Wednesday, May 27, 2009

USA torture details

Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape'
Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent and Paul Cruickshank
Last Updated: 11:52PM BST 27 May 2009

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President.s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President.s decision, adding: .These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

.The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it..

The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons.

Maj Gen Taguba.s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found .credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses..

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: .I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn.t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid.s ***.. and the female soldier was taking pictures..

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posted by u2r2h at 11:24 PM 0 comments

Saturday, May 23, 2009

USA - hypocrit to deceive masses

America: Where Preachment and Action Do Not Meet

Two hundred and thirty three years of an uninterrupted democracy makes America a solid nation. The U.S. is considered by many as the most stable and generous country in the entire world. Its free-market based economy, along with its endless business opportunities back up the greatest capitalist rational society the globe has ever seen. Since its early foundations, it commenced as the promise land for those who were escaping religious persecution, it embraced any kind as the same, and provided an equal range of opportunities for whoever embarked in honest engagement. It created its own lemma of dream land with opportunities spilling waiting to be nailed. America .the land of the free and the home of the brave. stood through the centuries as the sole inspiration and example to follow, mimic, and admire. At least that.s the way it was sold to us.

But is it so? Is America a real democracy? Or is it just a disguised democratic system? One that allows its people to somehow participate every four years in an election process, apparently pure and transparent, but at the same time full with flaws and mischief aimed to fulfill the needs and interests of a few. The 2000 presidential election comes to mind and furthermore, the apathy the American people showed toward it. The collective American psyche probably shares the same notion of how the election was somehow .stolen.. However, through time and staged recreation, the thought likely faded away as the people still kept and keep believing that the sole mentor and distributor of democracy spoke its truth.

Political science Yale professor Robert A. Dahl introduced the term polyarchy as the best description for America.s political system. In a polyarchy the power remains in the hands of a small group of people. According to Dahl, the fundamental democratic principle is that when it comes to binding collective decisions, each person in a political community is entitled to be given equal consideration to their interests.

From the beginning, when the constitution was framed by the famous fathers of the nation, it was accorded that the power of a few was meant to be guarded and kept from a possible threat arousing from the masses. It was meant to protect the opulent minority from the majority. Like this, the political parade engaged itself in a relay race passing power from hand to hand, building a continuity of stability through decades.

The well intentioned nation that preaches democratic rights to be spread around the world has in its attempts managed to destroy countries all around the globe and has currently a huge stone in its shoe in the Middle East. A few examples, Chile in 1973 after electing Salvador Allende in 1970 as its president, saw its democracy succumbed when a U.S. backed military coup forestalled the course of a democracy and installed a puppet government to suit their own interests. The fear of a new Cuba in the southern cone was too great to be ignored, any possible threat of communism had to disappear, and the U.S. was going to make sure it did, no matter the consequences, nor the fact that the countries they were intruding were democracies, not perfect ones, but democracies they were.

Ronald Reagan.s eight years in office were, according to Father Miguel D.Escoto, Nicaragua.s Foreign Minister under the Sandinista government in the 1980s, one of the most bloody eras in the history of the Western hemisphere. Washington funneled money, weapons, and other supplies to right wing death squads. The death toll was staggering. More than 70,000 political killings in El Salvador, over 100,000 in Guatemala, and 30,000 killed in the contra war in Nicaragua. In Washington, the forces carrying out the violence were called .freedom fighters.. This is how Reagan described the Contras in Nicaragua: .They are our brothers, these freedom fighters and we owe them our help. They are the moral equal of our founding fathers.. For D.Escoto, Reagan is responsible for the deaths of some 50,000 Nicaraguans, crimes he committed in the name of what he falsely labeled as freedom and democracy. The country was devastated and the hopes of ever pulling up are practically non-existent. I could continue with Iraq and Afghanistan but I think I made my point already. Also those wars are still being fought, and although a date has been set for U.S. troops to begin withdrawal, the damage done is done and will never be undone.

According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and political activist Noam Chomsky, America is the most terrorist country in the world. Chomsky states that as Latin America is currently gaining an independence and integration not seen since colonial times, the U.S. is hence terrified of the upcoming outcome. According to the linguistic academic, the U.S., under President Thomas Woodrow Wilson, kicked out the British in 1920 from Venezuela as soon as the oil age began because they knew that Venezuela was sitting over a huge mattress of oil reserves. It also meant supporting Juan Vicente Gomez, a vicious brutal dictator.

So Venezuela has, for the past five to six years, been heading to its independence and the U.S. is frantic, because its president, Hugo Chavez, does not play ball and does not follow orders. Furthermore, it influences its neighbors to take the same path. The whole region is pretty much out of control, at least for Washington.s standards. According to Professor Chomsky, there are two mechanisms the U.S. has exercised in the past to control Latin America:
1) Violence
2) Economic Strangulation

The last exercise and most recent example of violence occurred in 2002 in Venezuela. It happened when the U.S., with its dedication to democracy transmission, supported a coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of the South American country. Eventually, it had to back down, primarily due to the popular uprisings in Venezuela and also to the reaction that it had throughout the region. In Latin America, according to Chomsky, democracy is taken a lot more serious that it is in North America and Europe. People do not find amusing anymore to have elected governments overthrown by military coups.

The second mechanism that Chomsky mentions, the economic one, is also being lost. The most dramatic case was Argentina. Argentina became the poster trial for the International Monetary Fund and by following and abiding IMF rules, the nation, along with huge doses of local political incapability, was drained into its worst economic disaster in its history. The economy totally collapsed. Then, in 2005, radically violating IMF rules, the country managed to pull-out witnessing a rapid growth in its economy. Argentina refused to pay debt. Former Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner said the country was reading itself to the IMF because of U.S. economic strangulation. Eventually, Venezuela paid off practically all of Argentina.s debt with the IMF. Bolivia is probably following the same steps and Brazil already did. For Chomsky, when a country reads itself to the IMF, it seriously weakens these measures of economic strangulation. The measures adopted by these countries are also gaining a lot of popular appeal, hence America.s constant hysteria from the government and through the media.

So the so called installer of world democracies has two faces. It preaches freedom and democracy with one while it bullies and terrorizes the weaker with the other one. Maybe it is because in America word and act rarely meet, and when they do, they do not recognize each other.

posted on on May 23 2009 03:20:38 by Member Profile
User Name carlowall
Date Joined October 24 2008 12:14:48
Last Visit May 23 2009 03:08:00
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posted by u2r2h at 7:10 AM 0 comments

Ira - polluting beelzbub - confiscate his billions!

Israel's blackmail victim Ira Rennert?

What drives a person to become a top environmental killer?

Why do US citizens allow such fascism?

Ira and Ingeborg Rennert

Ira Rennert: capitalist pig of the month

This may be just the first in a continuing series based on the time I have available and on the availability of suitable candidates—I imagine that the second condition will be a lot easier to meet. It is written in the spirit of Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” awards that he hands out on a fairly regular basis on his MSNBC cable show. As you can imagine, Bill O’Reilly is a multiple recipient. My approach will be somewhat different. I am far more interested in highlighting the sins of the super-rich, who are after all the ones who pay the piper. I should add that Ira Rennert received “The Awful Truth” award of the year in 1999 from Michael Moore (more below), so in a sense I am following in both of their footsteps.

As some of you will recall, I have referred to the Real Estate section of the weekly New York Observer as a kind of scandal sheet in which various shady characters are reported as buying or selling hugely expensive apartments. This included Jack Barnes and Mary-Alice Waters, the two leaders of the Socialist Workers Party, who sold a loft near party headquarters in the West Village last year for nearly 2 million dollars. The article was titled “Communists Capitalize on Village Sale—Get $1.87 M. for Loft”.

Earlier this month, Max Abelson, the Observer’s real estate reporter scooped the Barnes and Waters transaction, reported on another big sale (”Big Deal! Big-Hearted Baron Ira Rennert Buys Daughters Spreads in 740 Park, 778 Park for $60 M.-Plus)

Brooklyn-born Ira Rennert has an oceanic $185 million Hamptons compound, a few infamous smelting plants in Peru and Missouri, and a billion-dollar fortune from junk bonds and Hummer vehicles.

He also has something of a generous streak: Two sources told The Observer that Mr. Rennert has bought two of New York’s most expensive apartments, at two of the best-bred co-op buildings, for his two daughters…

Mr. Rennert, meanwhile, has his own multiunit spread nearby at 625 Park Avenue, plus his 63-acre oceanfront property—“the largest home in America,” The New York Times wrote in 1998. He’s also been known for a different kind of excess: According to a 2003 BusinessWeek article, the E.P.A. has ranked his Renco Group—a conglomerate based on mining and smelting—as the country’s 10th-biggest polluter.

The news that this scumbag is buying 60 million dollars worth of apartments for his useless offspring goes hand in hand with the fact that his corporation is the country’s 10th biggest polluter. With one he poisons the air and water and with the other helps turn Manhattan into a theme park for Eurotrash and hedge fund managers.

Ira Rennert’s 78,000 square foot house

Although the Observer does not mention it, there was quite of resistance to Rennert’s 78,000 square foot weekend retreat from his Hamptons neighbors, including the rich and powerful. On August 24, 1998, the Scottish Daily Record reported:

Eccentric Ira Rennert’s massive home is set to be twice the size of the White House when it is completed.

But millionaire locals, who include Steven Spielberg, have dubbed the plans “a monstrosity” and vowed to fight them every step of the way. Rennert, 63 – who made his fortune building Humvee military jeeps – calls his proposed palace Fair Field.

The 100 million pounds monster building is set to take up 63 acres on ocean-front land.

It will have 39 bathrooms, 29 bedrooms, a kitchen the size of a restaurant, garage space for 200 cars and a huge power plant.

And if the residents get bored, there will be two tennis courts, two bowling alleys, a 164- seat cinema, a basketball court and two outdoor sports pavilions.

But neighbours in the posh Hamptons area of New York state have set up a pounds 50,000 fighting fund in a bid to halt the project.

