by Andy Worthington
3 June 2009
Using some old-fashioned clerical detective work, Reprieve, the legal action charity that represents around 10 percent of the remaining 240 prisoners in Guantánamo, has compiled a report, “Ghost Detention on Diego Garcia” (PDF), identifying one of two prisoners rendered through the British Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia as Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni (and tentatively identifying the other as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the former “ghost prisoner” who died in a Libyan jail last month). A dual Pakistani-Egyptian national, seized in Jakarta, Indonesia, and rendered for torture in Egypt, Madni was later transferred to Guantánamo and released in August 2008.
Reprieve’s director, Clive Stafford Smith, had been planning to unveil the report at a meeting of the Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs two weeks ago, but when the government pulled the plug on the meeting (as I reported here and here), because Stafford Smith also intended to talk about former Guantánamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed and the recently disclosed evidence that a British spy had visited him while he was being held by the CIA’s proxy torturers in Morocco, his revelation about the identity of Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni was also shelved.
By Noam Chomsky
Chomsky’s ZSpace page
Z Magazine June 2009
Torture has been routine practice from the early days of the Republic
The torture memos released by the White House in April elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable—particularly the testimony in the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the Cheney-Rumsfeld desperation to find links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, links that were later concocted as justification for the invasion, facts irrelevant. Former Army psychiatrist Major Charles Burney testified that “a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link…there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results”—that is, torture. The McClatchy press reported that a former senior intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue added that “The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime…. [Cheney and Rumsfeld] demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…. ‘There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder’.” These were the most significant revelations, barely reported.
via Z Magazine – Torture Memos
Unexceptional Americans: Why We Can’t See the Trees or the Forest By Noam Chomsky
Does Obama recycle George W. Bushs plans? Chomsky interview
Howard Zinn’s “Three Holy Wars”
Guantánamo: A Prison Built On Lies by Andy Worthington
By Paul Craig Roberts
June 03, 2009 “Information Clearing House”
Policymakers Have Created A Perfect Storm
Economic news remains focused on banks and housing, while the threat mounts to the US dollar from massive federal budget deficits in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
Earlier this year the dollar’s exchange value rose against currencies, such as the euro. UK pound, and Swiss franc, against which the dollar had been steadily falling. The dollar’s rise made US policymakers complacent, even though the rise was due to flight from over-leveraged financial instruments and falling stock markets into “safe” Treasuries. Since April, however, the dollar has steadily declined as investors and foreign central banks realize that the massive federal budget deficits are likely to be monetized.
What happens to the dollar will be the key driver of what lies ahead. The likely scenario could be nasty.
America’s trading partners do not have large enough trade surpluses to finance a federal budget deficit swollen to $2 trillion by gratuitous wars, recession, bailouts, and stimulus programs. Moreover, concern over the dollar’s future is causing America’s foreign creditors to seek alternatives to US debt in which to hold their foreign reserves.
By Mike Whitney
June 03, 2009 “Information Clearing House”
Last week’s ructions in the bond market, leave little doubt that the financial crisis has entered a new and more lethal phase. Of particular concern is the spike in long-term Treasuries which are used to set interest rates on mortgages and other loans. On Thursday, the average rate for a 30-year fixed loan jumped from 5.03% to 5.44% in just two days. The sudden move put the mortgage market in a panic and stopped the refinancing of billions of dollars in loans. The yields on Treasuries are going up because investors see hopeful signs of recovery in the economy and are moving into riskier investments. More money is moving into equities which is why the stock markets have been surging lately. (The Federal Reserve’s multi-trillion dollar monetary stimulus has played a large part, as well.) The bottom line is that investors are looking for better returns than the paltry yields on government debt. That will make it harder for the Fed to sell up to $3 trillion in Treasuries in the next year to finance Obama’s proposed economic recovery plan. For now, foreign central banks are still buying enough short-term Treasuries to cover the current account deficit, but that could change in a flash, especially given Fed chief Bernanke’s propensity to print more money at the drop of a hat. That’s making foreign holders of dollar-based assets more jittery than ever.
compiled by Cem Ertür
3 June 2009
1) Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran (1 June 2009)
2) Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon visits US and Latin America (1 June 2009)
excerpt from: Israeli diplomats told to take offensive in PR war against Iran
by Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 1 June 2009
|Organizing demonstrations in front of Iranian consulates worldwide, staging mock stonings and hangings in public, and launching a massive media campaign against Iran – these are just some of the steps Israeli diplomats have been told to take in the coming weeks. The goal, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official, is “to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy” in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on June 12.
