Obama’s First Problem is US War Crimes

Obama’s First Problem is US War Crimes

The president-elect has to take a stand on Bush’s dark legacy

By Andrew Sullivan

November 30, 2008 “The Times” — – A small and largely unnoticed spat among the transition planners for the president-elect, Barack Obama, broke out last week. It was the first genuinely passionate debate among the Obamaites and it centres on a terribly difficult and terribly important decision that will be among the first that Obama has to make.

How does he deal with the legacy of criminal actions of his predecessor’s administration when it comes to detention, interrogation, abuse and torture of terror suspects? That has long hovered in the back of the minds of those of us who supported Obama, in large part because he alone had the moral authority to draw a line underneath the criminality of the George Bush-Dick Cheney years and restore credibility and hon-our to America’s antiterror policies.

And so when it emerged Obama was planning to appoint one John Brennan as CIA director, alarm bells went off. Brennan had been close to George Tenet at the time Tenet devised what he called “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

Brennan, a CIA company man who had left the agency for private employment, had made statements in the past couple of years suggesting some sympathy for the Bush-Cheney policy. “When it comes to individuals who are determined to destroy our nation, though, we have to make sure that we take every possible measure,” he said elliptically. Including torture?

When pressed, he kept emphasising the need for a “debate” without tipping his own hand about what he personally believed. Take this Brennan statement looking forward to a change in administration from Bush: “I’m hoping there will be a number of professionals coming in who have an understanding of the evolution of the capabilities in the community over the past six years, because there is a method to how things have changed and adapted.”

This plea for understanding for the Bush-Cheney era did not go down well with the Obamasphere – the network of bloggers who helped build momentum for Obama’s victory. The influential blogger Glenn Greenwald exploded in anger; the centrist Democratic blogger Scott Horton urged Brennan to clarify, and then urged Obama to reject him.

On my own blog The Daily Dish, I wrote that if Brennan were picked, Obama supporters “will, in fact, have to go to war with Obama before he even takes office. And if Obama doubts our seriousness, I have three words for him. Yes we can”.

Brennan, facing more protests, withdrew his name from consideration last week. In the first skirmish over the issue in the Obama era, the antitorture forces won.

But the question remains: what is to be done? It is not Obama’s style to launch into a prosecutorial investigation of intelligence officials or to open new partisan wounds by subjecting Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld and others to war crime charges. He is intent on unifying the country, not further dividing it. He needs the professionals running the antiterror effort and, after eight years of Bush-Cheney, it is hard to find people not tainted by torture.

There is also the possibility that Bush himself might make a preemptive strike and, upon his departure from Washington, issue a blanket pardon for all his aides and underlings who aided and abetted war crimes in the past seven years. Leaving those pardons in place while prosecuting low-level officials or CIA agents would be deeply unfair.

That was the rationale behind the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which gave retroactive immunity for war crimes to civilians in the administration, but not to the military grunts who enforced the policy, and which carved out a continuing exception for torture to CIA agents.

So perhaps the sanest way forward is a truth commission, modelled on those in Chile and South Africa that maintained governmental continuity for a while but set up a process that allowed for a maximal gathering of the relevant facts and names. The president could appoint a powerful and respected prosecutor to begin the process. The commission would focus not just on the military and CIA but also on the Bush justice department and Office of Legal Counsel, and the abuse of the law and its interpretation that gave Bush and Cheney transparently phoney legal cover for war crimes.

At the end of the second world war, US officials prosecuted Nazi lawyers and civilians who tortured no one themselves but came up with legal flimflam to turn war crimes into legal policy. Why not apply the same logic to Bush’s legal architects – the men who declared the president was bound by no law and no treaty in subjecting prisoners to torture up to the very edge of death?

The commission would need strong subpoena powers and the full backing of the president. Only once the commission has reported, the decision on whether to prosecute or not could be made, with much wider public awareness, and much deeper examination of the facts and documents now hidden. There is much, after all, we still do not know – and that information may make the war crimes seem less or more defensible.

