Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Guantanamo Bay Detainee, Free and Back in Britain, Alleges Torture

In Guantanamo Bay, Rendition, Torture on February 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm

More reports of torture and rendition flights for suspects who were charged, never tried, and freed:

Binyam Mohamed, a British resident held at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years, was released and put on a plane to Britain on Monday and accused the U.S. government of orchestrating his torture.  Mohamed, 30, was due to arrive back in Britain shortly following his release from the U.S. prison camp on Cuba.  He is the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be released since President Barack Obama came to power. The United States agreed to release Mohamed last week after 18 months of pressure from the British government.

Mohamed has been accused of receiving al Qaeda training in Afghanistan and Pakistan and of plotting to detonate a “dirty bomb” on the U.S. transport network, but all charges brought against him have been dropped and he has never been tried.

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Over 70 U.S. Military Advisers Working with Pakistani Anti-Terrorist Efforts

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, Taliban on February 23, 2009 at 11:28 am

The New York Times Reports:

More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas, American military officials said. It is a much larger and more ambitious effort than either country has acknowledged.

Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents in the Pakistan/Afghanistan region are murdering rivals and shutting down schools for girls.  The NYTimes amazing short documentary, “Class Dismissed in Swat Valley” tells the story.

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The Times Reports: Google Earth Reveals Secret US Airbase in Pakistan Used for Predator Drone Attacks on Militants

In Pakistan and Afghanistan on February 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

According to the Times:

The CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, a Times investigation has found.  The Pakistani and US governments have repeatedly denied that Washington is running military operations, covert or otherwise, on Pakistani territory — a hugely sensitive issue in the predominantly Muslim country.

Google Earth reveals the base:

The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth.  The image — that is no longer on the site but which was obtained by The News, Pakistan’s English language daily newspaper — shows what appear to be three Predator drones outside a hangar at the end of the runway. The Times also obtained a copy of the image, whose co-ordinates confirm that it is the Shamsi airfield, also known as Bandari, about 200 miles southwest of the Pakistani city of Quetta.

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Poland Vows to Bring Taliban Killers of Polish Hostage to Justice

In Other Terrorist Events, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Taliban on February 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Poland vows vengence for Piotr Stanczak:

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Monday denounced the execution of a Polish hostage by the Pakistani Taliban and vowed to hunt down his killers. Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban group released a video of the execution of hostage Piotr Stanczak on Sunday. “The cassette of the execution, this bestial execution, is authentic and unfortunately it confirms the worst,” Sikorski told reporters. Stanczak was the father of a 13-year-old son.

“Never in Poland have we had such a situation,” said Jacek Cichocki, security adviser to Prime Minister Donald Tusk. “We see films about citizens from other countries — Americans, British — but not Poles.”

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Obama Against Future “Extraordinary Rendition” by CIA

In 9/11 News, Rendition, Torture on February 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

President Obama’s choice for director of CIA says that Obama is against extraoridnary rendition of the type that allegedly ocurred during the Bush administration (2001 – 2009):

CIA Director nominee Leon Panetta testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, later acknowledged that he does not know specifically what happened in the secret program allowing so-called “extraordinary rendition.” CIA Director Michael Hayden has said that the Bush administration moved secret prisoners between countries for interrogation and incarceration, separate from the judicial system, fewer than 100 times.

Panetta said that President Barack Obama forbids what Panetta called “that kind of extraordinary rendition — when we send someone for the purpose of torture or actions by another country that violate our human values…. What happened I can’t tell you specifically… but clearly steps were taken that prompted this president to say those things ought not to happen again… Having said that, if we capture a high-value prisoner, I believe we have the right to hold that individual temporarily, to debrief that individual and to make sure that individual is properly incarcerated so we can maintain control over that individual.”

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Former VP Cheney: “we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek”

In Guantanamo Bay, Torture on February 5, 2009 at 7:58 am

Former VP Dick Cheney says that Obama’s national security policies can lead to terrorist attacks:

In his first interview since Obama’s inauguration, with Politico Tuesday, Cheney was unapologetic about the bitter controversies surrounding his own influential role in president George W. Bush‘s “war on terror.”  Cheney said Obama would regret his commitment to closing down the Guantanamo Bay internment camp and ending harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

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9/11 “Ground Zero” Lung Problems Persist Years Later

In 9/11 News, Health Issues on February 5, 2009 at 7:53 am

A recent medical study:

Researchers tracking Sept. 11 responders who became ill after working at the World Trade Center site found many had lung problems years later in a study the authors said proves persistent illness in people exposed to toxic dust caused by the twin towers’ collapse.  The study by the Mount Sinai Medical Center’s medical monitoring program examined more than 3,000 responders between 2004 and 2007, repeating exams conducted between the middle of 2002 and 2004.  Slightly more than 24 percent of the patients had abnormal lung function, the study found. In the earlier examinations, about 28 percent of the patients had similar results.

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