Movie director Spielberg is being joined by tycoons Mortimer Zuckerman and Donald Trump in his opposition to the plans.

When you have Donald Trump lining up against you on the basis that you are just too ostentatious and vulgar, then you have really broken free from the earth and sailed straight into the stratosphere.

As might be expected, a target as tempting as Ira Rennert invited the scrutiny of Michael Moore, who also has finely tuned antennae for capitalist pigs. On November 13, 1998, the NY Daily News reported on Rennert’s bid to prevent Moore from documenting his excesses.

A rich industrialist who is building one of the biggest private houses in America went to court yesterday to stop “Roger and Me” film maker Michael Moore from documenting his edifice complex.

Millionaire financier Ira Rennert filed a lawsuit to bar the ambush interviewing that is Moore’s hallmark, as the mischievous movie maker prepares a satire about Rennert whose 25-bedroom, 39-bathroom oceanfront digs has even his wealthy neighbors on Long Island’s East End alarmed.

Yet part of the suit, which was filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, was abruptly withdrawn yesterday afternoon by Rennert.

The complaint had contained a sworn affidavit from Joanne Rullan, a receptionist at The Renco Group, the holding company for Rennert’s business empire, in which she charges she was assaulted by Moore on Nov. 5.

In 2000, Rennert made a bid to take over the RJB coal mining company in Great Britain. As The Independent reported in an article titled “Sex Offender Heads Renco Bid For Rjb”

on August 27 of that year, predatory investments seem to go hand in hand with sexual predation:

ONE OF the top executives at US company Renco Group, now in talks to take over RJB Mining, is a convicted sex offender who has just completed three years’ probation after admitting “sexual misconduct” with a teenager applying for a job with the company.

Marvin Koenig, the 70-year-old executive vice president and right-hand man to the group’s controversial founder, Ira Rennert, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual misconduct concerning an incident in 1995.

Mr Koenig lured Pearl Higgins (not her real name) into his offices in New York’s Rockefeller Center one evening, after having offered her a $ 10 an hour clerical job.

Manhattan District Attorney papers allege that Mr Koenig pounced on her with a knife, forcing her to have oral sex before raping her on the boardroom table. The petrified teenager called the police and Mr Koenig was arrested on three counts of rape in the first degree, a class B felony which carries up to 25 years in prison.

Showing the utter disjunction between professed religious beliefs and one’s ethical behavior, Rennert is an orthodox Jew. As such, it should not come as any big surprise that he is a supporter of the most rightwing parties and causes in Israel. As the Zionist state becomes more and more isolated in the world, it finds that it can only rely on orthodox Jews and Christian fundamentalists for hard core support.

On February 10, 2003, the Jerusalem Report revealed how Rennert and other wealthy American Jews (including the equally disgusting Ronald Perlman who I reported on here) flout Israeli laws in order to fund their favorite rightwing politicians:

Six names emerge repeatedly in conversations with those in the know about American funding of Israeli politics: Edgar and Charles Bronfman, former Seagram’s owners; Slim-Fast diet food founder S. Daniel Abraham; Saban, cosmetics heir-philanthropist Ronald Lauder, and Ira Rennert, chairman and CEO of The Renco Group, which specializes in metals and makes the HUMVEE all-terrain vehicle.

Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, his brother Charles, a noted philanthropist (and former chairman of The Report), and Abraham (a former Report part-owner), have been involved in political efforts at the left side of the Israeli political spectrum, with people like Shimon Peres and Barak. In the past, Saban reportedly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of both Barak and former defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai. (Edgar Bronfman, Saban and Abraham did not respond to repeated interview requests.)

Lauder is close to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and reportedly paid the million-dollar-plus fee collected from the 1996 Netanyahu campaign by U.S. mega-consultant Arthur Finkelstein. A spokeswoman for Lauder declined to comment on his current contributions or what he had done in the past. She told The Report via e-mail that “since Mr. Lauder won’t make campaign contributions in Israeli elections, he isn’t able to offer any commentary on what others may do.”

Rennert, who is known as a big financial supporter of right-of-center candidates and causes, often donating through NPOs, also declined to comment.

La Oroya, Peru: victims of Rennert’s pollution

Evidently, some religious leaders­—closer in spirit to the holy texts than Rennert—decided to appeal to his better instincts, a mission that seems inspired more by a desire to put pressure on the greedy slob than actually change his behavior. In a web-only article that appeared on the Nation Magazine website last June, Sara Shipley Hiles described how “Religious Leaders Challenge a Polluter“. It is worth quoting in its entirety.

It’s a long way from the thin air of an impoverished mountain village outside Lima, Peru, to the tony atmosphere of the Hamptons. But a group of religious leaders from Peru recently traveled to New York to tell billionaire industrialist Ira L. Rennert that even if he can sleep at night, comfortably ensconced in his 110,000-square-foot estate in Sagaponack, God is watching.

The clerics want Rennert to improve health care and dramatically decrease emissions at a metals smelter in La Oroya, Peru, a town high in the Andes Mountains where thousands of children are suffering from lead poisoning. The smelter, known as Doe Run Peru, is a subsidiary of Rennert’s $2.4 billion private holding company, the Renco Group.

Peruvian Roman Catholic Archbishop Pedro Barreto publicly called upon Rennert, a well-known philanthropist and supporter of Orthodox Jewish causes, to honor his religious faith and work harder to solve La Oroya’s pollution problems.

“Our main purpose was to invite Ira Rennert to become a leader in social responsibility, under the assumption this is an ethical and moral issue,” Barreto said, during the group’s three-city visit to the United States this month.

Rennert declined to meet with Barreto and his colleagues, referring them to a local representative for the smelter in Lima. The religious delegation–which included an evangelical pastor, a Jewish leader and several Catholic nuns–instead visited with various religious agencies during the stop in New York City.

Calls to Rennert’s office at Rockefeller Center asking for comment on the visit were referred to Victor Belaunde, a Doe Run Peru spokesman in Lima. Belaunde said that company officials met with the religious leaders June 8 in Lima and updated them on ongoing environmental improvements.

Company officials claim Doe Run Peru has already committed more than $107 million to clean up the smelter in the decade since Renco acquired the facility. The company pays $1 million annually to fund a health program run by the government’s health ministry, Belaunde said. He added that the smelter is now in compliance with Peruvian standards for lead emissions.

Despite these investments, a recent study by St. Louis University scientists found that 97 percent of children in La Oroya are lead-poisoned, a condition that can cause mental and physical deficiencies. And a new report from LABOR, a Peruvian non-profit group, found that emissions of lead, arsenic and sulfuric acid have actually increased in the past two years, according to Friends of La Oroya, a group supporting the religious leaders’ delegation.

The city of 33,000 people has been declared one of the world’s ten most polluted places by the Blacksmith Institute. Visitors to La Oroya first notice that the surrounding valley looks like a bomb crater, stripped bare of vegetation by acid rain. Then they notice the massive Doe Run smelter complex, which bathes city in choking fumes and toxic dust that contains cadmium, arsenic and lead.

To combat the dust, Doe Run organizes cadres of women to wash public streets and encourage children to wash their hands. The company has delayed some mandatory environmental work that was originally required to be completed in 2006. Now the work is set to be done by 2009, but even then, according to the company’s own study, many children in the town will still have blood-lead levels well above the acceptable standard.

“In the last few years the pollution in the air is worse, the soil has become infertile and the water has become polluted,” said Sister Mila Diaz, a Dominican nun from La Oroya who was part of the religious delegation. “We don’t want to fight with the company. We don’t want the company to close their doors. What we want is for them to comply with the promise they made to clean the air.”

The religious leaders’ tour also stopped in St. Louis, where Doe Run Peru’s former parent company, Doe Run Resources, has its headquarters. Company officials there declined to meet with the group, saying that Doe Run Peru is no longer its subsidiary; the Peruvian company now reports directly to Renco.

In addition, the group visited Herculaneum, Mo., where Doe Run operates the largest lead smelter of its kind in the United States. Longtime environmental activist Tom Kruzen took the group on a “toxic tour” to see the neighborhood where Doe Run was forced to buy out more than 140 homes surrounding the plant.

“You can pray all you want,” Kruzen said of Rennert, “but if you’re doing bad things to people, or if your endeavors do bad things to people, then you’re not a moral person.”

Rennert has grown rich using a formula of buying dirty companies, taking out steep loans and paying himself princely dividends, as documented in articles in Forbes and Business Week. Several of his companies have filed for bankruptcy, allowing Rennert to buy back assets for pennies on the dollar. Rennert’s empire of mining and manufacturing firms also includes AM General LLC , the maker of HUMVEE military vehicles and the gas-guzzling Hummer, as well as a magnesium producer and a steel manufacturer.

The wealthy financier also has given widely to charitable and civic causes. Rennert and his wife, Ingeborg, have contributed to restoring the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem, where the visitor’s center bears the name “The Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Hall of Light.” New York University has an endowed professor of entrepreneurial finance in Rennert’s name, and the Rennerts donated between $1 and $1.9 million to the World Trade Center Memorial .

At one time, Rennert lent his name to the Torah Ethics Project, an effort to remind Orthodox Jews of the importance of “living in accordance with the highest ethical standards.” A statement on the project’s website urges moral behavior in all business and personal matters that “adds luster to God’s sacred name.”

Rennert’s supporters have included Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Holocaust survivor. At the prestigious Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York, where Rennert is chairman, Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier defended Rennert’s reputation.

“I’m not really familiar with any of his business operations,” Kermaier said in an interview. “I know him as a person of extraordinary generosity and unimpeachable personal integrity.”

Congratulations, Ira Rennert, you are the Unrepentant Marxist’s capitalist pig of the month.

UPDATE: Marxmail subscriber Colin Brace wrote today: Louis, I heartily endorse your nomination. Rennert is a world-class bastard. Here is what I wrote several years ago on my short-lived blog about the activities of his company Doe Run in Peru.