There are some limits on transparency, of course, because of the sensitive intelligence matters that are involved. But when war crimes are at issue, it is more important for a democracy to seek transparency from its highest officials than to engage in anything but the most pressing concealment of the most vital secrets. In international law, there are no pardons for war crimes. And if America is going to regain moral authority in the world, it has to demonstrate it lives by the same standards it expects from everyone else.

Bush has even signalled that he will pardon no one because he does not believe they have committed any crimes. But the transparent way in which laughably sourced legal “cover” was provided by Bush’s own legal counsel proves the Bush administration knew full well it was breaking the law, and was willing to force the justice department to put its imprimatur on such illegality.

And the evidence we now have, undisputed evidence, proves already that war crimes were indeed committed – by the president and vice-president on down. I mean: why else Guantanamo Bay and secret black sites if the president believed he was obeying domestic American law?

There is, in the end, a simple and sobering truth: these people have to be brought to justice if the rule of law is to survive in America. In his constitutional soul, Obama knows this. He also knows, however, the political exigencies of taking over a national security apparatus where continuity and lawful vigilance against terrorism remain vital.

How he bridges the demands of the law with the pressures of politics will tell us much about him. And because every act performed by the CIA will soon become his responsibility as much as President Bush’s, he has no time to dither.

The constitutional crisis is in some ways deeper than the financial one. We will find out soon enough if this really is change we can believe in rather than merely hope for.

Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.


George W. Bush Belongs in Prison

George W. Bush Belongs in Prison

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

November 30, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse” — Electing Barack Obama president was the first step in redeeming American democracy. The second step must be indicting ex-president George W. Bush, giving him a fair trial, finding him guilty of many criminal acts and putting him in prison. Forget revenge. Think rule of law and justice.

I want President Obama soon after taking office to go on television and announce the formation of a special group of outstanding jurists and attorneys to make a recommendation whether or not the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against George W. Bush. Based on earlier analyses, including work by the American Bar Association, I have no doubt they will recommend indictment.

If moral honesty and courage have any meaning, then the nation must take seriously the concept that no president can ever be allowed to be above the law. How can President Obama not strongly support this? Surely no president must be allowed to disrespect and dishonor the US Constitution. George W. Bush broke his oath of office. His behavior was treasonous. Instead of defending the Constitution he disgraced it. Instead of protecting constitutional rights, including privacy, he sullied them. He asserted his right to ignore or not enforce laws so he could break them. Respect for the office of the presidency must never be allowed to trump truth and justice.

Millions and millions of Americans and people worldwide know that George W. Bush made 9/11 the trigger for initiating an illegal war in Iraq that has killed and maimed so many thousands of people. What Vincent Bugliosi, author of “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” called “the most serious crime ever committed in American history.” I say convict Bush of myriad counts of criminally negligent homicide related to both Iraq and the Katrina disaster and put him in prison. A former president in prison would not disgrace the presidency. It would restore honor to the office and the Constitution.

Surely millions more people now understand that George W. Bush bears responsibility for creating the conditions that encouraged greed-driven capitalism to rape and murder the middle class and push us into the current global economic meltdown. By removing government oversight and regulation he committed the greatest acts of fraud in the history of mankind. After he made American democracy delusional he made prosperity delusional.

We the people are paying the price for George W. Bush’s criminal acts and so must he. When George W. Bush is sent to prison everyone will see that American democracy has earned the respect of the world. Everyone will better understand that evil comes in many forms and that even an elected president of the United States of America can and must be recognized as a perpetrator of horrendous criminal acts.

Please President-elect Obama, make it so. Be the principled person we want you to be. Make the USA the nation it is supposed to be. Have the courage to do what Congress refused to do when it did not impeach George W. Bush. Change history by showing the world that American justice applies as equally to the president as it does to anyone else. Do not let George W. Bush escape the justice and prison sentence he deserves. Do not let respect for the presidency trump respect for justice. If we do not bring George W. Bush to justice that probably only you can make happen, then surely we do not restore respect for the office that you worked so hard to achieve.

