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Posts Tagged ‘President George W. Bush’

By Mutadhar al-Zaidi, Counterpunch, Sep 15, 2009

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.

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By Britta Sandberg |  Spiegel Online International, Aug 21, 2009

Former US President George W. Bush with his Lithuanian counterpart, Prime Minister Valdas Adamkus in Vilnius in 2002: "They were happy to have our ear."

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Former US President George W. Bush with his Lithuanian counterpart, Prime Minister Valdas Adamkus in Vilnius in 2002: “They were happy to have our ear.”

As Americans continue to debate the torture era of the Bush administration, a new report has emerged about the alleged existence of a third secret prison used by the CIA in Europe. According to ABC News, the CIA operated a “black site” prison in Lithuania until the end of 2005.

Following reports on “black site” prisons in Poland, ABC News is now reporting that a third jail existed in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. According to the report, as many as eight prisoners were held there for at least one year.

The United States is believed to have used the third black site prison in Europe to hold high-value al-Qaida suspects after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to question them using “special interrogation techniques.” These included the simulated drowning of prisoners through the practice known as waterboarding. With the development, the debate in America over government interrogation techniques and torture appears to be taking on a greater European dimension.

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By Cesar Chelala | The Japan  Times, May 27, 2009

New York – The Nuremberg Principles, a set of guidelines established after World War II to try Nazi Party members, were developed to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles can also be applied today when considering the conditions that led to the Iraq war and, in the process, to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, and to the devastation of a country’s infrastructure.

In January 2003, a group of American law professors warned President George W. Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if their military tactics violated international humanitarian law. The group, led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, sent similar warnings to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Although Washington is not part of the International Criminal Court (ICC), U.S. officials could be prosecuted in other countries under the Geneva Convention, says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ratner likened the situation to the attempt by Spanish magistrate Baltazar Garzon to prosecute former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet when Pinochet was under house arrest in London.

Both former President George W. Bush and senior officials in his government could be tried for their responsibility for torture and other war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

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By William Fisher | Inter Press Service News

NEW YORK, Apr 24 (IPS) – At least three dozen detainees who were held in the CIA’s secret prisons overseas appear to be missing – and efforts by human rights organisations to track their whereabouts have been unsuccessful.

The story of these “ghost prisoners” was comprehensively documented last week by Pro Publica, an online investigative journalism group.

In September 2007, Michael V. Hayden, then director of the CIA, said, “fewer than 100 people had been detained at CIA’s facilities.” One memo released last week confirmed that the CIA had custody of at least 94 people as of May 2005 and “employed enhanced techniques to varying degrees in the interrogations of 28 of these.”

Former President George W. Bush publicly acknowledged the CIA programme in September 2006, and transferred 14 prisoners from the secret jails to Guantanamo. Many other prisoners, who had “little or no additional intelligence value,” Bush said, “have been returned to their home countries for prosecution or detention by their governments.”

But Bush did not reveal their identities or whereabouts – information that would have allowed the International Committee for the Red Cross to find them – or the terms under which the prisoners were handed over to foreign jailers.

The U.S. government has never released information describing the threat any of them posed. Some of the prisoners have since been released by third countries holding them, but it is still unclear what has happened to dozens of others, and no foreign governments have acknowledged holding them.

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By Linda S. Heard | Online Journal, Apr 22, 2009

Imagine this! One day, you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. You are kidnapped by a foreign intelligence agency, strip-searched, hooded, blindfolded, handcuffed and shackled before being flown to an incarceration centre. Once there, you are interrogated about subjects and individuals you know nothing about. You loudly proclaim your innocence but your interrogators become angry.

Before long, you suffer the indignity of enforced nudity, which may painfully violate your religious or cultural beliefs. Perhaps you are stuffed into a tiny dark space in which you cannot stand. All you want to do is sleep but every time you close your eyes you are dowsed with cold water. This goes on for up to 120 hours.

If you are still unable to tell them what they want to know, you are deprived of food, slapped, made to hold painful stress positions for hours on end, such as kneeling while leaning back at a 45-degree angle, and if you have a phobia concerning insects you will be placed into a box with one. You might be prevented from visiting the bathroom and made to wear nappies.

