Bonum Certa Men Certa

Human Rights Relativism

Putin
Putin in KGB uniform



Summary: Roundup of news about foreign policy that puts in perspective Russia's own human rights abuses

Russia-hostile coverage of the Olympic games in Sochi is of course politically motivated. Coverage in the Western press is openly Russophobic, meaning that it's actually driven by suppressed fear (phobia). Russia is definitely not good when it comes to human rights, but the press in the West may no longer be in a position of moral high ground. It takes many angles, such as gay rights, surveillance, and scepticism of US undercover agents [1,2]. Don't pay too much attention to the hypocritical aspects of it all. The US, when it comes to many of those angle (including counter-terrorism and espionage), is hardly any better. Let's look at some of the recent examples from the news.



"Russia and China are not extrajudicially assassinating thousands of people with air-to-ground missiles, neither domestically nor overseas."First of all, trials over the "no fly" list prove to be a sham [3], and secret agents show that they simply don't obey the law [4] and don't think that they need to [5]. To them, even protests can now be viewed as "terrorism" [6]. This is what we should expect from Stalin, not the US. It's a shame because the US used to stand for higher moral values.

Moving on down the news, Lithuania orders probe of CIA torture [7] and Poland too gets involved [8]. Bush started this tradition of torture 12 years ago [9] and Obama continues the tradition, which is beyond controversial, even among US citizens [10] (the US population hardly endorses this). A former CIA analyst who became a critic of the CIA recalls the important role played by Rep. Otis Pike, who is now dead [11]. Back when some elements of Congress and the White House 'dared' to confront the CIA (as Kennedy did before he was assassinated) Pike played an important role in fighting the NSA, CIA, etc. His death at this stage is somewhat poetic. The voices of opposition [12] are dying away, especially in the government. According to "Republican" Web sites (masquerading as "news"), the CIA has been grossly lying about Benghazi [13-15]. So-called "Democrat" Web sites are interested in keeping their clients in Congress, so they hardly bother reporting it.

In a Democrats-friendly newspaper, the New York Times, one writer asks "How Many Non-Combatants Are Killed by Drones?" [16]

This is a meaningless question because it uses the nebulous term "combatant", which according to another (years older) report from the New York Times just means "adult male" (same as "militant"). In Pakistan, the CIA halted assassinations for about a month now [17-23] because an alternative approach is being attempted, not the extrajudicial assassination (by CIA) of people on NSA-gathered lists. After war crimes in Iraq [24] and growing hatred due to drone strikes in countries like Yemen [25] it seems reasonable to give peace a chance. It would not be beneficial to CIA budget (and NSA's too), but it would at least respect people's lives and help regain some consent/approval from the public. South Sudan has oil now, so expanders of militarism now eye this other region [26] (we covered this before). Opposition to drones has grown strong enough (with movies [27,28], protests [29] and articles [30-34]) to potentially ground (not crash [35]) the drones, but as the CIA-connected paper put it [36], it will be hard to cut budgets. The army-friendly press says [37] that "an international agreement before the U.S. modus operandi becomes the international norm."

So, going back to Russia, put in perspective this older superpower's policy. It is not necessarily the worst abuser of human rights. Russia and China are not extrajudicially assassinating thousands of people with air-to-ground missiles, neither domestically nor overseas.

What's needed right now -- universally --is respect for human rights, digital rights (like privacy) and other types of values. What we don't need is hypocrisy, partisanship, and political manipulations by propaganda.

Related/contextual items from the news:



  1. CIA And FBI Agents Are Not Welcome At This Restaurant Outside Sochi


  2. Sochi restaurant won't cater to FBI, CIA agents


  3. Entire Court Discussion Of Feds Blocking US Citizen From Flying To No Fly List Trial... Redacted
    We already wrote about the release of Judge Alsup's ruling in the Rahinah Ibrahim case. However, I wanted to do a second post, concerning one of the issues that first grabbed our attention about the case -- the fact that Ibrahim's daughter, a US citizen, was put on the no fly list and blocked from flying to the US to be a witness at the trial. The DOJ insisted that this was untrue and the daughter had simply missed her flight -- claims that were later proven to be outright lies. At the time, it appeared that Judge Alsup was not at all happy about this, and we hoped that this would result in some sort of sanctions or punishment for the federal government lying to a federal judge.


  4. CIA confirms agency obliged to follow federal surveillance law
    The CIA has confirmed that it is obliged to follow a federal law barring the collection of financial information and hacking into government data networks.

    But neither the agency nor its Senate overseers will say what, if any, current, recent or desired activities the law prohibits the CIA from performing – particularly since a section of the law explicitly carves out an exception for “lawfully authorized” intelligence activities.