Ira Leon Rennert (born 1934, Brooklyn, New York) is an American investor and businessman. He has built up his wealth by using junk bonds to secure companies, often in bankruptcy sales, in basic, cyclical industries like mining and metals. Over the years he has amassed holdings in lead smelters, coal mines, magnesium producers and vehicle assembly lines.
During the 1990s he sold approximately $1.5 billion in high-yielding junk bonds to create one of the nation’s largest privately held industrial empires, and his personal fortune is estimated to be around $500 million

Rennert started his career as a credit analyst on Wall Street in 1956. He also served briefly as a salesman for a typewriting company and a stock brokerage, before launching his own business, I.L.Rennert & Co. in 1962 based at a Beaver Street office in Lower Manhattan. At this time he was censored by the NASD for operating without enough capital. This occurred again in 1963 and his licence was revoked on November 29, 1964 and he was effectively banned from the securities industry.

Milken – as a bond trader for Drexel Burnham Lambert Group Inc. - was successful selling high-risk, high-yield bonds issued by struggling or under-capitalized companies. Before Milken, these were considered ‘junk’ and most investors avoided them, but it was Milken’s innovation that formed a strategy of using these junk bonds to provide capital for corporate raiders to conduct hostile company takeovers. With $2 billion in junk bonds financed by Milken, Integrated Resources’ stock shot up and its directors paid themselves substantial salaries (c.f. the 1991 book Den of Thieves about the junk bond scandal). However, the whole junk bond industry eventually collapsed, Integrated Resources defaulted on $1 billion in bond debt in May 1989 and it finally filed for bankruptcy.

During Intergrated Resources’ boom time in the 1980s, Rennert was pursuing his own private strategy of acquiring struggling companies and issuing junk bonds. He sold millions in bonds to private investors in order to use the borrowed capital to establish a portfolio of private industrial companies in his holding company, Renco, which owned nearly all the shares, becoming one of Wall Street’s principal buyers of companies shunned by other purchasers.

WCI Steel and its Pension Plan

His first big deal came in 1988 when Renco bought a Warren (Ohio) steel company from its bankrupt parent, LTV Steel Co., for a price tag of $140 million, of which half was paid for with debt. This company then became WCI Steel Inc. and Rennert was able to turn it around using $250 million in junk bonds. Now, rather than using junk bonds for acquiring companies, Renco’s subsidiaries issued bonds after being acquired, using the proceeds to fund their individual operations and to pay Renco (and indirectly Rennert) large dividends and fees. For example, WCI sold bonds totalling $300 millon and paid $108 million of the proceeds as a dividend to Renco based on WCI files with the SEC. In 1998, Renco Steel Holdings Inc. was created to serve as a holding company for WCI. The holding company then sold $120 million in junk bonds, this time paying $100 million to Renco.

After a strike in 1995, Rennert, as WCI Steel’s chairman, agreed to create a new pension plan for the 2,000 employees and retirees whose old plan had collapsed in the previous bankruptcy. In 2003, the due date on WCI Steel’s $300 million of notes came about and by the autumn the company was declared bankrupt. The steel workers’ pension scheme was owed $282 million but the company only had $93 million in assets, thus producing a $189 million shortfall. With steel prices rising, an investment group led by Rennert, came forward with reorganisation proposals that pledged to keep the WCI pension plan going, reviving it by investing $66 million over four years, leaving a $100 million plus shortfall. The plan emerged as the front runner, with the non pension assets being transferred, and the ailing pension plan left was the empty shell of the old, bankrupt WCI Steel. Newspaper reports at the time stated that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation was threatening to put a lien on Rennert’s personal estate in order to ensure the steelworkers’ benefits (since, when a pension plan defaults, the agency has the power to chase the assets of any companies that are more than 80% controlled by the same corporate parent).

In 1989, Renco acquired the US’ largest magnesium producer in Utah for an undisclosed price. Removing minerals from the water of the Great Salt Lake, Magnesium Corp. uses chemicals to refine the magnesium used in products ranging from bombs to bicycles. In 1996, Renco established Renco Metals Inc as a holding company for Magnesium Corp. and issued $150 million in bonds. Just like WCI, the company paid Renco $90 million in dividends by the year end. In 2001 the Department of Justice filed suit against Magnesium Corp. for multiple violations of hazardous waste law (the EPA ranked Renco’s holdings as the nation’s 10th largest polluter), but also it cited Rennert’s removal of money from Magnesium Corp. through the bond issue, ‘leaving the companies insolvent and unable to pay their bills'. Eight months after the government’s filing of the suit, Renco Metals Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in New York.

Backed by blue-chip mutual funds and hedge funds such as John Hancock Funds LLC and Putnam Investment Management LLC, Rennert now didn’t have to invest much of his own money. His purchase of AM General in 1992 was bought with a down payment of just $10 million. In 1994, Fluor Corp. of Los Angeles sold Doe Run to Renco, with the latter paying $52 million in cash, and approximately $60 million in debt payable over an eight-year period. In 1997, Doe Run went on to pay $247 million for a similarly environmentally troubled lead smelting complex from the Peruvian government, as well as borrowing more money to service its Fluor debt. And in 1998, Doe Run sold $305 million in junk bonds for financing its Peruvian acquisition as well as more lead mines in Missouri (according to Doe Run filings with the SEC). The company also made promises to spend $148 million to curb pollution and modernise its La Oroya smelter by the end of 2006.

With the Gulf War in the offing boosting demand for Humvees, Rennert was well-placed with AM General at a time, however, when his other companies began to stutter. In November 2000, Lodestar Holdings, his coal company, defaulted on an $8.6 million bond payment and was forced into bankruptcy four months later.
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posted by u2r2h at 2:01 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Despite the facts, Chomsky still believes arabs did 911

May 19, 2009 09:36 am

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Unexceptional Americans

Murder, torture, abuse… and photos of the same. We've seen some of them, of course. Now, evidently under pressure from his top generals, President Obama has decided to fight the release of other grim photos from the dark side of the Bush years of offshore injustice -- on the grounds that their publication might inflame opinion in the Middle East and our various war zones (as if fighting to suppress their publication won't). In this way, just as the president is in the process of making Bush's wars his own, so he seems to be making much of the nightmare legacy of those years of crime, torture, and cover-up his, too.

The photos his Justice Department will fight to suppress (for how long or how successfully we don't yet know) are now officially "his"; next, assumedly, come those military commissions, suspended as Obama took office, which are evidently about to be reborn as Obama era tools of injustice. (This brings to mind, in grimmer form, the old saw about how military justice is to justice as military music is to music.) And with those commissions comes that wonderfully un-Constitutional idea of detaining chosen prisoners indefinitely either entirely without trial or with trials that will be mockeries. And with that, evidently, goes the idea of possibly setting up some sort of new "national security court" to try some detainees. (Keep in mind that the Obama administration is already hanging on tightly to Dick Cheney's "state secrets" privilege to block various lawsuits by those wronged in all sorts of ways in the Bush years.)

In other words, if you can't go to court and get the punishments you want, the solution is simply to create courts jiggered in such a way (and surrounded by enough secrecy) that you'll get the decisions you desire. If that isn't a striking definition of American justice, I don't know what is.

Obama's national security world is now coming into view -- and it's not a pretty picture, but then, as Noam Chomsky points out, in a tour de force piece below, it hasn't been a pretty picture for a long, long time. Tom

Why We Can't See the Trees or the Forest

The Torture Memos and Historical Amnesia
By Noam Chomsky

The torture memos released by the White House elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable. The surprise, less so.

For one thing, even without inquiry, it was reasonable to suppose that Guantanamo was a torture chamber. Why else send prisoners where they would be beyond the reach of the law -- a place, incidentally, that Washington is using in violation of a treaty forced on Cuba at the point of a gun? Security reasons were, of course, alleged, but they remain hard to take seriously. The same expectations held for the Bush administration's "black sites," or secret prisons, and for extraordinary rendition, and they were fulfilled.

More importantly, torture has been routinely practiced from the early days of the conquest of the national territory, and continued to be used as the imperial ventures of the "infant empire" -- as George Washington called the new republic -- extended to the Philippines, Haiti, and elsewhere. Keep in mind as well that torture was the least of the many crimes of aggression, terror, subversion, and economic strangulation that have darkened U.S. history, much as in the case of other great powers.

Accordingly, what's surprising is to see the reactions to the release of those Justice Department memos, even by some of the most eloquent and forthright critics of Bush malfeasance: Paul Krugman, for example, writing that we used to be "a nation of moral ideals" and never before Bush "have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for." To say the least, that common view reflects a rather slanted version of American history.

Occasionally the conflict between "what we stand for" and "what we do" has been forthrightly addressed. One distinguished scholar who undertook the task at hand was Hans Morgenthau, a founder of realist international relations theory. In a classic study published in 1964 in the glow of Camelot, Morgenthau developed the standard view that the U.S. has a "transcendent purpose": establishing peace and freedom at home and indeed everywhere, since "the arena within which the United States must defend and promote its purpose has become world-wide." But as a scrupulous scholar, he also recognized that the historical record was radically inconsistent with that "transcendent purpose."

We should not be misled by that discrepancy, advised Morgenthau; we should not "confound the abuse of reality with reality itself." Reality is the unachieved "national purpose" revealed by "the evidence of history as our minds reflect it." What actually happened was merely the "abuse of reality."

The release of the torture memos led others to recognize the problem. In the New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen reviewed a new book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, by British journalist Geoffrey Hodgson, who concludes that the U.S. is "just one great, but imperfect, country among others." Cohen agrees that the evidence supports Hodgson's judgment, but nonetheless regards as fundamentally mistaken Hodgson's failure to understand that "America was born as an idea, and so it has to carry that idea forward." The American idea is revealed in the country's birth as a "city on a hill," an "inspirational notion" that resides "deep in the American psyche," and by "the distinctive spirit of American individualism and enterprise" demonstrated in the Western expansion. Hodgson's error, it seems, is that he is keeping to "the distortions of the American idea," "the abuse of reality."

