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American Resistance To Empire

Obama Boasts of “Twisting Arms” To Force His Will Upon Others

Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to’

Russia-Today
U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Larry Downing)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Larry Downing)

President Barack Obama has said the reality of “American leadership” at times entails “twisting the arms” of states which “don’t do what we need them to do,” and that the US relied on its military strength and other leverage to achieve its goals.

READ MORE: ‘US unilateral actions to protect its interests let other govts use same excuse’

In a broad-ranging interview with Vox, which Obama himself described as a venue “for the brainiac-nerd types,” the US president both denied the efficacy of a purely “realist” foreign policy but also arguing that at times the US, which has a defense budget that exceeds the next 10 countries combined, needed to rely on its military muscle and other levers of power.

Lauding the rule-based system to emerge in the post-World War II era, Obama admitted it wasn’t perfect, but argued “the UN, the IMF, and a whole host of treaties and rules and norms that were established really helped to stabilize the world in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise be.”

He argued, however, that the efficacy of this idealistic, Wilsonian, rule-based system was severely tested by the fact that “there are bad people out there who are trying to do us harm.”

READ MORE: ‘Unexceptional’ US, Russia scrap over Putin’s NY Times Op-Ed

In the president’s view, the reality of those threats has compelled the US to have “the strongest military in the world.” Obama further says that “we occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either.”

‘We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do’

Obama argues that the US doesn’t have “military solutions” to all the challenges in the modern world, though he goes on to add that “we don’t have a peer” in terms of states that could attack or provoke the United States.

“The closest we have, obviously, is Russia, with its nuclear arsenal, but generally speaking they can’t project the way we can around the world. China can’t, either. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined,” he said.

Within this context, Obama said that “disorder” stemming from “failed states” and “asymmetric threats from terrorist organizations” were the biggest challenges facing the international community today.

Obama also argued that tackling these and other problems entailed “leveraging other countries” and “other resources” whenever possible, while also recognizing that Washington is “the lead partner because we have capabilities that other folks don’t have.”

‘We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined’

This approach, he said, also led to “some burden-sharing and there’s some ownership for outcomes.”

When asked about the limits of American power, Obama conceded that there were things that his administration simply cannot do in terms of power projection, but remained upbeat.

“Well, American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit. We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth. As I said previously in speeches: when problems happen, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us. And we embrace that responsibility. The question, I think, is how that leadership is exercised. My administration is very aggressive and internationalist in wading in and taking on and trying to solve problems.”

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations meeting in New York September 25, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations meeting in New York September 25, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

This appeal to US leadership, which has often been couched within the notion of American exceptionalism, has regularly been questioned by Moscow.

‘American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took issue with the notion past September, following Obama’s speech before the UN in which the US president named “Russian aggression in Europe” along with the Ebola epidemic and ISIS as threats to international peace and security.

Lavrov said that Obama’s address to the UN was the “speech of a peacemaker – the way it was conceived,” but added that he had “failed to deliver, if one compares it to real facts.”

READ MORE: Russia tops ISIS threat, Ebola worst of all? Lavrov puzzled by Obama’s UN speech

The Russian foreign minister added that Obama had presented a worldview based on the exceptionality of the United States.

“That’s the worldview of a country that has spelt out its right to use force arbitrarily regardless of the UN Security Council’s resolutions or other international legal acts in its national defense doctrine,” Lavrov said.

In a September 2013 Op-Ed article in the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the concept of American exceptionalism was a precarious one in the global arena.

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

The Obama Dictatorship Orders Schools and Churches To Interrogate the Little Extremists You Are Raising

Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

the intercept

Featured photo - Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th. 

The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.

Families are judged on factors such as “Aware[ness] of Each Other’s Activities,” as well as levels of “Parent-Child Bonding,” and communities are rated by access to health care and social services, in addition to “presence of ideologues or recruiters” as potential risk factors.

A low score in any of these categories would indicate a high risk of “susceptibility to engage in violent extremism,” according to the document. It encourages users of the guide to plot the scores on a graph to determine what “interventions” could halt the process of radicalization before it happens.

“The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical and social service employees to rate the communities, individuals and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. German called the criteria used for the ratings “subjective and specious.”


Arun Kundnani, a professor at New York University, said that enlisting communities in the way the administration suggests in the guide, “leads a range of non-policing professionals to cast particular suspicion on Muslim populations and profile them for behaviors that have no real connection to criminality.”

