01.31.14

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Empire Watch: Human Rights Violations, Bogus Figures, and a ‘Silent Coup’

Posted in Action at 5:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This week’s news about torture, assassination, and endless wars of conquest

  • Amanda Knox and the Wages of American Imperialism

    By the fall of 2007, Italy was in a significant state of conflict with the US over the Bush administration’s policy of extraordinary rendition. Of specific note were Italian kidnapping charges against nearly two dozen CIA agents for the kidnapping of Muslim cleric Abu Omar, resulting in 23 convictions. The New York Times reported, “Judge Oscar Magi handed an eight-year sentence to Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, and five-year sentences to the 22 other Americans, including an Air Force colonel and 21 C.I.A. operatives.”

    [...]

    It’s not clear if Amanda Knox will foot the bill for the 23 convicted CIA agents, but what is clear is that Italy and many other countries view America’s policy of rendition as indeed extraordinary, and they have a point to make.

  • Lithuanian Court’s ruling on CIA rendition case, a breakthrough for justice

    A decision by a court in Lithuania ruling that a Saudi Arabian national has a right to an investigation into his alleged torture in a secret CIA detention centre in the country is a breakthrough for justice, said Amnesty International.

  • Lithuanian prosecutor’s refusal to reopen CIA prison investigation found ungrounded

    Vilnius Regional Court has ruled prosecutors unfoundedly refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into claims a Saudi Arabian citizen was kept in a secret CIA detention center in Lithuania in 2004-2006.

  • Lithuanian prosecutor accused in Guantanamo Bay case
  • CIA Director Grilled On Domestic Surveillance, Torture At Senate Hearing

    Three senators pummeled CIA Director John Brennan at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, peppering him with tough questions on torture and domestic surveillance that he has refused to answer in public.

    Brennan defended the CIA against accusations that it is double-dealing with the Intelligence committee about a report on agency torture, and he also received surprisingly pointed questions about whether the CIA spies on Americans. Such public hearings offer senators critical of the intelligence agencies the chance to telegraph their private concerns about classified programs — and these questions could suggest there is something the public isn’t being told about what the CIA does at home.

  • The Pentagon’s route out of Afghanistan passes through a former CIA black site

    The Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania is a short drive from the Black Sea and the port city of Constanta, a sprawling metropolis with beach resorts, museums, and nightclubs. It’s also about to become the main transit point for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops flowing out of Afghanistan. It won’t be the first time Washington has used the base for a sensitive mission, however: If human rights groups are correct, the facility also used to house one of the CIA’s notorious “black site” detention facilities.

  • Chuck Hagel: ‘Polish-US relationship can withstand CIA prison allegations’

    US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said in Warsaw that the US-Polish partnership can “withstand testing and questioning” over allegations of a secret CIA prison in Poland.

  • Polish ex-intelligence official says time for truth on CIA jail

    Poland’s official stance of denying it hosted a secret CIA jail is harming its reputation and it needs to be frank about what really happened, a senior intelligence official at the time the alleged prison was operating told Reuters.

  • Investigators ask for CIA prison probe deadline extension

    Prosecutors leading Poland’s investigation into an alleged CIA prison where terrorist suspects were held and tortured have asked for another extension to the probe.

  • Arabian Gulf energy still vital to the US, says former CIA director

    David Petraeus, the chairman of the KKR Global Institute and former commander of the US Central Command, said that while the energy boom had extended to Canada and Mexico, the Arabian Gulf’s oil and gas still fuelled the US’s trade partners and would for the foreseeable future.

    He was speaking at a lecture on the forthcoming North American decades at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research last night.

    “According to projections, the US is set to become a leading oil producer by 2020,” he said. “Crude oil production is expected to reach 9.5 million barrels a day by only 2016, and this situation is dramatically changed since 2008-2009, when many experts said oil production had peaked and wasn’t ready to climb. They couldn’t have been more wrong.”