Let us then turn to "reality itself": the "idea" of America from its earliest days.

"Come Over and Help Us"

The inspirational phrase "city on a hill" was coined by John Winthrop in 1630, borrowing from the Gospels, and outlining the glorious future of a new nation "ordained by God." One year earlier his Massachusetts Bay Colony created its Great Seal. It depicted an Indian with a scroll coming out of his mouth. On that scroll are the words "Come over and help us." The British colonists were thus pictured as benevolent humanists, responding to the pleas of the miserable natives to be rescued from their bitter pagan fate.

The Great Seal is, in fact, a graphic representation of "the idea of America," from its birth. It should be exhumed from the depths of the psyche and displayed on the walls of every classroom. It should certainly appear in the background of all of the Kim Il-Sung-style worship of that savage murderer and torturer Ronald Reagan, who blissfully described himself as the leader of a "shining city on the hill," while orchestrating some of the more ghastly crimes of his years in office, notoriously in Central America but elsewhere as well.

The Great Seal was an early proclamation of "humanitarian intervention," to use the currently fashionable phrase. As has commonly been the case since, the "humanitarian intervention" led to a catastrophe for the alleged beneficiaries. The first Secretary of War, General Henry Knox, described "the utter extirpation of all the Indians in most populous parts of the Union" by means "more destructive to the Indian natives than the conduct of the conquerors of Mexico and Peru."

Long after his own significant contributions to the process were past, John Quincy Adams deplored the fate of "that hapless race of native Americans, which we are exterminating with such merciless and perfidious cruelty… among the heinous sins of this nation, for which I believe God will one day bring [it] to judgement." The "merciless and perfidious cruelty" continued until "the West was won." Instead of God's judgment, the heinous sins today bring only praise for the fulfillment of the American "idea."

The conquest and settling of the West indeed showed that "individualism and enterprise," so praised by Roger Cohen. Settler-colonialist enterprises, the cruelest form of imperialism, commonly do. The results were hailed by the respected and influential Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in 1898. Calling for intervention in Cuba, Lodge lauded our record "of conquest, colonization, and territorial expansion unequalled by any people in the 19th century," and urged that it is "not to be curbed now," as the Cubans too were pleading, in the Great Seal's words, "come over and help us."

Their plea was answered. The U.S. sent troops, thereby preventing Cuba's liberation from Spain and turning it into a virtual colony, as it remained until 1959.

The "American idea" was illustrated further by the remarkable campaign, initiated by the Eisenhower administration virtually at once to restore Cuba to its proper place, after Fidel Castro entered Havana in January 1959, finally liberating the island from foreign domination, with enormous popular support, as Washington ruefully conceded. What followed was economic warfare with the clearly articulated aim of punishing the Cuban population so that they would overthrow the disobedient Castro government, invasion, the dedication of the Kennedy brothers to bringing "the terrors of the earth" to Cuba (the phrase of historian Arthur Schlesinger in his biography of Robert Kennedy, who considered that task one of his highest priorities), and other crimes continuing to the present, in defiance of virtually unanimous world opinion.

American imperialism is often traced to the takeover of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii in 1898. But that is to succumb to what historian of imperialism Bernard Porter calls "the saltwater fallacy," the idea that conquest only becomes imperialism when it crosses saltwater. Thus, if the Mississippi had resembled the Irish Sea, Western expansion would have been imperialism. From George Washington to Henry Cabot Lodge, those engaged in the enterprise had a clearer grasp of just what they were doing.

After the success of humanitarian intervention in Cuba in 1898, the next step in the mission assigned by Providence was to confer "the blessings of liberty and civilization upon all the rescued peoples" of the Philippines (in the words of the platform of Lodge's Republican party) -- at least those who survived the murderous onslaught and widespread use of torture and other atrocities that accompanied it. These fortunate souls were left to the mercies of the U.S.-established Philippine constabulary within a newly devised model of colonial domination, relying on security forces trained and equipped for sophisticated modes of surveillance, intimidation, and violence. Similar models would be adopted in many other areas where the U.S. imposed brutal National Guards and other client forces.

The Torture Paradigm

Over the past 60 years, victims worldwide have endured the CIA's "torture paradigm," developed at a cost that reached $1 billion annually, according to historian Alfred McCoy in his book A Question of Torture. He shows how torture methods the CIA developed from the 1950s surfaced with little change in the infamous photos at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. There is no hyperbole in the title of Jennifer Harbury's penetrating study of the U.S. torture record: Truth, Torture, and the American Way. So it is highly misleading, to say the least, when investigators of the Bush gang's descent into the global sewers lament that "in waging the war against terrorism, America had lost its way."

None of this is to say that Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld et al. did not introduce important innovations. In ordinary American practice, torture was largely farmed out to subsidiaries, not carried out by Americans directly in their own government-established torture chambers. As Allan Nairn, who has carried out some of the most revealing and courageous investigations of torture, points out: "What the Obama [ban on torture] ostensibly knocks off is that small percentage of torture now done by Americans while retaining the overwhelming bulk of the system's torture, which is done by foreigners under U.S. patronage. Obama could stop backing foreign forces that torture, but he has chosen not to do so."

Obama did not shut down the practice of torture, Nairn observes, but "merely repositioned it," restoring it to the American norm, a matter of indifference to the victims. "[H]is is a return to the status quo ante," writes Nairn, "the torture regime of Ford through Clinton, which, year by year, often produced more U.S.-backed strapped-down agony than was produced during the Bush/Cheney years."

Sometimes the American engagement in torture was even more indirect. In a 1980 study, Latin Americanist Lars Schoultz found that U.S. aid "has tended to flow disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their citizens,... to the hemisphere's relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights." Broader studies by Edward Herman found the same correlation, and also suggested an explanation. Not surprisingly, U.S. aid tends to correlate with a favorable climate for business operations, commonly improved by the murder of labor and peasant organizers and human rights activists and other such actions, yielding a secondary correlation between aid and egregious violation of human rights.

These studies took place before the Reagan years, when the topic was not worth studying because the correlations were so clear.

Small wonder that President Obama advises us to look forward, not backward -- a convenient doctrine for those who hold the clubs. Those who are beaten by them tend to see the world differently, much to our annoyance.

Adopting Bush's Positions

An argument can be made that implementation of the CIA's "torture paradigm" never violated the 1984 Torture Convention, at least as Washington interpreted it. McCoy points out that the highly sophisticated CIA paradigm developed at enormous cost in the 1950s and 1960s, based on the "KGB's most devastating torture technique," kept primarily to mental torture, not crude physical torture, which was considered less effective in turning people into pliant vegetables.

McCoy writes that the Reagan administration then carefully revised the International Torture Convention "with four detailed diplomatic 'reservations' focused on just one word in the convention's 26-printed pages," the word "mental." He continues: "These intricately-constructed diplomatic reservations re-defined torture, as interpreted by the United States, to exclude sensory deprivation and self-inflicted pain -- the very techniques the CIA had refined at such great cost."

When Clinton sent the UN Convention to Congress for ratification in 1994, he included the Reagan reservations. The president and Congress therefore exempted the core of the CIA torture paradigm from the U.S. interpretation of the Torture Convention; and those reservations, McCoy observes, were "reproduced verbatim in domestic legislation enacted to give legal force to the UN Convention." That is the "political land mine" that "detonated with such phenomenal force" in the Abu Ghraib scandal and in the shameful Military Commissions Act that was passed with bipartisan support in 2006.

Bush, of course, went beyond his predecessors in authorizing prima facie violations of international law, and several of his extremist innovations were struck down by the Courts. While Obama, like Bush, eloquently affirms our unwavering commitment to international law, he seems intent on substantially reinstating the extremist Bush measures. In the important case of Boumediene v. Bush in June 2008, the Supreme Court rejected as unconstitutional the Bush administration claim that prisoners in Guantanamo are not entitled to the right of habeas corpus. columnist Glenn Greenwald reviews the aftermath. Seeking to "preserve the power to abduct people from around the world" and imprison them without due process, the Bush administration decided to ship them to the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, treating "the Boumediene ruling, grounded in our most basic constitutional guarantees, as though it was some sort of a silly game -- fly your abducted prisoners to Guantanamo and they have constitutional rights, but fly them instead to Bagram and you can disappear them forever with no judicial process."

Obama adopted the Bush position, "filing a brief in federal court that, in two sentences, declared that it embraced the most extremist Bush theory on this issue," arguing that prisoners flown to Bagram from anywhere in the world (in the case in question, Yemenis and Tunisians captured in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates) "can be imprisoned indefinitely with no rights of any kind -- as long as they are kept in Bagram rather than Guantanamo."

In March, however, a Bush-appointed federal judge "rejected the Bush/Obama position and held that the rationale of Boumediene applies every bit as much to Bagram as it does to Guantanamo." The Obama administration announced that it would appeal the ruling, thus placing Obama's Department of Justice, Greenwald concludes, "squarely to the Right of an extremely conservative, pro-executive-power, Bush 43-appointed judge on issues of executive power and due-process-less detentions," in radical violation of Obama's campaign promises and earlier stands.

The case of Rasul v. Rumsfeld appears to be following a similar trajectory. The plaintiffs charged that Rumsfeld and other high officials were responsible for their torture in Guantanamo, where they were sent after being captured by Uzbeki warlord Rashid Dostum. The plaintiffs claimed that they had traveled to Afghanistan to offer humanitarian relief. Dostum, a notorious thug, was then a leader of the Northern Alliance, the Afghan faction supported by Russia, Iran, India, Turkey, and the Central Asian states, and the U.S. as it attacked Afghanistan in October 2001.

Dostum turned them over to U.S. custody, allegedly for bounty money. The Bush administration sought to have the case dismissed. Recently, Obama's Department of Justice filed a brief supporting the Bush position that government officials are not liable for torture and other violations of due process, on the grounds that the Courts had not yet clearly established the rights that prisoners enjoy.

