Scahill interviews democrats on Blackwater

Dandelion Salad

IWantDemocracyNow

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Democracy Now!

Aug 28, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: House Oversight Chair Henry Waxman Calls for Cancellation of Blackwater’s Contract in Iraq

In an exclusive interview with Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill, Congressman Henry Waxman, chair of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, calls on Sen. Barack Obama to cancel the private military firm Blackwater’s Iraq contract if Obama is elected president. Serious questions remain about what Obama will do with this massive private shadow army in Iraq.

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Democracy Now! | EXCLUSIVE: House Oversight Chair Henry Waxman Calls for Cancellation of Blackwater’s Contract in Iraq.

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Iraq Veterans Against War – DNC Protest + Vets willing to be arrested

DNC – Denver CO

Iraq Veterans Against War – DNC Protest + Vets willing to be arrested

Dandelion Salad

Updated: added Democracy Now’s coverage

slim989j2007

This video is about the brave men & women of the IVAW. This depicts a thirty minute stand off between the Police & the IVAW. The peaceful protest resolved in the IVAWs request being met.

Continue reading

Back to the future: “Chaos and instability Washington’s officlal policy line”

By William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
williambowles.info

Aug 28, 2008

“In the operation the West conducted on Georgian soil against Russia – South Ossetians were the victims or hostages of it – we can see a rehearsal for an attack on Iran. There is a great deal of “new features” that today are being fine tuned in the theater of military operations.

“…[T]he likelihood of a war against Iran was growing with each passing day, “As a result, the situation in the region will become destabilized…causing chaos and instability” was becoming Washington’s official policy line. — ‘Russian analyst points to link between Georgian attack and Iran’.

All the talk by the major Western powers of a return to the days of the Cold War must surely be a wake up call to us all as to what is in reality the ultimate expression of a resurgent and I might add, desperate, imperialism, the recreation of its historical enemy for the better part of the 20th century, Russia, but is Russia the object of desire here? I think not, at least not directly, Georgia is yet another piece on the chessboard, the question is, do the Russians want to play and if they do, by whose rules?

War has been for the better part of five centuries the ‘solution’ to capitalism’s woes, indeed wars of aggression over resources and competitors is the norm for the major powers of the West. But for a brief period, less than fifty years following the end of WWII, the existence of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union curbed the inevitable drive toward a major conflagration over markets and the imperative for the accumulation of capital, without which capitalism is a dead duck.

So with the former Soviet Union out of the way all the signs pointed to a 21st century dominated by the leading imperialist power, the US; after all, where is the opposition?

But reality has a way upsetting the plans of even the most powerful nation on the planet. I am reminded (again) of a major article that appeared in the Economist following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 which amazingly lamented the passing of the Soviet Union, arguing quite forcefully that without an enemy to drive the economies of the West things could only go from bad to worse and how right they were in spite of the invention of the ‘war on terror’ as a cheap replacement for the war on communism (though an ‘enemy’ which is essentially invisible does have advantages over one which can give as good as it gets).

It’s obvious that the Georgian provocation instigated by the US, is part of a larger and even more ominous scheme of destabilization, but the issue here is more complex than ‘grand schemes of world domination’ because I contend that the real world of the collapsing capitalist economies is now dictating events (which makes the situation even more dangerous for all of us).

First of all, Russia is in the way of the US move Eastward, which is where Georgia plays a vital role, hence the need to get Georgia into NATO. However, as with many of the US’s previous ‘allies’, Saakashvili has proved to be totally unreliable (if not mentally unbalanced), and if as seems more than likely, the US ‘advised’ him to invade Ossetia, it has proved to be yet another strategic blunder, or did the US assume that the Russians would roll over and play dead?

Either way, under the circumstances the ‘Cold War’ card was all that was left to the West, but bluffing is all well and good when playing poker but not when the game is chess.

But the Western ‘allies’ are in a bit of a bind, especially the EU members who are divided over what action, if any, to take, especially France and Germany whose economic ties to Russia are at risk. The UK predictably, has been banging the war drums, under the guise of defending ‘new democracies’,

“There was a strong element of what Miliband does best: preaching democracy to new democracies – which are more than converted to the principle – while asking for little in return for his praise that would be awkward for them to give.” — ‘David Miliband at last delivers the right words in the right haircut’, The Times, August 27, 2008.

And in another Times piece, we read,

“David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, also flew to Ukraine to assemble the “widest possible coalition against Russian aggression” — ‘Cold War tension rises as Putin talks of Black Sea confrontation’, The Times, August 28, 2008.

But in actuality, short of going to war, what can the US and its allies actually do? The situation is perhaps revealed by the following quote,

“A former British ambassador to Tbilisi said that Nato might have to send troops to the region. Donald McLaren, who was Ambassador to Georgia from 2004 to July last year and is now retired, told the Today programme on [BBC] Radio 4: “I think we shouldn’t be too complacent or too scared in a situation like this.”

“He suggested that a peacekeeping force made up of troops from the US, Britain, France, Germany and Russia should be sent to Georgia to replace the Russian units. If Moscow rejected such a proposal, he said, Nato had only two choices: “To give up and surrender and say to the Russians, ‘It’s your backyard, you’ve won’, or to put men on the ground to protect Georgia’s sovereignty and the east-west oil and gas pipeline from the Caspian and Central Asia.” [ibid]

The problem for the West is that has no mandate to send troops, so short of an illegal invasion there’s very little it can do,

“Nato diplomatic sources said that no one within the alliance was speaking about sending troops. “We have no mandate to act in the Caucasus” [ibid]

A mini 9/11 in a far-off land?

There’s also no doubt that the inflammatory rhetoric coming out of Washington is directly connected to the November presidential elections and what better way of boosting McCain’s chances of winning than by invoking the ‘Russian menace’ given the almost total ignorance the US public has over what really happened on August 7 and after. And this allegation is now borne out by prime minister Putin’s latest statement.

“Mr Putin told CNN US citizens were “in the area” during the conflict over South Ossetia and were “taking direct orders from their leaders”.

“He said his defence officials had told him the provocation was to benefit one of the US presidential candidates.

/…/

“The suspicion arises that someone in the United States especially created this conflict with the aim of making the situation more tense and creating a competitive advantage for one of the candidates fighting for the post of US president.” — ‘Putin blames US for Georgia role’, BBC Website, 28 August, 2008

And Putin’s allegations are not without substance. Only days before Georgia attacked Southern Ossetia individuals from the Republican Party were in Georgia.

“And so it was that a team from the vice president’s office, U.S. security officials and others were in Georgia several days before the war began.” — ‘Why was Cheney’s Guy in Georgia Before the War?’ By James Gerstenzang.

And given that the Georgian armed forces have been armed by the US and Israel, drawing such conclusions is not surprising.

Clearly though, provoking the Russians into taking military actions was not unexpected, even the desired outcome, as it provided the US and its capos, with the perfect propaganda weapon, one which was promoted in a very specific way from the onset of the war, namely it was Russian, not Georgian aggression that was the cause. Georgia has been consistently presented as the ‘David’, conveniently ignoring the fact that it is directly (and openly) a US/Israeli client state.

As I have indicated elsewhere, from the hour Georgia launched its blitzkreig on the capital, the Western media and the states downplayed or ignored the Georgian attack and focused instead on Russsian ‘aggression’, a theme which they have maintained to this day.

Then there is the ceasefire document drawn up by Sarkozy of France, which when the US read it objected quite strongly to some of its provisions, especially the issue of Russian troop withdrawal.

“U.S. Deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the Russians ‘without a doubt have failed to live up to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement.’

“An immediate concern expressed by all sides involved buffer zones outside of two Georgian breakaway provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia insists it has the right to create these zones under the cease-fire deal, but Wood said, ‘Establishing check-points and buffer zones are definitely not part of the agreement.’