To ensure that no future president behaves like George W. Bush we must punish him. Not merely through the words of historians, but through the physical punishment that he has inflicted on so many millions of people. In previous eras citizens would have demanded “off with his head.” Now we must demand “lock him up.” How poetic for a pro-torture ex-president. As summed up at www.imprisonbush.com : “Bush must be made accountable to the law, to serve as a lesson to all those who would attempt to destroy the American system of laws and liberty for the sake of their own power.” This is a test for both President Obama and American democracy.

If there is any kind of God in the universe, then George W. Bush must go to prison. When he does, then and only then should God bless America.

Proof Positive That Pakistan Is Preparing to Open Its Frontier to US Invasion

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Army official calls Baitullah Mehsud, Fazlullah ‘patriots’


12-1-2008_18709_l By Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: All main militant groups fighting in Fata, from South Waziristan to Bajaur and from Mohmand to the Khyber Agency, have contacted the government through different sources after the Mumbai bombings and have offered a ceasefire if the Pakistan Army also stops its operations.

And as a positive sign that this ceasefire offer may be accepted, the Pakistan Army has, as a first step, declared before the media some notorious militant commanders, including Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Fazlullah, as “patriotic” Pakistanis.

These two militant commanders are fighting the Army for the last four years and have invariably been accused of terrorism against Pakistan but the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage has suddenly turned terrorists into patriots.

A top security official told a group of senior journalists on Saturday: “We have no big issues with the militants in Fata. We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue.”

The Indian allegations against Pakistan have suddenly forced the military establishment in Pakistan to finally accept that they are not fighting an American war inside the Pakistani territory.

On another level, the parliamentary leader of the 12 Fata members in the National Assembly, Munir Orakzai, has expressed optimism in this regard, saying: “I see a bright ray of peace in the tribal areas and if we come out of the American pressure, I can guarantee that there will be peace in the tribal areas in a few days and we will be ready to fight against India on the eastern border along with the Pakistan Army.”

The change in the attitude of the Pakistani military establishment is remarkable. Thanks to India, the security officials, who used to criticise the Pakistani media, are now praising its role in the recent days, saying: “You have proven that you are patriotic Pakistanis.”

Last year, the same officials were part of a decision to impose a ban on many Pakistani TV channels because of their alleged anti-state behaviour. Meanwhile, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has made it clear to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that if India escalates tensions, then Pakistan has to move its troops from the tribal areas to the eastern borders and it would not be possible to continue the war against terrorism.

Top military officials conveyed the same message to the media representatives on Saturday. It was learnt that Washington and London were very concerned over the rise of tension between the two nuclear powers.

The Pakistan Army officials have been describing 48 hours as very important. These sources claimed on Sunday that the situation was now stabilising. A very responsible government official in Islamabad told this scribe on Sunday that nothing would happen in the next 24 hours. Some late night telephone calls made from Washington and London helped to cool down the temperature in New Delhi and Islamabad.

Despite the assurances made by President Asif Zardari on sending a director of ISI to India for helping the Mumbai carnage investigations, it has also been decided by Islamabad that no ISI official will visit India, at least, in the next one week.

On the domestic level, thanks to the uncalled for Indian allegations, some ministers of the Yousuf Raza Gilani cabinet got an opportunity to criticise their prime minister on his face for giving an assurance to India that the ISI chief will go to New Delhi without consulting even his cabinet colleagues.

Angry ministers told Gilani clearly in Saturday’s cabinet meeting that his decision was not good and he should concentrate on “institutionalised decision-making” rather than going for solo flights in the future. Gilani was forced to change his decision. The cabinet, after discussing the Mumbai carnage and the Indian allegations in detail, also advised the prime minister that no ISI official should be sent to India in the near future.

It was discussed in the meeting as to why the militants made a ridiculous demand of liberating the Hyderabad Deccan (Andhra Pradesh). This issue was never raised by any hardline Muslim militant in India or Pakistan in the past. Why did they not demand the liberation of Kashmir, which was the prime objective of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan?

