The forgotten holocaust by Robert Fisk + Anatomy of a massacre: How the genocide unfolded By Simon Usborne

Dandelion Salad

The killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War remains one of the bloodiest and most contentious episodes of the 20th century. Robert Fisk visits Yerevan, and unearths hitherto unpublished images of the first modern genocide

by Robert Fisk
The Independent
Published: 28 August 2007

The photographs, never before published, capture the horrors of the first Holocaust of the 20th century. They show a frightened people on the move – men, women and children, some with animals, others on foot, walking over open ground outside the city of Erzerum in 1915, at the beginning of their death march. We know that none of the Armenians sent from Erzerum – in what is today north-eastern Turkey – survived. Most of the men were shot, the children – including, no doubt, the young boy or girl with a headscarf in the close-up photograph – died of starvation or disease. The young women were almost all raped, the older women beaten to death, the sick and babies left by the road to die.

The unique photographs are a stunning witness to one of the most terrible events of our times. Their poor quality – the failure of the camera to cope with the swirl and movement of the Armenian deportees in the close-up picture, the fingerprint on the top of the second – lend them an undeniable authenticity. They come from the archives of the German Deutsche Bank, which was in 1915 providing finance for the maintenance and extension of the Turkish railway system. One incredible photograph – so far published in only two specialist magazines, in Germany and in modern-day Armenia – actually shows dozens of doomed Armenians, including children, crammed into cattle trucks for their deportation. The Turks stuffed 90 Armenians into each of these wagons – the same average the Nazis achieved in their transports to the death camps of Eastern Europe during the Jewish Holocaust.

Hayk Demoyan, director of the grey-stone Museum of the Armenian Genocide in the foothills just outside Yerevan, the capital of present-day Armenia, stares at the photographs on his computer screen in bleak silence. A university lecturer in modern Turkish history, he is one of the most dynamic Armenian genocide researchers inside the remains of Armenia, which is all that was left after the Turkish slaughter; it suffered a further 70 years of terror as part of the Soviet Union. “Yes, you can have these pictures, he says. “We are still discovering more. The Germans took photographs and these pictures even survived the Second World War. Today, we want our museum to be a place of collective memory, a memorisation of trauma. Our museum is for Turks as well as Armenians. This is also [the Turks’] history.”

The story of the last century’s first Holocaust – Winston Churchill used this very word about the Armenian genocide years before the Nazi murder of six million Jews – is well known, despite the refusal of modern-day Turkey to acknowledge the facts. Nor are the parallels with Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews idle ones. Turkey’s reign of terror against the Armenian people was an attempt to destroy the Armenian race. While the Turks spoke publicly of the need to “resettle” their Armenian population – as the Germans were to speak later of the Jews of Europe – the true intentions of Enver Pasha’s Committee of Union and Progress in Constantinople were quite clear. On 15 September 1915, for example (and a carbon of this document exists) Talaat Pasha, the Turkish Interior minister, cabled an instruction to his prefect in Aleppo about what he should do with the tens of thousands of Armenians in his city. “You have already been informed that the government… has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons living in Turkey… Their existence must be terminated, however tragic the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to any scruples of conscience.” These words are almost identical to those used by Himmler to his SS killers in 1941.

Taner Akcam, a prominent – and extremely brave – Turkish scholar who has visited the Yerevan museum, has used original Ottoman Turkish documents to authenticate the act of genocide. Now under fierce attack for doing so from his own government, he discovered in Turkish archives that individual Turkish officers often wrote “doubles” of their mass death-sentence orders, telegrams sent at precisely the same time that asked their subordinates to ensure there was sufficient protection and food for the Armenians during their “resettlement”. This weirdly parallels the bureaucracy of Nazi Germany, where officials were dispatching hundreds of thousands of Jews to the gas chambers while assuring International Red Cross officials in Geneva that they were being well cared for and well fed.