“Wood is of course wrong. Point 5 of the signed ceasefire agreement says:

“Russian forces must go back to positions they held prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Pending an international peace monitoring mechanism, Russian peacekeepers will take additional security measures.” — See also ‘The Mysterious ‘Sarkozy Letter’’ for a complete rundown on the events leading up to the ceasefire and after it had been signed and implemented on August 17.

The devil, as far as the US was concerned lay in the phrase “Russian peacekeepers will take additional security measures”, which can mean anything you want it to and under the circumstances, with the US promising to re-arm Georgia, the Russians would be fools not to take whatever “additional security measures” they felt were needed. And in any case, what right do the US or the EU have to dictate to the Russians how they should respond to an unprovoked attack on its citizens?

Wood, by the way is one of the State Department officials who was in Georgia only days before Georgia invaded.

But it is perhaps Point Six of the Ceasefire Agreement that the West has done its best to destroy:

‘Launch of international discussions on security and stability arrangements for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.’

Instead the West, led by the US and the UK have inflamed the situation by sending an armada into the Black Sea, promised to re-arm Georgia, broken off any meaningful dialog with Russia, and re-invented the Cold War. And in so doing, backed Russia into a corner by refusing to recognize its legitimate rights.

see

Ron Paul: Why are we provoking the Russians?

Russia Today: Alex Jones: Sneaky attack on the Russian enclaves

Biden, Obama & The Blood-Dimmed Tide + Tongue of Flame by Chris Floyd

Kucinich sets the record straight on O’Reilly

Medvedev: We’re not afraid of Cold War + Ordinary Americans pay Georgian price

Why I had to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions By Dmitry Medvedev

Georgia

Man dead after shock from Taser + Columbia police expect backlash

Dandelion Salad

My heartfelt condolences to Stan’s family and friends, including Tim (a friend of mine).  In my opinion the action taken by these police officers amounts to murder.  Taser use is supposed to be instead of using guns and when the suspect is a danger to the officers or others.   Stan posed no threat to the police yet they tasered him to death.  Suspects can be annoying, obnoxious, etc, however, they do not deserve death.  ~ Lo

Updated: added a story with a video link and another story, see below

By T.J. GREANEY of the Tribune’s staff
The Columbia Daily Tribune
Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moberly police say DWI suspect resisted.

A 23-year-old Moberly man died today after police used a Taser to subdue him during a traffic stop.

The incident began at 12:30 a.m. when police pulled over Stanley James William Harlan for driving his vehicle erratically in the 500 block of South Williams Street, said Commander Kevin Palmatory of the Moberly Police Department.

While trying to arrest Harlan on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Harlan used physical force to resist, and the arresting officer was able to get only one handcuff on him, police said. Palmatory could not say whether officers conducted a field sobriety test.

[…]

Man dead after shock from Taser.

h/t: Dan via an email

***

Updated

KOMU

Man Dies After Police Taser

Video link

MOBERLY – Stanley Harlan died after an early morning altercation with Moberly Police.

Moberly Police tasered the 23 year-old twice.

Police said Harlan was resisting arrest for suspicion of drunk driving when an officer tased him.

Police also said Harlan soon became unresponsive and died at Moberly Regional Medical Center around 2 a.m.

[…]

continued plus video

Updated

Columbia police expect backlash from Moberly Taser incident

August 28, 2008 | 9:08 p.m. CDT

BY CAROLINE EVANS and TRAM WHITEHURST

COLUMBIA – Interim Police Chief Tom Dresner said the department was saddened by the news of a Moberly man’s death after being Tasered early Thursday, calling it a “tragedy all around.” He also said he fully expected a wider backlash against the use of Tasers in Columbia as a result of the incident.

The death comes less than two months after a Columbia man was critically injured after he was Tasered by a Columbia police officer and fell from an interstate overpass. Earlier in July, the City Council had approved the purchase of 40 more Tasers, so the majority of the department’s patrol officers would be equipped with Tasers.

[…]

Columbia police expect backlash from Moberly Taser incident – Columbia Missourian.

see

Persecution in the Pacific Northwest + Tasered (video)

Tased Until Dead: The Epidemic of Taser Crazy Cops + MO police taser injured boy! (updated)

Death by Taser: Police Accused of Cover-Up in Death of African American Man Shocked Nine Times While in Handcuffs

Teenager Dies After Police In Charlotte Use Taser

Police State

Tasers

Police Brutality

Ron Paul: Why are we provoking the Russians?

Dandelion Salad

matrixxx123456789

8/28/2008

Ron Paul discusses his non-interventionist policies vs. the current top two candidates interventionism on CNN.

http://campaignforliberty.com

Vodpod videos no longer available.

see

Russia Today: Alex Jones: Sneaky attack on the Russian enclaves

Biden, Obama & The Blood-Dimmed Tide + Tongue of Flame by Chris Floyd

Kucinich sets the record straight on O’Reilly

Medvedev: We’re not afraid of Cold War + Ordinary Americans pay Georgian price

Why I had to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions By Dmitry Medvedev

Georgia

The Financial Times and the “Self-Confessed Mastermind of 9/11”

Dandelion Salad

By James Petras

08/28/08 “ICH

In recent days there is mounting evidence of the advance of totalitarianism in the political and media mainstream. The entire Western world, led by the United States, has embraced a Georgian regime, which invaded South Ossetia totally demolishing its capital city of 50,000 residents, assassinated 1500 men, women and children and dozens of Russian peace keepers. The US has mobilized a naval and air armada off the Iranian coast, prepared to annihilate a country of 70 million people. The New York Times published an essay by a prominent Israeli historian, which advocates the nuclear incineration of Iran. All the major mass media have mounted a systematic propaganda campaign against China, supporting each and every terrorist and separatist group, and whipping up public opinion in favor of launching a New Cold War. There is little doubt that this new wave of imperial aggression and bellicose rhetoric is meant to deflect domestic discontent and distract public opinion from the deepening economic crises.

The Financial Times (FT), once the liberal, enlightened voice of the financial elite (in contrast to the aggressively neo-conservative Wall Street Journal) has yielded to the totalitarian-militarist temptation. The feature article of the weekend supplement of August 16/17, 2008 – “The Face of 9/11” – embraces the forced confession of a 9/11 suspect elicited through 5 years of hideous torture in the confines of secret prisons. To make their case, the FT published a half-page blow-up photo first circulated by former CIA director George Tenet, which presents a bound, disheveled, dazed, hairy ape-like prisoner. The text of the writer, one Demetri Sevastopulo, admits as much: The FT owns up to being a propaganda vehicle for a CIA program to discredit the suspect while he stands trial based on confessions obtained through torture.

From beginning to end, the article categorically states that the principle defendant, Khalet Sheikh Mohammed, is the “self-confessed mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the US.” The first half of the article is full of trivia, designed to provide a human-interest feel to the courtroom and the proceedings – a bizarre mixture discussing Khaled’s nose to the size of the courtroom.

The central point of departure for the FT’s conviction of the suspect is Khaled’s confession, his ‘desire for martyrdom’, his assumption of his own defense and his reciting the Koran. The crucial piece of the Government’s case is Khaled’s confession. All the other ‘evidence’ was circumstantial, hearsay and based on inferences derived from Khaled’s attendance at overseas meetings.

The FT’s principle source of information, an anonymous informant “familiar with the CIA interrogation program” states categorically two crucial facts: (1) How little the CIA had known about him before his arrest (my emphasis) and (2) that Khaled held out longer than the others.

