March 16, 2008
Inter Press Service

SILVER SPRING, Maryland, Mar 15 (IPS) – Garret Reppenhagen received integral training about the Geneva Conventions and the Rules of Engagement during his deployment in Kosovo. But in Iraq, “Much of this was thrown out the window,” he says.

“The men I served with are professionals,” Reppenhagen told the audience at a panel of U.S. veterans speaking of their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, “They went to Iraq to defend the U.S. But we found rapidly we were killing Iraqis in horrible ways. But we had to in order to remain safe ourselves. The war is the atrocity.”

The event, which has drawn international media attention, was organised by Iraq Veterans Against the War. It aims to show that their stories of wrongdoing in both countries were not isolated incidents limited to a few “bad apples”, as the Pentagon claims, but were everyday occurrences.

The panel on the “Rules of Engagement” (ROE) during the first full day of the gathering, named “Winter Soldier” to honour a similar gathering 30 years ago of veterans of the Vietnam War, was held in front of a visibly moved audience of several hundred, including veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. Winter soldiers, according to U.S. founding father Thomas Paine, are the people who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours

Reppenhagen served in Iraq from February 2004-2005 in the city of Baquba, 40 kms northeast of Baghdad. He said his first experience in Iraq was being on a patrol that killed two Iraqi farmers as they worked in their field at night.

“I was told they were out in the fields farming because their pumps only operated with electricity, which meant they had to go out in the dark when there was electricity,” he explained, “I asked the sergeant, if he knew this, why did he fire on the men. He told me because the men were out after curfew. I was never given another ROE during my time in Iraq.”

Another veteran of the occupation of Iraq on the panel was Vincent Emmanuel. He served in the Marines near the northern Iraqi city of Al-Qaim during 2004-2005. Emmanuel explained that “taking potshots at cars that drove by” happened all the time and “these were not isolated incidents”.

Emmanuel continued: “We took fire while trying to blow up a bridge. Many of the attackers were part of the general population. This led to our squad shooting at everything and anything in order to push through the town. I remember myself emptying magazines into the town, never identifying a target.”

As other panelists nodded in agreement, Emmanuel spoke of abusing prisoners who he knew were innocent, adding, “We took it upon ourselves to harass them, and took them to the desert to throw them out of our Humvees, while kicking and punching them when we threw them out.”

Two other soldiers testified about planting weapons or shovels on civilians they had accidentally shot, to justify the killings by implying the dead were fighters or people attempting to plant roadside bombs.

Jason Washburn was a corporal in the marines, and served three tours in Iraq, his last in Haditha from 2005-2006.

“We were encouraged to bring ‘drop weapons’ or shovels, in case we accidentally shot a civilian, we could drop the weapon on the body and pretend they were an insurgent,” he said, “By the third tour, if they were carrying a shovel or bag, we could shoot them. So we carried these tools and weapons in our vehicles, so we could toss them on civilians when we shot them. This was commonly encouraged.”

Washburn explained that his ROE changed “a lot”.

“The higher the threat level, the more viciously we were told to respond. We had towns that were deemed ‘free fire zones’. One time there was a mayor of a town near Haditha that got shot up. We were shown this as an example because there was a nice tight shot group on the windshield, and told that was a good job, that was what Marines were supposed to do. And that was the mayor of the town.”

Jason Wayne Lemue is a Marine who served three tours in Iraq.

“My commander told me, ‘Kill those who need to be killed, and save those who need to be saved’, that was our mission on our first tour,” he said of his first deployment during the invasion nearly five years ago.

Lemue continued, “After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant the people] were to be killed. I can’t tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.”

John Michael Turner served two tours in the Marines as a machine gunner in Iraq. Visibly upset, he told the audience, “I was taught as a Marine to eat the apple to the core.” Turner then pulled his military metals off his shirt and threw them on the ground.