Ottoman Turkey’s attempt to exterminate an entire Christian race in the Middle East – the Armenians, descended from the residents of ancient Urartu, became the first Christian nation when their king Drtad converted from paganism in AD301 – is a history of almost unrelieved horror at the hands of Turkish policemen and soldiers, and Kurdish tribesmen.

In 1915, Turkey claimed that its Armenian population was supporting Turkey’s Christian enemies in Britain, France and Russia. Several historians – including Churchill, who was responsible for the doomed venture at Gallipoli – have asked whether the Turkish victory there did not give them the excuse to turn against the Christian Armenians of Asia Minor, a people of mixed Persian, Roman and Byzantine blood, with what Churchill called “merciless fury”. Armenian scholars have compiled a map of their people’s persecution and deportation, a document that is as detailed as the maps of Europe that show the railway lines to Auschwitz and Treblinka; the Armenians of Erzerum, for example, were sent on their death march to Terjan and then to Erzinjan and on to Sivas province. The men would be executed by firing squad or hacked to death with axes outside villages, the women and children then driven on into the desert to die of thirst or disease or exhaustion or gang-rape. In one mass grave I myself discovered on a hillside at Hurgada in present-day Syria, there were thousands of skeletons, mostly of young people – their teeth were perfect. I even found a 100-year-old Armenian woman who had escaped the slaughter there and identified the hillside for me.

Hayk Demoyan sits in his air-conditioned museum office, his computer purring softly on the desk, and talks of the need to memorialise this huge suffering. “You can see it in the writing of each survivor,” he says. “When visitors come here from the diaspora – from America and Europe, Lebanon and Syria, people whose parents or grandparents died in our genocide – our staff feel with these people. They see these people become very upset, there are tears and some get a bit crazy after seeing the exhibition. This can be very difficult for us, psychologically. The stance of the current Turkish government [in denying the genocide] is proving they are proud of what their ancestors did. They are saying they are pleased with what the Ottomans did. Yet today, we are hearing that a lot of places in the world are like goldmines of archive materials to continue our work – even here in Yerevan. Every day, we are coming across new photographs or documents.”

The pictures Demoyan gives to The Independent were taken by employees of Deutsche Bank in 1915 to send to their head office in Berlin as proof of their claims that the Turks were massacring their Armenian population. They can be found in the Deutsche Bank Historical Institute – Oriental Section (the photograph of the Armenian deportees across the desert published in The Independent today, for example, is registered photo number 1704 and the 1915 caption reads: “Deportation Camp near Erzerum.”)

A German engineer in Kharput sent back a now-famous photogaph of Armenian men being led to their execution by armed Turkish police officers. The banking officials were appalled that the Ottoman Turks were using – in effect – German money to send Armenians to their death by rail. The new transportation system was supposed to be used for military purposes, not for genocide.

German soldiers sent to Turkey to reorganise the Ottoman army also witnessed these atrocities. Armin Wegner, an especially courageous German second lieutenant in the retinue of Field Marshal von der Goltz, took a series of photographs of dead and dying Armenian women and children. Other German officers regarded the genocide with more sinister interest. Some of these men, as Armenian scholar Vahakn Dadrian discovered, turn up 26 years later as more senior officers conducting the mass killing of Jews in German-occupied Russia.

Computers have transformed the research of institutions like the Yerevan museum. Poorly funded scholarship has been replaced by a treasure-house of information that Demoyan is going to publish in scholarly magazines. “We have information that some Germans who were in Armenia in 1915 started selling genocide pictures for personal collections when they returned home… In Russia, a man from St Petersburg also informed us that he had seen handwritten memoirs from 1940 in which the writer spoke of Russian photographs of Armenian bodies in Van and Marash in 1915 and 1916.” Russian Tsarist troops marched into the eastern Turkish city of Van and briefly liberated its doomed Armenian inhabitants. Then the Russians retreated after apparently taking these pictures of dead Armenians in outlying villages.