In other words, the CIA’s only real evidence was extracted by torture (the CIA admitted to ‘water boarding’ – an infamous torture technique inducing near death from drowning). The fact that Khaled repeatedly denied the accusations and that he only confessed after 5 years of torture in secret prisons renders the entire prosecution a case study in totalitarian jurisprudence. Having been subjected to unspeakable torture by US judicial investigators, facing accusations based on a confession extracted through torture, it is no wonder that Khaled refused a court appointed military lawyer – a lawyer who is part of a system of secret prisons, torture and ‘show trials’. Rather than portray Khaled as a fanatic seeking martyrdom for rejecting a lawyer, we must recognize that he is completely in his right mind to at least preserve the limited space and time allocated to him to state his beliefs and to relate his willingness to die for those beliefs. Confessions extracted from torture, have no validity in any court, especially after 5 years of solitary confinement. What the FT calls “the super terrorist” based on his stated “desire for martyrdom” is the admission of an individual who has suffered beyond human endurance and looks to death to end his horrible sub-human existence.

The FT’s embrace of the CIA and military’s coerced evidence and therefore their use of torture, puts them squarely in the camp of the totalitarian state. The right-turn of the FT mirrors the European turn toward US military confrontation with Russia, and the military build-up in Poland, the Czech Republic, Kosovo, Iraq and Georgia. The FT by legitimizing torture has opened the door to making totalitarian judicial practices, arbitrary arrests, secret prisons, prolonged solitary confinement, torture, show trials and cover-up feature stories part of normal Western political life. Genteel British fascism is no less ugly than its blustery US version.

James Petras’ latest book:  Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, (Clarity Press 2008).

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Russia Today: Alex Jones: Sneaky attack on the Russian enclaves

Dandelion Salad

RussiaToday

“I’m ashamed as an American. My country has been taken over by a private international military industrial complex, and they launched a sneaky attack on the Russian enclaves,” says Alex Jones, an investigative journalist from infowars.com.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

see

Biden, Obama & The Blood-Dimmed Tide + Tongue of Flame by Chris Floyd

Kucinich sets the record straight on O’Reilly

Medvedev: We’re not afraid of Cold War + Ordinary Americans pay Georgian price

Why I had to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions By Dmitry Medvedev

The Hammer Coming To “Eurasia” + PR Equals Propaganda

War With Russia Is On The Agenda By Paul Craig Roberts

Georgia

Joe Biden: Russia, China, India: “The Real War” + Speech

Dandelion Salad

by Umberto Pascali
Global Research, August 28, 2008

Obama’s running mate presents the strategic plan for the next administration

On Aug 27 2008 at the Democratic Convention in Denver, Vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden presented the plan for the real war, the war against China, Russia. He repeated the key points pushed by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his obsessive determination to go to the final clash with Russia and Asia.

For Biden, The greates mistake of the Bush administration was its failure “to face the biggest forces shaping this century. The emergence of Russia, China and India’s great powers”.

What was the “consequence of this neglect”? “Russia challenging… Georgia’s freedom.” The Obama-Biden administration will repair those criminal mistakes… Barack and I will end that neglect. We will hold Russia accountable.”

The wars of the Bush administration were, so to speak the wrong ones.

The new administration will unchain the real war. The war to confront the emergence of Russia, China, India.

The war, the real war will have to be waged in Afghanistan/Pakistan – exactly the area where it will be more disruptive for the feared Russia, China India challenge.

The previous administration was not warmonger enough, according to Biden. The new Democratic administration will increase the number of troops sent in central Asia.

Then “the real war” against America’s enemies will start. “al-Qaida and the Taliban – the people who have actually attacked us on 9/11 – they’ve regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks.”

McCain is bad as President because he did not understand the need for the “real war.”

McCain believes that the war in Afghanistan is over. But Obama is the real champion of the US National Security. “One year ago he said ‘We need to send two more combat battalions to Afghanistan’…”

The military establishment is with Obama, in this real war, Biden said. “the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack’s call for more troops and John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right.”

Bush foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out. And for the last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest the biggest forces shaping this century. The emergence of Russia, China and India’s great powers, the spread of lethal weapons, the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water. The challenge of climate change and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front in the war on terror.

Ladies and gentlemen, in recent years and in recent days we once again see the consequences of the neglect, of this neglect, of Russia challenging the very freedom of a new democratic country of Georgia. Barack and I will end that neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its action and we will help Georgia rebuild. I have been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms, this administration’s policy has been an abysmal failure. America cannot afford four more years of this failure.And now, now, despite being complacent in the catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama, Barrack Obama is not ready to protect our national security. Now let me ask you this. Whose judgment do you trust? Should you trust the judgment of John McCain when he said only 3 years ago, “Afghanistan – we don’t read about it anymore in the papers, because it succeeded”? Or do you believe Barack Obama, who said a year ago, “We need to send two more combat battalions to Afghanistan”?

The fact of the matter is, al-Qaida and the Taliban – the people who have actually attacked us on 9/11 – they’ve regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack’s call for more troops and John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right.


Joe Biden’s speech at the Democratic convention

Aug 27 2008 – Democratic Convention. Denver

Address by Sen. Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s running mate, at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday in Denver, as released by the Obama campaign:

You know, folks, my dad used to have an expression. He’d say: “You know you’re a success when he turns and looks at his son or daughter and knows that they turned out better than he did.” I am a success. I am a hell of a success.

Beau, I love you. I am so proud of you. I’m so proud of the son you’ve become. I’m so proud of the father you are. And I’m so proud of my son Hunter, my daughter Ashley, and my wife, Jill, the only one who leaves me both breathless and speechless at the same time.

It is an honor to share this stage tonight with President Clinton, a man I think brought this country so far along that I only pray that we can repeat it. And last night, it was moving to watch Hillary, one of our great leaders of our party, a woman who has made history and will continue to make history: a colleague, my friend Senator Hillary Clinton.

And I am truly honored to live in a country with the bravest warriors in the world. And I’m honored to represent our first state – my state – the state of Delaware.

Since I’ve never been called a man of few words, let me say this as simply as I can: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next President of the United States of America.

Let me make this pledge to you right here and now. For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring their pledge to uphold the law and honor the Constitution, no longer will you hear the eight most dreaded words in the English language: “The Vice President’s office is on the phone.”

Barack and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story. Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware. My dad, who fell on hard economic times, always told me: “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.” I was taught that by my dad, and God, I wish that my dad was here tonight, but I am so grateful that my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, is here tonight. Mom, I love you. You know my mom taught her children – all the children who flocked to our house – that you are defined by your sense of honor, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. She believes that bravery lives in every heart and her expectation is that it will be summoned.

Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. As a child I stuttered, and she lovingly would look at me and told me, “Joey, it’s because you’re so bright you can’t get the thoughts out quickly enough.” When I was not as well dressed as the other kids, she told me, “Joey, you’re so handsome honey, you’re so handsome.” And when I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, and this is the God’s truth, she sent me back out the street and told me, “Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day.” And that’s what I did.

After the accident, she told me, “Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear.” And when I triumphed, my mother was quick to remind me it was because of others.

My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you.

My parents taught us to live our faith, and to treasure our families. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough.

That was America’s promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream.
But today that American dream feels as if it’s slowly slipping away. I don’t have to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives.

I’ve never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up. Almost every night, I take the train home to Wilmington, sometimes very late. As I sit there in my seat and I look out my window and I see the flickering lights of the homes we pass by, I can almost hear the conversation they’re having at their kitchen table after they put their kids to bed. Like millions of Americans, they’re asking questions as ordinary as they are profound. Questions they never ever thought they’d have to ask themselves:

_Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone?
_Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars just to fill up the gas tank?
_How in God’s name, with winter coming, how are we gonna heat the home?
_Another year, no raise?
_Did you hear? Did you hear they may be cutting our health care at the company?
_Now, now we owe more on the house than it’s worth. How in God’s name are we going to send the kids to college?
_How are we gonna retire?

