Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bradley Manning in jail for 700 days - Government is withholding evidence - Is this a fair trial?

The Shroud of Secrecy in Bradley Manning’s Legal Proceedings 

Fire Dog Lake is Blogging the pretrial maneuverings in the Bradley Manning case.  They report a serious and illegal lack of transparency by the prosecution.  The judge has acknowledge this process by forcing the government to turn over risk assessments related to the release of cables to Wikileaks to the defense.
 . Judge Denise Lind ruled the government has to produce damage assessments yesterday that the defense had been seeking for months. The State Department is challenging this ruling by the judge, but it appears reports from the WikiLeaks Task Force (setup under then-CIA director Leon Panetta), the Information Review Task Force (set up under then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates) and the State Department will be given to the defense. The judge also ruled the government must do a search of hard drives in their possession from FOB Hammer, where Manning was based, and inform the defense of whether any of the drives have programs that Manning is charged with downloading without authorization.
However the press is being denied access to filings even though they have been read aloud in court.
  the judge denied requests for press access to court filings, which the press has in military proceedings for Guantanamo prisoners but does not have in the case of Bradley Manning. She contended the proceedings had “remained open thus far.”... The government is scheming to conceal the full extent of the legal fun and games that the prosecution has played in the proceedings thus far.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has entered the fray attempting to testify but being denied the right by the judge.
President Emeritus of CCR, Michael Ratner, wrote yesterday that the refusal to grant the press access to court filings is a “clear violation of the law, but it will likely take burdensome litigation to rectify this lack of transparency. The US supreme court has insisted that criminal trials must be public, and the fourth circuit, where this court martial is occurring, has ruled that the first amendment right of access to criminal trials includes the right to the documents in such trials.”
THe government has reacted to the demands for transparency with accusations against Manning not included in their charges.  Kevin Gosztola from Firedoglake concludes:

So, now, not only is Manning accused of “aiding the enemy,” which is al Qaeda and any terrorist groups related, even though there is no mention of his intent in the charge against him, but he is also considered an espionage actor who is using the legal proceedings to unveil the inner workings of government for nefarious purposes.
This is what the lack of transparency does to people who work for and on behalf of the government. They are so used to being able to use their power to conceal what they do that when someone succeeds in using the system to get just a little peek at what goes on behind closed doors people begin to throw out hysterical charges of evildoing.
Manning, like all soldiers accused of crimes, is entitled to a fair trial. There are still months of legal proceedings to go before the trial even commences. All of this secrecy, which invites challenges from the defense, just means Manning stays in pre-trial confinement for one hundred or more days. He already has been held in prison for 700 days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

OP-ED: Member of Veterans for Peace Alters Afghanistan Discussion on CNN | Huntington News

OP-ED: Member of Veterans for Peace Alters Afghanistan Discussion on CNN | Huntington News

Our own Chapter 14 Coordinator Scott Camil Appeared on CNN this week in a discussion about the current war scandal in Afghanistan in which photos of US soldiers posing with body parts have been released. Scott distinguished himself by speaking the truth about War in a way rarely heard on television. When asked about the photos he replied "you're nit picking when you're talking about things like people posing with bodies. The real question should be why are we at war in the first place? Why are we killing so many people in the first place? The concern over posing with someone that's dead, it seems to me the fact that that person is dead and that we're killing people is more important than what happens after they're dead." Camil continued: "What I understand is what it's like to be in a war zone and I understand the behavior in a war zone. And I would say that, first of all, that war is really an institution made up of criminal behavior. When we as civilians want to solve our problems, we're not allowed to murder people and burn their houses down. I don't see why war is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. And furthermore, the majority of people that die are innocent civilians." His comments changed the course of discussion with one of the panel members agreeing while others tried to maintain the status quo discussion which another guest described as offering support for the soldiers do they would understand the World is watching, another words, keep their body parts photos and other inconvenient facts about War to themselves.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Diego Garcia US Military Base: Indian Ocean - one of a thousand US bases around the world.

Diego Garcia Military Base: 
 We start our descriptions of US Military bases world wide with Diego Garcia, a Naval facility in the Indian Ocean in an area which is still a part of the British Empire, described as a British Overseas Territory.  The British enabled the establishment of the American Base on Diego Garcia,  the larges island in the Archipelago, in 1971 by forcibly deporting the approximately 2000 residents who had been living there since the time of the American Revolution.  These former residents are still suing to get their home back. 