Kundnani also questioned the science behind the rating system. “There’s no evidence to support the idea that terrorism can be substantively correlated with such factors to do with family, identity, and emotional well-being,” he said.

The guide itself notes that the effects of Countering Violent Extremism programs are “not easy to quantify.”

The U.S. government isn’t alone in its attempts to spot youth allegedly at risk of becoming terrorists. The government of France recently issued a widely mocked graphic demonstrating ostensible warning signs of radicalization, which suggested that abrupt diet or lifestyle changes are correlated with proclivities for violent extremism. (White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco last April warned parents and community members to look out for “subtle” signs, like “sudden personality changes in their children at home—becoming confrontational.”)

The British government has put forward a plan to begin monitoring signs of radicalization at the pre-school level, and in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, children in France as young as eight years old have been detained and questioned by police for allegedly espousing radical views.

Experts have suggested that intervention by law enforcement or other branches of the government in individuals’ lives, particularly young people, based solely based on the views they express, can potentially criminalize constitutionally protected behavior.

In some cases, as The Intercept has reported, community outreach from law enforcement has also crossed the line into intelligence gathering.

Most of the document is a review of the literature on a  variety of approaches to dealing with the threat of radicalization. Examples given include a community policing program in Lewiston, Maine (population 36,000), and Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program for former jihadists, including Guantanamo detainees.

Though the White House has insisted that Countering Violent Extremism is not directed at any specific group, the NCTC guide only cites examples drawn from Muslim communities.

It is obvious that, in practice, [this] would mostly only be applied to Muslim communities,” said Kundnani, the NYU professor.

A public affairs officer for the National Counterterrorism Center declined to answer questions about the rating system, the methodology behind it, or why the document was marked For Official Use Only.

See the full document here (or download it as a PDF.)

 Photo:  Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Guantánamo Hearing Halted When Ramzi bin al Shibh Recognized CIA ‘Black Site’ Translator Serving As Court Linguist

[SEE:  What is ‘rectal rehydration?’]

Guantánamo hearing halted by supposed CIA ‘black site’ worker serving as war court linguist

miami herald

By Carol Rosenberg

crosenberg@MiamiHerald.com

Ramzi bin al ShibhRamzi bin al Shibh posing for the International Red Cross.

 

The 9/11 trial judge abruptly recessed the first hearing in the case since August on Monday after some of the alleged Sept. 11 plotters said they recognized a war court linguist as a former secret CIA prison worker.

Alleged plot deputy Ramzi bin al Shibh, 42, made the revelation just moments into the hearing by informing the judge he had a problem with his courtroom translator. The interpreter, Bin al Shibh claimed, worked for the CIA during his 2002 through 2006 detention at a so-called “Black Site.”

“The problem is I cannot trust him because he was working at the black site with the CIA, and we know him from there,” he said.

This week’s is the first hearing for the five men accused of conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania — since the public release of portions of a sweeping Senate Intelligence Committee study of the agency’s secret prisons known as “The Torture Report.”

The report gives graphic details that the U.S. government had hidden in these pretrial hearings — sexual humiliation, waterboarding and rectal rehydration. The sickliest looking of the accused conspirators, Mustafa al Hawsawi, 46, once again sat on a pillow at court.

It also says that the spy agency maintained two secret prisons at Guantánamo in 2003 and 2004 and that Bin al Shibh was held in one.

Cheryl Bormann, attorney for another alleged plotter, Walid bin Attash, 36, told the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, that her client “was visibly shaken” at recognizing a man in the maximum-security war court.

“My client relayed to me this morning that there is somebody in this courtroom who was participating in his illegal torture,” she said.

Bormann said it was either “the biggest coincidence ever” or “part of the pattern of the infiltration of defense teams.” Monday’s hearing was supposed to start with a presentation by a Justice Department lawyer, Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, on FBI agents secretly questioning members of the Bin al Shibh defense team. The Sept. 11 legal defense teams have called the FBI’s action spying on privileged attorney-client conversations.

Instead the issue became, apparently, a stony-faced translator who was sitting alongside Bin al Shibh in court when the hearing started. Lawyers for the alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 49, and his nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, 37, said they learned about the recognition just as court began.

The judge ordered a quick recess, excused Campoamor-Sanchez and summoned the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, for questioning.

Court resumed briefly with the linguist missing. Martins sought, and got, a continuing recess until 9 a.m. Wednesday, to look into the issue and file a written pleading with the court. Pleadings are sealed for at least 15 days for intelligence agencies’ scrub of secret information.