You know, folks, that’s the America that George Bush has left us, and that’s the America we’ll continue to get if George – excuse me, if John McCain is elected president of the United States of America. Freudian slip! Freudian slip! And folks, these are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who’ve worked hard their whole life, played by the rules on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.

That promise is the promise of America. It defines who we are as a people. And now it’s in jeopardy. I know it. You know it. But John McCain doesn’t get it. Barack Obama gets it though. Like many of us in this room, like many of us in this hall, Barack worked his way up. His is the great American story. You know, I believe the measure of a man is not the road he travels; it’s the choices he’s made along that road.

And ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama could have done anything after he graduated from college. With all his talent and promise, he could have written his own ticket to Wall Street. But what did he choose to do? He chose to go to Chicago. The South Side of Chicago. There – there in the South Side of Chicago he met men and women who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams had to be deferred. Their self-esteem gone. And ladies and gentlemen, he made their lives the work of his life. That’s what you do when you’re raised by a single mom, who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That’s how you come to believe, to the very core of your being, that work is more than a paycheck. It’s dignity. It’s respect. It’s about whether or not you can look your children in the eye and say: We’re going to be all right.\

Because Barack made that choice, 150 (thousand) more children and parents have health care in Illinois. He fought to make that happen. And because Barack made that choice, working families in Illinois pay less taxes and more people have moved from welfare to the dignity of work. And he got it done.
And when he came to Washington, when he came to Washington, John and I watched with amazement how he hit the ground running, leading the fight to pass the most sweeping ethics reform in a generation. He reached across party lines to pass a law that helps keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. And then he moved Congress and the president to give our wonderful wounded veterans the care and dignity they deserve.

You know, you can learn a lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him, seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind, but even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart. I watched how Barack touched people, how he inspired them, and I realized he had tapped into the oldest belief in America: We don’t have to accept a situation we cannot bear. We have the power to change it. And change it – and change it is exactly what Barack Obama will do. That’s what he’ll do for this country.

You know, John McCain is my friend, and I know you hear that phrase used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend. We’ve traveled the world together. It’s a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.

But I profoundly – I profoundly disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country, from Afghanistan to Iraq. From Amtrak to veterans. You know, John thinks, John thinks that during the Bush years “we’ve made great economic progress.” I think it’s been abysmal. And in the Senate, John has voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time. And that is very hard to believe. And when John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no, none, no relief for 100 million American families, that’s not change; that’s more of the same. Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history – nearly a half trillion dollars in the last five years – John wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks.

That’s not change, that’s the same. And during the same time John voted again and again against incentives for renewable energy: solar, wind, biofuels. That’s not change; that’s more of the same. Millions of Americans have seen their jobs go offshore, yet John continues to support corporations that send them there. That’s not change. That’s more of the same. He voted 19 times against raising minimum wage for people that are struggling just to make it to the next day. That’s not change. That’s more of the same. And when he says to continue to spend $10 billion a month when the Iraqis have a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that’s not change. That’s more of the same.

The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader. A leader who can change, change – the change that everybody knows we need. Barack Obama is going to deliver that change. Because, I want to tell you, Barack Obama will reform our tax code. He will cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people who draw a paycheck. That’s the change we need. Barack Obama, Barack Obama will transform our economy by making alternative energy a national priority and in the process creating 5 million new jobs and finally, finally freeing us from the grip of foreign oil. That’s the change we need.

Barack Obama knows that any country that outteaches us today will outcompete us tomorrow. That’s why he’ll invest in the next generation of teachers and why he’ll make college more affordable. That’s the change we need. Barack Obama will bring down health care costs by $2,500 for the average family and at long last deliver affordable, accessible health care for every American. That’s the change we need. Barack will put more cops on the street, put security back in social security and he’ll never ever ever give up until we achieve equal pay for women. That’s the change we need.

As we gather here tonight, our country is less secure and more isolated that it has been any time it has in recent history. The Bush foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out. And for the last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest the biggest forces shaping this century. The emergence of Russia, China and India’s great powers, the spread of lethal weapons, the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water. The challenge of climate change and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front in the war on terror.

Ladies and gentlemen, in recent years and in recent days we once again see the consequences of the neglect, of this neglect, of Russia challenging the very freedom of a new democratic country of Georgia. Barack and I will end that neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its action and we will help Georgia rebuild. I have been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms, this administration’s policy has been an abysmal failure. America cannot afford four more years of this failure.

And now, now, despite being complacent in the catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama, Barrack Obama is not ready to protect our national security. Now let me ask you this. Whose judgment do you trust? Should you trust the judgment of John McCain when he said only 3 years ago, “Afghanistan – we don’t read about it anymore in the papers, because it succeeded”? Or do you believe Barack Obama, who said a year ago, “We need to send two more combat battalions to Afghanistan”?

The fact of the matter is, al-Qaida and the Taliban – the people who have actually attacked us on 9/11 – they’ve regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack’s call for more troops and John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right. Should we trust John McCain’s judgment? When he rejects, when he rejected talking with Iran and asked what is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama, who said we must talk and must make clear to Iran that it must change?

Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran because that’s the best way to ensure our security. Again and again John McCain has been wrong and Barack Obama has been right. Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he says, when he says that we can’t have no timelines to withdraw our troops from Iraq, that we must say indefinitely? Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift the responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home? Now, after six long years, the administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home. John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right.

Again, again and again on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama has been proven right. Folks, remember when the world used to trust us, when they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as our president, they’ll look at us again. They’ll trust us again and we’ll be able to lead again. Folks, Jill and I are truly honored to join Michelle and Barack on this journey.

When I look at their young children, and when I look at my grandchildren, I realize why I’m here. I’m here for their future. I am here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington. I am here for the cops and firefighters, the teachers and assembly line workers, the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures.

Our greatest presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy, they all challenged us to embrace change. Now, it’s our responsibility to meet that challenge.

Millions of Americans have been knocked down. And this is the time as Americans, together, we get back up. Back up together. Our debt to our parents and grandparents too great, our obligation to our children is too sacred.

These are extraordinary times. This is an extraordinary election. The American people are ready. I’m ready. Barack is ready. This is his time. This is our time. This is America’s time.

God bless America, and may God protect our troops! Thank you!

***

Joe Biden Speaking at the DNC

heathr456

see

RNN: Race, Poverty & Obama + The Obama-Biden worldview

Nader on the Dems’ Corporate Ties, 3rd Parties & Biden

Biden, Obama & The Blood-Dimmed Tide + Tongue of Flame by Chris Floyd

The “Good Germans” And The Democratic Convention By Timothy V. Gatto

RNN: Biden and the anti-war constituency + Polls, the media

The Great Circus By John Steppling

The Future That Never Comes; The Past That Never Was; The Present Inscrutable

Joe Biden: On the Issues by Lo

DNC – Denver CO

Torture As Official Israeli Policy by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, August 28, 2008

The UN Convention against Torture defines the practice as:

“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether 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 and 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….”

The US and Israel are the only two modern states that legally sanction torture. An earlier article covered America. This one deals with the Jewish state, but let there be no doubt:

Although its language in part is vague, contradictory and protects abusive practices, Section 277 of Israel’s 1977 Penal Law prohibits torture by providing criminal sanctions against its use. It specifically states in language similar to the UN Convention against Torture:

“A public servant who does one of the following is liable to imprisonment for three years: (1) uses or directs the use of force or violence against a person for the purpose of extorting from him or from anyone in whom he is interested a confession of an offense or information relating to an offense; (2) threatens any person, or directs any person to be threatened, with injury to his person or property or to the person or property of anyone in whom he is interested for the purpose of extorting from him a confession of an offense or any information relating to an offense.” However, Israel clearly discriminates against Palestinians, (including Israeli Arab citizens), denies them rights afforded only to Jews, and gets legal cover for it by its courts. More on that below.