“Apr. 18, 2006 was the date of my first confirmed kill,” he said sombrely. “He was innocent, I called him the fat man. He was walking back to his house and I killed him in front of his father and friend. My first shot made him scream and look into my eyes, so I looked at my friend and said, ‘Well, I can’t let that happen’, and shot him again. After my first kill I was congratulated.”

Turner explained one reason why establishment media reporting about the occupation in the U.S. has been largely sanitised. “Anytime we had embedded reporters, our actions changed drastically,” he explained. “We did everything by the books, and were very low key.”

To conclude, an emotional Turner said, “I want to say I’m sorry for the hate and destruction that I and others have inflicted on innocent people. It is not okay, and this is happening, and until people hear what is going on this is going to continue. I am no longer the monster that I once was.”

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8354

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Winter soldier testimonials + Hart Viges (videos)

Latin America rejects Bush doctrine by Federico Fuentes

Dandelion Salad

by Federico Fuentes
Global Research, March 16, 2008

Reeling from the blow that it received in the aftermath of the Colombian military’s illegal incursion on March 1 into Ecuador — which resulted in the brutal massacre of a number of civilians and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including its chief negotiator Raul Reyes — US imperialism has once again raised the ante in its struggle to undermine the growing process of Latin American integration.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez whose government is spearheading the push to unite Latin American nations to counter US domination, is being specifically targeted.

“The region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept the vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively support democratic leaders”, US President George Bush stated on March 12. Bush said his government was studying whether or not Venezuela should be added to its list of countries that “sponsor terrorism”.

In Washington’s Orwellian world view — where war is peace and elected leaders are dictators — his comments were aimed at Venezuela’s democratically-elected government that is offering its services to assist with a negotiated peaceful solution to Colombia’s more than four decade-long civil war.

Venezuela’s representative in the Organization of American States (OAS), Jorge Valero, hit back that same day, calling the US government “the terrorist government par excellence”.

Valero argued it was “an absolutely stupid thing to say from the government of Mr Bush … that practices state terrorism, that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan without respect for international law, that commits genocidal practices in various parts of the world, that has invaded Latin American and Caribbean countries …”

Having viewed Latin America as its own backyard for decades, Washington is becoming increasingly concerned about developments south of its border. Its biggest headache is Venezuela, whose government has been making important headway in bring together governments of Latin America, as well as undermining capitalism inside Venezuela.

Washington has waged a constant public campaign (similar to its campaign against Iraq before the invasion) attempting to link Venezuela with narcotrafficking, terrorism, promoting an arms race, money laundering and threats to regional security.

US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger argued on the Venezuelan TV show La Hojilla that this campaign is aimed at containing Chavez’s influence and undermining Latin American integration — a process aided by the election of a number of governments that, to varying degrees, have proven willing to exercise independence from Washington and pursue closer regional collaboration.

For Dario Azzellini, author of several books about US military intervention into the region, Colombia’s illegal cross-border attack (publicly supported by the US government, which funds and arms the Colombian military) was the first step in carrying out more serious military infractions across its border in order to provoke a response from Venezuela and lay the blame for the subsequent conflict at their feet.

“Their aim is to create massive destabilisation in a region where Colombia would play a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle East”, Azzellini told Green Left Weekly.

“The Colombian government said that they had the coordinates of Reyes whereabouts for month, during which we can suppose that he moved between Colombian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory as part of the current negotiations by the FARC in releasing prisoners. So the question is why did they choose to carry it out in Ecuador?

“It was a test, they wanted to do it in Ecuadorian territory and not in Venezuela to see what the international reaction would be.”

Luis Bilbao, director of Latin American magazine America XXI, told GLW US imperialism had two aims in mind with Colombia’s attack (which was clearly coordinated with the US) — put a halt to the hopes for humanitarian accord with the FARC, who only days before had released four prisoners unilaterally, and sabotage the growing South American convergence.

Finding a political solution to Colombia’s current conflict is a danger to Washington, which has used it as justification to build up their military presence in Colombia. This is why the issue of peace in Colombia is so closely intertwined with the process of Latin American integration.

