Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Argentina puts officials on trial over the abuses of the 'Dirty War'

They are old and balding now, the 15 defendants standing trial before a three-judge panel near the Argentine capital's bustling port. But prosecutors say they were once the feared henchmen of a brutal military dictatorship.

Argentina has tried military men before. But this trial, of officers and policemen who ran clandestine torture centers known as the Athletic Club, the Bank and Olimpo, is one of a string of new proceedings that by next year will close some of the most emblematic cases of alleged state terrorism under Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship.

With former generals and admirals well into their 70s and the courts emboldened to hand down severe penalties, Argentina is finally close to delivering justice for the estimated 30,000 people killed by state security services during the "Dirty War," including some who were thrown from airplanes after being tortured and sedated.

"I think and I hope this is the beginning of the end of a long process that began in 1983 with the return of democracy," said Gastón Chillier, director of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, a Buenos Aires rights group. "Next year will be especially critical."

The trials in Argentina come as other South American countries grapple with delivering justice for the victims of dictatorships and government-linked death squads.

In Brazil, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is proposing a commission to investigate allegations of torture by the military during that country's 1964-1985 dictatorship. In Peru, a former president, Alberto Fujimori, was convicted of murder in April for death-squad activities during his 10-year rule. And in Colombia, army generals and colonels accused of widespread human rights abuses are for the first time being investigated by civilian prosecutors.

Among the countries that have most aggressively sought to address past crimes is Chile, which has convicted 277 members of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 16-year dictatorship of myriad rights abuses, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

But no country has gone after former state agents as sweepingly as Argentina.

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U.S. intelligence found Iran nuke document was forged - by Gareth Porter

U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by The Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a “neutron initiator” for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.

Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.

The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document. But it quoted “an Asian intelligence source” – a term some news media have used for Israeli intelligence officials – as confirming that his government believes Iran was working on a neutron initiator as recently as 2007.

The story of the purported Iranian document prompted a new round of expressions of U.S. and European support for tougher sanctions against Iran and reminders of Israel's threats to attack Iranian nuclear programme targets if diplomacy fails.

U.S. news media reporting has left the impression that U.S. intelligence analysts have not made up their mind about the document's authenticity, although it has been widely reported that they have now had a full year to assess the issue.

Giraldi's intelligence sources did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the purported Iran document had been fabricated by a foreign intelligence agency. But their suspicions of fraud were prompted in part by the source of the story, according to Giraldi.

“The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government,” Giraldi said.

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Musical Innerlube: 45 Thieves - 'War Pigs'

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