It is also reported that the Obama administration intends to revive military commissions, one of the more severe violations of the rule of law during the Bush years. There is a reason, according to William Glaberson of the New York Times: "Officials who work on the Guantanamo issue say administration lawyers have become concerned that they would face significant obstacles to trying some terrorism suspects in federal courts. Judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies." A serious flaw in the criminal justice system, it appears.

Creating Terrorists

There is still much debate about whether torture has been effective in eliciting information -- the assumption being, apparently, that if it is effective, then it may be justified. By the same argument, when Nicaragua captured U.S. pilot Eugene Hasenfuss in 1986, after shooting down his plane delivering aid to U.S.-supported Contra forces, they should not have tried him, found him guilty, and then sent him back to the U.S., as they did. Instead, they should have applied the CIA torture paradigm to try to extract information about other terrorist atrocities being planned and implemented in Washington, no small matter for a tiny, impoverished country under terrorist attack by the global superpower.

By the same standards, if the Nicaraguans had been able to capture the chief terrorism coordinator, John Negroponte, then U.S. ambassador in Honduras (later appointed as the first Director of National Intelligence, essentially counterterrorism czar, without eliciting a murmur), they should have done the same. Cuba would have been justified in acting similarly, had the Castro government been able to lay hands on the Kennedy brothers. There is no need to bring up what their victims should have done to Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, and other leading terrorist commanders, whose exploits leave al-Qaeda in the dust, and who doubtless had ample information that could have prevented further "ticking bomb" attacks.

Such considerations never seem to arise in public discussion.

There is, to be sure, a response: our terrorism, even if surely terrorism, is benign, deriving as it does from the city on the hill.

Perhaps culpability would be greater, by prevailing moral standards, if it were discovered that Bush administration torture had cost American lives. That is, in fact, the conclusion drawn by Major Matthew Alexander [a pseudonym], one of the most seasoned U.S. interrogators in Iraq, who elicited "the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq," correspondent Patrick Cockburn reports.

Alexander expresses only contempt for the Bush administration's harsh interrogation methods: "The use of torture by the U.S.," he believes, not only elicits no useful information but "has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many U.S. soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11." From hundreds of interrogations, Alexander discovered that foreign fighters came to Iraq in reaction to the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and that they and their domestic allies turned to suicide bombing and other terrorist acts for the same reasons.

There is also mounting evidence that the torture methods Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld encouraged created terrorists. One carefully studied case is that of Abdallah al-Ajmi, who was locked up in Guantanamo on the charge of "engaging in two or three fire fights with the Northern Alliance." He ended up in Afghanistan after having failed to reach Chechnya to fight against the Russians.

After four years of brutal treatment in Guantanamo, he was returned to Kuwait. He later found his way to Iraq and, in March 2008, drove a bomb-laden truck into an Iraqi military compound, killing himself and 13 soldiers -- "the single most heinous act of violence committed by a former Guantanamo detainee," according to the Washington Post, and according to his lawyer, the direct result of his abusive imprisonment.

All much as a reasonable person would expect.

Unexceptional Americans

Another standard pretext for torture is the context: the "war on terror" that Bush declared after 9/11. A crime that rendered traditional international law "quaint" and "obsolete" -- so George W. Bush was advised by his legal counsel Alberto Gonzales, later appointed Attorney General. The doctrine has been widely reiterated in one form or another in commentary and analysis.

The 9/11 attack was doubtless unique in many respects. One is where the guns were pointing: typically it is in the opposite direction. In fact, it was the first attack of any consequence on the national territory of the United States since the British burned down Washington in 1814.

Another unique feature was the scale of terror perpetrated by a non-state actor.

Horrifying as it was, however, it could have been worse. Suppose that the perpetrators had bombed the White House, killed the president, and established a vicious military dictatorship that killed 50,000 to 100,000 people and tortured 700,000, set up a huge international terror center that carried out assassinations and helped impose comparable military dictatorships elsewhere, and implemented economic doctrines that so radically dismantled the economy that the state had to virtually take it over a few years later.

That would indeed have been far worse than September 11, 2001. And it happened in Salvador Allende's Chile in what Latin Americans often call "the first 9/11" in 1973. (The numbers above were changed to per-capita U.S. equivalents, a realistic way of measuring crimes.) Responsibility for the military coup against Allende can be traced straight back to Washington. Accordingly, the otherwise quite appropriate analogy is out of consciousness here in the U.S., while the facts are consigned to the "abuse of reality" that the naïve call "history."

It should also be recalled that Bush did not declare the "war on terror," he re-declared it. Twenty years earlier, President Reagan's administration came into office declaring that a centerpiece of its foreign policy would be a war on terror, "the plague of the modern age" and "a return to barbarism in our time" -- to sample the fevered rhetoric of the day.

That first U.S. war on terror has also been deleted from historical consciousness, because the outcome cannot readily be incorporated into the canon: hundreds of thousands slaughtered in the ruined countries of Central America and many more elsewhere, among them an estimated 1.5 million dead in the terrorist wars sponsored in neighboring countries by Reagan's favored ally, apartheid South Africa, which had to defend itself from Nelson Mandela's African National Congress (ANC), one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups," as Washington determined in 1988. In fairness, it should be added that, 20 years later, Congress voted to remove the ANC from the list of terrorist organizations, so that Mandela is now, at last, able to enter the U.S. without obtaining a waiver from the government.

The reigning doctrine of the country is sometimes called "American exceptionalism." It is nothing of the sort. It is probably close to a universal habit among imperial powers. France was hailing its "civilizing mission" in its colonies, while the French Minister of War called for "exterminating the indigenous population" of Algeria. Britain's nobility was a "novelty in the world," John Stuart Mill declared, while urging that this angelic power delay no longer in completing its liberation of India.

Similarly, there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Japanese militarists in the 1930s, who were bringing an "earthly paradise" to China under benign Japanese tutelage, as they carried out the rape of Nanking and their "burn all, loot all, kill all" campaigns in rural North China. History is replete with similar glorious episodes.

As long as such "exceptionalist" theses remain firmly implanted, however, the occasional revelations of the "abuse of history" often backfire, serving only to efface terrible crimes. The My Lai massacre was a mere footnote to the vastly greater atrocities of the post-Tet pacification programs, ignored while indignation in this country was largely focused on this single crime.

Watergate was doubtless criminal, but the furor over it displaced incomparably worse crimes at home and abroad, including the FBI-organized assassination of black organizer Fred Hampton as part of the infamous COINTELPRO repression, or the bombing of Cambodia, to mention just two egregious examples. Torture is hideous enough; the invasion of Iraq was a far worse crime. Quite commonly, selective atrocities have this function.

Historical amnesia is a dangerous phenomenon, not only because it undermines moral and intellectual integrity, but also because it lays the groundwork for crimes that still lie ahead.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements.

[Note: A slightly longer version of this piece, fully footnoted, will be posted at within 48 hours.]

Copyright 2009 Noam Chomsky

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taleban Chemical Weapons Claim strains credulity

We are now to believe that the Pentagon has been keeping evidence of the Taliban's chemical weapons use -- chem weapons! WMDs! -- under wraps for years.

Suddenly, after the emergence of glaring evidence of Afghan civilians being seared and maimed by these chemical weapons following American airstrikes and combat operations, the Pentagon has released "classified information" claiming that the Taliban have actually been using white phosphorus weapons for six years.


Burn After Reading: Intel Dump Muddies Dirty War Waters

by Chris Floyd

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Throughout the long history of the Afghan War, the United States has never accused the Taliban of using white phosphorus weapons -- until now. Suddenly, after the emergence of glaring evidence **SEE BELOW** of Afghan civilians being seared and maimed by these chemical weapons following American airstrikes and combat operations, the Pentagon has released "classified information" (***see way below***) claiming that the Taliban have actually been using white phosphorus weapons for six years, since 2003: a practice that the Pentagon -- which has been using white phosphorus weapons in Afghanistan since 2002 if not before -- denounced as "reprehensible."

This is very curious. The bipartistan managers of the Terror War have always been eager to trumpet -- even exaggerate -- the atrocities committed by the various armed groups opposing the imposition of foreign troops in Afghanistan. But now we are to believe that the Pentagon has been keeping evidence of the Taliban's chemical weapons use -- chem weapons! WMDs! -- under wraps for years.

The "classified intelligence" was released in friendly territory: The Times (UK), owned by Fox News' own Rupert Murdoch.

(By the way, isn't it strange that super-duper top-secret material which would threaten the very existence of the United States and its way of life if it were divulged to, say, lawyers for torture victims or members of the public who've been illegally spied upon, can always be released when there are PR gains to be made? Why, it almost makes you think that Arthur Silber might be right

when he tell us that "the 'secret' knowledge, which goes by the viciously misnamed designation 'intelligence' ... is almost always wrong... and is primarily used as propaganda, to provide alleged justification to a public that still remains disturbingly gullible and pliable -- and it is used after the fact, to justify decisions that have already been made."

Could that really be true? Would they really, you know, just lie and exaggerate and make things up? Perhaps we could ask the brand-new commander whom Obama has appointed in Afghanistan: Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal,

the Special Ops honcho who ran covert ops and commandos in Iraq (see "Ulster on the Euphrates" for more on such activities on "the dark side, if you will"), and later signed off on the shameful concoction of the "heroic death in battle" of the war-questioning, Chomsky-reading Pat Tillman, who was in fact killed by his own men.)

In any case, Murdoch's minions in The Times dish up the murky Pentagon stew with nary a leavening of skeptical salt. While stovepiping assertions of "hundreds" of Western soldiers and Afghan civilians burned by the Taliban's Willy Pete (again, glaring war crimes that the Americans have mysteriously failed to highlight over the years), The Times does not fail to push the new "get Pakistan" line as well. After first noting that much of the alleged Taliban WP seems to have been leftovers from the mountains of ordnance dumped in the country during decades of war, some of the rounds are, we're told, "newer models which, it is suspected, had been smuggled across the border from Pakistan." Straight from those halal-eating surrender monkeys in Islamabad, I'll bet! We need to go in there and clean that nest of vipers out!