Mohammed’s attorney, David Nevin, asked Pohl to order the suspected CIA worker to not leave this remote base in southeast Cuba and to submit to defense questioning.

Pohl said the man could decide whether or not to talk to the defense teams.

War court translators are provided by one of two Defense Department contractors paid by the Pentagon unit that runs the war court, called the Office of the Convening Authority for Military Commissions. It’s run by retired Marine Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, a former military lawyer. The contractors are Leidos and All World.

Ary’s office provides a list of qualified translators to the Office of Military Commissions Defense unit, and, in the capital cases, each one gets a dedicated translator assigned to the team. Teams can object to the choice, and have done so in the past, as unsuitable, according to earlier war court sessions.

The war court’s Chief Defense Counsel, Air Force Col. Karen Mayberry, said after the court session Monday that the translator sitting with Bin al Shibh in court was not permanently assigned to his team, or the 9/11 case.

The Bin al Shibh team had lost its translator after an FBI investigation secretly questioned Sept. 11 defense team members. Monday’s translator, the one that Bin al Shibh said he recognized from a CIA prison, had worked for years on war court defense teams, but none with the Sept. 11 death-penalty case, according to Mayberry.

Monday’s translator was filling in for this session because, although the Bin al Shibh team had chosen a new team translator, the new permanent translator had not yet gotten a security clearance, which can be a lengthy process.

“We don’t have anything to do with hiring,” Mayberry said.

Bin al Shibh and the other four men are accused of helping to orchestrate, train, and arrange travel for the 19 men who hijacked four U.S. passenger aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001. The prosecutor is seeking their execution, if they are convicted. The CIA held and interrogated them for three to four years in secret overseas prisons before they were brought to Guantánamo in September 2006.

But even once they got here, they continued to be in CIA custody, according to the Senate report. Jay Connell, attorney for Baluchi, 37, said Sunday it is still not known when the agency relinquished control of the men, who are held in a secret prison called Camp 7.

The Sept. 11 prosecution has not yet completed a review of the intelligence agencies’ classification guide to update the record with the Senate report’s revelations, meaning some aspects of it may still be censored at the war court.

A court security officer, who sits to the right of the judge, has a button that mutes sound from the courtroom to the public. He did not, however, hit it once during Monday morning’s brief session that mentioned the CIA and torture.

Monday’s hearing was supposed to be the start of up to 12 consecutive days of court sessions in the case. It was the first hearing that brought the accused terrorists to court, and family members of Sept. 11 victims to the base, since August.

Victim family members who arrived Saturday to watch the proceedings reacted with a range of shock, frustration and disappointment.

“I pray that there’ll be an end in sight,” said Julie Boryczewski, whose brother Martin, 29, a Cantor Fitzgerald trader, was killed at the World Trade Center. The trial, she said, would set “a precedent for the rest of the world and this really strange, evil population,” an apparent reference to al-Qaida. “We know they’re watching.”

She expressed surprise at seeing the alleged plotters in court, if briefly, during the 26-minute session. She had imagined they’d look like “big monsters,” she said. “But there’s nothing to them. My 96-year-old Polish grandmother could kick their ass, could run circles around them.” She survived the Dachau concentration camp in World War II, Boryczewski said.

Follow @CarolRosenberg on Twitter

The Miami Herald guide to the Sept. 11 war crimes trial here.

Partial transcript of Monday’s hearing here.

UNASUR Committee to Examine US Destabilization of Venezuela

UNASUR Committee to Examine US Destabilization Efforts

telesur

Nicolas Maduro

Nicolas Maduro (centre) with Rafael Correa (right) and Ernesto Samper (left) in Quito for the opening ceremony of the new UNASUR Headquarters Dec. 5, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

 

The head of the regional bloc  announced the special committee will meet Monday to examine U.S. intervention in Venezuela.

The Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Ernesto Samper announced that a special a committee will convene next Monday in Montevideo, Uruguay to discuss U.S. destabilization efforts in Venezuela.

During his comments, Samper issued his support to the Venezuelan government and to president Nicolas Maduro against the interventionist efforts by Washington.

ALSO SEE: The Truth behind Shortages in Venezuela

The announcement followed a meeting last week between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the bloc’s secretary general in which Maduro requested the regional bloc’s meditation on the interventionist actions carried out against the country by the United States.

Samper rejected “destabilization” and “all forms of violence” against the government, and said he would bring the evidence provided by President Maduro before UNASUR’s Foreign Ministers Council.