Colombia’s attack came just days before global protests in favour of a peaceful solution to Colombia’s civil war and against state and paramilitary violence, which targets political activists, with more trade unionists killed in Colombia every year than any other country. On March 6, hundreds of thousands marched across Colombia, defying threats of reprisals from paramilitaries.

Associated Press reported on March 14 that six organisers of the march had been murdered, and two dozen more received death threats from the Black Eagles death squad.

Moreover, Bilbao pointed out that in the immediate aftermath of this event, it seemed unthinkable that the meeting of the South American Community of Nations (Unasur, formed in April 2002 with the aim of creating a European Union-style body across South America) that had been scheduled to take place in Colombia at the end of the month could have gone ahead.

Such a turn of events would suit Washington, as the development of Unasur threatens the ability of the US to exert its control over the region on behalf of US corporate interests.

Bilbao argued that the action was nonetheless a big mistake on the part of Colombia. Bilbao argued that “they didn’t attack Venezuela”, as Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro had stated Venezuela expected, “because of the firm stance that Venezuela has taken and instead attacked Ecuador expecting a timid response … setting a precedent for further repeat actions in Ecuador and to extend this to Venezuela”.

However the firm stance by both Ecuador and Venezuela — both of whose governments broke diplomatic ties and moved troops to their Colombian borders — put Colombia on the back foot.

In fact, rather than reverse the trend towards integration, the response to Colombia’s attack could mark an important regional realignment — assisting the process of regional integration.

The most significant event was the summit of the Group of Rio held on March 6 and 7. Televised live across the whole continent, representatives of all Latin American governments debated the issue without the presence of the US government.

After a fiery debate, the meeting came to a unanimous decision to reject the actions of the Colombian government and any further violation of the sovereignty of another country. Crucially, the vote was a rejection of the doctrine of “preventive war” that the US has pushed since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ecuador and Colombia are pushing for the March 17 meeting of the OAS (of which the US is a member) to ratify the Group of Rio’s motion. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has stated bluntly that if the OAS meeting did not condemn the aggression, that it should be thrown “in the dustbin of history”.

Arguing that it would be “difficult for the US government to oppose such a resolution”, Valero asserted that “I don’t believe the United States has sufficient strength to crush the will of the Rio Group countries”.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Federico Fuentes, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8359

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FARC-EP: The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives by Prof. James Petras

FARC-EP: The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives by Prof. James Petras

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, March 16, 2008

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP): The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives 

President Uribe’s troop and missile assault, violating Ecuadorian sovereignty came very close to precipitating a regional war with Ecuador and Venezuela. During an interview I had with President Chavez, at the time of this bellicose act, he confirmed to me the gravity of Uribe’s doctrine of ‘preventive war’ and ‘extra-territorial intervention’, calling the Colombian regime the ‘Israel of Latin America’. Earlier, during his Sunday radio program ‘Alo Presidente’, in which I was an invited guest, he followed up with an announcement that he was sending ground, air and sea forces to the Venezuelan frontier with Colombia.

Uribe’s cross-border attack was meant to probe the political ‘will’ of Ecuador and Venezuela to respond to military aggression, as well as to test the performance of US-coordinated remote, satellite directed missile attack. There is no doubt also that Uribe aimed to scuttle the imminent humanitarian release of FARC prisoner, Ingrid Betancourt, being negotiated by the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, Ecuador’s Interior Minister Larrea, the Colombian Red Cross and especially Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Kouchner, Larrea and Chavez were in direct contact with FARC’s leader, Raul Reyes who, along with 22 others, including non-combatants of various nationalities, were assassinated in Ecuador by Uribe’s American-coordinated missile and ground attack. Uribe’s military intervention was in part directed at denying the important diplomatic role, which Chavez was playing in the release FARC-held prisoners, in contrast to the failure of Uribe’s military efforts to ‘free the prisoners’.

