Thursday, April 15, 2010

"High Value"? Gitmo POW Ordered Released & More Civilians Killed By US & NATO Forces & Tom Engelhardt U.S. Hubris: "Gods And Monsters"

UPDATE & Edited : 6:00 PM , April 15, 2010

On Today's Menu Lies , Hypocrisy, US Killing civilians & more news stories of note:

* regarding US Government financing Tea Partys
* Racism in America: Judge order school district to adhere to rules on desegregation 50 years after law was passed
* Gitmo Judge due to lack of evidence orders release of so-called High Profile Al Qaeda Or Taliban Terrorist
* Yemen balks at US extrajudicial killing or assassination of alleged terrorist
Other stories on USA & NATO Forces Targeting Civilians
*"Gods and Monsters :Fighting American Wars From On High" by Tom Engelhardt via by

Tea Party Madness and Hypocrisy

Ouch: Tea Party rally cost taxpayers almost $14,000 By Sahil Kapur via The Raw Story,Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

As Michele Bachmann riled a group of feisty Tea Partiers to rail against taxes and government spending, taxpayers were quietly forced to pick up a $13,600 tab for their festivities.

New expense reports from last November's Tea Party gathering in Washington, D.C. reveal that the rally comprising thousands of protesters was funded by official congressional money, according to the the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

For the sound, staging and equipment, Bachmann (R-MN) was financially assisted by taxpayer-funded allowances from Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Tom Price (R-GA), and Steve King (R-IA).

But despite natural ire at the abuse of taxpayer funds, experts suggest that the lawmakers acted within congressional rules as long as the event was not campaign-related.

"Unless it's billed as a campaign event, or campaign donations are solicited, or there's a concerted program of endorsements for candidates based on party affiliation, I don't think that they ran into any issues," Stan Brand, former general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, told the Tribune.

and they claim America is post racism as this story suggests it is not true
-So this raises the question about how many other municipalities or states or corporations in the US are still involved in discriminating against non-whites

Feds force Mississippi county to desegregate — after 40 years By Daniel Tencer via The Raw Story Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Forty years after a Mississippi school district was ordered to desegregate its schools, a federal judge has finally enforced the order.

A US District Court judge in southern Mississippi has ordered the Walthall County school board to stop segregating students by allowing white students to transfer to a predominantly-white school outside of their residence area and by "clustering" white students into separate classrooms in predominantly black schools.

“The district shall cease using race in the assignment of students to classrooms in a manner that results in the racial segregation of students,” Judge Tom S. Lee said in his order, as quoted at the Christian Science Monitor. “The district shall randomly assign students to classrooms at the Tylertown Elementary Schools through the use of a student management software program.”

"More than 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, it is unacceptable for school districts to act in a way that encourages or tolerates the resegregation of public schools," said Thomas E. Perez, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a statement. "We will take action so that school districts subject to federal desegregation orders comply with their obligation to eliminate vestiges of separate black and white schools."
Another blow to the Bush Regime's War Crimes in reference to denial of basic human rights , abuse , torture and indefinite detention of POWs or as the White House & The Pentagon euphemistically call these prisoners "Detainees"

GITMO: After 9 years of abuse and torture so-called "High Level" "detainee" Mohamedou Ould Salahi has been ordered released by Federal District Judge James Robertson

Unfortunately Obama is not doing much better when it comes to kidnapping, detaining in indefinite detention POWs many of whom turn out to be innocent.
Obama has done little to stop the abuse and torture of so called detainees since he applies as Bush did a rather specialized and narrow definition of Torture which does not accept the international or even common sense definition of torture-only extremes such as "Waterboarding is accepted as "Real Torure"- he excludes other abuses fake executions, sleep deprivation, intimidation, threats against family members excruciatingly painful stress positions lasting hours or the use of sensory overload or sensory deprivation or abuses such as not being permitted to read the Qur'an or to pray or prisoners are not permitted to speak to other prisoners or guards who stand over them 24/7 -nor are they permitted to have contact with family members or friends or denied access to lawyers or with the International Committee of the Red Cross or Red Crescent or any human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, or the ACLU. Access is restricted primarily so inmates cannot give testimony about being abused, denied their rights and being tortured.

According to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld & Condi Rice the "detainees" at Gitmo were the worst of the worst and the government had indisputable evidence proving their guilt yet hundreds have been freed du to lack of evidence. Now a judge has ordered another supposedly High Value Al Qaeda /Taliban terrorists for whose case they have little or no evidence.

Judge Orders Man Once Labeled "Highest-Value Detainee" Released From Gitmo:After nine years in captivity, including physical and psychological torture, Mohamedou Ould Salahi has been ordered released by Federal District Judge James Robertson. by William Fisher via, April 13, 2010

Federal District Judge James Robertson ruled in Washington, D.C. that the U.S. could not continue to detain Mohamedou Ould Salahi (sometimes spelled "Slahi"), a Mauritanian citizen who has been in U.S. custody since 2001.