Samper’s statement also coincides with a UNASUR foreign ministers’ summit scheduled to take place next week, where regional leaders will likely address external interference by the United States.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said Friday that Quito will host a meeting in the coming days with the foreign ministers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and UNASUR to discuss the situation in Venezuela, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s claim that the United States is acting to overthrow his government.

“Ecuador, which holds the pro-tempore presidency of CELAC and is part of the group of foreign ministers of UNASUR, has been promoting talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition in order to strengthen institutions in Venezuela,” Patiño said, adding that he wants to avoid destabilization in Venezuela and the region.

Patiño strongly rejected the United States’ decision to impose and activate new sanctions against Venezuelan government officials, saying it is an “absolutely illegal action.”

Meanwhile, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) also issued a statement this week in support of the Government of Venezuela, rejecting the arbitrary and interventionist sanctions that the U.S. government has imposed on the South American nation.

“The Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement categorically rejects the recent decision of the Government of the United States, last February 2, 2015, to expand its unilateral coercive measures against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” the text reads.

The document adds, “The Non-Aligned Movement expresses its solidarity and support to the people and Government of Venezuela in opposition to these illegal actions, and urges the government of the United States to desist from such illegal coercive measures which affect the spirit dialogue and political understanding between the two nations.”

 

General Philip “Strangelove” Blasts EU Peace Overtures As “completely unacceptable”

NATO top commander in Europe says ‘military option’ possible in Ukraine

Russia-Today 
U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)
U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

NATO’s commander in chief says the West should not rule out arming Ukraine. General Philip Breedlove said no troops would be sent to the region, but providing Kiev with weapons and equipment was on the cards.

Speaking to reporters at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Breedlove said: “I don’t think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option.”

His strong comments come as the US is considering sending weapons to help Kiev in its fight against anti-government militias.

The chief commander of NATO said the proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine was “completely unacceptable,” and added “there is no conversation about putting boots on the ground.”

The head of the Russian Duma committee on CIS affairs and Eurasian integration, Leonid Slutsky, slammed Breedlove’s comments as“absolutely cynical.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while US Vice-President Joe Biden is also due to give a speech.READ MORE: 30,000 troops, 6 rapid units: NATO increases military power in Eastern Europe

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already said the organization’s Response Force in Europe may increase to 30,000 troops – more than double the current 13,000 – with the majority to be posted near Russia’s borders.

However, there are reports that NATO and the US have been arming the Kiev forces. Russia’s ambassador to the organization, Aleksandr Grushko, says “there is a bulk of evidence that Western-made arms are being used in Ukraine,” mentioning lethal munitions such as NATO standard artillery shells. He has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to investigate the claims.

READ MORE: US mulls providing Kiev forces with ‘defensive’ weapons – report

Moscow has urged Washington not to send weapons to Ukraine, which could include military hardware currently being pulled out of Afghanistan. The White House admitted on February 5 that arming Kiev could increase bloodshed in the region.

“They are telling us in NATO they aren’t supplying anything, that lethal weapons are not supplied [to Ukraine] … that NATO has no [standard] arms and all weapons are national and there are no NATO systems as such. In reality, this is not true,” Grushko said.

READ MORE: Kerry in Kiev: Shifting blame from Poroshenko govt as US mulls arms for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked the West to provide his country with weapons on numerous occasions. US President Barack Obama is expected to make his decision on the possibility of sending lethal aid to Ukraine next week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced during a visit to Kiev.

The secretary of state says Obama’s choice will be based on his [Kerry’s] comments and recommendations following his visit to the country, and will also take into account Angela Merkel’s visit to Ukraine.

The question of supplying Kiev with weapons seems to have split the EU-US alliance. France, Germany and Britain amongst others have already ruled out sending lethal aid to Ukraine, but the Baltic States and Poland are keen on the idea.

“More weapons in this area will not bring us closer to a solution, and will not end the suffering of the population,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.

READ MORE: Putin meets Merkel, Hollande behind closed doors in Moscow

Obama Moves NATO’s Threshold Right Up To Putin’s Front Door

[With this latest news about new US air bases in Eastern Europe, who can still have any doubts that this is why the Pentagon and State Dept have intentionally engineered the Ukrainian civil war in the first place, in order to reignite the “COLD WAR” and to give them back their Russian “BAD GUYS”?  By embroiling Russia in a hot war, they have reintroduced the idea of a “RUSSIAN THREAT” and renewed hope that the US MILITARY will be our SAVIORS, as they kill their way towards “WORLD PEACE.”  Through careful maneuvering, the CIA’s psywarriors have managed to so inflame Ukraine’s social tensions, as to ignite outright civil war.  Their next trick will be causing open hostilities between Ukraine and Russia.]

