Sunday, March 30, 2008

Victim of Horrific U.S. Government Torture on 60 Minutes

This story is the most shocking example of the American governments abuse of human rights I've ever heard. It is absolutely disgusting. All Americans should feel shame at what happened to this man. Do we really live in a free society? How could we allow this to go on? We must vow not to allow this to happen again:

The reason Kurnaz was singled out may always be a mystery. But at the time, the U.S. was paying bounties for suspicious foreigners. Kurnaz, who'd been rambling across Pakistan with Islamic pilgrims, seemed to fit the bill. Kurnaz says that he was told that U.S. intelligence paid $3,000 for him. He ended up bound and shackled on an American military plane.

"I was sure soon as they would find out I'm not a terrorist, they will apologize for it and let me go back home," he says.

But the plane flew him out of Pakistan and to a U.S. base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was mixed with prisoners fresh off the battlefield. His new identity was "number 53." He was kept in an outdoor pen, in sub-freezing weather and interrogated daily.

[...]Docke says the police report was sent to the Americans. And Kurnaz claims his interrogations at Kandahar turned to torture. He told 60 Minutes that American troops held his head underwater.

"They used to beat me when my head is underwater. They beat me into my stomach and everything," he says.

"They were hitting you in the stomach while you're head was underwater so that you'd have to take a breath?" Pelley asks,

"Right. I had to drink. I had to…how you say it?" Kurnaz replies.

"Inhale. Inhale the water," Pelley says.

"I had to inhale the water. Right," Kurnaz says.

Kurnaz says the Americans used a device to shock him with electricity that made his body go numb. And he says he was hoisted up on chains suspended by his arms from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar for five days.

"Every five or six hours they came and pulled me back down. And the doctor came to watch if I can still survive to not. He looked into my eyes. He checked my heart. And when he said okay, then they pulled me back up," Kurnaz says.

"The point of the doctor's visit was not to treat you. It was to see if you could take another six hours hanging from the ceiling?" Pelley asks.

"Right," Kurnaz says.

[...]He says it went on year after year, always the same questions about al Qaeda, and the endless effort to break his will. He heard nothing from the outside and wondered whether anyone knew that he was there.

Then, in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo prisoners did have the right to lawyers. And to his complete surprise, one day Kurnaz was told he had a visitor. It was Baher Azmy, an American lawyer.

"He was chained to a bolt in the floor around his ankle," Azmy says, recalling his first meeting with Kurnaz. "And had an absolutely enormous beard that had marked the years that he was in detention. He looked like someone who had been shipwrecked, which, of course, in a sense, he really was."

Azmy is a professor at the Seton Hall Law School. He dug into the case and found that the military seemed to have invented some of the charges. Military prosecutors said one of Kurnaz’s friends was a suicide bomber, but the friend turned up alive and well in Germany.

Read the entire article/transcript

CIA Director Hayden on Meet The Press: Transcript

Read the entire transcript of CIA Director, Gen.Michael Hayden, appearance this week on Meet The Press. Here are some excerpts:

MR. RUSSERT: I want to go back to '07 when Bob Woodward wrote a piece in The Washington Post about comments you made to the Iraqi Study Group, and have a chance to talk about that regarding Iraq.

"On the morning of November 13, 2006, members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group gathered ... in the ... Roosevelt Room of the White House. CIA Director Michael Hayden ... said, `the inability of the [Iraqi] government to govern seems irreversible,' adding that he could not `point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around,' according to written records of his briefing and the recollections of six participants.

"`The government is unable to govern,' Hayden concluded. `We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balance, and it cannot function.'"

Is that an accurate assessment of what you said?

GEN. HAYDEN: It's an incomplete assessment of, of what I said. What, what I said was inability to govern or turn this around in the short term is, is what I precisely said. And then I, I tried to use a sports metaphor. I talked about running a marathon, and what I, what I said to the, to the group there is I'd run a marathon in Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh's pretty hilly, as you know, and at about mile 21 there's a two-mile downhill stretch. And as you get down to the bottom of that hill, it's only three miles to the finish and you run three miles before church on Sunday. So I knew if I got to mile 22, there was a natural break that would begin to turn things into my favor. What I was saying to the commission was, there were no longer any natural breaks lying ahead of us that would turn things in our favor. It had to be done with just slogging through hard work. There were no upcoming elections, for example, no upcoming changes in the political structure that would be natural breaks. That's what I was trying to say to the committee.

Doublespeak on waterboarding:
[Russert]Do you believe that waterboarding's torture?

GEN. HAYDEN: What's more important is what the Department of Justice believes, and, frankly, the question of waterboarding, I've, I tried to point this out in as many ways as I can publicly, is an uninteresting question for the Central Intelligence Agency. We have not--and I, I made this public last month--we have not waterboarded anyone in now over five years, and only three people have been waterboarded in in the life of the CIA's interrogation program.

The issue with the Army Field Manual is not the false dichotomy that, that some people want to create, that on the one hand you've got the Army field manual and on the other hand you've got the licensing of torture. That, that's not the choice at all. The Army has listed--and by the way, the real debate, the real impact for us isn't on the list of things you've forbidden. That's fairly uninteresting to us. What's critical for the Army Field Manual, were it to be applied to CIA, is what's authorized and limiting the CIA only to what's authorized. No one claims that that list of authorized techniques in the Army Field Manual exhausts the universe of lawful interrogation techniques that the republic can draw on to defend itself. And so the issue for us is, is, is not torture or licensing torture or licensing waterboarding. And to the best of my ability I've made it very clear that we don't do that. But to limit us to what America's Army thinks they can train young soldiers to do under minimal supervision against lawful combatants in a transient battlefield situation, when our circumstances are completely different, means we're undercutting our ability to defend the nation.

