Category Archives: justice

Throwing Shoes at Bush to Reject the Lies, Occupation, Killing of Innocent People

Muntazer al-Zaidi released after throwing shoes at Bush

The Iraqi who threw his Shoe at George W. Bush: “My Flower” to Bush, the Occupier
The Story of My Shoe

Mutadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw his shoe at George Bush gave this speech on his recent release.

In the name of God, the most gracious and most merciful.

Here I am, free. But my country is still a prisoner of war.

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act.

But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland’s) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shiite would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ, may peace be upon him. And despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than 10 years, for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. Until we were invaded by the illusion of liberation that some had. (The occupation) divided one brother from another, one neighbor from another, and the son from his uncle. It turned our homes into never-ending funeral tents. And our graveyards spread into parks and roadsides. It is a plague. It is the occupation that is killing us, that is violating the houses of worship and the sanctity of our homes and that is throwing thousands daily into makeshift prisons.

I am not a hero, and I admit that. But I have a point of view and I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated. And to see my Baghdad burned. And my people being killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, and this weighs on me every day and pushes me toward the righteous path, the path of confrontation, the path of rejecting injustice, deceit and duplicity. It deprived me of a good night’s sleep.

Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

And as soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies of the Iraqis, and while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the traces of the blood of victims that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: Do you know how many broken homes that shoe that I threw had entered because of the occupation? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? And how many times it had entered homes in which free Iraqi women and their sanctity had been violated? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.

Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after.

Full Story

Torture Victims Stabbed, Sodomized, Soaked with Urine

Broken Laws, Broken Lives
From: Physicians for Human Rights

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Synopses of the Cases of Former Detainees Profiled

Kamal is in his late forties. He served in the Iraqi Army during the 1980s and later became a businessman and Imam of a local mosque. In September 2003 he was arrested by US forces. At the time of his arrest, he was beaten to the point of losing consciousness. After being brought to Abu Ghraib prison, he was kept naked and isolated in a cold dark room for three weeks, where both during and in between interrogations he was frequently beaten, including being hit on the head and in the jaw with a rifle and stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver.

He was then placed in isolation in a urine-soaked room for two months. When Kamal was allowed to wear clothes, they were sometimes soaked in water to keep him cold. On approximately ten occasions he was suspended in a stress position, causing numbness that lasted for a month. He was made to believe that his family members were also in prison and that they were being raped and tortured.

He recounted, “[T]hey were telling me, making me hear voices of children and women, and told me they were my children and [wife].”

Amir is in his late twenties and grew up in a Middle Eastern country. He was a salesman before being arrested by US forces in August 2003 in Iraq. After his arrest, he was forced, while shackled, to stand naked for at least five hours. For the next three days, he and other detainees were deprived of sleep and forced to run for long periods, during which time he injured his foot. After Amir notified a soldier of the injury, the soldier threw him against a wall and Amir lost consciousness.

Ultimately, he was taken to another location, where he was kept in a small, dark room for almost a month while being subjected to interrogations that involved shackling, blindfolding, and humiliation. Approximately one month later, he was transferred to Abu Ghraib. At first he was not mistreated, but then was subjected to religious and sexual humiliation, hooding, sleep deprivation, restraint for hours while naked, and dousing with cold water.

In the most horrific incident Amir recalled experiencing, he was placed in a foul-smelling room and forced to lay face down in urine, while he was hit and kicked on his back and side. Amir was then sodomized with a broomstick and forced to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him. After a soldier stepped on his genitals, he fainted.

Youssef is in his early thirties. Unable to find work in his country of origin, he sought employment in Afghanistan. In late 2001 or early 2002, Youssef was detained as he attempted to cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border without a passport while trying to return home. He was held in a Pakistani prison for two months, where he was often shackled in unsanitary conditions and given little food. During this time, he was interrogated by US personnel and eventually hooded, shackled, and transferred to the US detention facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In Kandahar, Youssef was immediately interrogated and subjected to beatings with sticks and fists as well as kicking, although he did not sustain serious injuries at the time. After that, he was stripped naked.

The first night he was not allowed to sleep, as guards hit the detainees and threw sand at them. While in Kandahar, Youssef endured forced nakedness, intimidation by dogs, hooding, and repeated assaults by being thrown against a wall. He was subjected to electric shock from a generator, feeling “as if my veins were being pulled out.”