The Indian government claimed that these militants reached Gujarat from Karachi by boat through a 500-km sea route. Why did the Indian Navy fail to stop this boat? The cabinet unanimously agreed that Pakistan will not come under any Indian pressure but efforts will also be made to decrease tensions without annoying the public opinion.

One minister was of the view that the Indian media war against Pakistan had helped Islamabad indirectly as the local media ignored all the domestic political issues and got involved in the tension created by India.

National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza was the most disturbed soul in Islamabad because of the media war between India and Pakistan. She talked to some journalists and advised them not to instigate the public opinion against India because this tension could hurt economies of both countries.

She fears a big conspiracy behind the Mumbai tragedy. She thinks that another attack like Mumbai will definitely create a war-like situation between the two neighbours. She is planning to call the Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Indian President Pratibha Patel to remove doubts and misgivings between the two nations. She told me: “As a mother, I am thinking to make a mothers’ alliance between India and Pakistan. Let the mothers come out and stop their sons from fighting each other.”

MOSSAD Caught Trying To Overthrow Yet Another Government! I Know, Another “Canard.”

Mossad role in Turkey coup plot revealed
Mon, 01 Dec 2008 10:05:26 GMT

Tuncay Gueny is suspect of attempts to topple Turkish government.

Israel’s national intelligence agency Mossad has been behind a failed coup in Turkey, the Turkish daily newspaper, Milliyet reports.

A secret investigation into detained Ergenekon group members and other studies outside Turkey indicate that Mossad orchestrated the coup plot against the Turkish government, the report says.

The Ergenekon group is a Turkish neo-nationalist organization with alleged links to the military, members of which have been arrested on charges of plotting to foment unrest in the country.

Investigators uncovered evidence that show a Jewish rabbi named Tuncay Guney, who worked for Mossad and fled to Canada in 2004, was a key figure behind attempts to overthrow the Turkish government.

A document uncovered this week by the Sabah daily shows how Guney purposefully infiltrated Ergenekon and another organization known as JITEM, an illegal intelligence unit in the gendarmerie suspected of hundreds of murders and kidnappings .

The rabbi was taken out of Turkey and sent to the US for protection after his identity was exposed in an investigation by Turkish police, according to Sabah.

Guney is also reported to have links with Israeli espionage activities in Egypt. According to Egyptian security forces, at least one of three suspects currently being pursued by the Egyptian government for spying was in contact with Tuncay Guney.

Meanwhile, a separate report by Turkish daily Yeni Safak has claimed that Turkish security forces have discovered some bags in Guney’s Istanbul house that include the Israeli flag and Mossad’s slogan.

According to an earlier report by Aksamanother Turkish daily, Mossad has been involved in several ambiguous events in Turkey.

The report claimed that Turkish security forces have discovered documents that disclose information concerning suspicious investment and economic activities by certain Jewish businessmen in Turkey.

The Jewish businessmen are alleged to have had significant relations with individuals, political groups and cultural organizations, which investigations show are affiliated to the Ergenekon group.

Turkish security forces have detained many members of the Ergenekon group, including retired army generals, politicians, popular lawyers and famous journalists. The individuals currently face trail on charges of plotting to overthrow Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The misplaced hype about Faridkot

There are towns by that name in India and Pakistan.  The reports from India are not even sure what the guy’s name is, yet they are convinced that he is the Pakistani “smoking gun.”

The misplaced hype about Faridkot

Dawn Report
MULTAN/KHANEWAL, Nov 30: As Mumbai struggles to return to normalcy in the wake of terrorist attacks, a Pakistani village named Faridkot is being mentioned in the Indian media as the place of origin of the lone gunman arrested by Indian commandos. He has been identified as Ajmal Amir Kasab.

The media, however, conveniently avoids mentioning that there is also a town with the same name in the Indian state of Punjab.

In Pakistan, there are several villages named Faridkot, but three of them — one each in Khanewal, Pakpattan and Okara — attracted the attention of intelligence agencies and media to ‘prove’ that the terrorist was a Pakistani.