Stalin also did his bit to erase the memory of the massacres. The Armenian Tashnag party, so prominent in Armenian politics in the Ottoman empire, was banned by the Soviets. “In the 1930s,” Demoyan says, “everyone destroyed handwritten memoirs of the genocide, photographs, land deeds – otherwise they could have been associated by the Soviet secret police with Tashnag material.” He shakes his head at this immeasurable loss. “But now we are finding new material in France and new pictures taken by humanitarian workers of the time. We know there were two or three documentary films from 1915, one shot approvingly by a Kurdish leader to show how the Turks “dealt” with Armenians. There is huge new material in Norway of the deportations in Mush from a Norwegian missionary who was there in 1915.”

There is, too, a need to archive memoirs and books that were published in the aftermath of the genocide but discarded or forgotten in the decades that followed. In 1929, for example, a small-circulation book was published in Boston entitled From Dardanelles to Palestine by Captain Sarkis Torossian. The author was a highly decorated officer in the Turkish army who fought with distinction and was wounded at Gallipoli. He went on to fight the Allies in Palestine but was appalled to find thousands of dying Armenian refugees in the deserts of northern Syria. In passages of great pain, he discovers his sister living in rags and tells how his fiancée Jemileh died in his arms. “I raised Jemileh in my arms, the pain and terror in her eyes melted until they were bright as stars again, stars in an oriental night… and so she died, as a dream passing.” Torossian changed sides, fought with the Arabs, and even briefly met Lawrence of Arabia – who did not impress him.

“The day following my entry into Damascus, the remainder of the Arab army entered along with their loads and behind them on a camel came one they called… the paymaster. This camel rider I learned was Captain Lawrence… Captain Lawrence to my knowledge did nothing to foment the Arab revolution, nor did he play any part in the Arab military tactics. When first I heard of him he was a paymaster, nothing more. And so he was to Prince Emir Abdulah (sic), brother of King Feisal, whom I knew. I do not write in disparagement. I write as a fighting man. Some must fight and others pay.” Bitterness, it seems, runs deep. Torossian eventually re-entered Ottoman Turkey as an Armenian officer with the French army of occupation in the Cilicia region. But Kemalist guerrillas attacked the French, who then, Torossian suspects, gave weapons and ammunition to the Turks to allow the French army safe passage out of Cilicia. Betrayed, Torossian fled to relatives in America.

There is debate in Yerevan today as to why the diaspora Armenians appear to care more about the genocide than the citizens of modern-day Armenia. Indeed, the Foreign minister of Armenia, Vardan Oskanian, actually told me that “days, weeks, even months go by” when he does not think of the genocide. One powerful argument put to me by an Armenian friend is that 70 years of Stalinism and official Soviet silence on the genocide deleted the historical memory in eastern Armenia – the present-day state of Armenia. Another argument suggests that the survivors of western Armenia – in what is now Turkey – lost their families and lands and still seek acknowledgement and maybe even restitution, while eastern Armenians did not lose their lands. Demoyan disputes all this.

“The fundamental problem, I think, is that in the diaspora many don’t want to recognise our statehood,” he says. “We are surrounded by two countries – Turkey and Azerbaijan – and we have to take our security into account; but not to the extent of damaging memory. Here we must be accurate. I have changed things in this museum. There were inappropriate things, comments about ‘hot-bloodied’people, all the old clichés about Turks – they have now gone. The diaspora want to be the holders of our memories – but 60 per cent of the citizens of the Armenian state are “repatriates” – Armenians originally from the diaspora, people whose grandparents originally came from western Armenia. And remember that Turkish forces swept though part of Armenia after the 1915 genocide – right through Yerevan on their way to Baku. According to Soviet documentation in 1920, 200,000 Armenians died in this part of Armenia, 180,000 of them between 1918 and 1920.” Indeed, there were further mass executions by the Turks in what is now the Armenian state. At Ghumri – near the centre of the devastating earthquake that preceded final liberation from the Soviet Union – there is a place known as the “Gorge of Slaughter”, where in 1918 a whole village was massacred.