Judge Robertson's opinion, providing the reasons for the granting of Salahi's habeas corpus petition, was released last week after undergoing a classification review. Some portions were withheld as classified.

US Murder Inc.

Yemen Refuses to Go Along with US Extrajudicial Killing Policy by Charles Fromm IPS, April 14, 2010

WASHINGTON - Last weekend, authorities in Yemen said they would not participate in the extrajudicial killing of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was recently targeted by military and intelligence agencies in Washington.

"Anwar al-Awlaki has always been looked at as a preacher rather than a terrorist and shouldn't be considered as a terrorist unless the Americans have evidence that he has been involved in terrorism," Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, told reporters in the capital city of Sa'na.

However, al-Qirbi also told Al Jazeera television that al-Awlaki "is wanted by Yemeni justice for questioning, so that he can clear his name ... or face trial."

...The Barack Obama administration took a somewhat extraordinary step last week in authorising the targeted killing of the cleric.

A handful of intelligence and counterterrorism officials briefed members of the press on the decision last week, during which Reuters quoted government officials as saying that "Al-Awlaki is a proven threat," and that "he's being targeted".

Will Intelligence and counterterrorism officials and Home Land Security apply a similar standard to Non-Muslim Americans who rile up citizens to overthrow the Obama administration ie Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin , Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann and other "Professional Agitators" who are well paid for their services that is : to foment anger, suspicion, hatred and fear of the current administration.

Tom Engelhardt in response to the release by Wikiweaks of the" Baghdad Massacre Video" he believes that US forces kill other human beings as if they were some lower life form compared to Americans who are more like the ancient Gos than ordinary men and women.

Gods and Monsters
Fighting American Wars From On High
by Tom Engelhardt at Tom'sdispatch, April 15, 2010

The Greeks had it right. When you live on Mount Olympus, your view of humanity is qualitatively different. The Greek gods, after all, lied to, stole from, lusted for, and punished humanity without mercy, while taking the planet for a spin in a manner that we mortals would consider amoral, if not immoral. And it didn't bother them a bit. They felt -- so Greek mythology tells us -- remarkably free to intervene from the heights in the affairs of whichever mortals caught their attention and, in the process, to do whatever took their fancy without thinking much about the nature of human lives. If they sometimes felt sympathy for the mortals whose lives they repeatedly threw into havoc, they were incapable of real empathy. Such is the nature of the world when your view is the Olympian one and what you see from the heights are so many barely distinguishable mammals scurrying below. The details of their petty lives naturally blur and seem less than important.

In the last week, we've seen -- literally viewed -- a modern example of what it means in our day to act from the heights, and we've read about another striking example of the same. The website WikiLeaks released a decrypted July 2007 video of two U.S. Apache helicopters attacking Iraqis on a street in Baghdad. At least 12 Iraqis, including two employees of the news agency Reuters, a photographer and his driver, were killed in the incident, and two children in the vehicle of a good Samaritan who stopped to pick up casualties and died in the process, were also wounded.

Without a doubt, that video is a remarkable 17-minute demo of how to efficiently slaughter tiny beings milling about below. There is no way American helicopter crews could know just who was walking down there -- Sunni or Shiite, insurgent or shopper, Baghdadis with intent to harm Americans or Baghdadis paying little attention to two of the helicopters then so regularly buzzing the city. Were they killers, guards, bank clerks, unemployed idlers, Baathist Party members, religious fanatics, café owners? Who could tell from such a height? But the details mattered little.

The Reuters cameraman crouches behind a building looking, camera first, around a corner, and you hear an American in an Apache yell, "He's got an RPG!" -- mistaking his camera with its long-range lens for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The pilot, of course, doesn't know that it's a Reuters photographer down there. Only we do. (And when his death did become known, the military carefully buried the video.)

Along with that video comes a soundtrack in which you hear the Americans check out the rules of engagement (ROE), request permission to fire, and banter about the results. ("Hahaha. I hit 'em"; "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards..."; and of the two wounded children, "Well, it's their fault bringing their kids into a battle.") Such callous chit-chat is explained away in media articles here by the need for "psychological distance" of those whose job it is to kill, but in truth that's undoubtedly the way you talk when you, and only you, have god-like access to the skies and can hover over the rest of humanity, making preparations to wipe out lesser beings.