What's more, the Pentagon is now trying to claim that the mass slaughter of more than 140 civilians last week -- killed after a sustained bombing raid destroyed a compound where children, women and old men were sheltering from a battle miles away -- was really the Taliban's fault. How can that be, when officials of the U.S.-backed Afghan government, the International Red Cross and eyewitnesses on the ground all say that the compound, and three surrounding villages, were pulverized by a raid lasting several hours? Why, the discovery that some survivors were also by white phosphorus proves it! Because although the Pentagon routinely uses white phosphorus all over the country, it didn't use it on the day of the slaughter! And how do we know this? Because... the Pentagon said so! Case closed! Just as it was when General McChrystal signed off on Tillman's medal for his heroic death in battle, despite knowing the truth about the "friendly fire" killing.

I hold no brief for the Taliban -- or rather, for the collection of various armed groups battling the occupation, when they are not battling each other or creating their own brand of "collateral damage." I'm sure if they got hold of some white phosphorus, they'd use it. Why should they, in their small-scale way, be any more moral or humane than the full-blown, world-straddling war machine of the American empire? For those who turn to violence, who make blood their argument, there are rarely any restraints. But it remains extremely puzzling -- not to say unbelievable -- that the Americans would simply sit on all this "hard evidence" of chemical weapon atrocities by their relentlessly demonized enemies, for years on end, without ever saying a word.

Whatever the provenance of this "secret knowledge," it was in fact the glaring evidence of the occupation forces' own "reprehensible" activities that has panicked the Pentagon into these "revelations." Yet even this is a curious defense; it essentially boils down to saying: "Hey, we aren't the only ones who burn people with chemical weapons and kill civilians! The Taliban does it too!"

What a worthy stance, eh? But such is the moral level of this very dirty war -- a war which is about to get even dirtier, as the new appointment by Obama and his Bush carryover, Robert Gates, clearly shows.
Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.


Day after day, week after week, Barack Obama's "Overseas Contingency Operations" keep churning through the bodies of children: sometimes with chemical weapons that sear their flesh and leave them maimed and disfigured for life; sometimes with carefully aimed bullets ripping through their organs and leaving them dead right on the spot.

And in every such case, our brave and noble Terror Warriors -- who, lest we forget, are upholding the highest values of world civilization, bringing hope and change to benighted lands and defending our sacred way of life -- run screaming like spinsters in a hissy fit from the slightest hint of responsibility for their actions. Their first response, always, is to blame someone else: either the designated enemy of the day -- or else the burned and shredded children themselves.

This tendency was on vivid display this week in two stories from separate fronts in the ever-spreading Terror War. (Both pieces, from McClatchy and Reuters, come via the Angry Arab, who rightly notes Obama's moral ownership of the bullets and bombs of the militarist campaigns).

The most garish example can be found in Iraq, where American soldiers shot a 12-year-old boy in the streets of Mosul, one of the most troubled cities in the conquered land. Mosul, you may recall, is where Generalissimo David Petraeus -- now in military command of the entire Terror War -- built his vaunted but vaporous reputation for "effective counterinsurgency techniques" early in the war. It was a miniature model of the later "surge": using a massive influx of American troops, along with payoffs to favored local forces, to suppress the endemic chaos and violence unleashed by the invasion just long enough to establish a PR narrative of "success." Once the media spotlight has moved on, the evil, inevitable fruits of the original crime -- the Hitlerian act of military aggression -- flourish once more.

As in Iraq at large, so it is in Mosul. Last Thursday, American occupation troops rolling through the city were attacked by a grenade. In response, they shot a killed a 12-year-old boy, Omar Musa Salih, who was standing on the roadside selling fruit juice. Although eyewitnesses on the scene said the boy had not thrown the grenade -- they had seen, with their own eyes, an older man lobbing it toward the Americans -- President Obama's Pentagon insisted that the dead boy was an "insurgent" who deserved to die. Their proof? He had a handful of Iraqi dinars -- less than $9 -- in his hand when they inspected his corpse. So that means he was in the pay of terrorists, you see.

"We have every reason to believe that insurgents are paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtedly placing the children in harm's way," a faceless "U.S. military spokesman" told McClatchy, in an email. Smearing the victim: a dead child -- oh, how noble, how civilized, how redolent of honor! You can certainly understand why no one would want to attach their face or name -- or even their voice -- to such a depraved, shameless and cowardly apologia.

For as McClatchy notes, there is no evidence whatsoever that young Omar was involved in the attack; quite the contrary, in fact:

....eyewitnesses said the boy, identified as Omar Musa Salih, was standing by the side of the road selling fruit juice - a common practice in Iraq -- and had nothing to do with the attack.

A friend, Ahmed Jassim, 15, said he was selling cans of Pepsi nearby when he heard the grenade explode. He dove behind a parked car, then heard the roar of machine gun fire. "When the shooting was over and the patrol went away, I stood and I saw Omar on the ground covered with blood," Jassim said.

Another witness, Ahmed IzAldeen, 56, said he saw the person who threw the grenade. It wasn't the boy, but a man in his twenties, he said. IzAldeen said he saw the man standing behind a truck holding the grenade as the American patrol approached....

"When attacked, the Americans just open fire, whether on the gunman or just randomly," said Usama Al Nujaifi, a member of Parliament from Mosul. "The American presence in the cities is wrong, we urged them to stay outside from the beginning."

American combat forces are supposed to pull out of all cities by June 30 under an agreement signed last year that hands security over to Iraqi forces. But the two sides have discussed pushing back the deadline, especially in the most violent cities, such as Mosul.

Oh yes, these "deadlines" will doubtless prove to be infinitely flexible, easily extended; after all, President Obama has consistently reiterated his determination to be guided by the advice of his military officials and by "the facts on the ground" in implementing his scheme to remove some American troops from Iraq while leaving tens of thousands behind: a process of streamlined occupation that for some reason is called a "withdrawal."

But the lives of children are not so flexible, not so extendable. Omar Salih will not get up again. "Friends of the Salih family said he was the oldest of 6 children," McClatchy writes. "He quit school in the first grade, when he was six or seven years old. He was well-known in the Ras Al-Jadda neighborhood, where the attack took place."

He quit school at six or seven; that is, in 2003 or 2004, in the midst or in the aftermath of the American invasion. His life was spent on the street, trying to earn a pittance for his family. And now he is damned as a terrorist by the most powerful, most "advanced" nation in the world -- because he had a few strips of colored paper in his hand when he was gunned down at his fruit stand.

As we've noted several times in recent days, this is an inevitable result of military occupations in hostile lands: all of the natives come to be seen as the enemy -- children, women, the old and weak included. All are deemed imminent and/or potential threats by the conquerors, who live steeped in fear and incomprehension and anger at the "ingratitude" and hostility and recalcitrance of the locals. And so, ultimately, every civilian death can be "justified" -- because there are no civilians. There are just Them -- and Us. And whatever We do to protect ourselves from Them -- or to put Them in their place -- is rightful and just and should not be questioned.

This is the logic of the conqueror, the logic of domination. And it is the foundation and the philosophy of the War on Terror that America's bipartisan political class -- past and present, conservative and "progressive" -- has so enthusiastically embraced.

This week reports emerged about the possible use of white phosphorus shells in the American bombing assault last week that killed more than 140 children, women and old men who were taking shelter from a battle several miles away. These chemical weapons are "legal" when used "to illuminate a target or create smoke," but are illegal under international law if used purposely as a weapon. Of course, in dealing with attacks on populated areas -- the very heart of Terror War "counterinsurgency" -- this is a distinction without a difference. The shells explode in the midst of homes and streets, throwing their searing, unquenchable chemical gel everywhere, causing unbearable agony and permanent damage to the afflicted. However, the inherent ambiguity of carrying out military operations in civilian areas provides convenient cover for the use of this chemical weapon to put the natives in their place. (As we saw in Fallujah, for example, and most recently in Gaza.)

As always, the illumination-bringers in the American war machine blame someone else for the strange, horrific burns that doctors have discovered among the survivors of the massacre. After denying the use of white phosphorus in the attack for any reason, they first suggested that it was the Taliban who lobbed the advanced chemical weapon into villages that Afghan officials and the International Red Cross say were devastated by American bombs. Then they said the burns might have been caused by propane tanks exploding during the bombardment. But doctors dealing directly with the victims scoffed at this, as AP reports:

Dr. Mohammad Aref Jalali, the head of the burn unit at the Herat Regional Hospital in western Afghanistan who has treated five patients wounded in the battle, described the burns as "unusual."

"I think it's the result of a chemical used in a bomb, but I'm not sure what kind of chemical. But if it was a result of a burning house . from petrol or gas cylinders . that kind of burn would look different," he said.

Gul Ahmad Ayubi, the deputy head of Farah's health department, said the province's main hospital had received 14 patients after the battle, all with burn wounds. Five patients were sent to Herat. "There has been other airstrikes in Farah in the past. We had injuries from those battles, but this is the first time we have seen such burns on the bodies. I'm not sure what kind of bomb it was," he said.

U.N. human rights investigators have also seen "extensive" burn wounds on victims and have raised questions about how the injuries were caused, said a U.N. official who asked not to be identified talking about internal deliberations.

These new concerns come amidst new calls for an investigation of an earlier chemical weapon attack, which left an eight-year-old girl, Razia, with "her face an almost unrecognisable mess of burnt tissue and half her scalp a bald scar." She is the first known civilian victim of white phosphorus in Afghanistan. As Reuters reports:

"The kids called out to me that I was burning but the explosion was so strong that for a moment I was deaf and couldn't hear anything," her father, Aziz Rahman, told Reuters. "And then my wife screamed 'the kids are burning' and she was also burning," he added, his face clouding over at the memory.