Yasser is in his mid-forties and reported that his father was a “simple farmer.” He was raised in a big family, completed secondary school, attended an Islamic university, and eventually became a teacher. In the late 1990s, he changed his career and became a farmer. According to Yasser he was a respected member of the community; people sought his help in resolving social disputes and family problems and considered him a “wise man.” He recalled many accomplishments during this period and describes it as “the best days of our lives.”

Yasser tearfully described that when he reached the top of the steps “the party began…They started to put the [muzzle] of the rifle [and] the wood from the broom into [my anus]. They entered my privates from behind.” He noted that several other soldiers and civilians were present, including an interpreter with “a Lebanese accent.” Yasser estimated that he was penetrated five or six times during this initial sodomy incident and saw blood “all over my feet” through a small hole in the hood covering his eyes.

Yasser recalled that this “party” of abusive behavior continued for approximately five days. In a particularly traumatic experience, which Yasser describes as the “music party,” he was forced to lie on the ground with loudspeakers blasting music into his ears at a very painful volume. He recalled that this lasted “about one day, but you can say two years.”

Legal Prohibitions Against Torture and Ill-Treatment

All of the abusive interrogation techniques and patterns of ill-treatment endured by these eleven men — including beatings and other forms of severe physical and sexual assault, isolation, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, severe humiliation and degradation, and sensory deprivation, many of which were experienced over long periods of time and often in combination with other prohibited acts — constituted acts of torture as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under domestic criminal statutes and international human rights and humanitarian treaties, including the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions, that were in effect at the time the acts were committed.

Full Report of Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact

Chevron/Texaco Poisoned The Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Crude: 60 Minutes

This program focuses on on the class action lawsuit against Chevron for deliberately contaminating the Ecuadorian Amazon and causing a wave of cancer and miscarriages in the region.

Part One:

Part Two:

Obama Has Fully Embraced Bush Administration Torture

Obama Administration Seeks To Keep Torture Victims From Having Day In Court

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The Justice Department today argued that the victims of the “extraordinary rendition” program should not have their day in court, asking a federal appeals court to block a landmark case the court had earlier ruled could go forward. In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., for its role in the Bush administration’s unlawful “extraordinary rendition” program could proceed, but today the government asked the appeals court’s full panel of judges to rehear that decision.

The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions,” said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ‘state secret;’ it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.”

In April, the appeals court reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit, brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The Bush administration had intervened, improperly asserting the “state secrets” privilege to have the case thrown out. The appeals court ruled, as the ACLU has argued, that the government must invoke the “state secrets” privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire suit.

“The extraordinary rendition program is well known throughout the world. The only place it hasn’t been discussed is where it most cries out for examination – in a U.S. court of law,” said Steven Watt, a staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “Attempts to keep this case from moving forward fly in the face of Obama’s promise to reaffirm our commitment to domestic and international human rights law and restore an America we can be proud of. Victims of extraordinary rendition deserve their day in court.”

In recent years, the government has asserted the “state secrets” claim with increasing regularity in an attempt to throw out lawsuits and justify withholding information from the public not only about the rendition program, but also about illegal wiretapping, torture and other breaches of U.S. and international law. Full Story

Message for Obama: Take Troops Out of Afghanistan

Afghan president demands an end to air raids on Taliban amid claims of 130 civilian deaths
US accused of using white phosphorous in raids

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has called for an end to air raids in his country after scores of civilians were killed in the latest attack on the Taliban.

Karzai, who went on U.S. television to make the call has put the death toll at up to 130 people.

If his figure is confirmed, it would be the biggest such case of Western forces killing civilians since they invaded in 2001.

His spokesman said the Afghan leader was ‘very serious’ about his demand.

Afghans are furious about the bombing of two villages in Western Farah province during a drawn-out battle last week, when homes full of civilians were hit.

…Karzai’s warning comes after the U.S. was accused of using white phosphorus bombs during the raids.

Doctors say they found horrific burns on victims of the slaughter a week ago.

They believe they could have been caused by the chemical, which bursts into fierce fire on contact with the air and can stick to flesh and burn deep into it.

Full Story

Air Raid Victim Tells Obama to Leave Afghanistan at Once

Starving Afghan Family Displaced by US Airstrike

Afghan Children Left to Die After US Bombings

Afghan Refugee Describes Horror of US Bombings

See:
Of Poppies and War
Ugly truth about foreign aid in Afghanistan

The Torture and Killing of Innocent Detainees

Ex-Bush Official: Many at Guantanamo Bay Are Innocent

Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday.

“There are still innocent people there,” Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years.”

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a “mosaic” of intelligence.

“It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance,” Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather “sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.” Full Story

Did Media Ignore Autopsy Reports on Iraqi Prisoners?