But I sensed some political problems up at the Yerevan museum – international as well as internal. While many Armenians acknowledge that their countrymen did commit individual revenge atrocities – around Van, for example – at the time of the genocide, a heavy burden of more modern responsibility lies with those who fought for Armenia against the Azeris in Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s. This mountainous region east of the Armenian state saw fierce and sometimes cruel fighting in which Armenians massacred Turkish Azeri villagers. The Independent was one of the newspapers that exposed this.

Yet when I arrive at the massive genocide memorial next to the museum, I find the graves of five “heroes” of the Karabakh war. Here lies, for instance, Musher “Vosht” Mikhoyan, who was killed in 1991, and the remains of Samuel “Samo” Kevorkian, who died in action in 1992. However upright these warriors may have been, should those involved in the ghastly war in Kharabakh be associated with the integrity and truth of 1915? Do they not demean the history of Armenia’s greatest suffering? Or were they – as I suspect – intended to suggest that the Karabakh war, which Armenia won, was revenge for the 1915 genocide? It’s as if the Israelis placed the graves of the 1948 Irgun fighters – responsible for the massacres of Palestinians at Deir Yassin and other Arab villages – outside the Jewish Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem near Jerusalem.

Officials later explain to me that these Kharabakh grave-sites were established at a moment of great emotion after the war and that today – while they might be inappropriate – it is difficult to ask the families of “Vosht” and “Samo” and the others to remove them to a more suitable location. Once buried, it is difficult to dig up the dead. Similarly, among the memorials left in a small park by visiting statesmen and politicians, there is a distinct difference in tone. Arab leaders have placed plaques in memory of the “genocide”. Less courageous American congressman – who do not want to offend their Turkish allies – have placed plaques stating merely that they “planted this tree”. The pro-American Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri left his own memorial less than a year before he was assassinated in 2005. “Tree of Peace,” it says. Which rather misses the point.

And yet it is the work of archivists that will continue to establish the truth. In Yerevan you can now buy excellent witness testimonies of the genocide by Westerners who were present during the Armenian Holocaust. One of them is by Tacy Atkinson, an American missionary who witnessed the deportation of her Armenian friends from the town of Kharput. On 16 July 1915, she recorded in her secret diary how “a boy has arrived in Mezreh in a bad state nervously. As I understand it he was with a crowd of women and children from some village… who joined our prisoners who went out June 23… The boy says that in the gorge this side of Bakir Maden the men and women were all shot and the leading men had their heads cut off afterwards… He escaped… and came here. His own mother was stripped and robbed and then shot… He says the valley smells so awful that one can hardly pass by now.”

For fear the Turkish authorities might discover her diaries, Atkinson sometimes omitted events. In 1924 – when her diary, enclosed in a sealed trunk, at last returned to the United States, she wrote about a trip made to Kharput by her fellow missionaries. “The story of this trip I did not dare write,” she scribbled in the margin. “They saw about 10,000 bodies.”

Anatomy of a massacre: How the genocide unfolded

By Simon Usborne

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians died between 1915 and 1917, either at the hands of Turkish forces or of starvation. Exact figures are unknown, but each larger blob – at the site of a concentration camp or massacre – potentially represents the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

The trail of extermination, and dispute about exactly what happened, stretches back more than 90 years to the opening months of the First World War, when some of the Armenian minority in the east of the beleaguered Ottoman Empire enraged the ruling Young Turks coalition by siding with Russia.

On 24 April 1915, Turkish troops rounded up and killed hundreds of Armenian intellectuals. Weeks later, three million Armenians were marched from their homes – the majority towards Syria and modern-day Iraq – via an estimated 25 concentration camps.

