Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rumors of war and torture (updated)

Impending war with Iran?

Yesterday, the New York Times headline seemed innocuous enough: Iranians Reopen Nuclear Centers. No rumors of war there. And there were even specific denials for select audiences. Today the papers are talking about sanctions, not possible war. But highly reliable journalists like Seymour Hersch have been warning for some time now that plans for an attack on Iran have already been at least partially operationalized.

And in Nuclear War Against Iran, Michel Chossudovsky suggests that the current deadline for the attack is March 2006. He further suggests that the plan is to use mini-nukes to take out the Iranian "nuclear centers."

Torture more widespread than you think

Today Amnesty International says that allegations of "appalling conditions, mistreatment and torture" at Guantanamo are continuing to grow.


And Clive Smith, lawyer for some of the political prisoners at Guantanamo, argues that the focus on Guantanamo has obscured a far more expansive network of torture chambers across the globe. There has been some reporting on the American gulags before, but Smith gives a better sense of the possible scope and character of this Dantesque netherworld.
The Guantanamo Bay welcome sign trumpets the base motto: "Honor Bound to Defend Freedom." Outside the base, on a visit to see my clients held in the prison, I watched a soldier smartly salute his superior: "Honor Bound, sir!" The officer saluted his reply: "To Defend Freedom, soldier!" I laughed. I thought they were joking.

The joke is on us. Guantanamo has been a decoy, drawing attention from a far shadier world of US-sponsored interrogation chambers. For four years, the stratagem worked quite effectively. The Bush administration blustered in response to global anger at the 'secret' Guantanamo prison.

Only now is the world finally asking about the archipelago of US prisons around the world, and the fleet of CIA aircraft ferrying prisoners from one torture chamber to the next...

The US has publicly acknowledged rendering 150 prisoners from one country to another to secret prisons. With as many as 80,000 prisoners passing through US hands in the four years post-9/11, and with scores of desperate families searching for their lost ones, it seems likely that the total number of the 'disappeared' is much higher. The $64,000 question -- and we know we don't know the answer here -- is what, when they have been shuttled from one secret prison to the next for a few years, the US plans to do with these prisoners.
The Orwellian sign at the entrance to the camp inevitably conjures up images of an earlier camp sign, only that one was inscribed in German.

UPDATE: I meant to include this earlier but the horror of it must have blocked my memory. John Yoo, a key architect post-9/11 Bush Administration legal policy especially in the areas of presidential power and torture, publically argued in a debate that there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles. Here is the exchange:
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
The article also has an mp3 of this exchange. Thanks to The Fall of Humanity for the link.

This is not an entirely theoretical possiblity. There are a number of juveniles in detention in the American gulags as Clive Smith noted in the article cited above. And Seymour Hersh had earlier claimed that some of the videos from Abu Ghraib that have not been released to the public involve the rape and torture of children.

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