Friday, January 28, 2011

Obama Continues US Tradition Defending Friendly Dictators Military Juntas While Calling Dissidents "Enemies of The State" From Honduras, Burma, Yemen, To Egypt ad nausea

President Obama while claiming to champion the people of Tunisia who want reform and more rights and freedoms refuses to apologize for America's past support over two decades backing a ruthless dictatorship. But given American history or even the history so far of the Obama administration this is not surprising . After all it was his administration which backed the Coup d'etat in Honduras and still supports the Junta which suppressing free speech and the freedom to hold anti-government demonstrations. This is odd since in America the Anti-government Tea Party Republicans are permitted to publicly demonstrate hold their rallies and accuse the administration of being a Nazi/Communist totalitarians out to destroy America.
In America these right wing organizations and individuals can even call for the shooting, beheading and beating or just harassing any politician or academic , or media personality that dares to disagree with their extremist ideology of uberpatriotism and America's God Given Right to do as it pleases.
They claim that by definition it is impossible for America to do wrong since America is guided by the Christian God.

Laura Flanders points out Obama paid some sort of passing tribute to the citizens of Tunisia in his State of the Union Address but didn't bother to say anything about the people in Egypt now demonstrating against their heavy handed government which also suppressing the press and any form of dissent and has a reputation of torturing prisoners and committing other human rights violation. I would add he also didn't bother to mention America's other friends including Yemen and Algiers . Obama is just continuing the American tradition of cozying up to dictators and totalitarian regimes where there is no respect for human rights.

But we also know that the Obama administration has defended Israel in its commission of War Crimes and supplied Israel the weaponry including banned chemicals such as White Phosphorus and the anti-personnel Cluster Bombs. The Obama administration has also did all it could for instance to defend Sri Lanka from any real investigations into its actions against the Tamil Tigers and the innocent non-combatants who appear to have been beaten, bombed , raped or killed by the Sri Lanka government forces and we have seen the same pattern in Burma which is ruled by a vicious brutal dictatorship or Junta whom the Americans like because those in power insure that those who work in international companies owned by Americans, Canadians or British or other Western Countries have no rights whatsoever . But in the end it means big profits for those in power and the corporations they protect.

The only thing that really bothers these ruthless rapacious corporations and governments is when these things go public and for that they blame in their view the evil liberal press whom they believe should mind their own business or suffer the consequences . We know for instance that the US government and Military and that of Israel and other nations deliberately target and murder journalists who might dare print or videotape the truth.

We also know that President Obama and other national leaders insist they have the right to not just block signals from TV and news agencies they don't like such as AlJazeera but also to shut down social networking on the web and even shut down the Internet itself .

But as these characters in Washington keep reminding us notions such as human rights and the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg rulings in this post 9/11 world no longer apply are " merely quaint " as Condoleeza Rice infamously remarked.
So other nations if they had any real interest themselves in defending Human Rights and International Law they would stand up to the United States and they would insist that those American officials in the Whitehouse, Congress or Senate or in the military, the pentagon or CIA who committed War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity should be tried in the International Court and judged accordingly.

" Protests in Cairo Forgotten by Obama" by laura Flanders via Alternet, jan 26, 2011
In the State of the Union speech, Barack Obama did get applause for saying that the US stands with the people of Tunisia. Now, he didn’t mention the two decades of support the US had given the dictatorship.

"The Corruption Game What the Tunisian Revolution and WikiLeaks Tell Us about American Support for Corrupt Dictatorships in the Muslim World" By Juan Cole TomDispatch, jan. 25, 2011

January 25, 2011 "TomDispatch" -- Here’s one obvious lesson of the Tunisian Revolution of 2011: paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements and terrorism is causing Washington to make bad choices that will ultimately harm American interests and standing abroad. State Department cable traffic from capitals throughout the Greater Middle East, made public thanks to WikiLeaks, shows that U.S. policy-makers have a detailed and profound picture of the depths of corruption and nepotism that prevail among some “allies” in the region.

The same cable traffic indicates that, in a cynical Great Power calculation, Washington continues to sacrifice the prospects of the region’s youth on the altar of “security.” It is now forgotten that America’s biggest foreign policy headache, the Islamic Republic of Iran, arose in response to American backing for Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, the despised Shah who destroyed the Iranian left and centrist political parties, paving the way for the ayatollahs’ takeover in 1979.

State Department cables published via WikiLeaks are remarkably revealing when it comes to the way Tunisian strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and his extended family (including his wife Leila’s Trabelsi clan) fastened upon the Tunisian economy and sucked it dry. The riveting descriptions of U.S. diplomats make the presidential “family” sound like True Blood’s vampires overpowering Bontemps, Louisiana.