In 1915, The New York Times reported that “the roads and the Euphrates are strewn with corpses of exiles… It is a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people.” Winston Churchill would later call the forced exodus an “administrative holocaust”.

Yet Turkey, while acknowledging that many Armenians died, disputes the 1.5 million toll and insists that the acts of 1915-17 did not constitute what is now termed genocide – defined by the UN as a state-sponsored attempt to “destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. Instead, Ankara claims the deaths were part of the wider war, and that massacres were committed by both sides.

Several countries have formally recognised genocide against the Armenians (and, in the case of France, outlawed its denial), but it remains illegal in Turkey to call for recognition. As recently as last year, the Turkish foreign ministry dismissed genocide allegations as “unfounded”.

One authority on extermination who did recognise the Armenian genocide was Adolf Hitler. In a 1939 speech, in which he ordered the killing, “mercilessly and without compassion”, of Polish men, women and children, he concluded: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

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see:

US Jewish group retracts stance on Armenian genocide h/t: ICH

Gonzo’s Gone. Now Let’s Go After Cheney by Dave Lindorff

Gonzo’s Gone. Now Let’s Go After Cheney by Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

by Dave Lindorff
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Let’s be clear. Alberto Gonzales is resigning as attorney general not because he’s become an embarrassment to the Bush administration — which has repeatedly shown itself to be beyond embarrassment — but because he is no longer useful. Exposed as a serial liar and an administration hack, he can no longer be relied upon by the Bush administration to carry forward its criminal agenda of subverting the Constitution, the electoral process and the Bill of Rights, because his every step is being watched by the public and the Congress.

But this is no victory unless the Congress follows up by pursuing those who put Gonzales up to his crimes.

The whole reason felons and hacks like Gonzales resign from office is to bury their misdeeds by leaving town.

If Congress then obliges by moving on to other things, the resignation will have succeeded.

It lookes at first as though we would have Michael Chertoff as AG after Gonzo. Now on one level that might have been an improvement. Gonzales was a both a house servant to Bush through his years as governor and president, doing whatever was necessary to tidy up after Bush’s messes, like hiding evidence of his drunk driving record and his dereliction of duty during the Vietnam War, and a kind of mob attorney, developing legal loopholes to protect the president from prosecution (or impeachment) for various crimes as president, like violating the Geneva Conventions or unleashing the nation’s spy apparatus against Americans. Chertoff, who is not a part of the Texas Mafia, might not have been quite so ready to cross the line into rank sycophancy and to play the role of co-conspirator, particularly given that it would only be for another 16 months.

Then again, Chertoff, in his short stint at what is still referred to as the “Justice” Department, headed up the anti-terrorism unit under Gonzales’ predecessor, John Ashcroft, and willingly played along with the sham prosecution of John Walker Lindh, the kid who was captured in Afghanistan and inflated by Ashcroft and Chertoff into “the American Taliban.” It was Chertoff who successfully deep-sixed evidence of Lindh’s weeks of torture at the hands of American forces, by threatening Lindh with a treason prosecution, while holding out the offer of a deal — “just” 15 years in the can if he agreed to sign a fraudulent statement saying he had “never been mistreated” in US captivity, and to accept a gag order barring him from talking about what had happened to him for the entire length of his sentence — an unprecedented gag order.

That prosecution and silencing of Lindh, which prevented the public from exploring the deliberate campaign of torture that had been developed in Afghanistan, later to “migrate” to Guantanamo and thence to Abu Ghraib and Iraq, was in its way as damaging to the nation as was Chertoff’s other signal disaster — his inept and callous mishandling of the catastrophe of the Katrina flooding of New Orleans.

So count it as lucky that Chertoff — a demonstrable failure both as an administrator and as a defender of justice — didn’t make the cut as a replacement for Gonzales.

