Saturday, November 21, 2009

Concern that UK Army covered up the most serious accusation of war crimes it has faced

From: Army faces inquiry over 'Battle of Danny Boy' torture claims

Claims that British soldiers tortured and murdered up to 20 prisoners after a battle with Iraqi insurgents are to be scrutinised at a public inquiry.

Concern that the Army covered up the most serious accusation of war crimes that it has faced has prompted Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, to order the independent inquiry.

Mr Ainsworth is due to tell MPs next week that the inquiry will centre on an incident known as the Battle of Danny Boy. It took place in May 2004 and involved soldiers from the Argyll and Southern Highlanders and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

The Ministry of Defence said that 20 insurgents were killed “on the battlefield” after an exchange of fire during an attack on an Army vehicle and checkpoint. However, Iraqi families claim that some of those killed had been captured alive before being tortured and murdered by troops at Camp Abu Naji, a British base.

Evidence indicating torture and mutilation allegedly includes close-range bullet wounds, the removal of eyes and stab wounds, human rights lawyers have claimed.

Army sources say that, at a checkpoint called Danny Boy, heavily outnumbered troops mounted a heroic defence. The battle took place five miles from the town of Majar al-Kabir in Maysan Province, where six British military policemen, known as Red Caps, were murdered the year before.

The Army claims that 20 bodies were removed from the battlefield for identification before being returned to their families, with no evidence of torture. It insists that nine prisoners were taken for questioning and were not mistreated.

Lawyers for the family of Hamid al-Sweady, 19, have demanded an independent investigation into claims that he was killed after being taken prisoner. They also represent five prisoners who claim that they were subject to unlawful interrogation methods, The Ministry of Defence had opposed a public inquiry into the allegations arguing that an investigation by the Royal Military Police (RMP) had concluded that the claims of torture and murder were groundless.

Bill Rammell, the Armed Forces Minister, has insisted that there is no evidence of abuse and murder. “For these allegations to be true, it would have involved a massive conspiracy involving huge numbers of people.”

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Catherine Austin Fitts on Alex Jones TV

Catherine Austin Fitts is the former managing director and member of the board of directors of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. and commissioner to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the first Bush Administration. She talks about the hijacking of the economy by the banker cartel and Wall Street.

~ Continued... ~

Canadian diplomat alleges troops in Afghanistan were complicit in torture

The Canadian government was fending off calls for a public inquiry on torture today after allegations from one of its senior diplomats that Canada was complicit in the torture of Afghan detainees.

Richard Colvin, who was second in command at Canada's Kabul embassy in 2006 and 2007, said that Afghans swept up in security sweeps by Canadian troops during that time were routinely handed over to the Afghan intelligence services.

"According to our information, the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured," Colvin told Canada's parliament. "For interrogators in Kandahar, it was standard operating procedure.

"In other words, we detained, and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people."

Colvin said his frequent memos about the abuse were ignored and that senior officials attempted to cover up Canada's complicity until prisoner transfer procedures were changed in 2007, partly as a result of his complaints.

The allegations have shocked a country that generally regards itself as an upholder of humanitarian values and intensified scrutiny of Canada's military presence in Afghanistan. Canada has about 2,800 troops based in Kandahar province, who are due to be withdrawn in 2011.

The government has denied the allegations and attacked Colvin's credibility.

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My Lai photographer Ron Haeberle exposed a Vietnam massacre 40 years ago today in The Plain Dealer

Photographer remembers My Lai Massacre

Forty years ago today, black-and-white photographs of slaughtered women, children and old men in a Vietnamese village shocked the world -- or that portion of the world willing to believe American soldiers could gun down unarmed peasants and leave them to die in streets and ditches.

The Plain Dealer, in an international exclusive, was the first news outlet to publish the images of what infamously became known as the My Lai massacre, which had taken place on March 16, 1968.

"A clump of bodies," read the description on the front page of The Plain Dealer's Nov. 20, 1969, edition. At first some people were in denial about how these South Vietnamese civilians were killed, even after seeing the pictures.

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China’s new missile may create a ‘no-go zone’ for U.S. fleet

China's military is close to fielding the world's first anti-ship ballistic missile, according to U.S. Navy intelligence.