Raul Reyes was recognized as the legitimate interlocutor in these negotiations by both European and Latin American governments, as well as the Red Cross; if the negotiations succeeded in the prisoner release it was likely that the same governments and humanitarian bodies would pressure Uribe to open comprehensive prisoner exchange and peace negotiations with the FARC, which was contrary to Bush and Uribes’ policy of unrelenting warfare, political assassinations and scorched earth policies.

What was at stake in Uribe’s violating Ecuadorian sovereignty and murdering 22 FARC guerrillas and Mexican visitors was nothing less than the entire military counter-insurgency strategy, which has been pursued by Uribe since coming to office in 2002.

Uribe was clearly willing to risk what eventually happened – the censure and sanction of the Organization of American States and the (temporary) break in relations with Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua. He did so because he could count on Washington’s backing, which covertly (and illegally) participated in and immediately applauded the attack. That was more important than jeopardizing cooperation with Latin American nations and France. Colombia remains Washington’s military forward shield in Latin America and, in particular, it is the most important politico-military instrument to destabilize and overthrow the anti-imperialist Chavez government. Clinton and Bush have invested over $6 billion dollars in military aid to Colombia over the past 7 years, including sending 1500 military advisers and Special Forces, dozens of Israeli commandos and ‘trainers’, funding over 2000 mercenary fighters and over 10,000 paramilitary forces working closely with the 200,000-man strong Colombian Armed Forces.

Notwithstanding these and other international considerations, influencing Uribe’s extra-territorial ‘act of war’, I would argue that the main consideration in this attack on the FARC campsite in Ecuador was to decapitate, weaken and isolate the most powerful guerrilla movement in Latin America and the most uncompromising opponent to Washington and Bogotá’s repressive neo-liberal policies. International politicians, including progressive leaders like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa, who have called for the end of armed struggle, seem to overlook the recent experiences of FARC efforts to de-militarize the struggle, including three peace initiatives (1984-1990), (1999-2001) and (2007-2008) and the heavy costs to the FARC in terms of the killing of key leaders, activists and sympathizers. During the mid-1980’s many leaders of the FARC joined the electoral process, formed a political party – the Patriotic Union. The scores of successfully elected local and national officeholders and…5,000 of their members, leaders, congress-people and three presidential candidates were slaughtered. The FARC returned to the countryside and guerrilla struggle. Ten years later, the FARC agreed to negotiate with then President Pastrana in a demilitarized zone. The FARC held public forums, discussed policy alternatives for social and political reforms to democratize the state and debated private versus public ownership of strategic economic sectors with diverse sectors in ‘civil society’. President Pastrana, under pressure from US President Clinton and later Bush, abruptly broke off negotiations and sent the armed forces in to capture the FARC’s high level negotiating teams. The US-funded and advised Colombian military failed to capture the FARC leaders but set the stage for the scorched earth policies pursued by paramilitary President Uribe.

In 2007-2008, the FARC offered to negotiate the mutual release of political prisoners in a secure demilitarized zone in Colombia. Uribe refused. President Chavez entered into negotiations as a mediator. The French government and others challenged Chavez to ask for ‘evidence’ that the FARC prisoners were alive. The FARC complied with Chavez request. It sent three emissaries who were intercepted and are being detained by the Colombian military under brutal conditions. Still the FARC continued with Chavez request and attempted to relocate the first set of prisoners to be turned over to the Red Cross and Venezuelan officials – but they came under aerial attack by Uribe’s armed forces thus aborting the release. Still later, under increased risk, they were able to release the first batch of captives. The French Foreign Minister Kouchner and Chavez made new requests for the release of Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian national and former presidential candidate. This was sabotaged when Uribe, with high-level US technical assistance, launched a major military offensive throughout the country, including a comprehensive monitoring program, tracing communications between Reyes, Chavez, Kouchner, Larrea and the Red Cross.