In the event, it is apparently going to be Solicitor General Paul Clement, a hard-right attorney who since 2005 has been the administration’s chief attorney, who will take over as interim AG when Gonzo goes home to Texas on September 17. Clement, a former Federalist Society member who clerked for Antonin Scalia as a young man, can be expected to take his view of an all powerful chief executive with him into the AG’s office, which will probably mean a continued hard line on both Congressional subpoenas, and on Congressional requests for special prosecutors to investigate White House wrongdoing. Going with Clement, who was next in line to Gonzales, with both the assistant and deputy assistant AG already resigned, also conveniently spares Bush the task of having to get somebody through a Senate confirmation.

The one good thing that can be said about the Gonzales resignation is that it eliminates the Democratic leadership’s latest gambit for attempting to derail the impeachment movement. As support for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney has grown, both among the public at large and in Congress, where there are now at least 20 co-sponsors for Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill, the Democratic leadership in the House scrambled to get behind a purely inside-the-beltway “campaign” to impeach Gonzales — a move that did succeed in dividing the real, authentic impeachment movement.

The interesting thing is that in backing the impeachment of Gonzales, those leaders and senior House Democrats who have been brushing off the broader impeachment movement gave the lie to two of their main arguments against impeachment — that it would be “too divisive” and that there “isn’t time” for impeachment. Clearly if it wasn’t too late to impeach Gonzales, and if impeaching Gonzales would not be too divisive, neither is it too late to impeach Cheney and neither would impeaching Cheney be “too divisive.”

So let’s hail the departure of Gonzo, let’s demand a continuation of the House and Senate investigations into his various misdeeds and his lies to Congressional committees, and most importantly, let’s move forward with the campaign to impeach Cheney, starting with a full-court campaign to get all those who so readily signed on to Washington Rep. Jay Inslee’s Gonzales impeachment bill to now sign on to Rep. Kucinich’s H.Res. 333, a resolution to impeach the vice president.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

The Great Iraq Swindle By Rolling Stone Magazine

Dandelion Salad

By Rolling Stone Magazine
Issue 1034
ICH
08/27/07 “Rolling Stone
Aug 23, 2007

How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury

How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins — he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.

You start off as a well-connected bureaucrat: in this case, as an Air Force civil engineer, a post from which Robbins was responsible for overseeing 70,000 servicemen and contractors, with an annual budget of $8 billion. You serve with distinction for thirty-four years, becoming such a military all-star that the Air Force frequently sends you to the Hill to testify before Congress — until one day in the summer of 2003, when you retire to take a job as an executive for Parsons, a private construction company looking to do work in Iraq.

Now you can finally move out of your dull government housing on Bolling Air Force Base and get your wife that dream home you’ve been promising her all these years. The place on Park Street in Dunn Loring, Virginia, looks pretty good — four bedrooms, fireplace, garage, 2,900 square feet, a nice starter home in a high-end neighborhood full of spooks, think-tankers and ex-apparatchiks moved on to the nest-egg phase of their faceless careers. On October 20th, 2003, you close the deal for $775,000 and start living that private-sector good life.

A few months later, in March 2004, your company magically wins a contract from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to design and build the Baghdad Police College, a facility that’s supposed to house and train at least 4,000 police recruits. But two years and $72 million later, you deliver not a functioning police academy but one of the great engineering clusterfucks of all time, a practically useless pile of rubble so badly constructed that its walls and ceilings are literally caked in shit and piss, a result of subpar plumbing in the upper floors.

You’ve done such a terrible job, in fact, that when auditors from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction visit the college in the summer of 2006, their report sounds like something out of one of the Saw movies: “We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate,” they write, adding that “the urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles” and that “during our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member’s shirt.” The final report helpfully includes a photo of a sloppy brown splotch on the outstretched arm of the unlucky auditor.