The flames that consumed his family were fed by a chemical called white phosphorous, which U.S. medical staff at Bagram said they found on Razia's face and neck. It bursts into fierce fire on contact with the air and can stick to and even penetrate flesh as it burns....

Colonel Gregory Julian, a spokesman for the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, confirmed that Western forces in the country use the chemical.

"In the case of white phosphorus it is used on the battlefield in certain applications ... It is used as an incendiary to destroy bunkers and enemy equipment; it's used for illumination"...

Razia and her family are the first known civilian casualties of its use in Afghanistan.

As in the recent massacre, occupation officials point to the Taliban as the culprit in the chemical weapon attack -- a claim belied by experts on the region. But in the AP story on the massacre, Julian is suddenly asserting that "military officials believe that Taliban militants have used white phosphorus at least four times in Afghanistan in the past two years." We have heard nothing of this before, nor have any Afghan government official or acknowledged specialists. These charges of Taliban chemical weapons emerged only after Human Rights Watch began pushing the story of Razia's plight and the doctors in Herat found the strange burns in the massacre survivors. As Reuters reports:

U.S. Major Jennifer Willis suggested instead that the Taliban had fired the shot: "An enemy mortar team, known to have been operating in that area, may have been responsible."

The Afghan government, military specialists and experts on the Taliban told Reuters, however, that insurgents have never been observed using white phosphorus. The only forces on the battlefield known to use it are the United States and NATO. "I am not aware that the Taliban have used this in any of their attacks," said Zaher Murad, a Defence Ministry spokesman.

Ahmed Rashid, Pakistan-based author of a widely acclaimed book on the hardline Islamists, said that he was also not aware of such reports.

"To think they (the Taliban) are employing white phosphorus as a weapon in their arsenal is very far-fetched," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch and a former senior intelligence analyst at the Pentagon. "The U.S. has optics that will allow them to see through the smoke, so it is useless for (the Taliban). They don't need to illuminate because that is telegraphing to the United States where they are going to go and fight. Plus they know the area. They want high explosive to shock and kill; flames raining down from the sky aren't going to frighten the U.S. forces."

NATO spokeswoman Willis said insurgents had been observed using white phosphorus weapons in the past. Asked to provide examples of the Taliban using the chemical, she wrote back to say that she was unable to do so.

Yet even here, as with the "child insurgents" of Mosul, the Pentagon can do no more than wanly assert its "belief" that such things could be going on. No proof is offered. There is only the bristling attempt to thrust away any responsibility, to deflect, distract, smear -- and obfuscate the inescapable realities of subjugating another nation by force.

Whatever the good intentions of this or that ordinary individual serving in the occupation forces -- such as the military doctors who saved what was left of Razia's life -- the underlying logic of domination will have its way, churning relentlessly through the bodies of innocent people caught up -- deliberately or "collaterally" -- in the brutal power of foreign forces which should not be in their land.
I wrote a piece last year about the lasting effects of those insescapable realities of subjugation. Although it deals with a different area of the Terror War, I'd like to close with an excerpt from it -- for, unfortunately, it is just as relevant as ever, if not more so. From "Written on the Body: The Reality of War" (see original for links):

[In] these heated debates on policy, strategy, funding, etc. [of the Terror War], there is always a danger of losing sight of the most overwhelmingly important aspect of the conflict: its effects on actual human beings, the suffering it imposes on our fellow creatures. The reality of war is written on the bodies . and seared into the anguished psyches . of the individuals who experience it. That is what war is, that is where it actually exists . in blood, in bone, in the synapses that carry the electric fire of human consciousness.

A new report from Fallujah . the Guernica of the Iraq War . brings this home most forcefully. Two of the great witnesses of this war . Dahr Jamail and his collaborator, Ali al-Fadhily . present disturbing evidence of how the use of chemical weapons against the people of Fallujah during the brutal decimation the city in 2004 continues to bear horrific fruit today:

Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say. The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after "special weaponry" was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004.

After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah. In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah. The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tons of DU in Iraq thus far.

Many doctors believe DU to be the cause of a severe increase in the incidence of cancer in Iraq, as well as among US veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and through the current occupation.

"We saw all the colors of the rainbow coming out of the exploding American shells and missiles," Ali Sarhan, a 50-year-old teacher who lived through the two US sieges of 2004 told IPS. "I saw bodies that turned into bones and coal right after they were exposed to bombs that we learned later to be phosphorus. The most worrying is that many of our women have suffered loss of their babies, and some had babies born with deformations."

"I had two children who had brain damage from birth," 28-year-old Hayfa' Shukur told IPS. "My husband has been detained by the Americans since November 2004 and so I had to take the children around by myself to hospitals and private clinics. They died. I spent all our savings and borrowed a considerable amount of money...."

This is the fate of the actual human beings in Fallujah. Behind all the debates and commentary, the think-tank wonkery, the campaign rhetoric, the academic studies and the witlessrantings of TV talking heads, this is the war: a young woman wandering through a ruined city, carrying her broken, dying children to hospitals left without medicine or gear...

I ended the piece with a quote I've used before, from Italo Calvino, because it is, as I said then, "one of the very best encapsulations of the horror, and hope, of our human condition":

"The what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space."

****** propaganda ******

HEADLINE - Taleban using white phosphorus, some of it made in Britain

Eight-year old Afghan girl injured during an air strike in Garni village in western Farah province

Propaganda Photo

An eight-year-old girl, injured during an airstrike in the Afghan village of Garni in western Farah province, recovering in hospital in Herat city

Michael Evans, Defence Editor

Taleban fighters have been using deadly white phosphorus munitions, some of them manufactured in Britain, to attack Western forces in Afghanistan, according to previously classified United States documents released yesterday.

White phosphorus, which can burn its victims down to the bone, has been found in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in regions across Afghanistan including in the south, where British troops are based. It has also been used in mortar and rocket attacks on American forces.

Last night the US military in Kabul condemned the use of white phosphorus by the insurgents as .reprehensible.. White phosphorus is banned as an offensive weapon under international rules of armed conflict.

Major Jennifer Willis, a spokeswoman for the US Army at Bagram, near Kabul, said that markings on some of the white phosphorus munitions that had been recovered showed that they had been manufactured in a number of different countries, including Britain, China, Russia and Iran.

Although a full investigation is under way, it is not yet clear how the Taleban and other insurgent forces using them had acquired the white phosphorus munitions from Britain. However, Major Willis said that Afghanistan was littered with ordnance of every kind and it was not a surprise that the insurgents had got their hands on white phosphorus.

The US military said that the Taleban had found white phosphorus rounds left over from the war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. But there were newer models which, it is suspected, had been smuggled across the border from Pakistan.

Major Willis said that the use of white phosphorus in IEDs was a relatively new development. The earliest report of the insurgents using white phosphorus was in February 2003, but the eight known IED cases, including one in the south, have all occurred since March 2007.

The Ministry of Defence in London said that there was no evidence that British soldiers had been burnt by white phosphorus munitions in Helmand, but said that there would have to be an investigation into how British-manufactured munitions were in the hands of the Taleban.

Royal Ordnance factories owned by BAE Systems make 81mm mortars that the British fire with white phosphorus rounds for illumination in Afghanistan. But the MoD denied that the Taleban had somehow acquired British mortars sent to troops in Helmand. The US evidence showed that the only white phosphorus shells found in that province were 120mm and 105mm munitions. .These are not used by British forces,. the MoD said.

The US military released details of 44 known cases . six in southern Afghanistan . which included incidents where Nato troops and Afghan civilians had received severe burns. US sources said that there was strong evidence that the Taleban had been responsible for the deaths of more than 100 civilians in the battle that took place in Farah province last week and that they had used white phosphorus.

The Americans were initially blamed for killing the civilians in airstrikes. But local doctors discovered unusual burns among the dead and injured, which pointed to the use of white phosphorus.

Colonel Greg Julian, the senior US military spokesman in Afghanistan, said that the Americans had not used the material in the battle on May 4.

Major Willis confirmed that the US and Nato.s International Security Assistance Force used white phosphorus in Afghanistan but never as an anti-personnel weapon. .That.s not allowed under the terms of international law,. she said.

White phosphorus, she said, was only used for marking targets, screening troops from enemy positions, illuminating areas, destroying unoccupied bunkers and buildings and .for igniting enemy ammunition or petroleum production..

The use of white phosphorus in war became a highly controversial issue during the attacks on Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces in January.

Israel denied firing white phosphorus shells into civilian areas but when The Times revealed the increasing number of civilian casualties suffering from strange burns, it admitted using the material and announced an investigation into why the munitions had been fired into densely populated areas.

Six in south

March 16 An IED rigged to a 107mm white phosphorus (WP) round defused in Zabol province

March 11 Cache, including ten rounds of 120mm WP mortar ammunition, in Helmand, where US troops based

December 2, 2008 Insurgents fire a WP rocket at an Isaf base in Kandahar

June 1, 2008 Isaf team destroys munitions, including 105mm WP projectiles in Helmand, where British troops are stationed

November 18, 2007 Afghan child finds a WP rocket in Kandahar

June 15, 2004 Large cache, including 46 rounds of 82mm WP ammunition, discovered in a home in Zabol

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posted by u2r2h at 10:32 AM 0 comments

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Rogue Elements = State Covert Terrorists

Rogue Elements = State Covert Terrorists

Hunt for culprits of Lahore attack

By M Ilyas Khan

BBC News, Islamabad

Pakistani policemen stand beside a car suspectedly used by gunmen during the attack
There has been much speculation over the gunmen's identity

Who could have done it?

The video footage of the assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore is a stark reminder of the November attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, in which about 10 suspected militants held the city hostage for three days.

A similar number of men staged an equally audacious attack in Lahore. They ambushed the bus that was taking the Sri Lankan team to the stadium for a match with Pakistan.

Though the targets of the two attacks were vastly different, the attacks themselves were both spectacularly staged against high-value targets and made international headlines.

