Thursday, April 27, 2006

Torture flights and Prisoner abuse

Good evening and let's kick it off with Democracy Now!

EU Reports 1,000 Clandestine CIA Flights In 5 Years
In Europe, an EU commission has concluded the CIA has operated more than 1,000 clandestine flights over Europe in the past five years. Analysts said that figure is considerably higher than previously thought. The commission also concluded that incidents where detainees were handed over to US agents were not isolated cases. In many instances, the suspects were ferried around Europe on the same planes used by a small group of the same agents.

If you missed it, the EU whitewashed with their report on secret prisons. I think C.I. had a great comment on the whitewash last week on secret prisons but the admission this week on 1,000 clanestine flights:

So they whitewashed their own culpability and then acknowledged that the torture flights take place . . . apparently because the US just wants prisoners to see the world?
Sarcasm? Yeah. Flights take off from one point and it lands in another -- usually for a reason.

I remember in school when we learend a little bit, and only a little bit, about how this country interned Japanese-Americans during WWII, we were shocked and couldn't believe it. When tomorrow's children see what we've done in the so-called war on terror, I think they'll shake their heads and not be able to grasp it. I do but only because I got to live through this whole demonize Arabs and whip up fear. It is shameful and Bully Boy will be remembered not as 'the worst' leader because it's not just that he was lousy at leadership, he was damaging and he was destructive. He's a crook and Richard Nixon will probably look better by comparison.

Human Rights Groups Say Most Detainee Abuse Unpunished
In other news, a coalition of human rights groups has released what they say is the first comprehensive list of abuses of detainees in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanano Bay. The effort, named the Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project, says abuse has been widespread and that the US government has taken few steps to investigate implicated high-ranking personnel. According to the report only half of more than 330 claims of detainee abuse and torture have been adequately investigated. And only 40 of over 600 US personnel implicated in these cases have been sentenced to prison time. "This data should silence once and for all the assertion that the prisoner abuse problem is some isolated phenomenon limited to a few sadistic soldiers on the night shift at Abu Ghraib,” said Elisa Massimino, Washington Director of Human Rights First. “Two years after those photographs became public we now know that the conduct depicted in them was wide spread, spanning two theaters of war and involving hundreds of military and civilian personnel. This can no longer be reasonably disputed. Second, this data confirms that the abuses that occurred are serious violations of the law. Our data shows over a thousand separate criminal acts, including beating, sexual assaults and 34 homicides, eight of those appear to be people who were literally tortured to death. Third, and perhaps most important for the future strength and discipline of the military, our findings reveal a picture of military discipline which from which the doctrine of command responsibility is completely absent.

The two go hand in hand, the two items. They are about an attitude of "Rules apply! Except for us!" We can scream about torture. Except when we do it. Then it's all these excuses like, "It's not that bad" and "We're not killing them" (in some cases, we are) and all these other sorry excuses that if another country was doing it, we'd scream our heads off. That's the point we were getting with The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: Remember Guantanamo."
It's just amazing how something so against democracy and so against our own justice system and our notions of human rights is something we can shrug off. We're aided by the media which usually just goes with what the military tells it. They don't do that when it's them being attacked by the government. When the government goes after them, they're suddenly a lot more fair and not just repeating the official line.

Wakeup Call today? Dave Zirin spoke about baseball and made me laugh so hard. Especially about the way Dick Cheney throws! :D He tied baseball into immigrants and noted the Latino accomplishments. "Currently 36% of major league players were born in Latin America." Zirin noted that this was also due to owners wanting to "sign up talent on the cheap." 15 games are scheduled for May 1st and Zirin hopes (me too) that some of the Latino players step up to the plate and honor the May 1st protest for immigrant rights. Dave Zirin is on Wakeup Call every Thursday so check it out. WBAI's Wakeup Call airs Monday through Friday, Deepa Fernandes is the host Monday through Thursday, and it's a three hour program with news, sports, music, interviews and just about everything you can imagine. If it's on too early for you you can listen to archived broadcasts later in the day or week at WBAI or at the Wakeup Call site. Deepa Fernandes is her name (she's Tracey's favorite) and if I've spelled it "Deepa Fernandez" with a "z" before, that was my bad.

Iraq today? Here's C.I.'s Iraq snapshot:

Iraq snapshot.
Thursday, as
Pacifica broadcasts the Iraq Forum, things remain the same in Iraq: violence and chaos.
Condi and Donnie took the PR Express to Iraq. And did anything change?
CNN reports that "many of the troops stationed north of Baghdad, in Balad and Dujail, say either they didn't know about it or didn't care." No, nothing changed. But it's an election year and nothing's more likely to put the dove in the pants of an Nixon or Bully Boy than an election year. Which is why there are the grumbles of maybe we'll draw down the numbers of some troops (while increasing the air strikes). The AFP reports Muwaffaq Bubaie, national security chief of Iraq, made noises of "a sizeable gross reduction of troops" at year's end.
Far from Fantasy Island, in Baquba, at least
one Iraqi civilian and four Iraqi police officers died while at least two police officers were wounded in attacks on checkpoints today. As the day continued, the number of dead would rise to at least eleven.
Reuters notes a Romanian soldier and three Italian soldiers died due to a roadside bomb (Italy's Minister of Defence had revised the figures from three to two but AFP notes that the third has died and that a fourth is wounded). In Ramadi, two missiles were fired by a US plane. In Ramadi,an Iraqi soldier died from gun fire.
Associated Press notes that today, sixteen more corpses were found (signs of torture).
As noted by Australia's ABC and
WBAI's Wakeup Call, Jake Kovco remains in Iraq. Kovoco died in Iraq last week. Jacob Bruce Kovco was twenty-five years old and was to be honored this week in the Gippsland community of Briagolong. For that to happen, Kovco's body would need to make it to Australia. The wrong body was in the coffin. Brendan Nelson, Australia's Defense Minister, tells of breaking the news to Shelley Kovco and when the widow demanded to speak with Prime Minister John Howard, Nelson dialed the number. Nelson then angered family members (brother of the deceased, Benn Kovco, and mother of the deceased, Judy Kovco) by making statements regarding the death (which is still under investigation).
And in England, the
Telegraph of London reports, the government's attorney general has backed off from the prosecution of of any British soldiers in the shooting death of Steven Roberts. Like the Kovco family, Samantha Roberts (wife of the deceased) continues to seek answers and feels that the government has been little help to her.

Be sure to check out "Ruth's Public Radio Report" because she's covered so much and there's so much out there worth listening. You might not realize it if you're listening to corporate media (including NPR) but it is out there. Check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! "BROKEBACK EACH OTHER'S MOUNTAINS!" SCREAMS SNOW." Elaine's off tonight, but check out Cedric and Rebecca because they're posting. (And C.I. will be doing the "And the war drags on" entry.)