Lastly, you will be subjected to a process that simulates drowning, whereby you feel your very life is ebbing away — waterboarding. Imagine that you endure this suffering for seven years and all the while you are being told that you will never ever be free or free of it.

All the above was authorised by the Bush administration’s Justice Department. In reality, detainees endured far worse under George W. Bush’s watch with the White House’s full knowledge.

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Robert Parry | Consortiumnews.com, April 17, 2009

Almost as disturbing as reading the Bush administration’s approved menu of brutal interrogation techniques is recognizing how President George W. Bush successfully shopped for government attorneys willing to render American laws meaningless by turning words inside out.

The four “torture” memos, released Thursday, revealed not just that the stomach-turning reports about CIA interrogators abusing “war on terror” suspects were true, but that the United States had gone from a “nation of laws” to a “nation of legal sophistry” – where conclusions on law are politically preordained and the legal analysis is made to fit.

You have passages like this in the May 10, 2005, memo by Steven Bradbury, then acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel:

“Another question is whether the requirement of ‘prolonged mental harm’ caused by or resulting from one of the enumerated predicate acts is a separate requirement, or whether such ‘prolonged mental harm’ is to be presumed any time one of the predicate acts occurs.”

As each phrase in the Convention Against Torture was held up to such narrow examination, the forest of criminal torture was lost in the trees of arcane legal jargon. Collectively, the memos leave a disorienting sense that any ambiguity in words can be twisted to justify almost anything.

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Robert Parry | Consortiumnews.com, March 5, 2009

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof – like many of his American colleagues – is applauding the International Criminal Court’s arrest order against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for his role in the Darfur conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

In his Thursday column, Kristof describes the plight of an eight-year-old boy named Bakit who blew off his hands picking up a grenade that Kristof suspects was left behind by Bashir’s forces operating on the Chad side of the border with Sudan.

“Bakit became, inadvertently, one more casualty of the havoc and brutality that President Bashir has unleashed in Sudan and surrounding countries,” Kristof wrote. “So let’s applaud the I.C.C.’s arrest warrant, on behalf of children like Bakit who can’t.”

By all accounts, Kristof is a well-meaning journalist who travels to dangerous parts of the world, like Darfur, to report on human rights crimes. However, he also could be a case study of what’s wrong with American journalism.

While Kristof writes movingly about atrocities that can be blamed on Third World despots like Bashir, he won’t hold U.S. officials to the same standards.

Most notably, Kristof doesn’t call for prosecuting former President George W. Bush for war crimes, despite hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of Bush’s illegal invasion of their country. Many Iraqi children also don’t have hands – or legs or homes or parents.

But no one in a position of power in American journalism is demanding that former President Bush join President Bashir in the dock at The Hague.

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Nasir @13:40 CET

by Patrick J. Buchanan | Antiwar.com, January 17, 2009

As Israel entered the third week of its Gaza blitz, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regaled a crowd in Ashkelon with an astonishing tale.

He had, said Olmert, whistled up George Bush, interrupted him in the middle of a speech and told him to instruct Condi Rice not to vote for a U.N. resolution Condi herself had written. Bush did as told, said Olmert.

The crowd loved it. Here is the background.

After intense negotiations with Britain and France, Secretary of State Rice had persuaded the Security Council to agree on a resolution calling for a cease-fire. But Olmert wanted more time to kill Hamas.

So, here, in Olmert’s words, is what happened next.

“In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a cease-fire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone.’ They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

According to Olmert, Bush was clueless.

“He said: ‘Listen. I don’t know about it. I didn’t see it. I’m not familiar with the phrasing.’

“I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor.”

The UN diplomatic corps was astonished when the United States abstained on the 14-0 resolution Rice had crafted and claimed her country supported. Arab diplomats say Rice promised them she would vote for it.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, with Rice at the United Nations during the debate on the resolution, said Olmert’s remarks were “just 100 percent, totally, completely untrue.”

But the White House cut Rice off at the knees, saying only that there were “inaccuracies” in the Olmert story. The video does not show Bush interrupting his speech to take any call.