It was this high-risk role played by Reyes as the highest level FARC official involved in the negotiations and coordination for captive release that led to his assassination. Outside pressures for a unilateral release of prisoners caused the FARC to lower their security. The result was the loss of leaders, negotiators, sympathizers and militants – without securing the release of any of their 500 comrades held in Colombian prisons. The entire emphasis of Sarkozy, Chavez, Correa and others demanded unilateral concessions from the FARC – as if their own tortured and dying comrades in Uribe’s jails were not part of any humanitarian consideration.

The subsequent summit in the Dominican Republic during the weekend of March 8-9 led to a condemnation of Colombia’s violation of Ecuador’s territorial sovereignty, but the Uribe government, responsible for the invasion, was not actually named or officially sanctioned. Moreover, no mention was made (let alone respect shown) for the treacherously assassinated leader, Raul Reyes, whose life was lost in pursuit of a humanitarian exchange. If the meeting itself was a disappointing response to a tragedy, the aftermath was a farce: a smiling Uribe, walked across the meeting hall and offered a hand shake and perfunctory apology to Correa and Chavez, while Nicaraguan President Ortega embraced the murderous leader of Colombia. By that vile and cynical gesture, Uribe turned the entire military mobilization and weeklong denunciations by Chavez and Correa into a comic opera. The post-meeting ‘reconciliation’ gave the appearance that their opposition to a cross-border attack and the cold-blooded murder of Reyes was merely political theater – a bad omen for the future if, as is likely, Uribe repeats his cross border attacks on an even larger scale. Will the people of Venezuela or Ecuador and the armed forces take serious another call for mobilization and readiness?

Less than a week after the Santa Domingo ‘reconciliation’ meeting, Chavez and Uribe renewed an earlier military agreement to cooperate against ‘violent groups whatever their origins’. Clearly Chavez hopes that by dissociating Venezuela from any suspicion of providing moral support to the FARC, Uribe will stop the large-scale flow of paramilitary infiltrators from entering Venezuela and destabilizing the country. In other words, ‘reasons of state’ take precedence over solidarity with the FARC. What should be clear to Chavez however is the fact that Uribe will not abide by his side of the agreement because of his ties to Washington, and the latter’s insistence that the Chavez government be destabilized by any or all means, including the continued infiltration by Colombian paramilitary forces into Venezuela.

Uribe could apologize to Correa and Chavez because the real purpose of his military attack was to destroy the FARC leadership, any way, any place, any time and under any circumstance – even in the midst of international negotiations. Washington placed a $5 million dollar bounty on each and every member of the FARC secretariat, long before Chavez or Correa came to power, Washington’s top priority – as witnessed by its military aid programs ($6 billion dollars in 7 years), size and scope of its military advisory mission (1500 US specialists) and the length of its involvement in counter-insurgency activities within Colombia (45 years) – was to destroy the FARC.

Washington and its Colombian surrogates were willing to incur the predictable displeasure of Correa, Chavez and the slap on the wrist by the OAS if they could succeed in killing the Number Two commander of the FARC. The reason is clear: it is the FARC and not the neighboring leaders, who influence a third of Colombia’s countryside; it is the FARC’s military-political power which ties down a third of Colombia’s armed forces and prevents Colombia from engaging in any major military intervention against Chavez at the behest of Washington. Uribe and Washington have pressured Correa into cutting most of the FARC’s logistical supply lines and many security camps on the Ecuadorian-Colombian border. Correa claims to have destroyed 11 FARC campsites and arrested 11 guerrillas. The Venezuelan National Guard has turned a blind eye to Colombian cross border military pursuit of FARC activists and sympathizers among the Colombian refugee-peasantry camped along the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Uribe and Washington’s pressure has forced Chavez to publicly disclaim any support for the FARC, its methods and strategy. The FARC is internationally isolated – the Cuban Foreign Ministry proclaimed the phony ‘reconciliation’ at Santo Domingo to be a ‘great victory’ for peace. The FARC is diplomatically isolated, even as it retains substantial domestic support in the provinces and countryside of Colombia.