Nonetheless, the Jewish state is a signatory to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and other international laws banning the practice. It’s thus accountable for any violations under them to all its citizens and persons it controls in the Occupied Territories.

US statutes leave no ambiguity on torture. Neither do international laws like The (1949) Third Geneva Convention’s Article 13 (on the Treatment of Prisoners of War). It states:

They “must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited….(these persons) must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation….”

Third Geneva’s Article 17 states:

“No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war” for any reasons whatsoever.

Third Geneva’s Article 87 states:

“Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishments, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden.

The (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention’s Article 27 (on the treatment of Civilian Persons in Time of War) states:

Protected persons “shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof….”

Fourth Geneva’s Articles 31 and 32 state:

“No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons.”

“This prohibition applies to….torture (and) to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents.”

Fourth Geneva’s Article 147 calls “willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment….grave breaches” under the Convention and are considered “war crimes.”

All four Geneva Conventions have a Common Article Three requiring all non-combatants, including “members of armed forces who laid down their arms,” to be treated humanely at all times.

The (1966) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 7 states:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Its Article 10 states:

” All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity….”

The (1984) UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is explicit in all its provisions. It prohibits torture and degrading treatment of all kinds against anyone for any purpose without exception.

Various other international laws affirm the same thing, including the UN Charter with respect to human rights, 1945 Nuremberg Charter on crimes of war and against humanity, the (1948) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the (1988) UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any form of Detention or Imprisonment, the UN (1955) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and (1990) UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. So does Article 5 of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Rome Statute with regard to crimes of war and against humanity. Torture is such a crime – the gravest of all after genocide.

Israeli Torture Violates International Law

From inception to today, and especially since its 1967 occupation, Israel’s military and security forces have willfully, systematically and illegally practiced torture – as official state policy against Palestinian detainees called “terrorists.” Yet Israel always denies it, and its 1977 Penal Law prohibits it.

In 1987, the Landau Judicial Commission addressed the practice after two among many revelations became public:

— defense minister Moshe Dayan’s 1979 statement to Israel’s Maareef daily regarding Arab prison detainees: “We will make of these detainees parasites in their societies, and we will not release them until they become like mummies, empty and full of holes from inside like Swiss cheese;” and

— the 1980s torture scandals tarnishing Shin Bet’s reputation as a respected internal security agency.

The Landau Commission condemned the practice but approved the Penal Law’s “necessary defense” provision (in violation of international law) and sanctioned “psychological and moderate physical pressure” to obtain evidence for convictions in criminal proceedings. It said coercive interrogation tactics were necessary against “hostile (threats or acts of) terrorist activity” and all expressions of Palestinian nationalism.

Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) legitimized coercive interrogations in three 1996 cases – by plaintiffs Bilbeisi, Hamdan and Mubarak for interim injunctions against abusive General Security Service (GSS – now the Israeli Security Agency or ISA) practices. Ones cited included violent shaking, painful shackling, hooding, playing deafeningly loud music, sleep deprivation, and lengthy detainments. After due consideration, the HCJ ruled painful shackling illegal, but not the other practices.

Israel claims it never uses torture and complies with international laws and norms. International law experts, the UN Committee Against Torture, and sources like B’Tselem, United Against Torture (UAT), and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) disagree.

So does Dr. Afi Rabs in testimony to Israel’s High Court on 14 Palestinian prisoners. They were all detained for trivial offenses like stone-throwing and tire-burning and weren’t “ticking bombs.” Yet they all were tortured as one detainee explained:

“I was shackled in iron cuffs that entered my flesh, and a bag was put on my head as a certain music roared in my ears and almost deafened me. They used to beat me up and kick me, and my body was full of wounds and bruises. After that I was sent to a doctor who asked me if I was tortured, and I said yes, but he didn’t reply or say something. Then I was taken back and tortured again.”

PCATI petitioned the HCJ, and it responded with a landmark September 1999 ruling. It reversed the Landau Commission’s recommendations, barred the use of torture against detainees, but left a giant loophole. It ruled that pressure and a measure of discomfort are legitimate interrogation side-effects provided they’re not used to break a detainee’s spirit. But it sanctioned physical force in “ticking time bomb” cases in direct violation of international laws allowing no exceptions under any circumstances. Moreover, Israeli security forces routinely claim detainees are security threats enough to justify its interrogation practices.

In November 2001, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights disagreed. It issued “Conclusions and Recommendations of the Committee against Torture” and addressed the 1999 HCJ ruling in the case of the Public Committee against Torture in Israel v. the State of Israel. It held that: “the use of certain interrogation methods by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) involving the use of ‘moderate physical pressure’ was illegal as it violated constitutional protection of the individual’s right of dignity….While recognizing the right of Israel to protect its citizens from violence, it reiterates that no exceptional circumstances may be invoked as justification of torture” or abusive interrogation practices.

Since its 1967 occupation, the Palestinian peace and justice group MIFTA estimates that over 650,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned – or the equivalent of about one-sixth of today’s Occupied Palestinian population. Currently, Israeli security forces hold around 10 – 12,000 Palestinian men, women and children detainees under deplorable conditions and many administratively without charge. According to human rights organizations like B’Tselem, Hamoked, UAT and PCATI, up to 85% are subjected to torture and abusive treatment.

PCATI’s June 2008 Torture Report

PCATI is a 1990-founded “independent human rights organization” that monitors and decries “the use of torture in (Israeli) interrogations (and works for its) complete prohibition.” It also provides legal counsel, aids victims, and helps lawyers representing them.

Its June 2008 report is titled “No Defense: Soldier Violence against Palestinian Detainees.” It begins with a question asked Brig. General Yossi Bachar (former commander of Israel’s Paratrooper Brigade) at the trial of one of his soldiers accused of abusing a Palestinian detainee: “How common is the phenomenon of beating shackled Palestinian prisoners?”

His answer: ” Unfortunately I want to admit something that we are not fully aware of. These cases are not all that exceptional in their quantity….to my great regret. Many of them are not the subject of any complaint and are cloaked in various kinds of conspiracies of silence,” only revealed years later and “usually only through anonymous statements….”

PCATI and other human rights organizations break the silence publicly:

— “to describe the scope and frequency of (torture);”

— its “moral, legal, and practical gravity;

— to publicize (it);

— to examine how (those responsible) address (it);

— to clarify (its) absolute prohibition under Israeli and international law; and

— to demand” its prohibition “by providing the relevant bodies with useful information and tools.”

PCATI based its report on 90 testimonies: from Palestinian detainees and soldiers who arrested them. Also from published media information and comments from Israeli military and political figures. It covers the period June 2006 through October 2007 and is symptomatic of a broader phenomenon, largely unrevealed because most abused Palestinians “refrain from submitting complaints.” As a result, PCATI’s cases reflect the tip of the iceberg that’s been “particularly severe over the past eight years” since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000. From then until now, PCATI describes a pattern of abuse that begins from the moment of arrest.

It’s done by force in violation of the prohibition of the practice and the responsibility of soldiers to guarantee detainees’ (in their custody) safety, dignity and physical integrity. Instead they expose them to “ill treatment and humiliation” – on arrest and immediately thereafter, in transit, and at military bases and installations pending transfer to detention facilities.

Abuse Begins at the Start

Most often, soldiers beat Palestinians during and right after painfully shackling them. Plastic handcuffs are used that can only be tightened, not released or loosened, and subjects are kept that way (generally for hours) long enough to cause permanent injury.

In response to PCATI requests, the IDF Spokesperson provided no regulations, procedures or orders regarding use of plastic handcuffs. However, Chief Military Police Officer Order No. 9810 discusses shackling in detention facilities and states: “only metal (devices) are to be used, (and) the tightening of the shackles should be undertaken….to prevent injury to the detainee (particularly to blood vessels).”

