Sunday, December 11, 2005


Another report of torture. This time it's from a former resident of London who claims that British authorities cooperated with the CIA to kidnap him and have him tortured in Morocco. He claims to have signed a confession to a crime he didn't commit. From the article:

Binyam Mohammed, 27, says he spent nearly three years in the CIA's network of 'black sites'. In Morocco he claims he underwent the strappado torture of being hung for hours from his wrists, and scalpel cuts to his chest and penis and that a CIA officer was a regular interrogator.

Western agencies believed that he was part of a plot to buy uranium in Asia, bring it to the US and build a 'dirty bomb' in league with Jose Padilla, a US citizen. Mohammed signed a confession but told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, he had never met Padilla, or anyone in al-Qaeda. Padilla spent almost four years in American custody, accused of the plot. Last month, after allegations of the torture used against Mohammed emerged, the claims against Padilla were dropped. He now faces a civil charge of supporting al-Qaeda financially.

Padilla's case, it should be noted, has been drastically reduced. He was charged two week's ago for relatively minor crimes. He was only charged when it became obvious to U.S. prosecutors that they might lose a challenge to hold him indefinitely without charges - a right the U.S. government has been claiming since 9/11, but which is most certainly NOT legal. More:

A senior US intelligence official told The Observer that the CIA is now in 'deep crisis' following last week's international political storm over the agency's practice of 'extraordinary rendition' - transporting suspects to countries where they face torture. 'The smarter people in the Directorate of Operations [the CIA's clandestine operational arm] know that one day, if they do this stuff, they are going to face indictment,' he said. 'They are simply refusing to participate in these operations, and if they don't have big mortgage or tuition fees to pay they're thinking about trying to resign altogether.'

Already 22 CIA officers have been charged in absentia in Italy for alleged roles in the rendition of a radical cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, seized - without the knowledge of the Italian government - on a Milan street in February 2003.

As well they should face indictment and so should the people that order such practices. In another article in the Guardian today, the U.S. government backtracked on storming out on U.N. talks aimed at expanding the Kyoto agreements. If the Bush administration had joined the agreement, rather than just opting out because it was negotiated by Clinton (the Bushies have a knee jerk reaction to all things Clinton), then they could have sat at the table and helped formulate the provisions in this expansion. As it stands, their stubborn attitudes left them standing in the wings with no influence.

So, the Bushies walked out of the conference when they were asked to sign a piece of paper agreeing to cooperation. However, the Bushies failed to recognize that this is a major issue at home and abroad. They were roundly criticized by sources within their own party as well as the opposition. So, tail between their legs, they made "minor" changes to the document and came back to sign it. I suspect that the Bushies realized that they couldn't afford another PR hit in wake of dismal poll numbers.

What's really interesting to me about this story is a little tidbit referenced in the article:

The change came after a well-received conference speech from former President Bill Clinton, in which he said that Bush's main reason for not joining Kyoto - that it would damage the US economy - was 'flat wrong'.

Clinton said if the US 'had a serious, disciplined effort to apply on a large scale existing clean energy and energy conservation technologies... we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets easily in a way that would strengthen, not weaken, our economies'.

Global warming and melting ice, he suggested, could lead to a future climate conference in Canada being held on 'a raft somewhere'.

Clinton pointed out that there was a growing demand for action within the US, highlighting efforts by 10 states and 192 cities to cut their emissions. Bush administration officials reportedly put pressure on conference organizers to block his speech.

I'd like to hear more about the Bush administration putting pressure on the U.N. to prevent Clinton from speaking. What sort of pressure? What was the reason behind it? Clinton negotiated the treaty, after all, and was certainly an appropriate speaker at the U.N. What does this say about the U.S. respecting the free speech rights of it's citizens if Bush's administration applied such pressure?

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