Similarly, in pre-dawn darkness on February 12th in Paktia Province, eastern Afghanistan, a U.S. Special Operations team dropped from the skies into a village near Gardez. There, in a world that couldn't be more distant from their lives, possibly using an informant's bad tip, American snipers on rooftops killed an Afghan police officer ("head of intelligence in one of Paktia's most volatile districts"), his brother, and three women -- a pregnant mother of 10, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager. They then evidently dug the bullets out of the women's bodies, bound and gagged their bodies, and filed a report claiming that the dead men were Taliban militants who had murdered the women -- "honor killings" -- before they arrived. (This was how the American press, generally reliant on military handouts, initially reported the story.)

Ceremonial Evisceration

Both incidents elicited shock and anger from critics of American war policies. And both incidents are shocking. Probably the most shocking aspect of them, however, is just how humdrum they actually are, even if the public release of video of such events isn't. Start with one detail in those Afghan murders, reported in most accounts but little emphasized: what the Americans descended on was a traditional family ceremony. More than 25 guests had gathered for the naming of a newborn child.

In fact, over these last nine-plus years, Afghan (and Iraqi) ceremonies of all sorts have regularly been blasted away. Keeping a partial tally of wedding parties eradicated by American air power at, I had counted five such "incidents" between December 2001 and July 2008. (A sixth in July 2002 in which possibly 40 Afghan wedding celebrants died and many more were wounded has since come to my attention, as has a seventh in August 2008.) Nor have other kinds of rites where significant numbers of Afghans gather been immune from attack, including funerals, and now, naming ceremonies. And keep in mind that these are only the reported incidents in a rural land where much undoubtedly goes unreported.

Similarly, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, recently expressed surprise at a tally since last summer of at least 30 Afghans killed and 80 wounded at checkpoints when U.S. soldiers opened fire on cars. He said: "We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat." Or consider 36-year-old Mohammed Yonus, a popular imam of a mosque on the outskirts of Kabul, who was killed in his car this January by fire from a passing NATO convoy, which considered his vehicle "threatening." His seven-year-old son was in the back seat.

Or while on the subject of Reuters employees, recall reporter Mazen Tomeizi, a Palestinian producer for the al-Arabiya satellite network of Dubai, who was killed on Haifa Street in central Baghdad in September 2004 by a U.S. helicopter attack. He was on camera at the time and his blood spattered the lens. Seif Fouad, a Reuters cameraman, was wounded in the same incident, while a number of bystanders, including a girl, were killed. Or remember the 17 Iraqi civilians infamously murdered when Blackwater employees in a convoy began firing in Nissour Square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007. Or the missiles regularly shot from U.S. helicopters and unmanned aerial drones into the heavily populated Shiite slum of Sadr City back in 2007-08. Or the Iraqis regularly killed at checkpoints in the years since the invasion of 2003. Or, for that matter, the first moments of that invasion on March 20, 2003, when, according to Human Rights Watch, "dozens" of ordinary Iraqi civilians were killed by the 50 aerial "decapitation strikes" the Bush administration launched against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Iraqi leadership, missing every one of them.

This is the indiscriminate nature of killing, no matter how "precise" and "surgical" the weaponry, when war is made by those who command the heavens and descend, as if from Mars, into alien worlds, convinced that they have the power to sort out the good from the bad, even if they can't tell villagers from insurgents. Under these circumstances, death comes in a multitude of disguises -- from a great distance via cruise missiles or Predator drones and close in at checkpoints where up-armored American troops, fingers on triggers, have no way of telling a suicide car bomber from a confused or panicked local with a couple of kids in the backseat. It comes repetitively when U.S. Special Operations forces helicopter into villages after dark looking for terror suspects based on tips from unreliable informants who may be settling local scores of which the Americans are dismally ignorant. It comes repeatedly to Afghan police or Army troops mistaken for the enemy.

It came not just to a police officer and his brother and family in Paktia Province, but to a "wealthy businessman with construction and security contracts with the nearby American base at Shindand airport" who, along with up to 76 members of his extended family, was slaughtered in such a raid on the village of Azizabad in Herat Province in August 2008. It came to the family of Awal Khan, an Afghan army artillery commander (away in another province) whose "schoolteacher wife, a 17-year-old daughter named Nadia, a 15-year-old son, Aimal, and his brother, employed by a government department" were killed in April 2009 in a U.S.-led raid in Khost Province in Eastern Afghanistan. (Another daughter was wounded and the pregnant wife of Khan's cousin was shot five times in the abdomen.) It came to 12 Afghans by a roadside near the city of Jalalabad in April 2007 when Marine Special Operations forces, attacked by a suicide bomber, let loose along a ten-mile stretch of road. Victims included a four-year-old girl, a one-year-old boy, and three elderly villagers. According to a report by Carlotta Gall of the New York Times, a "16-year-old newly married girl was cut down while she was carrying a bundle of grass to her family's farmhouse... A 75-year-old man walking to his shop was hit by so many bullets that his son did not recognize the body when he came to the scene."