In July of 2009, for instance, the U.S. ambassador dined with Nesrine Ben Ali el-Materi and Sakher el-Materi, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, at their sumptuous mansion. Materi, who rose through nepotism to dominate Tunisia’s media, provided a 12-course dinner with Kiwi juice -- “not normally available here” -- and “ice cream and frozen yoghurt he had flown in from Saint Tropez,” all served by an enormous staff of well-paid servants. The ambassador remarked on the couple’s pet tiger, “Pasha,” which consumed “four chickens a day” at a time of extreme economic hardship for ordinary Tunisians.

Other cables detail the way the Ben Ali and Trabelsi clans engaged in a Tunisian version of insider trading, using their knowledge of the president’s upcoming economic decisions to scarf up real estate and companies they knew would suddenly spike in value. In 2006, the U.S. ambassador estimated that 50% of the economic elite of Tunisia was related by blood or marriage to the president, a degree of nepotism hard to match outside some of the Persian Gulf monarchies.

Despite full knowledge of the corruption and tyranny of the regime, the U.S. embassy concluded in July 2009: “Notwithstanding the frustrations of doing business here, we cannot write off Tunisia. We have too much at stake. We have an interest in preventing al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other extremist groups from establishing a foothold here. We have an interest in keeping the Tunisian military professional and neutral.”

More Weakileaks documents examined and McClatchy Newspapers delivers its verdict on what they mean.
In this case the cables gives us the background on why Obama's decision to close Gunatanamo has been postponed again and again.
We of course knew the Republicans and Tea Party thugs and their media echo chamber were against but now we know there were Democrats and people in Obama's administration who were against closing Gitmo or any of America's foreign prisons in Iraq or Afghanistan .

How Congress Helped Thwart Obama's Plan to Close Guantanamo by: Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers | Report Jan. 22,2011

Two years after the newly minted Obama administration moved to undo what had become one of the most controversial legacies of the George W. Bush presidency by ordering the closure of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a trove of State Department documents made public by the website WikiLeaks is providing new information about why that effort failed.

Key among the factors, the cables suggest: Congress' refusal to allow any of the captives to be brought to the United States.

In cable after cable sent to the State Department in Washington, American diplomats make it clear that the unwillingness of the United States to resettle a single detainee in this country — even from among 17 ethnic Muslim Uighurs considered enemies of China's communist government — made other countries reluctant to take in detainees.

Europe balked and said the United States should go first. Yemen at one point proposed the United States move the detainees from Cuba to America's SuperMax prison in the Colorado Rockies. Saudi Arabia's king suggested the military plant micro-chips in Guantanamo captives before setting them free.

A January 2009 cable from Paris is a case in point: France's chief diplomat on security matters insisted, the cable said, that, as a precondition of France's resettling Guantanamo captives the United States wants to let go, "the U.S. must agree to resettle some of these same LOW-RISK DETAINEES in the U.S.'' In the end, France took two.

Closing the Guantanamo detention center had been a key promise of the Obama presidential campaign, and the new President Barack Obama moved quickly to fulfill it.

Just two days after taking the oath of office, on Jan. 22, 2009, Obama signed an executive order instructing the military to close Guantanamo within a year. European countries were effusive in their praise.

But as the second anniversary of that order passed Saturday, the prison camps remain open, and the prospects of their closure appear dim. Prosecutors are poised to ramp up the military trials that Obama once condemned, and the new Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon of California, last week said the U.S. should grow the population to perhaps 800 from the current 173.

Many factors worked to thwart Obama's plans to close the camps — from a tangled bureaucracy to fears that released detainees would become terrorists. But Congress' prohibition on resettling any of the detainees in the United States hamstrung the administration's global search for countries willing to take the captives in.

So as usual morality , the rule of law .common decency carry no weight when it comes to protecting America's interest that is its empire there are no restrictions or boundaries regarding how to protect those interests. Torture, murder, plundering launching pre-emptive wars or backing ruthless dictators its all the same to many Americans. And yet Americans are always going on about the rule of law and their Bill of Rights and go around quoting Thomas Paine and Jefferson and Jesus and the Bible to argue what a morally upright nation it is.

Unfortunately the United States politicians and its military and security forces such as the CIA do not take part in moral or ethical or religious debates about their actions and practices. So ecesses such as the use of torture renditions assassinations setting up Death Squads in various countries killing not just armed combatants but also politicians, lawyers, social workers, community organizers , academics, scholars , journalist who dare to reject their governments which are supported by the USA.

"Video: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner and Victim of US Rendition and Torture Speaks" by Andy Worthington 24.1.11

Last week, NBC News surprised everyone by featuring an interview conducted in Pakistan with Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, a former Guantánamo prisoner — and an innocent man seized in Indonesia in January 2002, at a time when the Bush administration was out of control, kidnapping men around the world and subjecting them to “extraordinary rendition” and torture in foreign prisons on the the merest suspicion that they were connected to terrorist activities.