Faridkot in Khanewal, also known as Chak No 90/10-R, is a hamlet on the Jahanian Road, 53km from Multan and has a population of 5,000. This village has one primary school and two mosques — one managed by Barelvis and the other by Shias — and is known for sectarian harmony.

Interestingly, the Indian media is not even sure whether the alleged attacker is named Ajmal Amir Kamal, Muhammad Ajmal, Muhammad Amin Kasab, Azam Amir Kasav or Azam Amir Kasab.

People of this village said there were four people named Ajmal in the village — the one whose name also included Kamal had died 15 years ago. The numberdar of the village, Haqnawaz Baloch, told Dawn that Kamal was son of Muhammad Shafi. Another man named Ajmal had shifted to Ahmedpur East several years ago. The third Ajmal worked in a tea processing factory and the fourth one was a labourer, he said.

He said there was no person by the name of Amin or Azam and did not know what ‘Kasab’ or ‘Kasav’ meant. He said people of the village were peaceful and no one from Faridkot had visited India.

Khanewal police raided Faridkot twice over the past two days to gather details about the alleged terrorist. “We thoroughly checked the village record when Indian media started saying someone from this village was involved in the (Mumbai) attack. The hype is misplaced,” said District Police Officer Kamran Khan. He said police had done the checking on their own, without any instruction from the government.

According to BBCUrdu.com, another village named Faridkot is near Pakpattan. It has a population of 2,000 and most of them are farmers.

Residents say they do not know anyone by the name of Ajmal or Akmal and no one from the village has links with jihadi or other banned outfits.

Another Faridkot is a remote village in Deepalpur tehsil in Okara district.

The Economic Times, an Indian paper, claimed that Azam Amir Kasav, 21, belonged to this village and “speaks fluent English”.

“We can tell you who this man is and how he has become the vital link for investigating agencies to crack the terror plot,” the paper says.

Mumbai attacks part of ‘blowback’ for CIA double-cross

Mumbai attacks part of ‘blowback’ for CIA double-cross

By Wayne Madsen

The violence that is sweeping Mumbai’s tourist and business areas is the work of rival Hindu nationalist terrorists and Muslim gangs, according to WMR’s Asian intelligence sources.

Scores have been killed and hundreds injured in the violence that swept India’s financial capital. Although the “Indian Mujahedin” and “Al Qaeda in India” are the corporate media’s suspects in the violence, the attacks have more to do with score settling and a warning by a CIA asset and Muslim-Hindu gang violence.

The violence began with some crude “dud” bombs being planted around the city. However, these are seen as “false flag” attacks carried out by HIndu nationalist terrorists who support the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which hopes to beat the ruling Congress Party in forthcoming elections. The Hindu nationalists often wave the “Muslim terrorist” shirt to win popular support.

In the past, Mumbai’s exiled Muslim “Mafia” boss, on-and-off again CIA asset Dawood Ibrahim, a veteran of the CIA’s mujahedin war in Afghanistan and who is now living in exile in Karachi, Pakistan, and is wanted by Indian authorities, has the street muscle in Mumbai to stop further violence. Ibrahim owns a construction company in Karachi, has financial interests in Dubai, and is, according to our intelligence sources, involved with the CIA in Kathmandu casinos and the drug trade in Nepal. The CIA has shown no inclination to apprehend Ibrahim and with the Hindu nationalists making a power play in Mumbai with attempted “false flag” attacks, Ibrahim has shown no desire to stop the violence.

Former Indian BJP Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani said that India was rebuffed by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice when he asked that Ibrahim be extradited from Pakistan to India over the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in Delhi. India handed the Bush administration a list of “Top 20” most-wanted terrorists in exile in Pakistan but the request was rebuffed by Washington.

Ibrahim is likely behind a good deal of the anti-British and anti-American violence in Mumbai, according to our sources. Apparently, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is a business rival of Ibrahim. Zardari allegedly leaned on the Bush administration to rescind America’s “protection” for Ibrahim and lift recognition of his U.S. and British passports.