It came in November 2009 to two relatives of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of Agriculture, who were shot down in cold blood in Ghazni City in another Special Operations night raid. It came in Uruzgan Province in February 2010 when U.S. Special Forces troops in helicopters struck a convoy of mini-buses, killing up to 27 civilians, including women and children.

And it came this April 5th in an airstrike in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan in which a residence was hit and four civilians -- two women, an elderly man, and a child -- were killed along with four men, immediately identified in a NATO press release as "suspected insurgents." ("Insurgents were using the compound as a firing position when combined forces, unaware of the possible presence of civilians, directed air assets against it.") The usual joint investigation with Afghans has been launched and if those four men later morph into "civilians," the usual apologies will ensue. (Of course, "suspected insurgents," too, can have wives, children, and elderly parents or relatives, or simply take over compounds with such inhabitants.) And it came this Monday morning on the outskirts of Kandahar City, when U.S. troops opened fire on a bus, killing five civilians (including a woman), wounding more, and sparking angry protests.

Planetary Predators

Whether in the skies or patrolling on the ground, Americans know next to nothing of the worlds they are passing above or through. This is, of course, even more true of the "pilots" who fly our latest wonder weapons, the Predators, Reapers, and other unmanned drones over American battle zones, while sitting at consoles somewhere in the United States. They are clearly engaged in the most literal of video-game wars, while living the most prosaic of god-like lives. A sign at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada warns such a drone pilot to "drive carefully" on leaving the base after a work shift "in" Afghanistan or Iraq. This, it says, is "the most dangerous part of your day."

One instructor of drone pilots has described this form of warfare vividly: "Flying a Predator is like a chess game... Because you have a God's-eye perspective, you need to think a few moves ahead."

And yet another incident of US troops shooting innocent unarmed civilians - Cow Boy Justice

Anti-American Anger Grows in Afghanistan
Protesters take to the streets after U.S. troops open fire on passenger bus outside Kandahar city, killing four civilians
by Sonia Verma at Globe and Mail April 13, 2010

U.S. troops fired on a crowded passenger bus on the outskirts of Kandahar city, killing four civilians and injuring 18 others, stoking anti-American protests that promised to complicate a massive offensive against Taliban insurgents this summer.

Although the military command issued an apology, saying it “deeply regrets the tragic loss of life,” Monday’s incident cast fresh doubts on Operation Omid, billed as the pivotal offensive of the war, which will see tens of thousands of NATO troops attempt to seize control of Kandahar.

NATO officials were already struggling to win support for the offensive from ordinary Afghans and tribal elders who had expressed concern over the potential for “collateral damage.”

Monday’s shooting appeared to confirm those fears, with angry Afghans spilling into the streets, burning tires and chanting “Death to America.”

“People brought the bus to Kandahar bus station and drivers and ordinary people protested against Americans,” said a man named Naqibullah who attended the protest, which he said “showed the anger of the people against the Americans.”

The shooting occurred before dawn when a bus carrying about 50 passengers traveling west on the main highway from Kandahar city approached a military convoy on a road-clearing mission, sweeping for land mines and improvised explosive devices.

And another case of mistaken identity though the US military of course says all the dead are Taliban or insurgents without offering much in defense of their claims. But this is what they do and the Mainstream Media laps it up doesn't bother to check with other sources or with civilians in the area where the slaughter took place. And so the Media prints it and televises it as the US Pentagon & CIA etc. tell them to when they give out their Rovian style Talking Points dealing with such issue that is America rarely kills innocent civilians and each such action they claim kills top Taliban or insurgents in the designated area whether it is true or not.

Pakistan Airstrike Kills 71 Civilians: Official by Riaz Khan and Zarar Khan AP,April 13, 2010

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Up to 71 civilians were killed in a weekend strike by Pakistani jets near the Afghan border, survivors and a government official said Tuesday — a rare confirmation of civilian casualties that risks undercutting public support for the fight against militants.

The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said authorities had already handed out the equivalent of $125,000 in compensation to families of the victims in a remote village in the Khyber tribal area.

Also Tuesday, a village elder claimed 13 civilians had been killed in U.S. missile strike on Monday night elsewhere in the northwest, contesting accounts by Pakistani security officials that four militants were killed.

Pakistan's tribal regions are largely out of bounds for reporters and dangerous to visit because of the likelihood of being abducted by militants, who still control much of the area, making it very difficult to verify casualty figures.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas on Monday denied that any of the dead in the Pakistani air force attack were civilians, saying the army had intelligence that militants were gathering at the site of the strike. The victims were initially reported to be suspected militants. The military regularly reports killing scores of militants in airstrikes in the northwest, but rarely says it is responsible for civilian deaths.

and so it goes,

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