NATO jet
A Portuguese Air Force fighter F-16 patrols over Baltics air space, from the Zokniai air base near Siauliai November 20, 2014. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

‘Biggest NATO Reinforcement Since Cold War’ Sets Frontlines Against Russia

Newsweek-logo

NATO has ranked Russia as its greatest threat, according to defence experts, as the alliance announced its plans to staff six new European bases in what its secretary general Jens Stoltenberg is calling “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War”.

The plan will see NATO’s rapid reaction units grow to 30,000 soldiers from 13,000, and six stations will be set up in the alliance’s easternmost member states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, all of whom either border Russia or share the Black Sea with annexed Crimea.

According to general Charles Wald, former-deputy commander of U.S. European Command, the move marks the “continuum of a wake-up call that is the threat of Russia in Ukraine”.

“It is a much bigger deal than it appears on paper,” Wald says. “The question for Europe is: is Putin creeping further and further west? Is this a precursor to Russia moving into Moldova? Nagorno Karabakh has been bubbling up and the Georgia issue is still unresolved.”

“NATO has essentially set these bases in its frontline states,” Wald says, referring to the countries’ proximity to Russian territory.

“What they will do is they will have the infrastructure to guide NATO’s forces to where they will have to go, supply them with equipment, intelligence apparatus and whatever they will need for supply chains, in the case of an attack on NATO territory.”

According to Ward, Poland and the Baltic states are the NATO member states “most nervous” of potential pro-Russian violence breaking out on their territories, as it has in Ukraine. The rapid response strategy is intended to prevent a spillover of pro-Russian violence into NATO and possibly deter violence from spreading in Ukraine.

“It is a little different with Ukraine because they are not part of NATO, but they are part of Europe and they are under attack,” Ward explains.

“The Ukrainians are never going to beat the Russians but they can at least fight them off their territory. Our belief is that we need to help the Ukrainians make it a bad trade off for Russia to continue expanding west,” Wald adds.

Yesterday NATO members Poland and Lithuania also agreed to form a joint military battalion with Ukraine, in a bid to further strengthen the military partnership between the West and Kiev.

According to Michael Clarke director general of the Royal United Services Institute which studies global defence and security, the move symbolises the return of Russia as NATO’s biggest security threat.

“The spearhead force is all part of NATO’s infrastructure plan,” Clarke says. “We are not adding any new units or putting any new spending into this, but rather we are reallocating existing units to be ready in eastern Europe from other parts of the world such as Belize,”

“They are there as skeleton staff at this point, but the point is that if they were activated it would enable reinforcements to arrive and act much more quickly as part of the NATO reinforcement plan,” Clarke says.

“NATO ranks Russia as its highest threat,” Clarke adds, but explains that for obvious reasons the governments of some NATO members are more immediately concerned by Russia’s actions than others.

“At this point in time the strategy is to show that NATO is a collective alliance, which shares risks, but if anything kicks off the facilities will be more than capable of dealing with the threat,” adding that Poland and the Baltic countries are among those most worried about a Russian advance.

“It is in the UK’s interest to reinvigorate NATO. Russia is a more fundamental danger, as opposed the Middle East.”

“If you press UK policy makers they will also probably admit that Russia poses the most serious security threat globally, but because it is below the level of open conflict in Ukraine, they are more reluctant to say that,” Clarke says.

According to Clarke’s colleague at RUSI, former Royal Navy officer Michael Codner, security has taken a back seat to the UK government’s agenda as the upcoming election has brought other issues such as the economy, healthcare and the threat of homegrown terrorism.

“It should be a top level issue, but it has been swept under the rug” Codner says.

Charles Wald echoes Clarke and Codner’s words but believes that the UK’s influence in NATO operations is crucial.

“Poland and the Baltic states are the most nervous about Russia, but the UK is the major player in Europe if anything goes down in NATO,” he says.

“They are being cautious with involvement, because they have their own economic issues but with regard to the moral initiative to act, if the US does something the UK will be right behind it.”

The announcement of the new spearhead force has not been received warmly by Russia, with Alexander Lukashevich a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Defence holding a special press briefing where he warned NATO’s latest move would “inform Russia’s subsequent military planning”.

“This plan is in and of itself very disturbing, because it is about raising NATO capabilities on our borders.”