Yet, the substance rings true and is widely believed, and Olmert is happily describing the egg on Rice’s face:

“He [Bush] gave an order to the secretary of state, and she did not vote in favor of it – a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organized and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed. …”

With Bush and Rice leaving office in hours, and Olmert in weeks, the story may seem to lack significance.

Yet, public gloating by an Israeli prime minister that he can order a U.S. president off a podium and instruct him to reverse and humiliate his secretary of state may cause even Ehud’s poodle to rise up on its hind legs one day and bite its master.

Taking such liberties with a superpower that, for Israel’s benefit, has shoveled out $150 billion and subordinated its own interests in the Arab and Islamic world would seem a hubristic and stupid thing to do.

And there are straws in the wind that, despite congressional resolutions giving full-throated approval to all that Israel is doing in Gaza, this is becoming a troubled relationship.

Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in opposing any truce, assured the world there “is no humanitarian crisis in the (Gaza) Strip,” and the humanitarian situation there “is completely as it should be.”

Not so to Hillary Clinton. In her confirmation hearings, the secretary of state-designate, reports the New York Times, “struck a sharper tone toward Israel on violence in the Middle East.”

Clinton “seemed to part from the tone set by the Bush administration in calling attention to what she described as the ‘tragic humanitarian costs’ borne by Palestinians, as well as Israelis.”

More dramatic was a weekend report by the Times‘ David Sanger that the White House had rebuffed Olmert’s request for new U.S. bunker-buster bombs and denied Israel permission to overfly Iraq in any strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz.

Sanger described these U.S.-Israeli talks as “tense.”

Repeatedly, Israel has warned that Iran is close to a bomb and threatened to attack unilaterally. Indeed, Israel simulated such an attack in an air exercise of 100 planes that went as far as Greece.

Bush both blocked and vetoed that attack, says Sanger. But he did assure Olmert that America is engaged in the sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program by helping provide Tehran with defective parts.

This would seem a stunning breach of security secrets, but no outrage has been heard from the White House, nor has any charge come that the Times compromised national security.

With Olmert, Rice and Bush departing, and Obama and Hillary taking charge committed to talking to Iran, can the old intimacy survive the new friction and colliding agendas?

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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Sudhan @14:55 CET

by Ralph Nader | CommonDreams, Jan 1, 2009

Dear George W. Bush,

Cong. Barney Frank said recently that Barack Obama’s declaration that “there is only one president at a time” over-estimated the number. He was referring to the economic crisis. But where are you on the Gaza crisis where the civilian population of Gaza, its civil servants and public facilities are being massacred and destroyed respectively by U.S built F-16s and U.S. built helicopter gunships.

The deliberate suspension of your power to stop this terrorizing of 1.5 million people, mostly refugees, blockaded for months by air, sea and land in their tiny slice of land, is in cowardly contrast to the position taken by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. That year he single handedly stopped the British, French and Israeli aircraft attack against Egypt during the Suez Canal dispute.

Fatalities in Gaza are already over 400 and injuries close to 2000 so far as is known. Total Palestinian civilian casualties are 400 times greater then the casualties incurred by Israelis. But why should anyone be surprised at your blanket support for Israel’s attack given what you have done to a far greater number of civilians in Iraq and now in Afghanistan?

Confirmed visual reports show that Israeli warplanes and warships have destroyed or severely damaged police stations, homes, hospitals, pharmacies, mosques, fishing boats, and a range of public facilities providing electricity and other necessities.

Why should this trouble you at all? It violates international law, including the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. You too have repeatedly violated international law and committed serious constitutional transgressions.

Then there is the matter of the Israeli government blocking imports of critical medicines, equipment such as dialysis machines, fuel, food, water, spare parts and electricity at varying intensities for almost two years. The depleted UN aid mission there has called this illegal blockade a humanitarian crisis especially devastating to children, the aged and the infirm. Chronic malnutrition among children is rising rapidly. UN rations support eighty percent of this impoverished population.

How do these incontrovertible facts affect you? Do you have any empathy or what you have called Christian charity?