Violence and threats are also common from the start. Besides painful shackling, subjects describe being blindfolded, threatened with weapons and death, accused of harboring suicide attackers, shouted at, beaten, kicked, punched in the face, and in at least one instance told his house would be destroyed and burned. Complaining did no good. It incited more abuse.

Treatment During Transport – From Place of Arrest to Detention Facilities

This is stage two of abuse and humiliation – inside military vehicles. Subjects are made to sit or lie on their floors and at times are thrown on them. They’re bare, hot, and when soldiers step on detainees’ heads or bodies (a frequent practice) abrasions and injuries result. PCATI again found no orders or procedures regulating transport, so detainees are subjected to the whims of their captors while on site commanders look the other way.

Treatment in Temporary Army Base Detention

Here, too, abusive practices continue the way one detainee described: “I was put in a small room and they beat my legs. They put me on the floor. Then I felt one of the soldiers take something from the floor and beat me on my head and shoulders….Then they took me out into a concrete yard and tied my handcuffs to a concrete pole and made me sit on the ground and they beat me. Every hour or half hour they would beat me on the face.” Lack of oversight and procedures invite ill treatment, and soldiers take full advantage. It’s painful, protracted and humiliating – sometimes so extreme that subjects lose consciousness or require hospitalization.

Sting dogs are also used and trained for one of five purposes: “assault, identification of explosives, scouting, weapons and ammunition searches, or rescue and release.” Mere contact with dogs terrify and humiliate detainees who feel “dishonored whenever (these animals are) close to” or touch them.

Officially, sting dogs never attack “innocent persons,” according to the IDF Spokesperson. But one soldier explained that they’re trained for assault and “seek humans (by) their scent.” Another sergeant confirmed that these dogs attack people, “more than once,” because they’re trained to do it:

— on indicators like gunshots or scent; no human order is needed;

— they move at some distance from their handlers, alongside soldiers not trained to control them; and

— they’re trained to be highly aggressive and capable of causing serious injury.

A Sting unit commander confirmed that these dogs “neutralize and attack hostile elements….seizes a subject and won’t let go.” They present a serious and imminent danger to any designated target – in some cases children identified as “wanted persons.” Without oversight and procedures, soldiers can easily abuse them with Sting dogs.

Under Israeli law, minors are of special concern – defined as persons under 18, or under Occupied Territory military orders, youths under 16. Israeli law affords special protection to minors, yet, in practice, it’s solely for Jews.

Nonetheless, Israel is a signatory to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child that’s explicit and binding in its provisions:

— that “every human being” below 18 is a child;

— that the state must ensure that their economic, social and cultural rights, safety and welfare set forth in the Convention are protected “without discrimination of any kind” with regard to “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status,” including their “right to life….survival (and) development;”

— that all measures shall be taken to protect children from physical and mental violence, exploitation or ill treatment; and

— that children deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and not subjected to torture or other abusive or degrading treatment, in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law.

Nonetheless, clear evidence shows that soldiers exercise no special caution in arresting and detaining minors. At times, they exploit their weaknesses – beating, abusing and terrifying them for merely throwing stones. PCATI characterizes this treatment as “just one link in a chain” of abuse beginning with arrest – in violation of international law and “accepted legal and moral standards in….Israel.”

A Yesh Din human rights report showed that Occupied Territory Palestinian minors are prosecuted as adults under Israeli military law since no military juvenile courts exist. Prosecutors and judges make no distinction or reference to age nor did the IDF Spokesperson when asked to clarify special orders or procedures regarding minors. As a result, they’re treated no differently than adults. No monitoring or procedures are in place, so the “grave consequences of this action can be anticipated in advance.”

PCATI describes abusive practices throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and “not confined to one or two military units.” Evidence obtained confirms a much broader phenomenon than testimonies revealed, and other human rights organizations concur – a pervasive, systematic practice going back “many years.”

Israel Radio military correspondent, Carmella Menashe, discussed it in one broadcast:

“How can it be that….these events keep repeating themselves and….no one is bothered….And this is the morality of the IDF; these are the most basic values to which soldiers should be educated from the (start); it isn’t (about) Palestinians….(it’s) about normative behavior, the most basic things….(how) a soldier in the IDF (can commit such abusive acts); it (comes down to) some kind of disregard for the lives of Palestinians” who simply don’t matter to these soldiers.

For their part, military officials don’t recognize the phenomenon and thus end up encouraging and reinforcing it. So do the Knesset, courts and respective governing administrations.

Treatment After Arrest

Israeli military law contains the specific offense of “ill treatment” that prohibits soldiers from abusing persons in their custody. Those found guilty face up to three years in prison and under “aggravating circumstances” up to seven years. In many of the instances PCATI uncovered, abuse amounted to “torture.”

According to military law, “ill treatment” may be committed by one soldier against another or against someone “in custody for which the soldier is responsible” – characterized by denying the person’s liberty.

A vast discrepancy of power exists between captive and captor. It’s exploited whenever soldiers use violence and abusive practices against shackled, blindfolded and defenseless detainees denigrating their human dignity. Also when they endanger their lives or health or deviate from standard procedures.

In nearly all cases examined, this, in fact, happened as soldiers committed assault or assault in “aggravating circumstances.” These are military “ill treatment” offenses and civilian ones under penal code articles 378 – 382. Other penal code offenses as well such as injury, battery, forcible extortion, ill treatment of a minor, and so forth. In all cases, soldier-committed violence against shackled detainees is a “criminal phenomenon (subject to penalties) under an entire system of offenses in Israeli criminal law.”

Even so, in the few cases where soldiers were prosecuted, penalties imposed were minor compared to similar civil court convictions. And rarely are commanders charged even when they order detainees harmed, or they simply witness or know abuses occur but fail to intervene. At most in these cases, higher-ranking officers go before a disciplinary hearing, get charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, and receive suspended sentences. Never do senior commanders answer for ill treatment charges against their subordinates.

Coercive Field Interrogations

The Military Justice Code authorizes no operational need to beat or ill treat detainees under arrest. But enforcement, in fact, is lax and international law dismissed. It results in what PCATI discovered in spite of military investigatory bodies responsible for interrogation and prosecution. Three exist under the Military Justice Code:

— an examining officer;

— the Military Police Investigation Unit (MIU); and

— an investigative judge.

In most cases, alleged offenses are examined by an examining officer or investigative judge (in cases of death) before offenders are prosecuted in a military court. Examining officers hear witnesses, examine evidence, order suspect arrests, and recommend if prosecutions are justified. In practice, investigations are inadequate so few cases, in fact, enter the legal system and few offenders end up convicted.

According to Knesset member Ophir Paz-Pines: Unaccountability for abusing Palestinians is no “small problem – it is a big problem.” It was so bad during 2003 – 2005 that the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Preparedness and Routine Security Subcommittee described operational debriefings as “out of control.” Most complaints charged go unaddressed, and most that are end up dismissed for “lack of evidence” or because accused soldiers are believed over complainants.

The result – almost no prosecutions or convictions. At most around two a year throughout the Intifada period when abuses were rampant and extreme. Furthermore, months go by before complaints are examined during which time many accused complete their service, return to civilian life, and end up free from prosecution or conviction.

Military courts are supportive. They:

— abstain from most investigations;

— rely on non-professional debriefing institutions with clear conflicts of interest and histories of false reporting;

— manage their few investigations unprofessionally with no regard for justice; so

— allow criminal abuse to go unpunished or barely so while absolving perpetrators of their responsibility; even rare convictions show leniency and send a powerful message: Palestinian rights don’t matter so act with impunity; an obvious concern is raised; Palestinians face enormous obstacles getting justice in all Israeli courts; in military ones (against their own soldiers) it’s near impossible; solution: an international law requiring:

— civilians to be tried in civil courts;

— soldiers as well when their victims are civilians; and

— military courts for their own personnel solely in cases of military offenses.