About a week ago, the head of the ministry’s Task Force on Isolating Iran sent a classified telegram to all Israeli embassies and consulates, titled “Activities in the Run-up to Iran’s Presidential Election.” It detailed things Israeli representatives should do before, during and after the election.
The telegram noted that hundreds of journalists from around the world will go to Iran to cover the election. Therefore, Israeli representatives must try to give background briefings to various media outlets before the journalists depart, and to the host country’s foreign ministry officials.
In addition, diplomats should try to promote press coverage of stories that reveal the Iranian regime’s true face, especially its violations of human rights and suppression of individual liberty.
The main message Israeli diplomats should try to send is that “despite the democratic game of a presidential election, this is still a terrible regime that infringes on human rights and imposes many restrictions on its citizens,” the telegram said. In a nutshell, the goal is to “blacken Iran’s international reputation.”
excerpts from: Deputy FM Ayalon visits US and Latin America
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, 1 June 2009
|Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon arrived Sunday morning in New York to begin a visit to the United States and, afterwards, to Latin America. He took part in the annual Salute to Israel parade that was held on Sunday, 31 May, in New York, under the auspices of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. […]
In an interview to Fox News, Deputy FM Ayalon talked about the Iranian threat: “Iran is working on expanding its influence throughout the world – Latin America, the Gulf States and the Middle East. Iranian capability to launch long-range missiles is a threat to world peace and is liable, within a short time, to extend to the eastern shores of the United States of America.”
Israel holds drill simulating all-out war (21 May 2009)
by Rick Rozoff
June 3, 2009
Referring to newly released documents, though not revealing what they were, a major Canadian press wire service reported on May 26 that the government plans to acquire a “family” of aerial drones over the next decade. 
The dispatch was only two paragraphs long and could easily be overlooked, as one of the two intended purposes for expanding Canada’s reserve of military drones was for “failed or failing states.” Afghanistan is unquestionably one such deployment zone and Ottawa sent its first Israeli-made Heron drones there this January for NATO’s war in South Asia.
Another likely target for “dull, dirty and dangerous” missions suited for unmanned aircraft is Somalia, off the coast of which the frigate HMCS Winnipeg, carrying a Sea King helicopter it’s had occasion to use, is engaged with the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) in forced boarding and other military operations. The use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) in a likely extension of military actions on the Somali mainland would, unfortunately, not raise many eyebrows.
by Ted Rall
uExpress.com: Ted Rall , 05/28/2009
June 03, 2009 “Information Clearing House”
With Democrats Like Him, Who Needs Dictators?
MIAMI–We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through.
From healthcare to torture to the economy to war, Obama has reneged on pledges real and implied. So timid and so owned is he that he trembles in fear of offending, of all things, the government of Turkey. Obama has officially reneged on his campaign promise to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. When a president doesn’t have the ‘nads to annoy the Turks, why does he bother to show up for work in the morning?
Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now–before he drags us further into the abyss.
by Jason Miller
Thomas Paine’s Corner
June 3, 2009
Image: Bleeding Earth by =Psy-XX
“On this dot, tiny lumps of impure carbon and water, of complicated structure, with somewhat unusual physical and chemical properties, crawl about for a few years, until they are dissolved again into the elements of which they are compounded.”
–Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) from “Dreams and Facts”
Russell’s nihilistic characterization of Homo sapiens injects some much-needed perspective into a world in which our species of intellectually evolved primates suffers a collective delusion of grandeur. In “Dreams and Facts,” Russell further savages our God-complex with the powerfully humbling reminder that our solar system is but “an infinitesimal speck” and the Earth a mere “microscopic dot.” He does apply some soothing salve to our wounded egos with the observation that, “No man can achieve the greatness of which he is capable until he has allowed himself to see his own littleness,” but his decimation of our grossly-overinflated sense of importance remains intact.
While I don’t suffer from deep-seated self-hatred and I’m not an alienated misanthrope who has isolated himself from the rest of humanity, I’m penning this brief jeremiad as a deconstruction of our species. And I’m not going to dilute my critique by extolling the real and imagined virtues of Homo sapiens. Pollyanna has fled the building. If you are too deeply immersed in our culture of narcissism to take a moment to gaze upon a collective image of humanity far more hideous and repulsive than Dorian Gray, stop reading and sprint for the television. You might get lucky and catch Paris Hilton’s latest escapade.