What would a vastly shrunken Texas turned in an encircled Gulag do up against the 4th most powerful military in the world? Would these embattled Texans be spending their time chopping wood?

Gideon Levy, the veteran Israeli columnist for Ha’aretz, called the Israeli attack a “brutal and violent operation” far beyond what was needed for protecting the people in its south. He added: “The diplomatic efforts were just in the beginning, and I believe we could have got to a new truce without this bloodshed…..to send dozens of jets to bomb a total helpless civilian society with hundreds of bombs-just today, they were burying five sisters. I mean, this is unheard of. This cannot go on like this. And this has nothing to do with self-defense or with retaliation even. It went out of proportion, exactly like two-and-a-half years ago in Lebanon.”

Apparently, thousands of Israelis, including some army reservists, who have demonstrated against this destruction of Gaza agree with Mr. Levy. However, their courageous stands have not reached the mass media in the U.S. whose own reporters cannot even get into Gaza due to Israeli prohibitions on the international press.

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Sudhan @16:45 CET

by Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers, Dec 19, 2008

WASHINGTON – Emboldened by a Democratic win of the White House, civil libertarians and human rights groups want the incoming Obama administration to investigate whether the Bush administration committed war crimes. They don’t just want low-level CIA interrogators, either. They want President George W. Bush on down.

[CONFESSED WAR CRIMINAL DICK CHENEY  "It is mind boggling to say eight years later that there is not going to be some sort of criminal accountability for what happened," said David Glazier, a law of war expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a retired naval officer. "It certainly undermines our moral authority and our ability to criticize other countries for doing exactly the same thing. But given the legal issues and the political reality, I am hard pressed to see any other outcome."]CONFESSED WAR CRIMINAL DICK CHENEY “It is mind boggling to say eight years later that there is not going to be some sort of criminal accountability for what happened,” said David Glazier, a law of war expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a retired naval officer. “It certainly undermines our moral authority and our ability to criticize other countries for doing exactly the same thing. But given the legal issues and the political reality, I am hard pressed to see any other outcome.”


In the past eight years, administration critics have demanded that top officials be held accountable for a host of expansive assertions of executive powers from eavesdropping without warrants to detaining suspected enemy combatants indefinitely at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. A recent bipartisan Senate report on how Bush policies led to the abuse of detainees has fueled calls for a criminal investigation.

But even some who believe top officials broke the law don’t favor criminal prosecutions. The charges would be too difficult legally and politically to succeed.

Without wider support, the campaign to haul top administration officials before an American court is likely to stall.

In the end, Bush administration critics might have more success by digging out the truth about what happened and who was responsible, rather than assigning criminal liability, and letting the court of public opinion issue the verdicts, many say.

“It is mind boggling to say eight years later that there is not going to be some sort of criminal accountability for what happened,” said David Glazier, a law of war expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a retired naval officer. “It certainly undermines our moral authority and our ability to criticize other countries for doing exactly the same thing. But given the legal issues and the political reality, I am hard pressed to see any other outcome.”

Robert Turner, a former Reagan White House lawyer who supported several of the Bush administration’s assertions of executive powers, but not the use of harsh interrogation techniques, said that war crimes “may well have been committed,” given reports by human-rights organizations that some prisoners may have been beaten to death.

Turner was outraged when Bush signed an executive order in 2007 that he believes permitted highly abusive treatment, so long as the “purpose” was to acquire intelligence to stop future terrorist attacks, rather than just to humiliate or degrade the detainee.

He recalls telling senior Justice Department officials during a conference call prior to the public release of the order: “Do you people understand that you are setting up the president of the United States to be tried as a war criminal?” The conference call, he said, quickly came to an end.

Turner, who co-founded the University of Virginia’s Center for National Security Law in 1981, rebuts the administration’s defense that waterboarding, which simulates the sensation of drowning, isn’t torture and therefore is legal.

He also challenges the administration’s argument that Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, prohibiting inhumane treatment of detainees, isn’t binding. “The standard is not torture. It’s humane treatment. That’s a much higher standard,” he said, noting that after World War II, the U.S. prosecuted Japanese soldiers for using waterboarding on American troops.

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