According to David Vine, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University and author of “Island of Shame: the Secret History of the U.S. Military on Diego Garcia(Princeton University Press).” in Global Researcher
Long off limits to reporters, the Red Cross, and all other international observers and far more secretive than Guantanamo Bay, many long suspected the island was a clandestine CIA "black site" for high-profile detainees, Vine wrote in a related article. Journalist Stephen Grey's 2006 book “Ghost Plane” documented the presence on the island of a CIA-chartered plane used for rendition flights. On two occasions former U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey publicly named Diego Garcia as a detention facility. And a Council of Europe report named the atoll, along with those in Poland and Romania, as a secret prison.
The island became “a major launch pad” for the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, Vine said. In addition to its capacious harbor, the island readily supports some of the largest U.S. warplanes, including Air Force B-52s, B-1Bs and B-2s. Two years ago, the Pentagon awarded a $32 million contract to add a submarine base to the island’s arsenal.
Diego Garcia had been a British possession until 1966, when London allowed the U.S. to use it as a military base in exchange for cancelling a $14-million British debt for a military hardware purchase. Some idea of the size of the base may be conveyed by the fact it is said by the Pentagon to contain 654 buildings.
Recently released documents on British colonial history detail what was kept from the public as the base was developed:

The aim behind the decision to control the islands, noted a Foreign Office official in a document dated September 1966 and marked "Secret and Guard", was to build "defence facilities … without hindrance or political agitation".
In 1970, the Foreign Office told its officials at the UN to describe the islanders as "contract labourers" engaged to work on coconut plantations. "The merit of this line," it noted, "is that it does not give away the existence of the Ilois [the indigenous islanders] but is at the same time strictly factual."
In addition Wiki-leaks cables revealed further maneuverings to keep the islands free of indigenous populations so that the US and Britain can maneuver there as they please:
 In April 2010, the UK established a marine nature reserve around the Chagos Islands. A cable subsequently released by Wiki-leaks reported exchanges between a US political counsellor in London, Richard Mills, and a Foreign Office official, Colin Roberts. According to the leaked cable, Roberts "asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago's former residents".
A description from Wikipedia of the Base and its uses to the US Empire:
  During the Cold War era, the United States was keen to establish a military base in the Indian Ocean to counter Soviet influence in the region and protect the sea-lanes for oil transportation from the Middle East. The US saw the island as a strategically important one.[104] The value has been proved many times, with the island providing a "fixed aircraft carrier" for the US during the Iranian revolution, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The US Navy operates a large naval ship and submarine support base, military air base, communications and space tracking facilities, and an anchorage for pre-positioned military supplies for regional operations aboard Military Sealift Command ships in the lagoon.The Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia provides Base Operating Services to tenant commands located on the island. The command's mission is "To provide logistic support to operational forces forward deployed to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf AORs in support of national policy objectives."
 The atoll shelters the ships of the US Marine Pre-positioning Squadron Two. These ships carry equipment and supplies to support a major armed force with tanks, armoured personnel carriers, munitions, fuel, spare parts and even a mobile field hospital. This equipment was used during the Persian Gulf War, when the squadron transported equipment to Saudi Arabia.

There are facilities for Aircraft up to and including the size of the Space Shuttle and extensive communications facilities including satellite communications and one of five GPS stations operated by the US Military. And remember this is all paid for by our tax dollars while our schools decay, health care is out of reach for 50 million Americans and the Middle Class dwindles.

Monday, April 9, 2012

“The Warrior Class”: The Blackwater Videos—Winter Soldier revisited

“The Warrior Class”: The Blackwater Videos—By Harper's Magazine (Harper's Magazine):
Note the whole article requires a subscription but the videos are  available at the above link.

The April 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine includes “The Warrior Class,” a feature by Charles Glass on the rise of private-security contractors since 9/11. The conclusion to the piece describes a series of videos shown to Glass by a source who had worked for the private-security company Blackwater (now Academi, formerly also Xe Services) in Iraq. Clips and photos from the videos are shown below, introduced by Glass’s descriptions:

See the link above.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Iraq Slams Saudis, Qataris for Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels |Military Response is again Our only Choice?

Iraq Slams Saudis, Qataris for Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels | Informed Comment
 Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal gave an impassioned speech in which he said it was “a duty” to provide the Syrian opposition with weapons, and he reaffirmed that necessity of getting arms to the revolutionaries of Syria. In the meantime, he demanded an immediate ceasefire by the regime, which he said has by its severe repression has committed what can only be crimes against humanity. 
So again our response to a crisis is use of force. And in steps Iraq:

 In contrast, Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (Iraq also attended the summit) strongly supported the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and severely condemned the plan to give arms to the rebels.
“”We reject any arming (of Syrian rebels) and the process to overthrow the (Assad) regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region . . . The stance of these two states [Qatar and Saudi Arabia] is very strange… They are calling for sending arms instead of working on putting out the fire, and they will hear our voice, that we are against arming and against foreign interference . . . We are against the interference of some countries in Syria’s internal affairs, and those countries that are interfering in Syria’s internal affairs will interfere in the internal affairs of any country… It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?
  Iraq’s fears are not without reason. Saud al-Faisal’s idea of arming the rebels recalls the similar plan to arm the Afghan opposition, in in the 1980s, which led to a Soviet withdrawal but also created a long-term security nightmare in the form of al-Qaeda.
Finally the issues in Syria are really all about Iran.