  5. CIA can do what it can do, can't do what it can't do, can't say what it can't do, it says
    Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan last week was asked at a Senate hearing if the agency is subject to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that protects computer networks belonging to the government and to financial institutions from unauthorized access.


  6. Spying and Social Control: U.S. Government Labels Dissent As Terrorism
    Indeed, the government arbitrarily labels anyone it doesn’ t like – including American citizens – as “terrorists”.


  7. Lithuania orders probe of CIA torture
    A Lithuanian court has ordered an investigation of the torture of a Saudi Arabian terrorism suspect by Central Intelligence Agency operatives at a secret prison in the small Baltic nation.

    Amnesty International reports the Vilnius Regional Court has ordered a probe into the torture of Mustafa al-Hawsawi, who was sent to Lithuania via extraordinary rendition after being captured in Pakistan and handed over to US authorities in 2003.


  8. Poland may seek access to Guantanamo suspects
    Polish prosecutors may seek access to terror suspects detained by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay for direct questioning as part of an investigation into whether a secret CIA prison operated here in 2002-2003, an official said Thursday.

    The prosecutors would need U.S. permission to question prisoners held at Guantanamo and are weighing whether to make a request. Washington has provided little help to Poland's investigation, which was launched in 2008, and has already denied an appeal from Warsaw for assistance in gathering evidence.


  9. Anniversary of Bush Military Order Marks Need for Torture Report Release
    Today marks the 12th anniversary of a Bush Administration Military Order accepting the advice of counsel that the Geneva Conventions would not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that detainees are not legally entitled to humane treatment. This decision to violate international law would open the door to one of the darkest chapters in recent U.S. history: years of torture that we are still grappling with today.


  10. RFK, Jr. Confronts CIA Lawyer On Torture (VIDEO)
    Very little is known about many of the activities at the Central Intelligence Agency. Even the stories that are revealed in the press are not able to give us the entire picture of what this agency is doing behind the scenes. Ring of Fire co-host Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. discusses the murky history of the CIA with author and former CIA attorney John Rizzo.


  11. When the CIA’s Empire Struck Back
    In the mid-1970s, Rep. Otis Pike led a brave inquiry to rein in the excesses of the national security state. But the CIA and its defenders accused Pike of recklessness and vowed retaliation, assigning him to a political obscurity that continued to his recent death, as Lisa Pease recounts.


  12. Fort Hollywood: 'Lone Survivor' and the Rush to 'Remember' What is Not Over
    As a former soldier and war resister, I no longer suffer from a military fetish. I’m not interested in war porn, not aroused by excessive on-screen violence. As a veteran, it might surprise you to hear that I am not interested in how Private Ryan was saved, or how the Brothers became a Band in the killing fields of Europe by killing the proverbial ‘bad guy’. I’m more interested in learning what brought these men to the killing fields. The background story, the political dimension; why these old men in Washington sent these young men to slaughter and die, and who profits from the carnage. But these inquiries hardly ever survive the cutting room floor.


  13. CIA director: Benghazi rescuers required to sign non-disclosure agreements because contracts being updated


  14. Report sheds light on ex-CIA deputy director's role in Benghazi talking points
    The recently-released bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi sheds new light on the role of Michael Morell, the CIA's former deputy director, in the official “talking points” explanations put forward after the attack.


  15. Revelations of CIA involvement with Benghazi Cover-up
    Regardless of Barack Obama's unwillingness to answer Bill O'Reilly's questions in the pre-Super Bowl interview, the White House led cover up of the truth behind the Benghazi attack won't die.


  16. How Many Non-Combatants Are Killed by Drones?
    Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California, urged the nation’s intelligence leaders today to get behind an important idea: The Obama administration, he said, should publish an annual report on American drone strikes, showing how many combatants and especially how many non-combatants are killed by unmanned aircraft each year.


  17. Day 77: Protesters send back 15 suspected NATO containers


  18. US halting drone attacks will be beneficial for dialogue: Imran
    In the interview with Bloomberg, Khan said terrorism would be fueled if talks failed and a military operation followed.

    The peace negotiations between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan will probably fail and a resulting military operation would lead to more violence, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan told Bloomberg.


  19. U.S. sharply curtails drone strikes in Pakistan: report


  20. U.S. to Curb Pakistan Drone Program
    The Obama administration will narrow its controversial drone program in Pakistan to target a short list of high-level terrorists, and aim to end it during the prime minister's current term, senior U.S. officials have told their Pakistani counterparts.


  21. U.S. said to curtail drone strikes in Pakistan as officials there seek peace talks with Taliban
    The Obama administration has sharply curtailed drone strikes in Pakistan after a request from the government there for restraint as it pursues peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, according to U.S. officials.