The missile, with a range of almost 900 miles (1,500 kilometers), would be fired from mobile, land-based launchers and is “specifically designed to defeat U.S. carrier strike groups,” the Office of Naval Intelligence reported.

Five of the U.S. Navy's 11 carriers are based in the Pacific and operate freely in international waters near China. Their mission includes defending Taiwan should China seek to exercise by force its claim to the island democracy, which it considers a breakaway province.

The missile could turn this region into a “no-go zone” for U.S. carriers, said Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budget Assessments in Washington.

Scott Bray, who wrote the ONI report on China's Navy, said China has made “remarkable progress” on the missile. “In little over a decade, China has taken the program from the conceptual phase” to “near fielding a combat-ready missile,” he said. Bray's report, issued in July, was provided to Bloomberg News on request.

China also is developing an over-the-horizon radar network to spot U.S. ships at great distances from its mainland, and its navy since 2000 has tripled to 36 from 12 the number of vessels carrying anti-ship weapons, Bray, the ONI's senior officer for intelligence on China, said in an e-mail.

China's Strategy

The new missile would support China's “anti-access” strategy to detect and if necessary attack U.S. warships “at progressively greater distances” from its mainland, Krepinevich said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a Sept. 16 speech, said China's “investments in anti-ship weaponry and ballistic missiles could threaten America's primary way to project power and help allies in the Pacific -- particularly our forward bases and carrier strike groups.”

Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of U.S. naval operations, says the new Chinese missile was one factor in his 2008 decision to cut the DDG-1000 destroyer program from eight ships to three because the vessels lack a missile-defense capability.

The Navy instead plans to build up to seven more Lockheed Martin Corp. Aegis-class DDG-51 destroyers and equip them with the newest radar and missiles.

China's ballistic missile “portends the sophistication of the threats that we're going to see,” Roughead said in an interview earlier this year.

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Are Poland and Austria at the forefront of an undeclared biological war?

Eyewitness reports from Poland and Austria indicate that both countries are being subjected to new kinds of aerosoal spraying by aircraft.

This seems to be an attempt to trigger a pandemic in the same way as occured in the Ukraine recently when pneumonia plague emerged after reports of night time aerosol spraying by low flying planes.

Three aircraft flying in formation were seen at night time in Klagenfurt one month ago apparently on a spraying operation.

New types of spraying were seen in eastern and southern Austria today.

This is one report from Lower Austria:

"I followed your homepage today and saw that you put up that link where you reported that in Villach new types of Chemtrails have been laid by Chemtrail Aircrafts to set the real flu pandemic in motion here as well.

I am covering Chemtrails for at least 6 months, also putting them online via youtube under my youtube name "Silberhorter".

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Polysics - 'Black Out Fall Out'

Of science and its predictions

From: Promises, promises

Meanwhile, in bleaker moments, scientific authorities have predicted the end of the world and civilization as we know them at the hand of pandemics or environmental catastrophe. And yet we are still here, in defiance of Thomas Malthus's eighteenth-century warnings about overpopulation and ecologist Paul Ehrlich's prophesy in his 1968 book The Population Bomb that “In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

Of course, scientists have a strong incentive to make bold predictions—namely, to obtain funding, influence, and high-profile publications. But while few will be disappointed when worst-case forecasts fail to materialize, unfulfilled predictions—of which we're seeing more and more—can be a blow for patients, policy makers, and for the reputation of science itself.

In 1995, for example, an expert panel on gene therapy convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health's then-director Harold Varmus2 concluded: “Expectations of current gene therapy protocols have been oversold. Overzealous representation of clinical gene therapy has obscured the exploratory nature of the initial studies, colored the manner in which findings are portrayed to the scientific press and public, and led to the widely held, but mistaken, perception that clinical gene therapy is already highly successful. Such misrepresentation threatens confidence in the field and will inevitably lead to disappointment in both medical and lay communities.”

Scientists have been making predictions for as long as there have been scientists. Indeed, without speculating about the future, it would be impossible to make decisions about how best to proceed. But there is reason to believe that promises are becoming more central to the scientific process.