Further, binding rules, procedures and guidelines must be in place as well as proper training, supervision and monitoring to insure that arrests, detentions and prosecutions are justly handled. Israel’s military relies solely on the “values (spirit and norms) of the IDF.” They’re woefully inadequate, unresponsive to Arab rights, and always produce injustice. PCATI puts it this way: “Given this reality, it is hardly surprising that an examination of the actual behavior of the military, as distinct from its declarations, also reveals denial, evasion, and obfuscation.”

Thousands of Palestinians are arrested, detained and abused. With little or no accountability, here’s how one Israeli soldier put it: “When you deny thousands of people a day (free) movement, it is impossible to do it in a nice way.” Nonetheless, government and military officials deny there’s a problem. Examples of publicly exposed abuse are called exceptions or errors in judgment that are “dealt with exhaustively,” according to the IDF Spokesperson. In fact, testimonies and reports reveal a widespread phenomenon.

Denial and cover-up assure its continuance, legitimization, and destructive consequences. And guilt goes right to the top – to senior Defense Ministry generals and Ministers of Defense. To Knesset members as well and ruling party officials. A review of unclassified Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee materials from 2003 – 2008 reveals no discussion of Palestinian detainees ill treatment – in spite of “countless reports in the media….by soldiers,” and by human rights organizations like PCATI, B’Tselem and others. The Committee “failed to fulfill its function and obligation” to supervise the security establishment, identify problems and propose solutions. As a consequence, human rights abuses continue unabated.

PCATI Recommendations for Change

International law is clear. As an occupying power, Israel is obligated to assure Palestinians’ welfare, safety and rights:

— recognizing the existence of the problem comes first; widespread ill treatment exists and must be addressed equitably;

— reporting, inspection and enforcement mechanisms must be established to do it;

— military and security forces must take the lead – through “tangible objectives for securing a drastic reduction in as short a period of time as possible (toward) the ultimate goal of completely eradicating this phenomenon;

— high level examination of the problem should be made public, shared with commanders and soldiers, the media, and members of the Knesset – to send a clear message that this behavior won’t be tolerated;

— Defense Ministry orders, directives, procedures and guidelines should be established:

(1) to assign responsibility;

(2) define its range;

(3) how it’s transfered;

(4) the command and residual responsibility for abusers to avoid the excuse that they can’t be located;

(5) identify weak spots where ill treatment occurs;

(6) neutralize them by command presence or through a controlled physical space;

(7) allow no contact between dogs and detainees;

(8) give special attention to the arrest and detention of minors; and

(9) define arrest, transfer and detention procedures; the nature of an “imprisonment facility” as well as other defined guidelines and allowed procedures and practices.

In addition:

— everything must be in writing and available to every soldier;

— they should be fully briefed and trained;

— no deviations should be tolerated;

— adequate resources should be available for arrests through incarceration;

— all arrests should be documented in detail;

— training and procedures must assure detainee well-being, absolutely prohibit ill treatment, and require it be reported when observed;

— assure binding and meaningful monitoring and enforcement of the rules; and

— have the Knesset, administration and appropriate government bodies and officials involved to assure ill treatment won’t be tolerated, and when it happens, those at the top share culpability.

It’s up to the entire Israeli establishment to own up to the problem, recognize its gravity, and establish strong binding measures to eliminate it. Toward that end, PCATI and other human rights organizations and their supporters will continue to “expose and highlight this phenomenon” that continues to inflict great harm on defenseless Palestinians.

United Against Torture (UAT)

UAT is a (2005 established) “coalition of Israeli, Palestinian and international NGOs (united) against the practice of torture and ill-treatment in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)….”

In December 2007, it issued its second annual report on “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” – through the period ending October 2007. It’s based on questionnaires “to various stakeholders in Israel and the OPT, including the EU Tel Aviv Delegation (ECD), European Commission Technical Assistance Office for the West Bank and Gaza (ECTAO), EU Ambassadors and/or other relevant EU contact persons in EU Missions, and NGOs particularly active in this field.”

UAT states that its report doesn’t address specific instances of torture and abuse. Its purpose is to provide an overview of how “the EU and its Member States contribute to the prevention and eradication of torture” in Israel and the OPT.

It cites “EU guidelines against torture and ill-treatment.” Some are as follows:

–“prohibit(ing) torture and ill-treatment in law, including criminal law;

— condemn(ing), at the highest level, all forms of torture and ill-treatment;

— tak(ing) effective legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures (against torture and ill-treatment);

— adher(ing) to international norms and procedures….;” and

— “combat(ing) impunity to hold perpetrators liable, establish(ing) reporting procedures, and provid(ing) reparation and rehabilitation for victims.”

UAT cites various international laws against torture and abuse to which Israel is a signatory, including:

— the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

— the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and

— the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

International laws are clear. They not only prohibit torture and abuse, they legally bind states to undertake independent, impartial, and effective investigations into allegations and suspicions of these practices. They also require perpetrators be prosecuted and punished, that redress be afforded to victims, and that continuance of these crimes are banned.

UAT states: “if there is something (all) humanity (can) agree (on at least theoretically), it is that (preserving individual dignity in difficult situations requires that) we all conform to some elementary (common) standards of conduct.” Otherwise, we risk “perishing in a mutual spiral of non-ending violence.”

Israel on the Issue of Torture

Israel is a self-professed democracy, yet defines itself as a Jewish state, treats Jews preferentially, and affords them special rights and privileges denied those of other faiths. The country has no formal constitution. It’s governed by its Basic Laws that guaranteed no human rights until the 1992 “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom” passed. It authorized the Knesset to overturn laws contrary to the right to dignity, life, freedom, privacy, and property as well as to leave and enter the country. The law states:

“There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person. All persons are entitled to protection” of these rights, and “There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.”

Another Basic Law deals with “The Right to Life and Limb in Israeli Law.” It implies that life is sacred and states: “Israeli law has abolished the death penalty for murder (and corporal punishment).” The 1998 “Good Samaritan Law” requires assistance be given in situations “of immediate and severe danger to another.” These provisions are for Jews only because Basic Law provisions deny equality for non-Jews in spite of the following language:

Israeli law affirms “Fundamental human rights….founded upon recognition of the value of the human being, the sanctity of human life, and the principle that all persons are free.” Israeli Basic Law exists “to protect human (life,) dignity and (assure that) All government authorities are bound to respect (these) rights under this Basic Law” – with one proviso: Israel is a Jewish state so all rights, benefits, privileges and protections are for Jews only. Others are unwelcome, unwanted, unequal, and afforded no protections under the law.

Further, and in spite of unambiguous international laws, torture, abuse, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment aren’t designated crimes under Israeli law. But the 1977 Penal Law prohibits torture and provides criminal sanctions against it in language similar to the UN Convention against Torture.

Nonetheless, Israel maintains that it “officially proclaimed (a) state of public emergency from 19 May 1948, four days after its founding, until the present day.” It remains in force “due to the ongoing state of war or violent conflict between Israel and its neighbours, and the attendant attacks on the lives and property of its citizens.” It thus illegally deviates from international law provisions that differ from whatever means it chooses to protect its liberty and security. By implication, torture and ill treatment are permissible. Exceptional conditions are normal, and temporary is permanent in direct contradiction to accepted norms and standards.

UAT states: freedom “from torture and other forms of ill-treatment or punishment may not be violated under any circumstances (and) states of emergency” allow no exceptions. The right to be free from torture and abuse is sacrosanct. Permissible “temporary” deviations allow no basic human rights violations. Such acts are strictly prohibited under accepted international laws to which State Party signatories are bound at all times, under all conditions, with no exceptions.

