John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, spoke to me in an interview this week just days before Christmas. I was bracing for a difficult, anguished encounter, given the appalling injustice meted out to Julian.
On this episode of the Watchdog with Lowkey, veteran journalist John Pilger shares his opinion on political figures from Keir Starmer to Hugo Chavez and reveals the truth about our political system and its addiction to war.
South Korea cannot choose to make peace with North Korea without the consent of a foreign power that keeps thirty thousand troops in South Korea, makes South Korea pay much of the cost of housing them, commands the South Korean military in war, holds veto power at the United Nations, and is not accountable to the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague has handed down a momentous judgement that says Britain’s colonial authority over the Chagos Islands is no longer legal. John Pilger, whose 2004 film, Stealing a Nation, alerted much of the world to the plight of the islanders, tells their story here.
Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.
Lisette Talate died the other day. I remember a wiry, fiercely intelligent woman who masked her grief with a determination that was a presence. She was the embodiment of people’s resistance to the war on democracy. I first glimpsed her in a 1950s Colonial Office film about the Chagos islanders, a tiny creole nation living midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean. The camera panned across thriving villages, a church, a school, a hospital, set in a phenomenon of natural beauty and peace. Lisette remembers the producer saying to her and her teenage friends, “Keep smiling girls!”
The dire threat of Iran is widely recognized to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. Congress has just strengthened the sanctions against Iran, with even more severe penalties against foreign companies. The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding its offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia, claimed by Britain, which had expelled the population so that the US could build the massive base it uses for attacking the Middle East and Central Asia. The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Continue reading →
Is the United States planning to bomb Iran? A British newspaper has reported the United States is shipping bombs to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to possibly do just that. Lawrence Wilkerson says that if the US is, they cannot simply use airstrikes to attack Iran.
A major new report on secret detention policies around the world, conducted by four independent UN human rights experts, concludes that, “On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” and that, “If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity.”
The 226-page report, published on Wednesday in an advance unedited version, is the culmination of a year-long Joint Study by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. It will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson served in the US military for 31 years and was Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from August 2002 until January 2005, two months after Powell’s resignation, when he left the State Department. He is now the chairman of the New America Foundation’s US-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative. In March, in a guest column for the Washington Note, he wrote an article criticizing some crucial aspects of the Bush administration’s detention policies in the “War on Terror,” which, as I noted at the time, “are not as widely known as they should be, and which echo some of the important issues that I’ve tried to raise in my book The Guantánamo Files and my subsequent writing.”
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, reports on three important court cases in the UK this week, focusing on “extraordinary rendition” and torture in the “War on Terror.” These cases have implications not only for the complicity of the British government in the Bush administration’s flight from the law, but also for the Obama administration, which, on a number of fronts, appears to be doing all in its power to either maintain Bush-era policies or to shield the previous administration from accountability for its actions.
Binyam Mohamed and Jeppesen, “The CIA’s Travel Agent”
The Secret History of the American Empire with John Perkins, author of Confessions of An Economic Hit Man.
Perkins zeroes in on hot spots around the world such as Venezuela, Tibet, Iraq, Israel, Vietnam and others and exposes the network of events in each of these countries that have contributed to the creation of the American Empire and international corruption in “The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption” – Cody’s Books
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.
‘Stealing A Nation’ (2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of the Chagos Islands, whose indigenous population was secretly and brutally expelled by British Governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make way for an American military base. The tragedy, which falls within the remit of the International Criminal Court as “a crime against humanity”, is told by Islanders who were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and by British officials who left behind a damning trail of Foreign Office documents.
Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands in the Indian Ocean, many with roots back to the late 18th century. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life. The islands were, and still are, a British crown colony. In the 1960s, the government of Harold Wilson struck a secret deal with the United States to hand over the main island of Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the surrounding islands be “swept” and “sanitized”. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the United Nations Charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population.