Sir Ian Wilmut, leader of the Roslin Institute team that cloned Dolly the sheep, says that a “soundbite” media culture that demands uncomplicated, definitive, and sensational statements plays a significant role. “It's [the media] who put the most pressure on scientists to make predictions,” he says. And in a radio or TV interview that allows perhaps only 10 or 20 seconds for an answer, “it's very easy then to inadvertently mislead.”

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'The difficulty of drawing lessons from an ancient war'

From: The School of Athens

... Donald Kagan, a veteran Yale professor of classics and ancient history, has himself taken part in these arguments for almost a half-century. His own four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War is a classic of modern scholarship. Now, with "Thucydides: The Reinvention of History," Mr. Kagan has produced what reads like the last word on the man, a nuanced and subtle account of a subject that has so often been treated in a spirit of high partisanship.

Mr. Kagan stresses that Thucydides, an Athenian naval commander who was exiled in 424 B.C. for losing an important battle in Thrace, was more than just a participant in the conflict that he described. He was also a player in the domestic politics of the war, the "spin" as well as the strategy. Thus "Thucydides: The Reinvention of History" is a book about a long-ago historian's argument with his contemporaries—the tension between facts and what one would like to be facts. "In the important cases examined here," Mr. Kagan writes, "the contemporary view was closer to the truth than [Thucydides'] own."

Of what can we be certain? Athens lost the war; Sparta won it. A turning point was Athens's ill-advised invasion of Sicily in 415 B.C. during a lull in the conflict with Sparta. The result was a catastrophic destruction of the vaunted Athenian navy and ultimately a fatal weakening of Athenian power. This, too, we know: When the Spartans finally won victory in 404 B.C., they were aided by a late alliance with Persia, the traditional enemy of all Greece. Beyond that outline, the certainties are scarce.

The origin of the war? Without doubt, tensions were rising in the mid-fifth century B.C. between the Athenian empire and the Peloponnesian League, with Sparta as its leader. But was Pericles, the aristocratic leader of the Athenian democracy, a key cause of hostilities? Many of his contemporaries thought so, Mr. Kagan says. They blamed Pericles for his influential support of two actions against Spartan allies—restricting the trade of one, aiding the enemy of another—that helped to provoke war.

Thucydides strongly disagreed with Pericles' critics, insisting in his "History of the Peloponnesian War" that the conflict was caused by later demagogues and deeper underlying forces. Thucydides' interpretation would color most later scholarship. Yet Mr. Kagan notes that Thucydides' views were hardly the result of dispassionate analysis and were more likely a reaction to his family's anti-democratic past—he was simply supporting Pericles with a convert's zeal. ...

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Nation: You could die here

In Islamabad 30 years ago today...

From: TIME, Dec 3, 1979

It started as if it were nothing. Just two red buses; maybe 150 people. They got out and started milling around the big iron gates. They chanted anti-Carter slogans, threw a few rocks over the red brick wall, got back in the buses and drove away. End of demo. I was headed for the cafeteria, and Embassy Political Officer Herb Hagerty called out, "Save me a seat, I'll be right there." He never made it. It was a few minutes later, about 1p.m., that the buses returned, this time six of them. They were crammed with people, both inside and clinging to the roof. And now all hell broke loose.

The Marines slammed shut the gates as some of the mob began setting cars in the parking lot afire. Others bashed at the brick wall, using a heavy pole. There was constant yelling outside. Embassy staffers began locking their files. Dave Fields, the administrative counselor, watched the rioters smashing at the walls. "If the wall goes, we're in for it," he said. Moments later it did. "Everybody upstairs," Fields shouted.

We climbed a curved staircase to the embassy's third-floor vault, a specially designed, windowless steel-walled room, about 20 ft. by 30 ft. It contained communications equipment, coding devices, and an enormous safe. It had its own back-up power generator and battery-powered radios. "They're shooting," someone shouted. "They shot a Marine." "Where was he?" "On the roof." "Is he O.K.?" "I don't know."

Cpl. Steve Crowley, 19, a Long Islander who served in Pakistan about three months, had been assigned to roof duty, and a rioter had shot him in the side of the head. They got him down and brought him to an anteroom of the vault. A nurse hovered over him, fitting an oxygen mask. He lay in a pool of blood. I hadn't been scared at first, but now I was as I stood there looking at this young dying Marine.

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