  22. Is Pakistan drone strike hiatus linked to peace talks?
    Peace talks between Pakistani authorities and the Taliban (TTP) have been delayed or derailed at least four times since January 2013 because of US drone strikes on high-ranking militants, the Bureau has found.

    It is now 43 days since the last reported US drone strike in Pakistan – the longest hiatus in over two years. Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based reporter who is part of the team negotiating with the TTP on behalf of the Pakistani government, confirmed to the Bureau that Islamabad had asked the US for a cessation of drone strikes during the latest round of peace talks, which started today.


  23. Pakistan wants end to US drone attacks: FO
    Pakistan on Thursday said it wanted a complete end to US drone strikes and not a decrease in their frequency.


  24. The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq can't be 'countered' indefinitely
    The media cover-up has been a weapon in the crimes of western states since the first world war.


  25. In Yemen, questions and anger over U.S. drone targets


  26. US military steps up operations in the Horn of Africa
    The Pentagon's recently created East Africa Response Force (EARF) is here. Its soldiers flew at short notice to South Sudan in December to protect the US embassy and its staff, a lesson learnt from the catastrophic attack on the poorly defended US consulate in Benghazi.


  27. Robert Greenwald turns his lens on drone warfare in 'Unmanned'
    Greenwald embodies the populism of George Bailey and the sly delight of a spy handed a secret dossier. His Brave New Films has skewered Wal-Mart, Fox News (Bill O'Reilly despises him) and the conservative politics of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Greenwald's narratives have criticized the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and his latest documentary condemns the Obama administration's drone program for killing civilians in Pakistan and other countries in a misguided strategy to combat terror.


  28. Killer robot flight: Video of UK’s autonomous drone released


  29. Why I stood in the rain for hours outside Brize Norton
    The UK and France have this funny relationship, but let’s not get into that. They’ve both signed a treaty to get rid of nuclear weapons but the UK government has already spent billions making the parts to renew Trident, our current nuclear arsenal, despite the vote on whether or not to renew it being in 2016. On top of this, at a time of huge cuts, austerity and job losses especially within local councils, our Prime Minister David Cameron met with French President Francois Hollande at Brize Norton RAF base to make a deal on a new, more autonomous drone, at a cost of €£120m to the taxpayer. I stood outside with a banner.


  30. Drone Killing and Wars of Aggression are ILLEGAL!
    You have heard testimony that Weaponized Drones, including those flown from Hancock Air National Guard Base are on the front line of illegal wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries around the world. You have heard testimony that Armed Drones threaten civilian populations in these countries, and contrary to government assertions, kill indiscriminately, leaving a trail of dead civilians in their wake. Even the oft affirmed ‘militant’ target is a civilian in most cases, perhaps in every case depending whether American combatants can be said to be engaged in a legal war. According to Customary International Law and numerous treaties which I will now elaborate, these wars of aggression are illegal.


  31. Drones: From bad habit to terrible policy
    This culture of secrecy underscores the reality that real drone reform is on the verge of conclusively failing to launch. Despite months of political fury and negative press, the drone program and its worst impulse — to kill without accountability for who is killed and why — are poised to become a permanent part of the way the United States conducts counterterrorism.


  32. 6 Unanswered Questions About Obama's Drone War
    On January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized his first drone strike. The attack, launched against a compound in northwestern Pakistan, killed between 7 and 15 people—but missed the Taliban hideout the Central Intelligence Agency thought it was targeting. Over the next five years, the CIA carried out more than 390 known drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. (The agency carried out 51 drone strikes between 2004 and 2009, during the Bush administration.)


  33. Former Bush AG Alberto Gonzales Says Obama’s Drone War Exceeded the Law
    Brace yourself: George W. Bush’s former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, is arguing publicly that the Obama administration’s drone war exceeds legal limits on executive authority. As anyone with a memory of Gonzales’s tenure under Bush knows, this is more than a little ironic.


  34. Killer Robot: What Crosses the Line?
    Expect the activism to grow.


  35. Unmanned drone crash closes White Sand National park
    An unmanned drone from Holloman Air Force Base crashed at White Sands National Monument.


  36. Defense contracts are hard to kill. Does that show up in lobbying totals?
    Over the weekend, my colleague Marjorie Censer published a story that tells us a lot about why the U.S. military costs so much: Legislators won't let the people in uniform spend less money, even when expensive programs outlive their usefulness. In this case, it's the iconic tank, which BAE Systems has built in York, Pa., since the 1960s. Though modern warfare requires more long-range systems like drones and missiles than overwhelming force on the ground, Congress has continued to give the Army more money than it's even asked for to keep building expeditionary fighting vehicles.


  37. Sign a Drone Treaty Before Everyone Does as We Do
    We need an international agreement before the U.S. modus operandi becomes the international norm.


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