Category: USA

Wikileaks

The US government says “At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information.”

Reporters Without Borders condemns the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure being directed at cablegate.wikileaks.org, the website dedicated to the US diplomatic cables. The organization is also concerned by some of the extreme comments made by American authorities concerning WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

Nazis Were Given ‘Safe Haven’ in U.S., Report Says

A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades.

It describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.

Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.

George Bush’s human rights violations

Human rights experts have long pressed the administration of former president George W. Bush for details of who bore ultimate responsibility for approving the simulated drownings of CIA detainees, a practice that many international legal experts say was illicit torture.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

In his book, titled “Decision Points,” Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was “Damn right” and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives, according to someone close to Bush who has read the book.

George W. Bush: Torturer in Chief.

Red Cross: America practiced tortureRoutine and systematic torture is at the heart of America’s war on terrorThe horrors really are your America, Mr BushPoll: On torture, evangelicals not looking to Bible, doctrine • George Bush has claimed to be a Christian — a follower of Jesus Christ, and many people who also consider themselves to be ‘Christians’ believe him. Yet he lied about the fact that America — under his leadership and with his approval — tortured people. He tried to redefine torture, but torture by any other name is just as vile. Christians who support that kind of behavior — and those kind of leaders – are not followers of Jesus Christ, since their very behaviour shows they do not even know Him. • National Religious Campaign Against Torture

And then there’s this… • US defends human rights record before UN body

When good people do bad things

Is it possible for a really good person to turn evil? Do you think you have an inner demon that could be triggered to make you rob a bank, steal from a neighbor or torture another human being?

Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University and author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, has performed some of the most groundbreaking experiments in the history of psychology.

Dr. Zimbardo is the featured guest on Dr. Phil today. Find out what happens when several audience members are put to the test! Will they blindly follow instructions from an actor who looks like an authority figure? And, find out how the horrific abuses discovered in 2004 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq mimic the results from Dr. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment in the 1970s. See the surprising parallel that demonstrates just how easily a good person can be drawn to the dark side.

In an interview with cult expert Steve Hassan, Zimbardo — author of this remarkably lucid article on cults — specifically refutes cult propagandists‘ claims that “there is no such thing as mind control” and talks about specific techniques such as deception, manipulation, authority iinfluence, group influence and control of Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotions.

Cardinal in attack on US ‘vengeance’

The leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholics has hit out at America’s “culture of vengeance” and told US Senators they have no right to question the standards of Scotland’s justice system over the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

In an extraordinary intervention into the row over Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, Cardinal Keith O’Brien condemns the American justice system and highlights a “conveyor belt of killing” in its use of the death penalty.

He accuses the American system of being based on “vengeance and retribution” and says he is glad to live in a country where “justice is tempered with mercy“. He also likens America’s executions to those in China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran and highlights those countries’ poor human rights records.

Since 1976, 1,221 people have been executed in the US. Its execution rate is only outdone by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and China.

Quoting the Bible, he adds: “Perhaps it is time for them to cast out the beam from their own eye before seeking the mote in their brothers’. Perhaps they should direct their gaze inwards, rather than scrutinising the working of the Scottish justice system.”

U.S. Ducks As Cluster Bomb Ban Takes Effect

Memo to the handful of people that still like to think of America as a ‘Christian country‘:

Every war must end, instructed the U.S. strategist Fred Ikle. But leftover unexploded ordnance can be a war’s legacy, particularly when small and unstable munitions lay around areas where civilians rebuild their lives after the fighting stops. That’s why a new international ban on cluster munitions will take effect on Saturday. The U.S., however, isn’t part of the accord.

More than 30 countries have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions — the threshold for it entering into force — and over 100 have signed it since 2008. Holdouts include Russia, Israel and the United States. All three of those countries have used cluster bombs in the past decade.
According to the Pentagon’s 2008 policy, cluster munitions are actually humane weapons. Cluster opponents don’t buy it. “The vast majority of U.S. allies have banned this weapon,” Thomas Nash, the coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition, said in a statement e-mailed to Danger Room. “In line with his rhetoric on multilateralism, Obama needs to bring the U.S. in line with other nations that respect international law and the protection of civilians in armed conflict.”

We’re not holding our breath.

Protests planned worldwide against execution of Iranian woman

Hundreds of protesters will gather worldwide Saturday to rally against the imprisonment and possible execution of an Iranian woman convicted of adultery.

The case of Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani has drawn international attention. She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and faces the possibility of execution.

Ashtiani was originally sentenced to death by stoning, but it was put on hold earlier this month after an international outcry.
Despite the sentencing delay, human rights activists want to remind the world of Ashtiani’s plight, said Mina Ahadi, chairman of the International Committee Against Execution and Stoning, one of the groups leading Saturday’s protests.

“The fact is, the execution can still happen,” Ahadi said. “And, often times in Iran, these types of executions will happen without any notice.”

Earlier this month, Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, told CNN that she confessed to the crime after being subjected to 99 lashes.

She later recanted the confession and has denied wrongdoing, he said.

Most civilized countries view the death penalty as a barbaric practice and a violation of human right.

California: Field Poll finds 70% support death penalty

Wild West ‘ethics’ persist: Californians maintain their solid support for the death penalty as a punishment for serious crimes, but are divided on whether they would impose a death sentence or life without parole for first-degree murder, according to a Field Poll being released today.

The survey of registered voters found 70 percent backing for capital punishment, up from 67 percent in the last statewide poll in 2006. Substantial majorities supported it, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or party. Twenty-four percent opposed the death penalty and 6 percent had no opinion.

But when a smaller number of voters were asked which sentence they preferred for a first-degree murderer, 42 percent said life in prison without parole and 41 percent said death. Another 13 percent said it would depend on the circumstances, and 4 percent had no opinion.

The last time the Field Poll asked that question, in 2000, it found that 44 percent chose the death penalty and 37 percent favored life without parole.

Report: U.S. intelligence community inefficient, unmanageable

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and

Extradition of Islamic extremists halted by human rights court

The extradition of a British man held without trial for six years has been halted after European judges raised concerns about the harsh conditions of detention in America’s high-security prisons. Babar Ahmad, a 36-year-old computer expert, is the longest serving prisoner held without charge or trial in the UK, refused bail since his arrest in August 2004 on a US extradition warrant.

In an interim ruling yesterday the court in Strasbourg said it wanted more time to examine possible human rights breaches if Mr Ahmad was transferred on charges which could mean life sentences without parole.

The case also affects the extradition of the radical preacher Abu Hamza and two other British men held on US extradition warrants in the UK.

All four men were described by the European Court of Human Rights as “alleged international terrorists”, indicted on various charges.

Judges dismissed claims that US trial procedures would amount to a denial of justice, or that any of the four would be designated as “enemy combatants” and therefore exposed to a possible death penalty if convicted.

However, they said there was a real risk that, in the case of “post-trial detention”, Mr Ahmad would be held at a “supermax” jail – the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, Florence, Colorado, known for short as “ADX Florence”.

That raised concerns about breaches of Article 3 of the Human Rights Code on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. The US has a poor human rights record when it comes to torture.

Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.