With the ‘neutralization’ of outside support, or sympathy for the FARC, the Uribe regime – before, during and immediately after the Santo Domingo meeting – launched a series of bloody murders and threats against all progressive and leftist organizations. In the run-up to a March 6, 2008 200,000-strong ‘march against state terror’, hundreds of organizers and activists were threatened, abused, followed, interrogated and accused by Uribe of ‘supporting the FARC’, a government label, which was followed up by the death squad killings of the leader of the march and four other human rights spokespeople. Immediately following the mass demonstration, the principle Colombian trade union, the CUT (the Confederation of Colombian Workers) reported several assassinations and assaults including the head of the banking employees union, a leader of the teachers union, the head of the education section of the CUT and a researcher at a pedagogical institute.

All told, over 5,000 trade unionists have been killed, 2 million peasants and farmers have been forcibly removed and their land seized by pro-Uribe paramilitary forces and landlords. Former self-confessed death squad leaders publicly have admitted to funding and controlling over one-third of the elected members of Congress backing Uribe. Currently 30 congress-people are on trial for ‘association’ with the paramilitary death squads. Several of Uribe’s most intimate cabinet collaborators were exposed as having family ties with the death squads and two were forced to resign.

Despite international disrepute, especially in Latin America, with powerful support from Washington, Uribe has built up a murderous killing machine of 200,000 military, 30,000 police, several thousand death squad killers and over a million fanatical middle and upper class Colombians in favor of ‘wiping out the FARC’ – meaning eliminating independent popular organizations of civil society. More than any other past Colombian oligarchic rulers, Uribe is the closest to a fascist dictator combining state terror with mass mobilization.

The opposition political and social movements in Colombia are massive, committed and vulnerable. They are subject to daily intimidation and gangland-style murder. Through terror and mass propaganda, Uribe has so far been able to impose his rule over the working class opposition and attract mass middle class support. But he has utterly failed to defeat, destroy or disarticulate the FARC – his most consequential opposition. Each year since he has come to power, Uribe has pledged massive, all-out military sweeps of entire regions of the country, which would finally put an end to the ‘terrorists’. Tens of thousands of peasants in FARC-influenced regions have been tortured, raped, murdered and driven from their homes. Each of Uribe’s military offensives has failed. Yet he absolutely and totally fails to recognize what some generals and even US officials observe: the FARC cannot be militarily annihilated and at some point the government must negotiate.

Uribe’s failures and the enduring presence of the FARC have become a psychotic obsession: All territorial, legal, international constraints are thrown overboard. Alternating between euphoria and hysteria, faced with internal opposition to his mono-maniac strategy of terror, he screams ‘FARC supporters’ at any and all overseas and Colombian critics. To Ecuador and Venezuela, he promises ‘not to invade their territory again’ unless ‘circumstances warrant it.’ So much for ‘reconciliation.’

The period of humanitarian exchange is dead; the FARC cannot and will not accommodate the requests of well-intentioned friends, especially when it puts in risk the entire FARC organization and leadership. Let us concede that Chavez intentions were well meant. His pleas for a mutual release of prisoners might have made sense if he had been dealing with a rational bourgeois politician responsive to international leaders and organizations and eager to create a favorable image before world public opinion. But it was naïve for Chavez to believe that a psychotic politician with a history of annihilating his opposition would suddenly discover the virtues of negotiations and humanitarian exchanges. Without question, the FARC understands better than its Andean and Caribbean friends through hard experience and bitter lessons, that armed struggle may not be the desired method but it is the only realistic way to confront a brutal fascist regime.