Tibetan Protestors Attack Chinese Embassy

Alive and kicking:

A group of 200 Tibetan exiles and Buddhist monks tried to storm the Chinese Embassy visa office in Nepal's capital on Sunday but police beat them back with bamboo batons.

At least 130 protesters were arrested and some of the demonstrators and policemen were injured in the scuffle.

The protesters reached the metal gate of the fortified compound and were kicking and trying to push it open when police armed with bamboo batons rushed to the scene and began beating them.

"Stop the killing, stop the killing," the protesters chanted as they charged toward the office gate.

Tibetans have protested in front of the Chinese Embassy visa office in the heart of Katmandu in the past, but it was the first time they had reached the gate and tried to push through.

Sunday's protest was the latest by Tibetan monks and refugees in Katmandu against Chinese authorities' crackdown on recent demonstrations in Tibet.

Police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing policy, said those arrested were being held in several detention centers and would likely be freed later within hours without facing any charges.

Nepal has said it would not allow protests against any "friendly nation," including China.

International rights groups, like New York-based Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations have repeatedly criticized Nepal's handling of the Tibetan protests and beating of the protesters.

Nepal has not issued any statement on China's crackdown in Tibet.

Chinese state media accused the Dalai Lama on Sunday of closing the door to talks over Tibet's future, an apparent response to rising international calls for Beijing to negotiate with Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader.

In a lengthy article, Xinhua News Agency cited past actions and statements attributed to the 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner that it said contradicted or undermined his calls for negotiations.

"It was the Dalai Lama clique that closed the door of dialogue," Xinhua said, using China's standard term for the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The statement came a day before the arrival in Beijing of the Olympic torch, which has become a magnet for Tibetan activists and other groups seeking to use the August Games to draw attention to their cause.

China has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating protests in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa and other heavily Tibetan areas that started peacefully among Buddhist monks, but turned deadly on March 14. Beijing says 22 people were killed in Lhasa, while Tibetan exiles put the overall death toll at 140.

Obama Wants to Return to Foreign Policy of the Past

I'm not sure that's such a great idea. JFK has his Bay of Pigs. Reagan sold weapons to Iran, broke the law in fighting the Sandanistas, and allowed Jihadists to murder Americans in the Middle East. Bush Sr. invaded Panama to overthrow a thug who had been the CIA payroll. Obama has craft a new foreign policy that would make America strong not compromise us morally:

Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he would return the country to the more "traditional" foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

At a town hall event at a local high school gymnasium, Obama praised George H.W. Bush - father of the president - for the way he handled the Persian Gulf War: with a large coalition and carefully defined objectives.

Obama began a six-day bus tour through Pennsylvania, the largest remaining primary prize in the contest with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Sen. John McCain is the Republican nominee-in-waiting.

"The truth is that my foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush's father, of John F. Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan, and it is George Bush that's been naive and it's people like John McCain and, unfortunately, some Democrats that have facilitated him acting in these naive ways that have caused us so much damage in our reputation around the world," he said.

Obama faced criticism in January from Clinton and then-challenger John Edwards for saying Reagan had changed the trajectory of American politics - and that Republicans had been the party of ideas for the last decade or more.

In one of the more heated moments of the Democratic debates, Clinton challenged him directly on the topic, saying those GOP ideas were "bad for America, and I was fighting against those ideas."

In his speech Friday night, the Illinois senator charged that Clinton, for all her criticism of the current President Bush, has too often gone along with his decisions.

"I do think that Sen. Clinton would understand that George Bush's policies have failed, but in many ways she has been captive to the same politics that led her to vote for authorizing the war in Iraq," he said. "Since 9/11 the conventional wisdom has been that you've got to look tough on foreign policy by voting and acting like the Republicans, and I disagree with that."

His views on other issues can also be considered typical politician-speak. Obama is an honorable man but being part of a corrupt two-party system forces even the best of the best to compromise their principles:
No sooner had we issued Elizabeth Green's dispatch under the headline "Obama Open to Private School Vouchers" than his campaign was scrambling to undo the potential damage with the Democratic primary electorate. On February 20, his campaign issued a statement headlined, "Response to Misleading Reports Concerning Senator Obama's Position on Vouchers" that said, "Senator Obama has always been a critic of vouchers." The statement went on, "Throughout his career, he has voted against voucher proposals and voiced concern for siphoning off resources from our public schools." It noted that Mr. Obama's education agenda "does not include vouchers, in any shape or form."

Clarifying statement aside, there is no taking away what Mr. Obama actually said in the interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentininal that was the subject of Ms. Green's dispatch. "If there was any argument for vouchers, it was 'Alright, let's see if this experiment works,' and if it does, then whatever my preconceptions, my attitude is you do what works for the kids," the senator said. "I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn. We're losing several generations of kids and something has to be done."

Parents of schoolchildren, in sharp contradistinction to teachers' unions, will prefer Senator Obama's initial statement to the clarification issued by his campaign. The initial statement was change you can believe in. The follow-up message was the same old interest-group Democratic Party politics as usual. It was plainly designed to assuage the teachers' unions, who are the enemies of change. If Mr. Obama really gets into the education issue, he is going to realize that no position that includes accountability for schools or teachers is going to satisfy that interest group.