“The so called plan to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO is nothing other than an increase in the battle readiness of the alliance,” Lukashevich added.

In a speech today Jens Stoltenberg played down speculation NATO’s eastern reinforcement signified concern that Russia will mount a western advance, but highlighted the move did come as a result of the “sharply escalated’ violence in eastern Ukraine, caused by “Russian-backed separatists”.

The plan will see NATO’s rapid reaction units grow to 30,000 soldiers from 13,000, and six stations will be set up in the alliance’s easternmost member states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, all of whom either border Russia or share the Black Sea with annexed Crimea.

According to general Charles Wald, former-deputy commander of U.S. European Command, the move marks the “continuum of a wake-up call that is the threat of Russia in Ukraine”.

The Perversely Bestial, Inhuman Nature of CIA Guantanamo Torturers

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Gitmo inmate: My treatment shames American flag

cnn

Samir Naji is a Yemeni accused of serving in Osama bin Laden’s security detail and has been imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay. He was cleared for release in 2009, but remains in detention. The following first-person testimony, recorded during his most recent meeting with lawyers from the international human rights organization Reprieve, has just been released by prison censors. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely his.


Also see
: Closing Guantanamo: Who’s left and what’s in the way

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (CNN)I’ve heard that the Senate report on CIA torture is 6,000 pages long. My story, though, takes place elsewhere: in Guantanamo, away from the CIA program that the report covers. The 6,000 pages of the Senate report are just the start of what Americans have to accept happened in their name.

It starts and ends in the silence of a tiny, freezing cold cell, alone. That’s when you hold yourself in a ball, and fight to ignore the confusion of what has just happened to you, and the fear of what might be coming next. Or the fear that comes when you realize that no one is coming to help; that the life, family and friends you knew are all far, far away.

The cell door opens. The next session, seemingly the 100th in a row. I think my first period of interrogation lasted three full months. Two teams of interrogators running shifts, day and night.

Each session begins with shouting, to wake me up. Then they hit me on the face and the back. I am so desperate for sleep, my head is swimming. There are photographs of faces stuck all around the walls of this room. They demand that I identify the individuals, but I can barely focus to see if I might know them. The shouting and the insults get louder, and then they nod to a man in the corner. He injects me twice in the arm with some unknown substance. It’s the last thing I know.

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. This time the guards enter, making awful honking noises, like wild animals.

I tried to refuse to eat the little food they bring me, in protest at all this. The interrogator laughs at me, but then turns angry; he swears loudly, and pours an army meal pack over my head. They tell the man in the corner to start feeding me intravenously. He inserts the tube in two different places on my arm and makes it bleed.

Closing Guantanamo: Who’s left and what’s in the way

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. This time the guards push me on the floor and take turns trampling over my back.

I tell the interrogators that I can’t face not eating any more. They throw food on the floor of the room and tell me to eat like a pig. They won’t let me go to the restroom. They watch as it gets more painful, and laugh as they get the translator to describe how they will rape me if I pee in my pants.

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. They make me stand and salute the American flag.

I’m in a sort of cinema room, where I have to watch videos of other prisoners being abused. Then they tell me that I have to dance for them, and run in circles whilst they pull on my chains. Every time I try and refuse, they touch me in my most private areas.

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. It has rained, and there are muddy puddles everywhere. I’m shackled, so I can’t really walk; they deliberately drag me through the muddy puddles.

Now it’s the pornography room. Awful pictures everywhere. There is one with a man and a donkey. I’m stripped naked and have my beard shaved, in a gratuitous insult to my religion. I’m shown pornographic pictures of women. I’m told to make the noises of different animals, and when I refuse, they just hit me. It ends with them pouring cold water all over me.

Hours later in my cell, I am discovered, nearly frozen. The doctor tells them to bring me urgently to the clinic, where I am given a blanket and treatment. Over the next hours, they observe me as I warm up. They are just waiting for the moment that they can sign off on my return to interrogation.

Four years ago, six U.S. government security agencies sat together and reviewed my case. Their conclusion? That I was innocent of any crime and should be released. The dirty and sadistic methods I endured — which were then taken directly to Abu Ghraib — achieved nothing, except to shame that American flag hanging in the prison corridor, which I was made to salute.

One hundred and thirty-six prisoners are still being held at Guantanamo, whilst the politicians squabble over how to black out the Senate report. America cannot keep hiding from its past, and its present, like this. Our stories, and our continued detention, cannot be made to disappear.

READ: CIA misled public on torture, Senate report says

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