Uribe’s killing of Raul Reyes was not about Chavez initiatives or Ecuador’s sovereignty or Ingrid Betancourt’s captivity, it was about Raul Reyes, a consequential and life-long revolutionary and leader of the FARC. The war-scare is over, differences have been papered over, the leaders have returned to their palaces, but Raul Reyes has not been forgotten – at least not in the countryside of Colombia or in the hearts of its peasants.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8356

Despite US Efforts at Concealment, More Torture Stories Leaking Out by Sherwood Ross

Dandelion Salad

by Sherwood Ross
Global Research, March 16, 2008

“A guard held a shotgun to my head. ‘You are a terrorist!’ he screamed. ‘What kind of dumb stuff did you write about your treatment here?’ My hands and feet were bound, and someone kicked me from behind.“

That’s just a sliver of the testimony of Murat Kurnaz, a 19-year-old Muslim from Bremen, Germany, abducted while traveling in Pakistan in the company of missionaries a few months after 9/11. Kurnaz was sold as a terror suspect to the U.S. military for $3,000, imprisoned and tortured over a five-year period.

While jailed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, a Red Cross official wrote a letter home for Kurnaz and it was the “dumb stuff” in the letter that infuriated the Americans, according to the cover story in the Spring issue of “Amnesty International” (AI)magazine. The guards’ response illustrates the pains the Bush regime is taking to conceal from the world its horrific crimes against Muslim prisoners in dungeons around the world. There have been numerous other cases now where the Red Cross has not been informed of the existence of “ghost prisoners”, such as in the CIA prison in Kabul, or even told of the existence of a prison itself. Not surprisingly, the Red Cross has found U.S. methods are, at the least, “tantamount to torture.”

In another example, on March 14th, attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez of the non-profit Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), an advocacy organization of New York City, testified before a Congressional committee that she could not reveal what her client, CIA prisoner Majid Khan, told her about his treatment because “the government has declared prisoners’ statements to be classified,” The New York Times reported. As in the Kurnaz case, there is no such thing as free speech for prisoners of the Pentagon. Prisoners who talk to the Red Cross get roughed up. And the CCR is being muzzled as effectively as if they were dealing with Stalinist or Nazi jailers.

Still, stories leak out. At Kandahar, Kurnaz told Germany’s “Stern” magazine, (as reprinted by AI), he was made to pour cold water over his head every day. Then, “They prepared me for interrogations by putting electric shocks through my feet. For hours on end they would hang me up by my hands, which were bound behind my back in different positions—and then a break, and then you would be hung up again. A doctor looked in to see if you were still alive. The interrogator came at midday every day, and then you would be taken down for a short while.” (Yet another example of medical doctors cooperating in torture?)

Kurnaz was then flown to Guantanamo where he and other prisoners were beaten en route to the infamous Camp X-Ray, which he described as follows: “You were exposed to everything: sun, rain, snakes, scorpions. I once saw with my own eyes one of the prisoners being stung on the finger by a scorpion. Fat rats walked all over your arms and legs.” (Shades of Winston Smith in Room 101 in George Orwell’s novel 1984.)

“We were beaten a lot, tormented,” Kurnaz continued. “And then came the incident with the Quran. A military policeman who was searching a cell threw the book on the floor. The prisoners screamed. When I looked he was also kicking the Quran with his foot. Everybody began kicking against the doors and spitting at the guards. Then the Rapid Reaction Force came in.” After that, most prisoners refused to eat for four days. (Later, there was a second incident of Quran desecration, Kurnaz said.)

In Spring, 2002, Kurnaz was moved to Camp Delta, where he said conditions were “even worse” than at X-Ray. The camp consisted of container blocks, each with 48 cells “and the cages were made of chicken wire with a bed, toilet and washbasin at knee height. We had even less room to move around. The air was stifling. In the heat, it stank of paint and of 48 people being housed in the tiniest of rooms in great humidity. The neon light was always on, even at night, and the generators droned.”

Later that year, Kurnaz over a seven-week period was relocated every two hours so that he could not sleep, to which the guards gave the cutesy name of “Operation Sandman.” “As soon as they saw that you were asleep, they shook the cell doors,” Kurnaz said. “On top of that came interrogations that lasted for more than 50 hours. I hardly ate anything at this point either and lost about 60 kilos.” He added, “You are close to blacking out and you move around in a semiconscious state.”

About that time, Kurnaz said, guards attempted to hang a young Saudi from a sheet and label it a “suicide” attempt but the man survived in a brain-damaged state after three months in a coma.