Yet Israel inflicts torture and ill treatment “in the context of the arrest and interrogation of persons suspected of being security threats” even when no charges against them are brought and no substantiating evidence exists. So practices like the following are common:

— beatings;

— sleep deprivation;

— painfully tightened hand cuffs;

— violent shaking;

— kicking;

— sharp twisting of the head sideways or backwards as well as painful twisting of arms, wrists and hands under conditions when they’re tied to backs or other parts of chairs;

— the painful and injury prone “frog” crouch on tiptoes with hands cuffed behind the back;

— the “banana” position involving bending the back in a painful arch while extending the body horizontally to the floor on a backless chair – with arms and feet bound beneath it;

— cuffing behind the back and shackling legs in the “shabah” position – a prolonged, painful binding of detainees’ hands and feet to a standard-sized unupholstered, metal frame, rigid plastic chair fixed to the floor with no armrests;

— using informer-collaborators to get information;

— prolonged isolation, including psychologically harmful solitary confinement in tiny cells under painfully oppressive conditions designed to crush human resistance; as well as

— cursing, humiliating and degrading treatment, strip searches, physical threats, and other practices designed to soften up detainees for questioning.

NGOs also harshly criticize Israeli prison conditions and family hardships faced to visit loved ones. Restrictions are onerous:

— only first-degree relatives may come; and

— male visitors between 16 and 35 are severely restricted; brothers get only one visit a year and sons only two; wives are also restricted; and

— families need ICRC transport help to visit prisoners inaccessible to them otherwise because of distances involved and travel prohibitions.

UAT believes that human rights violations “are at the heart of the Middle East conflict” and directly affect “Israel’s own stability and security.” Yet Israel won’t discuss them, and little compliance pressure is applied because of the country’s “special status” with the EU and, of course, Washington. As a result, in spite of persistent human rights violations, the US turns a blind eye, and EU countries prefer dialogue to punishment, including sanctions against Israel with teeth.

Palestinians throughout the Territories lose out, but Hamas and Gazans under siege feel it most. They believe the international community and fellow Arab states abandoned and betrayed them and are leaving them to rot in spite of EU member states pledging billions to help build a Palestinian state at the December 2007 Paris Conference. Given Israel’s alliance with the West, past pledges made and broken, and current conditions in Occupied Palestine, it’s hard to imagine any of these funds going for meaningful improvements on the ground. It’s easy to believe they’ll finance Israel’s security state and harm Palestinian interests.

UAT underscores the problem this way:

“Israel’s sensitivity (in) dealing with….human rights (issues) and the problem of torture and ill-treatment makes any dialogue on these matter particularly slow and complex….” So much so that EU member states “may become overly reluctant to raise such issues systematically, consistently and firmly, notwithstanding their legal and political duty to put human rights in the centre of their foreign and security policy.”

Dialogue nonetheless is ongoing. Human rights are addressed, but “apparently not the subject of torture and ill-treatment….Given the political realities in Israel and the OPT, progress in preventing and eradicating torture and ill-treatment must be regarded as a mid-and-long-term goal” in spite of modest NGO successes.

Overall, challenges to ending torture are formidable and numerous. In dealing with Israel, “there is never a good moment to raise human rights questions (and) always a reason for not doing something….” But UAT is forthright: despite Middle East tensions, political reality, and complexity of tough issues, no excuses justify EU member states for not “strongly and consistently promot(ing) full compliance with basic and absolute legal obligations to protect individuals’ most fundamental rights.” Action must overcome challenges on issues like these:

— Israel’s “extreme sensitivity” to criticism of its human rights record;

— its security argument and state of war to justify abuses and disdain for international law;

— its lack of political will to end 41 years of occupation;

— its lack of accountability on issues of “necessity,” including sanctioning torture and abuse;

— its abusive detention conditions, including;

(1) denying Palestinians access to legal counsel during interrogations;

(2) interrogation methods used;

(3) overall policy brutality, including torture and abuse;

(4) horrific prison conditions;

(5) inadequate medical care and unseemly role of doctors during interrogations; and

(6) highly restrictive prison visitation rules. Also:

— limited contact between NGOs and the Israeli government and practically no chance to exert influence;

— the EU’s lack of political will to “interfere” in Israeli “affairs;” member states have practically given up because “it is not worth having a fight with Israel;”

— EU-Israeli economic ties relegate human rights issues to second tier status; and

— mistaken EU Middle East policy allied with America instead of forging an independent one.

UAT notes that various human rights organizations have lost faith with the international community, including the EU and UN. They prefer their own efforts and resources, legally and politically, for whatever modest gains they can get rather than none at all from ineffective nations.

UAT conclusions are as follows:

— information on guidelines and their implementation is essential to eradicating torture and abuse;

— NGOs are highly respected, and their information is considered accurate; but some of them have more contact with EU members than others;

— given Israel’s sensitivity and growing economic ties, EU states have considerable discomfort raising issues of torture and abuse; however, to some degree (if inadequate) they’ve engaged on matters of administrative detentions, the Separation Wall, and West Bank settlements; yet their efforts come down to this: with minor exceptions, no successes have been achieved and Israeli policies continue unabated; so EU efforts amount to little more than a “balancing act” – to maintain good relations with Israel for appropriate political and economic gains; and

— on a positive note, EU states have contributed “financial assistance to civil society actors in Israel and the OPT;” but it doesn’t substitute for positive pressure and action.

Recommendations

— hearts and minds on all sides must be changed to eradicate torture and abuse;

— America’s moral leadership is defunct so EU states must take the lead and stick to their legal, political and ethical principles;

— they must overcome individual differences and “act as one entity;”

— they must press their advantage with Israel; economic gains have a price – improving the country’s human rights record, particularly regarding torture and abuse, and complying fully with international law obligations;

— NGOs should press for laws penalizing torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; they should also lobby for independent, impartial and competent remedies to these practices in accordance with international law; and

— they should address all other violations and enforcement of international laws prohibiting them.

Ending the cycle of violence is challenging. Time and will are needed. It starts by respecting everyone’s equal rights and their intrinsic human worth. If agreement on not resorting to violence can be achieved, “the magic key to peace, justice and true security” may be at hand, but it’ll take a determined effort to turn it constructively and no time to waste doing it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on www.RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9899

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9969

Mosaic News – 8/27/08: World News from the Middle East

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Warning

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This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

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“Alliance of Islamic Religious Groups Capture Kismayo, Somalia,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Sudanese Plane Hijackers Surrender in Libya,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Olmert in Egypt to Discuss Captive Israeli Soldier,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Jeff Halper Illegal Entry to Restricted Territory,” Press TV, Iran
“US Agrees to Withdraw Troops by 2011,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Americans and Iraqis Compromise on Security Agreement,” ANB TV, England
“Largest Oil Smuggling Network Captured,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Are Democrats Detached?” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani

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Nader on the Dems’ Corporate Ties, 3rd Parties & Biden

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Democracy Now!

Aug 28, 2008

Ralph Nader on the Democrats’ Corporate Ties, the Silencing of Third Parties, and Why Biden is the “MasterCard Senator”

While Sen. Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last night, he was not the only presidential contender in town. Independent candidate Ralph Nader held a rally Wednesday at the University of Denver calling for an end to the corporate control over the presidential debates. When Obama selected Joe Biden to be his running mate, Nader dubbed Biden the “MasterCard Senator” because of his close ties to the credit card industry.

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Democracy Now! | Ralph Nader on the Democrats’ Corporate Ties, the Silencing of Third Parties, and Why Biden is the “MasterCard Senator”.

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Politics of Avoidance by Ralph Nader

“Operation First Casualty”: Outside DNC, IVAW Re-Enact Raids on Iraqi Civilians

DNC – Denver CO

Nader for President 2008

www.votenader.org/

The Termi-Nader

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