Professor Peter Phillips reprimands mainstream media for underreporting autopsy reports released in 2006 that listed homicide as the cause of death for dozens of Iraqi and Afghani civilians held in U.S. military custody. “This is killing people; this is murder,” he says.

Murder of detainees confirmed!

Innocent Gitmo Detainee Says He Was Tortured, Holds Bush and Cheney Responsible

Lakhdar Boumediene was locked up at Guantanimo Bay prison for 7 1/2 years for a crime he didn’t commit and says he was tortured while he was there, including one episode where he was forced to go without sleep for 16 days straight. He cries because he doesn’t even know his own daughters anymore, and may sue the US government.

U.S. May Permit 9/11 Guilty Pleas in Capital Cases

The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.

The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom.

The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention. Full Story

ACLU Wants Two-Thousand Rape, Torture Photos Released

New photos show rape of detainees by US soldiers

Just as President Barack Obama’s Middle East tour is starting, a scandal is brewing regarding photos of detainees being abused in Iraqi jails. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for a federal court appeal on the Obama administration’s decision not to release the pictures which, some reports claim, show sexually explicit acts, including rape.

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Lynndie England – “Rumsfeld knew”

In this interview with England I hear no remorse in her words. Rather she appears narcissistic and sociopathic.

050405_abuse

She is one of the faces symbolizing the Iraq war. Pictures showing her abusing Iraqi detainees in Abu Graib prison brought her notorious fame throughout the world. In her first interview in three years Lynndie England talks about Abu Ghraib, about Charles Graner, about guilt, her current life – and the role of the Bush administration.

Mrs. England, a year ago you were released from jail after serving 521 days of a three-year sentence. How are you feeling now?

Not great but good.

What does that mean?

(She sighs) Oh, it’s just little things going wrong. I’m just trying to get by. Trying to find a job, trying to find a house. It’s been harder than I expected. I went to a couple of interviews, and I thought they went great. I wrote dozens of applications. Nothing came of it. I put in at Wal-Mart, at Staples. I’d do any job. But I never heard from them.

Do you think your name has anything to do with it?

I am starting to wonder if they realize who I am and they don’t want the publicity. I don’t want to lie. On my resume I have a brief little paragraph about what I did in the army and about being in prison and that I’m still on parole. I want to be totally honest. I have to find a job by September, that’s part of the parole regulations. If you break the rules, then they can bring you back. That would be a big deal because I don’t want to leave my son.

How do you get by? What do you live on?

We just got our taxes back. Thank God. Otherwise, I don’t know. I live in a trailer with my parents. My Dad works for the railway and he tries to help out with bills and my Mom helps me with what she gets.

You live in Ashby, a small town with a population of 1300. How do people treat you now?

They don’t treat me any different. I haven’t met a person yet that’s been negative to me. Not since I got home. Most of them back me up one hundred percent. They say, “What happened to you was wrong.” And some even say they would have done the same thing.

What do they mean by “They would have done the same thing”?

That they would have followed orders, just as I did in Abu Ghraib.

Why did you join the army at the age of 17 and against the express wishes of your mother?

I always wanted to be in the military. My whole life. I just didn’t know what branch – Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force. I just wanted to serve my country and be a patriot, I guess. As a child I mainly grew up on military gung-ho movies so that’s where I got the idea. Old Chuck Norris movies, “Delta Force”, “Rambo”, “Missing in Action”, “Platoon”. Full Interview

Sounding Increasingly, and Disturbingly, Like Bush

In reversing himself and declaring that the US government will not release further photos in its possession of torture being practiced on captives held by the US military and the CIA, President Obama is sounding increasingly like the Bush/Cheney administration before him.

It may well be that, as Obama says, release of those photos could lead to anger in the Islamic world and perhaps to recruitment gains among groups like Al Qaeda that are attacking American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but this is only true because at the same time, the Obama administration is opposing taking any legal action against the people who authorized and promoted that torture.

If the Obama administration were to open a full-scale legal investigation into torture, with an independent prosecutor assigned to go after anyone who violated the Geneva Conventions and the US Criminal Code outlawing torture and the authorization, condoning or covering-up of torture, quite the opposite would happen: people in the Islamic world would see that this nation was coming to terms with those who abused the law. The horrifying and sickening pictures would be seen as part of the process of exposing and punishing the crime of torture. Full Story

Related Stories:

The Real Photos Show Torture, Abuse, Rape and Every Indecency
The Torture Photos Obama Refuses to Release