At length, Kurnaz came to understand he was arrested as “the Taliban from Bremen” when, in fact, he had no idea what the Taliban was and had been employed in Germany as a nightclub bouncer. It wasn’t until August 24, 2006, that Kurnaz was released after a personal plea by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to President Bush. Kurnaz was flown home to Germany where he was reunited with his family. He said, “My father was very thin and had white hair. I embraced my mother. She was crying, and I embraced her until she stopped. Everybody cried. I did not. I do not know if I can still cry. Perhaps I forgot how to cry in Cuba.”

Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based journalist who covers military and political topics. He worked as a reporter on the Chicago Daily News and for major wire services and is founding editor of the Antiwar News Service. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8358

Iran’s Conservatives Take Lead in Election, End Nuclear Negotiations By Liam Bailey

Liam

By Liam Bailey
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Bailey Mail
March 16, 2008

2008-03-15

Iran’s hardliners led by Ahmadinejad have taken a massive early lead according to the count thus far. With results from 190 of the 290 seats revealed, Iran’s hardliners had taken 60 seats and the reformists only 33.

Iran’s hardliners celebrated taking a massive early lead in the country’s parliamentary elections by announcing that talks with the west over their nuclear program are over. This is a huge blow to anyone who still hoped this crisis could be resolved peacefully, and takes us one massive step closer to a US military attack on Iran.

It is unsurprising that the conservatives have taken such a lead in the provincial seats, because more than half of the reformists were banned from standing by the un-elected Guardian council of religious clerics, on the grounds that they lacked loyalty to the Islamic system.

One shimmer of light of the election, is that, according to so far unconfirmed reports, Ali Larijani has been elected in the parliamentary elections for the seat of Qom, an important religious city in Iran. Larijani is the former Iranian chief negotiator in the nuclear crisis, and advocate of a peaceful agreement with the West.

Larijani was a conservative and a supporter of Ahmadinejad, but their difference over the handling of the nuclear row led to Larijani and others breaking away and forming a political group now known as revisionists. Basically they don’t want the sweeping changes to the political system that the reformists do, but they hate the way Ahmadinejad has allowed the economy to collapse, the main reason for which being UN resolutions targeting the economy, because of his failure to peacefully resolve the nuclear row. The reformists have taken 48 seats of the results so far revealed.

Last week’s resignation of long-standing Naval Officer and central commander in the Middle East, General Fallon was widely regarded as a sign that war with Iran may be just around the corner. Another sign is Israel’s preparations to go to war with Hezbollah, an Iranian backed terror group in Lebanon who would attack Israel in retaliation for any US strike on Iran. Iran’s conservatives winning the provincial elections, and calling of negotiations over the nuclear row, I’m afraid to say, takes us far too close to war with Iran for my liking.

see

Threat of Iran War More Real: End the World for What? By Liam Bailey

The resignation of Admiral Fallon will provoke renewed fighting in Iraq

Disagreements by Top Military Brass regarding Bush-Cheney War Plans by Michel Chossudovsky

Bailey-Liam

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The Total Collapse Of The Global Economy (video)

Dandelion Salad

THEYLIVE2012

http://www.myspace.com/totalreality2012

There’s good news and bad news…

Good news is thanks to the massive wealth of information
the internet provides, we can now have a glimpse into the near future, so those of us with perception, can adequately prepare for the bad news.

and the bad news is…there is absolutely no avoiding this unprecedented economic downturn.
I hope people will heed these warnings.

History shows it’s those who giggled and snickered that ended up a statistic.

from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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MIR: Iraq – Five More Years? (video)

Dandelion Salad

linktv

Five years since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, and Bush’s photo-op on the USS Lincoln, the War in Iraq continues. Has the “mission been accomplished”? Or will it take another five years?

Answers to these questions and more on Link TV’s Mosaic Intelligence Report, presented by Jamal Dajani.

For more info, visit http://www.linktv.org

from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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