When Congress gets wind of the fias­co, a few members on the House Oversight Committee demand a hearing. To placate them, your company decides to send you to the Hill — after all, you’re a former Air Force major general who used to oversee this kind of contracting operation for the government. So you take your twenty-minute ride in from the suburbs, sit down before the learned gentlemen of the committee and promptly get asked by an irritatingly eager Maryland congressman named Chris Van Hollen how you managed to spend $72 million on a pile of shit.

You blink. Fuck if you know. “I have some conjecture, but that’s all it would be” is your deadpan answer.

The room twitters in amazement. It’s hard not to applaud the balls of a man who walks into Congress short $72 million in taxpayer money and offers to guess where it all might have gone.

Continued…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:
Security Contractors: Riding Shotgun With Our Shadow Army In Iraq By Nir Rosen

Gonzales Gone for Wrong Reasons by Juan Cole

Dandelion Salad

by Juan Cole
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The great shame of it all is that Alberto Gonzales was confirmed as Attorney General despite it being widely known that he had played a central role in attempting to authorize the use of torture on prisoners in US custody. He had tossed aside the US Constitution’s own prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment” (such a wimpy bleeding-heart liberal document). It is an index of the corruption of the Republican Party, which then controlled Congress, that they made this man attorney general in the first place.

The great shame of it all is that Gonzales was hounded out of office not because he authorized torture and assaulted the basic principles of the US constitution, but because he fired US attorneys who wanted to investigate both Republican and Democratic voter fraud. Torture people all you like, is the message he sent, but if you’re even-handed as between Republicans and Democrats, you are fired.

He tossed aside the Geneva Conventions, which were crafted to prevent any reemergence of Nazism in the post-war period. While Gonzales is not a Nazi, if you get rid of an anti-Nazi legal instrument you are in effect aiding and abetting potential fascism.

MSNBC wrote at the height of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, which Gonzales had implicitly encouraged:

By Jan. 25, 2002, according to a memo obtained by NEWSWEEK [pdf], it was clear that Bush had already decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply at all, either to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. In the memo, which was written to Bush by Gonzales, the White House legal counsel told the president that Powell had “requested that you reconsider that decision.” Gonzales then laid out startlingly broad arguments that anticipated any objections to the conduct of U.S. soldiers or CIA interrogators in the future. “As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war,” Gonzales wrote to Bush. “The nature of the new war places a —high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians.” Gonzales concluded in stark terms: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”

The Geneva conventions, to which the United States is a signatory (i.e. it is a treaty with the force of American law) cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

The great shame of it all is that Gonzales is being ousted for what amounts to selectively abetting voter fraud.

His role as torturer-in-chief would not have forced him from office.

It is a great shame.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Gertie goes down. by Michael

Olbermann: Worst Person + Gonzo…Going, Going, Gone + Gonzo But Not Forgotten + Does Bush Have Any Friend’s Left? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

heathr234

And the winner is….Sean Hannity for… And the winner is….Sean Hannity for his outrageous statements following Ted Nugent’s outrageous statements. Runner up Brit Hume.

Alberto Gonzales formally resigned today and George Bush blamed politics for Gonzales’ departure. The news was greeted with relief on all sides. Dana Milbank weighs in with Keith on why Gonzales chose to leave now and who might replace him.

John Dean weighs in with Keith on what might happen now that Alberto Gonzales has resigned and why Michael Chertoff is not likely to be brought forth as Gonzo’s replacement.

As Bush’s Texas gang continues to jump the sinking ship, Bush could potentially turn to another one in Clay Johnson to run Homeland Security if Michael Chertoff would leave. James Moore weighs in on the relationship of Bush and Johnson and who might even still be willing to fill positions in this administration besides a loyalist.

see:

Sen. Chuck Schumer Statement on Gonzales Resignation + Bush on Gonzales Resignation (videos)

Attorney General Gonzales to resign by David Edwards and Nick Juliano + Alberto Gonzales Resigns (video; link)

The Democrats’ responsibility in the wake of Gonzales’ resignation by Glenn Greenwald