The style of these attacks is also reminiscent of an attack by a group of militants on the Indian parliament in the winter of 2001.

Even scores?

The Indian authorities blamed that attack - and the Mumbai assault - on a Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Grab of gunmen in Lahore

The shooting began near the Gaddafi stadium

After some procrastination, the Pakistani authorities also endorsed the Indian claim in relation to the Mumbai attacks, saying at least nine men affiliated with LeT had sailed out from its southern port city, Karachi, to attack the Indian financial hub.

It has arrested several top LeT leaders in connection with that attack.

Could it be, then, that the LeT has turned back on Pakistan to even scores?

LeT is one of a number of militant groups that are believed to have been raised, trained and funded by the Pakistani security apparatus to fight Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir.

It is generally considered to be sympathetic to Pakistani security interests in the region - and analysts doubt that it would try to destabilise a Pakistani government unless it had been given a nod from within the security establishment.

That establishment has been blamed in the past for using militants, especially sectarian outfits, to destabilise civilian governments during the 1990s.

The attack in Lahore has happened at a time when a civilian government is in power after eight years of military rule.

'Rogue' elements

The government has made some diplomatic concessions to India which the military - which considers India as the enemy - may not like.

Sri Lankan cricketers Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana
Cricketers Thilan Samaraweera (L) and Tharanga Paranavitana were injured
In addition, the air of reconciliation that was born at election time a year ago is giving way to political discord, with anti-government agitation brewing in the Punjab province, where the attack took place.

So, have the suspected "rogue" elements in the security establishment decided to rock the boat for a government that appears increasingly vulnerable to the threat posed by militants?

Some in international quarters have suggested that Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers separatist group could possibly be involved in the attack.

The Tigers have been conducting an insurgency in the northern parts of Sri Lanka since the mid-1980s and are currently losing ground to the Sri Lankan army.

In recent weeks, the Tigers have seen key towns fall to the military, prompting many to speculate that it is the beginning of the end of their insurgency.

But could the Sri Lankan rebel group make a desperate move like this one to stage a comeback?

Analysts say they are not known to have operated in Pakistan in the past, and do not have the kind of logistics and network in the region that they would require to stage an attack of this nature.

Besides, they are unlikely to blow up the entire Sri Lanka team - as the attackers tried to do by lobbing grenades under their bus - because it also includes ethnic Tamils.


Another potential suspect are the Pakistani Taleban, or Islamist militants who are conducting a bloody insurgency in the north-west of the country.

They have been blamed, or claimed responsibility, for a number of equally spectacular attacks in Pakistan in the past.

One of the groups was even accused by the government of having carried out the December 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

But they largely depend on suicide attacks or remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and their targets have been either state officials or members of rival sects.

Al-Qaeda, which many believe to be an umbrella organisation of most militant groups active in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir, appears to have had a role in planning previous attacks against high-profile targets in Pakistan, such as foreign dignitaries.

Many security analysts suspect its role in a number of bombings against restaurants and foreign missions in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Analysts say al-Qaeda considers an Islamic Pakistan as essential to its pan-Islamist ambitions. It has been at odds with successive Pakistani governments because of their "pro-West" policies.

Meanwhile, many Pakistani ex-military security analysts claim that Tuesday's attack might be the handiwork of the Indian intelligence service, Research and Analysis Wing (Raw).

Some of them, such as former intelligence chief Lt Gen Hamid Gul, also blame Raw for the Mumbai attacks. There is no evidence to support such a claim.

Gen Gul and others point out that both these attacks have put Pakistan in a bad light and eroded its ability to withstand international pressure in matters pertaining to its national interests.

This, they believe, is part of a plot by India to undermine Pakistan.

Pakistan has ordered a high-level investigation into the Lahore attack, with President Asif Zardari pledging that the perpetrators should be revealed.

If this happens, it would be unprecedented.

Militant attacks in all parts of the world have been investigated and solved, but Pakistan is yet to solve even one out of the hundreds of attacks it has suffered since the 1980s.


The Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing occurred on 20 September 2008, when a SECRET WEAPON detonated in front of the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, killing at least 54, injuring at least 266 and leaving a 60 ft (20 m) wide, 20 ft (6 m) deep crater outside the hotel. The majority of the casualties were Pakistanis; although at least five foreigners were killed and fifteen others reported injured. The attack occurred mere hours after President Asif Ali Zardari made his first speech to parliament. The Marriott was the most prestigious hotel in the capital, located near government buildings and diplomatic missions. It was popular with foreigners and the Pakistani elite. The hotel had previously been the target of militants. In 2007, a suicide bomber killed himself and another person in an attack at the hotel.

An unnamed senior security official stated that about 30 U.S. Marines, scheduled to go to Afghanistan, were staying at the hotel, and they were believed to be the targets of the bombing. This conflicted with information given by another unnamed official who stated that the marines were in Pakistan in connection with the visit by US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen who met the Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and other government officials on Wednesday The personnel were staying on the fourth floor of the hotel, which also the most severely damaged by the fire which ensued following the bomb blast. According to the Dawn, a number of the marines who stayed at the hotel sustained injuries; the newspaper also cited an unnamed law enforcement official stating "personnel of a US security agency" were in all likelihood the target of the attack. There are also reports that more Americans were present at the hotel, as several senior CIA officers were visiting Islamabad at the time of the attack and believed to be staying at the hotel, according to unnamed "well placed sources".

Claims of US soldiers breaching security

An MP for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani, has come forward with testimony evidencing a purportedly serious security breach at the Marriott on the night between the 16th and 17th, several days before the bombing. Alam Gillani and two friends are said to have witnessed several large steel boxes being unloaded from a US Embassy truck by a group of US Marines and, according to someone at the hotel, transported to the fourth and fifth floors. Among the several people who witnessed this incident was Pakistan Peoples Party leader Sajjad Chaudhry. However, Alam Gilani was the only one who objected to and protested the apparent security breach taking place, but was met with silence from the American Marines. The hotel security staff did not respond to Alam Gilani's protests as they passively watched what was taking place, not being allowed to go near the boxes by the US Marines. Alam Gillani has since denounced the newspaper account, asserting that he was merely making light conversation with the journalist, however, the newspaper stands by its account. Pakistani authorities are also investigating this issue.

The American Embassy has said that it routinely rents rooms at the Marriott. Confronted with the activities of the US Marines on the night between September 16 and 17, embassy spokesperson Lou Fintor stated: "A team of support personnel often and routinely precede and/or accompany certain US government officials. They often carry communication and office equipment required to support large delegations, such as high-level administration officials and members of the US Congress." However, the incident occurred after Admiral Mullen's departure

Many people are of the view that a foreign power is involved in the attacks in some way

Three men, Dr Usman, Rana Ilyas and Hameed Afzal, that were arrested in Peshawar on October 17 with connection to the attack were remanded to police custody for 7 days on October 18 for questioning by an anti-terrorism court. They were suspected of having facilitated the suicide bomber. In requesting the court for a 10 day remand, the police also said they hoped to arrest more suspects with information from the three. Judge Sakhi Muhammad Kahut, who remanded the trio to police custody, also ordered police to produce them in court again on October 24.

A panel that the government had formed, consisting of police officials and experts from security agencies to probe the attack, presented a preliminary report to the Prime Minister. The Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah also admitted to the Senate's Standing Committee on his ministry that the blast was the result of a defective security system. He added that the Islamabad police chief has said intelligence agencies had informed the police about an explosive-laden vehicle entering the city to carry out an attack.[24]

[edit] Arrests

On October 23, it was reported that four men had been arrested on suspicion of "indirect involvement" in the attack, according to Islamabad police. These four are the first known arrests in relation to the bombing.

Pakistan received about $11 billion from the United States for the logistical support it provided for the counter-terrorism operations from 2001 to 2008, and for its own military operation mainly in Waziristan and other tribal areas along the Durand line, according to a report of the Asian Development Bank. The Bush administration also offered an additional $3 billion five-year aid package to Pakistan for becoming a frontline ally in its 'war on terror'. Annual instalments of $600 million each split evenly between military and economic aid, began in 2005.[143]

In 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to continue supporting Pakistan and has said Pakistan would be provided economic aid of $1.5 billion dollars each year for the next five years. Unfolding a new US strategy to defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Obama said Pakistan must be 'stronger partner' in destroying Al-Qaeda safe havens.[144] In addition, President Obama has also planned to propose an extra $2.8 billion dollars in aid for the Pakistani military to intensify the US-led war on terror along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The military aid would be in addition to the civilian aid of $1.5 billion dollars a year for the next five years from 2009 onwards.[145]

In his autobiography, President Musharraf wrote that the United States had paid millions of dollars to the Pakistan government as bounty money for capturing al-Qaeda operators from tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. About 359 of them were handed over to the US for prosecution. [143]

Some have speculated that the unofficial number of Pakistani soldiers killed in action to be somewhere around 3,000 by the late 2006.

Flag of Pakistan Pro-government tribes
United States Flag of Afghanistan Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (until 2007)

Flag of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari
Flag of Pakistan General Ashfaq Kayani
Flag of Pakistan Lt Gen Masood Aslam
Flag of Pakistan Maj Gen Tariq Khan
Flag of Pakistan Maj Gen Ijaz Awan
Former commanders
Flag of Pakistan Gen Pervez Musharraf
Flag of Pakistan Lt Gen Safdar Hussain
Flag of Pakistan Maj Gen Alam Khattak
Flag of Pakistan Maj Gen Nasser Janjua
Flag of Pakistan Maj Gen A Shuja Pasha Flag of Afghanistan Baitullah Mehsud
Flag of Afghanistan Hafiz Gul Bahadur
Flag of Afghanistan Faqir Mohammed
Maulana Fazlullah
Mangal Bagh
Osama bin Laden
Ayman al Zawahiri
Flag of Afghanistan Mullah Mohammed Omar
Flag of Afghanistan Jalaluddin Haqqani
Tohir Yo.ldosh

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posted by u2r2h at 3:26 AM 0 comments