Madni, an Islamic scholar, was rendered to Egypt and tortured because, on a trip to Indonesia to sort out his late father’s affairs, he was recorded by Indonesian intelligence with a group of young Indonesian Islamists who were under surveillance, and who, in their conversation, discussed the shoe bomber Richard Reid, who had been captured the month before. When the information was passed to US intelligence and he was picked up, the prevailing opinion about him based on interviews after his capture — that he was nothing more than a “blowhard,” who “wanted us to believe he was more important than he was,” and that he would be held for a few days, “then booted out of jail,” as a US intelligence official told Ray Bonner of the New York Times in 2005 — was ignored, and someone higher up the chain of comand ordered his rendition to Egypt.

Torture at the Justice Department? Better Not to Ask by Ray McGovern via , Jan. 25, 2011

On Sunday, I attended an informal talk given in a parish hall by the Justice Department's Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. His topic: "The way his work for justice is defined by his faith."

During the Q&A after his talk, I had a chance to pose some questions:

Question: Thanks Tom, for making yourself available to us. You raise the issue of torture, and intimated that there is consensus among Catholics that torture is wrong. Polling conducted two years ago indicates that this is far from the case.

[According to the Catholic News Agency, a survey by the Pew Center Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Catholics are more likely than the general U.S. population to favor the use of torture against suspected terrorists. More than half the Catholics surveyed said that torture could be often or sometimes justified, while another 27 percent said the practice could rarely be justified. Only 20 percent said it could never be justified.]

You are head of the Civil Rights Division at Justice. I am sure you would agree that a person's right not to be tortured is a civil right.

Your immediate boss, Attorney General Eric Holder has stated in testimony to Congress that waterboarding is torture. President Obama has said the same thing. Now the President...that is former President George W. Bush...has written a book in which he brags about authorizing waterboarding and says he would do it again. Former Vice President Dick Cheney earlier endorsed waterboarding.

Like you, Tom, I went to a Jesuit high school, and I know what a syllogism is. If waterboarding is torture, and those who authorized it now admit that and brag about it, is not your boss Eric Holder bound by his oath of office to prosecute those who admit having done that?

I refer here not only to those tortured at Guantanamo, at the huge prison complex at Bagram, Afghanistan, and at "black sites" around the world where my former colleagues at CIA were given carte blanche to ply their trade. I refer also to American citizens like José Padilla born, like me, in New York City, who was deprived of his civil rights and subjected to the cruelest forms of debilitating torture right here in the U.S.A.

Again, you are head of the Civil Rights Division at Justice. You have talked a good bit about conscience. Your boss, the Attorney General, appears unwilling to see to it that the law be faithfully executed. Has your faith or your conscience led you to raise this subject with Eric Holder?

Perez: It's a matter of prosecutorial discretion. We have discussed these matters, and I am not about to reveal information on those discussions.

Question: Your talk is billed as a discussion of how your faith defines your work for justice. I am not asking you to reveal information about the discussions you have been part of at the Justice Department; I am asking you how you come at the issue of torture from a faith perspective.

Perez: You are very clever; but I am not going to let myself be drawn into this discussion. Next questioner...

So what Perez is saying is that when it comes security and Realpolitik morality, ethics,  common decency, human rights etc. are meaningless.

And as we know another tradition in America is wanton corruption even in the attempt to rebuild a country the US invaded. But it doesn't matter because some US corporations were allowed to make a killing along with a few Afghanis.
Ah well we know in Iraq there are still billions unaccounted for but don't expect the Tea Party Republicans to complain about corporations sucking the country dry. No that's just capitalism at work as Obama would say.

And as Rachell Maddow in her judgment called Obama's State of The Union Address "a solemn prayer to Capitalism" - winners take all and those who fail should stop whining because that's how this vicious nasty little game is played. 

But heaven forbid some person living in poverty in the United States might get a raise  of a few dollars more a month in their welfare payments or unemployment benefits to reflect the rise in the Cost of Living. If we didn't have our own loony Neocons running Canada we could suggest that many of these people would be better off here but unfortunately this mean spirited form of rapacious winner take all attitude has taken over our country as well.

" There Is No Plan" by Justin Elliott Jan. 26,

That's how an inspector general describes the $11 billion effort to build facilities for the Afghan army

The United States is at risk of blowing over $11 billion on building facilities for the Afghan military because of waste and poor planning, according to the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.

The revelation came in testimony this week before a congressional commission that is looking at U.S. spending in Afghanistan.

According to Arnold Fields, the outgoing special inspector general who has audited various projects in Afghanistan, the money spent on construction of facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is at risk for three reasons: first, "lack of a comprehensive plan"; second, the projects audited to date are "seriously behind schedule"; and third, "it is not clear how Afghanistan is going to be able to provide the operations and maintenance required to sustain any of these investments without continuing financial support from the United States after the current operations and maintenance contract expires in 2015."

For a bit more on torture here's Rachel Maddow interviewing former guard at Guantanamo:

and so it goes,

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