Ibrahim is likely sending a message to Washington and London to lay off or he may go beyond chopping the fingers off a few American and British tourists and businessmen. What may come next with regard to Americans and Britons in India may be even worse if Ibrahim decides to up the ante if he suspects the CIA is involved in double-crossing him. Ibrahim also wants to send a message to the BJP and the Indian intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) that he has sizable gang muscle in Mumbai to carry out further attacks to paralyze India’s already-faltering economy.

Ibrahim has struck Mumbai before.

On October 14, 2008, WMR reported the following from Kathmandu, Nepal: “The CIA’s old Nepal proprietary airline, Fishtail Air, founded by a veteran of Camp Walker in Seoul, South Korea, still flies around Nepal. Nepal also served as a terror nexus between individuals connected to the CIA in Kathmandu and the Dawood Ibrahim criminal syndicate that carried out the March 12, 1993, bombings of the Bombay Stock Exchange, Bombay hotels, cinemas, and shopping centers that killed over 300 people. The bombings were a reprisal for the destruction of the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya by Hindu extremists. Over two thousands Muslims, including women and children, were massacred by rampaging Hindus after the mosque’s destruction. Ibrahim is now believed to be hiding in Pakistan.”

The United Nations maintains the following file on Dawood as an “associate” of “Al Qaeda”:

QI.K.135.03. *Name: 1: DAWOOD 2: IBRAHIM 3: KASKAR 4: na

Title: a) Sheikh b) Shaikh Designation: na DOB: 26 Dec. 1955 POB: a) Bombai b) Ratnagiri, India *Good quality a.k.a.: a) Dawood Ebrahim b) Sheikh Dawood Hassan c) Abdul Hamid Abdul Aziz d) Anis Ibrahim e) Aziz Dilip f) Daud Hasan Shaikh Ibrahim Kaskar g) Daud Ibrahim Memon Kaskar h) Dawood Hasan Ibrahim Kaskar i) Dawood Ibrahim Memon j) Dawood Sabri k) Kaskar Dawood Hasan1) Shaikh Mohd Ismail Abdul Rehman m) Dowood Hassan Shaikh Ibrahim Low quality a.k.a.: a) Ibrahim Shaikh Mohd Anis, b) Shaikh Ismail Abdul c) Hizrat *Nationality: Indian Passport no.: a) Indian passport number A-333602 issued on 4 Jun. 1985 in Bombay, India (passport subsequently revoked by the Government of India) b) Indian passport number M110522 issued on 13 Nov. 1978 in Bombay c) Indian passport number R841697 issued on 26 Nov. 1981 in Bombay d) Indian passport number F823692 (JEDDAH) issued by CGI in Jeddah on 2 Sep. 1989 e) Indian passport number A501801 (BOMBAY) issued on 26 Jul. 1985 f) Indian passport number K560098 (BOMBAY) issued on 30 Jul. 1975 g) passport number V57865 (BOMBAY) issued on 3 Oct. 1983 h) passport number P537849 (BOMBAY) issued on 30 Jul. 1979 i) passport number A717288 (MISUSE) issued on 18 Aug. 1985 in Dubai j) Pakistani passport number G866537 (MISUSE) issued on 12 Aug. 1991 in Rawalpindi National identification no.: na Address: a) Karachi / Pakistan, White House, Near Saudi Mosque, Clifton b) House Nu 37 – 30th Street – defence, Housing Authority Karachi Pakistan *Listed on: 3 Nov. 2003 (amended on 21 Mar. 2006, 25 Jul. 2006 and 2 Jul. 2007) *Other information: International arrest warrant issued by the Government of India.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2008 WayneMadenReport.com

Mumbai Terror Attacks: Suspect Ajmal Qasab Captured And Beaten Following Massacre In Indian City – Sky News Video Player

Moment ‘Mumbai Gunman’ Was CapturedSky News has obtained mobile phone footage of alleged terrorist Ajmal Qasab being captured and beaten following the attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai. It is thought he was the only attacker to survive. Alex Crawford reports.