  • A Manufactured Nuclear Crisis

    The subtitle of Gareth Porter’s new book, “The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” is well-chosen. Large parts of “A Manufactured Crisis” are indeed untold till now. They amount to what the author terms an “alternative narrative”.

  • C.I.A. Drone Bases

    The Central Intelligence Agency should not be launching deadly military strikes. We would be better off if the C.I.A. returned to being an agency that collected and analyzed intelligence and stopped being a secretive paramilitary organization.

  • Leaked official document records 330 drone strikes in Pakistan
  • US agencies might lose drone bases in Afghanistan
  • Block, First and Hawkeness: Stop training drone pilots in Wisconsin

    Dozens of Wisconsin residents phoned or visited the district offices of our senators and representatives to call for an end to drone warfare. The visits and calls were timed for Jan. 15-21 when our nation commemorated its prophet of peace and nonviolence, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • “Dirty Wars” Filmmaker Jeremy Scahill on the “Drone President” & Obama’s Whitewashing of NSA Spying

    In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on the United States to “move off a permanent war footing,” citing his recent limits on the use of drones, his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and his effort to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay. Obama also vowed to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs to ensure that “the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.” Jeremy Scahill, whose Oscar-nominated film “Dirty Wars” tackles the U.S. drone war and targeted killings abroad, says Obama has been a “drone president” whose operations have killed large numbers of civilians. On NSA reform, Scahill says “the parameters of the debate in Washington are: Should we figure out a way to streamline this and sell it to the American people, or should we do more surveillance?”

  • “A Silent Coup”: Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Military Interests Shaping Obama’s SOTU

    On issues from domestic inequality to foreign policy, President Obama delivered the fifth State of the Union with a vow to take action on his own should Congress stonewall progress on his agenda. But will Obama’s policies go far enough? We host a roundtable with three guests: Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield;” and senior investigative reporter at First Look Media, which will launch in the coming months; Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow with Demos; and Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy at the United We Dream Coalition.

  • Arizona lawmaker pushing NSA data mining restrictions may also go after drones

    An Arizona lawmaker who wants to prohibit police departments, prosecutors and state courts from helping the National Security Agency with its data mining and surveillance plans on adding anti-drone language to the measure.

  • ‘Drone warfare helps sell wars to a domestic audience’

    Development of modern drone technologies will never eliminate civilian collateral damage in conflict deployment, Michael Raddie, antiwar activist told RT, arguing that investing in drones makes warfare more acceptable for general public.

  • Leaked Pakistani document contradicts US accounts of drone strikes

    It is the fullest official record of the covert campaign yet to emerge, providing the dates, precise times and exact locations of drone strikes, as well as casualty estimates. The document abruptly stops routinely recording civilian casualties after the start of 2009, but overall casualty estimates continue to be comparable to independent estimates such as those compiled by the Bureau.

  • Are GCHQ workers in danger of becoming accessories to murder?

    I am not a lawyer but I am certain that the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, needs to take very seriously a legal opinion which was handed to Parliament this week.

    It comes from Jemima Stratford QC. She has given a judgment on whether GCHQ can pass information onto the US, which is later used to facilitate drone strikes.

  • 8 Films That Reveal the Shifting American Bias Towards the Middle East

    It’s been over 10 years since the United States entered Iraq. Though the war in Iraq has officially been over since 2011, our involvement in the Middle East is stronger than ever. And from 9/11 until now, popular opinion in favor of or against the war in Afghanistan has ebbed and flowed.

  • CIA and Saudis cooperate on Chinese missile purchase

    Undoubtedly, the role of the Saudi Arabia and its influence on the Middle East has long been under the discussion. Now with Iran and the West trying to reach an agreement on the nuclear matter, the monarchy is trying to amend the situation to their favor, with the Washington’s support, according to recent reports.

  • Heads of Killing, Lying, and Spying Under Fire

    Before the hearing began, activists from CODEPINK stood up holding signs reading ‘Stop – Killing, Lying, Spying’ and called for the firing of James Clapper, Director of Central Intelligence, John Brennan, Director of the CIA, and James Comey, Director of the FBI.

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